Series 2 — Episode 5
Mission to Montreal
Teleplay by Lester Powell
Directed by Don Leaver
Production No 3500, VTR/ABC/1747
Production completed: May 12 1962. First transmission: October 27 1962.
TV Times summary
Dr. King takes a luxury cruise to look after a famous film actress who Steed suspects of espionage!
Neurotic diva Carla Berotti is targeted by a criminal and her understudy is killed so she takes a cruise back to Montreal to escape, Steed installing Dr King to treat her. Carla has been forced by her husband into smuggling a top secret microfilm out of Britain, and she finds her trust in Dr King and Steed, posing as a steward, is well-placed. Tangled loyalties mean that a double agent nearly defeats the Avengers before the ship safely reaches port.
An anxious woman picks up a candle, desperately asking Tom to stop frightening her and show himself. Suddenly, she is grabbed from behind and a hand stifles her scream...
The director (Harold Berens) calls, “Cut and hold” and, after checking with the cameraman, “Print!”. He tells the actress, Carla Berotti (Patricia English), she was marvellous then tells the crew to set up scene 28 so they can “get it in the can before she breaks up”. Carla asks her understudy, Peggy (Pamela Ann Davy), to fetch her a pill but when Peggy goes to Carla’s dressing room she’s grabbed by a man with an eyepatch who is searching the room. He demands the “Dew Line film”. When he realises she’s not Carla he apologises, then kills her with a stiletto.
Some time later on board the MV Calpurnia, stewards (Peter MacKriel and William Swan) rush to and fro under the watchful gaze of the officers, Pearson (Eric McCaine) and Nicholson (Mark Eden). The receptionist (Angela Thorne) welcomes aboard a late passenger, who announces himself as Budge Jackson (Gerald Sim).
Guido Marson (John Bennett) meanwhile is guarding the door of Carla’s flower-strewn cabin where she is fielding questions from the press (Malcolm Taylor, Terence Woodfield, Leslie Pitt, William Buck and three extras). Sheila Dowson (Iris Russell), controls the session and forbids any discussion of Peggy’s murder. Carla’s setting sail for Montreal “because she lives there” and dismisses comments about the unfinished film. The ship’s horn announces departure and the reporters are ushered out. 1 Sheila stops Carla from downing more whisky and summons the ship’s doctor.
SHEILA: Alcoholics Anonymous, Auntie Sheila...
CARLA: Look, we’re spending the next six days together.
SHEILA: So let’s be civilised about it, shall we?
Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason) arrives and is grudgingly let in by Marson, but Carla is horrified to discover her usual doctor, Dr Bronsen, has been replaced. She’s aggressive at first but warms to him when he doesn’t stop her drinking..
She tells him she’s a hypochondriac, living on her nerves, a neurotic, but he sees that she’s frightened – she blames it on Peggy’s murder, the murderer meant to kill her, and tells Dr King that public figures attract cranks. She pours herself another drink and he tells it won’t work, one day she’ll have to face it. He gives her a sedative which she takes with champagne then has a fit of hysteria before it kicks in; he slaps her and she calms down after she slaps him back – twice!
Dr King goes outside to fetch his nurse, Judy (Gillian Muir). He speaks to Marson briefly before returning to his cabin, finding Nicholson there. Nicholson says he was making sure he’d settled in and introduces himself as the Second Engineer. He invites him to the Chief Engineer’s table for dinner then asks how long he’s been looking after Miss Berotti. Nicholson says he disapproves of actresses who only have “certain physical characteristics abnormally well-developed” and no talent. 2 He’ angry when he learns that King is tolerant of his opinion but doesn’t share it.
NICHOLSON: Tolerance can become a vice if not guided by a strong moral sense.
As he leaves, he says the Chief won’t be at dinner that night as they’re stopping at Le Havre for passengers and mail around 11 o’clock.
Carla receives a phone call and sends Judy into the next room, the voice on the line tells her to meet on the boat deck and she hurries out, telling Marson to keep Judy in the cabin. When she gets to the boat deck, she embraces Nicholson who asks her if she still has the film and wants to know why she didn’t get rid of it in London. She says was scared, and worried about what they would do to him. When he says they don’t use those methods she reminds him of Peggy and he concedes their man mentioned Dew Line and had to silence her. They hide when Budge suddenly appears on deck.
Marson meanwhile convinces Judy to stay put and let Carla have a rare moment of privacy – but she makes a phone call as soon as he leaves. Back on the boat deck, Nicholson asks if she knows whether ‘they’ sent the new doctor, and tells her to meet him tomorrow night at 11 o’clock, to bring the film with her, and be careful. They kiss and depart separately, Dr King emerging on an upper deck as they leave.
At Le Havre, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) joins the ship – as a steward – and takes a drink to Dr King’s cabin, which he consumes himself after the doctor signs for it. He derides the doctor’s chinoiserie dressing gown and defends his steward’s uniform as a disguise when Dr King returns fire. Dr King reveals she made contact with a man n the upper deck about an hour ago, but he didn’t see who or hear what they said. Steed tells him microfilm plans of the new Dew Line defence installations – a system of early warning stations against missile attack across Canada and Alaska – has been stolen, and a member of the spy network captured in Montreal had a list of the Calpurnia’s sailings and Berotti’s name. They assume she still has the film as it didn’t turn up in London. Furthermore, Carla normally flies – unless she can get a berth on the Calpurnia. Sheila arrives and King discovers she’s one of Steed’s informers after he invites her in. Meanwhile, Peggy’s killer comes aboard and tells the receptionist he’s A.G. Brand (Alan Curtis).
The next morning, Carla is talking to an autograph-hunting passenger (John Frawley) who goes to fetch his autograph book as Nicholson approaches. Nicholson asks why she didn’t show up last night and is astonished to discover she no longer intends to hand over the film. He tells her that as her husband, he knows what right for her; and she questions that too.
In the ship’s bar, Brand orders a whisky and dry from the barman (Allan Casley), then offers Sheila a cigarette which she politely declines.
SHEILA: No I don’t smoke, at least not in a public place.
BRAND: That’s an old fashioned idea.
SHEILA: I’m an old fashioned person.
That evening, Carla locks her cabin door then quickly hides the microfilm in a pill canister. She rings for a steward; moments later, Steed interrupts Nicholson and Dr King talking on the foredeck to tell King he’s wanted in Suite B – Carla’s room. Nicholson queries Steed as he departs, but seems satisfied to learn it’s his first passage on the ship. When King arrives at her cabin, Carla throws the pill canister at him, telling him they don’t make her sleep and he treats her like a child. He puts them down and she requests a shot of morphine which he refuses to give her. He goes to prepares a neuralgia medicine with hot water and she hides the pills in his bag to ensure they leave her cabin.
Later, Steed collects three bottle of champagne and delivers them to Carla’s cabin where a cocktail party is taking place. Budge drinks two swift brandies at the bar then gains access to the party by punching Marson in the stomach. He bursts drunkenly into the party and everyone stares at him. Pearson offers to remove him but Carla tells Steed to give him a drink instead. Marson enters and apologises for letting Budge get past him. The ship’s officers leave the party to get back on duty, then Judy and Sheila leave as well.
Carla asks Dr King to dance with her and when he declines Steed offers to dance with her. She turns him down, “It’s a British ship and we observe the proprieties”, and asks the sozzled Budge to join her. He sits stiffly on the sofa so she dances by herself until Budge heaves himself up to join her but he collapses almost immediately. Dr King says he’s out cold from drink and asks Steed to ‘put him in cold storage’. Steed says he’ll find somewhere.
In the middle of the night, Brand enters cabin M51 – Dr King’s cabin – and approaches the figure under the chinoiserie dressing gown on the bed with his stiletto drawn...
Steed descends a ladder to the boat deck to wake Dr King, who’s wrapped in a blanket on a deckchair. King asks if the drunk has come round yet and Steed informs him he’s had his throat cut – they were after King though, his dressing gown is completely ruined. They head to King’s cabin, Nicholson appearing from a gangway behind them, concerned about what he’s just overheard.
King starts cleaning up the mess in the cabin and Steed reasons the killer thought he had the film. When King finds Carla’s pills Steed seizes the canister and finds the film inside, much to King’s dismay. He goes to her cabin and convinces Marson to fetch some medicine from the dispensary then enters. He challenges Carla with the pill box and tells her about the drunk’s murder, demanding an explanation.
CARLA: Look, Dr King, I like you. I like you very much. I’m not going to answer any of your questions.
KING: Why not?
CARLA: Because I don’t want you to get your throat cut.
KING: Very well. If you haven’t got the sense to come in out of the rain, I’m going to have to make you.
Dr King goes to meet Steed on the top deck, who tells him he can’t get the captain to protect her as he wants to catch all the agents on the ship. He’s learned that the agents don’t know each other and use counter-phrases for identification, the group leader declining a cigarette from an agent using the phrases exchanged by Brand and Sheila in the bar the previous day!
Steed is called away and is in Carla’s cabin when Sheila arrives and tells Marson to go off duty as Carla will be at the fancy dress ball. She tells Steed that Carla can’t be the courier as she’s not interested in anything more than shopping and beach parties, and makes him a drink. Steed tells her she’s wrong and startles her by revealing they already have the film; Carla hasn’t talked yet, but she will before they reach Montreal.
At the fancy dress ball, Sheila and Brand pressure Nicholson to kill Carla and he finally agrees. After he’s gone, Brand says he’ll kill Nicholson once he’s done it – which Sheila calmly confirms. Dr King escorts Carla back to her suite and she gives him the cigarette lighter she had won for best costume; she doesn’t deserve it as the judges were biased.
Nicholson calls Carla to the boat deck and she’s followed by Steed. Brand watches from the shadows as Nicholson tries to lift her over the railing and approaches when she screams. Carla escapes his clutches and Nicholson tells her to run as Brand stabs him, having slashed and missed Carla. He falls to the deck then Steed drops from the upper deck, tackling Brand from behind; they fight and Brand is disarmed but escapes. Steed goes to ensure Carla’s safety just before Pearson arrives, discovering Nicholson’s body. Knowing the layout of the ship better, Steed intercepts Brand outside Carla’s suite and knocks him out.
The next morning, Brand, Sheila – and Carla – are led out by the Canadian police, Carla stopping to say goodbye to Dr King, who is troubled by her arrest. He lights himself a cigarette using the lighter that Carla had given him. Steed half-turns to answer a call for a steward, then smiles and suggests they have a party, summoning a steward himself.