• 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.

TV Times summary

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

Plot summary

Sir Thomas Weller engages The Deacon and his gang to give Jeremy de Willoughby the frighteners, and tell him to “lay off that girl” - Weller’s daughter, Marylin. The hoodlums are rounded up when Steed and Dr. Keel intervene and ensure that The Deacon has arranged his final beating. Jeremy seems set on marrying Marylin, but a neat piece of deception arranged by Keel ensures that Jeremy is exposed as a ‘professional marrier’. Weller decides to walk home and face the music from The Deacon...

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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 store

Act 1

Beppi Collosimo (Neil Wilson) opens a secret door with his cash register and they are ushered into the secret back room by where the gangland boss Deacon (Willoughby Goddard) is waiting for them. Moxon tells Deacon if he gets one more ticket on his form he’ll “be eatin’ porridge till it comes out of my ear-holes”. Deacon asks if he’s retiring and calls him lazy, then threatens 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 starts wiping then clean. “No tools go out of here with my dabs on ’em. That’d never do, would it, Moxon?”, he adds. Deacon then directs them to Flat 1A, 27 Banksham Gardens, just off The King’s Road in Chelsea and gives them their orders.

DEACON: I want it done tonight. And while he’s still in a receptive mood, whisper to him, “lay off that girl”. You got that?
MOXON: “Lay off that girl.”
DEACON: Now remember, give him the real frighteners, Moxon. The real frighteners.

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. David Keel (Ian Hendry) gets into a cab where John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is 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 (Victor Charrington), becomes impatient and complains about losing business, so Steed asks him to drop them in Chelsea. Jeremy de Willoughby (Philip Gilbert) is in the La Provence restaurant and asks the waiter (Ralph Tovey) for the bill and a telephone. When he calls, 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 because of the court order her father took out against him and he agrees to meet her the next day at the Tate Gallery instead. 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 attack Jeremy 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 (Keith Goodman), and Moxon shoves Nature Boy’s cigarette into his mouth. Jeremy appears round the corner, followed by a bus conductor - Grekio (Benny Nightingale), another of Steed’s men - who departs after a quick chat with Steed and lets them take over. 1 Jeremy approaches his gate, where he’s recognised by Moxon - the thugs don stocking masks and attack him, knocking 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 Jeremy’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.

Act 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 so Steed opens the razor and tucks a handkerchief into Moxon’s collar, threatening to give him a ‘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 “shiv my ear off with that slasher”. Keel glares at Steed and asks him what he was doing.

STEED: Oh, just giving him a little gentle psychology. (LAUGHS) Hey, you don’t really think I was ‘gonna shiv his blithering ear off with that slasher’, do you?
KEEL: I wouldn’t put anything past you.

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 first - and Moxon finally agrees. Keel breathes a sigh of relief, then fills a hypodermic syringe with witch hazel. 2

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 and Nigel moans that the loan sharks will be angry. Jeremy grimaces that he should have married ‘that little slut’ ten days ago before her father issued the ward of court chit on her. Jeremy suggests Nigel leave town to avoid bringing it before the courts, which he refuses to do as it’s the beginning of the Season and, being as diabolical a gold-digging cad as Jeremy, says he ‘has a duty to the debs’. Jeremy tells him to keep him out it until after he’s married her.

JEREMY: You start squawking about backing loans to me, and she might start thinking. She’s dumb, I know, but she’s not that dumb. She might even start listening to her father. I’ve gotta paddle along softly, softly, till after her twenty-first birthday, and this ward of court nonsense runs out.
NIGEL: But that’s six months off!
DE WILLOUGHBY: Exactly, and I’ve got to keep things dewy fresh and oh so quiet until then, or there won’t be any wedding. And where will you be then? Your only redress would be to sue me for it, and you know what your chances of collecting then would be, don’t you?

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 him back in Fred’s taxi. Deacon attempts to jump him and staggers away in shock when he receives a faceful of witch hazel. He claws at his face then realisation dawns and he sniffs his fingers as the door closes behind Keel’s feet...

Act 3

STEED: But I told you to keep Moxon on ice until I got back.
KEEL: Yes, but I found out what you wanted, didn’t I? Sir T. Weller and all that?
STEED: But you know that those places have a membership of some of the most vicious thugs in London. So Keel’s rushed in where Steeds and angels fear to tread, ha ha!

Steed admonishes Keel 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 eventually does, warning Weller that he’ll pay more physically first. Steed arrives outside the grocery and an old street sweeper (Charles Wood), another informant, tells him “Only the I-tie is there” - Beppi.

Steed 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 constable enter the shop. Beppi tells them he’d be cut up if he didn’t let the gangsters do what they wanted 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 booked 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 protests 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. Jeremy seems reluctant actually commit as he was just blustering and nervously has to accept.

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 witch hazel”. Just then, Steed and the police emerge and Steed confiscates the bottle before the crooks are led away.

Keel is pleased to see Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) has laid the table and tells her the girl will be here soon. He asks Jeremy to take a seat. Carol glares at Jeremy, knowing full well what sort of man he really is. Marylin is in her father’s office, under the watchful gaze of Steed - 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 instead.

Marylin tell Carol 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’ and Weller angrily makes a phone call. Back at Keel’s place, a middle-aged East End woman enters and claims to be Jeremy’s mother, Mrs. Briggs (Doris Hare). She begs him to come and see his dying father. Jeremy is aghast and 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 a bailiff (Frank Peters) to enforce the court order keeping Jeremy away from Marylin 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 pursue Marylin after declaring Mrs. Briggs is lying. Steed stops Jeremy at the door:

STEED: I’ve dug up a lot of dirt on you, young man. Last year with the publisher’s daughter. The year before with Fiona Croft-Simpson. Not to mention twelve months inside for sprinkling dud cheques through just about every page of Debrett’s. Now, have I said enough?

Keel and Steed tell Weller to get out, and get his chauffeur to rush him home or Deacon’s boys will get him 3 - Sir Thomas smiles and thanks him for the advice then says he’ll walk as he needs the exercise. Dr. Keel then introduces Steed to ‘Mrs. Briggs’ - an actress called Doris Courtenay who says she’s known David for years, and Steed is asked to pay her for her services. Keel goes to see how Carol and Marylin are getting on as Doris pours Steed a drink.

  1. When Grekio leaves he jokingly asks if they know where he can get a bus to Wembley Park.
  2. The bottle is incorrectly labelled as “Witchazel”.
  3. This doesn’t make much sense as Inspector Foster has already taken them into custody.

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