Sapphire & Steel
All Fall Down

Starring: David Warner and Susannah Harker
Big Finish Productions
RRP: 14.99
ISBN 1 84435 141 6
Available 27 July 2005

London, a late summer's day. A condemned building is due for demolition, but it is not empty, not by any reckoning. It is home to a vast archive, haunted staff and a deadly secret. The contents of a plague pit, primitive sound recordings, a trigger, a catalyst and an impossible conundrum. The past is fighting back...

It is remarkable how the Sapphire & Steel audio series is mirroring the television show upon which it is based.

Just as Assignment I of the TV series featured a guest elemental, in the form of Lead, so did The Passenger, the first of Big Finish's stories, which guest-starred Mark Gatiss as Gold. Just as Assignment III featured David Collings as the charming Silver, so does this third audio adventure, All Fall Down. And just as he did in the original series, Collings will be returning to the role before too long (in Dead Man Walking to be precise).

Unfortunately, this series also continues to echo its parent in terms of borrowed plot elements. The nursery rhyme "Ring a Ring o' Roses", which is repeatedly alluded to here, was previously put to sinister use in Assignment I, though admittedly its relevance is much more pertinent to All Fall Down.

Writer David Bishop makes good use of the time agents' telepathic abilities to help tell his story in the audio medium. There are also numerous opportunities to hear Nigel Fairs' re-creation of Sapphire's pulsating "analysis/manipulation" sound effect, though to my ears it sounds a little too heavy compared to the version that was used in the television series.

More a temporal mystery than a ghost story, despite the spooky presence of a little girl's voice (Linda Bartram) singing the aforementioned nursery rhyme, this double CD isn't as scary as either of its predecessors. Therefore my mark out of ten has fallen down a little.

However, it's still very enjoyable, and the presence of the excellent David Collings adds enormously to the experience.

Richard McGinlay

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