Exploring the Darkness, fighting the Abstract: Detailed synopsis of Sapphire and Steel episodes

“Sapphire and Steel” is a British television science-fiction fantasy series that aired from 1979 to 1982. It starred Joanna Lumley as Sapphire and David McCallum as Steel, who are inter-dimensional operatives sent to correct disruptions in time. Here’s a detailed synopsis of every episode.


Assignment One (Episodes 1-6)

Sapphire and Steel are sent to a house where time has become unstable due to old nursery rhymes. They battle ghostly figures from different eras, and with the help of a ghost-hunter, they manage to re-stabilize time.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel are summoned to an old house where time anomalies have begun due to the recitation of old nursery rhymes by the children living there. They investigate and find that the fabric of time has been weakened, allowing entities from the past to break through.

Episode 2: They begin to see manifestations of ghostly figures from different time periods. With the help of a ghost-hunter named Tully, they try to communicate with the entities to understand their intentions and discover that the disturbances are centered around an old nursery rhyme book.

Episode 3: Sapphire and Steel further their investigation and deduce that the entities are trying to break through into the present by utilizing the energy from the recitations. The operative duo works to shield the house to prevent further intrusions.

Episode 4: Despite their efforts, one of the ghostly figures manages to break through and poses a serious threat to them and the children. Steel and Sapphire delve deeper into the nursery rhymes and learn that they need to understand the historical connections to thwart the threat.

Episode 5: They finally manage to isolate the specific nursery rhymes that are acting as conduits for the ghostly figures. Tully’s knowledge of history and the paranormal proves vital as they devise a plan to rectify the disruptions.

Episode 6: Sapphire and Steel, with the aid of Tully, confront the entities and manage to re-seal the temporal rift by neutralizing the nursery rhymes’ effects. The anomalies cease, and time within the house is stabilized, concluding their first assignment successfully.

Through this assignment, the unique and often eerie storytelling nature of “Sapphire and Steel” is well established, as are the complementary abilities and dynamic between the titular characters.

Assignment Two (Episodes 1-8)

They travel to an abandoned railway station where they find time loops caused by unresolved events from 1948. They unravel the mystery surrounding a soldier’s death and prevent a tragic train crash from replaying eternally.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel arrive at an abandoned railway station which is caught in a time loop. The date is continually reverting to July 27, 1948. The pair begins investigating the cause and notice a ghostly soldier appearing at the station.

Episode 2: They discover that a tragic train crash occurred on that date, where many soldiers died. As they delve deeper, they encounter a man named Pearce who is also trapped in the time loop, and a ghostly figure of a soldier keeps reappearing.

Episode 3: It becomes clear that the time loop is anchored around the unresolved death of the soldier, who was shot before the train crash. Sapphire and Steel attempt to communicate with the ghostly soldier to gather more information.

Episode 4: The operatives are challenged by the ghostly figures and the repeating events of the tragic day. They manage to break Pearce out of the loop temporarily, learning more about the day of the crash.

Episode 5: Pearce reveals that he shot the soldier out of jealousy as the soldier was having an affair with his wife. The truth starts to unravel, but the time loop threatens to engulf everything in a repeating tragedy.

Episode 6: They devise a plan to recreate the events of the soldier’s death accurately to appease the restless spirits and break the time loop. However, they face resistance from the ghostly manifestations that threaten to derail their efforts.

Episode 7: With the aid of Pearce, they manage to re-enact the events leading to the soldier’s death. They confront and eventually pacify the malevolent forces that were feeding off the unresolved tragedy.

Episode 8: Finally, the re-enactment succeeds in breaking the time loop, and the tragic events of July 27, 1948, are put to rest. The railway station returns to the present day, and Sapphire and Steel depart, concluding their second assignment successfully.

The haunting past is put to rest, showcasing the duo’s capability in handling complex temporal disruptions and malevolent forces arising from unresolved historical events.

Assignment Three (Episodes 1-6)

They investigate an apartment building where time is regressing due to the presence of an old photograph. They find themselves battling dark forces from the past, managing to erase the photograph’s influence and restore the normal time flow.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel arrive at an apartment building where time is regressing, apparent through the outdated decor and apparel of the inhabitants. They discover that an old photograph might be the source of the issue.

Episode 2: The regression continues, transporting the building and its occupants back to the Edwardian era. The operatives identify a malevolent force tied to the photograph, which is pulling everything back in time.

Episode 3: As they dig deeper, they uncover that the force tied to the photograph is taking on a more solid form. They communicate with it, trying to understand its motive, but face hostility.

Episode 4: They are able to halt the regression temporarily but are faced with the dark forces from the photograph attempting to fully manifest into the physical realm. The struggle to keep the entity contained intensifies.

Episode 5: With the help of an inhabitant from the apartment who has some knowledge of the past, they devise a plan to erase the photograph’s influence and neutralize the malevolent force tied to it.

Episode 6: Sapphire and Steel successfully implement their plan, erasing the influence of the photograph and dispelling the dark forces associated with it. They restore the normal time flow in the apartment building, thus concluding their third assignment.

This assignment again demonstrates the duo’s resourcefulness and their ability to confront and neutralize time-borne threats, no matter how hostile or obscure.

Assignment Four (Episodes 1-4)

The operatives are sent to an antique shop where historical figures are coming to life. They face threats from different time periods, and with the help of a human ally, they manage to rectify the time anomalies.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel are dispatched to an antique shop where time anomalies are occurring. Upon arrival, they discover that historical figures are manifesting from the various antiques and memorabilia in the shop.

Episode 2: The manifestations become more pronounced, with figures from different time periods appearing and interacting with the environment. The dangers escalate as these figures react violently to their displacement in time. The operatives try to deduce the cause of the anomaly.

Episode 3: With the assistance of a human ally familiar with the shop, Sapphire and Steel delve deeper into the mystery. They start to link the manifestations to specific items in the shop, realizing that these are conduits for the time disturbances.

Episode 4: Working together, they systematically neutralize the conduits, dispelling the historical figures and stabilizing the time disturbances. With the anomaly rectified and the threats from the various time periods neutralized, Sapphire and Steel conclude their assignment in the antique shop.

This assignment further showcases the broad spectrum of time-related anomalies that Sapphire and Steel are tasked with addressing, and the resourcefulness they exhibit in managing these complex and dangerous situations.

Assignment Five (Episodes 1-6)

Sapphire and Steel visit a modern-day school where historical events are reenacting. The duo works to stop the reoccurrences, discovering that the events are being manipulated by a malignant entity from the future.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel arrive at a modern-day school where peculiar re-enactments of historical events are taking place. They begin their investigation by observing the events and identifying a pattern.

Episode 2: The operatives discover that the historical re-enactments are not random, but are being manipulated by a malignant entity from the future. They strategize on how to confront and neutralize this entity.

Episode 3: They engage with the entity, attempting to understand its motives, and learn that it’s using the re-enactments to feed off the energy generated by the fear and confusion of the individuals involved.

Episode 4: The re-enactments become more dangerous and start affecting the physical reality of the school. Sapphire and Steel intensify their efforts to combat the malignant entity and halt the re-enactments.

Episode 5: The duo devise a plan to cut off the entity’s access to the historical events by intervening in the re-enactments and altering their outcomes, thereby confusing the entity.

Episode 6: Their plan succeeds in disrupting the entity’s control, and with a final confrontation, they manage to expel the entity from the timeline, stopping the re-enactments and restoring normalcy to the school. The assignment concludes with Sapphire and Steel ensuring the school is free from time anomalies.

This assignment showcases a complex battle between the operatives and a futuristic threat, highlighting their ability to adapt and strategize against sophisticated foes across the time spectrum.

Assignment Six (Episodes 1-4)

In their final assignment, they find themselves trapped in a roadside diner with other temporal operatives. They discover they are in a trap set by an unknown force. Despite their efforts, they end up trapped in a void, with their fate left unresolved.

Episode 1: Sapphire and Steel arrive at a seemingly quaint roadside diner, only to find themselves trapped alongside other temporal operatives. They quickly deduce that an unknown force has set a trap for them. The diner’s environment becomes increasingly eerie as they try to comprehend the situation.

Episode 2: As they interact with the other operatives, they realize each has been lured to the diner under false pretenses. They start working together to find a way out of the trap, but the unknown force manipulates the environment to sow distrust among them.

Episode 3: The environment within the diner becomes more hostile, with the unknown force creating illusions and manipulating reality to thwart their efforts. Despite the increasing tensions, Sapphire and Steel, along with the other operatives, continue working on a plan to break free.

Episode 4: Their attempts to escape the trap escalate, leading to a confrontation with the unknown force. However, despite their combined efforts, they find themselves outmatched. In the end, Sapphire, Steel, and the other temporal operatives are left trapped in a void, with their fate left unresolved, marking a haunting and ambiguous end to their final assignment.

This last assignment leaves a lingering mystery regarding the fate of Sapphire and Steel, encapsulating the eerie and often abstract narrative style of the series.


The series is renowned for its eerie atmosphere and complex, sometimes abstract storytelling, with each assignment bringing new challenges and exploring different aspects of time and history.