• title card: white all caps text reading ‘DEATH OF A GREAT DANE’ superimposed on a close-up of a great dane wearing a coat, on a leash
  • Steed greets Gregory jovially and they discuss their tailor
  • Cathy lies languidly back on her lounge
  • Getz rubs his temple anxiously when Mrs Miller tries to blackmail him
  • Steed chats to Sir James at the wine-tasting
  • Cathy draws his pistol

Series 2 — Episode 8
Death of a Great Dane

Teleplay by Roger Marshall and Jeremy Scott
Directed by Peter Hammond

Production completed: 1 November 1962. First transmission: 17 November 1962

TV Times summary

Steed and Cathy turn to practical jokes to discover who is conjuring with the Stock Market—and why a man eats diamonds...

Plot summary

A travelling conjurer crashes his car and is found to have a stomach full of diamonds. Steed is concerned because a lot of money have been draining out of the country and the man had been employed by the financier Alex Litoff. When Steed and Cathy discover that the grave of his pet Great Dane actually holds Litoff’s body, they uncover a plot where Litoff’s employees have been smuggling his wealth out the country in the wake of the financier’s untimely death.

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Prologue

A minister (Billy Milton) reads the funeral service over a grave and while the gravedigger (Herbert Nelson) commits the deceased to the earth, he leads away the sole mourner, Gregory (Leslie French). Gregory tells him they’d been together four years. We see it is a pet cemetery and the deceased was a Great Dane like the one being led by Gregory.

Act 1

Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) returns from a bird watching holiday and is shown an x-ray by John Steed (Patrick Macnee), showing £50,000 of diamonds in the stomach of George Miller, who crashed his car at Southend. He’d been heading for Switzerland for the fourth time in six weeks. Cathy wonders if he always travels on a full stomach and Steed tells her money has been draining out of the country recently, £3,500,000 into one Swiss account since last Wednesday, and this is their first lead. George Miller is a conjurer and practical jokes salesman and Steed infuriates Cathy by contemplating visiting Mrs Miller and callously suggesting Miller were already dead to gain information from her.

Steed arrives at the ‘Big Laugh’ joke shop and finds Mrs Miller (Clare Kelly) practicing ventriloquism. He’s startled when she produces a gun and the doll says, “Hands up!” but relaxes when he realises it’s a joke gun. He shows her George’s picture and says he’s in hospital. She’s not exactly sympathetic – she rarely sees him these days as she minds the shop while he goes to Switzerland to perform for refugee children, under the auspices of the millionaire philanthropist, Alexander Litoff. Steed gives her the hospital details and leaves.

Following his new lead, Steed visits the Litoff Organisation where Gregory is just about to take the Great Dane, Dancer, for a walk. They discuss tailors while Getz (Frederick Jaeger) and his assistants trade shares internationally. Steed bribes Gregory to see Getz after being told Litoff is indisposed, and tells Getz about Miller’s accident and the discovery of the diamonds. Getz in uninterested in paying for the diamonds as they make so much more than their worth every day.

GETZ: Mr. Steed, the basic premise of blackmail is that the person you are trying to blackmail has committed a criminal act. Now, the only person you are in position to blackmail is Miller, and as he has no money it would be unrewarding.

The intercom from Litoff’s private suite interrupts them, barks some orders, and Getz attends to a trade. Steed takes the opportunity to try to enter Litoff’s suite but the first assistant (Dennis Edwards), who has been inside the suite, blocks his attempt at entry. Steed then asks for £5,000 to ensure Steed’s silence and is told to return the next day after Getz has spoken to Litoff.

Steed visits Cathy and shows her some old slides of Litoff and tells her all his charitable subscriptions had been cancelled six weeks ago. He asks her to find out why while he visits Miller. Before he can get there, Getz’s first assistant impersonates a doctor and kills George Miller (Frank Peters) after telling the policeman on guard duty (Michael Moyer) to take a break.

Act 2

Steed arrives to see Getz the next day and learns from Gregory that they used to have another Great Dane, Bellhound, who died recently. Getz offers Steed £4,000 instead of £5,000 for his silence, saying there’s no point arguing once Mr Litoff makes up his mind. Steed questions the secrecy of the firm, and its past honesty, and Getz tells him he joined the firm 14 years ago as a chartered accountant, was trained by Mr Litoff, but nobody outside the firm knows him or how skilled he is as a trader.

The first assistant goes into the private suite to get Mr Litoff to sign some invoices and Sir James Arnell (John Laurie), Litoff’s doctor, emerges and is introduced to Steed. Sir James confides in him that he longs to leave the “degenerate sybarites of London” behind and start a clinic in Asia after the intercom barks Litoff’s disapproval of his doctor’s meddling.

Cathy is listening languidly to some jazz when Steed arrives, and gives him a list of the companies she’s checked so far and he gives her a glass of milk – they’re going to a wine tasting attended by Sir James; the milk will prepare the palate and stop them from getting sloshed. While Steed’s talks to Sir James, Cathy is to photograph the records in his bag which is in the boot of his car. Cathy has discovered Litoff has been selling like mad, often at a loss, for the last six weeks.

Meanwhile, Mrs Miller arrives to blackmail Getz, having discovered her husband has been choked.

MRS MILLER: I was very close to my husband, he told me a lot of things about those trips he made.
GETZ: Must be the season for blackmail, you’re the second this week.

Getz offers her an annuity to keep quiet and she says she’ll have more than that as she knows where Bellhound is. Getz says the dog is dead and she counters that George was an animal lover and couldn’t kill him.1

At the tasting, two old buffers (Eric Elliott & Roger Maxwell) are nodding over a chablis as Cathy arrives. Steed points out Sir James to her as he hands her a glass and tells her where Sir James’ car is parked. She goes to ransack the car while Steed impresses Sir James with his knowledge of wine

Sir James tells Steed that he doesn’t expect to make enough to start a clinic from Litoff as the millionaire is seriously ill. Litoff has a chronic heart condition which has incapacitated him, leading Steed to suggest that maybe Getz has been making unauthorised trades to create a personal fortune. Arnell is intrigued by the idea, suggesting Getz fabricates reports to get Litoff to sell stock he would otherwise keep.

Cathy returns and confirms Litoff’s heart condition from the records, then heads home. When she gets there, the second assistant (Anthony Baird) attacks her but she repels him easily with some judo. By the time she takes her gun from the desk drawer, he’s escaped.

Steed meanwhile breaks into Litoff’s apartment and is apprehended by Sir James and the first assistant after discovering a mannequin in Litoff’s bed.

Act 3

Getz’s assistants visit Mrs Miller, posing as potential buyers for her shop, and strangle her. Steed meanwhile is captive in Litoff’s suite and learns that Gregory will get £11,000,000 so a bribe won’t work.

He tries to convince Gregory to let him go, otherwise he’ll be in prison until he’s 73, assuming he can prove he was not involved in Miller’s murder. This shocks Gregory, who doesn’t want to believe him, but in the end his greed and lust for power wins out.

GREGORY: It’s the power that excites me, sir. I want to be rude and ill-mannered and order people about. And then I look forward to an association with a considerable number of good-looking women.

Cathy arrives at the joke shop and finds Mrs Miller’s body just before a man from the kennels (Kevin Barry) arrives to return Bellhound. Cathy takes charge of the dog then visits the cemetery with the police,2 who discover a man’s body in the grave.

Getz is preparing Litoff’s private plane and tells Steed that Litoff was buried in Bellhound’s grave; he first planned everything two years ago. Sir James was bought with £12M, he’s to get £40M, and the oil stocks which are even more valuable have yet to be disposed of.

Cathy arrives to collect Dancer for the kennels and is admitted by Gregory. Unfortunately, Sir James recognises her from the wine tasting and they’re both led off at gunpoint by Getz’s henchmen.

Gregory and Sir James are appalled, Sir James regrets saying anything and confirms to Gregory that Getz had Miller and his wife murdered. Steed and Cathy look out the window and Cathy starts knotting the sheets together, thinking they can get to the floor below. Outside, Sir James and Gregory are pleading with Getz not to kill Steed and Cathy, offering him some of their millions in return.

Suddenly, the telex machine bursts into action:

Litoff’s body exhumed. Release Steed immediately.

Getz panics and says they’ll escape by the rooftop exit and when Sir James and Gregory refuse, he goes to kill Steed and Cathy who are hiding in a wardrobe. They overpower him while he’s looking at the rope of knotted bedclothes then Sir James and Gregory are forced into the bedroom. Cathy goes out to deal with the henchmen, shooting one.

The villains are all led away, Sir James reflecting, “Our dream has betrayed us”. Gregory learns that Cathy was the one who sent the telex message, which he considered most effective.

GREGORY: I suppose you... you will be wanting me?
STEED: Yeah, I’m afraid so, Gregory, I’m afraid so.
GREGORY (INDICATING CATHY): After you, madam.
STEED (FIRMLY): No Gregory, after you.

The Avengers pause at the door and look at the apartment and Steed says, “Shall we take it?”


  1. Bellhound is referred to as “him” by Mrs Miller but the kennel man refers to Bellhound as “old girl”.
  2. It’s a little unclear if the men in attendance are all gravediggers or if one of their number (played by Paul Eden) is a police inspector in obligatory grubby mackintosh and hat.

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