Series 1 — Episode 6
Girl On The Trapeze
by Dennis Spooner
Production completed: 11 February 1961. First transmission: 11 February 1961
TV Times summary
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
A dying girl dragged from the Thames murmurs “Danilov” and the trail takes Dr Keel and Carol to the Radeck State Circus. There Keel finds Anna Danilov swathed in bandages and held captive by Zibbo the clown, but he and Carol are captured. Anna will be smuggled out of Britain, replacing the dead trapeze girl when the circus returns to Radeck, and her father will be forced to return to Radek after his recent defection to the West. Carol and Dr Keel are rescued by the police and the circus performers rounded up.
Anna Danilov (Mia Karam) visits the circus, wanting to catch up with Katrina, a friend who works there. Vera Korsova (Delena Kidd) lets her wait in Katrina’s dressing room but a clown, Zibbo (Kenneth J Warren), emerges from behind the door after Vera closes it and attacks the girl.
Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) is grousing to Carol Wilson (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 a boatman dragging a girl from the water. Keel starts trying to resuscitate her while the bobby thanks the boatman and asks for his details. The boatman - actually the clown who attacked Anna - hangs in the shadows and reluctantly says he’s George Carvic of 12 Stadium Road W21 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! - Anna’s friend Katrina Sandor (Patricia Haines) 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 her 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. Keel eventually spots her photo when Carol hands him the current TV Times which has an article on the circus programme she had been watching.2
KEEL: Wait a minute, there she is!
KEEL: Katrina Sandor!
KEEL: (READING) A visit to the Radeck State Circus2 will be featured in this week’s edition of Limelight. Well that’s tonight! (LOOKS AT WATCH) We’ve missed it! Well, I knew I’d seen her anyway.
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 the circus is 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 from the bridge.
CAROL: That’s funny, that clown seemed to recognise you.
KEEL: Yes I know...
CAROL: Here we go again!
KEEL: What? No... (LAUGHS) ..I think I’ll just go and phone the Superintendent...
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. After Keel hands up, Carol says she couldn’t have jumped if she were doped, 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 come 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 has an intense coughing fit to divert Stefan’s attention when he sees Keel’s face cloud over at recognition of Anna
KEEL: Are you taking anything for that cold?
LEWIS: Asprin, now and again ...
KEEL: Yes, well that’s very good. I’d take a couple every two hours if I were you. It’s better than a powder.
KEEL: Yes, I wouldn’t take a powder if I were you.
The sergeant is impressed with Keel’s subtlety in suggesting they not leave, and Lewis orders him to get on the 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. “Wo bin ich? Wer sind sie?”, she mumbles groggily.3 Stefan enters the dressing room but is knocked out by the doctor who had leaped alertly behind the door. Keel 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.
- The script says “Olympic Road W.2” but it was changed before filming.
- The “Radeck State Circus” is loosely based on the “Moscow State Circus” which toured the world extensively from the late Fifties up until the Eighties.
- This would suggest that Radeck is in East Germany rather than any other Eastern Bloc country.