Series 1 - Episode 13
One for the Mortuary
by Brian Clemens
Production completed: 27 April 1961. First transmission: 29 April 1961
This 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.
Steed 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 Keel 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 is helping Keel get ready to go when a nervous mother calls, and Keel goes off to quickly deal with her, telling Carol that a caller from WHO 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 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 death 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. 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 and, heading out the door to his waiting taxi, describes him to Carol as "a one-eyed messenger of good cheer" which confuses her greatly.
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". When Keel finally returns to his hotel, Borsh is waiting in the hallway outside his room and insists they talk but when they enter the room Benson is inside, brandishing a gun. Borsh reaches for his own and is shot, 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. Steed arrives in Geneva and is astonished to hear that Keel "went off with some woman" and can't be found. 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 away1.
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 and Steed goes off to placate the local police while Keel searches the flat to 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, having been recommended by her uncle. This jogs Keel's memory and he searches the phone book for "Uncle Bernard Bourg", greatly confusing the maid who tells him her uncle is called Maurice.
Keel arrives at Bourg's house at 37 Rue Viennes and discovers that Bourg (Toke Townley) is a strange old taxidermist with thick glasses who tries to sell stuffed animals to Keel. Bourg ominously toys with a knife as he glares at Keel and says he has no niece, he has never heard of Yvette Declair. He defuses the situation when he clears up Keel's confusion and tells him 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. 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 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 "stay by the telephone and pull 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 found them and Steed explains he was in the office when Pallaine took Keel's call. He realised from what Pallaine said when he was leaving that Keel must have said "Tell Steed to stop pulling strings at once" so he tailed Pallaine then contacted Dubois. Dubois tells Dr Keel that Steed has cleared everything up and he is free to go2.
Yvette and Steed then untie Bourg 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
1. The original script had Steed pretend to be an hotel employee and thrown bed sheets over the detectives' heads to help them escape.
2. 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).
|Benson||Peter Madden regularDangerman007The SaintAdam AdamantThe Champions|
|John Steed||Patrick Macnee regular007|
|Dr David Keel||Ian Hendry regularDangermanPolice SurgeonThe SaintThe Sweeney|
|Carol Wilson||Ingrid Hafner regularPolice Surgeon|
|Scott||Ronald Wilson regularThe Saint|
|Pallaine||Dennis Edwards regular007Doctor Who|
|Yvette Declair||Malou Pantera|
|Dubois||Frank Gatliff regularDoctor WhoDangermanBlake's 7The SaintDepartment SPolice Surgeon|
|Maid||Irene Bradshaw regular|
|Bernard Bourg||Toke Townley regularCarry On..The ChampionsDepartment S|
|Not billed in TV Times magazine|
|Borsh||Steven Scott regularDoctor WhoThe SaintCarry On..|
|Benson's henchman||Charles Bird regular|
|Swiss detective||Anthony Mayne|
|Benson's henchman||Eddie Powell regularDoctor Who007DangermanThe SaintThe PrisonerThe ProfessionalsThe SweeneyIndiana JonesPink Panther|
|Teleplay by||Brian Clemens regularDangermanThe ChampionsThe ProfessionalsAdam Adamant|
|"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by||Johnny Dankworth regular|
|Designed by||Robert Fuest regular|
|Producer||Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Directed by||Peter Hammond regular|
|Story Editor||Patrick Brawn regular|
|Production Assistant||Paddy Dewey regular|
|Floor Manager||Patrick Kennedy regular|
|Stage Manager||Barbara Sykes regular|
Production and transmission details
Studio details: Teddington Two
Production No. 3377
Tape No. VTR/ABC/1263
Transmission: 29th April 1961, 10.00-11.00 p.m.
First Reading: 14th April 1961, 2.30 p.m. The Tower, R.C.A. Building, Brook Green Road, Hammersmith W6
Rehearsals: From 14th April 1961 - The Tower, Hammersmith.
Recording: 27th April 1961, 6.00-7.00 p.m.
Camera rehearsal: 26th and 27th April, 1961 in a schedule similar to the other episodes of this time.
TV Times listing
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.
|Tyne Tees Television||29/04/1961||10.00pm|
|Television Wales & West||29/04/1961||10.00pm|
- The East Kent Times and Mail noted that Anthony Mayne played a "Swiss detective" in "The Avengers" in its 7 April 1967 edition, we have tracked him down in this episode.
- Steed's agents aren't much chop when faced with Benson - first Wilson, then Scott, are easily dispatched by the one-eyed assassin.
- There is a photo in Dave Rogers' The Avengers (page 20, ITV Books/Michael Joseph 1984 paperback reprint) which is attributed to Toy Trap but is actually from this episode as it shows Malou Pantera and Ian Hendry in Yvette's artist's studio flat. Confirmation that it is from this episode is that an almost identical picture is in the Tele-Snaps for the episode, reprinted in the guide booklet that came with the StudioCanal Series 1&2 set.
- This was the first episode of The Avengers shown on Westward Television as it was scheduled in the ITV network for the evening of 29 April 1961 when Westward started broadcasting. Westward continued to show all episodes of The Avengers from this point although sometimes the order they were shown in is different to other channels.
- The only script available for this episode is a rehearsal script which does not have a cast list so we don't know if the minor players were listed at all.