• title card: THE RADIOACTIVE MAN superimposed on an exterior shot of an electronics repair shop (recreated by Richard McGinlay)

Series 1 - Episode 8
The Radioactive Man

by Fred Edge

Production completed: 25 February 1961. First transmission: 25 February 1961

This episode summary is written from the original scripts as this episode is now lost. There may have been changes made during filming.

Act I

Milan (Barry Shawzin) returns to the radio repair shop he runs and greet his daughter, Dora (Marie Devereux). She tells him Inica and Frane have arrived but Marko has not, so he asks her to shut the shop then heads into the back room. He has a map showing the movements of the bobby on the beat and they will have an easy twenty minutes to plant a bomb; he plans to blow up a train delivering exports to the country they are exiled from and says no-one will be hurt. Frane (Mira Tomek) objects and says their cause is pointless; abusing the hospitality of their current country will not help. Inica (Madeleine Kasket) says, "When it is over we will give ourselves up. They will listen to us - perhaps tell the world." Frane feels conflicted and decides he will do whatever Marko thinks is best when he arrives.

Marko (George Pravda) meanwhile is in the corridor outside Dr Graham's lab, cleaning up. The doctor (Arthur Lawrence) ask him to join him in a cup of coffee. Marko is worried and says the lab is out of bounds for him but the doctor says there's no harm if he's there as well and lets him in. Marko gazes around in wonder and says he wished to be a scientist if things had been different back home. Graham tells Marko his wife is having difficulty with her pregnancy and he could do with the company to take his mind off things. The phone rings, interrupting their conversation and Dr Graham tells Marko he will have to leave, but to finish his coffee first. It's the hospital, calling about Dr Graham's wife, and while he's talking Marko notices a pellet lying on the floor and picks it up on the way out. Graham returns and immediately notices the pellet has gone and calls the night watchman, Campbell (Blaise Wyndham), on the intercom but he's too late, Marko has left the building.

Marko returns to his lodging and tells his landlady, Mary (Christine Pollon), he has a present for her son - the pellet that he thinks is a lump of lead and the boy can use when he goes fishing. She scolds him for spoiling the boy but is pleased, Marko is in love with her and dotes on her son. Graham meanwhile asks Campbell to get the Ministry involved as they don't know where Marko lives.

Dr Keel and Carol are about to finish for the evening when Steed rings, summoning Keel to assist him. They mean at the Thames Embankment where Steed informs Keel about Graham allowing a cleaner to leave with a highly radioactive pellet that could kill him and anyone who comes in contact with him. He asks Keel to visit Graham while he continues the search elsewhere and says it's a national emergency, handing him a number to call.

Keel visits Graham who confirms that Marko will be dead in ten hours and anyone else he meets will be contaminated. The pellet looks like a fishing sinker on a nylon line and the radium inside it will have started breaking down his blood cells already if it's in his pocket. In four hours' time he will have nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea. They can't wait until five o'clock, they must find him by one o'clock! Campbell arrives breathless, having discovered Marko's address and they all head off.

They visit Mary's house where her son, Peter (Dane Howell), shows them to Marko's room. He tells his mother that Dr Graham searched Marko's drawers. which worries her. Graham reminds Keel that Mary's house may be contaminated and he's going to get a geiger counter. Mary mentions the fishing line Marko had brought home for Peter which pricks up their ears - but he took it with him. Dr Keel gives Mary a number to call if Marko returns or calls her. Marko meanwhile has arrived at the radio repair shop where Dora has just told them off for living in the past and they should embrace their new country before going out to see friends. Milan tells Marko,"You have always been a patriot. And now we are going to give you an opportunity to prove that you still are." Marko refuses, saying England is now his country and what they propose is criminal. Milan sneers at him and he and Inica threaten Marko, saying they'll tell the police he entered England on a forged passport.

Dora passes Marko's house, noticing two policemen sitting in a squad car outside. They notice her too but as she doesn't enter they only discuss her attractiveness. Marko arrives a bit later and stops when he sees them, shrinking back into the darkness just before the car radio squawks a general alert to be on the lookout for Marko as he's unknowingly carrying a radioactive capsule.

Act II

Marko rings Mary, telling her he thinks they're after him because of the passport, he asks her to bring it to him at Allan's cafe. She sneaks out the back door and arrives a moment later, giving him his money and passport. He confesses that during the war he fought against the Allies, he had been made to, but it meant he couldn't emigrate after fleeing his homeland to Italy, so he bought a false passport so he could. Mary is upset that he plans to leave, she had hoped for a future together - so too did Marko but he sees no other choice. He tells her he must visit Milan to do something for him, then feels a bit faint and staggers. He dismisses it as the flu and leaves.

At Mary's house, Dr Graham's geiger counter has picked up traces of radium contamination and Dr Keel tells Peter that Marko is carrying something with radium on it, until he and Mary are found they're in danger of getting very ill. Peter doesn't know where they are so they decide to take him away to be decontaminated while they lock the house and put guards on it.

Dora returns to the shop and tells Milan about the police outside Marko's house. She goes to fetch the others and then Marko turns up and, picking up a knife, threatens Milan for informing on him. Milan swears he hadn't, he only just found out about the police, and the others arrive to defuse the situation. They, too, think the police are after him about the passport and they plan to get him out of the country.

At the lab, Peter is sent for a decontamination bath while Keel and Graham speak to Inspector Tudor (Basil Beale) who is widening the search and putting out a national appeal. Back at the shop, the immigrants are pooling resources to help Marko escape, planning to get him to Belfast so he can slip over the Irish border. The police announcements comes on the radio and Marko angrily turns it off; by the time Milan turns it back on, they've missed the important part.

Tudor has organised six patrol cars to take Graham's lab assistants with detecting equipment through the search area and he announces they've apprehended Mary who is hysterical and hasn't provided any information yet. Back at the shop, Marko suddenly collapses and passes out...

Act III

Tudor reprimands Mary for not being honest, the public threat of Marko's contamination is enormous. They've sealed off the cafe and the phone box he used. Mary tells them Marko was going out to see some of his fellow refugees which helps Tudor plan a search of Camden Town and Tufnell Park. Keel returns to the cafe where he finds the own, Flynn, arguing with Sergeant Reynolds. The place is pretty clean but Flynn isn't very helpful in assisting the police. They about to go when the geiger counter goes off - but it's a box of stolen watches with luminous dials. Flynn claims he was "keeping them for a friend" but they take him off to be decontaminated and charged.

Back at the shop, Marko has come round and they've collected the money to see him on his way. Outside, police cars cruise the streets but the police have had no leads. Keel notes, "The refugees are apt to be over-cautious. They don't understand that the police here aren't necessarily what they're used to at home. He may think it's a trick." Mary tells them about his forged passport and they finally understand why he's not giving himself up. One of the cars finally gets a lead: the radium-sensitive film it was carrying has fogged up in the Camden Town area. They set off with Mary in tow.

At the shop, they're ready set off for the airport, Inica has given Marko some money and Frane slips him his gun, just in case he needs one. Marko hands the pellet to Milan, asking him to give it to Peter! Fortunately, the police have just surrounded the shop and they can't get away. Milan tries stalling the police at the front but Tudor and Keel push past him, declaring they know Marko is there and enter the back room where Marko knocks the Inspector to the ground and confronts them with a gun. Keel urgently tells Marko the capsule is radioactive and he's dying, the siren outside is an ambulance arriving to take him to hospital. Marko refuses to believe it until Mary and Dr Graham come in and plead with him but even so it's not until Dr Graham turns on his geiger counter that Marko relents and he's escorted to the ambulance.

Steed arrives and congratulates Keel on a job well done. Keel looks at him anxiously and says, "We were only just in time. Another hour and I don't think we could have saved him." They go off to round up anyone else he came into contact with as the capsule is safely removed from the shop.

Cast

Marko Ogrin ® George Pravda 007CallanThe ProfessionalsDoctor WhoThe PrisonerThe SaintDepartment S
Mary Somers ® Christine Pollon Doctor Who
Carol Wilson Ingrid Hafner regularPolice Surgeon
Dr David Keel Ian Hendry regularDangermanPolice SurgeonThe SaintThe Sweeney
John Steed Patrick Macnee regular007
Not billed in TV Times magazine
Dr Graham ® Arthur Lawrence
Campbell ® Blaise Wyndham regularPolice Surgeon
Milan Radosevick ® Barry Shawzin DangermanThe Saint
Frane Mira Tomek
Inica ® Madeleine Kasket Dangerman
Dora Radosevick ® Marie Devereux
Peter Somers ® Dane Howell
Inspector Tudor ® Basil Beale Police Surgeon
Police constable ® John Gayford Police SurgeonThe Saint
Police constable ® Paul Grist Doctor WhoBlake's 7
Police constable ® John Kelland The SaintDepartment S
Not billed in the script
Sergeant Reynolds unknown
Flynn (café owner) unknown

Extras as Police and Laboratory Assistants - 5 Male and 2 Female

* Dr Graham was credited in TV Times as being played by Gerald Sim.

Images from other sources: George Pravda from "Ghost Squad": "A Cast of Thousands", Christine Pollon from "Spotlight" July 1953, Arthur Lawrence from "Interpol Calling": "Cargo of Death", Blaise Wyndham from "Police Surgeon": "Easy Money", Barry Shawzin from "The Saint": "The Smart Detective", Madeleine Kasket from "Dangerman": "Posotion of Trust", Dane Howell from a publicity still, Marie Devereux from "Pirates of Blood River", Basil Beale from "Dr Crippen", John Gayford from a publicity photo supplied by John, Paul Grist from "A Stitch in Time", John Kelland from "The Saint": "The Saint Plays with Fire".

Crew

Teleplay by Fred Edge
Adapted by Patrick Brawn regular
"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by Johnny Dankworth regular
Designed by Alpho O'Reilly regularPolice Surgeon
Producer Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon
Directed by Robert Tronson CallanThe SaintRandall and Hopkirk
Story Editor Patrick Brawn regular
Story Editor John Bryce regular
Production Assistant Sylvia Langdon-Down regular
Floor Manager Peter Bailey regular
Stage Manager Barbara Sykes regular
Call Boy unknown
Lighting Director Peter Kew regular
Operational Supervisor Peter Wayne regular
Senior Cameraman Michael Baldock regular
Sound Supervisor Peter Cazaly regular
Vision Mixer unknown

Production and transmission details

Studio details: Teddington Two
Production No. 3372
Tape No. VTR/ABC/1156 (off air)
Transmission: 25th February 1961, 10.03.30-11.00.40 p.m.

Schedule

Friday, 24th February 1961
Camera Rehearsal14.30 - 18.00
Supper Break18.00 - 19.00
Camera Rehearsal19.00 - 21.00
Saturday, 25th February 1961
Camera Rehearsal10.00 - 12.30
Lunch Break12.30 - 13.30
Camera Rehearsal13.30 - 18.15
Supper Break18.15 - 19.15
Line-up, Normal scan, & Make-up19.15 - 20.00
Dress rehearsal20.00 - 21.30
Line-up21.30 - 22.00
TRANSMISSION22.00 - 23.00

Equipment

Cameras: 4 Pedestals
Sound: 3 booms, Grams, Tape, 1 slung mic, Office intercom., Telephones.
Telecine: ABC symbol, Slides, 6 specially shot sequences (35mm Compot).

Total running time: 57.10 = Play portion: 52.30 + 2 commercial breaks: 2.05 and 2.35

TV Times listing

TV times listing for February 25 1961, showing The Avengers in the 10pm timeslot (February 17 1961 Northern edition)

Dr Keel hunts the radioactive man, knowing that every moment makes the danger more deadly — death more certain.

Regional broadcasts

ITV BroadcasterDateTime
ABC Midlands25/02/196110.00pm
ABC North25/02/196110.00pm
Anglia Television25/02/196110.00pm
ATV--
Southern Television--
Tyne Tees Television--
Television Wales & West--
Ulster Television--
Westward Television--
Scottish Television--
Border Television--
Grampian Television--

Minutiæ

  1. This episode was a teleplay originally written by Fred Edge for the CBC series General Mototrs Theatre. It was broadcast on 14 January 1958 in Canada and sold to the BBC for boradcast on 28 January 1959. It was adapted for The Avengers by the series script editor, Patrick Brawn. Brawn received no credit on air or in print for the adaption which only billed Fred Edge. This is perhaps due to John Bryce taking over as series editor before the episode was aired. The adaption took longer than expected so the episode slipped doen the schedule from fifth place to eighth.
  2. Industry stalwart and regular guest actor Gerald Sim was cast to play Dr Graham but was replaced by Arthur Lawrence (possibly Arthur Laurence, slightly miscredited). This was perhaps due to illness or unavailability, as the episode was moved back in the production schedule from fifth to eighth spot.
  3. The original scripts lists the characters: Frane (Zvone), played by Mira Tomek, and Inica (Janez), played by Madeleine Kasket.
    The names in parentheses are not surnames, but Patrick Brawn's references to Fred Edge's original screenplay for Canadian television where the characters had those names instead of those used by the re-write for "The Avengers".
  4. The Hayes and McGinlay books on series one refer the the characters of Zvone and Janez both changing name and gender - both becoming female - but this is an error as the actor playing Frane, Mira Tomek, was a man.
    The script hints that it's a man as well: At one point, Milan asks Frane to help lift Marko onto the sofa when he collapses. Also, at the end of the episode, Frane gives Marko his gun just in case he needs it, then Milan asks his to check if the back is clear when the police arrive. These days a female character could be expected to do that but not in 1961, I think!
  5. 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 sixth so must not have been well regarded by the producers, despite being in the second category of viewer ratings when first broadcast.

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