Are you a cult-member?

So it’s a hyped up title for a blog post, but we’ve all been involved in cults whether we’ve realised it or not. There are many subtle meanings to the word, but the one I’m focusing on is “a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.” As such, I think it’s true to say that we’ve all got a band, a film or an author to which we have pledged allegiance at one time or another.

This week, I’m delighted to host a guest blog for Southport writer, Robert Scott-Norton who has taken up this theme in the guise of his devotion to a much-loved TV series of yesteryear. Before I hand you over, though a few words about him.

Rob is a genre-straddling author who describes his work as ‘sci-fi thrillers on the edge of horror.’ I’m just reading through his latest novel, ‘The remnant keeper,’ and it’s fair to say it hooked me from the first page. I’d thoroughly recommend it if you’re looking for something original, inventive, thrilling and spine-tinglingly good. Do check out his website.

Anyway, enough from me, over to Rob:-

Sapphire and Steel – The terror still lives with me 1979-1982

Sapphire and steel

I was four when PJ Hammond’s science-fiction fantasy series was first broadcast, and seven when it ended. What the hell was my mum doing letting me watch such a disturbing TV show? Perhaps, she’d become so used to my demands to watch Doctor Who that it just seemed to be the show the other channel were doing to compete. Perhaps, she had no idea what kind of show it was when we watched it together. Whatever the reason, I’m so grateful that this show formed part of my childhood because it was bloody fantastic.

Sapphire and Steel consisted of thirty-four episodes spread over four series and six adventures. This was a show that had fully embraced the episodic nature of good television and thrived on tremendous cliff-hangers. The main characters were beings from a different realm with supernatural powers. Their objectives although sometimes uncertain, were all about fighting back against the destructive nature of time.

Most people who remember the show will recall the adventure set at the railway station with the whistling soldier, or the story with the faceless character. But with such striking images as these stories evoked, it’s no wonder these stayed with me as well, far beyond childhood and into middle age.

And whilst not a show I’d cite as a main source of my inspiration for writing fiction, many of the show’s qualities have stayed with me and imbue my writing today.

Atmosphere is super important. The slow buildup of tension and suspension of disbelief is what grounded the show in its own world—made it so real despite the paranormal stuff that was happening. I can’t write without finding myself pulled into the shadows and leaving my characters wondering about the strange noises in the attic.

The supernatural abilities of the main characters were an obvious draw for a small child, but with our enduring love for super-powered characters, they are timeless. Steel with all of his aloofness was countered perfectly by the radiant Sapphire. Mysterious characters are a joy to write.

Taking bonkers ideas like face stealing and making it truly threatening has been the mainstay of great shows like The X-Files, Sapphire and Steel, and Doctor Who (especially Stephen Moffat’s version). Twisting reality is what I love most about fiction writing and it’s these shows I must doff a hat to.

With the fabulous Neil Cross penning a TV script we can only hope that the show returns to our screens very soon. I’ll be making sure my own kids are safely snuggled next to me on the sofa when it does.

 

Robert Scott-Norton

www.robertscottnorton.com

Robert Scott-Norton writes to thrill, entertain, and keep people reading until the last page. Raised in Southport, he’s lived there most of his life and has concluded that this ordinary seaside town is the perfect setting for all the horrors he can throw at it.

Author of: The Face StealerThe Drifter and The Remnant Keeper

 

Thanks to Rob for this article. Joanna Lumley was my first pin-up as a teenager, so it evoked a lot of memories for me.

Rob and I are both interested to know – What memories do you have of Sapphire and Steele? Do you have a favourite cult show you could recommend? How dark a series would you let your kids watch?

Post your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time,

Excelsior,

Tom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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