Series 1 - Episode 6
Girl On The Trapeze
by Dennis Spooner
Production completed: 11 February 1961. First transmission: 11 February 1961
A girl visits the circus, wanting to catch up with a friend who works in it. Vera (Delena Kidd) lets her wait in her dressing room but a clown emerges from behind the door after Vera closes it and attacks the girl.
Dr Keel is grousing to Carol (Ingrid Hafner) about having to do surgery for Dr Tredding and is appalled to learn he still owes him three evenings. She tells him he's going to be late for his reunion dinner because of the rush-hour traffic and he announces he'll walk over the bridge - it's not far. On the bridge, Vera climbs on the parapet and jumps off, a middle-aged woman unable to stop her and summoning a nearby bobby (Ian Gardiner) who sees that a boat is near the spot. Keel arrives soon after and, learning the situation, rushes down the steps and leaps the security fence. He find the bobby and the boatman (Kenneth J Warren) dragging a girl from the water and he starts trying to resuscitate her while the bobby thanks the boatman and asks for his details. He reluctantly says he's George Carvic of 12 Stadium Road W2 then departs quickly. The bobby returns to Dr Keel, who is having trouble with his patient - but it's not Vera, it's a different girl! The ambulance arrives and takes her away. Later, Superintendent Lewis (Howard Goorney) arrives as Dr Sterret (David Grey) is cleaning up. The doctor tells him he's too late, the girl died soon after he phoned - and it wasn't by drowning; one of his men was on the scene, as was a doctor who's waiting for him. The inspector is interested to hear there was a rowing boat in the river at 7pm, and more so when Keel said she didn't bring up enough water to explain her critical condition. Keel says she never properly regained consciousness, but did mutter what sounded like "Danilov" - it might be a name. He thinks he's seen the girl before but can't remember where. They search her belongings and discover the tags have been removed from her clothes then Sterret interrupts to show them a hypodermic mark on her arm.
Carol is watching television and a film about the first visit in 20 years of the Radeck State Circus comes on - she turns off the set when she hears Keel return; he describes his evening and asks for a cup of tea. The Super meanwhile returns to the Yard and asks his sergeant (Ivor Salter) to research Danilov - meanwhile he realises the boatman gave a false address. Keel remembers seeing the girl's face in a newspaper or magazine and they start leafing through the pile in the waiting room - while Lewis and his sergeant sort through photos, and Dr Sterret examines slides under his microscope. He eventually spots her photo in the television guide's story on the circus programme and when Carol discovers the last performance is at 8 o'clock that night, he tells her to get her coat and they'll see if they're missing a trapeze artist.
At the circus, Stefan (Edwin Richfield) enters Vera's dressing room and is pleased to hear how well it went and that Zibbo returned with her. She's already in costume and leaves when she's announced, Stefan following her out and entering another dressing room where a woman lies, wrapped in bandages.
David and Carol arrive at the circus and buy a couple of unclaimed ringside seats from the box office clerk (Dorothy Blythe). Carol notices the programme advises that Katrina Sandor will not be performing that night and the clerk tells them she had a fall, and is resting in her dressing room as she wasn't badly hurt. Keel is surprised to hear they had the amendment slips "all ready", despite the accident supposedly happening at 6:15pm. Keel tells Carol it wouldn't be possible for her to have got to the bridge by 7pm but he won't 'phone the police yet. They sit down to watch the circus and when the clowns come on one of them throws a balloon into the crowd, which Keel catches. Zibbo goes to fetch it and is worried when he recognises Keel - he was the boatman at the bridge! They go to ring the Superintendent, Keel using the box office phone, but he's overheard by Stefan. He tells Lewis the dead girl is Katrina and Lewis is concerned they might cause a diplomatic incident but will be there as soon as possible. Lewis tells him the autopsy revealed death was by an overdose of barbiturate. Carol says she couldn't have jumped then notices the circus poster advertising: "Vera, ... Whose death-defying dive of ninety feet will astound you!" Keel is convinced that's why the boatman was there as well but Carol is cautious and suggests they check Katrina's dressing room first and Keel says they'll give Lewis ten minutes.
Lewis is delayed, however, as Danilov has turned up and the chief wants to see him as it's 'cloak and dagger stuff' - a metallurgy expert who sought asylum in 1958 and now works for the government. Zibbo meanwhile assures Stefan he removed all identification from Katrina and tells him to keep an eye on Keel. Keel gives up waiting and goes to peek in Katrina's door but Stefan reappears and suspiciously asks Carol where he's gone. Zibbo is scrubbing off his greasepaint while Keel discovers the woman in bandages and removes them, revealing Anna. This has him baffled as he doesn't know who she is. Zibbo meanwhile has been told by Stefan to look for him and take a revolver. He finds Keel who bluffs that someone called the hospital about the girl and he'd come to see her. Zibbo asks him to examine the girl and he finds her weak pulse strange - Zibbo suggesting the sedative is to blame after Keel doesn't accept it's due to concussion. Vera enters and is nudged to play along, but she and Zibbo are surprised when Keel advocates x-rays. They refuse to let her go, so Keel punches Zibbo in the stomach, but when he wrenches open the door, he's struck down by the strongman, Turek (Andy Alston).
Stefan visits the dressing room and sends Turek to fetch Carol while Keel is roused and questioned - he maintains he was sent from the hospital, despite Zibbo's gun. Keel tells them he's phoned the police and they know he's there, at which Zibbo's threatens to kill Carol unless he does as he's told. He tells them the police know the girl didn't drown and he'd identified her from the TV guide photograph - he knows nothing of Danilov except that the girl said the name. Zibbo tells him he'll have to tell the police he was mistaken and Stefan confirms he's taken down all of Katrina's photos. Vera bursts in to announce the arrival of the police and Stefan goes to see them. He denies ever seeing the girl before when Lewis shows him a photo, and tells them Dr Keel is looking after Katrina, who had a fall between the shows. Keel is brought before them and hints there's something amiss by saying he'd been 'tied up' and unable to phone Lewis back. He apologises for bringing Lewis down there for nothing but Lewis surprises him and Stefan by announcing he's discovered Professor Danilov was a defector from Radeck, and tenders a photo of the professor and his daughter. Lewis coughs loudly when he sees Keel's face cloud over at recognition of Anna, and Keel suggests he "not take a powder" for his cough.
The sergeant is impressed with Keel's subtlety in suggesting they not leave, and Lewis orders him to get on a WT and cordon off the circus, they'll move in within the hour. Stefan is oblivious, however, and says he's glad Keel came to his senses. Nonetheless, Zibbo tells Keel they can't have him talking even after they've gone. Vera returns to check Anna and Keel asks what will happen to the girl. Vera says they have a group visa for eighty-six persons, and she will travel amongst them in order to make her father return to Radeck - Katrina was sacrificed as she intended to defect as well. She leaves and Carol is bundled through the door by Turek. Carol sees the woman in bandages and asks if she's ill, which gives Keel an idea - he asks Carol to bang on the door and shout that the girl is dying. Stefan rushes in but Keel's attempt to overpower him is stalled by Zibbo's appearance with the revolver. Keel realises the show is over and they'll be packing up, which gives him another idea...
Turek comes and takes the bandaged woman away and Zibbo tells Vera to give her another injection soon. She prepares the needle after he goes but when her back is turned the girl gets up and jumps her from behind, injecting her with the sedative. She removes the bandages and we see it's Carol, Keel is meanwhile trying to revive Anna in the other dressing room. Zibbo receives orders from the consulate, telling them to take the girl to the airport immediately and Carol only just has time to wrap Vera in the bandages and hide in the wardrobe before they enter. Zibbo sends Stefan off to find Vera and while searching, Stefan overhears Keel trying to revive Anna. He enters the dressing room but is knocked out by the doctor who had leapt alertly behind the door. He locks the door and hands the very frightened Anna a glass of water, assuring her he'll get her out of there. He sneaks her out into the corridor where he encounters Turek, and Stefan staggers back out and shout at Turek to stop them. Anna is grabbed and Keel tries to escape, colliding with some circus hands - one of whom is Lewis' sergeant, who assures him everything's in hand. The sergeant and the other hands then turn on a surprised Stefan and Turek. They go in search of Zibbo, afraid he has Carol, and Lewis knocks on Vera's door. Zibbo threatens to shoot the girl but Carol leaps out of the wardrobe and tackles him, a shot flying harmlessly into the ceiling as the sergeant breaks the door in. Keel removes Vera's bandages and turns, smiling and relieved, to Carol and suggests they go home. Lewis grins and asks if he can take a powder for his cold now.
* Nadja Regin appears in the TV Times listed for the part of Anna Danilov; many guides claim it is her playing the drowned Katrina Sandor but it seems unlikely that she would have a non-speaking rôle in 1961. It seems more likely, as with several other episodes in the first year, that the actor was replaced during rehearsals and, with the two week lead time for TV Times listing, it could not be corrected in time. I think it's a young Patricia Haines playing the dead 'girl on the trapeze' but it is not yet confirmed; there is no name recorded in the paperwork.
|Teleplay by||Dennis Spooner regularThe ChampionsDoctor WhoThe ProfessionalsJason KingDepartment SRandall and HopkirkUFO|
|"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by||Johnny Dankworth regular|
|Designed by||Paul Bernard regularDoctor Who|
|Producer||Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Directed by||Don Leaver regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|The Avengers Next Week DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND|
|An ABC Network Production|
Production and transmission details
Studio details: Teddington Two, Production No. 3370, VTR/ABC/1123 (Rec. off T/X)
Transmission: 11th February 1961, 10.00-11.00 p.m.
|Friday, 10th February 1961|
|Camera Rehearsal||14.30 - 18.00|
|Supper Break||18.00 - 19.00|
|Camera Rehearsal||19.00 - 21.00|
|Saturday, 11th February 1961|
|Camera Rehearsal||10.00 - 12.30|
|Lunch Break||12.30 - 13.30|
|Camera Rehearsal||13.30 - 18.15|
|Supper Break||18.15 - 19.15|
|Normal scan, make-up, line-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
Telecine: A.B.C. symbol, 35mm mute inserts, Slides
Total running time: 57.10 = Play portion: 52.30 + 2 commercial breaks: 2.05 and 2.35
TV Times listing
A strange mark on a young woman's body leads Dr Keel and Carol to a circus where, behind the fun and glitter, is an inhuman plot and a mysteriously bandaged girl.
- 26:35 - you can see a pedestal camera being wheeled away In Zibbo's dressing room mirror.
- 35:25 - one of the extras is late getting to his mark and stumbles about the back of the set for a few moments as Stefan emerges to talk to the superintendent.
- 36:20 - Stefan calls the Superintendent "Inspector" then corrects himself.
- 41:07 - Dr Keel offers Carol a cigarette to calm her nerves (this was the Sixties!) and she coughs furiously after taking the first puff. Ian Hendry smiles and ad libs: "You never were very good at that, were you?"
- 44:04 - someone peers in the door as Zibbo and Vera are talking, then quickly ducks out of the way.
- Ring-side seats to the circus are 16/- each, and the programmes are 1/6. Keel pays £2 2s. and receives change of 10s. - Carol then asks for a programme and Keel purchases one with loose change, ad libbing, "We finally got there", as the torturous scene finally ends.
- Professor Igor Danilov's history: born 1898 in Tolty, a small town near Radeck, where he went to university. Sought political asylum in 1957 and defected in 1958 to Britain and works for the goverment at Bramstead, presumably on munitions.
- 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 second so must have been highly regarded by the producers, it had certainly been popular with viewers, being in the top category of viewer ratings when first broadcast. Perhaps this accounts for it being preserved in the archives of UCLA.
- The biggest piece of new information from this episode is we see a very young Patricia Haines (sans makeup), straight out of repertory theatre, playing the dying and dead Katrina Sandor. No surprise she gets no credit, she only says one word. She had three billed television performances before this, all of them bit parts. (This is yet to be absolutely confirmed but it seems pretty conclusive from her extreme close-up).
- Nadja Regin appears in the TV Times listed for the part of Anna Danilov; many guides claim it is her playing the drowned Katrina Sandor but it seems unlikely that she would have a non-speaking rôle in 1961. It seems more likely, as with several other episodes in the first year, that the actor was replaced during rehearsals and, with the two week lead time for TV Times listing, it could not be corrected in time.
- Ian Gardiner (the policeman) is famous for playing the part of "Reginald Molehusband" in a government public information film about reverse parking, now lost from the archives.