• title card: white all caps text reading ‘COMPLEX 
			SPOONER’ superimposed on an out of focus close-up shot of Purdey running across a field at night, about to bend down
  • One of the Canadian secret service men, disguised as a doomsday preecher outside the Pickin’ Chicken Bar-Be-Que in Toronto
  • The huge wall of monitors, data banks and tap storage of the Complex
  • Steed maintains his dapper appearance across the Atlantic, complete with bowler hat and umbrella
  • Gambit peers angrily through the bars of his prison cell
  • Purdey enters the central control room of the complex, the sprinkler system spraying water from the ceiling, drenching her clothes and shutting down the computer

The New Avengers, Series 2 — Episode 10

by Dennis Spooner
Directed by Richard Gilbert

TV Times summary

A blurred photograph is the only clue for Steed, Purdey and Gambit in their hunt for an enemy agent, code name Scapina.

Plot summary

Karavitch, a Russian double agent, take a photo of the Russian assassin Scapina, agent X 41, and a courier takes it to England, but is gunned down when he meets the Avengers. Karavitch asks they come to Toronto but is shot at the handover, and his assassin escapes when he’s released before Gambit after they are both arrested for crashing into each other. Karavitch recovers but panics when he arrives at the Canadian Security building and plummets to his death trying to escape. The Russians are always a step ahead, it seems, and Canadian agents start dying in the building as well. Gambit and Purdey discover a connection to the architect Berisford Holt but he is assassinated just as they arrive. The dying man tells Gambit Scapina killed his own father, and Gambit finds a scale model of the security building and blueprints of the Ultra Top Secret Special Computerised Automated Project In North America... Scapina! Plan number X 41. Gambit and Steed arrive at the building and throw matches into the mail chute, allowing Purdey, who is trapped inside, to set off the sprinklers and short-circuit the computer.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

On top of a Toronto skyscraper, Karavitch (Vlasta Vrana) trains his rifle sights on a man crossing a courtyard, and pulls the trigger - taking a polaroid photograph which he packs into an attaché case, then heads for the airport. Greenwood (David Nichols) is watching the departure lounge and calls Baker (Cec Linder) when the case clears customs. Later, at the Russian embassy Karavitch joins Koschev (Rudy Lipp) and Patlenko (Jan Rubes) in a toast to their greatest agent, Scapina - coded X.41 — but a message from Scapina interrupts their joviality and they’re ordered to intercept a Canadian courier in England. Wating in Kent, the New Avengers are horrified when their contact is gunned down just after parachuting in, then Purdey (Joanna Lumley) is shot too...

The contact dies, muttering “Scapina” and Mike Gambit (Gareth Hunt) fails to stop the killer escaping. At the hospital, Purdey’s wound is bandaged then Karavitch calls John Steed (Patrick Macnee), saying they found out about his man - he wants $1,000,000 for Scapina’s identity but wants Steed to come to Canada to avoid more risk.
They arrive in Toronto and their limousine drops them at the building in the photograph, but only Purdey seems to notice. The doors are locked, so they take turns to puts their palms on a hand outline on a wall, and are given clearance. Inside, Baker shows them their espionage super computer, which also runs the entire building. Steed tells Baker about the leak and explains the deal, saying he’ll need two back-up men. Baker introduces them to Greenwood and Cope (Michael Ball). Karavitch arranges the rendezvous and Baker and his men are tipped off. They all stake the site out and Steed recognises Karavitch disguised as a doomsday tramp, but it’s his doom as a Russian agent in a Toronto Star delivery truck guns him down. Gambit gives chase, stealing a woman’s car, and Steed and Purdey tend to the unconscious Karavitch. Gambit’s arrested after crashing into the truck, and the dim Sergeant Talbot (Harvey Atkin) keep him in his cell despite Gambit showing his security pass.

Karavitch comes to in the security building and, panic-stricken at seeing Greenwood and Baker, screams he’s not safe and plummets to his death trying to escape the building. Koschev and Patlenko celebrate Scapina’s indirect elimination of Karavitch while Purdey realises her déja vu is due to the security building being in the photograph. Steed ask for a blow-up then is told Gambit’s in gaol - despairingly watching the truck driver being released just before Baker can call the station. Talbot identifies Koschev as having bailed the driver out and Gambit starts tailing him. Meanwhile, Baker finds a note in Karavitch’s wallet and Patlenko’s computer signals an alert. He fobs off Cope in the hallway and heads for the basement, where he’s killed by entering a hallway that opens into an incinerator chute - Patlenko’s computer signals his demise...

Greenwood’s blow-up shows Baker in the photo and as he’s disappeared without trace and had the opportunity to turn traitor, he’s suspected. Gambit follows Koschev to a house in the suburbs but, after leaping a fence into private property, is again arrested and locked up. Purdey retrieves Baker’s file, and his computer record from the basement, and a computer signals that she suspects... Meanwhile Talbot is horrified to find Gambit back in the cell and admonishes the constable who brought him in and releases him. Steed visits a modern architecture exhibition run by Miss Cummings (Suzette Couture), who tells him the security building was designed by Berisford Holt (Gerald Crack) - while Gambit’s telling Purdey to check Holt, as it was his house Koschev went to; and Patlenko’s computer warns him Holt is under suspicion. Gambit goes back to Holt’s house and is pleased to find the Toronto Police there to help him rather than arrest him. Inside, Koschev receives a call from Patlenko - Scapina has ordered Holt’s death. Gambit bursts through the window as Koschev shoots Holt. A dying Holt tells him Scapina killed him, killed his own father - and the details are in the cupboard. Inside is a scale model of the security building, and blueprints of the Ultra Top Secret Special Computerised Automated Project In North America... Scapina! Plan number X 41.

Purdey realises the blow-up is a fake and Greenwood tells her to tell him on the way down in the lift - “they call it an elevator over here” - but the lift has no floor and he plummets to his death. Outside, Steed and Gambit arrive at the same time, having both discovered Scapina is the security building, but Purdey’s now trapped inside and the air conditioning is sucking all the air out... She loses her skirt to an air vent, but evades the incinerator trap, finding Baker’s communicator on the floor. Steed realises the mail chute is a conduit into the sealed building and they start throwing boxes of matches and a lighter into it, confusing a gasping Purdey until she realises she can stop the computer by setting off the fire extinguishers.

Too late, the computer realises the water will kill and the screens read HELP! before the console explodes; Purdey is reunited with Gambit and Steed, who jokes that Scapina could do everything except swim.

Production details

Produced:July, 1977
First broadcast:
  • London: 16/11/1976
  • Midlands: 1/11/1976
  • Sydney (ABN-2): 27/03/1978
  • Melbourne (ABV-2): 27/03/1978
  • USA (CBS): 5/01/1979
  • France (TF1): 17/08/1979

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