Series 1 - Episode 23
Dead Of Winter
by Eric Paice
Production completed: 18 October 1961. First transmission: 9 December 1961
TV Times summary
The discovery of a deep-frozen body leads Keel and Steed on a mission full of shocks
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.
Late at night on a wharf, a customs inspector arrives to check a consignment of frozen beef that was unloaded from "San Parma", a ship just arrived from Argentina. Harry (John Woodvine) leads him inside the Cold Store and the inspector examines the row of hung meat. He doesn't like the look of one and orders it cut open for inspection. Inside the sack they find a man, frozen completely solid.
Dr David Keel (Ian Hendry) arrives at the city morgue, somewhat annoyed at having been summoned there by Steed during his busy morning surgery period. John Steed (Patrick Macnee) tells him he wants him to look at a corpse - before it gets too warm! Intrigued, Keel follows him into the morgue where Dr Brennan is making notes about the body on the slab. Brennan knows Keel from their student days and they're on the same rugby team. Steed quips about the "deathless bond that keeps doctors friends for life - Rugby football", and Keel snarls he wouldn't understand as it's a clean game! Brennan explains he can't conduct an autopsy as the body is still ten degrees below freezing. The body had been deep-frozen to "eighteen degrees of frost - throughout". All Brennan can tell them is his estimate of the man's age - forty five to fifty - he can't determine the cause of death or how long he's been dead. Steed suggests approximately two weeks and five days ago, when the ship left the port of Buenos Aires, then breezes out, leaving the two doctors to puzzle over the body. As Steed leaves, a tall, blond man follows him.
Later, in Keel's surgery, Steed is talking to Inez (Sheila Robins), an attractive, well-dressed woman with a dark complexion smoking a cigarillo, one of Steed's contacts in Argentina. She confirms she had been tailing the dead man in Buenos Aires until he disappeared four weeks ago. He had been trying to get to Europe but every frontier was guarded; she cannot understand how he's wound up dead. Carol Wilson (Ingrid Hafner) enters and frowns at the cigarillo. She opens the window to clear the air and offers them coffee and, when Steed asks where the "old boy" is, replies tartly that, "The 'old boy' is out delivering a baby. So he's going to be in a very affable mood when he gets back and sees you fumigating his surgery."
Carol departs and they resume their discussion - the meat importers are a firm called Webster's, with an office in Buenos Aires, bigger that they ought to have. Steed tells Inez that Webster's real name is Weber, and comments that "these boys aren't renowned for their imagination." Inez counters, "Except when it comes to the transportation of bodies", and Steed concedes the point. He tells her they checked recent passenger lists to South America and found one name that cropped up several times is a Dr King1, who they think is actually Dr Kreuzer. At this point, Dr Keel returns and immediately adds, "Kreuzer - Neurology and Cell Structures, three volumes", a standard textbook before the war. Keel comments on the "nice smell in here"2 as he closes the windows then tells them Kreuzer wrote several brilliant medical books before the war but never published anything after joining the Nazi party.
STEED: I thought you were going to say you played Rugger with him.
KEEL: The Nazis never played Rugger.
STEED: Which of course, is why they lost.
They tell Dr Keel the frozen body is Hans Gerhardt Schneider, a wanted Nazi war criminal and one of the most dangerous men in the world. Schneider was part of a neo-Nazi revivalist movement called Phoenix - "Rising from the ashes", Keel observes - which seems to be headquartered on the Continent and recently transferred a lot of money to England. Inez adds that South America had the dubious pleasure of acting as hosts to all the Nazis that got away. Phoenix had been trying for months to get Schneider to England to set up a para-military organisation to start war in Europe - when the nations have worn out their reserves, Schneider's group would seize power.
Inez observes something must have gone wrong for Schneider to wind up dead and Steed thinks they've had their first break, things may be about to happen. Inez intends to take the night plane back to Argentina and report from there. Steed offers to drop her at the airport on his way back to the docks and she says goodbye to Dr Keel. David, quite taken with her, whispers to Steed, "You must bring your contacts here more often!"
The next day, the man who followed Steed, Willi (Michael Sarne) arrives at Webster's warehouse and enters the office where a dark, pretty woman, Margarita (Zorenah Osborne), is doing the accounts. She asks to speak to him but he insists he must see Webster and enters the inner office. He tells Webster (Neil Hallett) the body is at the mortuary. Webster is displeased and tells him he was supposed to collect "that delivery" before the docks closed. Willi protests he was held up in traffic and the gates were closing when he arrived. No-one had ever entered the cold storage shed at night before so he decided to return in the morning. Webster tells him Kreuzer, who is in London, won't like it. Willi is given one last chance, he is to report to Kreuzer that evening. Willi clicks his heels and exclaims, "Thank you Herr Kapitan!" He turns to leave but Weber stops him - he has seen a stranger on the dock. He gets his binoculars and watches Steed, then passes them to Willi. Willi recognises Steed from the mortuary so Weber decides he will speak to Steed while Willi leaves the dock, hidden in the crowd of dockers when their shift ends. Weber hands him a Luger pistol, he will need it for his assignment.
Weber goes to intercept Steed while Margarita enters the other door, catching Willi checking the gun. He insists it's for self-protection but she doesn't believe him, she thinks his "assignment" will be to kill. She is saddened, he had promised it would never come to that.
On the dock, Harry tells Weber that Steed said he was from head office of customs. Steed asks Weber about last night's consignment and is told the frozen meat, wrapped in hessian, was unloaded at Barking. Their barges brought it to the warehouse dock and it was loaded straight onto lorries. A fore end of beef weighs about the same as a man and is a similar shape but he can't tell Steed what it's like to carry one. Harry is called over as the rest of the dockers go home. Steed asks him about the meat but Harry isn't very forthcoming, simply saying while it might feel different, they "just 'ump what comes off the ship". He tells Steed they don't use their hooks on the meat as the importers complain about the holes if they do. When pressed on its use by Steed, he says "Pickin' me teef wiv", and departs.
That evening at Keel's surgery, Carol pops her head in before heading home, brightly saying she's been to see the twins who are identical and very sweet.3 The phone rings - it's Brennan, saying the corpse is ready for an autopsy. As he speaks, someone quietly opens a window near the corpse and climbs in. Keel replies that he'll be there in ten minutes and Steed wants to come too. Brennan agrees and hangs up, then turns to put on his gloves but they have gone - the intruder has put them on and approaches him...
Steed tells Keel the docks were a waste of time, no-one would notice a thing, and he hopes the autopsy will help. When they arrive at the mortuary, all is cold and dark and there is no sign of Brennan. The body lies under a shroud on the slab as they call Brennan's name. Steed goes over to the slab and picks up a corner of the shroud then reacts, "Take a look at this!" Keel rushes over and gasps, "Brennan!" - the doctor lies sprawled on the slab, dead.
Dr Keel meets Steed at a cocktail bar where he is told the S.S. Whitney is soon to arrive with a consignment for Webster. Inez had called Steed from Buenos Aires to inform him "someone was being shipped out tomorrow" and this time they're going to intercept it and wait for them. Keel is annoyed that Dr Brennan's murderer will get away but Steed says they are in fact gathering - they picked up another Phoenix member at the airport that morning, and they'll hold him in custody for a few weeks. More importantly, Steed want Keel to impersonate the man4 - a Doctor Fischer. Fischer had a description that fitted Weber in his wallet so it's likely no-one in the London branch has ever met Fischer, so it'll be like falling off a log. Keel has a fortnight to prepare, the ship arrives on the 25th.
Two weeks later, Margarita arrives at work and is surprise to see Willi in Webster office. He tells her he's been lying low until things quietened down. He appeals to her, saying he didn't kill for his own ends, but she will have none of it. She is Argentinian and is only there because of him, she wants to get him out of the Phoenix movement before Kreuzer has him killed. Weber appears in the doorway just as she tells him to ask to be let go from Phoenix. "Touching scene", he drawls sarcastically, then tells her to leave. When she does, she comes face to face with Dr Keel, who asks to see Webster, saying he is Doctor Fischer. Margarita announces him and Webster orders Willi to leave, then Keel enters.
KEEL: Herr Weber?
WEBSTER: (CAUTIOUSLY) Vielleicht.
KEEL: Ich komme gerade von der Phönix.
WEBSTER: Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer to speak in English. I find your Hamburg accent a little alien to my Bavarian ear. Or do you speak English?
KEEL: Yes. I ... er ... would prefer to. Since I shall need to perfect it.
They are wary of each other and choose their words carefully, "Fischer" saying he is "interested in the importation of a carcass from the Argentine". Webster discreetly presses a bell to summon Willi and, when he arrives, asks Willi to "take care" of the doctor. Keel quickly says, "If you are going to be unco-operative, Weber, I shall have to go direct to Kreuzer." His bona fides finally assured, they discuss the shipment and Keel hopes it goes more smoothly than the last time. He tells a worried Weber that the organisation was very concerned about the way it was handled. He asks about Schneider's body and Weber promises he can see it - after he has spoken to Kreuzer. If Kreuzer approves, he will contact him at the surgery, then adds, "The name is Keel, isn't it?" Keel is startled, thinking he has been rumbled, but Weber tells him he had been told he was staying at Keel's surgery. Keel confirms this cover story, saying he arrange a practice to allay suspicion.
Back at the surgery, Carol is talking to nervous new father, Ted Grainger (Norman Chappell), who is worried about the twins as they've lost their hair. She assures him is quite common and it will regrow, probably in a different colour. He's worried the twins, named after Carol and Dr Keel, are underweight, and their eyes changed colour! Dr Keel arrives as Carol tries to edge Ted out the door and he also assures him all is well, and Ted finally departs. Steed has arrived with Keel and says he's off to see about that cargo, but he's lost contact with Inez. Keel doesn't think Weber will buy his cover for long and Steed assures him they just need it to last until he's met Kreuzer. David is unconvinced and worries the Nazis seem too careless, surely they suspect him of being a plant, and the meat deliveries will be watched!
Steed says he hopes to find out and leaves, then Carol enters and says there's a patient insisting to see Doctor Fischer. Willi enters and announces he will take him to see Kreuzer immediately. Meanwhile, the first barge arrives at Webster's dock - and so does Steed. When Harry sees him, he orders all the dockers off the wharf, they won't work under supervision - and if Steed organises the unloading, the union will shut down every wharf in the country. Weber rushes down to stop the walk-off but Steed has already wrangled an agreement with Harry and the gang returns to work. The first crane load descends to the wharf and the dockers crowd around it, shouting excitedly. Steed pushes his way through and sees Inez's body lying on the wharfside. Harry tells Steed she was found in number two hold, between decks, they saw her as soon as the hatches came off. Webster pushes through the crowd to see what's going on and is aghast when he sees the body.
Meanwhile, Willi and Dr Keel arrive at Dr Kreuzer's. They chat while they wait and Keel learns that Willi and his family fled to Argentina in 1945, when he was four; his father died at the front. He is eager to return to the "Fatherland" and asks Keel how soon until they can return. Kreuzer pads in silently as they talk and rasps that Dr Fischer will not reveal any secrets. Willi is flummoxed and departs bashfully.
Kreuzer leads Keel into his surgery to see Schneider. It is a neat medical room with a large Nazi eagle and swastika on the far wall. In the middle of the room is an operating table with a shroud-covered body. Willi removes the shroud from the body and Kreuzer grandly announces, "May I introduce our future leader - Hans Gerhardt Schneider!" With that, Schneidr's eyes slowly open and then his body sits up and he grins evilly at Dr Keel.5
Webster is complaining to Steed - a small importer like him will go out of business, why has it happened twice to his shipments? Steed coolly asks him how, as the other half of his firm ships the beef out of Buenos Aires. Webster suggests, "There is obviously some gang operating in the Argentine docks", but Steed is unconvinced. Webster promises to make another call to Buenos Aires but cannot do much else. He reveals they are shutting down, partly because of the bodies but mostly because the business was not profitable.6 Steed leaps on the opportunity and suggests the 300,000 Deutschmarks recently transferred to their account might help. Webster is startled he knows about that, saying Steed's enquiries are very widespread, but concedes he had expected that Steed would know they were receiving a new shipment. Steed questions why someone would ship a body all the way from Argentina to dump it at his feet and Webster menaces, "Perhaps it was a warning Mr. Steed, to people whose enquiries become too - widespread."
A while later, Kreuzer takes a call from Webster. He confirms "Fischer" is there and Webster tells him Steed just left - he knows too much but the police were everywhere, he'll get him later. Kreuzer ominously warns him both of them must be on that boat tonight and rings off. Outside Webster's office, Margarita has been eavesdropping on the conversation...
In Kreuzer's operating room, they are toasting Schneider's revival. Kreuzer asks Keel why he is not joining them and he says he hasn't got over the shock of seeing a dead man drinking his own health.
KREUZER: Not exactly dead Fischer.
KEEL: But how can a man live for weeks at sixteen degrees Fahrenheit?
KREUZER: I would hardly say he lived either. He was in a state of suspended animation.
Schneider tells them not to discuss medical science but Kreuzer harshly reminds him he's no Fuhrer yet. Keel is astonished at Kreuzer's work - a discovery that prevents ice crystals forming in the tissues and can suspend without deterioration will change the medical world. Schneider interrupts again but Kreuzer, as his doctor, orders him to go and rest. After he goes, Kreuzer slips the bolt on the door and turns on Keel. He says, "I have plans for you, Dr. Keel" and tells him not to try to escape - Schneider is outside the door and doesn't yet know that Keel was going to dissect him in the mortuary...
Steed arrives at the surgery and is perturbed to learn that Keel left with a blond man asking for Dr Fischer. He doesn't know where to look for him but Margarita has followed him and enters, saying, "Perhaps I can help." She asks Steed to save Willi - she doesn't have Kreuzer's address but knows where they will all be shortly.
Meanwhile, in Kreuzer's surgery, Willi is holding a gun on Dr Keel as Kreuzer prepares a hypodermic needle for Keel. Keel guesses it's a lytic cocktail to prevent shivering and Kreuzer is impressed. The evil doctor informs him it has extra ingredients which prevent protein molecules from breaking up - he hopes indefinitely but the longest he has tested is three to four weeks. He smiles nastily at Keel and adds, "But now I am ready for further experiments." So far they have only been used to smuggle "men branded as 'war criminals' to Europe" but served also to put his theories to a practical test. As he prepares to subject Keel to an injection and freezing, he tells him of their diabolical masterplan.
KREUZER: Radiation may kill the conquerors as well as the conquered, therefore no-one survives, except the dead.
KEEL: I don’t follow you.
KREUZER: I think you do. A man frozen beneath the threshold of life is as good as dead. Atomic radiation cannot harm him - and when the radiation subsides he will rise again to take over-the world.7
His Argentine lab is automatically controlled, he need only pre-set the revival date and they will awake to a world free of all opposition. Willi jams his gun up against Dr Keel's face as he tries to rise from the slab then Kreuzer adds that Dr Keel is to be his guinea pig, frozen for a month while subjected to every known radiation hazard.
Steed and Margarita are in a taxi, heading back to the docks - she tells him Weber plans to take everyone off to the S.S. Whitney on his motor launch, including Dr Keel who is to be transported alive back to Argentina, the supposedly empty ship will not be inspected. She begs him to make sure Willi is not hurt but Steed makes no promises, he hopes to destroy Phoenix to free Willi. Margarita says she met Willi eighteen months ago; they should have been married last Spring but Willi was ordered to London - as the first of Kreuzer's frozen experiments - and she followed later by aeroplane.
Back at Kreuzer's, Schneider and Willi discuss being the doctor's guinea pigs, and Keel's fate. Schneider reveals he knew Keel wasn't from Phoenix as soon as he heard him, but suspected Kreuzer of playing a double game. Willi is shocked but Schneider tells him, "In politics and war Willi you trust no-one." He then reveals that Willi's father was shot by his commanding officer for cowardice to underline his point. Kreuzer interrupts, asking Schneider to help him with the body while Willi fetches the lorry. Once Willi has left, Kreuzer reprimands Schneider for telling Willi about his father.
Steed and Margarita meanwhile have reached the docks ahead of the Nazis but when Steed goes to call for police backup, Weber appears and stops him, threatening him with a humane killer designed for slaughtering oxen. Weber thanks Margarita for delivering him and she hopes he'll keep his side of the bargain. Weber then orders Steed outside to meet his friend. At the Cold Storage shed, Willi and Schneider are carrying the frozen Dr Keel. Kreuzer orders them inside the shed, the body must not warm up while they wait for the all-clear from the bribed watchman.
Weber leads Steed in from the other side as they enter the shed; he tells Kreuzer that Steed walked right into their trap. Weber cocks the hammer of the humane killer and Steed, playing for time, tells him the dockyard police will hear it. Weber orders him inside the insulated shed but when they enter Kreuzer realises it's not cold at all inside, the meat hanging from hooks is dripping. Weber exclaims, "Someone has cut off the refrigeration!" - and a hand reaches out from behind a carcass, and the docker's hook it is holding knocks the humane killer out of Weber's hand. Harry and his gang leap out from behind the meat and a fight breaks out, Steed dealing with Weber while Harry lifts Kreuzer in the air as he goes for the gun, and throws him against the wall. They turn on Schneider and Willi but Schneider pulls out a pistol and points it at Keel.
"One move from any of you, your friend dies!" he shouts, then orders Willi to keep them covered. Willi draws his Luger and turns, pointing it at the dockers - but then brings it all the way round and shoots Schneider! He grabs Margarita and backs out of the shed, saying they will finally be free, but Kreuzer sits up and shakes his head.
KREUZER: Your freedom won’t do you much good Willi. Remember you were my first experiment.
WILLI: What of it?
KREUZER: My first experiment failed; when I examined you later I found the living tissues were not being replaced. You will not live another six months.
Crestfallen, Willi lowers his gun and is immediately disarmed by Steed, who thanks Harry for his help.
HARRY: That’s alright mate. But I suppose you know it’s double time after seven o’clock.
STEED: I was told time and a half.
HARRY: Double time. Danger money. Agreed?
The next day, Steed visits Dr Keel's surgery to see how he's going. Keel is in an armchair, wrapped in a blanket as Carol administer to him. Keel grumpily says he has a bad cold and Steed annoys him by quipping that maybe he caught a chill somewhere. David asks if he's released the real Dr Fischer from detention yet, and Steed confesses he never existed but he had to get Keel in the organisation somehow.
KEEL: (RISING OUT OF HIS CHAIR) I thought it was too much of a coincidence.
STEED: (WAGGING A FINGER) Uh uh! If you’re not careful you’ll get a temperature.8
- No, not Steed's future replacement for Dr Keel!
- We saw in Girl on the Trapeze that Dr Keel is a demon for tobacco whereas Carol is a very novice smoker and doesn't really like them.
- Mrs Nicholson's twins were mentioned in Kill the King, it was their delivery that kept Dr Keel out of most of the episode. Now we have another set of twins being delivered by Dr Keel at the beginning of this episode. 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.
- Reminiscent of The Springers where Dr Keel impersonates Dr Fenton, a drug-pushing, corrupt general practitioner.
- As evidenced by publicity stills and a Tele-Snap.
- Thereby immediately undermining his complaint about being driven out of business.
- Sound familiar? The Eastern European invaders in The Living Dead planned to destroy Britain with nuclear weapons while safe in their underground city, emerging to conquer the country without a shot being fired when the background radiation had subsided to a safe level. Here, the neo-Nazis apparently plan to do the same thing to the entire world.
- This scene is very reminiscent of the occasions when Steed would manipulate Venus Smith and Cathy Gale.