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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Sapphire & Steel: Wall of Darkness Sapphire & Steel
"Wall of Darkness" Part 1
Audio drama
Big Finish Productions
Written by Nigel Fairs
Directed by Nigel Fairs
August 2008


Sapphire and Steel receive an assignment in San Francisco, United States.


Notes from the Sapphire & Steel chronology


In "Wall of Darkness" Part 2, the character of Jason Knight says the current date is July 8, 2008.


Didja Know?


The title of this adventure is borrowed from the 1949 Arthur C. Clarke short story "The Wall of Darkness".


Several of the characters in this story are Americans, but the actors' accents aren't very convincing...they still sound British!


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode




Justin Brandom

Sally Brandom (Justin's mother)

Jason Knight

Miranda "Miri" Knight (Jason's sister)

Jason's father (mentioned only, deceased, named as Derek Brandom in "Wall of Darkness" Part 3)

President Emma Godwin (unnamed until "Wall of Darkness" Part 3, mentioned only)

Russell (mentioned only)

Justin's father (unnamed, mentioned only)



Didja Notice?


Sally remarks to Jason that they could rent a DVD of Roman Holiday and watch it together like they used to. Roman Holiday is a 1953 American romantic-comedy film.


When Sapphire and Steel find themselves sent to a shopping arcade, Steel asks Sapphire what time they're in and she tells him it's the present. But aren't they always sent somewhere in "the present"? They do not have the ability to travel back in time other than Sapphire's power to rewind present time up to several hours (said by Sapphire to be less than a day in "Escape Through a Crack in Time" Part 2). When the pair have traveled farther back than that, it was due to outside forces acting on them such as the time-possessed watch in "The Surest Poison" storyline.


The shopping mall they're in is in San Francisco, California.


Sapphire and Steel discover an echo of the time rupture inside a shop in the mall called The Vintage Teapot. While there are a couple of tea houses by this name in Ireland and the UK, the shop here in San Francisco is a store of British antiques and is fictitious. 


Sapphire and Steel bump into a British variation of the American Laffing Sal figure at The Vintage Teapot. Laffing Sal (seen at left; there was also a Laffing Sam) was a primitive animatronic character used mostly at American carnivals and amusement park funhouses in the 1920s-30s. They were known to terrify kids and aggravate adults with their incessant cackle. The one our heroes discover in the shop is called Dan the Magic Circle Man; as far as I can tell, this is a fictitiously named animatronic device. (Photo from Wikipedia.)


Sapphire and Steel hear the whistled tune of "God Bless America" coming from a toy shop. This is a 1918 patriotic song written by Irving Berlin.


    At about 10:33 in the episode, dialog from the earlier adventure "The Passenger" (spoken by that story's character the Princess) is heard, "This is a choo-choo train, puffing down the track."

    Seconds later, Sapphire seems to have a flashback to events at Blackledge Prison in the "Dead Man Walking" adventure.


At about 14:22 in the episode, a child's chant of "Ring a Ring o' Roses" is heard. This nursery rhyme was a recurring motif throughout the "All Fall Down" adventure.


Sally talks about going to the park and seeing the bridge. She may referring to Golden Gate Park and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, though despite the names, Golden Gate Bridge is not visible from Golden Gate Park. The park does have a few small garden-style bridges.


Sensing an echo of the time rupture in a book at a secondhand bookstore, Sapphire and Steel rummage through a box of books, discarding several titles related to past adventures: The Abandoned Lady (a play in "Water Like a Stone") by Steven Bunnings (who appeared in "The Mystery of the Missing Hour" Part 3), Murder on the Orient Express ("The Passenger"), and Dracula ("The Mystery of the Missing Hour" Part 2).


The book containing an echo of the time rupture is The Other Side of the Sky by Arthur C. Clarke. The book is a 1958 collection of short stories by the famed science and science-fiction writer. When Steel asks Sapphire what the book is about, she says "a Möbius loop." She is referring to the short story contained in the volume, "The Wall of Darkness", written in 1949, which describes the workings of a Möbius loop. Silver was said to be trapped in a Möbius loop in "Second Sight" Part 2, though he has escaped it by "Second Sight" Part 3.


Memorable Dialog


cherry pie and perfume.mp3

Dan the Magic Circle Man.mp3

a generalization.mp3

San Francisco was wiped out by a nuclear bomb.mp3 


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