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Sand was the ninth episode of Series D it was first broadcast 23 November 1981.


From the VHS release:

With Tarrant and Servalan held captive by vampire sand, stranded together on the green planet of Virn, and Scorpio trapped by the planet's atmosphere, Avon must take drastic action to save the crew...


Servalan is aboard a Federation ship en route to the planet Virn, reviewing the logs of Don Keller, the leader of an expedition to the planet five years earlier. All members of the expedition except for Keller and a woman named Gena died of a mysterious virus. Gena committed suicide and Keller was succumbing to the virus when he sent his last report. However, they reported the presence of a mysterious chemical, which Servalan's colleague Investigator Reeve has been sent to investigate.

The Scorpio crew also learn of the Federation's interest in the planet and head there themselves. The Federation ship makes an awkward landing and the pilot, Chasgo, stays onboard while Servalan, Reeve and the other crewmember venture out. A sand slide then buries the ship. During the night, the other crewmember dies mysteriously while on watch.

Scorpio arrives in orbit and Tarrant and Dayna teleport down. Reeve has pulled a gun on Servalan, revealing he knows her identity, but hears the pair moving and fires blindly, wounding Dayna. Tarrant orders her teleported up to Scorpio and she unknowingly takes a quantity of sand with her. Tarrant and Reeve indulge in a game of cat and mouse and Reeve gains the upper hand but is weakened by a mysterious force, allowing Tarrant to retrieve his gun and kill him. At this, Servalan emerges from hiding.

Soolin attempts to teleport down but Scorpio's systems, including Orac, have been affected by the same technology drain that exists on Virn. Tarrant is unable to contact the ship and Servalan realises he won't kill her in cold blood. They form an uneasy truce and investigate the old expedition bunker where they find Keller, dead but perfectly preserved. Tarrant begins to realise the truth: The sand on the planet is alive and vampiric, capable of killing and preserving bodies; this was the chemical they detected. It left Keller and Gena alive so they could breed but when Gena realised and killed herself it had no use of Keller and killed him too. It has now done the same with Tarrant and Servalan, stopping Reeve from killing him and disposing of the other crewmember because it judged Tarrant the superior stock. Servalan reveals the real reason for her involvement: Keller was her lover when she was eighteen. Apparently stranded and with emotions running high, Tarrant and Servalan make love.

Aboard Scorpio, Avon has made the same deduction: The sand that made it aboard the ship attempted to kill Vila, the inferior stock, but lacked sufficient quantities. He discovers the sand is vulnerable to water, hence why it never rains on Virn. Soolin suggests taking the ship into the atmosphere to create a rain storm. Meanwhile, Tarrant has also discovered the sand dissolved by Servalan's tears. Servalan reveals she has his gun, and if Chasgo is alive she doesn't need him. Then the rain storm starts outside and they fear the sand will turn on them. Tarrant takes the gun and smashes the window, allowing the rain to destroy the sand inside the bunker.

Tarrant teleports back to Scorpio and waits until the ship is clear before telling the crew Servalan was on Virn; they are disgusted to realise how close he got to her. Servalan and Chasgo also get off Virn before it produces more sand, leaving Servalan to reflect on her relationships with Keller and Tarrant.



  • Production Manager - Henry Foster
  • Production Associate - Frank Pendlebury
  • Production Assistant - Christine Fawcett, Julia Hanrahan
  • Assistant Floor Manager - Kevin Mann
  • Film Cameraman - Fintan Sheehan
  • Film Sound - Stuart Moser
  • Film Editor - Sheila S. Tomlinson
  • Videotape Editor - Malcolm Banthorpe
  • Visual Effects Designer - Jim Francis, Mike Kelt
  • Video Effects - Robin Lobb
  • Graphic Designer - Dick Bailey
  • Properties Buyer - Francis Smith
  • Technical Manager - Bob Warman
  • Senior Cameraman - Dave White
  • Vision Mixer - Nigel Finnis
  • Studio Lighting - Warwick Fielding
  • Studio Sound - Richard Partridge
  • Special Sound - Elizabeth Parker
  • Costume Designer - Nicholas Rocker
  • Make Up Artist - Suzanne Jansen
  • Music By - Dudley Simpson
  • Series Created By - Terry Nation

Story notes[]

  • This was the second and final episode written by Tanith Lee, after "Sarcophagus".
  • Peter Craze, who appears as the doomed crewmember, previously played Prell in "Seek-Locate-Destroy".
  • Jacqueline Pearce named this as her favourite episode. This was the only episode of Series D that she was pleased with, as she had been unhappy and slightly confused at the direction her character had been forced to take.
  • Ealing Studio was covered in green sand for the studio filming.
  • Tarrant's role was originally written for Avon.



Filming locations[]

To be added.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • Reeve being aware of Servalan's identity echoes Practor in Traitor and Ardus in Animals. This is the last episode in which she explicitly uses her Sleer identity.
  • Tarrant references Servalan's role in his brother's death, as seen in Death-Watch.
  • The rest of the crew have informed Soolin of the events of Sarcophagus. She also mentions the destruction of the Liberator, as seen in Terminal, and Cally's death from Rescue. This is the last mention of the Liberator.
  • Although Traitor established that Servalan had survived the events of Terminal, it is this episode that explains how she escaped: a power surge caused her to be teleported to a Federation world.
  • The clip disappears from Tarrant's gun during the scenes set inside the bunker, however it reappears when Tarrant shoots the bunker window.


Reeve: A woman like you?
Servalan: There's something you should realise. There are no women like me.

Servalan: You apparently think this is a new, exciting experience for me. It isn't. I've confronted several megalomaniacs with guns.

Vila: I never could stand the sight of blood.
Dayna: The feeling is probably mutual.

Servalan: I'm just the girl next door.
Tarrant: If you were the girl next door, I'd move.
Servalan: Where would you move to, Tarrant?
Tarrant: Next door.

Soolin: (Examining Vila) His pulse is very weak.
Avon: Well, that should go well with the rest of him.

Soolin: You gambled, Avon. But you won.
Avon: Do I get a prize?

Home video releases[]

Series 4 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 24) in 1992.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 24) on 4 October 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 4 box set on 24 April 2006.

External links[]