Sapphire & Steel is a British television science-fiction fantasy series starring David McCallum as Steel and Joanna Lumley as Sapphire. Produced by ATV, it ran from 1979 to 1982 on the ITV network. The series was created by Peter J. Hammond who conceived the programme under the working title The Time Menders, after a stay in an allegedly haunted castle. Hammond also wrote all the stories except for the fifth, which was co-written by Don Houghton and Anthony Read.
In 2004, Sapphire and Steel returned in a series of audio dramas starring David Warner and Susannah Harker.
Although the series lasted over a period of four years, only six serials consisting of a total of 34 episodes were made, each episode lasting approximately 25 minutes and generally including a reprised of the preceding episode.
The first and second stories were shown in the summer of 1979, the second story's transmission interrupted by industrial action at the ITV network which led to a repeat of the story in 1979.
The third and fourth stories were transmitted in January 1981, and the fifth in August 1981.
Central felt that viewers might mistake the new programmes for repeats of old ones, and broadcast the final, four-part story in late August 1982 to very little fanfare.
The show has never been repeated on UK terrestrial television, but some episodes were shown on the satellite and cable station Bravo in the mid-1990s.
In late May 2004, it was announced that a new series of Sapphire & Steel audio adventures would be prodiced for release on CD. However, neither McCallum nor Lumley reprised their roles: McCallum was working in the United States and Lumley declined to play Sapphire again. The characters were recast, with Susannah Harker and David Warner taking over the roles.
The character of Gold (played by Mark Gatiss) appears in the first adventure The Passenger and returns in Perfect Day and Zero. He is portrayed as impatient and inexperienced when dealing with both humans and the various manifestations of Time, even more detached and clinical in many ways than Steel, almost as if he is still in training. The character of Ruby (played by Lisa Bowerman) appears in the second series story Water Like a Stone, reappearing in Cruel Immortality and Second Sight. Her character has an understanding and affinity to Time within the rhythms of music, and also comes across as rather dry and sardonic, especially when interacting with Steel. David Collings reprises his role as Silver in the third and fifth stories of the first series of audio plays and then again in the third story of the third series.
It was originally said that the new stories would be set before the climactic final story of the television series, but the released plays are actually set after assignment 6, and at the start of The Passenger, the characters comment that it has been a long time since they last worked together and, in Cruel Immortality, imply that they were freed in some unspecified way by Silver.
At the end of The Mystery of the Missing Hour, Sapphire and Steel once again find themselves trapped. The following story, Second Sight sees the characters 'reborn' once more - this time in the guise of two young Australians, played by Blair McDonough and Anna Skellern. At the end of Second Sight, however, Ruby was able to release the previous incarnations of Sapphire and Steel from their trap - with David Warner and Susannah Harker reprising their roles for the rest of the series. The range ends in Wall of Darkness with the eponymous characters learning that they never escaped the trap at the end of assignment 6, and that all their apparent escapades since then have been illusions in order to prevent their escape.
The audio dramas featured some notable guest stars - including Hugo Myatt, Muriel Pavlow, Daphne Oxenford, Lucy Gaskell, Colin Baker, Sarah Douglas, Sam Kelly, David Horovitch, Mark Gatiss and Louise Jameson.
TV show episodes are in AVI or MKV format.
All 34 episodes are present with disc 4 containing the 15 audio plays in MP3 format.