An auction of vintage timepieces; a man who has lived for
more than 150 years; the finest watchmaker in history; the
mysterious theft of the greatest watch ever built - these
events and individuals are inexorably linked by Time and the
results could prove cataclysmic for humanity. From London
in 2006 to Jerusalem in 1983 and Paris in the 18th century,
the strands are drawn together. Only two elements can intervene
on our behalf. But when Sapphire is struck down by disease
and Steel is trapped in the past, who will intervene on their
original ATV series of Sapphire & Steel opened with
the evocative sounds of ticking clocks. Writer Richard Dinnick
harks back to that beginning by penning a story not simply
about time (after all, that's what all Sapphire & Steel
stories are about) but a master watchmaker, Abraham-Louis
Breguet (played by Tom Bevan).
is regarded as the Da Vinci of horologists, and, like Da Vinci
in the Doctor Who story City
of Death, his craftsmanship is being exploited
by the villain of the piece, in this case Time itself posing
as the man's dead wife Cecile (Helen Goldwyn). However, the
fact that Time also acts as Breguet's muse and imbues his
work with properties that no mere mortal could hope to replicate
does undermine the man's genius in an "aliens built the Pyramids"
kind of way. Nevertheless, the writer makes fascinating and
instructive use of real-life people and events, and Steel
(David Warner) drives home the point that the watchmaker was
guest cast also includes Richard Franklin (better known as
Captain Mike Yates from the Jon Pertwee era of Who)
as the 150-year-old (not merely 100 as stated on the back
of the CD) collector Mr Webb. Franklin lends enthusiastic
support to the temporal detectives, in a manner reminiscent
of Felix Harborough in Assignment
V, even joining Sapphire (Susannah Harker)
and Steel on some of their trips though time.
original TV show can be perplexing when viewed as a child
(as Dinnick recalls in his sleeve notes) and indeed as an
adult, with P J Hammond's scripts offering scant few answers
to the many questions they raise. Dinnick's writing is more
comprehensible, containing a well-thought-out internal logic.
In fact, perhaps it is a little too comprehensible:
I cottoned on to Steel's plan at the beginning of Part 2 faster
than Sapphire did! Maybe I'm just too au fait with the series'
concept by now.
The moral of the story is that we are in danger of allowing
time to govern our lives. Even though Time (with a capital
"T") is defeated on this occasion, her scheme ought to strike
a chord with anyone who has ever felt stressed out by the
fast-paced, clock-watching mindset of modern society.
including a 20-minute behind-the-scenes look (or rather listen)
at the making of The
Lighthouse (which, we learn, began life as
a Sapphire & Steel-inspired stage play set in a railway
station), this double CD is well worth your time.
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