• title card: white text reading ‘The Sell-Out’ superimposed on an external establishing shot of The British Museum
  • Steed in foreground left chuckles as he chats to Harvey, behind and to his left and frowning
  • Steed smiles disarmingly at the plumber in the hotel
  • Harvey argues with Fraser
  • Dr King telephones Dr Walton
  • Steed holds the assassin at gunpoint

Series 2 — Episode 9
The Sell-Out

Teleplay by Anthony Terpiloff and Brandon Brady
Directed by Don Leaver

Production completed: 9 June 1962. First transmission: 24 November 1962

TV Times summary

Steed hunts an informer only to find that he himself is number one suspect

Plot summary

Steed finds his assignment to safeguard Roland, a U.N. official, is jeopardised by a traitor within One-Twelve’s unit. Faced with a terminal illness, Harvey has sold out his principles whilst turning suspicion upon Steed. He has not counted on Steed’s wiles, and Dr King helps him save Roland from a gunman’s bullet. With Harvey dead and the gunman under arrest, One-Twelve beams at Steed and his honour is restored while Dr King decides it was his final case and he returns to a life of medicine without the espionage.

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Prologue

Dr Martin King (Jon Rollason) arrives at an hotel and calls the lift, unaware that a gunman (Storm Durr) has pulled a pistol from his coat pocket behind him. The gunman gets to his feet and hides his pistol under his newspaper. Dr King stands back when John Steed (Patrick Macnee) exits the lift with M’sieur Roland (Carleton Hobbs), and he’s watching Steed walk by when the gunman shoots, hitting another guest, Price (Ray Browne). Steed returns briefly and tells King the gunman got the wrong man. The hotel porter tries to maintain order until a policeman (Anthony Blackshaw) arrives, too late for the victim.

Act 1

Later, at the British Museum, Steed meets One-Twelve (Arthur Hewlett) who wants to know why Roland was not delivered to a conference with the minister that morning. Steed tells him about the killing, so he advised Harvey of a ‘washout’ and Roland is holed up in his suite.

One-Twelve reprimands Steed for failing his assignment and Steed tells him he’s sure there’s an informer in the department, given the recent run of failed missions. One-Twelve orders him to obey him regardless and Steed asks to see One-Ten instead, and is told he’s not available, Steed is responsible to him. He gives Steed the new arrangements - which Steed had expected to work out with Harvey - and leaves. After they depart, a man in a trench coat - Fraser (Michael Mellinger) - emerges from behind a statue and tails Steed.

Mark Harvey (Frank Gatliff) tells Steed that he had to endure the minister’s rants about inefficiency because of the washout. Steed shows him One-Twelve’s plan then Mark stomps out when Lilian Harvey (Anne Godley) comes in with a tea tray, saying he doesn’t want any. Steed notices she’s wearing a new designer dress and learns that Mark has had an extension built to work away from the rest of the house. Lilian says he’s been doing well lately - he is an architect, and spends a lot of time in the new room.

Mark returns, having copied the instructions, and tells Steed he’ll “contact the surveyor to determine the cost”. Steed declines more tea and leaves, Lilian turning anxiously to Mark and asking if he’s all right.

Fraser follows Steed back to Roland’s hotel where Roland complains about the ‘unnecessary’ security arrangements, notwithstanding the attempt on his life. He concedes that the peace negotiations would fail without him and is given the plan for the next day’s meeting – but Steed has an amendment, he’ll take Roland’s place in the car and assures him he will meet the minister the next day. “That is, if you don’t change the plan again, M. Steed”, Roland gripes.

Steed visits Dr King and tells him he needs his help in protecting Roland, at which Martin complains that he’d be better off with a pathologist. Steed tells him it could have been Roland that was killed at the hotel, and the perpetrators will try again. He outlines his plan to take Roland’s place and enter the hotel by the kitchen entrance, and wants the doctor keep an eye out for anyone else doing the same.

KING: Now listen, Steed. From now on I’m just going to be a doctor, I’m not going to be anything else.
I’m not going to be a- an agent, a counter-spy, a gunman or a cover for you or anything you can use in your business. I’m just going to be a doctor – so you can — leave me in peace.

Steed stands stiffly and tells him at least he’s trying to stop the villains. As he goes out the door, the guilt becomes too much for King who asks him what time to be on watch.

One-Twelve visits Fraser who is giving a haircut to a customer (Cyril Renison). After the customer leaves, Fraser reports Steed’s movements. One-Twelve warns him to be careful - “Steed is very good”.

The next day, Steed dons a hat and coat, borrows Roland’s distinctive cane and adopts a limp, a flower in the lapel and tilt of the hat completing the disguise. He limps to the waiting limousine and is tailed by the gunman in another car. Steed rings King’s surgery from the car and Judy (Gillian Muir) tells him the doctor is out - but worries him by saying Martin was tending to a car accident victim.1 Steed then notices the sportscar tailing him.

Act 2

The chauffeur delivers him to the kitchen door and he goes inside, stopping to ask a workman (Richard Klee) who’s mending some plumbing near the service lift. He’s pointed in the right direction but as he leaves the workman pulls out a revolver and is about to shoot him in the back when Dr King bursts through the door and tackles him. Steed dashes back outside to intercept the gunman in the sportscar but his quarry drives off before he can get to him.

Harvey visits Fraser’s barbershop, furious at Steed’s changes to the plan, and is annoyed to learn that One-Twelve can’t see him. Fraser tells him someone took a shot at Steed, indicating a leak, and Harvey suggests Steed set up the shooting to remove suspicion from himself. Fraser is sceptical but concedes they know someone is selling secrets and reveals he’s already been ordered by One-Twelve to keep watch on Steed.

Steed revisits Dr King, congratulating him on his rugby skills, and tells him the workman didn’t have anything useful to tell him.

STEED: Just one of those pay me now, tell me who to shoot next sort of chaps.
KING: Oh, you two should get along famously.
STEED: That is unworthy of you.

Steed tells him only five people knew of the meeting - four in the organisation and Dr King, who is exonerated. One-Twelve, a superior he’s never worked with before who set up the meeting; Harvey, his colleague who is hiding something; Fraser, who runs the barbershop and is the easiest to keep track of as he’s been following Steed for the last two days.

He enlists Dr King’s help in getting back into Harvey’s house and tells him One-Twelve is throwing a cocktail party for the minister and Roland that night, as the papers have discovered Roland’s in the country and they’re not hiding him anymore.

KING: Hey by the way, who’s the fourth suspect?
STEED: Me! — but then I’m Caesar’s wife.

Harvey catches up with One-Twelve at the museum and tries to convince him that Steed is creating a fiction of danger for Roland so when he’s killed he’ll be in the clear. He’s told to be at the party at 6pm and to bring the minister as the meeting will take place at the party, Roland will be leaving the country straight after; Steed will be there and Harvey can keep an eye on him.

That night, Steed tells Roland the minister won’t be at the party but will meet him in a back room. Mrs Harvey arrives, interesting the Frenchman greatly, looking for Mark who is currently delivering the minister to the meeting room. Mark enters the party and speaks to One-Twelve and Steed prises Roland away from Mrs Harvey then leads him to the meeting, breathing a sigh of relief once he closes the door behind him. Back at the party, he learns from Lilian that Mark is often in pain; he tells her he had a breakdown recently and suggests Mark see the same doctor, and gives her Dr King’s card.

Steed calls King, telling him to expect a call, then drops a pill in Harvey’s drink. He notices Fraser isn’t at the party and is concerned to see Lilian asking One-Twelve probing questions; Steed wonders if she might be the informer. One-Twelve takes a phone call and Lilian returns, discovering Mark doubled over in pain and calls Steed, who says he’ll call a cab. One-Twelve orders Steed to stick with Roland and get him to the airport in two hours.

Dr King receives a call from Lilian, asking him to come at once, while Steed disobeys One-Twelve and visits Fraser’s shop. He’s just discovered Fraser’s body in one of the chairs when he knocked out - by One-Twelve!

Act 3

Dr King arrives to inspect Mark Harvey and is told he’s been ill for a while but never collapsed before. He asks for the name of the doctor Mark saw before and Lilian goes to look for his address book. He searches the study while she’s gone, not noticing that Mark has come to and is watching him. Lilian returns and gives him the name of the eminent surgeon Mark saw previously and he goes to phone him.

While he’s talking to Dr Walton and learning how sick Harvey is, Harvey roughly demands to know who recommended Dr King to Lilian and, learning it was Steed, lies in wait for the doctor with his revolver. Dr King returns and Harvey tells him, “Come in doctor, I hear we have a friend in common”, as he trains his gun on him.

Back at the barbershop, Steed recovers and congratulates One-Twelve on the blow. One-Twelve says it serves him right for disobeying orders and following him. He tells Steed he knew he’d spot Fraser and had let Harvey think Steed was under suspicion rather than himself. One-Twelves reveals that Fraser called, saying he had proof Harvey was the informer but the proof is now gone.

One-Twelve is annoyed Steed left Roland with an agent called Stanley and orders him to bring in Harvey, “quietly if possible” while One-Twelve takes care of Roland. Steed queries whether he’s not Fraser’s killer and going to kill Roland. “You’ll just have to trust me”, smiles One-Twelve.

Harvey hands his gun to Lilian and Dr King tries to tell her her husband is a traitor. The phone rings – it’s the gunman, saying Fraser found out too much and has been killed, and asks for the time of the next meeting. King starts when Harvey brazenly tells the gunman the meeting has happened, he’d been drugged so he couldn’t stop it. Roland is on the way to the airport and it’s their last chance to get him. He hangs up.

KING: So it is you, Harvey.
HARVEY: Shut up! I’m afraid you and I are going to have to take a little walk, doctor, there’s no alternative. If we’re lucky we might meet your friend Steed on the way.

Harvey tells Lilian Steed is a wicked man and Dr King one of his associates in crime, then orders her to get the car out of the garage. Dr King asks him why he’s doing it and is told he was taking his last chance to prepare for the future. “You don’t have any future Harvey”, Martin says, and Mark says he’s making a nest-egg for Lilian before he dies. Lilian returns and is told to ring Harvey’s associates after he goes.

Steed surprises them outside and Harvey is shot after an exchange of gunfire. King tells Steed about the phone call and they rush to the airport, where One-Twelve is telling Roland he has twenty minutes for a press conference before his flight leaves.

Roland’s discussing the success of the negotiations and his return to New York when the gunman slips into the press room and sits down. Steed and King race through the night and they arrive just as Roland is taking questions from the floor. While a reporter (Henry Rayner) asks him to respond to the rebels’ claim that he supports the colonial power, Steed slips into the seat behind the gunman and asks for his newspaper – at gunpoint. The conference is dissolved as Roland has to catch his flight. He stops to thank Steed for his help, saying he is very much alive and they had nothing to worry about, and bids him au revoir. One-Twelve notices the gun and Steed’s prisoner and smiles benevolently at Steed.


  1. An almost identical thing happens in Don’t Feed the Animals when Steed calls to check if Dr Keel is going to make their rendezvous and is alarmed to hear that he’s been called out to an emergency.

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