TV Cream

TV: S is for...

Secret of Steel City, The

CZECH/BULGARIAN DRAMA defects to the west and gets dubbed for its troubles. Well, not “dubbed” as such, rather “lectured”. As the foreign actors went through their paces, we were told what was going on by plummy-voiced narrator. If you listened carefully, you could just make out faint dialogue in the mother tongue of wherever it was. Bundled out, unbelievably, in the hallowed Wednesday 5:10pm slot. Plot concerned two neighbouring cities, Steel City and Fortuna, separated by a river (and ideologies) in a poverty-stricken Eastern Bloc country. Steel City (grey and industrial) develop a “freeze” weapon with which to oppress Fortuna (probably a nicer place to bring up your children). Metaphor for the Cold War/Iron Curtain, anyone? Opening scenes see a fleeing Steel City worker being shot as he swam the river. “The secret of Steel City died with that man” laments our narrator. But all is not lost. Fortuna send over their own spy who discovers the weapon and probably saves the day, ending with closer ties between Steel City and Fortuna. Probably.



  1. Poppy

    November 3, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    It took me ages to track this one down! I remember the ‘freeze’ weapon very well, a sort of big artillery shell that some poor sod managed to break and freeze what looked like a load of World War One German soldiers with pointy helmets. And they say drugs are a problem these days….!

  2. Piers

    August 7, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Thank you! I’ve been wondering what the hell that was for about 30 years.

    They must have repeated it, too, cos I remember watching it twice.

    • Joanne Gray

      February 23, 2017 at 5:21 pm

      The Saturday kiddies show On The Waterfront dubbed a few episodes over when they ran out of clips from The Flashing Blade to do.

  3. George White

    February 11, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    Had a great score by Lubos Fiser, better known for his score.

    I’ve been watching a lot of weird Eastern European SF on my blog –

    Things like the “once shown on BBC2” Nazi time travel rocket comedy Tomorrow, I Shall Wake Up and Scald Myself With Tea and the bizarre Soviet UFO abduction-giallo of The Silence of Dr. Evans, complete with English-language theme song that doesn’t make sense. Featuring Waterloo director Sergei Bondarchuk in the lead, as he’s the nearest they could get to an international star.

  4. Dr Kernow

    July 9, 2018 at 7:02 pm

    At last. A thirty year old mystery is solved. This one was terrifying. Was it in black and white? If it wasn’t it was very austere. The weapon was scary, and the music even more so.
    Thank you.

  5. Clive Shaw

    August 15, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    This has haunted me since I first saw it. In fact whenever I visit Eastern Europe and see the tall building in the old towns, I am instantly reminder-ed of this. It’s crazy the the BBC thought to buy it and show it to kids in the 70’s, in fact I remember them repeating it a couple of times. As many commentators state that it was an allegory of East versus West, I think it was useful as a kid to have some early exposure to the sorts of arguments and discussions we are all involved in today…

    But at least no one has developed a freeze gun (yet!) 🙂

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