Series 1 — Episode 22
Kill the King
by James Mitchell
Production No 3419, VTR/ABC/1390
Production completed: August 30 1961. First transmission: September 2 1961.
TV Times summary
Three women and a double-cross bring danger to Steed when he has to protect a foreign monarch on a visit to London
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.
Steed is assigned to prevent the assassination of King Tenuphon after an attempt by internal separatists fails. Major Harrington is already arranging a second try - the King will die from a shot from his sniper rifle as he walks on his balcony. Steed check the area, expecting such an attempt, but the owner of the house opposite, Mrs Carter, does not arouse his suspicions. Steed’s sixth-sense ensures that the King remains safe and the royal bodyguard disposes of Harrington. Shockingly, Harrington was in the pay of the king and his “missed shot” in fact killed its intended target, the conciliatory Prince who was prepared to make a deal with the rebels.
King Tenuphon (Burt Kwouk) is flying to London to sign an important oil treaty between his kingdom of Shanpore and Britain. On his jet his security chief, General Tuke (Patrick Allen), Tuke’s wife, Mei Li (Lisa Peake) and Prince Serrakit (James Goei), who is trying to convince the King not to sign the deal.
SERRAKIT: Your good neighbour is only too willing to negotiate with us.
The King refuses, saying that if he compromises with the Tukshan they will take the country from him. Serrakit warns him the treaty will cause a civil war and Tuke replies, “It is too late now”. A steward appears to serve them and Mei Li shouts a warning - he has a gun! The steward turns and shoots but Serrakit defends the King and the bullet strikes his arm; the king is unharmed. The assassin is dragged away as Tenuphon thanks Serrakit for saving his life. Mei Li assists the Prince. “Are you sure you are all right, grandfather?” she asks tremulously. He smiles at her, weary with the pain and replies, “It is nothing, I’m only relieved that his majesty is unharmed.” The King asks Tuke if he’s killed the steward. When he says not, the king orders, “Do so!”, shocking Mei Li.
At the King’s suite in London, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is talking to (Peter Barkworth) of the F.O. 1, an officious bureaucrat worried about the treaty. Steed is more worried about protecting the King and Crichton-Bull notes he’ll have his work cut out for him, as the king is “difficult to guard, he’s so fond of women -”
Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) arrives, summoned by Steed to treat Prince Serrakit. She apologises as Doctor Keel is on duty at the hospital and Crichton-Bull sarcastically suggests that “treating one of the entourage of King Tenuphon of Shanpore might be more important”. Carol and Steed stare at him in astonishment then Carol replies, “I was told the wound was not serious”.
As the Royal cars approach though the London traffic, Zoe Carter (Moira Redmond) watches out the window from across the street. There is a knock at the door and when she opens it she’s faced by a man with a rifle case slung over one shoulder and a suitcase in his other hand. He says he’s Major Harrington (Ian Colin) and asks if he can come in and discuss a delicate matter with her. He tells her he has news of her husband who was missing, believed dead, in the Shan Mountains. She’d been told the Turkshan guerillas had killed him but the major says her husband is alive. She doesn’t believe him - it’s been over a year with no word! He says the Foreign Office don’t hear everything and shows her some photographs of her husband Tony. He says he can arrange for his return if she lets him stay at her flat for a couple of days; if anyone asks, she will say he is an old friend of her husband’s from the Far East. If she refuses, her husband will die. She agrees and asks what he’s going to do. He gazes out the window and removes a hunting rifle from its case then says he’s shot lots of big game out East.
MAJOR: But this is the first time I’ve had a pop at Royalty. You don’t believe me. I’m going to kill a rich, lecherous, brilliant young man. A man I’ve met and, strangely enough, a man I like.
He aims his rifle out the window as she gasps, “You mean the King?” “Did I say that?” he drawls in reply, “And such an easy shot too!” 2 Peering through the rifle’s sights, he has Steed clearly in his crosshairs...
Steed is unhappy with the suite and tells Crichton-Bull, “Look at those windows. Anyone over there with a gun... ker-pow!” Steed orders him to check everybody in the area again as they go inside where Crichton-Bull introduces Steed to the King, saying Steed is the very best man he could have.
TENUPHON: There is a simple way to assess Mr Steed’s abilities. If I am still alive on Saturday at mid-day, I will say that he is a man in a million.
The twenty-five year oil monopoly he is offering Britain has made him enemies at home who want it offered further East. 3 Carol enters the main room with Serrakit, now treated and bandaged. The King is delighted and Serrakit says his “charming nurse” has made him feel better and introduces “Miss Carol Wilson” to the King. Tenuphon smiles and says it it wasn’t for Serrakit’s heroism, he would have been her patient. Carol is called to the telephone - Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) is checking how she went with the Prince and she tells him it was only a slight wound. 4
Steed meanwhile asks Tuke if the King said he was a General. Tuke laughs and admits that beforehand he was only ever acting corporal; five years in the Commandos, then deserted after eighteen months in the Foreign Legion but he now has diplomatic immunity. As Carol leaves, Steed asks Tuke about the assassin on the plane. Tuke tells him Prince Sadek, Serrakit’s brother, was probably behind it. He is head of the Progressive Action Group and has sided with the Tukshan. Sadek plans to kill the King and take over Shanpore but Serrakit is not involved - he is a sympathiser and a very spiritual man. When Tuke first came to Shanpore the King sent for him - he sees every white man that enters the country.
TUKE: Signs me on as his bodyguard. Made me up to a general straight away. Ten quid a day, staff car, private elephant and kit allowance. Wife too, if it comes to that. You saw her. Little smasher.
All laid on, as you might say. I like it. I like him come to that. I’d be daft to let anything happen to him and I’m not daft son, just remember that. 5
Steed regards him carefully and says he certainly didn’t think he was daft but what possessed him to dump that steward out of the plane without interrogating him first? Unless he thought it would embarrass someone...
In Zoe’s flat, the major is watching the King’s suite through his rifle sights. He tells her to relax, he’ll be there for a few days then be gone and her husband will be safe; she must love him very much. She cries a bit at this and confesses she’d left Tony after having an affair but will do anything to make up for what she did to him. The major tells her that on Saturday the treaty will be signed and the King will make an appearance on the balcony; the major’s rifle will dispatch him to the angels. Just then, the doorbell rings. The major orders her to make tea while he answers it. It’s Crichton-Bull, checking up on the overlooking flats. The major invites him in and introduces himself, saying he’s just visiting. When Mrs Carter comes in with the tea, Crichton-Bull asks if she can vouch for the major. Zoe glances quickly at Harrington’s face and tells Crichton-Bull he’s an old friend of her husband’s. Taken in by the old school tie, the civil servant apologises for having to ask and fails to check Harrington’s papers. He declines a cup of tea and turns to go, noticing the major’s suitcase. One bright luggage label draws his eye, a monkey and elephant design, and the major says it’s from an hotel in Singapore, then points to another, from the Metropole in Kuala Lumpar.
In another part of London, U Meng (Andy Ho) is in his bookshop with Ta Pai (Myo Toon). U Meng hands Suchong (Eric Young) a revolver and they praise him; he is to be an avenging hero for all Tukshan. U Meng tells him the arrogant king will come out onto the balcony and Suchong is to “execute him for what he is, a murdering criminal”. Suchong worries he might miss and U Meng reassures him he won’t, “It is a very good gun. British made.” Crichton-Bull returns to the suite and tells Steed about Harrington, describing him as a “jolly decent chap” but admits he didn’t check his papers. Steed is furious with him and immediately calls One-Ten to get Harrington properly checked.
Back at U Meng’s bookshop, Suchong has left. U Meng tells Ta Pai that Suchong will fail and be arrested; a pity as he quite liked him. Tenuphon is well guarded but once one attack has failed their vigilance will falter and they will then know the security set-up. Ta Pai asks who will then kill the King. U Meng holds up a large knife and replies, “That pleasure will be mine.”
Steed in anxious as the King has hit the nightspots on the way back from the embassy. Serrakit tells him not to worry and sure enough moments later, Tenuphon returns with a blonde dancer, Ingrid Storm (Carole Shelley), in tow. Ingrid is delighted to meet a prince but less impressed with “Mister” Steed although the King says he will soon owe Steed more than he could ever repay. ("I thought you were rich", Ingrid says in some confusion). Tuke rushes in, looking for the King and is relieved to see he has returned. Steed asks Ingrid about her background to assess her security risk 6 and invites Mei Li, who was listening at the door, to join them. Ingrid says she has a pretty name and Mei Li tells them it means “beautiful jade”. That gives Ingrid an idea and she pulls a jade charm in the shape of a monkey and elephant out of her purse. Mei Li asks her if she’s been to Shanpore as it is a sacred charm from her country. Steed is concerned and asks where she got it. Ingrid claims the King gave it to her but Steed doesn’t believe her. She confesses a Shanporean man came to her club one night and offered her fifty quid to wait in the bar to be picked up by the King, and to find out who was guarding him. She tells Steed the man was called U Meng and this makes Mei Li laugh - she tells them, “In our language, that means ‘Mr. Nobody’”
The King enters and takes Ingrid away and Tuke as Mei Li why she’s there. Steed turns on him and asks why his wife is spying on Steed. Mei Li confesses she has been - Steed is only the third white man she has seen and is very handsome!
Meanwhile, Zoe asks Harrington if he really will help her husband. The major tells her she’s singularly attractive but, moving away from her attempted embrace, says he won’t fall for her charms - but he will help her husband. Steed arrives at the flat to question Harrington, who tells him he’s a rubber planter returned from Malaya. He is heading up North to visit relatives in a few days after Mrs Carter asked him to stay at her flat in London briefly. He claims he and Tony Carter were in India together in 1943 and felt obliged to visit his widow. Zoe is shocked at this and the major explains to Steed that Tony disappeared over a year ago in the Shan mountains, but the major goes on to say he had never been in Shanpore himself. Steed asks to speak to Zoe alone but she doesn’t divulge that the major knows more about Tony. They are interrupted by a noise of a crowd outside and they rush to the window. A group of students has gathered beneath the King’s balcony.
Across the street, the King hears the noise and General Tuke tries in vain to dissuade him from going to have a look. Crichton-Bull stops the King at the door, grabbing his arm and Tuke rebukes him. Tenuphon looks at Crichton-Bull and explains his person is sacred and may not be touched. As the King walks out onto the balcony a shot rings out and Ingrid runs away while Mei Li and Serrakit run in to see what happened, but the King is unharmed.
Across the street, Zoe tells the major the attacker used a revolver, and he complains:
MAJOR: Bound to miss at that range. Why couldn’t I have had a crack at him? I wouldn’t have missed. Vicious little half-educated scum.
Steed returns to the King’s suite and insists that Tenuphon not go out on the balcony again without giving him notice. A detective rings to say that Suchong has been detained and Steed then calls One-Ten to get his report on Harrington. One-Ten only has information Steed already knew except the fact that Tony Carter is definitely dead, hushed up because he’s one of their agents.
Ingrid meanwhile is back in her dressing room at the club. U Meng enters and informs her she’s being watched, and wants to know why. She tells him Steed, who is guarding the King, must have organised it, he’s a “real hard one”. Otherwise the King has “a dim-wit called Crichton-Bull and a load of rozzers - plus the King’s servants” U Meng presses her on if they suspected her and she admits they did, but she told them U Meng was writing an article on the King’s visit. U Meng is pleased and tells her to summon Steed to the club, “It’s time he was got out of the way”.
Zoe asks Harrington about Tony, whom he claims to have seen recently. She asks if his malaria was bad and the major says no more than usual but then she turn to the letters supposedly from Tony and says they’re not like Tony at all. They may have his handwriting and tricks of phrase and style, but he didn’t love her the way they suggest. She then bursts out that Tony never had malaria and the major has never met him - she knows Tony is dead. What then of the photograph?, the major counters, and she concedes that is Tony, but she thinks he was already dead - and is surprised when the major concedes the truth of it.
Crichton-Bull meanwhile turns up in Ingrid’s dressing room, who is disappointed Steed hasn’t arrived. To get rid of him, she tells him U Meng is at 127 Maxwell Street, Cheapside. He says he’ll rush off there with some men and she asks for her monkey charm back, Steed took it from her - a monkey sitting on the back of an elephant, it’s the Shanpore crest. Crichton-Bull scratches his head, trying to remember where he’s seen it - or something like it...
U Meng arrives at the King’s suite disguised as a drinks waiter and gets past the detective with a fake pass. Then Steed appears behind U Meng and coolly tells him to open the champagne, he’ll take it through to the King. U Meng says it not trouble but starts to open the bottle and, realising he won’t get past Steed otherwise, opens it in his face. They fight and Steed defeats him. U Meng is then dragged away by the detectives. 7 Tenuphon congratulates Steed on defeating “Mr. Nobody” and reveals he knew about U Meng from Mei Li - and had already guessed the first attacker was “a mere skirmish”. Crichton-Bull returns, astonished at what has happened, and Steed calmly tells him Ingrid’s invitation wasn’t just for his company. He in turn tells Steed about the address in Cheapside which is the headquarters of Prince Sadek’s people and Steed gently tells him it’s the address of a maternity clinic.
A servant enters and hands Steed the good money charm and Crichton-Bull remarks on it then suddenly realises it was the interesting luggage label on the major’s suitcase. Steed says, “Well done” and rushes out but when he gets to Mrs Carter’s flat she tells him the major has already left. Steed sits down and tells her they’ve been officially notified of her husband’s death. She thanks him and adds, “Major Harrington will be distressed to hear this. He was very close to him.” She stares at Steed and he twigs her meaning, says “I understand”, then departs. The major emerges from a back room and congratulates her.
MAJOR: You did that very well. You almost convinced me. You certainly convinced him.
ZOE: I’m afraid I did.
Steed returns to the King and tells him there will be another attempt on his life. Tuke demands to know when and Steed says it will be tomorrow on the balcony when the King makes his appearance. Tuke is ordered to make alternative arrangements and cancel dinner that night. The King offers Steed a drink but he says he has to make his own arrangements - to break into the flat opposite, later that night. Steed goes off as the King summons Serrakit to talk to him.
Back at the flat the major gets a phone call, his “little bit of business” has been put forward and it will be very soon. A short time later they hear the sound of an approaching helicopter. The major smiles and observes, “Fascinating things helicopters. Quite a novelty. People still stop and look at them.” “So that’s how.” Zoe says. “That’s how.”, the major confirms.
In the King’s suite, Crichton-Bull is telling a rambling anecdote when the King hears the helicopter. He insists on seeing it and borrows Crichton-Bull’s binoculars... Across the street, Harrington gets Crichton-Bull in his sights and mutters, “wrong feller”. Crichton-Bull desperately asks Jameson to fetch Steed as he tries to stop Tenuphon from going onto the balcony but the King has insisted Serrakit joins him on the balcony to see the helicopter. Tuke refuses to help, saying no-one is to touch the King and she Steed arrive he tells him the same thing. Steed thrust Tuke out of the way and launches himself onto the balcony. He grabs the King just as Major Harrington lines up his shot - and kills Serrakit!
Tenuphon rises from the ground and tells Steed, “That was heroic but ill-advised” as a detective pronounces Serrakit dead. Meanwhile, the major prepares to depart but General Tuke bursts in and shoots him before he can leave. Tenuphon says he blames himself, looking at a helicopter is such a trivial thing. Steed looks at him squarely and asks how much the helicopter cost.
STEED: You and Tuke had it all arranged. You hired Harrington when he was in Shanpore last year - and I’m pretty sure you gave him some kind of hold over Mrs. Carter -
her husband died in Shanpore - and I’ve no doubt he used the fact to get into her flat - that put him in the ideal spot for shooting you.
King Tenuphon insolently asks Steed why he thinks he had Serrakit killed. Steed thinks for a bit then says it because as a neutralist Serrakit would let his brother in, leading to Sadek and Tukshan taking the country. The King agrees, Serrakit was a good man and he loved him but he had to die. Tuke returns, saying the major is dead, claiming “it was him or me” but Tenuphon quietly informs him that Steed knows the truth. They both look at Steed, who concedes there’s nothing he can do as they both have diplomatic immunity. Tuke and the King depart to their rooms 8, leaving Steed musing events on the balcony.
Dr Keel arrives, his shift at the hospital over, and joins him. Keel looks out over the London skyline from the hotel balcony and reminisces about Peggy. Steed looks at him and asks, “Why do you devote so much time to my little projects? All right. Don’t answer that.” Keel offers Steed a lift home - after he’s had a moment - and they silently smoke their cigarettes as the evening light fades.
- I wonder if Carlton-Browne of the F.O. is the inspiration for the character’s name, and ineptitude. ⭮
- Classic foreshadowing with the ambiguous wording. ⭮
- Another Cold War reference, as we saw in The Yellow Needle? ⭮
- Carol tells Dr Keel the slight wound only required antiseptic and a loose bandage; his temperature was normal and she gave him a tetanus injection. Dr Keel in return tells her that his patient Mrs Nicholson had given birth to two ginger-haired twins, a boy and girl. Another set of twins are mentioned in Dead of Winter, for Ted & Sylvie Grainger, so there must have been something in the water! Delivering twins seems to be the only remarkable achievement the writers can think of for a GP and is a far cry from Mrs Gale’s anthropology or Mrs Peel’s physics and chemistry. ⭮
- I’ve assumed the King affected an introduction to Mei Li rather than arranging a marriage as surely she would be some sort of minor royalty. ⭮
- A page is missing from the script at this point and some of Steed’s subtle interrogation is missing. ⭮
- There is a series of production stills of this fight and the aftermath, showing Steed’s tussle with U Meng, the detective dragging U Meng away, and Crichton-Bull arriving late and looking baffled. ⭮
- A page is missing from the script at this point and some of Steed’s conversation with King Tenuphon and General Tuke is lost. ⭮