Series 2 - Episode 3
Teleplay by Eric Paice
Directed by Don Leaver
In the Balkan Embassy, a private secretary is taking a shower. She steps out when the 'phone rings and tell the caller she's found out something important about Yakob Borb, 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.
The next day, Steed 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 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 and Czarko (Douglas Robinson & Valentino Musetti)] leap upon Stepan and Steed.
Steed visits a jazz club where Venus Smith (Julie Stevens) is singing and offers her 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 embassy in the morning and just chat him up a bit, don't mention business, or Steed. "Yes, and don't tell me", says Venus, "you'll be in touch". Steed assures her he will, sticks a business card down her cleavage and 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. He 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 didn't bring her pianist. He tells her he'd love to hear her sing, but 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 but Borb tells her to 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 in aid from the West in return for trade concessions, and this despite the Foreign Office suspecting he'll make the same offer to the other side 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 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 fan in the audience, 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 - he's secured at short notice "Gorgon, the 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 Edna, the Decapod's wife.
The fight gets rough and Edna says she's never seen him 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. After the fight, Ito says it was a karate blow that killed Giorgi but Mrs Ramsden says her husband Harry 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. He tells her he had an anonymous tip that something was going to happen at the baths so stayed away and was unable to warn Giorgi in time, but didn't consider him in danger. He turns on her and asks if she told anyone he'd be there, all the people who were supposed to know couldn't speak English.
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.
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 where he's jumped by Harry (Ray Adamson) while Mrs Ramsden deals with a toff come in to see the cabaret (Harvey Ashby). Steed goes fishing, asking Harry how much Ito paid him to kill Giorgi and Harry admits he was paid to stay away from the fight. Harry tells him Ito was in Europe before the war, running a gym in the Balkans. Harry was one of the first wrestlers he hired, paying him £6 per fight, one or twice a week.
Venus sings 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.
Next day at the conference, Borb persuades the West to deposit £10 Million into a Swiss account for immediate use and agrees to sign the accord. Steed intercepts him and announces he's stepping in as his bodyguard. 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 that evening. He offers to take her with him on a trip to all the world's most exciting holiday spots 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 him why he wants to kill Borb, and has arranged for Stepan to be arrested as soon as he leaves the building. He admits they could never hold him - but will until Borb leaves the country. Stepan reveals that the bodyguards were employed by him, not Borb, and followed his instructions to keep an eye on the President who 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 he used to share a prison cell with. Ito dispatches the chauffeur, who Borb says is 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. 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 he's 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 arrive. The Decapod enters the ring and fights Steed. Harry arrives and dons his 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, who demands asylum. Steed says if he gets it he'll face a triple murder charge and he changes his demand to repatriation. 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 executes him for the treachery, then hands his gun to Steed, who orders Harry to call the police as he escorts Ito away.
Steed apologises to Venus it didn't work out but she's angry with him, knowing he knew all along there was no tour to be won. She tells him not to do it again and he murmurs, "As if I would"...