• title card: white all caps text reading ‘The Decapod’ superimposed on an extreme close-up of the masked killer
  • Venus sings in the club, Art Morgan and Spike Heatley behind her
  • Close-up of the wrestling programme for the night: The Butcher of Islington v. The Decapod
  • Borb delivers his speech at the conference, Stepan sitting behind him
  • Steed is pinned to the floor by The Decapod, who is twisting Steed’s ankle
  • Steed, holding Stepan’s pistol, lies to Venus about never getting her in danger again

Series 2 — Episode 3
The Decapod

Teleplay by Eric Paice
Directed by Don Leaver

Production completed: 13 September 1962. First transmission: 13 October 1962

TV Times summary

Steed and Venus find “The Decapod” just as murderous as his namesake – the ten-armed sea monster

Plot summary

Corrupt Balkan president Yakob Borb, in London to organise a huge loan from the West, is annoyed to find Steed dogging his footsteps when his secretary is killed. Steed insinuates Venus into the embassy and that evening he and Venus watch in horror when one of Borb’s bodyguards is killed in a wrestling match against a masked wrestler called “The Decapod”. Discovering the real Decapod has been paid to let someone stand in for him, Steed unmasks Borb as the false Decapod - he had been trying to eliminate his security so he could abscond with the multi-million dollar loan. Enraged, his ambassador shoot Borb in revenge.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Prologue

In the Balkan Embassy, a woman is taking a shower. She steps out when the phone rings and tells the caller she’s found out what they wanted, Borb became quite confidential, but won’t say over the telephone. She agrees to meet the caller in the morning but when she hangs up she’s confronted by a masked wrestler who knocks her down and kills her with karate blows.

Act 1

The next day, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is greeted at the embassy by the ambassador, Stepan (Phillip Madoc), who leads him in to see the visiting president, the philandering Yakob Borb (Paul Stassino). Steed is concerned about his security, given the private secretary’s death, but Borb dismisses it as an accident and demonstrates how well protected he is by ordering Stepan to reach into his pocket, at which two bodyguards – Giorgi (Douglas Robinson) and Czarko (Valentino Musetti) – leap upon Stepan and Steed. Stepan apologises, saying his excellency is a hard man to protect, then Borb interrupts them, ordering Stepan to find him a new private secretary, observing salaciously that he knows his requirements.

Steed visits a jazz club where Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) is singing a torch song, “You’re Getting to be a Habit with Me”. When she leaves the stage, the cigarette girl (Valerie Stanton) indicates that Steed is waiting for her. He offers Venus a solo singing tour of the Balkans – all she has to do is convince Borb he wants her. He tells her to go to the Balkan Embassy in the morning and just chat him up a bit, but she’s not to mention his name. In a display of shocking male chauvinism, he sticks a card with the details down her cleavage then adds:

STEED: Well, I shouldn’t mention business for a few day either, you know, encourage him to talk about himself. And let me know what he says – in detail!
VENUS: Yes, and don’t tell me, you’ll be in touch.

Steed assures her he will, then in another shocking display of male chauvinism, smacks the cigarette girl’s bottom (Valerie Stanton) on the way out.

The next morning, Borb is watching his half-naked bodyguards wrestle when Stepan enters, reminding him to attend the conference. Stepan disapproves of the homoerotic wrestling but is ordered out by Borb. On the way, he announces Miss Smith has arrived and she’s ushered in, wondering if she hasn’t ‘come at playtime’. She’s introduced to Giorgi, who Borb says is a champion that he wants to pit against English wrestlers, perhaps the Butcher of Islington.
Giorgi leaves to get changed but Czarko stays and Borb tells Venus his bodyguards have been instructed to ensure he’s not alone for a minute; Venus wonders if it’d be cheaper to get a dog.

Borb offers her a drink and she declines, saying never before an audition as it affects her breathing. Borb looks confused, especially when she says she wasn’t sure is he wanted to hear her sing that that stage. He tells her he’d love to hear her sing, stops in confusion when she apologies for not bringing her pianist, then he recovers and says he would rather sit and talk – lecherously, it would seem. Stepan re-enters with Giorgi, telling Borb he’ll be late for the conference and Venus says she has to do some shopping anyway. Borb insists she give her shopping list to her chauffeur – she’s been engaged and may use the embassy staff. She’s left in the presidential apartment with Czarko on guard at the door...

At the conference, Stepan meets Steed and says President Borb was in fine form, asking for £100,000,000 in aid from the West in return for a few naval bases, and this despite the Foreign Office suspecting he’ll make the same offer to another foreign power in a year’s time. Stepan concedes he might do this, to maintain neutrality, which Steed calls international blackmail. Stepan says Borb is fearless, despite knowing he might be assassinated at any moment. Why, Steed might be his intended assassin; or Stepan, as Steed points out. Steed learns that Venus is at the embassy and has been hired. Venus, meanwhile, has had enough of being cooped up and tries to leave, but Czarko won’t let her pass. The phone rings and she answers it, berating Steed who’s on the other end for putting her in ‘this white slave racket’ and tells him Borb wants her to accompany him to the East Paddington public baths that evening. Steed assures her he’ll be right behind her.

At the baths that evening, Steed finds a seat next to a lady in the audience, Edna (Lynne Furlong), reading her programme to learn the bout will be The Butcher of Islington v. The Decapod, a wrestler who wears a black mask... Venus arrives and is pleased to see Steed, as Borb went separately by taxi and she hasn’t seen him. The fight promoter and referee, Ito (Wolfe Morris), arrives to the cheers of the crowd and announces the fight has been changed – immediately receiving boos instead. He announces that he’s secured at short notice “Gorgon, Wild Beast of the Balkans” – Giorgi – who will fight the Decapod. There are cheers for Giorgi and boos for the Decapod, and Venus calls the Decapod a brute but the lady next to Steed reveals that she’s the Decapod’s wife.

The fight gets rough and Edna says she’s never seen “my Harry” fight like this before. They’re all astonished when the Decapod suddenly uses an illegal blow to the neck to kill his opponent and leaps from the ring, clearing his way out of the baths with a chair.

Act 2

After the fight, Ito says it wasn’t a Judo blow at all, it was from karate, the ancient Samurai art of killing. Mrs Ramsden says her husband Harry – the Decapod – never practised judo or karate. Steed tells her to contact him at Venus’ club if she hears from Harry as he may be able to help him.

Venus meanwhile is back at the embassy, annoyed with Borb for not turning up last night, and daring to ask her where she’s been all day.

VENUS: You know what happened I suppose?
BORB: To Giorgi? Yes, it must have been a fantastic fight!
VENUS: Just how many bodyguards do you get through in a week?

To placate her, Borb has Czarko bring in an enormous bunch of flowers but she’s dubious when he says she won’t have to carry them home as she can move into the flat upstairs. Borb tells Venus he had an anonymous warning to keep away; he was unable to warn Giorgi in time, but had no reason to think he was in danger. He turns on her and insinuates all the people who were supposed to know he would be at the baths couldn’t speak English, so did she tell anyone? Venus stammers that she doesn’t think so, remembering not to mention Steed.

Steed corners Stepan at the conference, telling him the injuries to Giorgi were identical to those suffered by Borb’s secretary, so the same person killed them both; he also mentions that he found traces of soap on her phone, and the switchboard confirms there were no external calls to or from the phone that night, so she’d been speaking to someone inside the embassy before she was killed. Stepan suggests someone is trying to warn Borb away from the conference. Stepan reflects it will make no difference to Borb, who will think it fun. Until recently he had been a dedicated revolutionary with a fine sense of responsibility.

STEED: But power corrupts.
STEPAN: Absolute power – yes!

Steed asks Stepan about Borb’s obsession with wrestling and learns that Borb had shared a cell with a wrestler before the revolution and has kept it up ever since.

Venus calls Steed from her club, saying she’s with Borb and he should get down there, there’s someone who wants to talk to him. Mrs Ramsden is working as the cloakroom attendant and she ushers him into the back when he arrives; he’s jumped by Harry Ramsden (Ray Adamson) while Mrs Ramsden deals with a toff (Harvey Ashby) come in to see the cabaret. Steed goes fishing, asking Harry how much Ito paid him to kill Giorgi and Edna forces Harry to admit that he was paid to stay away from the fight. Harry tells him Ito had left Japan before the war, and had been in Europe running a gym in the Balkans. Harry was one of the first wrestlers he hired, paying him £6 per fight, once or twice a week.

Venus sings “I Got Iy Bad” to rapturous applause and Steed tells her to strike while the iron’s hot, as Borb was very impressed. She turns on him angrily, as Borb has vanished. Steed runs out, stopping at the cloakroom for his hat and coat, only to find Czarko dead on the ground. Borb turns up a moment later looking for him and says he sent him to get his coat but as he took so long he came to find out why. With all his bodyguards dead, Steed decides to escort him back to the embassy.

Act 3

Next day at the conference, Borb persuades the West to deposit £10,000,000 into a Swiss account for immediate use and agrees to sign the accord. Steed intercepts him and they discuss the outcome of the conference. Steed learns that Borb will be touring the city that afternoon before flying out the next morning.

STEED: Perhaps I could show you round.
BORB: Thank you but I have a guide book.
STEED: I shall be joining you just the same.
BORB: Really? Do I understand you’re taking over the role of my personal bodyguard?
STEED: That’s right. Until your plane leaves.
BORB: Do you think I’m still in danger, Mr. Steed?
STEED: Yes.
BORB: In that case we’ll have to be very careful, won’t we Stepan?

Edna visits Venus who’s rehearsing at the club and tells her Harry never went home last night after the bodyguard was killed and is worried Ito is making him kill people. Borb calls her, interrupting the conversation, and invites her to the embassy. Venus arrives, finding Steed on sentry duty and tells him Harry has disappeared. Steed says not to worry, he’s keeping an eye on her, and Borb is just about ready to sign her contract. Inside, she fends off an advance from Borb and gets down to business, but he laughs in her face when she explains that a friend told her he would fix a singing tour of the Balkans. Borb instead offers to take her with him on a trip to all the world’s most exciting holiday resorts but then discovers Steed is not at his post outside the door when he tries to order him to make tea.

Steed has gone to question Stepan at the conference hall. He asks if he wants to kill Borb, why not do it in his own country? Steed has arranged for Stepan to be arrested as soon as he leaves the building but admits they could never hold him – but will until Borb leaves the country. Stepan reveals that the guards were employed by him, not Borb, and followed his instructions to keep an eye on the President. Borb had tired of his post six months ago and has been trying to escape to the West ever since but has been too well guarded. “Still?” asks Steed. “Still”, confirms Stepan.

Borb and Venus turn up at the Bathhouse where he introduces Ito as an old friend who used to share a prison cell with him. Ito attacks the chauffeur, who Borb says was spying on him. He offers to take her with him again, giving her a large sum of money and saying he’ll buy her new clothes when they get to Geneva, they leave in two hours. She asks to phone her landlady to cancel the milk and Ito escorts her to the office.

Steed and Stepan return to find them gone but the phone rings and Steed learns Borb is at the Baths. He orders Stepan to stay there and leaves. Venus returns and is asked when Steed will arrive. She looks confused and Borb explains the previous secretary did the same thing, but with the ambassador. He leaves Ito to terrorise Venus and then Steed arrives. He enters the ring with Ito and Venus screams when she sees the Decapod standing in the stands. The Decapod enters the ring and fights Steed. Harry arrives and dons his own Decapod mask before knocking down Ito, then enters the ring and the Decapod fights the real Decapod while Steed apprehends the recovering Ito. Harry defeats the impostor and leaps from the ring in time to prevent Ito escaping. Steed unmasks the impostor, revealing Borb, which shocks Venus

BORB: I demand asylum!
STEED: That’s fine but we’ll charge you with triple murder!
BORB: In that case I... I demand to be returned to my own country!

Steed says it won’t help him much when they discover Borb intended to embezzle the £10,000,000 for his own use. Stepan appears and asks if this is true. When Borb admits it Stepan shoots him for the treachery, then hands his pistol to Steed. Steed orders Harry to take Ito away, and call the police on the way out.

Steed sinks into a seat beside Venus and tells her it was a good thing Harry phoned to let him know where they were as she might not get a change to phone. Venus tearfully says she did make a call – to her landlady, to cancel the milk... Steed apologises to Venus that it didn’t work out but she’s angry with him, knowing he knew all along there was no tour. She tells him not to do it again and he murmurs, “As if I would”...


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