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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Sapphire & Steel: The Trap (Part 1) Sapphire & Steel
Assignment Six
"The Trap" Part 1
TV episode
Written by: P.J. Hammond
Directed by: David Foster
Original air date: August 19, 1982


Sapphire and Steel are summoned to the site of a roadside garage and diner, where they find Silver already awaiting them with a couple of out-of-time patrons.


Read the episode summary at the Sci Fi Freak Site or Watch it at Shout Factory


Notes from the Sapphire & Steel chronology


This storyline takes place in mid-July 1981.


This four-part storyline, called "The Trap" by the show's fans, was the final televised storyline, ending in "The Trap" Part 4 with a shocking twist that left viewers hanging. More on that in PopApostle's study of that final episode.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode





cafe man

cafe woman

old man


Didja Notice?


    Unlike all the other assignments depicted in the TV series, the four episodes of "The Trap" have the opening preamble mentioning Mercury instead of Lead as one of the medium atomic weights available. This is not explained, and Mercury is not mentioned in any of the four chapters proper. An interview with series creator P.J. Hammond (now archived at the Internet Archive) has the following exchange:


RS: Interestingly, the final adventure's title sequence differed from the previous five's - Lead being replaced by Mercury. Was this due to two title sequence voice-over's being recorded, and a mistake being made with the broadcast version, or were there tentative plans to introduce Mercury as a character?

P.J. Hammond: I really can't answer that! You're very clever to have noticed the character change - I hadn't. I think this must have been a producer's whim. Mercury, like most of the other characters mentioned, could well have made an appearance, had the series continued.


    Mercury was mentioned in passing in "The Man Without a Face" Part 4 and later in the audio adventure "Zero" Part 1. One might argue that Mercury was inserted into the preamble of this "final" assignment as a hint that this character would be in part responsible for resolving the cliffhanger ending of "The Trap" Part 4 if the TV show had continued. As it is, the story of that cliffhanger resolution has never been told, though the audio adventure "Cruel Immortality" mentions Silver playing a role in the resolution in some way not described. 


The episode opens on a gas station/garage/cafe. Many advertising signs are seen throughout the premises: Ace Parts appears to be fictitious; Castrol motor oil; India Tyres was a Scottish tire and airship manufacturing company from 1927-1981; 7 Up; Marlboro; American Express; Visa; Champion auto parts; Lucas Oil; Carte Blanche, a charge card at the time, now part of Diners Club; Coca-Cola; Dunlop Tyres; Bluecol; Barclaycard; Kit Kat; Tizer; British Petroleum; National Benzole, a fuel mixture brand from 1919 to the early 1960s; LV (Liverpool Victoria) insurance and friendly (mutual) society; and Access, a former credit card company absorbed by MasterCard in 1996.


    Sapphire seems to arrive at the service station first, scanning it with her powers. Less than a minute later, Steel arrives and immediately asks Sapphire for her assessment of the location. She indicates it is a service station and Steel responds, "And the time?" to which she replies, "The present." This may indicate that Sapphire and Steel are able to travel to different time periods on their own, though it may also simply be that Steel asks because the personification of time has placed them in various "simulations" of different time periods in their past assignments. In the Sapphire & Steel comic strip stories, the pair do seem able to travel through time on their own (which, in the aforementioned interview, P.J. Hammond indicates was not intended to be part of Sapphire and Steel's powers in the TV series).

    We don't know what "the present" is from Sapphire's answer to Steel's question, but the calendar on the garage wall indicates is it July 1981.


At 2:13 on the DVD, a 1940s-era safety poster is seen on the wall of the garage, "Don't Monkey with Electrical Fittings". It was issued in England by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Don't Monkey with Electrical Fittings


Silver points out the car (license plate OXL 481) the "cafe couple" arrived in, parked next to the gas pumps. Yet, the car was not there when the camera panned over the premises minutes ago!


Is any PopApostle reader able to identify the make and model of the "cafe couple's" car? Possibly a Jaguar? Silver and Sapphire claim the car was manufactured in 1946.

cafe couple's car


The petrol station sign shows it pumps Star brand petrol. Star was a German petrol brand from what I can find online.


At 3:47 on the DVD, a poster for the Marlboro British Grand Prix World Championship for Motorcycles at Silverstone on August 12th is seen hanging in the foyer of the cafe. This particular poster is advertising the 1979 event, despite the story taking place in July 1981. Another poster for a racing event at Silverstone is seen hanging on the adjacent wall as well. Silverstone is a race track on the former site of the WWII Royal Air Force bomber station, RAF Silverstone.


While playing the slot machine in the foyer, Silver takes a small cylindrical device from his inner coat pocket, twists the end so that the tip lights up and points it at the slot machine. From then on, when he pulls the slot handle the machine pays out each time! It seems that Silver carries a device very similar to Doctor Who's sonic screwdriver! 


At 13:40 on the DVD, Steel is seen replacing a file folder he'd been looking at back into a file cabinet in the office of the garage. The folder has several words on it that are hard to make out, but it looks like it begins with "The Veldon" something. And below that, maybe "Key to" something. Is anyone able to make out the other words? Veldon file folder


At 13:50 on the DVD, Steel finds a bottle of "fine old Scotch whiskey" with no brand name apparent on the label.


At 14:14 on the DVD, Steels finds an invoice from North Eastern Gas Board in the office desk. This was a state-owned public gas utility for lighting and heating of homes and businesses in the Yorkshire region of England. It was dissolved in 1973, so Steel has found a rather old invoice sitting around!


Sapphire remarks that the cafe couple from 1948 must have a ration book to get a meal. In the UK, ration books were in use during WWII and remained in use for certain items after the war until 1954. The ration book the man shows to Sapphire looks like a real one of that post-war period.


At 17:15 on the DVD, Steel pulls a tin of Gold Flake tobacco from the glove compartment of the couple's automobile. Gold Flake is an Indian tobacco brand.


In the backseat of the couple's car, Steel finds a copy of the Sunday Dispatch of July 25, 1948. The Sunday Dispatch was an actual British weekly newspaper from 1928-1961 (and known as the Weekly Dispatch from 1809-1928). I've been unable to confirm if this was the actual edition published on that date, but July 25th of 1948 did land on a Sunday.


At 23:40 on the DVD, we can see the pinball machine in the cafe is based on a bowling theme and has the word "FULL" on the backboard. It was manufactured by Recreativos Franco in Spain.


Twin Peaks note: At 23:46 on the DVD, time in the cafe takes a jump ahead 10 minutes from the 8:54 it was stuck at to 9:04. As this is happening, the people inside become blurred and briefly appear as doubles and the water glass the woman was holding at her table is suddenly sitting at the opposite corner of the table. This is similar to an event that occurs in the third season Twin Peaks episode "There's a Body All Right", where objects and people at the RR Diner suddenly change places in the space of a few seconds and waitress Shelly Briggs is left looking around bewilderedly.


Memorable Dialog


I'm not very good at intimidation.mp3

this is the future isn't it?.mp3

it even smells and tastes like a different time.mp3 


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