• title card: white all caps text reading ‘TARGET! BY DENNIS SPOONER’ superimposed on Talmadge suddenly collapsing in the surgery
  • Palmer lies on the pavement, falling out of the door of the red telephone box on the side of the street that stretches away from us, the villains Triumph Dolomite can be seen driving away
  • Bradshaw finds one of the darts has struck Purdey in the back
  • Klokoe hides amongst the reeds in Lopez’s conservatory
  • Gamit strikes a heroic, Seventies action figure pose as he goes through the training course
  • Purdey rests against Gambit, who holds up the brown glass bottle of the antidote

The New Avengers, Series 1 — Episode 6

by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Ray Austin

The Age summary

Five top agents are killed and only Gambit can save Purdey and Steed from a similar fate.

Plot summary

Five agents die after completing their annual target practice course — Draker and the midget Amazonian native Klokoe, in the pay of Russia, have put curare poison in the marker darts on the course with the collusion of Bradshaw, who runs the course. Agent Palmer discovers the plot but can only warn Steed to save Myers after being shot. They’re unable to save Myers and a squashed beetle on Palmer’s shoe leads Steed to Professor Lopez, who tells him about curare before being killed. Purdey meanwhile has taken the course and been hit by a dart — “it’s the 1% that kills you” — while Steed is stabbed with a syringe of it, and they are both feeling faint… Realising a bottle of antidote is hidden on the target range when Bradshaw gasps “Steed’s hat” before dying, Gambit manages to get to it before Klokoe can get there first, and saves his friends.

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At the Ministry’s combat training range, McKay (Marc Boyle) lets a shot though, his shirt stuck with a red dot. Shortly after his next physical, he suddenly drops dead in front of the nurse, Susie (Suzanna Macmillan). Potterton (Peter Brace) gets a chestful of dots from a machine gun, and dies suddenly while on a fishing holiday. Talmadge (Dennis Blanche) too cops a few spots in the face and seconds after Dr. Kendrick (John Paul) says he’ll live until 90, he drops dead.

Draker (Keith Barron) and Klokoe (Deep Roy) tick Talmadge off their list, and note Dick Palmer is already dying; Klokoe nominates George Myers to be next. They consume a strange green liquor then realise they’re not alone — Palmer (Robert Tayman) bursts in but they retaliate and he runs. Palmer, sweating and hallucinating, finds a phone box and calls John Steed (Patrick Macnee), telling him he’s already dead but they can save Myers. Meanwhile, George Myers (Malcolm Stoddard) and Purdey (Joanna Lumley) are driving to the shooting range…

Colonel Ilenko (Robert Beatty) visits Draker, hinting at an American expansion if all goes well, and is advised to drink the liquor as a preventative. Back at the range, Myers has scored 97% — three dots on his back — for which controller Bradshaw (Roy Boyd) congratulates him. Steed is the only person ever to get 100% and Purdey intends to be the second… but Steed calls her and the test is abandoned. They take Myers into protective custody but he dies in front of their eyes. Steed urges Dr. Kendrick to find something out of the ordinary with the pile of corpses, and he detects tiny pinpricks on every man. Furthermore, on Palmer’s shoe he finds a squashed beetle — indigenous to South America!

Purdey is prepared for her shooting range test by Jones (Frederick Jaeger), then Bradshaw puts her through her paces. Meanwhile, Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt) retrieves the dead agents’ files from irate bureaucrat Titherbridge (John Saunders), and then meets Purdey after her test — 99%, “it’s the 1% that kills you”. Steed rings the range, asking Bradshaw to tell Gambit and Purdey he’s visiting Professor Lopez, Bradshaw shows his true colours and calls Draker instead. Outside, Gambit and Purdey review the cases and find a link — all men were on leave. Gambit deduces the medical and range test, and goes to check on Bradshaw. He playfully subjects Bradshaw to the test and is startled when the man dies in front of him, repeating “Steed’s hat” — he reveals that a single hit will kill in 12–14 hours, but more hits and it’s a lot faster.

Steed visits Professor Lopez (Bruce Purchase) who tells him Palmer asked him about curare, a South American poison, but moments later he’s dead too, shot with little Klokoe’s blow pipe. Purdey, meanwhile, is slowly starting to feel faint from the single dart she was hit by. Gambit watches Kendrick investigate Bradshaw’s body, then Steed arrives with Lopez’s and tells Kendrick to check for curare.
Hearing of Bradshaw’s demise, Ilenko orders the operation shut down, Draker and Klokoe looking unnerved. Curare is confirmed and they rush to save Purdey, but Klokoe, disguised as a little boy, stabs Steed in the leg with a syringe of curare. Purdey is asleep and unaffected when they arrive, but swoons soon after.

Ilenko tells Draker he will report unfavourably on the operation, so Draker shoots him with a curare dart. Gambit remembers Bradshaw’s exhortations for “Steed’s hat” and they race the comatose Purdey to the shooting range, but Draker and Klokoe get there first to remove the evidence. On the way, Steed starts to succumb to the poison and Gambit must battle through the deadly shooting range reactivated by Draker, while Klokoe removes the antidote from the mannequin Steed’s hat. Gambit manages to kill Klokoe by blowing in the end of his pipe and Steed knocks out Draker from behind while Gambit dives to catch the falling bottle of antidote.

Purdey revives and Steed and Gambit jokingly tell her “that was some party”, but it was lucky they brought a bottle and she quips, “Are we going on somewhere?”.

This episode has a video Q&A and commentary with Ray Austin and Philip Hawkins on the Lives in the Pictures YouTube channel.

Production details

Produced:July, 1976
First broadcast:
  • London: 23/11/1976
  • Midlands: 7/11/1976
  • Sydney (ABN-2): 2/03/1977
  • Melbourne (ABV-2): 2/03/1977
  • USA (CBS): 12/09/1978
  • France (TF1): 25/12/1976

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