Series 1 - Episode 3
Square Root Of Evil
by Richard Harris
Production completed: 21 January 1961. First transmission: 21 January 1961
This episode summary is written from the original scripts as this episode is now lost. There may have been changes made during filming.
Steed's boss, "5" (Heron Carvic) informs him that another agent, Tobert, was found dead while investigating a forgery racket run by Charles Hooper and Jimmy Bishop, AKA "The Cardinal". "5" orders Steed to impersonate Timothy Riordan, an Irish master forger that Hooper has recruited; Riordan is due to be released from prison in three weeks. Steed is pensive about being 6', taller than Riordan, but "5" believes none of the gang have ever met him. 5's secretary (Cynthia Bizeray) leads Steed to the records room and plays a film of Hooper's gang so Steed can identify them.
Steed is picked up outside Wandsworth Prison by Steve Bloom (John Woodvine) and taken to Hooper's print shop to meet the gang. At the print shop, Warren (Vic Wise) has just finished a stack of £18,000 worth of forged notes when Steed and Bloom arrive. Hooper (George Murcell) tells Steed that their printing plates are wearing out and he wants him to make new ones. Steed claims he's going straight and isn't interested - until Hooper shows him one of their notes and offers £10,000. The Cardinal (Alex Scott) enters, wearing his fedora, at which Steed quips, "Who's the poor man's Al Capone?" - annoying The Cardinal and making him test Steed's bona fides with regard to knowing the prison he supposedly just left. Steed passes the test so they show Steed the set-up, and Hooper confesses they haven't distributed any forgeries yet. Steed finally agrees that he's in on it and is startled when The Cardinal says he has a surprise for him - one of his old girlfriends, Lisa, is outside in the car! Lisa (Delphi Lawrence) is brought in and she greets him effusively. Steed kisses her then, sensing another trap, turns to The Cardinal and tells him to stop playing games, he's never seen Lisa before in his life!
Warren is at his flat, discussing a post office hold-up with Steed and reveals that he used to run a legitimate wedding stationery business. Steed asks why he doesn't live above Hooper's garage and learns they were all kicked out when The Cardinal turned up; Warren is wary of The Cardinal because he carries a gun; he's a bit too hard core gangster for him. Steed departs, claiming he's going to place a bet on the dogs but actually rings "5", informing him that he's infiltrated the gang and The Cardinal tried the phony girlfriend stunt, using his wife. Steed plans to check out the safe that night as The Cardinal and Hooper will be away collecting the next load of paper.
Steed arrives at the garage and enters to search the safe, unaware that someone was in one of the cars and is now silently following him. As he leaves, the lights come on, revealing Lisa who confronts him. She tells him she might not tell The Cardinal what he's doing, but she knows he's not Riordan. She only didn't say because she knew Jimmy would kill Steed if she had. She says Jimmy has changed in the two years they've been married; he's become vicious and suspicious, and he's started carrying a gun. Steed warns her that he has "enough evidence to make things red-hot for all of you".
Hooper and The Cardinal return and Steed goes to spy on them. He overhears Jimmy saying that he doesn't like the gang getting larger, and wants Hooper to tell him more about the operation. Steed watches them stacking the paper but then a truck loaded with paper runs into the bench where he's hiding, injuring his hand. After escaping quietly, holding his hand to lessen the pain, he tells Lisa to go back to her room and say nothing. However, realising Steed is about to be caught as Jimmy returns, she deliberately makes a noise, drawing Jimmy's attention. He cruelly hits her for sticking her nose into things that don't involve her.
Steed visits Keel to get his cut hand fixed, asking Carol for a large Scotch to take away the pain. He's worried about Lisa, if she hadn't shown herself when she did, Keel would be dealing with a corpse instead of a cut hand. Steed calls "5" and tells him Keel has been told about the case in case they need him, and he's dropped off some film at the chemist. Hanging up, Steed gives Keel 5's number - WHItehall 0011 - as Carol prepares an antibiotic injection for his hand.
Lisa learns that Jimmy is suspicious of Steed and had heard Steed had been seen with a plain-clothes copper last night but Lisa persuades him Riordan wouldn't throw away the money for those who put him inside. Hooper arrives and calls the gang into his office, angrily telling Jimmy to get out of his chair. He announces the boss will collect the money that night. Bloom is concerned as they've only done half the job and Hooper explains the boss planned it that way to stop loose talk; the job is complete. Steed complains they haven't used him yet and won't get any money but Hooper promises him half they offered, or the full amount if he stays on for the next job. He then orders them all to crate up the presses as they're moving the whole operation.
Steed goes to call Keel, saying he needs both his hands, but The Cardinal doesn't want to let him. Hooper agrees but finally decides to call Keel on his behalf. When Hooper hears he has rung a real doctor he lets Steed take the phone and Steed tells Carol it's the new patient with the sore hand, Riordan. Carol laughs and says "Oh, it's you. Scotch this morning, Irish this afternoon", before handing the receiver to the doctor. Steed manages to pass on a warning to Keel, who immediately calls "5" and passes on the warning. "5" doesn't want to make a move as they're after the man behind Hooper so he asks Keel to visit the garage to see what's going on while he organises a discrete police cordon.
The gang are packing up when the door bell rings, making them jumpy. It's Dr Keel, who Hooper leads into his office. He goes to give Steed another injection but The Cardinal doesn't buy it and orders them down to the print room at gun point. He tells Hooper he never trusted Riordan and now the doctor's seen too much there's only one thing to do. Jimmy says to Steed, "If you're one of us - kill him". Steed refuses and points the gun at Jimmy instead. The Cardinal sneers at him and shows the cartridges in his hand, the gun is unloaded. He launches himself at Steed with a roar and they fight, Keel and Lisa siding with Steed and Hooper with The Cardinal, employing printing equipment as weapons. With the gang rounded up and Lisa allowed to go free, Steed muses that they can catch the real "Number 1" by replacing the gang with some of their own boys.
|John Steed||Patrick Macnee regular007|
|Five ®||Heron Carvic Police SurgeonDoctor Who|
|Secretary ®||Cynthia Bizeray regular|
|Steve Bloom ®||John Woodvine regularDoctor WhoDangermanThe ChampionsThe Saint|
|Charles Hooper ®||George Murcell regularDangerman007The ProfessionalsThe SaintJason KingRandall and HopkirkThe Champions|
|Jackie Warren ®||Vic Wise regular|
|The Cardinal (Jimmy Bishop) ®||Alex Scott regularDangermanThe SaintSpace 1999Randall and HopkirkDepartment SJason KingAdam Adamant|
|Lisa ®||Delphi Lawrence DangermanThe Saint|
|Carol Wilson||Ingrid Hafner regularPolice Surgeon|
|Dr David Keel||Ian Hendry regularDangermanPolice SurgeonThe SaintThe Sweeney|
|Tobert||unknown (voice only)|
* Michael Robbins was originally cast to play Bloom.
Images from other sources: Delphi Lawrence from a publicity still, Alex Scott from "Ghost Squad": "Ticket for Blackmail", John Woodvine from "The Man of the World": "The Bandit", Cynthia Bizeray from "Mission... Highly Improbable", Heron Carvic from a publicity still, George Murcell from "The Four Just Men": "The Godfather", Vic Wise from "Kill Me Tomorrow".
|Teleplay by||Richard Harris regularThe SaintAdam AdamantPolice SurgeonThe Sweeney|
|from a story by||John Bryce regular|
|"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by||Johnny Dankworth regular|
|Designed by||Patrick Downing regular|
|Story Editor||John Bryce regular|
|Producer||Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Directed by||Don Leaver regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Production Assistant||Barbara Forster regular|
|Floor Manager||Geoff Smith regular|
|Stage Manager||Nansi Davies regular|
|Lighting Director||Peter Kew regular|
|Operational Supervisor||Peter Wayne regular|
|Senior Cameraman||Michael Baldock regular|
|Sound Supervisor||Peter Cazaly regular|
|Vision Mixer||Del Randall regular|
Production and transmission details
Studio details: Teddington Two, Production No. 3367, VTR/ABC/1089 (Rec. off T/X)
Transmission: 21st January 1961, 10.00-11.00 p.m.
|Friday, 20th January 1961|
|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|
|Saturday, 21st January 1961|
|Camera Rehearsal||14.30 - 18.15|
|Supper Break||18.15 - 19.15|
|Normal scan, line-up and Make-up||19.15 - 20.00|
|Dress rehearsal||20.00 - 21.30|
|Line-up||21.30 - 22.00|
|TRANSMISSION||22.00 - 23.00|
Cameras: 4 Pedestals
Sound: 3 booms, slung mics
Telecine: ABC symbol, 35mm & 16mm mute inserts, Slides
Total running time: 57.10 = Play portion: 52.30 + 2 commercial breaks: 2.05 and 2.35
TV Times listing
The corpse and the "Cardinal" turn Steed into someone whom the lovely Lisa may prefer dead.
- This is the third episode in a row that features a shadowy, unknown boss behind the gang at the centre of the action. This boss presumably gets away again at the end of the episode but it's unclear as the episode ends with Steed musing that they might be able to capture him.
This seems to be a vestige of a possible early writers' directive to have a Moriarty figure in each episode and it may have been dropped after this episode.
- The camera script notes that the episode is to be recorded off transmission.
- 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 proposed to be run fourth, slipping down the order behind other episodes but still well regarded even though it was in the second category of viewer ratings.
- The TV Times accidentally printed the notice "(Carol White appears by permission of Independent Artists)" against this episode's listing; it should have been printed a week earlier for Brought To Book.
- This is one of three episodes in series 1 which had a pre-titles teaser in the script - Square Root of Evil, The Springers and Double Danger - but none of them are recorded in Tele-Snaps or production still so there's no proof that they were broadcast in that manner.