Sapphire & Steel
Daisy Chain

Starring: David Warner and Susannah Harker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 139 4
Available 01 July 2005

Sapphire and Steel are drawn to a house that seems much like any other in its dreary suburb. The difference is that this house, and the family living in it, harbours a secret that threatens to destroy them all. How is it that a music box and other household items are able to activate themselves...?

You may recall that I raved about Big Finish's first Sapphire & Steel adventure, The Passenger. Well, if anything this one is even better!

Writer Joseph Lidster has crafted a truly creepy story that entirely befits the spirit of the original series. This is particularly remarkable since he admits, in his sleeve notes, that he never saw the show until last year.

Lidster's tale is ably augmented by Nigel Fairs' direction, post-production and music, which turn repeated phrases from a teenage girl's favourite single, the inane ramblings of daytime television broadcasts, and the tinkling of a music box into the stuff of nightmares.

Susannah Harker seems more confident as Sapphire this time around, and she and co-star David Warner are joined by the competent guest cast of Kim Hartman, Lena Rae and Stuart Piper, who are never anything less than totally convincing as a single-parent family haunted by... something.

The nature of that something is not too difficult to guess, but this element of predictability is more than compensated for by the way in which it is dealt with in the grim conclusion.

A more serious criticism of the Big Finish series to date is that the plots seem rather similar to Sapphire and Steel's television assignments. The Passenger echoed the railway setting and the resentful spirits of Assignment Two. Now Daisy Chain rehashes the humble family home, complete with two children (admittedly older children on this occasion), one of each gender, from Assignment One, with a bit of Brahms' Lullaby from Assignment Three thrown in.

However, as a piece of supernatural drama, there is no denying this story's quality.

In an extra item at the end of Disc One, Nigel Fairs discusses the realisation of the music for this series. He reveals, among other things, the fact that he had to prepare an alternate main theme when it appeared as though the production team would not be able to obtain the rights to use the original television version. Sadly we don't get to hear Fairs' theme in full. Still, this is a nice addition to a great double CD.

At only 14.99, it's a (Sapphire and) steal!

Richard McGinlay

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