Series 1 — Episode 2
Brought To Book
by Brian Clemens
Production completed: 12 January 1961. First transmission: 14 January 1961
TV Times summary
Dr. David Keel, continuing his search for the murderer of his fiancée, is introduced by the mysterious John Steed to the underworld of race gangs
The following episode summary is written from the original scripts as this episode is now lost. The camera script has alterations compared to the rehearsal script and there may have been further changes made during filming.
[continued from Hot Snow]
Having escaped before, Dr Keel and Steed seek again to bring Peggy’s killer to justice. Dr Keel infiltrates Vance’s drug-pushing gang, posing asa corrupt doctor, while Steed manipulates the rival gangster, Mason. Both gangs realise too late that they have been deceived and Peggy’s death is successfully avenged.
Dr David Keel has discovered that his fiancée was murdered because she stumbled upon information vital to a gang of powerful criminals.
The scene shifts to John Steed (Patrick Macnee) at the race track with a young woman on each arm as Dr Tredding continues,
Thanks to the help of a mysterious stranger, the gang is broken up. But the murderer is still at large.1
Prentice (Lionel Burns) is his bookmakers’ office listening to the horse racing with Lale (Redmond Bailey) and Johns (Laurence Archer) when they are visited by Pretty Boy (Clifford Elkin) and Bart (Neil McCarthy), two of Vance’s enforcers, who demand the monthly protection money. Pretty Boy is astonished when Prentice refuses, saying he’s already paid someone else. Rival gang leader Nick Mason (Charles Morgan) enters the shop with Spicer (Godfrey Quigley) and Peters (Charles Bird); they accost them and Mason tells Pretty Boy they’re moving in on his gang’s turf and to prove he means business he slashes Pretty Boy’s face with a razor.
Meanwhile, at Dr Keel’s surgery, the new receptionist, Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) is finding Dr Keel hard to work with, as he’s distracted with tracking down Peggy’s killers. Dr Tredding (Philip Stone) sympathises with Keel and urges him to tread carefully but they are interrupted by a phone call for Keel. An unknown woman on the line summons him to the House of the Rising Sun but gives no details.
At the Rising Sun, a seedy team house cum club bar, >Lila (Joyce Wong Chong) directs him to Steed, who awaits him in one of the shadowy alcoves. Keel demands to know who he is and what he’s doing.
STEED: Who am I? I’m a kind of Civil Servant. My name’s Steed - John Steed. And as to what I’m doing - well, the first thing I’m going to do is to trust you. Later I hope you will trust me -
Steed informs Keel that Peggy’ killer, Spicer, has returned,2 working for a new master. He explains about Mason taking on Ronnie Vance for the protection racket and mentions that he’s working undercover - as one of Mason’s gang! Spicer has been hired to murder Vance and they’re get their proof at last - Keel is to infiltrate Vance’s gang as Pretty Boy needs a bent doctor urgently... and Vance likes to drink at the Rising Sun. Steed has arranged a “little drama” to convince Vance.
Steed hides away when Vance (Robert James) and Bart arrive, Vance taking a stool at the bar with a view of both doors. He argues with Bart about failing to look after his brother as Keel takes another stool further down the bar and puts his medical bag on the counter as he orders a scotch. Suddenly, Inspector Wilson (Alister Williamson) and his detective sergeant (Michael Collins) burst in. Keel, seeing them, slips a packet of white powder out of his bag and hides it in a bowl of peanuts, then slides the bowl towards Vance. Wilson eyes Vance and has a brief word before saying they’re not after him, today, then turns to Keel. He orders his sergeant to search the medical bag and asks him about failing to enter heroin on his medical register. Vance maliciously picks up the bowl of nuts and, so Keel can see, eats a couple. The sergeant finds nothing in the bag and as they turn to leave, Vance offers the Inspector a nut from the bowl! The sergeant says Keel may have already passed on the drugs and eyes Vance who protests his innocence. Wilson says it must have been to someone and searches the alcoves, but stares blankly at Steed when he comes face to face with him; “Not a soul...”, he says, and the police depart.
Vance digs the packet out of the bowl and affects surprise, then quickly checks the alcoves himself to make sure they’re alone - but Steed has just vanished his hand reaching back to retrieve his umbrella moments before Vance enters the alcove. He is elated when he discovers Keel still has a legitimate practice and offers him money to work for him and they depart together. Steed re-emerges and murmurs, “The spider and the fly...”. Lila, at his side, wonders which is which.
Steed plays pool with Mason and carelessly reveals he knows about Spicer killing Peggy but recovers by talking about moving in on Vance. Keel has meanwhile stitched up Pretty Boy’s face up and met Pretty Boy’s moll, Jackie (Carole White), who takes a shine to him. Vance disappoints Pretty Boy by telling him he’s to stay inside and turns to Keel, returning the heroin and handing him a drink - and £1,000!. Vance tells Dr Keel he wants him to be his personal physician.3
VANCE: But don’t ‘drop’ your practice ... it’s a good front ... To life, eh, Doc? And that little black bag of yours ...
Back at the surgery a few days later, Carol lets Steed, who is complaining of trouble with his eyes, in to see Keel. While Keel pretends to examine him, they discuss the upcoming plan. Keel is to unlock a door to let Spicer in to assassinate Vance but the police have been tipped off and will arrive at the right time to catch him, Vance’s thugs will have been diverted by Mason moving on all the bookmakers in the area so the brothers will be alone. He hands him his phone number and tells him to memorise it then destroy it. Keel in return suggests some code phrases that he’ll use to indicate if Vance is alone or not.4 Carol enters as they finish up and Steed openly looks Carol up and down.
STEED: When I arrived here I thought your receptionist was quite plain ... but now - now I can see quite clearly how wrong I was. Sharp vision has so many compensations.
Carol blushes madly and preens in response to his flattery - until Keel intercedes:
KEEL: Your wife and brood of children will be pleased the hear that ... I’ll see you out.
CAROL (SLAMMING FILING CABINET DRAWER): Married men! Always the worst.
KEEL: I hope you don’t speak from experience.
Mason’s men move in, smashing up shops and firing shotguns as they smash their way through London.5 Steed phones Keel and tells him to get over to Vance’s immediately. Carol, fully aware of what Keel has got into, wishes him “Goodbye. Good luck.” and realises she’s falling for the impetuous doctor.6
Vance, sure enough, mobilises his men to retaliate. Keel goes to use the phone, making Vance wary, but he says he’s ringing his own bookie to place a bet on the 3.30. “Only two runners worth considering....Put fifty on will you?”, he says into the phone, delivering his code phrase to Steed to indicate the Vance brothers are alone. Keel hangs up and Steed sees Inspector Wilson appear in the mirror of the phone booth.7 He turns to him and tells him to be on his way. Steed then phones Spicer to tell him the door will be unlocked and is concerned when Spicer queries where Steed is. He says in a public phone booth but he’ll be at the Rising Sun later. Spicer hangs up and Mason smiles at him and tells him to make it a neat job.
Jackie enters the main room at Vance’s and flips on some loud dance music, which Vance immediately turns off. He orders Keel to take her for a walk, which worries Keel who was supposed to identify Spicer when he bursts in. Fortunately, Pretty Boy objects jealously to Jackie going anywhere with Keel so she leaves by herself while Keel goes to fetch a bottle of scoth from the kitchen. At that point, Vance received a phone call from an unexpected voice...
A short time later, a black car pulls up outside and a shadowy figure approaches the house carefully. Keel stares as he sees the door handle turn but is aghast when Mason enters instead of Spicer. Mason enters and reassures Vance:
MASON: Take it easy ... I came alone like I said ...
VANCE: Why did you call me? What’s this about ...?
MASON: Someone’s playing both ends against the middle....
Just then, Wilson bursts in with his men and they frisk all those assembled and are puzzled when they find no guns. “See what I mean?”, Mason whispers to Vance. The police depart, defeated at not being able to arrest anyone, and Mason explains to Vance:
MASON: You see, it was the big fix. You and me caught brawling together - or you and my men ...
VANCE: Who, Mason? Who?
MASON: Oh, a smooth talker. But a nark ... playing us off against each other, hoping we’d end up as cell mates. Lucky I fell in just in time.
Mason adds Spicer is going to the Rising Sun to deal with him now! Vance thanks him for saving them both from being nicked and then realises the door must have been unlocked for Mason to get in. Enraged, he turns on Keel but the doctor is gone, the door wide open in his wake.
Steed and Lila wait at The Rising Sun, where Steed is worrying about his amateur assistant. Keel bursts in to warn him to get out of there but, as Steed demurs and footsteps are heard outside, Keel punches him in the face, knocking him to the ground. When Spicer enters, Keel is bent over Steed’s prostrate figure. He keeps Steed from moving as he recovers by holding his hands down and, face averted, tells Spicer that Steed is dead then says, “You won’t have to kill him now - will you, Spicer?” Spicer reacts to him knowing his name then he sees Keel’s face for the first time and swears, “You!” Keel, tight-lipped, tells him Peggy was full of life but Spicer cut it short, they struggle and Spicer’s gun goes off! Keel throws him along the bar with a Judo move and, when he rises, Steed appear behind him and whacks him over the head with a bottle, knocking Spicer out.
Keel tells Steed everything went wrong with the plan but he is determined they will learn what they want from Spicer. Steed tells Lila to “freshen him up a bit” and she throws a drink in Spicer’s face as Steed hauls him up.8 When Spicer shakes his head and groans, Dr Keel threatens him with a hypodermic syringe9 (Sound familiar?). Spicer holds out for while then spills the beans on Mason, Lloyd, Peters, Jim Murphy and Bart Martin. Keel asks, “Is that enough?” and Inspector Wilson, who can be seen in the mirror above the bar, replies “More than enough for the moment” as he strides into full view. Steed is shocked when Keel tells him he would have used the syringe if he’d had to - then Keel adds that it only contained a “harmless barbituate”. Smiling, probably in relief that Dr Keel is not so callous as he seemed, Steed offers him an ongoing job assisting him in defeating crime, telling him crime is a disease.
KEEL I ... have a pretty flourishing practice, you know.
STEED: It won’t suffer, I promise you. We’ll only call on you when you’re needed - really needed.10 Well, doctor?
KEEL: You know where to find me.
STEED: Here’s to our next encounter.
- This is the first - and last - time a voice over narration is used in The Avengers. In
The New Avengers, K is for Kill - Tiger by the Tail, which is also the second part of a two-part story, has Patrick Macnee deliver a voice-over recap.
- The rehearsal script also has Steed confirm that it was he who shot Charlie when he saw he was about to shoot Dr Keel but these lines are cut from the camera script.
- The rehearsal script has Vance ramble on, he thinks himself a man of culture and points out his gauche, expensive furnishings to the doctor.
- The rehearsal script had Steed give Keel the code phrases but in the camera script this has been revised so that Dr Keel suggests them, impressing Steed with his ingenuity.
- This is from the rehearsal script - the violent shotgun-wielding hoodlum scenes were toned down for transmission as the camera script describes a montage of a chair smashing a window, a table upturned, feet stomping through an office, the fearful face of Johns as he faces Mason, ticker tape, and a fire in a wastepaper basket. It ends with another chair being smashed over a table, the bits falling onto a phone and Johns’s body.
- As the scene ends, there are stage directions in the script to reinforce the romantic subtext “CAROL TO LENS. HOLD. GRAMS: ROMANTIC”.
- Peter Hammond works the script so he has a recurring motif of Inspector Wilson always being shown in reflection before coming fully into shot.
- Seen in the picture above. This scene originally had Dr Keel take a bottle of water and pour it over Spicer, it was revised in the camera script to give more action to Lila.
- As seen in the still found in TV Crimebusters Annual 1962.
- Brian Clemens foreshadows the Emma Peel era and Steed’s catch-phrase in series 5 by several years here.