• title card: Please don’t feed the animals superimposed on an open-mouthed crocodile (recreated by Richard McGinlay)
  • Publicity still from <em>TV Times</em> - Dr. Keel and Steed discuss the case in Keel’s surgery

Series 1 — Episode 11
Please Don’t Feed The Animals

by Dennis Spooner

Production No 3375, VTR/ABC/1217
Production completed: March 30 1961. First transmission: April 1 1961.

Production details

Studio details: Teddington Two
Production No. 3375
Tape No. VTR/ABC/1217
VTR Recording: March 30th 1961, 18.00 — 19.00
Transmission: 1st April 1961, 8.35 p.m.

The time slot was brought forward from the originally planned 10pm slot, to an 8.35pm starting time. This may have been due to some agreements with the ATV network although the show is back to 10pm the following week.


Wednesday, 29th March 1961
Camera Rehearsal10.30 — 12.30
Lunch Break12.30 — 13.30
Camera Rehearsal13.30 — 18.00
Supper Break18.00 — 19.00
Camera Rehearsal19.00 — 21.00
Thursday, 30th March 1961
Camera Rehearsal10.00 — 12.30
Lunch Break12.30 — 13.30
Camera Rehearsal13.30 — 15.30
Pre Dress (pencilled in)2.30
Line up, Normal Scan, & Make up15.30 — 16.15
Dress rehearsal16.15 — 17.30
Line up17.30 — 18.00
VTR RECORDING18.00 — 19.00

Camera crew lead-in schedule

17.58.002 MINS
17.59.001 MIN. CLOCK ON.
17.59.3030" stand by
17.59.3525" Q Peter

The final entry in the pencilled-in crew schedule I assume is telling them to cue the sound supervisor, Peter Cazaly, when it’s 25 seconds before they start the episode as the lights and cameras would already be in place.


Cameras: 4 Pedestals
Sound: 3 booms, Grams, Tape, 1 stand mic., 5 Prac. telephones, 1 prac. intercom.
Telecine: ABC Symbol, Slides, 3 specially shot 35mm sequences, 1 stock clip.

Total running time: 57.40 = Play portion: 52.30 + 2 commercial breaks of 2.35 each

The actual running time is pencilled on Sylvia Langdon-Down’s camera script, and shows that they underran the time slot, using 49′45″ instead of the expected 52′30″. This was faster than the dress run, which took 50′35″.

Regional broadcasts

ITV BroadcasterDateTime
ABC Midlands1/04/19618.35pm
ABC North1/04/19618.35pm
Anglia Television1/04/19618.35pm
Southern Television--
Tyne Tees Television--
Television Wales & West--
Ulster Television--
Westward Television--
Scottish Television--
Border Television--
Grampian Television--

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for April 1 1961, 8.35pm (Granada edition), alongside is a photo of Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee from this episode

Teleplay by Dennis Spooner
Also starring


John Steed Patrick Macnee
Felgate Tenniel Evans
Carol Wilson Ingrid Hafner
Dr. Keel Ian Hendry
Christine Carole Boyer
Kollakis Harry Ross
Renton-Stephens Alastair Hunter
Yvonne Catherine Ellison
Sarah Genevieve Lyons
Barman Mark Baker

“The Avengers” theme composed and
played by Johnny Dankworth

Designed by Patrick Downing
Directed by DENNIS VANCE

The reptile pit at a zoo and a striptease
club are linked by an unusual death
which Keel and Steed investigate

An ABC Television Network Production

The TV Times listing was accompanied by the photograph of Macnee and Hendry at the top of this page, with the caption “Ian Hendry (left) as Dr. Keel and Patrick Macnee as John Steed in The Avengers at 8.35”.

Episode availability

It’s unclear if the photo from the TV Times is from this episode or not.

Continuity and trivia

  1. There’s an attempt to mislead the audience in the script, as the “Renton-Stephens” that Kollakis telephones could be either the Major or his daughter Christine. The TV Times listings of this era were normally done in order of appearance and Christine is listed before Kollakis so she might have appeared in the cafe scenes or club scenes as part of this deception. However, the barman is listed right at the end and ought to have been before Kollakis, so it seems the listing was not in the standard order.
  2. Carole Boyer appears on the RADA website as Carole Bowyer, but everywhere else as Carole Boyer. It appears that she took the altered spelling as a stage name early in her career. Perennial extra Richard Nellor, however, is misspelled as Richard Neller in the script.
  3. This episode was not broadcast live, but recorded “as live” the day before the actual broadcast transmission.
  4. The timeslot for the episode was changed late in production ,as evidenced by the original 10.03.00 — 11.00.40 (pm) times being crossed out and 8.35 p.m. being pencilled in on the camera script. As the series returned to the 10pm slot for the next episode it’s not clear why this one was brought forward.
  5. A memo dated March 30 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 seventh so wasn’t liked by the producers, it had certainly been less popular with viewers, being in the third category of viewer ratings when first broadcast. Having read the script, I can see why - there’s potential there but it’s a bit run of the mill.
  6. The camera script originally belonging to Sylvia Langdon-Down has many pencilled-in alterations, one of which is the correction of the name of the actor playing Kollakis; Barry Ross is corrected to Harry Ross. One hopes “Barry” didn’t end up in the broadcast credits! Carole Bowyer’s name is misspelled “Boyer” and Richard Nellor’s name is misspelled “Neller”; neither are corrected (but as Carole is frequently credited as Boyer, she may have elected to use that spelling already by 1961).
  7. In The Ultimate Avengers by Dave Rogers (Boxtree first impression paperback 1995, p. 21) there is an anecdote from Patrick Downing about this episode :
    ‘Designer Patrick Downing tells me that the script for Please Don’t Feed the Animals called for a swimming pool. “It took two weeks to build, in Teddington Number One studio - and I overspent the budget enormously!”. To get the money from the producers, Patrick and director Don Leaver staged a mock fight which ended with Leaver throwing Downing (who had borrowed a spare set of clothes from Wardrobe) into the water. They got the extra money.
    There are some film inserts which use the pit so we must assume it was these scenes that used that, and there was a smaller set with the kiosk in studio 2 where this episode was mostly filmed when they did the “as live” take.
  8. There are a lot of references in the camera script to “MODEL PIT” so we must assume that there was a scale model also built, populated with young crocodiles (and hopefully more convincing that that terrible sequence in Thunderbirds!) Growing up in Australia, we can tell a juvenile croc from an adult!
  9. The major refers to the crocodiles as magers in the script, which is a type of swamp crocodile from southern India. We can assume though that his crocodiles are not necessarily this species as he refers to a drink as a chotapeg, an Indian term for a half-measure of spirits.
  10. The director of this episode, Dennis Vance, interrupted the rehearsals of Dance with Death when he attacked Janice Willet, who was also a director for Iris Productions. They had broken up in February 1961 after she called the police following a violent altercation at her flat. On 29th March 1961, he threatened her with a knife in the street then later entered her office and stabbed her several times. Police and ambulance were called and Vance surrendered quietly to the police while Janice went to hospital accompanied by Norman Kay, Iris Productions’ music producer, who was now her boyfriend. Accordingly, the press was full of reports of the incident rather than covering Dance with Death.
  11. Brought to Book was first broadcast to the ATV London, Southern, and Tyne Tees regions on 1st April 1961, the same night as ABC Midlands, ABC North and Anglia were showing this episode. Accordingly, to make network schedules stay in line, this episode was deliberately given the same target running time as Brought to Book. During rehearsals it under-ran the planned duration and the script was amended to extend the duration, although a few lines about Keel meeting Steed in a country lane were cut, presumably to save on the cost of location filming or an extra set.

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