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Audio Drama Review


Sapphire & Steel
Wall of Darkness


Starring: David Warner and Susannah Harker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: £14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84435 339 2
Available 30 August 2008

Sapphire and Steel have been assigned to an abandoned shopping centre full of second-hand books, antiques and old toys. Something about one of the shops seems familiar, as if the operatives have been there before. And there are ghosts wandering from floor to floor. What terrible event happened here four years ago? Which version of events is the truth? Is Sapphire and Steel’s journey about to come to an end...?


This audio drama has a good middle. That is to say, the beginning takes some time to get going and the ending is frankly annoying.

The first episode of this four-part tale didn’t exactly grip me from the word go. There’s little intrigue surrounding Sapphire and Steel’s investigation of a strangely deserted American shopping mall or the people they ultimately encounter there.

However, following a cracking cliffhanger revelation at the end of Part One, I was hooked. The unfortunate fate of the USA and the rest of the world as the result of a tub-thumping speech by a warmongering president has uncomfortable relevance to events in the real world today (though the choice of September 13th as a significant date in the disaster that ensues is distastefully close to September 11th). Nigel Fairs’s script becomes even more captivating when it seems that the truth might be less disastrous for the world as a whole, though no less tragic for the characters in the play.

According to Fairs, this is his final work as producer. Accordingly, at the end of Disc One, he presents a compilation of clips and out-takes from this series and also from The Tomorrow People, the other series he produced for Big Finish. Appropriately enough, Louise Jameson, who turned in an excellent and memorable performance as a distraught mother in The Tomorrow People, does much the same thing here.

Unfortunately, as if aware that this may be the last Sapphire & Steel production for a while or perhaps even for ever, Fairs ends the third season in a similar way to how The Mystery of the Missing Hour brought the second season to a close the last time it appeared that the series was coming to an end. Following all of this year’s build-up concerning a conflict with the Transient Beings, I feel decidedly cheated by the idea that the last four assignments might all have been an illusion.

Wall of Darkness is at least a tighter production than The Mystery of the Missing Hour, which is why I’m giving it a higher mark, but I’d hate to think that the last eight hours of Sapphire & Steel have all been for nought.


Richard McGinlay

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