• title card : HOT SNOW superimposed on a view up a quiet, rain-swept street in Chelsea
  • Peggy hugs Dr. Keel around the neck and shoulders in the parlour
  • Spicer stares in shock at the phone as it rings
  • Spicer chomps a sandwich while Johnson looks nervous and Charlie is peevish
  • Peggy slumps against Dr. Keel in the street
  • Publicity still: Steed seeks Dr. Keel’s help with the case

Series 1 — Episode 1
Hot Snow

by Ray Rigby, based upon a story by Patrick Brawn

Production No 3365, VTR/ABC/1040
Production completed: December 30 1960. First transmission: January 7 1961.

TV Times summary

First of a new series in which personal tragedy propels young Dr. David Keel on an adventure with undercover men and dope gangs

Plot summary

Gang enforcer Spicer tries to recover a package of heroin delivered to the wrong doctor and when he fails, the receptionist and finacée to Doctor Keel becomes a target for the gang and is killed in the street. Heartbroken, Dr. Keel follows the trail to the consulting rooms of the dubious Dr. Treading and is convinced by mysterious Ministry operative John Steed to work with him to stop the drug peddlers. The gang try to trap him into a life of being a heroin pusher but Keel evades the trap. Steed meanwhile is playing the gang off from the inside and lays a trap at the docks, but Spicer escapes when the trap is sprung.

[continued in Brought to Book]

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Act 1

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 the predatory 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 then hears them arrange to meet outside Vinson’s at 5:15. Peggy 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. Rolling his eyes, 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..

BIG MAN: He may be a fool but he’s useful, Charlie. He knows the contacts. No, I’m afraid it’s the girl who’s expendable. Give me Spicer.
BIG MAN: Ah, Spicer. I’m afraid the girl will have to go quickly.
SPICER: Alright. Today. Five fifteen this afternoon.

Spicer’s suggestion delights the big man, who hangs up. Spicer asks the spivvy Charlie1 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 know from the camera script and associated original paperwork, as well as extracts of the script in Patrick Macnee’s book, The Avengers and Me, and Dave Rogers’ research of the original script and paperwork. The following summary for the rest of the episode is written from the original scripts. There may have been changes made during filming.

Act 2

Dr. Keel is determined to bring Peggy’s killer to justice but is dismayed when he finds the police have insufficient evidence to proceed. He is offended that they have suggested she had become mixed up in something but Dr. Tredding pulls him aside and reminds him about the parcel.

TREDDING: I thought it was a sample, put it aside and didn’t bother to open it.
KEEL: Well, what about it?
TREDDING: Do you know what this is? It’s heroin. About ½ lb. Do you realise how much this would be worth outside? A small fortune!

Dr. Keel resolves to find the killers 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 - it is John Steed (Patrick Macnee), but he doesn’t disclose his name - 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 (Alister Williamson) and his sergeant (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 sitting in an armchair in his lounge. Steed apologises for breaking in through the window then continues.

STEED: I was very sorry to hear about your fiancée. You know I think I could be of some assistance to you.
KEEL: I think you could be of some assistance to the police!
STEED: I shouldn’t do that until you’ve heard what I have to say. Presuming to put myself in your position, if I thought somebody might be able to help me, I shouldn’t throw him out, or have him arrested, until he’d told me what I wanted to know ... and if he could lead me to the killer ...
KEEL: Who are you?
STEED: I’m very sorry I can’t tell you that. But I’m on the side of the angels, believe me.

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.

Act 3

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 by 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 negotiate his way carefully around the somewhat predatory diplomat’s wife, Mrs. Simpson (June Monkhouse), who is his next patient. She describes being “crushed against a door by a press attache” and is upset that Keel is not going to give her a massage, or make a house call.

Mrs. SIMPSON: Well, Dr. Keel - if you are not going to visit me again professionally why don’t you drop in one evening for dinner?
KEEL: Thank you - I -
Mrs. SIMPSON: My husband will be delighted to see you. Perhaps we could do a show? All three of us.

David 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 hangs up and turns to Charlie:

STEED: We’ll pick him up at 12.15 By 1.15 he’ll be floating out on the tide. Get Spicer.

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: Next time you may not be so lucky. May I suggest that you stick to medicine sir, and leave police work to us.
KEEL: That’s good advice Superintendent, but the work isn’t quite finished yet, is it?

[continued in Brought to Book]

  1. I say “spivvy” here but really, we all know Charlie is gay, which is a welcome and diverse characterisation in 1961. You wouldn’t have seen it on American television then, and probably wouldn’t see it in Florida even in 2023!

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