• title card: toy Trap superimposed on dark background with a doll alongside
  • publicity still: Dr. Keel reassures Bunty
  • publicity still: the mysterious ringleader makes a call
  • publicity still: Jackson takes a ride with Bunty in his sportscar
  • publicity still: Steed and his men arrest Mrs. McCabe and her accomplices
  • publicity still: Dr. Keel admonishes Steed for risking Bunty’s life

Series 1 — Episode 19
Toy Trap

by Bill Strutton

Production No 3416, VTR/ABC/1347
Production completed: July 20 1961. First transmission: July 22 1961.

TV Times summary

Keel and Steed provide the next victim in their hunt to exterminate an evil that preys on young girls

The following episode summary is written from the original scripts, production stills, 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

Dr. Keel looks after a colleague’s daughter, Bunty, when she comes to London to work in a department store. They discover some of the shop-girls are being forced into prostitution and Bunty agrees to help Steed trap the culprits. The landlady of the girls’ hostel, Mrs. McCabe, is revealed to have a double-life and was running the prostitution racket until Steed and Dr. Keel stop her. Dr. Keel threated to beat the living daylights out of Steed is he risks someone’s life again...

show full synopsis

show plot summary


A man in a trenchcoat and trilby stops at a noticeboard outside a tobacconist’s in a seedy part of Soho. He picks a card showing a young woman’s face and contact details then heads to the nearest phone box. He dials GERard 1071 and a skinny girl called May Murton (Hazel Graeme) answers. She gives him her address - 27 Brunton Street and adds “It’s the second bell, just walk right up...”

Act 1

Elsewhere in London, in Bussell’s, a large department store, Ann (Mitzi Rogers) finishes serving a woman as the loudspeakers announce the store is closing for the night. Inside an office, a hand reaches for a cane-handled umbrella and bowler hat - but it’s not Steed; it the toy department manager, Henry Burge (Tony Van Bridge), who leaves his office and sees Bunty Seton (Sally Smith) turn down an offer from a man called Johnny (Brian Jackson), and remind him to take his spaceship. He watches her keenly and asks her if everything is all right as she passes him. He then goes past Alice (Nina Marriott), who is selling a panda to another customer.

Bunty has gone to the female change room where May tells her she doesn’t think she can come tonight. Bunty pleads with her, saying a family friend is taking her out to dinner and will be at the hostel where the shop girls live at a quarter to nine. Alice enters and observes that May is lucky to have a flat rather than the “lockup for young ladies” that the hostel is. She adds that May’s flat is probably crawling with wealthy boyfriends and a moment later is shocked when May removes her shop uniform blouse when changing and they see she’s black and blue all over. May tells them to mind their own business, finishes dressing, and leaves. Alice and Bunty discuss the bruises, Alice thinks she has “man trouble” but is tough and knows what she’s doing. Bunty tells Alice that she’s being taken out to dinner that night. Dr. Keel, who is a friend of her father, is keeping an eye on her. Alice arching observes that it will be “very proper” and Bunty replies, “Yes, I’m afraid so.”

Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) arrives at Bussell’s staff hostel that evening where the manager, Mrs. McCabe, rings Bunty’s room to tell her he’s arrived. He goes to the lounge where the girls waiting there giggle about the presence of a man before Bunty arrives. She’s worried about May and asks if they can go by her flat on the way to dinner. When pressed why, she tells him about the bruises on May’s arms and ribs, and that she has been acting very strangely. Fortunately, May’s flat is around the corner from where Keel is taking her in Soho; they descend into the sordid streets and arrive at May’s flat, failing to notice a man in a trilby - Freddy (Brandon Brady) - who is watching the flat from below the stairs. May is not there and it looks like she left in a hurry. Dr. Keel has just told her not to worry and May is probably fine when the phone rings.

Bunty says, “Do you think you’d better answer it?” and Dr. Keel picks up the receiver. A woman - Chrissie - Christine Sandyer (Jill Brooke) - asks, “Lennie, can I speak to May?” but when he says it’s not Lennie she hangs up abruptly without identifying herself. Keel asks Bunty if she knows anyone called Lennie but she says no, then shows him some lewd photographs of naked women she’s just found.

KEEL: Is this May?
BUNTY: No of course it isn’t, it’s horrid.
KEEL: Well, is that May then?
BUNTY: How could she let herself be photographed like that?

Keel ushers her out quickly to take her back to his flat. As they leave Freddy watches them go then struggles up the stairs on crutches and enters the flat. A while later, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is looking on in dismay as Dr. Keel fries some lamb chops. Keel grins at him when Steed suggests going to a nearby restaurant and says, “No trouble at all. As a matter of fact it’s rather fun once in a while.” Steed turns to Bunty, seeking support and asks if the doctor wasn’t supposed to be taking her out for dinner. She agrees but says the doctor thought it would be easier to talk to Steed at the flat, then offers to take over with the food. Steed mentions the place he is thinking of does an excellent paella but Keel ploughs on regardless. Bunty goes to lay the table and Steed asks Keel how old she is. “Nineteen. You watch it.”, Keel growls but Steed is serious, he wants to know what’s going on. Keel shows him the photographs and asks for his help - and to stop Bunty nosing around. Steed says “There are dozen of these artistic creeps around Soho with a flood lamp, and a bed and an attic” but finding who took the photos shouldn’t be too difficult. He sniffs and suggests the pan is up too high, and at the same time Bunty pokes her head into the kitchen and says something’s burning.
Steed escapes to the living room and jokes that the fire is under control. He then asks Bunty what she knows about May, and if she ever saw anyone at the flat, but she can’t tell him anything.

Meanwhile, Freddy is reporting to his boss, a garishly made up woman wearing large sunglasses and a wig who calls herself ‘Meyer’. He didn’t recognise Bunty but now knows Dr. Keel’s identity, having followed them to his place - they were only in May’s flat for ten minutes.

M.: Get me a line on the Doctor. If he’s a busybody then we’ll have to cure him, won’t we darling?
FREDDIE: What about May’s flat?
M.: Put a girl in. That new poppet Johnny’s got going. She’ll do.

Back at Keel’s, Steed declines more food - until he learns it’s peaches and cream that David couldn’t have burnt. The conversation turn to Bunty’s father, who wrote to David recently. Steed suggests she write him - “Or better still why don’t you go home and pay them a visit.” but Bunty ignores the suggestion to get away, saying she’ll lose her job. Keel takes up the baton as Steed goes to make coffee and says it’s an unpleasant business and she might become involved, but she is resolute. Steed returns from the kitchen, complaining that Keel has no real coffee. 1

The next day, Steed and Keel tour Soho and arrive at a photographer’s shop. The sleazy photographer (Lionel Burns) tries to sell them some sets of girlie photographs, then stops to take a call from his bookie. When he hangs up, Steed shows him one of the photos they found in May’s flat and asks if he has “something like this, only - better”. The photographer says no, only what’s on display, until Steed adds that he’s sure he got some there a short time ago. The photographer admits they’re his photos and informs them the girl in them is called Chrissie. “One of my regulars. Very reliable girl.” - but he refuses to give them her address. Steed buys some photos and the photographer reconsiders and says he has her number somewhere. He calls Chrissie’s number but there’s no answer. In her flat, Chrissie lies dead on the ground, her Siamese cat meowing at her dead mistress...

Act 2

At the toy department the next day. Henry is watching Lennie set up a train set. Henry suggests they’ll sell more if he puts one of the prettier girls on it. He asks Lennie if he’s seen Miss Murton - Lennie denies he has very defensively and Henry smooth-talks him while staring him down. Steed arrives and asks Bunty about Chrissie, who they found dead that morning, but Bunty doesn’t know her. Steed asks her if she knows what a call-girl is - “I’m afraid so, yes”, she replies quietly. Steed then asks if anyone knows something about May and Bunty suggests Alice or Mr. Burge. Steed plumps for the boss first, asking her to introduce him as Doctor Steed. He’s shown through and Henry is reluctant to divulge anything, for the safety of the staff. Steed says Miss Murton is a patient of his who hasn’t been keeping appointments. Henry is reluctant - “It’s my job to protect them from this sort of thing. I’m only letting you have this because you’re a doctor.” - but all he has is May’s parents’ address. On an impulse, Steed asks him if he knows the girl in the photo and he confirms it’s Christine Sandyer, who worked there a year and a half ago, then left on personal grounds. Steed thanks him and departs, Henry musing, “Chrissie Sandyer ...” after he’s gone.

Steed returns to Bunty who tells him May ran away from home so would not have gone back. He speaks to Alice, learning that Bunty has already told her about Chrissie, but more importantly learning that “Lennie” is Lennie Taylor and she points him out.

ALICE: So many men trying to protect us little girls. All keeping the wolves off so they say.
STEED: You get a lot of wolves?
ALICE: What do you think?

Alice knew Chrissie, who came from up North somewhere. The hostel restrictions didn’t suit her and she “fell into the first trap some pimp set for her”. Henry comes over to see why Steed is still there, and he feigns an interest in a Czechoslovakian teddy bear, having to shell out £7/2/6 for it. After Steed leaves, Henry asks Alice if everything is all right and she cheerfully replies, “Yes, thank you, Mr. Burge”.
Lennie meanwhile is less happy - he’s on the phone, saying there’s been a joker at the store asking a lot of questions. He’s told what to do and hangs up.

At his flat, Dr. Keel is repairing his doorbell. Steed tells him delightedly that pretending to be a doctor worked like a charm. Keel is unimpressed and tell him never to do it again. Steed counters that some of his colleagues are trying to break an extensive vice ring with a continental HQ. The police pick up the small fry but his department are after one particular big fish. Keel tells him he couldn’t persuade Bunty to return home to safety and Steed wonders about persuading her instead to play along with one of the charmers. Keel glares at him and tells him to get the idea out of his head - permanently! Steed smiles and gives him the teddy bear as a present, then leaves.

Just as Steed leaves, the phone rings. It’s May, who tells Dr. Keel she’s back at her flat and come he come immediately? When Dr. Keel gets there, Freddy is waiting for him

FREDDY: This is just a warning Dr. You’ve been poking your oar into business that doesn’t concern you.. we want you to lift it out again - All right?
He points one crutch at him, and knocks him down to the floor with it then adds:
FREDDY: Next time we’ll hurt you, doctor.

He leaves with two hoodlums, leaving Keel sprawled on the floor. Henry is at the hostel, giving Mrs. McCabe some theatre tickets to hand out to the girls. He warns her it’s the second show so she should turn a bilnd eye if they’re in late... he’ll be passing that way and can give them a lift. Bunty comes in and dodges Henry’s insinuations about being out on the tiles. Mrs. McCabe says “I’ve seen very little of you, Bunty, since you joined us. Are you happy?” Bunty says yes. “Don’t find out rules too strict? ... It’s for your own good you know.” Dr. Keel suddenly arrives to save her from further inquisition and they go in to the lounge to talk. They discuss Chrissie and May, and Bunty tells him about Johnny, who gave her a pound note for something costing 1/6 but she refused to keep the change when he offered it to her. 2 Steed calls, informing Dr. Keel that Lennie has “a record as long as your arm” and is a bouncer at a sleazy club. He’s off to check Lennie’s flat and gives the address - they’ll use Keel’s car as Steed has lent the Rolls to a friend. Keel warns Bunty to stay home and rushes over to Brixton. After he leaves, Mrs. McCabe offers Bunty one of the theatre tickets...

Keel screams over to Brixton in his car and picks up Steed at the Town Hall. They rush to Lennie’s flat and approach cautiously. Opening the door, all is quiet but Steed sniffs the air and sees a cigarette butt in the ashtray. He pulls out a revolver and moves silently through the flat until he reaches a curtain, which he whisks aside. May, crouching behind it, looks up at him and wails, “No... no ... leave me alone!”

Act 3

Back at his flat, Dr. Keel offers May a sedative and tells Steed to go easy on her. Steed looks at him and remarks, “I admire your humanitarianism.” They say they’re friends of Bunty but May is wary of them and asks if Steed is a copper. He asks her why she was hiding out at Lennie’s and she replies that if it wasn’t for Lennie she doesn’t know what she’d have done. Bunty arrives and May’s resolve crumbles. She tells them she met a charmer - polite, kind, good-looking - who set her up in a flat. 3 Steed suggests the young man got her a job in a nice respectable nightclub. She confirms it, fighting back a tear and says she tried to get out and they threatened to write to her dad. She looks at Bunty and adds “All those bruises? That’s what happens when you call their bluff...” Keel asks May if she wants to tell them about the people involved then Steed asks who gives the orders.

Johnny visits Meyer who shows him May’s clothes that they found at Lennie’s place, she had escaped just before they arrived. Meyer says she’ll worry about Taylor, he is to find May. Johnny opens the door to leave and lets Freddy in as he goes. Meyer tells Freddy he didn’t discourage the doctor. “You should have let me work him over proper”, Freddy growls and she tells he’ll get another chance - but he can practice on Lennie first. Some time later, the quiet of a night of the country is broken by the sound of a speeding car. As it hurtles past, Lennie’s body is flung from one of the doors... 4

Back at the shop the next day, Alice sells a toy crane to an elderly gent then goes to talk to Bunty, as she’s heard that Bunty is leaving the hostel. Bunty loudly announces that she’s fed up with the dreary place - and Mrs. McCabe’s rules. She then announces she’s going to find a better paying job so she can get a nice place. Alice asks her to stick it out for a bit longer, then they can both look together, but Bunty turns her down. Johnny has been eavesdropping and comes over. “I said I’d be back”, he says, as he hands her a toy he’s going to purchase. It costs 4/6 and this time he gives her a £5 note, telling her to keep the change. 5 She declines, less strongly than last time, and he says he can afford it; he’d like to buy her something as she’s a pretty girl. He offers to make it up to her is some other way and asks him to join her for a drink after work - he’ll be in his sports car outside at six o’clock, and she agrees. He leaves, nearly forgetting the doll he just bought.

As soon as he’s out of sight Steed appears and asks Bunty if that was the man she mentioned earlier. She tells Steed about the date, and the car, and he allays her fears by saying she’ll be followed. She worries about what Dr. Keel would say, which gives Steed a moment until he learns she didn’t tell Keel about their arrangement. Then she mentions that Lennie didn’t come in to work. Steed tells her gravely that they found Lennie last night - he won’t be coming back.

That evening, Dr. Keel gets a call from Bunty’s dad and tells him Bunty’s fine but reluctant to come home from London. What he doesn’t know is that at that moment Bunty is in a pimp’s sports car, coughing over a cigarette she’s not used to smoking. Johnnie smiles and tells he he likes her hair. 6 He continues to flatter her and suggests dinner somewhere if she prefers, but she asks if they can sit a bit longer where they are. She asks him what she has to do, and he tells her to leave it all to him. She tells him it’s a big thing to decide and he says to forget it, nobody’s forcing her into anything. She’s still reluctant so he tells her she’ll have independence, a nice flat, and plenty of money.

JOHNNIE: And you’d look great in some real clothes ... what do you say?
BUNTY: I don’t know.
JOHNNIE: We’ll take good care of you
BUNTY: ‘We’ - Johnny ... I thought it was you and me.

He backpedals quickly and says there’s one other bloke, just an accountant sort of as they need someone to take care of the business, and he leans over and kisses her; she reluctantly goes along with it. She breaks off the kiss and says she’ll do it but reveals too much when she adds:

BUNTY: I’ll do what you say, but first I must see this accountant or whatever he is ... I’ve got to know everyone involved, it’s too chancey otherwise ... after all, look what happened to Chrissie... and then Lennie Taylor ... and May got beaten up!

The penny drops for Johnny, who starts the car and suggests dinner and she replies, “Anything you say Johnny”. Meyer takes a call from Johnny later that night and is interested that Bunty has connected them with the others. She adds that getting rid of her now won’t help so he’s to organise a meeting.

Two days later 7, Bussell’s is closing for the night and Henry asks Alice to assist with the stock-take. She cries, “Oh no!” but he tells her Bunty and Peggy are staying so she agrees. He then goes and finds Bunty in the hostel next door and asks her the same, saying Alice and Peggy are staying. She says she was meeting someone but agrees when he persists. So, when Dr. Keel rings the hostel Mrs. McCabe disingenuously tells him that Bunty is not there and she doesn’t know when she’ll be back. He’s frustrated as he’s been trying for a while and gives her his number and hangs up.

Alice is counting teddy bears and pandas for the stock-take. She flinches as Henry pats her on the shoulder and says “Good girl!” then he turns to Bunty. He tells her the stock list for the Czech items is on his desk and hands her their count so far, asking her to check it against the master list. He adds that it’ll take her some time so she should take a seat in his office. After a while, Henry comes into the office to see how she’s going and reflects how boring but essential an accurate stock-take is.

Meanwhile, the other girls are in the change room, having finished, and Peggy asks if Henry made his usual offer. Alice replies, “Yes “You’ll find me in the Saloon Bar at the Coach & Horses. I’d be happy to treat you to a little drink!” ... And he will keep pawing me.” Peggy agrees - she hates pawers too - and wonders if they ought to tell Bunty they’re going but Alice thinks if they go to his office Henry will make them stay longer so they head off to get dinner instead.

Henry departs to get some sandwiches from the pub, leaving Bunty to her counting. After a while she hears a strange noise and goes to look, calling Alice’s name. Standing in the dark, empty store, she becomes nervous and retreats to Henry’s office to make a phone call - but as it starts to ring, we see a hand reach up and unplug the cable from the switchboard. She goes back out and hears the strange sound again, a rhythmic clumping noise, getting closer. She runs back to the office and hides to the side of the door. It’s Freddy, his crutches thumping across the wooden floor of the store as he stalks towards the office. He hits the door with a crutch and it flies open, pressing her against the wall but also shielding her from Freddy’s gaze as he glares into the office, then turns and stalks away.

Dr. Keel has turned up at the hostel and Alice confirms Bunty has been out the last three nights but can’t explain why Mrs. McCabe hasn’t delivered his messages as she normally does. Alice tells him Bunty is still at the store and she hopes “old Henry” lets her go soon as she’s going out to dinner again. She confides to the doctor that Henry takes advantage of being in charge of them - little crushes, asking them to stay on, asking them to have a drink at the pub. The doctor hurries off to save Bunty as Alice shouts after him, “He’s harmless - scared stiff really.”

Bunty meanwhile has crept back into the store and is terrorised by Freddy circling her in the darkness making a noise here, tapping the keys of a toy piano there, making her spin around in fear. Henry enters the store and she breathlessly tells him that someone’s trying to kill her. His eyes narrow as he tells her, “There’s no reason to be afraid, my dear. It was you who wanted this meeting after all.” Bunty stares at him and gasps, “You?!” Henry smiles nastily and says, “You’re an inquisitive girl, aren’t you?” and grabs her wrist. Bunty fearfully says she only wanted to know who she was working for and Henry says, “Of course, and SHE wants to know who you’re working for.”, then advises her to let the boss ask the questions as he leads her to his office.

Before they get there, Steed pokes his head out of a toy wigwam he’d been hiding in and, pointing a gun at Henry, asks “Excuse me - Working late?” He’s joined by three men with guns and they herd Freddy in towards Henry. Steed advises them to be absolutely quiet as the lift indicator has flashed, indicating someone else is coming. Johnny and Meyer step out and are immediately rounded up. Just then, the lift descends again and Johnny wonders who could be in it this time and Steed smirks, “Fascinating isn’t it? That’s why we’re all keeping so quiet.” He orders Johnny to join his friends and is just saying to Bunty it’s not normally this simple when Dr. Keel steps out of the lift. Steed murmurs, “Surprise, surprise” and Meyer sees a chance to get the drop on them and shouts “Freddy, quick!” There is a scuffle but Steed’s men quell it easily, Robertson (Howard Kingsley) knocking Meyer’s wig and glasses fall off as he grapples with her. Steed is astonished and says, “Roberston, what have you done?” just before Bunty recognises her and shouts, “Mrs. McCabe!” The vice gang hang their heads and Steed’s men lead them away.

Recovered from the ordeal, Bunty tell Dr. Keel that she was going to go home anyway and has persuaded May to come with her. She adds, “I’m sorry; Mr. Steed said it would be all right.” Dr. Keel sees red and goes to confront Steed, who smiles at him and says, “Wasn’t that the funniest thing you’ve ever seen in your life?” Keel pushes him off the swing he’s sitting on and snarls,

KEEL: No I do not. And if you ever do anything like that again, I’ll beat the living daylights out of you.
STEED: What the devil do you think you’re doing. nobody -
KEEL: I’m doing something I should have done a long time ago.
STEED: What the hell are you talking about?
KEEL: Knocking sone sense into that bigoted head of yours.
STEED: (LOSING TEMPER GRABS KEEL) Steady on old boy, people don’t talk to me like that.

Keel says “here’s one that does” and persists, adding that Bunty was in his trust and he thought they had an understanding - if Steed wants to be like that he’s on his own.
Steed glares at him and explains that it was a question of time; if he hadn’t used Bunty it would have taken weeks to set up another contact and a couple of dozen other girls would have been recruited into the game; there might even have been more killings. Keel reminds him that the end doesn’t justify the means and they argue the point. At that moment, Bunty comes in, diffusing the tension 8, and they all leave the store together.

  1. The scenes of Dr. Keel’s domestic ineptitude are a welcome comic relief from the heavy material of the rest of the episode.
  2. A pound was 20 shillings so the change is 18/6 — not much less than a pound! That would be more than a day’s wage for a shop girl.
  3. There is a very sordid line cut from May’s tale here. Keel tells her the sedative will do her good and she replies “Do me good? - they’ve got doctors too, plenty of them, I get examined by one every week. They looked after us very well.” In the final cut she just says “Do me good?”.
  4. The film insert used to show the dumping of Lennie’s body sounds very like the one at the start of Square Root of Evil and is probably the same film reused.
  5. This is a new extreme, he is giving her £4/15/6 — more than her week’s wages - which he’s sure to call upon quickly. A young retail assistant in 1961 would probably get between £4 and £5 a week. The average adult woman’s wage for unskilled work was £7/12/-, up from 7gn. (£7/7/-) in 1960. Doris Courtney earned 10 guineas plus expenses for her evening’s work in The Frighteners so being an actor is a good wheeze. (Confusion between pounds and guineas is a central plot device of School for Traitors.)
  6. Sally Smith wears her hair quite differently in the rehearsal stills but is sometimes in full makeup and hair, with a headband and her hair out, almost identically, in every shot of full costume and the Tele-Snaps so I wonder if Johnny’s like about her hair being different every night was cut.
  7. It may be the next day rather than two days later but Dr. Keel complains about not having been able to reach Bunty for three days at the end of the episode.
  8. She was originally going to be carrying a puppy and call excitedly, “Look at this!” - and there’s even a rehearsal still of her doing so, but the direction about the puppy has been heavily crossed out in pen and there’s a pencil notation that might read “Cut of B on loung [sic] chair”. The last two words are so scrawled as to be pretty much illegible.

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