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Sapphire & Steel trivia

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Timeless A-Peel

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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:34

Sapphire & Steel trivia

Whenever I watch one of these older series, I like to go to one of my reference books for a backgrounder. Most of these series didn't run nearly as long as the Avengers, and therefore never get their own guides, but when you don't really need an episode guide, it's pretty easy to encapsulate the pertinent facts into a chapter, or even a few pages. The give you a nice little summary of the main players, how the show got made, what eventually killed it, that sort of thing. I've been using Saints and Avengers as a sort of guide to help me decide which ITC spy/adventure series to watch next, and I've seen some or all of every series in there except Man in a Suitcase. But occasionally a show goes outside the action/spy genre, like S&S, and I turn to Robert Sellers' Cult TV: The Golden Age of ITC. There's a lot of overlap between the two in terms of coverage, actually, but Cult TV is infinitely broader and, as a result, each show doesn't get as many pages. S&S only garners half a dozen, but they're pretty informative. Some of it pops up in the unauthorised Jo bio (SBAS is pretty skimpy on S&S), and I don't know how much you guys know about the background, but I thought I'd put a little of it here, just for fun.

You probably already know it started out as more of a kid's series, and was going to be called The Time Menders. It was bounced around between Thames Television and Southern before ATV picked it up, decided it could be more adult, and it was decided they needed star talent, i.e. David and Joanna, both of whom PJ Hammond thought looked exactly how he'd imagined him. Producer/director Shaun O'Riordan had actually worked on Brian Clemens' Thriller, which was what took up all his time between the end of The Avengers and the start of TNA, and considering the content of that series, as far as I can tell, he was a pretty good choice for S&S. He and David McCallum worked together a lot to try and shape the series (make-up, wardrobe, etc.), sometimes to the dismay of Joanna, who felt as though she was being ganged up on, and causing a few conflicts with the crew, but David and Joanna collaborated a lot to get things right, too. This book actually says that Steel is meant to be Sapphire's superior and mentor, which jives with what I see on screen more than the idea of them as partners. He's trying to help her optimise her powers.

Apparently the two dominant rumours about the Lumley/McCallum dynamic were that they either hated each other, or they were lovers. As O’Riordan said, “I could never work out if they were having an affair or not, because they used to have breakfast together occasionally.” (Doesn’t mean much, really, when she was having breakfast with Gareth every day in Canada, on account of them living together. How would he have read that working relationship, you wonder?) The general consensus seems to be that they got on, but were wildly divergent personalities. McCallum was very health-conscious and hated Joanna’s smoking, running around opening the windows whenever she lit up (I have to go with him on that one, actually).
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Philippa

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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:37

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Wow some nice facts there that I hadn't heard of before. Thanks Timeless :grin:

I agree about the smoking as well by the way.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:40

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Philippa wrote:Wow some nice facts there that I hadn't heard of before. Thanks Timeless :grin:

I agree about the smoking as well by the way.


Glad you enjoyed. :grin: Because I'm new, it all seems fresher to me, but I don't know how much you guys have heard, but I thought I'd post some stuff from the book, just for fun. ^^

I really, really wish Joanna wouldn't smoke, and I know I wouldn't be able to hang around her while she was smoking, either. My health outranks celebrity--there's at least one thing I have in common with David McCallum. :lol:

For some reason the second part of my post didn't pop up, so here are the rest of the facts:

It was shot at Elstree, surprisingly, where the Emma/Tara Avengers eps were shot, entirely studiobound, but you knew that. Joanna’s theory on S&S was that they were ghosts, people who died years and years ago. Sometimes she found the scripts as confusing as everyone else, getting annoyed mid-scene: “For f***’s sake, I can’t do this. I don’t understand it. I really don’t f***ing understand it.” But she got through it and did the scene in the end.

There’s another story about them casting kids for an episode, and all these stage parents coming with their kids. David Foster, the other director, remembers asking one little girl if she could cry on cue. “Of course she can cry,” her mother declared, and proceeded to slap her hard across the face. “See?”

It got letters from both fans and people saying it was too scary for the kids. The main problems were the ITV technician’s strike that interrupted assignment 2, and the death of it was ATV losing its franchise to Central, which killed it. PJ Hammond also had problems finishing scripts in time for production, which is why Assignment 5 isn’t his. He actually did have a way of getting them out of the café at the end—another element was going to come by and let them out—but never got a chance to write it, so we have a perpetual cliffhanger. Too bad, eh?
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:46

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

I do remember that Joanna said in some interview that she was told that there'd be another series after assignment 6. It remains a bit of a mystery as to why it never got made though. Some people involved even claim that there were never plans to do another series, so the information is very much inconclusive.
It's a real shame though, because the series ended on such a cliff hanger and it never got resolved. Even in the later radio series they didn't refer back to this, so how they ever got out is unknown.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:50

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

These facts are all new to me as well, thanks for posting Timeless! I love how she already used to curse back then - why-o-why did producers never include outtakes on their DVDs in those days? :lol:

Timeless A-Peel wrote:McCallum was very health-conscious and hated Joanna’s smoking, running around opening the windows whenever she lit up (I have to go with him on that one, actually).


I can definitely why that annoyed him, but on the other hand I think we can establish one thing about Joanna that she has in common with Pats: she's addicted to smoking. Perhaps she started because it was a rebellious thing to do but I don't really believe that anymore. I wonder if Stephen or Jamie ever forced her upon quitting - I remember reading Jen Saunder's kids did and gave up after AbFab. I personally don't understand why someone who is so body-conscious would ruin her health like this either, but all I know is that I'm never gonna do the same thing myself. I'm watching someone die from living a unhealthy lifestyle, smoking being the main reason, and believe me: it's not the way you want to your life to end...

Edit: I've split this topic by the way - we need to get this board going so a few more topics won't hurt. :wink:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:50

General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Philippa wrote:I do remember that Joanna said in some interview that she was told that there'd be another series after assignment 6. It remains a bit of a mystery as to why it never got made though. Some people involved even claim that there were never plans to do another series, so the information is very much inconclusive.
It's a real shame though, because the series ended on such a cliff hanger and it never got resolved. Even in the later radio series they didn't refer back to this, so how they ever got out is unknown.


I discussed the reason it ended above--ATV lost its franchise to Central, which cancelled all ATV's shows except the huge ratings ones. They had planned a sixth series which would show S&S escaping by having another element let them out, as PJ Hammond has stated, but the franchise loss killed it. The show was never meant to end that way--there was always supposed to be an Assignment 6.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:52

General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

But there are people out there who claim that a series/assignment 7 was never part of the plan, so they were either not aware of this or lying. Very odd..
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:53

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

This topic splitting is getting a bit out of hand. These whole conversations don't add up anymore :confused:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:55

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Mara wrote:These facts are all new to me as well, thanks for posting Timeless! I love how she already used to curse back then - why-o-why did producers never include outtakes on their DVDs in those days? :lol:

Timeless A-Peel wrote:McCallum was very health-conscious and hated Joanna’s smoking, running around opening the windows whenever she lit up (I have to go with him on that one, actually).


I can definitely why that annoyed him, but on the other hand I think we can establish one thing about Joanna that she has in common with Pats: she's addicted to smoking. Perhaps she started because it was a rebellious thing to do but I don't really believe that anymore. I wonder if Stephen or Jamie ever forced her upon quitting - I remember reading Jen Saunder's kids did and gave up after AbFab. I personally don't understand why someone who is so body-conscious would ruin her health like this either, but all I know is that I'm never gonna do the same thing myself. I'm watching someone die from living a unhealthy lifestyle, smoking being the main reason, and believe me: it's not the way you want to your life to end...


Yeah, sorry if it's all old news for you, but I read that section of the book and thought I'd share. :grin: Joanna, and, indeed, most actors, I think curse a blue-streak off-set. I'm sure Joanna and Gareth's language on the TNA set was pretty colourful at times, too. I dearly wish we had outtakes from back then, too. I've heard outtakes of Patrick from the eighties. I can tell you, there's nothing stranger than listening to Steed say the f-word about six times in a row. :lmao:

Joanna has said she decided she wanted to smoke back when she was a little girl and saw a picture in a magazine of a glamorous woman on a balconey overlooking a beautiful city and smoking, and decided that's what she wanted to be. She sees it as glamorous, still, and probably also likes that it keeps you thin. I really wish she'd quit--as you say, it's not a nice way to die. :no:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:57

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Philippa wrote:But there are people out there who claim that a series/assignment 7 was never part of the plan, so they were either not aware of this or lying. Very odd..


Who claims Assignment 7 was never part of the plan? Nothing I've read has indicated that--the death of ATV and so many of its series is well-recorded. PJ Hammond has stated there was meant to be more. So has Joanna. Perhaps other people in the periphery of the series weren't made aware of t hat.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:58

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Oh yes how I wish there could've been outtakes, that would've been really quite something :lol:
Steed saying the f-word does sound like something quite disturbing, as though something's very wrong in the universe, but I'm sure it was quite funny to hear as well :lol:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 18:59

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Timeless A-Peel wrote:
Philippa wrote:But there are people out there who claim that a series/assignment 7 was never part of the plan, so they were either not aware of this or lying. Very odd..


Who claims Assignment 7 was never part of the plan? Nothing I've read has indicated that--the death of ATV and so many of its series is well-recorded. PJ Hammond has stated there was meant to be more. So has Joanna. Perhaps other people in the periphery of the series weren't made aware of t hat.


You know I honestly don't remember. I know I either read it in an interview or heard someone saying it on TV once, someone who was actually involved with the series. But I can't for the life of me remember when or where I heard it.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:09

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Philippa wrote:Oh yes how I wish there could've been outtakes, that would've been really quite something :lol:
Steed saying the f-word does sound like something quite disturbing, as though something's very wrong in the universe, but I'm sure it was quite funny to hear as well :lol:


I've wanted TNA out-takes for years--I think they'd be fabulously funny. Can you imagine the sort of stuff Gareth would say if he flubbed a line? Besides, he was in the Navy--maybe he taught Joanna some new curse words, so they could swear like sailors together. :lmao:

It was seriously disturbing watching Patrick swear, I can tell you. He was really annoyed, too, so it was essentially one long stream of "f***, f***ing, f***er and all its f***ing cognates," as Hugh Laurie would say. I think part of my brain may have imploded. :lmao:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:12

Re: General ''Sapphire & Steel'' talk

Philippa wrote:
Timeless A-Peel wrote:
Philippa wrote:But there are people out there who claim that a series/assignment 7 was never part of the plan, so they were either not aware of this or lying. Very odd..


Who claims Assignment 7 was never part of the plan? Nothing I've read has indicated that--the death of ATV and so many of its series is well-recorded. PJ Hammond has stated there was meant to be more. So has Joanna. Perhaps other people in the periphery of the series weren't made aware of t hat.


You know I honestly don't remember. I know I either read it in an interview or heard someone saying it on TV once, someone who was actually involved with the series. But I can't for the life of me remember when or where I heard it.


That's entirely possible. It may be that they don't know exactly why it was ended, but there's no question that ATV's end killed S&S. It may be that, in retrospect, people involved in the show are glad it ended on a cliffhanger, as they thought it was more effective, but at the time, there was every intention to continue on with an Assignment 7, and to get S&S out of that cafe (yes, I've known the ending for years, just like The Prisoner, so I'm not spoilering myself :wink: ).
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:15

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

I think everyone knows about the ending, even people who've never seen it :lol:
My dad really hated the ending, and still hates the series in itself because of it. He called it 'pointless' and a 'waste of time', to watch it and then have it end the way it did. I don't agree with him, but I get his point.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:37

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Philippa wrote:I think everyone knows about the ending, even people who've never seen it :lol:
My dad really hated the ending, and still hates the series in itself because of it. He called it 'pointless' and a 'waste of time', to watch it and then have it end the way it did. I don't agree with him, but I get his point.


I suspect I'll dislike the ending as well--I hate open-ended things, though it bothers me less when I know it's an accident, not because PJ was trying to be attention-seeking and "controversial" (Patrick McGoohan, I'm looking at you). In this case, I'm just angry about the studio execs, the way I'm annoyed about TNA not getting any funding--it's not the showrunner's fault, but the forces outside their control, so I can't blame them for the ending.

S&S is an acquired taste, I think. You have to approach it with an open mind and understanding that it won't be an action-fest--in fact, it's probably best if you go in with low expectations, as I did, because you leave the opportunity to be surprised by it. It's slow, but I think if you expect that, you can get beyond it and enjoy it. PJ Hammond admits that it was slow, and that the story I'm watching, Assignment 2, was a bit slack, and really should have had only 6 parts, not eight--he thinks it could have been tightened up, and I sort of agree. Eight parts were too many, but I'm not letting it spoil my enjoyment of the stories. I guess it depends on your mood and what you're willing to put up with. If you don't expect much, you let yourself be surprised. ^^
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:43

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

That's very true. I didn't have any expectations about the show either, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I first watched it. I don't mind the slow pace at all to be honest, in fact I quite like it. But I do agree that assignment 2 could've done with six episodes instead of eight:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:50

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Timeless A-Peel wrote:It was seriously disturbing watching Patrick swear, I can tell you. He was really annoyed, too, so it was essentially one long stream of "f***, f***ing, f***er and all its f***ing cognates," as Hugh Laurie would say. I think part of my brain may have imploded. :lmao:


Yes, I can imagine why hearing Patrick curse would be disturbing, but Joanna's (frequent) use of the f-word has had me in tears for several times. I even dedicated a video to it to Youtube, can you imagine? :lolol:

Philippa wrote:I think everyone knows about the ending, even people who've never seen it :lol:


You mean that the both of them are still stuck in their little box (and not on Jonathan Ross's interviewing card..) in space? Indeed I have never seen the actual ending - cheers Jo. :lolol:

I have to agree with Timeless that it's incredibly slow though, and I find it hard to stick with the actual videos and to not start doing something else instead. I'm determined to finish at least assignment one because that one is supposed to be the best, but I still don't know if I actually really like this serie or if I ever will. Science-fiction has never been my cup of tea, except for Who maybe, but my love for that show can partly be explained by Tennant's great acting.
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 19:56

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Philippa wrote:That's very true. I didn't have any expectations about the show either, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised when I first watched it. I don't mind the slow pace at all to be honest, in fact I quite like it. But I do agree that assignment 2 could've done with six episodes instead of eight:


I like the slow pace, too, which is odd because I don't usually. I think I appreciate it because it works with the general mood/ambiance of the show. This is a quiet, serene drama with flashes of terror, and it makes for a very cosy watch at night (which is when I've been watching). I shall be watching them all, both because I'm enjoying them, and because they're a major part of British sci-fi history, and I want to know the content when I go back to read my back issues of Action TV. ^^
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 20:46

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Thanks for all the S&S trivia. I don't know much about the show - except that, between assignments, Joanna had a rather extreme cut and died her hair dark. So for the rest of the series she had to wear a rather obvious blonde wig! :lol:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 23:36

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Avengerdan wrote:Thanks for all the S&S trivia. I don't know much about the show - except that, between assignments, Joanna had a rather extreme cut and died her hair dark. So for the rest of the series she had to wear a rather obvious blonde wig! :lol:


Yes, I just read that bit in the unauthorised Joanna bio. :lol: It was that short red pixie cut we saw in that 1979 interview awhile back. She just showed up at the set with it, saying something about "Well, Sapphire can be all things, right?" and just about gave them all a heart attack. It reminded me of her showing up to TNA with the Purdey bob, actually, and nearly giving Brian Clemens a coronary. Only that time around, there was no wig required. :lmao:
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Post 05 Jun 2010, 23:47

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

Mara wrote:
Timeless A-Peel wrote:It was seriously disturbing watching Patrick swear, I can tell you. He was really annoyed, too, so it was essentially one long stream of "f***, f***ing, f***er and all its f***ing cognates," as Hugh Laurie would say. I think part of my brain may have imploded. :lmao:


Yes, I can imagine why hearing Patrick curse would be disturbing, but Joanna's (frequent) use of the f-word has had me in tears for several times. I even dedicated a video to it to Youtube, can you imagine? :lolol:

Philippa wrote:I think everyone knows about the ending, even people who've never seen it :lol:


You mean that the both of them are still stuck in their little box (and not on Jonathan Ross's interviewing card..) in space? Indeed I have never seen the actual ending - cheers Jo. :lolol:

I have to agree with Timeless that it's incredibly slow though, and I find it hard to stick with the actual videos and to not start doing something else instead. I'm determined to finish at least assignment one because that one is supposed to be the best, but I still don't know if I actually really like this serie or if I ever will. Science-fiction has never been my cup of tea, except for Who maybe, but my love for that show can partly be explained by Tennant's great acting.


I find Joanna using the f-word hilarious, but I've seen Patrick as Steed for so long it just seems wrong. :lolol:

It's all right if it's not to your taste--I wasn't sure it was going to be to mine, either, but I was so pleasantly surprised I have warm feelings to it now. But I've been a fan of sci-fi since I was young, so that helps. I was a Star Wars kid. Saw the original trilogy who knows how many times, and I still have a box of action figures. Watched a lot of '90s Trek, and still watch Stargate in one iteration or another. But I don't love a show jus tbecause it's sci-fi. I wouldn't consider myself a Who fan. I watch it casually, but something about it inherently bothers me at one level, so I've never taken to is as much as some. But sci-fi in itself is usually a positive for me. :yes:
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Post 21 Jan 2013, 21:13

Re: Sapphire & Steel trivia

I don't know why but Joanna using the f-word kind of comes as a shock to me. I think its because the rest of the time she seems so lovely and kind and stuff and her voice is out of this world! So when she swears it like "woooahh where did that come from"
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