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  • title card: The Frighteners superimposed on Moxon and Nature Boy looking through the shop window
  • Dr Keel looks on as Steed confers with Grechio
  • 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 completed: 25 May 1961. First transmission: 27 May 1961

Part 1

The pretty secretary (Ann Taylor) of Weller Property Consultants finishes her work and hands the books to Sir Thomas Weller (Stratford Johns), who asks her to call a number for him. He dismisses her when the 'phone rings then orders the caller to carry out some 'nuisance abatement' as agreed, saying he wants the frighteners put on him good and hard but not to overdo it. Down in the teeming streets, two hoodlums - Nature Boy (Godfrey James) and Moxon (Philip Locke) arrive at a grocery and are ushered into the secret back room by Beppi (Neil Wilson) where Deacon (Willoughby Goddard) is waiting for them. Moxon tells Deacon that if he gets one more ticket on his form he'll be eating porridge till it comes out of his ear-holes. Deacon asks if he's retiring, then threaten to grass on him unless he does as he's told. He says he has an important job and hands him a photograph of the 'patient'. Moxon selects a straight razor and some brass knuckles from a drawer, grinning evilly - but Deacon takes them back and says, "no tools go out of here with my dabs on them", then wipes them clean. Deacon directs them to The King's Road in Chelsea and orders them to tell him to "Lay off that girl" while he's still receptive. He adds that if the patient doesn't respond to treatment, the client has an additional fee to make it permanent, but Moxon says he stops short of that. "We'll see", drawls Deacon, "£5000 is hard to refuse", then calls Beppi to make sure the coast is clear for his 'gladiators' to re-emerge.

Dr Keel gets into a cab where Steed's waiting for him, saying he has a new line of 'massage contracting' and explains it means beating the daylights out of a customer. Fred, the cabbie, (Frank Peters) becomes impatient and complains about losing business, so Steed asks him to drop them in Chelsea. Jeremy de Willoughby (Philip Gilbert) is in the restaurant and asks the waiter (Ralph Tovey) for the bill and a telephone; a butler (Eric Elliott) answers but Marylin Weller (Dawn Beret) whisks the receiver out of his hands and tells Jeremy that her father didn't go out so she couldn't leave. Jeremy wants to come round but she dissuades him and he agrees to meet her the next day at the Tate. He rings off and Sir Thomas takes the receiver off Marylin...
In Chelsea, an old flower seller (Eleanor Darling) whispers information in Steed's ear when he stoops to pick a flower. He stands up and tells Keel the victim lives in the area, and he hopes to use this lead to get to the prime operator, who hides behind a respectable import business. Steed heads to the alley behind the restaurant where the waiter tells him Jeremy is just leaving for home. Moxon and Nature Boy meanwhile are arguing - Nature Boy wants to take him near the restaurant, but Moxon has planned an ambush at his flat, saying it'll only take four king-hits, then lay in the leather as he goes down and when they've done it they separate and walk, don't run. He hears someone coming - a young policeman, and Moxon shoves Nature Boy's cigarette into his mouth. Jeremy appears round the corner, followed by a bus conductor - Grechio (Benny Nightingale), another of Steed's men - who departs and lets them take over. Jeremy approaches his gate, where he's recognised by Moxon - the thugs don stocking masks and attack him, kocking him down and Moxon has just told him to stay away from the girl when Steed and Keel arrive - they knock out Moxon but Nature Boy escapes and Keel checks de Willoughby's injuries. Steed wants to take Moxon back to Keel's surgery, to "give the police surgeon the night off", and when Jeremy passes out, they carry both of them off.

Part 2

Steed questions Moxon, thinking him more likely to talk away from a police station, while Keel takes a call from Tredding then goes to look after de Willoughby. Moxon won't co-operate until Steed opens the razor and tucks a handkerchief into Moxon's collar, threatening to give him his shave. Keel meanwhile fixes Jeremy's dislocated shoulder; he shouts in pain as it goes back into place, then tells Keel he was set upon by two thugs who thought him a soft touch to rob. Keel doesn't believe him and asks why he doesn't want the police involved when he hears Moxon shout in fear. He returns to the surgery to find Steed standing with the razor open and Moxon claiming he was going to cut his ear off. Steed tells Keel he's confirmed that Deacon is behind it and Keel tells him not to use any more 'applied psychology' on the premises. They go to question de Willoughby and find him gone, the window left open. Steed sets off in pursuit, leaving Keel to deal with Moxon who has grabbed a pair of surgical scissors and says he's leaving despite the pain. Keel tells him he's fractured a vertebrae and if he's moves his head too much he's dead, stopping the goon in his tracks. Moxon falls for the bluff and begs to be taken to hospital and Keel agrees - so long as he gets to meet Deacon - and Moxon finally agrees. Keel breathes a sigh of relieve, then fillis a hypodermic syringe with witchazel.

Jeremy returns to his flat and is displeased to find Nigel (David Andrews) is waiting for him, strumming a guitar. Jeremy tells him he doesn't have the money ang Nigel bemoans that he guaranteed the loan and the loan sharks will be angry. Jeremy grimaces that he should have married 'that bit of fluff' ten days ago and suggest he leave town to avoid bringing it before the courts, which he refuses to do as it's the beginning of the Season and he 'has a duty to the debs'. Jeremy tells him to keep him out it, Marylin turns 21 in six months and he intends to have married her before then and if she hears of loans in his name she might start to believe her father. Nigel storms out, threatening to tell everyone they know, which Steed overhears as he comes up the stairs.
Moxon and Keel arrive at Beppi's grocery and are let in, Deacon caught off-guard by Keel's appearance. Deacon tells him not to be stupid when he says he has a broken neck and he's about to call the boys in when Keel brandishes the syringe, saying it contains hydrochloric acid. He threatens them, demanding to know who hired him and why - and is astonished to learn the answer. He uses the shop 'phone to call Steed, who has Nigel in hand, and arrange to meet his taxi. Deacon attempts to jump him and staggers away in shock when he receives a faceful of witchazel. He claws at his face then realisation dawns and he sniffs his fingers as the door bell rings...

Part 3

Steed admonishes Keel for "diving in where angels and Steeds fear to tread" and says he's lucky he got away with it, but thanks him for lead. Meanwhile, Deacon bursts into Weller's office, to the astonishment of the secretary. Deacon asks for his payment - in cash, and pours them both a brandy. Weller tells him it's all he's getting - he only pays for results and orders Deacon to get out, which the villain does, warning Weller that he'll pay. Steed arrives outside the grocery and an old street sweeper, another informant, tells him only Beppi is there. He gains entry by rapping loudly on the glass then brushes past Beppi and asks him which keys on the register open the door. Beppi protests but is forced to open it when Inspector Foster (Benn Simons) and his sergeant enter the shop. Beppi tells them he'd be cut up if he didn't let the gangster in but opens up anyway. Meanwhile, Dr Keel arrives at Weller's office and warns Weller not to hire thugs to beat people up, and to watch his blood pressure. Beppi is coerced by the police, who lie in ambush in Deacon's lair, to run the shop as though nothing were amiss.

Next day, Marylin calls Jeremy, distraught that her father has booken her on a long cruise, leaving that weekend, but the butler intervenes again and informs Jeremy she will not be taking any calls for some months. Jeremy slams the 'phone down and is surprised when Keel appears at his door with his ointment. Dr Keel tells him about Weller being behind the attack and is worried when Jeremy flippantly says the old buzzard has booked Marylin on a cruise and that's the end of it. Jeremy proests his desire to elope to Scotland and do the 14 days in Brixton so Keel offers to help them, as he's about to go fishing up there, and Jeremy nervously accepts. Even more nervously, Beppi stands back when Deacon returns with Moxon and Nature Boy, pushing past an old lady, and Deacon has to open the door himself. He tells his thugs that their next assignment is Sir Thomas, as he's refusing to pay up, and orders Moxon to "drop him off in the middle of a nice, quiet, piece of scenery and kick him to a pulp". Nature Boy volunteers, saying he has some new boots and Deacon asks them to first take care of the doctor who got them in all this trouble, and produces a bottle which he says, "doesn't contain witchazel". Just then, Steed and the police emerge and Steed confiscates the bottle before the crooks are led away.

Keel is pleased to see Carol has laid the table and tells her the girl will be here soon, and asks Jeremy to take a seat. Marylin is in her father's office, under the watchful gaze of Steed, however - who is standing in for the chaperone Weller has hired. Weller gives him invitations to the party and tells them to go, but he takes her to Keel's place where she says she didn't dare smuggle out any travelling clothes. Steed returns to Weller, claiming Marylin gave him the slip at the party and 'went off with some young man'. Weller angrilly makes a 'phone call while back at Keel's place, a middle-aged Eastend woman (Doris Hare) enters and claims to be Jeremy's mother, saying he has to come and see his dying father. Jeremy swears he's never seen her before in his life and she bursts into tears. She tells Keel her name is Mrs Briggs and when Jeremy still refutes her relation she says she knows every mark on his body and, at Keel's prompting, nominates a horse-shoe scar on his shoulder. Weller arrives with his lawyer and, learning about the birthmark, rips Jeremy's shirt off. Marylin is overcome with how foolish she'd been and runs out, Steed stopping Jeremy at the door when he tries to persue her. Steed tells Jeremy he's dug up a lot of dirt on him, including a string of unfulfilled engagements and dud cheques. Keel and Steed tell Weller to get out, and get his chauffeur to rush him home or Deacon's boys will get him - Sir Thomas smiles and thanks him for the advice then says he'll walk as he needs the exercise.

Dr Keel introduces Steed to 'Mrs Briggs' - an actress called Doris Courtenay who says she's known David for years, and Steed is nudged to pay her for her services. Keel goes to see how the girls are getting on and Doris pours Steed a drink.

Crew

Teleplay by Berkeley Mather 007
"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by Johnny Dankworth regular
Designed by Robert Fuest regularNew Avengers
Producer Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon
Directed by Peter Hammond regular
The Avengers Next Episode June 10th The Yellow Needle
An ABC Production

Minutiæ

  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. 12:30 - why are Moxon and Nature Boy suddenly not wearing stockings on their heads?
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 29:45 - the camera crashes into the side of the taxi and shudders violently.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.."

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