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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Sapphire & Steel: The Passenger (Part 1) Sapphire & Steel
"The Passenger" Part 1
Audio drama
Big Finish Productions
Written by Steve Lyons
Directed by Jason Haigh-Ellery
May 2005


After a lengthy absence, Sapphire and Steel return to work aboard a steam train bound for murder.


Notes from the Sapphire & Steel chronology


The carriages of the train in this story exist in different times: 1919, 1938, 1962, 1982, and 2004. 2004 seems to be the "current" year.


Didja Know?


From 2005-2008, Big Finish Productions released a number of audio dramas of Sapphire & Steel, set well after the events of the TV series. The story of how Sapphire and Steel escaped from the trap in which they were stuck by Time at the end of "The Trap" Part 4 is never told, though at the beginning of our current episode, the pair do remark to each other that it's been a long time since they worked together, and in the later "Cruel Immortality" serial it is mentioned that they were freed by Silver in some way not described.


The characters Sapphire and Steel are not portrayed by the original television actors David McCallum and Joanna Lumley, but by David Warner and Susannah Harker.


The audio dramas use the same opening theme and narration as the TV series.


Sadly, the Sapphire & Steel audio productions are no longer available from Big Finish. The CDs can occasionally be found for sale on the web by third parties.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Phillip Burgess

the Princess



Phillip Burgess' daughter (unnamed, mentioned only)

the Conductor

Mrs. Sheila Warburton

Lord Rothmore

Lady Rothmore

John Andrews (identified as a Flight Sergeant in the RAF in "The Passenger" Part 2)


Didja Notice?


The story opens with Phillip Burgess using his cell phone to call the train service in an attempt to find out why his train has not arrived for a return trip after a business dealing. The use of a cell phone helps to establish early on that we are in a setting 15 or more years after the 1980-ish events of the last known Sapphire and Steel adventure, "The Trap". Later in the episode, Sapphire indicates that the carriages of the train exist in different times: 1938, 1982, and 2004, suggesting 2004 is the "current" year.


The lateness of his train prompts Burgess to remark, "If this is where privatization gets you..." British Railways was under state ownership from 1948-1994 before being broken up and operations sold to a number of private companies. The change has been controversial ever since, with the benefits, or lack thereof, of the privatization being hotly debated.


At the end of the opening theme music, the tune merges into the whistle of the steam train. The TV episodes also occasionally had the entrance or exit of the opening theme melded to a sound from the teaser or first act.


After the teaser, Sapphire and Steel are introduced aboard the train. They are apparently meeting for the first time in quite a while. Sapphire sounds pleasant, but Steel is sullen and strictly business. He doesn't even greet her as she does him except with "I've been waiting." While Steel has always been the colder of the two, he was known to have moments of warmth with Sapphire if no one else. Since they've been separated for some time, you'd think he might be warmer towards her in this moment. Is there a particular reason he gives her a cold shoulder? Does he blame her for the trap they were caught in at the end of "The Trap" Part 4? Were the pair deliberately separated by the higher power with the suggestion that their "closeness" had become a problem and resulted in their failure in "The Trap" Part 4?


Burgess tells Sapphire that the old train they are on is a 5700 class. This is a real class of steam locomotive used in Great Britain from 1929-1956.


The Princess intones a rhyme to Steel: "This is a choo-choo train, puffing down the track. Now it’s going forward, now it’s going back. Now the bell is ringing, now the whistle blows. What a lot of noise it makes everywhere it goes." This is a variation on an actual children's rhyme, "Here is the Choo-Choo Train". The full verse is normally read as:


Here is the choo-choo train, chugging down the track.
Now it’s going forward, now it’s going back.
Now the bell is ringing,
Now the whistle blows,
What a lot of noise it makes everywhere it goes.


When Steel tries to touch the Princess, she crumples like paper. It is implied in later chapters that this is because she is dead and was resurrected aboard the train based on a character in Burgess' old book. In "The Man Without a Face" Part 3, children would also crumple like paper, as they had been brought to life out of old photographs.


Though Burgess' book is never named, the clues suggest it is Murder on the Orient Express by British author Agatha Christie. Both books are murder mysteries aboard a train, both were originally published in 1934, and both feature two detectives trying to solve the crime.


Unanswered Questions


It's established at the beginning of this episode that Sapphire and Steel have not worked together for quite some time. Is that because they were in the trap they were caught in at the end of span class="style39"> "The Trap" Part 4 all this time? Or were they freed a while back but not allowed to work together? Have they been idle since being freed or have they worked apart? 


Memorable Dialog


I've been waiting.mp3

where and when.mp3

I didn't mean for you to die.mp3

she's a ghost.mp3


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