Series 1 — Episode 12
Dance with Death
by Peter Ling and Sheilah Ward
Production completed: 13 April 1961. First transmission: 15 April 1961
TV Times summary
A corpse in a bath and Keel and Steed go ballroom dancing in an attempt to save the next victim
The following episode summary is written from the original scripts as this episode is now lost. There may have been changes made during filming.
Elaine Bateman claims someone is trying to kill her and Dr Keel is framed for her murder. Steed intervenes and suspicion falls on Elaine’s pianist from her Dancing School - Anthony - who is suspected of many murders, electrocuting his victims in the bath. Anthony elopes with Valerie and her family diamonds and they track them down to a seedy seaside hotel. With the taps already running, Steed and Keel break in and rescue Valerie from certain death.
Through the mist of a steamy bathroom, we see a girl relaxing in a bathtub. The door opens quietly and we see someone’s hand, carrying a portable electric heater. The figure tosses the fire into the bath tub and the girl is electrocuted...
Some months later1, Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) is going out to the cinema to see “The Rebel”. Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) remarks it’s a good film and he quips that she can tell him how it ends then - every time he goes out he’s interrupted. Sure enough, Elaine Bateman (Caroline Blakiston) is working in her office at a dance hall and we see a hand move across and turn on her gas fire without lighting it and the gas hisses into the room...
Dr Keel is summoned to the dance hall where he’s met by Trevor Price (David Sutton), who found Elaine and called Emergency.
Elaine comes to and the doctor explains that the gas tap was on; she was only saved because Trevor came to take her home and had to force his way in to the office. The police arrive to investigate and the sergeant (Neil Wilson) tells Dr Keel that Elaine had previously reported that someone was trying to kill her. As no evidence was found, they had dismissed her as a crank. The sergeant looks set to do so again until he realises there’s no key for the door that had been locked.
Elaine visits Dr Keel the next day for a check-up and tells him that someone is trying to kill her, but she has no idea who, or why.
ELAINE: About two weeks ago - someone tried to push me under a bus. It was raining. People were pushing - you know. Then it happened! He just managed to brake in time.
KEEL: I see.
ELAINE: It wasn’t an accident.
Keel wonders if she washed the tea cup she had used the previous night, as it wasn’t in the office. He thinks she was drugged before the gas was turned on.
Dr Keel visits the school where the staff are all in disarray as they think Elaine is dead. Beth Wilkinson (Angela Douglas) greets him and introduces him to Major Caswell (Ewan Roberts), who assures Dr Keel the school can continue despite Elaine’s sad loss. When Dr Keel disabuses him about her demise he goes to tell Mrs Marne (Diana King), who is on the phone to her solicitor, trying to draw up new partnership agreements in her favour. When she learns that Elaine is alive, Mrs Marne is decidedly cool in her response...
Dr Keel learns from Mrs Marne’s voluptuous daughter, Valerie Marne (Pauline Shepherd), that everyone had been told that Elaine was dead by the school pianist, Philip Anthony (Geoffrey Palmer), but when Keel questions him he claims a reporter rang up and told him she’d been found in a locked room with the gas on so he had assumed she’d committed suicide.
Elaine has a lesson with a teenage student (Ian Hobbs) but Trevor returns and reveals a violently suspicious nature, accusing Elaine of sexual improprieties with the poor boy until Keel intervenes and herds him away. After all the fuss, Dr Keel returns to his surgery and realises he lost his scarf during the scuffle at the school. Meanwhile, after dismissing Beth and Valerie from formation rehearsals for the night, Elaine remains behind to close up and a shadowy figure uses Dr Keel’s scarf to strangle her, this time making sure she is dead.
The next day, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) arrives at Keel’s surgery to gloat a bit - and commiserate about Keel being on the suspect list for Elaine’s murder.
STEED: After all, it was your scarf, old boy.
KEEL: How far would you let a thing like this go?
STEED: I’ve got no influence with the police. Their investigations are proceeding - to coin a phrase... Have you done something to this place?2
Nonetheless, a bit later he arrives at the dance hall, posing as Mr Rogers, for some dancing lessons. Steed feigns having forgotten his spectacles and asks to be shown around the studio as he can’t read the brochure. He is introduced to some of the staff and is especially approving when he sees the shapely Valerie.
Valerie breaks from the tour to tell her mother that a reporter telephoned and is astonished to learn that, despite Elaine’s death and Major Carswell wanting to keep things out of the papers, Mrs Marne has agreed to do an interview for a Sunday paper,"Elaine Bateman as I knew her", with pictures, for the publicity. Sensing an opportunity for her own self-promotion, Valerie begs her mother to let her borrow a diamond necklace for the photo shoot for the article and then rushes to excitedly tell Philip she’s going to wear them...
Later, at Dr Keel’s surgery, Steed is perusing the studio curriculum and stops suddenly as he realises one of the faces in it is familiar -
STEED: ...I’ve seen that face before.
KEEL: Perhaps it was this morning. It would be fresh in your mind, wouldn’t it?
STEED: Oh, yes it was - but it didn’t register. We’ve got this one back at the office - in our C.N. catalogue.
Steed explains that’s the Change-of-Name catalogue, a photo dossier of people who committed major crimes but their guilt couldn’t be proven and then disappear, turning up later under a different name. He’s sure this one was tried and acquitted of murder!
Valerie meanwhile is arguing with her mother about being allowed to get a place of her own but Mrs Marne declines, saying she knows that Philip has been putting these ideas in her head. Valerie starts crying and reveals herself to be a truly spoiled brat:
VALERIE: Mummy ... for the last time - will you let me do what I want to?
MRS. M: No I will not! I’m sick and tired of hearing you go on and on about it. You’re the most ungrateful little ...
VALERIE: You’ve never done anything for me. You’re the most selfish person I ever met!
Valerie goes to console herself with Philip. Steed and Keel reconvene at a cocktail bar and Steed confirms the man is the one they’re looking for. His real name was Clifford Gardiner and was tried seven years ago for the murder of his wife, drowned in the bath on their honeymoon. He had scraped through on insufficient evidence.
A while later, the reporters show up for the interview and photographs but Beth reports that Valerie and Major Carswell are nowhere to be found... Steed and Dr Keel meanwhile lay a trap for their suspect at the bar as the barman (Alan Barry) knew the suspect. A plain clothes detective (Raymond Hodge) arrives to set up the trap and the barman heads for the back, knowing that Gardiner would scarper as soon as he saw him. Keel is shocked when Major Carswell enters the bar - only to tell them that their suspect has done a bunk!
Steed returns to the dance hall, still posing as a clumsy student although Beth sees through his subterfuge. He learns from her that Philip has eloped with Valerie, the couple taking her mother’s diamond necklace worth several thousand pounds with them. When he hears they took a radio cab that was booked for four o’clock, he thinks they’ll be easier to find and takes the studio phone to make a call to the police, informing them that Philip is “planning another attempt”. Beth is worried for her friend and Steed asks her to accompany him as Valerie will “need a shoulder to cry on”.
Philip and Valerie arrive at a hotel and check in as Mr and Mrs Phillips. Philip asks about nearby restaurants from the desk clerk (Graeme Spurway) but as Valerie has a headache they just go to their room, leaving the clerk and porter (Norman Chappell) in a flap in their wake, the clerk thinking they’ve gone out without leaving their key at the desk. Upstairs, Philip asks Valerie if she has the necklace and when he learns it’s in her bag, he insinuates that she’d feel better if she had a bath...
Steed meanwhile has rung Dr Keel at the surgery, asking him to come and take care of Mrs Marne who is hysterical at her daughter running away. When Dr Keel arrives, he calms Mrs Marne then speaks to Major Carswell, who tells him Elaine’s jealous boyfriend Trevor turned up at the dance hall earlier and is still in the building. Keel goes in search of Trevor, finding him holding a roll of film in the storeroom. Trevor tearfully tells Keel that Philip had been blackmailing him over the film of him and Elaine - he indicates a pile of other films and says, “Elaine got around didn’t she? He must have made a lot of money out of her.” The doctor offers to burn the incriminating film but Trevor wants to keep it - he’d paid for it and it’s the last picture of her he’ll ever see. As they leave the storeroom, Carswell appears and tells Dr Keel that “Mr Rogers” rang, asking him to come to an hotel, and hands him the address.
At the hotel, Steed learns that “Mr and Mrs Phillips” are in room 14 but the clerk thinks they went out for a meal so they sit down to wait in the lounge. The porter offers to bring in Steed’s bags but when Steed replies he doesn’t have any as they don’t intend on a long stay the porter raises his eyebrows and departs.3 Back in room 14, Philip asks again about the necklace, angering Valerie, and he tells her she can’t play games with five thousand quid. She tells him it’s locked in her jewel case so Philip asks for the key, he wants to take it to the hotel safe.
Steed learns from Beth that Philip got his job at the Academy through Elaine who had known him when she was a dancer at a night club. Dr Keel arrives and Steed imparts what he just learned from Beth then informs the doctor that Philip and Valerie are in room 14 but are currently out. Just then, the porter takes a room service call from Philip and Steed realises they’ve been there all along. Steed hands Dr Keel a phone number to call and grabs Beth, going up to another hotel room.
Beth is annoyed that he booked them in as “Mr and Mrs Smith” but watches interestedly as Steed bores a hole in the bathroom door so he can watch what Philip is up to. She asks him why he doesn’t just walk in and arrest Philip, so Steed explains he’s not exactly a policeman and they would need evidence to arrest Philip anyway. He asks her to keep watch in the corridor outside but the porter enters from the other side after she goes and catches Steed boring the hole in the door.3
PORTER: Hul-lo! Boring holes, eh?
PORTER: I see. I think you’d better come down and talk to the Manager.
STEED: Sorry old boy, I haven’t time.
PORTER: Well, the manager’s not going to like it. Come along, sir.
STEED: I can’t help that. There’s a girl in that bathroom.
PORTER: Yes sir. Come along!
He’s about to haul Steed off when Philip enters and asks if Valerie is warm enough, then suggests bringing in an electric fire so she won’t be cold when she gets out... Philip re-enters, carrying the fire and Valerie screams his name when she realises his intentions. Steed bursts in from the door, shouting “Gardiner!” and launches himself at Philip. They wrestle with the fire until Dr Keel enters from the other door and together he and Steed subdue the murderer.
A short time later Beth enters the bedroom to console Valerie and tells her not to cry any more, Philip has been taken away and she promises not to say anything to anyone about what happened. Dr Keel goes to administer a sedative to Valerie while Steed takes Beth’s arm, saying, “Come on Mrs. Smith”.
- The timeframe is never clearly stated and it could in fact be years later.
- This is the culmination of a minor plot point driven by a memo from Leonard White about highlighting the new set built for the series. Steed had been absent for the entire first act but leads most of the action from this point on.
- See the details section for more on Norman Chappell’s comic turns in this episode.