• title card: The Frighteners superimposed on Moxon and Nature Boy looking through the shop window
  • Dr. Keel looks on as Steed confers with Grekio
  • Nigel plays the guitar as Jeremy reaches for the whisky
  • Dr. Keel threatens Deacon with a syringe
  • Marylin is overcome with how foolish she’d been
  • Dr. Keel introduces Steed to ‘Mrs. Briggs’

Series 1 — Episode 15
The Frighteners

by Berkeley Mather

Production No 3412, VTR unknown
Production completed: May 25 1961. First transmission: May 27 1961.

Production details

Studio details: Teddington Two
Production No. 3412
Tape No. unknown
Transmission: 27th May 1961, 10.00–11.00 p.m.


Camera rehearsal took place on 24–5 May, 1961 in a schedule similar to the other episodes of this time.
Video recording took place on 25 May, 1961, 6.00–7.00pm.

Regional broadcasts

ITV BroadcasterDateTime
ABC Midlands27/05/196110.00pm
ABC North27/05/196110.00pm
Anglia Television27/05/196110.00pm
Southern Television27/05/196110.00pm
Tyne Tees Television27/05/196110.00pm
Television Wales & West27/05/196110.00pm
Ulster Television27/05/196110.00pm
Westward Television27/05/196110.00pm
Scottish Television--
Border Television--
Grampian Television--

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for May 27 1961, 10.00pm (Northern edition)
TV Times listing for May 27 1961, 10.00pm (London edition) with a small picture captioned ‘Patrick MacNee’

Teleplay by Berkeley Mather
Also starring

Cast includes:

Moxon Philip Locke
Deacon Willoughby Goddard
John Steed Patrick Macnee
Carol Wilson Ingrid Hafner
Dr. David Keel Ian Hendry
Jeremy de Willoughby Philip Gilbert
Nigel David Andrews
Sir Thomas Waller Stratford Johns
Marylin Waller Dawn Beret
Mrs. Briggs Doris Hare

The Avengers theme composed and played
by Johnny Dankworth
Designed by Robert Fuest
Directed by Peter Hammond

A romance leads David Keel and John Steed
to uncover the operations of the insidious

An ABC Television Network Production

The London edition ends with An ABC Weekend Network Production and misspells Patrick Macnee as “Patrick MacNee” throughout; it also includes a small, closely-cropped photo of Patrick Macnee, the same photo that was used for The Radioactive Man listing in Northern editions.

Episode availability

  • Video — the full episode, the only episode held continuously in the ABC archives, is available on DVD and Digital download, released by Studio Canal
  • Audio — reconstruction in The Lost Episodes vol. 6, by Big Finish
  • Script — none
  • Publicity Stills — none
  • Tele-Snaps — 82, 10 repeated at a larger size


Marque/type Plate

Continuity and trivia

  1. 7:05 & 8:20 — there’s distortion of the video with wavy vertical lines up the screen, possibly caused by the cueing of the grams.
  2. Jeremy de Willoughby lives at Flat 1A, 1st floor, 27 Bancham Gardens, Chelsea and usually dines at La Provence on The King’s Road, returning around 10pm.
  3. 12:32 — A member of the crew comes into shot as the camera dollies left and pans right to keep Steed and Keel in shot as they round the corner. He ducks behind part of the set to hide.
  4. 12:36 — why are Moxon and Nature Boy suddenly not wearing stockings on their heads?
  5. There’s an in-joke at the end of Part 1 when Steed says he wants to “give the Police Surgeon the night off” — Hendry was the star of a series called “Police Surgeon” in 1960, which was the springboard for the creation of “The Avengers” when Leonard White wanted something more dynamic.
  6. Macnee and Hendry are clearly having a great time, and visibly laugh at the cockney patois in the script a few times — most notably at the beginning of Part 2, when Macnee can barely say the line, “You don’t think I was really going to lop off his ear with that slasher, did you?”, while mimicking Locke’s character.
  7. 29:45 — the camera crashes into the side of the taxi and shudders violently.
  8. 32:54 — when Macnee opens Beppi’s door, we can see Benn Simons standing off-stage in his mackintosh reflected in the glass of the door. It seems like a goof when you see it, but as Inspector Foster is supposed to be waiting outside for Steed’s summons it’s in keeping with the action and you might consider it dramatic irony.
  9. Steed’s exchange with Beppi is partly in Italian, I hope I’ve transcribed it correctly here (and any fans of Agente Speciale out there, feel free to correct me!):
    BEPPI “Can’t you read, mister?”
    STEED “I suffer under the disability of a public school education. Come on anyway.”
    [Steed moves to the cash register and tries a few of the buttons]
    BEPPI “Hey, what you do? This is my shop.” "What you do with my cash register?"
    STEED “[Can’t play] Open Sesame number on this one eh?” "Andiamo Beppi! Avanti! Un po’diamo tempo!"
    BEPPI “E cosa dice e che è lè — Who are you?”
    STEED “Call me Nemesis but open up!”
    BEPPI “Get out Mr. Nemesis or I call a copper.”
    STEED “Service” [clicks fingers, detective inspector and detective constable enter]
  10. 40:20 — Locke fluffs his line after being told off for thinking his neck was broken and tells Goddard, “And what about your flippin’ neck?.. and face? One squirt of lemonade and the way you was shoutin’ anyone would think you were caught in a mangle or somefing..”
  11. 42:37 — one of those flies from the remastering appears at the bottom right of the screen and flits around until 42:54, just after Dr. Keel smacks Carol on the backside (at least, that’s what it looks like!).
  12. 50:20 — Doris Courtney’s performance fee is 10 guineas (Dr. Keel says, “Never was 10 quid better earned”, and she quickly replies, “Guineas, lovey, let’s keep it professional”), plus the cost of a taxi and the hire of a coat. This episode was shot prior to the Actor’s Equity strike of 1961 and before that, the ITV rate for actor’s fees were 10 gn for a speaking rôle and £3 for a non-speaking rôle. Guineas were traditionally used for livestock, books and performers until the 1960s. A guinea was 21 shillings and a pound was 20 shillings, so that’s £10 10s or 10/10/- as it would have been written down. (Confusion between pounds and guineas is a central plot device of School for Traitors.)
    Acting was lucrative work when you got it back then, as the average weekly wage for an unskilled female worker in 1961 was £7/12/-.
    I must say, she did earn it. I think I enjoy her turn as an actress even more than her “Mrs. Briggs”, with that clear thespian voice booming out. They would have been able to hear her every word up in the Gods.
  13. I’ve changed to using “Grekio” for the agent disguised as a bus conductor, as that is what’s used in the dialogue sheet from 1997. I had thought that was wrong and used an Italian spelling “Grechio” previously but I honestly don’t know which is correct as the original paperwork is all missing.
  14. There is a lot of argument about the bit part players in this episode, fueled partly by IMDB getting the attributions spectacularly wrong, crediting the Black American Charles Wood as playing the constable. I have also been party to these errors in the past, thinking Frank Peters was the street sweeper, but he is of course the bailiff who appears very briefly at the end of the episode. The Charles Wood in question here is the very Victorian-looking gent with huge fluffy sideburns who appears in a number of films and television shows over the years. We still don’t have a name for the plain clothes officer who accompanies Inspector Foster; he was previously mis-identified as Victor Charrington, who is in fact playing Fred, the cabbie — as confirmed by his appearance in Kill the King.
  15. Leonard White was absent for most of this episode’s production as he went into hospital for a scheduled operation. Sydney Newman filled in as producer for a couple of weeks.
  16. A memo from Leonard to Sydney shows that Reed de Rouen was to be involved earlier in the scripting process — it seems that from this point on Reed de Rouen shared story editor duties with John Bryce and he was already on the staff, presumably having replaced Patrick Brawn a week or so earlier.

fan forum Donate Become a Patron!