• title card: The Springers superimposed on a guard patrolling outside some prison cells
  • Straker menaces Dr Keel in his cell
  • The corrupt Haslam menaces Dr Keel
  • Steed, disguised as a Naval officer, meets Groves and Lisa at their school
  • Melanie infiltrates the school and meets Caroline
  • Dr Keel holds Neame and Arthur at gunpoint

Series 1 — Episode 14
The Springers

by John Whitney and Geoffrey Bellman

Production completed: 11 May 1961. First transmission: 13 May 1961

TV Times summary

An escape route from prison is investigated from the “inside” by Keel and from the outside by Steed

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.

Plot summary

Steed wants to know how prisoners are escaping from prison and leaving the country so he sends Dr Keel inside, posing as a drug-pushing doctor. The trail leads Steed to a finishing school, but he is captured before he can gather evidence. Keel arrives after a successful escape, but is exposed as an impostor by one of the gang. They are facing death when Steed’s schoolgirl sidekick gives them a chance to turn the tables and they defeat Neame and his gang.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Act 1

Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) is transported to a regional maximum security prison in the guise of Doctor Fenton, the “junkie’s friend” and a serial prison escapee. He finds his new cell mate, a tough guy called Straker (Charles Farrell), is not happy to have him there and Straker openly discusses his dislike of Fenton with their dim-witted cell mate Pheeney (David Webb). Straker warns Keel they don’t like “narks who paul up to screws”. Meanwhile, the prison governor (Ian Ainslie) is asking one of the warders, Elton (Michael Forrest), how “Fenton” is settling in. He learns that Straker doesn’t like Fenton and asks Elton to bring the new prisoner to his office. Keel/Fenton is marched off to see the governor, who dismisses Elton after Keel enters his office. John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is there to fill him in on the case and compliments him on the fake scare on his face that makes him look more like Dr Fenton.

He plays Keel a tape of a visitor to Fenton at his previous prison; they seem to be talking about horse racing tips, “Rumble’s Hope” in the 3 o’clock on Thursday, and in case he doesn’t make it, to back “Lock” who is having his fourth outing of the season - except it wasn’t his fourth outing, so “fourth lock” seems crucial. This new prison is near a canal and the previous escapees were picked up in Stavanger, in Norway, so an escape route from the East coast across the North Sea is suspected.

STEED: Oh, by the way, brought along Fenton’s photograph, thought you might like a look at it.......
C. U. Photo (Offset)
KEEL: That gives me real confidence, thought you said we were doubles ?
STEED: Oh, fair do’s, it’s quite a good likeness ... and anyway it’s highly unlikely the people on the pipeline have ever seen him before, and we moved anyone who might know him from here before you arrived ...
KEEL: You better be right, dad ...
STEED: Dad? Really, this environment ... must get you out of this soon.
KEEL: I was wondering when you’d get around to that.

Keel returns to his cell and has an altercation with Straker, who is suspicious of him seeing the governor. The warder Haslam (Brian Murphy) breaks it up and threatens Keel. Later, Steed discusses the case with One-Ten (Douglas Muir) and they focus on the seaside town of Belport. Steed plans a visit to Belport while back at the prison, Haslam is continuing to victimise “Fenton”, much to Straker’s delight.

Act 2

Steed reports back to One-Ten, the canal itself is quiet and innocent. One-Ten remains convinces that Belport is the rendezvous. He tells Steed that the runner captured on tape giving Fenton the tip cashed a £50 money order that morning, which had come from a man called Groves who is the principal of the Belport College for Young Ladies.

Sometime later, at the college, a student called Caroline Evans (Margo Andrew) is telling Mr Groves (Arthur Howard) that her father will be picking her up on Tuesday. When she bustles out, she almost runs into Steed and a young woman, who ask to see the principal so she leads them in to see Groves. Steed is in naval uniform and introduces himself as Commander Kenilworthy and his daughter, Melanie (Ann Saker). He wants a school for Melanie while he’s posted abroad and, after a brief discussion of the school’s facilities, Groves rings for the Matron. The matron arrives, revealed to be a young, attractive woman named Lisa (Barbara Evans). Groves asks her to show Melanie and the Commander around the college when another parent, Harry Neame (Donald Morley), interrupts, wanting to see the principal. Lisa leads them away, leaving Neame asking Groves who they were. He doesn’t like strangers arriving now and insists that Groves accompany them at all times when they return tomorrow.

Steed and Melanie return to their hotel in Belport and settle in for a nice evening...

MELANIE: You went out an hour ago to get me a drink. What happened?
STEED: An excellent year. They had trouble finding it in the cellar.
MELANIE: Champagne ! You must have influence.
STEED: Extensive. This should put us in the right frame for an excellent dinner. I had a word with the chef. I hope you like lobster.
MELANIE: Love it.
STEED: Come on old girl - down the hatch as they say in Alberquerque. I know a Mormon girl, her brother lives there.
MELABNIE: Oh, I needed that. Chug a lug.

They decide things went well but then One-Ten rings to tell them the Norwegian contact, who has been trailed from Oslo, will be at the school in half an hour. Steed must return and plant a bug in the study.

At the prison, Haslam is picking on all three of the cell mates and singles “Fenton” out for a beating when Straker back-chats. Elton leads the other two away as Haslam orders Keel to remove his jacket - then reveals he’s part of the escape route and Keel is to put on Haslam’s jacket then knock him out. Once out of the cell he should head through the staff garden, turn left ad keep going - then head straight for the fourth lock if a car doesn’t arrive in time. Dr Keel does so, bluffing his way past one warder and finds Lisa waiting outside the walls in a car...

Back at the college, Neame gloats over the escape, telling Groves that the police have a good description of the car. They’ll find the car dumped the next day, with sand from the Dorset coast under the mats to lead the police in the wrong direction. Groves, however, is nervous and thinks Neame is taking too many risks. One-Ten, meanwhile, tells a detective to release a report about the car to the morning papers and to keep his men away from the canal for now.

Lisa and Keel hop aboard a barge sailed by Skewer (Charles Saynor) with the lock keeper Jessup (Tom Payne) on board and they set off down the canal. Lisa offers to examine Keel’s scar but he waves her away, afraid she’ll discover it’s fake. Neame is still talking to Groves in his study, expecting Everson, the Norwegian, to arrive and are startled when Steed arrives instead. He claims the college phone has been engaged and thinks he left his pipe behind earlier and would like to find it for good luck at sea. He searches for it and hides a tape recorder under the principal’s desk then attempts to excuse himself.

NEAME: Let me help you.
GO DOWN with Steed. as he comes up PAN UP to see gun. As Steed stands LOOSEN OFF to 3-s.
STEED: Don’t bother. I’m beginning to think I must have made a mistake.
NEAME: Yes, perhaps you did make a mistake Commander. I don’t think so Commander. Get it. It’down there.
GROVES: A tape recorder.
NEAME: Yes, and I don’t think we’d have been invited to the playback.

Neame has pulling a gun on him as Steed rose back above the desk and made Groves retrieve the recorder. Neame then answers the phone and is relieved to hear it’s Lisa and Fenton. Given Steed’s presence, he wants her to come straight to the college and abandon the planned overnight stay at the lock keeper’s cottage. Keel pretends he doesn’t like the change of plan - neither do Skewer or Jessup who had other work to do as well, but Lisa insists and Jessup starts dropping the water level in the lock.

Melanie rings One-Ten to tell him Steed’s been gone for two hours and she’s moved out of the hotel in case the gang are on to him. One-Ten orders her to keep in touch and not to go in search of Steed - he’ll have to take care of himself.

Act 3

Groves and Neame are arguing, Groves forbids Neame to kill Steed on the school grounds but Neame kicks him out of the study. Steed reminds Neame that Melanie is still on the loose and he daren’t eliminate him. Steed sneers at Neame and says they’re a third rate outfit, poor old Groves and Neame’s “love life”, matron, mooning about the place. Neame gets angry and strikes Steed just as Lisa arrives with “Fenton” and Skewer. Neame leads Keel into the hallway and pulls a gun on him.

KEEL: What is this ?
NEAME: A mere precaution, Mr. Fenton. Unfortunately we are forced to take them in these operations, our customers being what they are...
KEEL: What does that mean ?
NEAME: Simply that, until we have confirmed your identity, you’ll be, shall we say ... under surveillance here.

Neame motions him towards the stairs and Skewer follows them up the stairs to the attic. Groves re-enters the study, nervous about a possible murder at the school, and insists to Lisa that Steed be taken to the storerooms upstairs. Meanwhile, Neame is upstairs, explaining to Keel that a man is on the way who can identify him. Melanie rings One-Ten, saying she got out of the hotel just in time, but One-Ten still tells her to hold back from finding Steed. Keel must be there by now as they went straight through the fourth lock.

Back at the school, Neame brushes off Groves’ pleas for them to clear out just as Arthur (Max Miradin) arrives to identify Fenton. Neame reassures Lisa that Groves is too fond of his precious school and won’t crack; they’ve been in thinner scrapes before, they’re still two jumps ahead of the police. Groves meanwhile has gone to see “Fenton” and tells Keel he can relax, the police will be looking for him on the other side of England because of the sand in the car. Keel asks about “that copper downstairs” and learns that Steed is locked up in the next room. Their conversation over, Groves calls for Skewer who unlocks the door and lets him out. Keel waits a moment them calls for Skewer, but his calls are unanswered.

Out at the college gates, Melanie encounters Caroline who asks her to join her for a horse ride and leads her to Groves’ study. Neame is in the study, telling Groves they will leave on the next tide. Groves is glad to hear they’re leaving but still fears the worse, he’d only gone in with them because he was so deeply in debt. Neame tells him to bring Arthur and Fenton to the study. Keel meanwhile has tricked Skewer into entering the room he’s been locked in and knocks him out by breaking a hockey stick over his head. Keel enters the corridor and whispers to Steed through the next door, asking if he’s all right. Steed replies, “Yes, can you get the door open? I’m handcuffed to a pipe. Skewer’s got the keys ... and get his gun”. Keel replies, “I did” then goes to find the keys. When he re-enters the corridor, Lisa is coming up the stairs so Keel surreptitiously kicks the key under the door and turns to tell her he doesn’t know where Skewer went.

Caroline and Melanie enter the study, looking for Groves and Neame has to tread a line of not revealing anything to the innocent Caroline while subtly menacing Melanie and trying to keep her in the study. He asks Lisa to find Groves as Melanie tries to leave the room, then Groves arrives and they are escorted out. Keel sees an opportunity as Arthur and Neame are at odds over the charade and he confiscates Neame’s gun, brandishing the one he took from Skewer and saying, “I’ve had this rotten set-up and I’ll relieve you of your gun for a start”. In the hallway, Groves goes to fetch his hat and Melanie grabs Caroline’s hand, saying, “Quick, come on - I’ll explain later” and they run upstairs. Caroline leads her to the storerooms and they find Steed, who has just freed himself. Caroline is confused as to why he’s up there at all.

Back in the study, Arthur is saying he met the real Fenton five days ago and Keel is not him. Neame is baffled when Keel recites the message about Rumble’s Hope and the fourth lock and holds onto the hope that he is Fenton despite Arthur’s protests. Groves meanwhile has found Lisa and says he’s lost the girls so they go to tell Neame and are also captured by Keel who tells them to “join the class”.
Neame is just about to make an attempt to disarm Dr Keel when Steed bursts into the study. Neame, who is still conflicted, shouts a warning at “Fenton”.

m.c.u Neame
NEAME: Fenton, watch out.
c.u. Keel’s gun. TILT UP to face [Keel grins at Steed]1
a/b ([Neame’s] reaction)
STEED: What’s this? Parent’s day?
KEEL: Where have you been – riding?

Steed disarms his anger by saying to Groves, “May I use your phone, I seem to have missed your Norwegian friend”, and starts to dial One-Ten’s number. He then quips, “Busy surgery today, Dr Keel!”


  1. The script doesn’t explicitly say that Keel grins at Steed but notes Neame’s reaction to Keel being glad to see him. I have joined the dots.

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