• title card: HUNT THE MAN DOWN superimposed on a street scene (recreated by Richard McGinlay)
  • Publicity still: Carol & Dr. Keel tend the injured Frank Preston
  • Publicity still: Frank Preston dramatically lit by a streetlight, looking like Bogart
  • Publicity still: Dr. Keel & Preston contemplate entering the sewers
  • Publicity still: Dr. Keel enters the sewer while Frank holds his injured arm
  • Publicity still: Stacey & Rocky arrive at the sewer entrance with Carol
  • Publicity still: Steed peers from a doorway

Series 1 — Episode 10
Hunt the Man Down

by Richard Harris

Production No 3374, VTR/ABC/1211
Production completed: March 12 1961. First transmission: March 18 1961.

TV Times summary

A woman’s secret and a double-cross involve David Keel and Carol in a man-hunt under the city streets

The following episode summary is written from the published synopses and other previously published material as this episode is now lost except for a set of night location photographs. The final filmed production may have been different and I have made a few assumptions, marked with footnotes, to try to explain gaps and plot holes.

Plot summary

Frank Preston leaves jail to collect his stashed robbery money, but thugs are waiting to beat him up for the location of the loot. Steed intervenes and takes him to Dr. Keel, but the gang now assume that Keel knows the location and kidnap Carol to make him talk. Realising that the thugs are in league with Stella, his wife, Preston forces Keel to take him to the money. Before Preston or the gang can seize it, Steed arrives with the police to arrest them all.

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Frank Preston (Nicholas Selby) is released from prison after serving time for a robbery which had netted more than £100,000. The proceeds were never recovered so he is tailed by John Steed (Patrick Macnee), who is hoping he’ll lead him to the money.

Preston drives to his old stomping grounds and enters a narrow street near St Paul’s cathedral to reconnoitre the area of the hiding place but he’s surprised by East End gangster Paul Stacey (Maurice Good) and his goon Rocky (Gerry Duggan), who also want to discover the location of the loot. Preston makes a run for it down an alleyway, pressing himself against a wall to try to evade them 1, but they catch him and beat him, trying to get him to talk. Steed bursts in upon them and sends the thugs packing then helps the injured Preston to his car.

Steed brings Preston to Dr. Keel’s surgery where he is tended to by Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) and Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry). He asks to see his wife as they dress his wounds and put a bandage on his right arm. Dr. Keel gives him morphine for the pain and Preston falls unconscious. Steed fills Keel in on the case then goes to fetch Preston’s wife, Stella Preston (Melissa Stribling). When they return, Stella hears Preston semi-consciously mumbling, “That’s where we hid it”, as she enters but pretends to have heard nothing when Carol and Keel look round. Dr. Keel has decided that Preston needs more treatment than he can provide so he has called for an ambulance and Stella accompanies Preston in the ambulance when it arrives to take him away.

The next day 2 Carol is grabbed off the street outside the surgery by Stacey and Rocky and driven to Preston’s house where Stella is waiting for them. She had left her no-good husband for Stacey while Preston was inside and wants to steal his ill-gotten gains. They think Dr. Keel knows where the money is hidden from what she overheard so Stacey rings the surgery, threatening to kill Carol unless Dr. Keel tells them where it is. Keel assures them he doesn’t know anything but they won’t have a bar of it, warning him Carol has little time left. Dr. Keel rings Steed about this and he promises to use his department to find the gangsters.

Before Steed can act, Preston has regained consciousness at the hospital. He asks Nurse Wyatt (Susan Castle) to fetch him a cup of tea and when she’s gone he grabs his clothes and escapes out a side door. 3 Preston managed to make his way back home but as he approaches the house he stops. Through the window he can see Stella and Stacey kissing and hears them discussing what to do with their captive, Carol. 4 Crestfallen, he turns and staggers away, making his way back to the doctor’s surgery in Chelsea. He’s bleeding badly now and needs further treatment, weakly waving a gun at the doctor to get him to help. Hearing that Carol is at Preston’s house, Keel is only too eager to help and tells him the gun is not needed 5 so they make a plan to retrieve the money and capture the gang at the same time. When Stacey calls back, Dr. Keel tells him to meet them near where they first set upon Preston the previous night. 6

Preston’s arm is still throbbing with pain so Dr. Keel drives them to the street that night 1, pulling up at a small church tower. Beside it, Preston indicates the manhole cover in the pavement and instructs Keel to open it, and they descend into the gloom and stench of the London sewers. Stacey and Rocky turn up later, dragging an unwilling Carol with them 1. They stop when they spot Preston’s distinctive Ford Zephyr convertible parked by the church and, noticing the open manhole, they too descend into the funk of the subterranean tunnels. Preston has located his cash box deep underground but when he hears Stacey calling him through the tunnels they decide to run further into the gloom to escape. Preston realises he’s made an error of judgement and won’t be able to evade his pursuers as he weakens and they are eventually cornered by the crooks. Keel takes on Rocky and they trade blows while sinking into the sludge until the doctor lands a lucky blow and Rocky sinks slowly under. 7 Stacey grits his teeth and raises his pistol but the blast of a police whistle pierces the air and Steed enters, leading a troop of bobbies who round up Stacey and Rocky, Stella having spilled the beans on their movements. 8

Back at the surgery, Steed congratulates the doctor on a job well done and wonders why the place looks different... 9

  1. This is based upon the stills from the night-time location shoot.
  2. Some time must have passed in order for Stella to have been able to get in touch with the gang to tell them what she heard.
  3. Sound familiar? Steed does a similar thing in The Forget-Me-Knot so I borrowed it for this scene.
  4. Dave Rogers’ synopsis doesn’t mention Carol but it would partly explain how Keel and Preston could hatch a plan to thwart Stacey and Stella.
  5. Dave Rogers says Keel is ordered at gunpoint by Preston but that seems at odds with much of the episode. It’s possible that he orders him to drive his car as his arm is injured but there’s no gun visible in the location stills.
  6. Dave Rogers doesn’t give a reason for how Stacey made it to the sewer and this resolves the threat to Carol as well as how they arrived there.
  7. Ian Hendry relates an anecdote in the TV Times special for “The New Avengers” in 1976 about a fight in a sewer than resulting in him knocking out an unlucky stuntman who nearly drowned as he rushed off to get ready for the next scene and had to be fished out of a tank full of slime by the crew.
  8. Again, this is not in the synopsis but it explains Stella’s absence and how Steed managed to reach the sewer with the police. Melissa Stribling appears in some of the night time shoot stills but as she’s not in makeup or costume I don’t think her character was supposed to be present at the church for the climax.
  9. This episode and Dance with Death make reference to the surgery having been redecorated (see the details section).

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