Traumafessions :: Reader Bluegrasslass on Sapphire & Steel

Growing up in England the ‘70s-‘80s I was very (un?)lucky to witness many scary moments on TV, but one that always comes up in discussions is SAPPHIRE & STEEL starring DAVID McCALLUM as Steel and JOANNA LUMLEY as Sapphire – a pair of psychic-sci-fi detectives, who would turn up in odd places where strange things had happened. They were usually shown in 2 or 3 parts, and always left you on a creepy cliffhanger – after which I would be sent to bed to terrify myself wondering WHAT was going on!

The two that stuck in my mind were: A couple are downstairs whilst a little baby is in its crib, something happens and the baby turns into grown man! That part ended with a bare leg stepping over the side of the crib and the foot standing on the rug in close-up (I know it doesn’t sound that scary, but the atmosphere was so WEIRD and I had no clue as to what it was all about); the second one that freaked me out involved a man walking down a staircase who turns to camera to show he has no face!! Brrrrr … that one still gives me the chills.

Luckily for me, the entire set of series 1 and 2 is available on DVD (Region 1, but fortunately I have a universal DVD player). And as my husband and I sat down to watch the first episode (he having equally scary memories about different parts of the show), Assignment 1, I was gratified to find that it STILL creeps me out and I STILL have no idea what’s going on – even the theme tune scares me!

Watch the opening of Assignment 1 HERE (nursery rhymes will never be the same again)!

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11 years ago

Oooh! I love ‘Sapphire and Steel’!
One of the creepifying things about the series as a whole is that you begin to realize the protagonists are not really all that concerned about protecting individual lives… they not at all sentimental like good old Dr. Who.
The radio show versions that continue the show with David Warner as Steel are also really well done.

unkle lancifer
unkle lancifer(@unkle-lancifer)
11 years ago

Thanks for introducing me to this show Bluegrasslass! I think we missed out on this one in the states. It definitely looks like something I’d like to see.

11 years ago

Yes, thank you. I cant stop watching on You tube. We really missed out here.

Brother Bill
Brother Bill(@brother-bill)
11 years ago

One of the things I love about this site is discovering shows like “Sapphire and Steel!” Despite being a fan of 70s-era British sci-fi and made-for-TV horror in general, I somehow managed to get to my ripe old age without ever being aware of this show. Now, prompted by this post, I’ve watched the entire episode with the faceless man and enjoyed it so much I ordered the entire set on DVD. The show reminds me of Outer Limits, specifically the episode Forms of Things Unknown (coincidentally starring David McCallum, aka “Steel”) in that there are mysterious goings-ons at a specific location that are part sci-fi, part horror, operating under rules the audience never completely understands and are never explained. But unlike Outer Limits, which is photographed in incredible feature-film quality black and white, “Sapphire and Steel” is shot on video, but in an artistic and vaguely unnerving style that reminded me of other shows from the era like Dark Shadows, Dr. Who, certain episodes of Mystery! and even the mini-series “I Claudius”. With the recent trend of directors shooting in the style of films from the past (see Grindhouse, Black Dynamite, House of the Devil, Call of Cthulu, OSS 117, etc.) I’d love to see someone take a crack at replicating the semi-creepy shot-on-video look of shows like this one.

11 years ago

Hey Brother Bill, I’m so glad I helped a fellow horror fan find this show; that’s what I was hoping for when I sent the post in. I’ve sent poor ol’ unkle lancifer loads of stuff about British traumas, so hopefully you’ll find something else you like when the poor bloke gets round to sifting through it all.
This site is the best! It has inspired me toward new films & shows and I’m happy that I’ve managed to pay that back a little 😀