• title card: white all caps text reading ‘DEATH ON THE ROCKS’ superimposed on jewellery lying on a dressing table
  • The assembled dealers, standing around the table, look nervous as Fenton conducts his auction of illicit diamonds
  • Mrs. Daniels is strangled with her pearls
  • Nicky, standing between Fenton and Liza, is shocked by their callousness
  • Fenton draws his gun as he and Liza enter Steed’s house
  • Steed leans on a ladder as he and Cathy reflect on the case

Series 2 — Episode 10
Death on the Rocks

Teleplay by Eric Paice
Directed by Jonathan Alwyn

Production No 3512, VTR/ABC/2161
Production completed: November 15 1962. First transmission: December 1 1962.

TV Times summary

Murder in Hatton Garden—and Steed and Cathy learn that diamonds are no longer a girl’s best friend

Plot summary

Illegal stones are flooding Hatton Gardens, so Steed goes into partnership with Ross to trace the source of the diamonds. Fenton plans to drive the Diamond Federation out of business and he has both Mrs. Ross and Mrs. Daniels killed to force their husbands into dealing with him. Cathy meanwhile has worked out that the diamonds are being smuggled in rock salt shipments. With the plan exposed the real ringleader, Mr. Daniels and his murderess, Liza, are apprehended after a furious gun battle.

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A diamond merchant’s wife, Mrs. Ross (Annette Kerr), has a home visit from a beautician, Liza Denham (Ellen McIntosh), who applies a fast-setting face pack to her client, then murders her by suffocating her with it.

Act 1

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) visits the London Diamond Bourse, where two diamond dealers (Jack Grossman & Vincent Charles) are quibbling about the value of a stone. He bumps - literally - into Max Daniels (Hamilton Dyce) and apologises, then asks him where he might find Van Berg, the security officer.

Daniels introduces him and Steed asks Van Berg (Richard Clarke) about obtaining a dealing licence. Van Berg says he can apply but not to expect success; Daniels tells him they’re worried about illicit trading and suggests he get a job with an established dealer instead – Ross is selling his house in Highgate so is probably trying to raise capital. Steed recalls seeing that Ross’s wife had recently died in mysterious circumstances and might just buy the house instead.

Steed visits Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman), who is being irritated by an incompetent painter (Haydn Ward) who’s redecorating her flat. Steed offers her accommodation in the most exclusive part of Highgate, insinuating that they could both live in it, which Cathy turns down.

STEED: Oh, don’t misunderstand me, it’s just that I need a wife for a couple weeks.
CATHY: So long?
STEED: It’s a sort of cover for my business, you know?

Steed shows her some rough diamonds. He tells her he’s trying to track down £1,000,000 of them and she agrees when she hears the painter smash a mirror.

Liza visits a warehouse where Fenton (Gerald Cross) and Nicky (David Sumner) are checking diamonds. Nicky is nervous - he tells them that all of Hatton Garden knows about the illicit trade and the Federation is out to stop it. He suggests letting the stones trickle out but Fenton tells him they’re not running a small-time smuggling operation. Nicky reveals that Ross is going into partnership with a new man called Steed, who paid £30,000 cash for the house in Highgate. They tell Nicky to get close to Steed. Fenton demands the use of Nicky’s workshop. Nicky is scared and wants them to deal from the warehouse instead of the middle of Hatton Garden; Fenton refuses and says even Nicky coming there is too much of a risk.

The next day, Steed presents Samuel Ross (Meier Tzelniker) with a deed of partnership and a letter from his banker and will leave the technical side of the job to Ross until he’s gained experience – his contribution is putting up capital. They shake hands and Steed asks him about customs duties. Samuel explains that the Federation and customs work it out when stones are imported – and take a fair whack out, that’s why people go to such lengths to import illegally. He warns Steed against illicit trading while they’re in partnership.

Samuel’s daughter, Jackie Ross (Toni Gilpin), arrives just as Steed takes his leave and Ross reprimands her for being late for work, especially as it’s because she was out last night with Nicky, who is no good for her – he’s been in trouble already. Nicky enters without knocking as the argument gets heated and says he’s come to see Ross. Jackie’s sent to fetch a cup of tea – Nicky insolently asks Ross about Steed.

Steed visits the house and admits to Cathy that Mrs. Ross was murdered with a face pack.

STEED: Oh, I meant to mention that, yes. She had a terrible accident with a face pack.
CATHY: How can one have an accident with a face pack?
STEED: Well, it was made of a sort of plaster of Paris compound, and it hardened rather quickly. The coroner gave accidental death — I don’t think so though, I have my doubts.
CATHY: You think she was murdered.

He tells her a South African called Fenton was sacked from the Federation for dealing illicitly and went into hiding after coming to London. Steed suspects he’s behind the trade. Steed’s department has been called in because the illegal traders have enough stones to take over the whole market. He’s set himself up as a dealer so the crooks can approach him.

Fenton conducts a closed auction in Nicky’s workshop, with Sid (Douglas Robinson) on guard. He sells one parcel and then the warning light on the wall flickers, Nicky sees it’s Van Berg outside. Fenton orders the door be opened and when Van Berg enters he impounds the stones, despite Fenton saying he can’t prove they’re illicit, and says he’ll make a report to the Federation and police on all present. The dealers leave hurriedly and Van Berg is following them out when Fenton pulls a revolver from an archive box. He tells Van Berg the Federation has run the industry long enough and, ignoring Nicky’s pleas, kills Van Berg.

Act 2

Sid returns to Fenton’s warehouse and Nicky is told that Van Berg’s body will never be recovered from the Thames. Nicky wonders if the dealers will go to the police and Fenton says they’ll come back; they can’t be protected all the time, it only takes a second to kill a man. Nicky’s ordered to contact Steed and replies that he’s attending a party at Steed’s house that night.

Steed asks Mrs. Daniels (Naomi Chance) for a dance and chats to her while Max smiles at them with a glass of whisky. Max’s face changes when he sees Nicky and Jackie arrive, however, and he makes some excuses and they leave, Max glaring at Nicky on the way out. Nicky asks to have a word with Steed and Cathy whisks a worried looking Jackie off. Nicky makes him a proposition – £1,000,000 worth of diamonds, if he wants. Steed says Ross does the buying and when Nicky presses him, saying they’ll look after all the details, he surprises the boy by turning down the offer.

Steed finds Cathy looking after a tearful Jackie, who claims to be upset by returning to her old home. Steed takes her out for a dance and is interrupted by Nicky again:

NICKY: I’ve made you an offer and you’ve turned it down. You’re no fool, Steed, you know what that means.
STEED: What does it mean?
NICKY: It means we shall have to use some other form of persuasion. It’s not going to be very pleasant.
STEED: You’re sweating, Nicky.

The next day, Cathy breaks into Nicky’s workshop and has just found some rough stones on the floor when Sid surprises her, they fight and she’s just getting the upper hand when Nicky enters. Cathy bluffs that the door was open, which Sid disputes. She asks Nicky to repair an imported watch. He refuses to touch a smuggled watch, even though Cathy says Jackie told her he’d been picked up for selling illicit watches a year ago. He declares he was framed and paid off the fine, as a friend lent him the money. Cathy scents blackmail and challenges him, and Nicky asks if she’s working for customs or the Federation. She replies, “Neither” and leaves. After she’s gone, he discovers the wires for the alarm have been cut.

Mrs. Daniels visits Cathy and admits they left the party because Nicky arrived – Max is being pressured by the illicit syndicate and it involves her somehow. Cathy tells her to follow Max’s advice and leave London, lest she suffer the same fate as Mrs. Ross. Cathy then rings Steed, ordering him to meet at her flat in an hour. Before he leaves the office, he asks to see the stones Ross has just bought. When he open the packet he accuses Ross of buying illicit stones, informing him the Federation suspended the sale of rough stones until the smugglers are caught. Ross confesses and says he warned him not to get involved because he didn’t want Cathy to suffer the same fate as his wife; he now fears for Jackie’s life.

Nicky visits Fenton to inform him that customs are raiding the Garden and the Federation has suspended sales. Fenton is pleased, the Federation has played into their hands by withholding stock – now is their chance to take over the industry.

Cathy meanwhile tells Steed Nicky is the weak link and wants to get out, but is afraid. She shows him that the stones from Nicky’s workshop are in fact rock salt – which is how the stones are entering the country. Steed asks if Shina is non-Federation and Cathy realises Manchuria produces both rock salt and diamonds. Steed hunts for the phone to tell One-Ten, but, turning back a dust sheet, finds Mrs. Daniel’s body, a stocking around her neck.

Act 3

They tell Max, who is determined to go to the police, but Steed convinces him to keep trading so they have a chance to catch the whole gang. The phone rings – it’s Liza, offering a free trial beauty treatment. Steed tells Cathy to make an appointment.

Nicky proposes to Jackie just before Steed enters his workshop; she leaves and he tells Nicky he’s willing to trade – but only £10,000. Nicky tells him Cathy will be used as intermediary, Steed queries the complexity of the transaction.

NICKY: I can’t afford to trust anybody.
STEED: You could always try.

Liza gives Cathy a beauty treatment and arranges a second visit, leaving a ‘preparation’ for Steed. She asks Cathy for the cash and is startled to be given a cheque. Cathy tells her Steed couldn’t get to the bank and made the cheque out to cash – it need only be presented. Liza is unamused and Steed receives an irate phone call from Nicky. He feigns ignorance but Nicky is unconvinced and hangs up after demanding the cash within the hour. Fenton tells him Steed wanted to see the stones before he paid up – he would have done the same himself and, upon hearing Steed wants more, tells Nicky to invite him to tonight’s auction – they can take care of Steed.

Jackie meanwhile tells her father she’s engaged to Nicky but admits she’s not sure she can trust him. He advises her to leave London – if Nicky really wants her he’ll wait for her. She agrees and he tells her to leave tonight – he has another appointment and won’t be able to see her off.

Steed and Cathy examine a map of rock salt importers along the Thames and he plans to scan the docks that afternoon so he can spot them getting the diamonds for that night’s auction. He concedes he might not attend the auction and Cathy says she should expect another visit from the beautician.

At 10pm, Ross announces he’s leaving the auction and Fenton maliciously tells him Jackie wasn’t on the 10 o’clock train from Victoria, they wouldn’t let her get away that easily. She couldn’t resist saying goodbye to her fiancé. Ross attacks Nicky and is subdued by Sid at which the other dealers hurry out. Fenton orders Sid to take Ross to the wharf then coolly tells Liza to get rid of Jackie. Nicky rebels, telling them not to hurt Jackie and is grabbed by Sid when he says he’ll go to the police; Fenton tells Liza to deal with Mrs. Steed first.

Steed meanwhile breaks into the warehouse and frees Jackie. Fenton and Sid enter moments later with Ross, marching him to the truck. Steed attacks Sid but Fenton covers him with a revolver – Ross flings a handful of salt in his face and is hit in the arm when the shot goes astray. Fenton is caught by a furious Nicky at the door while Steed defeats Sid in the truck. Steed checks on Ross while covering them with Fenton’s revolver then telephones for police and an ambulance.

Liza arrives in Highgate and Cathy tells her she won’t have much success but then Mr. Daniels – the ringleader – enters with a gun. Cathy dives for cover when Liza notices her gun and they exchange gunshots, Cathy capturing Liza just as Daniels runs out of bullets.

The next day, Steed reattaches Cathy’s lion head to the wall and Cathy is happy her flat is finally finished.

CATHY: I never expected my flat to be finished!
STEED: Oh, I told my painter to get a move on.
CATHY: Your painter?
STEED:I had to get you out of here somehow, didn’t I?

Steed adds it was lucky for her Daniels didn’t have an 8-shot .38. “You sound as if you care!”, quips Cathy and Steed rejoins, “My dear, for better, for worse!”

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