Series 1 - Episode 20
Tunnel of Fear
by John Kruse
Production completed: 3 August 1961. First transmission: 5 August 1961
At a fun pier in Southend, a hawker dares fair-goers to ride through Tunnel of Fear. Several people get on, including a businessman in suit and tie, bowler hat and umbrella. When the ride stops, only the man's umbrella remains in his car...
Back in Pimlico, Carol is getting ready to go home when there's a ferocious beating at the back door of the surgery. An injured man stumbles in, claiming to have been hit by a car and asks Dr Keel to patch him up. He refuses a pain killer when Keel prepares a syringe, saying he does things when he's asleep, but passes out from shock and pain when the first shard of glass is removed from his back.
Keel remarks that the man is wearing prison clothes and looks as though he's jumped through a plate-glass window in an escape. Carol searches his pockets and finds a letter to Mrs Mary Black, learning that the man is Harry Black, who claims to have been framed for a robbery. Black (Anthony Bate) recovers and swears he's innocent but Keel orders Carol to ring the police.
At that moment, Steed arrives with his enormous dog, Puppy, and remarks that he "recognises[Black's] tailor". He takes charge, calling One-Ten when he learns that Black is from Southend as it may tie into a case he's working on. One-Ten approves the follow-up and Steed asks Keel to go to Southend and speak to Mrs Black which he takes care of Harry. However, when they get outside, some goys scare Puppy and Black takes the opportunity to steal Steed's car and escape once more.
At the fun fair, Mrs Black (Doris Rogers) denies having a son until Dr Keel put Harry's letter in the bag of cockles she sold him, claiming they're off. When she sees it, she asks him to meet her in Madam Zenobia's tent - Zenobia (Hazel Coppen) is a jobbing fortune teller who nips off for a quick pint after weadling a £1 note out of Keel. Mrs Black confirms that Harry was framed for the theft of £5,000 - the week's take for the fair. She suggests he talks to Maxie Lardner, Harry's best friend - the hawker we saw earlier.
Keel emerges from the tent and passes the fair's hypnotist, Billy Flowers (Douglas Ryea), performing his act and is them astonished to hear Steed's voice announcing the "Girl Girly" show. Keel is furious at being used and goes to confront him but Steed quickly points out that Harry is behind them. Keel takes charge of Harry and leads him into the girly tent buy Maxie (Stanley Platts) sees them and tells a bystander to fetch a copper to arrest Harry.
Steed warn Harry and Keel that the law are coming and stalls the officers which they make their escape - Mrs Black shows them through the back fence but Billy and the businessman in the bowler hat, Wickram (John Salew), are concerned that Harry is back. With the police gone, Steed restarts the show and blatantly flirts with Rosie (Julie Samuel), the lead showgirl and Maxie's girlfriend. Wickram stops Maxie from intervening.
Keel and Black head for the yacht of Harry's girlfriend, Claire (Miranda Connell) who is ironing in her underwear. She hides then in the forecabin when a police sergeant (Morris Perry) arrives close on their heels and declares they aren't there, as he can see form how she's dressed. She tells him she heard running towards the pier and he leaves. Claire is worried when Harry says he's back to clear his name. He forbids Claire to follow them but she gas other ideas.
Back at the fair, Steed makes a romantic move on Rosie but is confronted by Maxie. They fight and Steed has knocked him down when Rosie smashes a vase over his head, knocking out the agent and allowing Maxie and Rosie to depart. Two other showgirls find Steed and call for Ma Black's assistance. After she patches him up, she tells Steed what's been happening - and about Wickram's oddness, as though he were brainwashed after returning from the Korean War. Steed phones One-Ten with this information.
Harry and Keel meanwhile have returned to the fair, slipping past the night watchman, George Milner (Bill Maxam) who is now armed with a sawn-off shotgun. They find Claire at the fair and tell her to keep out of sight which they recreate the break and enter that Harry was done for. Harry goes through the motions like a man possessed until he comes to taking the cash out of the safe, at the which he cries, "I don't want it Billy, I don't want it!" Keel reassures him he's not Billy and they slip outside where they are confronted with the business end of Milner's shotgun.
Billy questions Steed in his calm hypnotist voice but Steed's answers are evasive, prompting Wickram to think he's faking being hypnotised and they learn little from him. Meanwhile, Mrs Black clobbers Milner with a pipe and they escape, but Maxie has captured Claire. When they return to Claire's boat they find Mavis looking after the baby - a shock to Harry, who doesn't think he's the father - but Keel convinces him to help solve the case and they head for the ghost train. Keel goes inside and unties Claire and Steed which Harry is recaptured by Wickram at gunpoint outside.
Steed discovers a computer relay room hooked up to the cross channel telephone cables that run under the pier but before he can do much to it the villains burst in with Harry. They back our heroes against a wall as they take charge of the room, hoping to send their final message before fleeing the country. Steed asks to light a cigarette and, once it's burning, reminds Wickram and Billy of the Desert Rats' improvised bomb from the Second World War, and casually announces they have ten seconds until the room is blown to pieces. Milner runs for it and in the confusion Keel and Harry disarm the spies.
Keel breathes out slowly and tells Steed that was quite a bluff. Steed, who is calling the authorities, replies that he quite scared himself, as "these thing cost a fortune" - making Keel blanche as he realises Steed had not been bluffing at all. Or was he? Steed offers Keel a cigarette from his case and Keel declines, saying he was thinking of giving them up.
* mug shots in sepia denote images sourced from other productions.
|"The Avengers" Theme composed and played by||Johnny Dankworth regular|
|Teleplay by||John Kruse The ProfessionalsThe Saint|
|Designed by||Terry Green regularThe Sweeney and James Goddard regularCallanThe Sweeney|
|Producer||Leonard White regularCallanPolice Surgeon|
|Directed by||Guy Verney CallanPolice Surgeon|
|The Avengers Next Week August 19th THE FAR DISTANT DEAD|
|An ABC Network Production|
- Steed gives the codeword "Delta" when he rings One-Ten.
- One-Ten is shown getting ready for a white tie dinner and is wearing a Legion d'Honneur, but it's an old one from before 1870 as it has a crown istead of a laurel wreath.
- Steed drives a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II, number plate MVB 55G
- Mrs Black calls Madame Zenobia by her real name, Katie.
- Under hypnosis (no doubt faking, despite Billy's protestations that he would know if he were), Steed reveals that Keel is a dog-sitter and doctor, lives in Pimlico, and "will go to heaven"; he wears a 15½ collar, is 5'11½" and was a wing three-quarter when he played Rugger and has a golfing handicap of four; he is well-read with a pedestrian appetite and is fond of children.
- Murray Hayne was originally cast to play Harry Black (and appears in all the known published cast lists); he dislocated his back prior to filming and was replaced by Anthony Bate. (Many thanks to Denis Rigg for the information).
- Nancy Roberts was billed in TV Times as playing Madame Zenobia but the final episode features Hazel Coppen in the part. One presumes that Nancy also fell ill.
- The TV Times listed actors in order of appearance and left out some minor rôles, wheras the end credits of the episode list them in order of importance. The cast section shows the episode credit order, but the TV Times had the following:
Maxie Lardner Stanley Platts Jack Wickram John Salew Dr David Keel Ian Hendry Carol Wilson Ingrid Hafner Harry Black Anthony Bate John Steed Patrick Macnee One-Ten Douglas Muir Mrs Black Doris Rogers Madame Zenobia Doris Rogers Claire Miranda Connell Billy Douglas Rye Sergeant Morris Perry