Big Finish – Audio Productions
A few months ago, I finished the series of posts on the TV series of Sapphire & Steel. If you will recall, they ended in 1982 and were consigned to the television history books. It’s worth noting that although it was somewhat different from most other shows of the time, UK television was pushing the boundaries of what had been possible and were really flexing their artistic muscles. There were shows such as “Play for Today” which started any number of now well known writers and actors on their path to stardom. Was there a real, single, reason for the end of Sapphire and Steel? Probably not, there were any number of factors involved and any creative endeavour will suffer them. The ideas were left on the shelf and became largely forgotten.
In 1998, Big Finish Productions was founded. The company began with the licence to produce audio plays based on the Professor Bernice “Benny” Surprise Summerfield character. These were popular enough that the company were able to expand their range, moving into Doctor Who plays (being the main output of the company to this day), plays based on the 2000AD comics, the Tomorrow People and others. They also produce, of course, the Sapphire and Steel audio series starring David Warner (Steel) and Susannah Harker (Sapphire). They began the series in May 2004 and continued producing them until the end of the third series in 2008. These audio plays are notable for their high production values and the fact that they have been able to have many of the original actors from the TV shows reprise their roles – particularly in the Doctor Who series.
Big Finish Productions have a number of extremely talented writers, producers, score writers and effects people. This turns these productions from stilted audio plays into extremely rich, almost visual, affairs. The writing is extremely vivid and, coupled with the musical score, really pulls you into the story and enables you to properly “see” the story unfold. The casting is inspired – they could so easily become caricatures (they aren’t all human, after all) and yet we feel for them and suffer alongside them. The stories are somewhat darker than the television stories, we see some deaths and much suffering and throughout we are always aware of that shadow in the corner…
It would be fair to say that these adventures don’t really follow on from the original series. Occasional reference is made to them, but these are wholly original and stand alone. The adventures are loosely sequential in themselves, but you could pick up any one of them at any time and not lose anything because you haven’t heard earlier ones.
We will see some new characters introduced and some existing ones reintroduced. I hope that I will inspire some of you to buy the CDs from Big Finish – the more interest I can raise, the more you buy and, hopefully, this will mean Big Finish will be able to fund new series.
Posted on 3 October, 2009, in Sapphire & Steel, Television and tagged audiobook, big finish, Big Finish Productions, cult tv series, david mccallum, david warner, drama, ITV, joanna lumley, mark gatiss, paranormal, sapphire, sapphire and steel, science fiction, steel, supernatural, susannah harker, television, tv, UK. Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.