Series 1 - Episode 1
by Ray Rigby, based upon a story by Patrick Brawn
Production completed: 30 December 1960. First transmission: 7 January 1961
A car pulls up in a rain-soaked street, the shady-looking driving, Spicer (Godfrey Quigley), getting out and scanning the houses until he sees the surgeries of Dr Tredding and Dr Keel; he goes around the corner and climbs over the side gate. Inside, Dr Tredding (Philip Stone) calls for his receptionist, Peggy (Catherine Woodville) who is busy kissing the other GP, Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry). She tells Keel she has to go and he relents, telling her he wants her to himself tomorrow; she goes to Tredding's office just as Spicer slips in the back door. Spooked by the sound of their voices, he hides in the waiting room and hears her return to Keel's room. She chides him that he's forgotten something but he can't work out what it is - bedroom, builders, paint, curtains, church, he'll tell "old Dick Tredding" about it so they have a best man to hold the ring... the ring!
Tredding meanwhile closes his books, lights his pipe and departs the office for the day, turning the light out. Spicer takes the opportunity to enter Tredding's surgery and starts opening the dispensary with a knife. He's startled when Tredding pops his head back in for a second, then goes looking for Dr Keel. David grabs Peggy as he enters and kisses her; Tredding stares at then then asks if he is correct in thinking Keel wants him to cover for him for a fortnight. Keels confirms it, saying he's getting married. "So am I", laughs Peggy, and Tredding swears he's seen it coming for months. They explain that Peggy's parents will not return from America for a year and asks him if he'd like to be best man, or give the bride away, and he says he'd be only too pleased to do both.
Spicer is startled when Tredding's 'phone suddenly rings and he hides behind the door when Peggy comes to answer it. She picks up the appointment book - revealing a plain brown paper parcel - and records the patient's name. She leaves and Spicer is about to grab the parcel when the 'phone rings again. Peggy returns and discovers it's an annoying patient called Mrs Simpson who only wants to talk to Dr Keel, so Peggy calls him over. He talks to her, slapping Peggy to stop her kissing him while he's on the phone, and toys with the parcel as he organises a time to see the patient. Keel takes the parcel with him, much to Spicer's disgust; spicer hears them arrange to meet outside Vinson's at 5:15. Peggy then gives the parcel to Tredding, mistaking it for a sample, and he says he'll look at it after he's finishes the paper - she'd better run along or she'll be late, and she's not to forget Mrs Hudson's prescription. Spicer gives up and vaults back over the gate then drives off.
Across town, Johnson (Charles Wade) and Charlie (Murray Melvin) are discussing the cock-up, Charlie saying that the receptionist got a good look at Johnson when he delivered the parcel - he must have been coked up when he did it. Johnson swears blind he was sober and went to the address after looking it up - Dr Tredding - and delivered a parcel addressed to him. Charlie accuses him of still being high, saying he'll have to explain to the big man how he lost £4,000 worth of snow if they open it and discover the contents.
Johnson is shocked to discover the 'big man' already knows. Spicer returns and says the package is still unopened, but he couldn't retrieve it; the girl definitely saw Johnson though. Johnson hopes they can go back tonight and Charlie laughs nastily, "Maybe we could send you", then phones his boss who tells him it's the girl or Johnson. Charlie says Johnson wouldn't be too hard but his boss says he knows the contacts, so it's the girl who will have to go. He asks for Spicer, who nominates 5:15 in the street that day as the time for the hit, delighting his boss who hangs up. Spicer asks the spivvy Charlie if he knows where Vinson's jewellers is, muttering "Yeah, you would" when he says he does, and orders him to drive them all there. Johnson nervously asks where they're going and is told they're "going to look at some engagement rings".
They park in the street as pedestrians rush through the rain, and Spicer readies his sniper rifle in the back seat. He trains the sight on Dr Keel, who is waiting outside the shop already. Peggy pushes her way through the crowd and kisses him but when they turn to enter the shop Spicer pull the trigger and she slumps against him, dead. Dr Keel hugs her to him and when he discovers the blood seeping through her coat, he stares around at the street in shock and distress while an onlooker calls a taxi to take her to hospital...
And there we leave it.
Sadly, the other two reels of the episode are yet to be found and may no longer exist. The rest of the episode we knew only from the extracts of the script in Patrick Macnee's book, The Avengers and Me, and Dave Rogers' research of the original script and paperwork. Recently, however, the camera script has been found and it is summarised below.
Keel is determined to bring Peggy's killer to justice but is dismayed when he finds the police have insufficient evidence to proceed. He resolves to find them himself and follows the trail to the consulting rooms of Dr Treading, a dubious GP who was the intended recipient of the package of heroin.
When he arrives at Treading's surgery, a stranger (Ptrick Macnee) opens the door and tells him to come in, then departs hurriedly. Inside, all is quiet and Keel discovers Treading's body in the bedroom, beside some suitcases.
Coming back out, he encounters Stella (Moira Redmond), a nervous woman who has arrived to see Dr Treading. She confirms the body is Treading but wants nothing to do with it. Keel gets tough with her; he knows a junkie when he sees one; but she doesn't know anything so he lets her go when she refuses proper treatment. A short time later, Inspector Wilson and his sergeant (Alister Williamson and Astor Sklair) arrive and Keel shows them the body and describes the mysterious stranger. Keel then returns to his flat where he finds the stranger - it is Steed, but he doesn't disclose his name - sitting in an armchair in his lounge. Keel orders him out and threatens to call the police but Steed persuades him his only chance of vengeance will come through his assistance - Steed wants Peggy's killer as much as Keel does. Steed persuades him to pose as a cash-strapped GP who has decided he's had enough and seeks the easy riches of a life pushing heroin; he will have a visit the following afternoon at 4:30 from the courier, after which they'll be in business.
The drug courier is Johnson, who delivers the package and then asks for a favour - Stella walks in and Johnson asks for her to have "a little treatment". Steed meanwhile is playing poker with Charlie and tells him he is playing Keel, who has been talked into handling the stuff and now been compromised by Stella. Steed tells Charlie that Keel knows he's being used but thinks himself clever enough to get out at the last moment - but will just end up in the noose. If Spicer hadn't killed Treading before Steed arrived they might have saved themselves some trouble! When Steed leaves, Charlies orders Spicer to follow him...
Steed visits Keel and learns he evaded the trap by prescribing Stella a proper treatment rather than giving her heroin. Steed tells him to refuse to co-operate with the gang and hint he may go to the police. He warns him the man they send to kill him will be the man who killed Peggy.However, Spicer is watching the surgery and phones Charlie to inform him Steed is talking to Keel...
Johnson returns to the surgery, asking for a dose but Keel rebuffs him as planned - and he tells him he didn't give any to Stella either so they have nothing on him. Dr Tredding interrupts, defusing the situation, and Johnson leaves. Keel then has to negoiate his way carefully around the somewhat predatory diplomat's wife, Mrs Simpson (June Monkhouse), who is his next patient.
Later, he receives a call from Steed, telling him to be outside Vinson's in 30 minutes and he is to get into the killer's car when ordered to. Steed then tells Charlie to get Spicer, Keel will be floating out on the tide by 1:15
Spicer arrives in the car and as Keel gets into the car a shot rings out and Charlie, who was approaching the car, falls to the ground. Spicer decides to make a break for it so Keel hits Spicer and they fight, but the assassin escapes just before the police, who have been tailing Keel, arrive. Wilson tells him they'd been told about a rendezvous at the docks from a tip-off. Rogers informs them Chalie is dead from a single shot; Wilson muses that Keel is lucky - Charlie had been aiming at him and whoever shot him saved Keel's life, which makes the doctor pause for thought.
Wilson suggests he stick to medicine and leave police work to them to which Keel replies, "That's good advice Superintendent, but the work isn't quite finished yet, is it?"
[continued in Brought to Book]
|Dr Richard J. Tredding||Philip Stone regular007Carry On..Indiana JonesThe SaintJason King|
|Peggy Stevens||Catherine Woodville regularDangermanThe Saint|
|Dr David Keel||Ian Hendry regularDangermanPolice SurgeonThe SaintThe Sweeney|
|Spicer||Godfrey Quigley regularThe ChampionsDoctor WhoThe Saint|
|Johnson||Charles Wade Doctor Who|
|(actors below were not seen in Act One)|
|Detective Superintendent Wilson||Alister Williamson regularThe SaintDad's ArmyAdam AdamantPolice Surgeon|
|Stella ®||Moira Redmond regularDangermanPink PantherThe SaintThe Sweeney|
|Sgt Rogers ®||Astor Sklair|
|John Steed||Patrick Macnee regular007|
|Mrs Simpson ®||June Monkhouse|
|Not billed in TV Times magazine or the script|
|Big Man (Nick Mason)||Philip Stone regular007Carry On..Indiana JonesThe SaintJason King (unconfirmed, his face is not seen)|
|Dr Treading (corpse)||unknown|
Images from other sources: Moira Redmond from an episode of "Dangerman": "Under the Lake"; June Monkhouse from "Spotlight" July 1953; Astor Sklair from a still supplied to me by Astor himself.
|Teleplay by||Ray Rigby|
|based upon a story by||Patrick Brawn regular|
|"The Avengers"Theme composed and played by||Johnny Dankworth regular|
|Designed by||Alpho O'Reilly regularPolice Surgeon|
|Producer||Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Directed by||Don Leaver regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Production Assistant||Barbara Forster regular|
|Floor Manager||Patrick Kennedy regular|
|Stage Manager||Nansi Davies regular|
|Lighting Director||Bob Simmons regular|
|Senior Cameraman||Tom Clegg regular007Carry On..Adam AdamantThe SaintThe ProfessionalsThe SweeneySpace 1999|
|Sound Supervisor||John Tasker regular|
|Vision Mixer||Del Randall regular|
Production and transmission details
AMPEX recording: Friday, 30th December 1960 18.00 - 19.00
Studio details: Teddington Two
Production No. 3365
Tape No. VTR/ABC/1040
Transmission: Saturday, 7th January 1961
|Thursday, 29th December 1960|
|Camera Rehearsal||10.00 - 12.30|
|Lunch Break||12.30 - 13.30|
|Camera Rehearsal||13.30 - 18.00|
|Supper Break||18.00 - 19.00|
|Camera Rehearsal||19.00 - 21.00|
|Friday, 30th December 1960|
|Camera Rehearsal||10.00 - 12.30|
|Lunch Break||12.30 - 13.30|
|Camera Rehearsal||13.30 - 15.15|
|Tea Break, Line Up, Normal Scan, Make-up||15.15 - 16.00|
|Dress Rehearsal||16.00 - 17.30|
|Line Up||17.30 - 18.00|
|AMPEX RECORDING||18.00 - 19.00|
Cameras: 4 Pedestals
Sound: 3 Booms, Grams, Tape
Telecine: A.B.C. Symbol, 35mm mute inserts and slides
Running time: 59.45 = Play portion: 55.05 + 2 commercial breaks; 2.05 & 2.35
TV Times listing
First of a new series in which personal tragedy propels young Dr David Keel on an adventure with undercover men and dope gangs.
|Tyne Tees Television||18/03/1961||10.00pm|
|Television Wales & West||18/03/1961||10.00pm|
- The plates outside the surgery read Dr D.H. Keel and Dr R.J. Tredding
- 3:48 - there's a spot on the camera lens in the top right corner.
- 6:43 - Tredding's 'phone number is SLOane 0181, which ties in with the external shots filmed around Chelsea and Sloane Square. SLOane 0181 was a special telephone number reserved for television use, it turns up in other ITV productions of the time.
- Spicer and the gang drive a Humber Hawk Mk. IV 1959 saloon, licence plate GBD 222, we later see a decidedly ancient Austin taxi, licence plate OGP 912.
- 12:06 - loss of focus as Charlie dials Vance's number.
- 14:01 - slight zoom in and blur as vision switches to Keel outside Vinson's.
- 14:40 - there's no sound when Spicer fires his sniper rifle, which may be intentional: the draft script mentions a silenced rifle but the prop rifle does not appear to have a suppressor attached. The camera script does not indicate any FX to be used is the scene.
- For many years, the Big Man was though to have been played by Robert James as he was the central gang leader in the second part, Brought to Book. This assumption was made in Dave Rogers' books and the error has been repeated ever since. However, a camera script of Hot Snow has been found and it makes no mention of who plays the Big Man at all. Watching and listening to the parts with the Big Man partially on screen, I'm guessing he was played by Philip Stone, who also plays Dr Tredding, putting on a cockney accent and donning a smoking jacket for his Blofeld-style scenes (noting that this was filmed before Blofeld had ever been described or filmed) - it's certainly not Robert James' bony hands in those shots!
Vance being the Big Man would contradict Spicer's confession at the end of this episode, which implies Mason was the gang leader in question. He also names Peters who was the other thug alongside Spicer when Mason slashes Pretty Boy. Another possible indicator is the actor playing Mason, Charles Morgan, actually was a big man, whereas Robert James who played Ronnie Vance was tall and skinny. This is also backed up by Vance's gang all being new characters in Brought to Book. Spicer continues but Charlie is dead and Johnson seems to have gone missing. Maybe he "floated out on the tide".
- It would seem Terence Young was a fan of
The Avengers and borrowed ideas from the episodes for his James Bond films. The Big Man only seen as a close-up of him petting an animal in his lap here is much like Blofeld in From Russia with Love - Fleming's books never mention Blofeld having a cat. Also in The Yellow Needle, there is a description of Ali that reminds us of Philip Locke's character Vargas in Thunderball - although that might have been from Fleming's description of Blofeld in the Thunderball novel.
- A memo dated 30 March 1962 proposed a replay season for the nine episodes not broadcast by ATV and Anglia and also the first two episodes, which had been seen on ATV but not Anglia. This proves that all live episodes had been recorded any may yet be out there somewhere.
- This episode was first broadcast to the ATV London, Southern, Tyne Tees, Television Wales & West, and Ulster regions on 18th March 1961, the same night as Midlands, Northern and Anglia were showing Hunt the Man Down. Accordingly, to make network schedules stay in line, Hunt the Man Down was deliberately given the exact same running time as this episode.