The school has stood for a hundred years and is rightly proud
of its pupils' achievements. But not everyone wants to join
in the fun. What are the teachers so afraid of? Why have the
school's ghosts chosen this moment to enact their revenge?
What terrible truth is the headmaster hiding? Sapphire and
Steel could spoil it for everyone by asking such awkward questions.
Perhaps they should be taught a lesson...
A new series, a new cover design. Evidently the folks at Big
Finish felt that the series style of the previous season,
with the faces of Sapphire (Susannah Harker) and Steel (David
Warner) shown in profile to the left of the image, was too
monotonous. I'm not sure I agree, but nevertheless we can
expect more variety with the covers during this, the second
storytelling front, however, remains as dependable as it has
ever been, and that's the important thing.
his school setting, writer Simon Guerrier has tapped into
the locus of many of our childhood fears, and it's easy to
imagine the original ATV series visiting such a place. However,
whereas the television show was intended as family viewing,
these CDs will be listened to by a prominently adult audience
- those of us who grew up with the show - so Guerrier deals
as much with the teachers' fears as he does with those of
the pupils. While the children are afraid of such things as
not fitting in with the "in" crowd, bullying and strict teachers,
the staff have more adult concerns, such as disruptive pupils,
OFSTED inspectors, disciplinary procedures and losing their
This audio drama, like The
Lighthouse and Dead
Man Walking, deals with decidedly adult subject
matter. For example, the headmaster, Mr Leslie (Keith Drinkel)
makes a pass at Sapphire, while another teacher, Max (James
Daniel Wilson) makes an inappropriate comment about adolescent
schoolgirls. Even Steel had a "thing" with fellow operative
Jet, as Sapphire reminds him. The play also features some
particularly gruesome sound effects.
On a more light-hearted note, several characters take on childish
personality traits (well characterised by Harker, Wilson and
Warner) but even these moments have their more sinister side.
first of the two discs in this pack also includes a behind-the-scenes
look at the writing of last season's Daisy
Chain (which was my personal favourite). It
is revealed that the ending proved controversial with certain
listeners (but not with me - I thought it was very effective).
As writer Joseph Lidster points out, the conclusion isn't
that different to the end of Assignment
Two, so it's hardly unprecedented.
in all, The School demonstrates considerable class.
Well done, Guerrier - eight out of ten.
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