Series 1 — Episode 13
One for the Mortuary
by Brian Clemens
Production No 3377, VTR/ABC/1263
Production completed: April 27 1961. First transmission: April 29 1961.
TV Times summary
Dr. Keel finds his invitation to the World Health Organisation far from healthy when he arrives in Geneva carrying, unknown to himself, the recently discovered formula for one of the most dangerous drugs known to medicine
Steel hides a new medical formula in microdots on an invitation to a medical conference that Dr Keel will carry to Geneva, unaware of its importance as the courier was attacked before he could tell Keel. Dr Keel gives the invitation to a young lady he meets and a pursuit ensues to retrieve the invitation and evade the gang who are trying to steal the formula. Having relocated the woman, Steed finds that his contact at the conference has ulterior plans and was behind all the attempts to steal the formula.
The following episode summary is written from the original scripts and Leonard White’s scrapbook of notes and Tele-Snaps as this episode is now lost. There may have been changes made during filming.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) meets Wilson at the docks and gives him an envelope containing microfilm but they are suddenly attacked by the one-eyed assassin Benson (Peter Madden) and his henchman. Wilson is stabbed by a sword stick but, at Steed’s urging, manages to burnt the film while Steed fights off their attackers. He dies holding the charred film and Benson turns to unleash his fury on Steed but the sound of approaching police whistles leads the assailants to beat a hasty retreat.
The next morning, Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) visits a Turkish Bath where Steed is getting treatment for his wounds from a huge man named Henry. Steed asks him to take the formula for a new drug, Morgantol, to a World Health Organisation conference in Geneva which Keel happened to already be attending anyway. Steed explains what happened to the first courier and Keel agrees to help after Steed explains he’s been in hiding since the attack; Keel is not to change any flight or do anything unusual. Meanwhile the killer rings his boss in Geneva and explains they didn’t get the film. The boss is annoyed but, after pondering a moment while toying with some chess pieces, comes up with a plan and tells him he will call back...
Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) is helping Dr Keel pack for the trip when a nervous mother calls, and Keel goes off to quickly deal with her, telling Carol that a caller from the W.H.O. will be arriving soon and she is to ask him to wait. Steed meanwhile is in the massage room, briefing an eager young agent called Scott (Ronald Wilson) on the delivery of the film, now hidden in microdots on a guest invitation to the conference. He is also given an envelope of papers which is a purely a decoy from the invitation, Keel must carry the invitation openly and take no special precautions but lock the envelope in his briefcase. He reminds Scott not be seen with Keel and then calls Doctor Pallaine in Geneva, the committee member in charge of the delivery of the formula. Pallaine (Dennis Edwards) is worried, especially when Steed informs him of the stabbing murder of the courier, but Steed reassures him one of his men is delivering the film to Doctor Keel who will be at the conference.
Scott arrives at the surgery and is shown in to Keel’s office by Carol. Once she returns to her desk, he open Keel’s suitcase and substitutes the new invitation for the one already there, keeping the decoy envelope in his hand. Outside, Carol doesn’t notice Benson slip in the side door; he enters the surgery and attacks Scott with his sword stick. Keel returns and Benson has just composed himself and hidden the envelope when Keel enters the surgery. Benson tells him the deal is off and he’s not needed, then departs back out the side door so Carol won’t see him. Keel is delighted with the news and has a brief chat to Carol as he goes out to his taxi.
KEEL: (BRIGHT) That’s what I intend to do....really relax....(GRINS)....I’ll bring you back a cuckooo clock...
CAROL: That young man must have brought good news. I’m glad. 1
KEEL: (OPENING DOOR) He was a one eyed messenger of good cheer.... ’Bye....
CAROL: Goodbye....(KEEL EXITS - NOW SHE FROWNS) ‘One eyed’....?
On the flight to Switzerland, Keel is seated next to Yvette Declair (Malou Pantera), a beautiful woman stressed by the memories of a plane crash that injured her and killed her parents. She reacts badly when he says he’s a doctor but they become friends nonetheless. Meanwhile, Benson reports another failure to his unseen boss and is ordered to be on the next flight to Geneva, it’s already booked for him. Carol has by this time discovered Scott hidden in a cupboard and contacts Steed who arrives with some ambulance men. He is aghast when Scott tells him he never briefed Keel about the film and he doesn’t know he has it. Steed calls Pallaine who tells him his man Borsh has already gone to the airport to meet Keel and he doesn’t think he can contact him in time.
At the end of the flight, Yvette feels weak and Keel assists her to her flat, brushing aside the courier Borsh (Steven Scott) at the gate. He discovers that it’s psychosomatic stress-triggered pain and gives her a sedative. Yvette notices his guest invitation to the conference when it falls out of his case and he gives it to her as a gift. She opens up about the crash, telling him she only has an uncle left in Geneva now and she will take it easy, as “a visit to Bernard Bourg is hardly strenuous”. They agree to meet again later and Keel departs. When he finally returns to his hotel, Borsh is waiting in the hallway outside his room and insists they talk. They enter the room and when Keel opens the curtains and reveals Benson who was behind them, brandishing a gun. Borsh reaches for his own and Keel dives at Borsh, thinking him now confirmed as the enemy because he recognises Benson, but Benson shoots Borsh. Keel turns and says he didn’t have to - then Keel is knocked out when Benson clubs him with the gun.
Keel comes to, finding the room full of detectives, Borsh dead, and his luggage slashed and ransacked. The lead detective Dubois (Frank Gatliff) starts to interrogate him but he claims he knows nothing about the dead man. Steed meanwhile has arrived in Geneva and calls Pallaine, and is astonished to learn Keel has gone off with a woman:
STEED’S VOICE: I’m at Geneva Airport right now. What’s happened to Keel?
PALLAINE: That’s it - I don’t know. We lost him at the airport... He went off with some woman.
STEED’S VOICE: Keel did! What have you done about it?
Steed immediately tracks Keel down at his hotel where the police are continuing the interrogation - Keel deciding it’s better not to tell them he recognised the man who shot Borsh as the courier who was at his London surgery. Steed bursts in and holds the police at gunpoint so he can whisk Keel away. 2
In Pallaine’s office, Keel is confused as to why he had the film planted on him as the courier was the man who just attacked him. Steed realises it was a different man, not Scott, that Keel had seen in London, it was the killer - and now he’s in Geneva! When Steed reveals the microfilm was hidden on the invitation Keel is elated - Yvette has it! He tells Steed and Pallaine Yvette’s name and address. Dr Keel and Steed head to Yvette’s while Pallaine makes some calls but Benson has got there ahead of them and ransacked the apartment, finding nothing and escaping as Steed and Keel arrive. They worry how they are going to find Yvette.
STEED: All right. You wait here for her.
KEEL: What will you do?
STEED MOVES TO DOOR.
STEED: I’m going to try and pull enough strings to appease the local police.
KEEL: Pity you’re not a bell ringer.
Keel tries to clean up the flat a bit and try to discover where Yvette has gone. A maid (Irene Bradshaw) arrives to clean the flat and is shocked at the mess, thinking Dr Keel is responsible. He assures her he’s a friend of Yvette’s and the maid confesses she’s new to the job, the old maid told a friend, who told her uncle, who told her aunt, who told her mama, who wrote to Yvette! This confuses Keel but it jogs his memory about Yvetee’s uncle Bernard and he searches the phone book for “Bernard Bourg”, greatly confusing the maid who tells him, “M’sieur... my uncle’s name is not Bernard... it’s Maurice”.
Keel arrives at Bourg’s house at 37 Rue Viennes and discovers that Bernard Bourg (Toke Townley) is a sinister, pallid, old taxidermist with thick glasses who tries to sell his taxidermy services to Keel.
BOURG: Don’t tell me. Let me guess.... (COCKS HIS HEAD) You’re a cockatoo.
BOURG: (HASTILY) no, no, perhaps not ... (EYES HIM) A dog ... yes, definitely doggy ... Now if it’s a hunting dog I really have the most artisitc setting ... in full pursuit ... with perhaps a dear little bunny hiding in the bushes. No extra charge for the bunny of course.
Bourg glares at Keel and says he has no niece, he has never heard of Yvette Declair. He pulls a thin knife from a drawer and ominously toys with it, saying, “I enjoy my work, M’sieur ... an artist with the knife ... ” then realises Dr Keel has a language barrier and defuses the situation by telling Keel that rather than Bernard Bourg Yvette must have said she was going to Bern Ardbourg, a nearby village. Fortunately it is a tiny place and the telephone operator would be sure to know where she was - but Bourg demands fifteen francs for him to use his phone. Keel calls the village and manages to reach Yvette. He learns that she still has the invitation and arranges for her to come to Bourg’s house. Keel pays Bourg another fifteen francs and calls Pallaine who is toying with his chess pieces as he talks to Steed. Pallaine is cagey on the phone and doesn’t reveal to Steed that Yvette has been found, simply telling him he has to go and meet some more guests when he hangs up. He tells Steed to “You had better stay by the telephone and pu1l strings.” as he leaves, which makes Steed frown.
Yvette arrives at Bourg’s, followed closely by Pallaine, who asks for Keel to hand over the invitation. Keel is unsure as he was expecting Steed as well and when he refuses to hand it over Pallaine summons Benson who enters, pointing a gun at Keel after grabbing Yvette and two other men grab Dr Keel. Keel realises Pallaine intended all along for it to fall into the wrong hands - Pallaine’s! Pallaine explains it’s personal jealousy, he had worked for Morgan and thinks he deserves the profit despite being nowhere near as good a chemist. Keel knocks a specimen case onto Benson and they fight, then Steed bursts in with the police, led by Dubois, and the crooks are arrested. Keel is astonished that Steed arrived in time.
KEEL: How did you get here?
STEED: I was in the office when you telephoned Pallaine. It was you wasn’t it?
STEED: You asked ne to stop pulling strings at once - something like that?
Steed explains he tailed Pallaine then contacted Dubois. Dubois tells Dr Keel that Steed has cleared everything up and he is free to go. 3
Yvette and Steed then untie Bourg 4 and Dr Keel introduces Yvette as Miss Declair to Steed, who insinuates, “I feel I know you almost well enough to call you Yvette”. Quite taken by his charm and forwardness, she blushes and replies, “And so you shall - when you really know me well enough.” All three then depart Bourg’s house with our two heroes on each of Yvette’s arms.
- They’re talking at sixes and sevens but even in his distraction in getting to the cab you’d think Dr Keel would question Carol describing Benson as a “young man”. ⭮
- The original script had Steed pretend to be an hotel employee and thrown bed sheets over the detectives’ heads to help them escape. ⭮
- At least, it can be assumed that’s what they discuss, there’s a Tele-Snap of the scene but it’s not in the rehearsal script so must have been “pink pages” (script alterations). ⭮
- This is also not in the rehearsal script but there’s a Tele-Snap of them doing so. ⭮