• title card: white text reading ‘Death Dispatch’ superimposed on Baxter’s body in his dressing gown lying on the floor, diagonally across screen, head near the French doors
  • Steed and One-Ten meet at the poolside
  • Rosas, foreground left, takes the call from Pasco while Monroe looks on from behind him and to his left
  • Steed and Cathy embrace to get rid of the maid
  • Conchita plays her guitar and sings for Cathy in the crowded bar
  • Steed hold a gun to Anna’s head, he and Cathy in the foreground, Anna between them. Rosas and Monroe behind him have no choice but to surrender

Series 2 — Episode 13
Death Dispatch

Teleplay by Leonard Fincham
Directed by Jonathan Alwyn

Production No 3503, VTR/ABC/1821
Production completed: June 23 1962. First transmission: December 22 1962.

TV Times summary

A murder without reason? A diplomatic mission in jeopardy. Steed and Cathy travel 8,000 miles to find a clue

Plot summary

A courier carrying routine dispatches is murdered while en route to Santiago. Steed takes his place while Mrs. Gale follows as his back-up. The papers contain the itinerary of a visiting American special envoy - his death will discredit the Chilean government, allowing Miguel Rosas to seize power. Steed and Cathy follow the trail to Rosas’ villa where they thwart the plot and are invited to the reception at the British embassy.

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Allan Baxter (Hedger Wallace), a British diplomatic courier, arrives at his hotel in Jamaica en route to Santiago from Washington and rings the Governor’s secretary to tell him he thinks he’s being followed. Pasco (Alan Mason) sneaks into his room while he’s in the shower and searches for the diplomatic bag, and pockets Baxter’s pistol. He drops a coat hanger while searching; Baxter pretends he hasn’t noticed anything, and keeps singing in the shower. Pasco hides when he comes out, but kills him with a throwing knife when he calls the operator to fetch the police.

Act 1

The next morning, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is enjoying a Cuba Libre at the poolside when One-Ten (Douglas Muir) shows up. He shows Steed a photo of Baxter’s body and says the police think he surprised a sneak thief, but he doesn’t agree. The puzzling thing is the dispatches he was carrying, while confidential, were all routine and of no value. One-Ten orders him to take over the courier rôle as they need to discover what in the dispatches is worth killing for; he adds that Cathy will be joining him that night as his cover. Steed grins and invites a blonde to join him for breakfast.

Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) arrives that night and notices a message in lipstick on the mirror 1 - “Don’t bother to unpack we’re just leaving” - and orders Steed to come out. He enters the room with a bottle of champagne and tells her they leave for Santiago in the morning, Cathy grimaces and complains about not getting enough time to work up a decent tan. Steed fills Cathy in on the assignment and adds that she’s flying under her own name, and will be his backup but they’re travelling as strangers. While he’s talking, he is looking about the room and finally hides the dispatch case under Cathy’s pillow. She takes a pistol from a hidden compartment of her suitcase, and Steed quips “You’d better keep that hand luggage handy!”

CATHY: Hey! Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I thought the first place anybody looked was underneath the pillow.
STEED: Yes, but under mine, not yours.

Meanwhile, Miguel Rosas (Richard Warner) is telling Monroe (David Cargill) his plans for revolution and the need to stamp out the weakness of democracy from his country, insisting it will be for the good of the people. He demands to know when he’ll get the dispatches and Monroe says the replacement courier left Jamaica on the afternoon flight.

The flight arrives in Bogota and Steed immediately attracts the attention of two thugs (Geoff L’Cise and Arthur Griffiths). Steed uses a booth to contact Cathy but while they’re talking the thugs demand the case at gunpoint. He’s told to finish his call and tells Cathy, “Will you send on that hand luggage, okay?” - referring to her hidden pistol - and she hurries over and jams her pistol into the back of the thug holding the gun. They apprehend the thugs, but while they’re being led away, Pasco watches...

Act 2

Pasco calls Rosas, who sends his daughter Anna (Valerie Sarruf) off to the stables so she won’t overhear. Rosas is furious to learn he has failed again, and instructs Monroe to take over in Lima - they need to get the dispatches before they enter Chilean territory, and there must be nothing to link the theft with their cause.

Steed joins Cathy in her room, making sure as many people as possible see he has entered, wearing a dressing gown - under the gown are street clothes. When the chambermaid (Bernice Rassin) has left after delivering some drinks, he tells her he only has the dispatches for Santiago left in the case and intends to let them have it so he can find out what it is they’re after. He sets the mirror in the hall to reflect his door from Cathy’s. They then settle in for watching, with Cathy saying Steed’s eyes will get tired peering through the keyhole.

CATHY: You know, you could have gone to bed and let them take the bag while you were asleep.
STEED: And wake up with a knife in my ribs? It’d ruin my health.
CATHY: So instead you prefer to ruin my reputation. Men are so selfish.

Some time later, Steed spies Pasco enter the room but when he hasn’t reemerged in ten minutes, they go to investigate. Inside, Pasco is dead and the case intact - with a flashbulb next to it. They realise someone could have scaled down from the room above and photographed the dispatches. Steed orders Cathy to order two more drinks from her room while he searches Pasco’s body.

Monroe calls Rosas and tells him he has ‘completed his business’ and more - Pasco won’t be returning to Santiago. He writes down a destination - Dos Pajaros - then hears Cathy outside the door and catches her. Despite initial doubts, Monroe believes her chambermaid disguise when she cheerily says, “Si, señor!” after he threatens to hurt her. She leaves, then sneaks back to take a sheet of paper from his notepad.

She reports to Steed, describing Monroe and saying he’s definitely their man but he’s working for someone else. She shows him the sheet of paper but he can only discern “Dos Pa...s” and a few numbers. Steed wants her to be on Monroe’s flight while he continues on to the consulate as if nothing happened. Before he leaves, he puts a “do not disturb” sign on the door so he’ll be long gone before they discover Pasco’s corpse.

Act 3

Monroe goes to the Dos Pajaros café in Santiago and asks Rico (Michael Forrest) if he can develop the film, brushing aside the singer, Conchita (Maria Andipa).

Steed meanwhile is being admonished by the Consul’s secretary, Travers (Gerald Harper), who tells him the police of Lima and Santiago want to talk to him. Travers is preparing a reception for an envoy from Washington and tells Steed he is confined to the embassy when Steed says he’ll just have a wander around town. Cathy calls to say she’s just seen Monroe enter Dos Pajaros, and she’s bought a girl called Juanita for him - a doll. Travers forbids Steed to leave, so he starts tearing up the invitations to the upcoming reception until Travers relents and allows him to leave.

Conchita is singing in the café while Monroe develops the prints in the kitchen, but stops dead when Cathy enters. Rico welcomes her and gets her a glass of red wine while she listens to Conchita. Monroe recognises Cathy and sits at her table; he sends the singer away and grabs Cathy handbag, which she’d just picked up. He removes her pistol and the clientele of the café hurriedly move away as he asks if she was going to use it on him. Cathy tells him she was planning to pay the singer and Monroe removes some money from her purse and thrusts it down Conchita’s blouse. Conchita swears at him and throws the money on the ground - which is quickly scooped up by a customer (Jerry Jardin), who buys a drink with it. Monroe stands and says, “Shall we go?”, adding he doesn’t want to lose her now, and leads Cathy out the back of the café.

At the hacienda, Anna comes in just as Rosas is finishing a phone call in which he says the operation can begin as soon as they receive the developed film. She tells him she wishes he wouldn’t get involved in politics as it must be dangerous. He laughs and changes the subject to Anna’s mare, which is about to foal; the phone rings again and after listening for a moment he suggests she get Pepe to take her back to the stables. Once she goes, he tells the caller, “Bring her up here, I’ll question her myself”.

Steed arrives at the café and buys a glass of wine, then grimaces when he tastes it, saying it’s been watered down with vinegar. Rico apologises, saying he didn’t realise he was English, and pours a new glass. He adds they don’t like strangers and don’t get many English, then backtracks when Steed says, “Which makes two in one day quite an event”.

Rico denies all knowledge so Steed turns to the customers and offers money for information about a “señorita inglese”; Conchita is held by the throat by a customer when she makes to speak.

RICO: I think maybe you better go señor.
STEED: What’s your price?
RICO: I have nothing to sell, the señora was not here.
STEED: I said señorita, how did you know she was a señora?

Conchita produces the doll Cathy had bought for Steed, then runs away. Steed attacks Rico, saying Rico doesn’t want the police in his bar, but they are looking for Steed and they’re right behind him. Rico confesses she’s been taken to Miguel Rosas’ hacienda. After Steed leaves, Rico calls Rosas to warn him.

Rosas meanwhile tells Cathy he suspects she’s been sent to find out who is after her government’s dispatches then adds her government has nothing to worry about. Monroe takes a call from the gate and is told a newspaper reporter matching the description given by Rico has arrived; Rosas tells him to fetch Steed, but not to use too much force.

Rosas turns to Cathy, who is reading the dispatches - the itinerary of the envoy from Washington. She’s puzzled as to why they didn’t get it from the Chilean foreign office. Rosas tells her they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves domestically, and getting the information from British sources meant the United States wouldn’t be tipped off either.

Steed is led in at gunpoint by Monroe, who identifies him as the British courier. Rosas is concerned at this development and Steed attempts to disarm Monroe, but Rosas picks up the fallen pistol first. Monroe searches Steed and takes his revolver, Rosas asks them to ‘accompany’ Monroe as Steed observes they now know who, Cathy chiming in with the what - the American envoy - but they don’t yet know why.

Before they can be led away, Anna bursts in, excited that her mare has foaled, and is scared when she sees the revolver in Monroe’s hand. Rosas tells her that they caught some intruders and are going to hand them over to the police. Cathy suggests they ring the police and have them come to the hacienda; she’d be happy to explain everything to them, greatly puzzling Anna.

ANNA: They don’t look like criminals.
STEED: No more than your father does.

Rosas pulls out the pistol and Anna turns to him to ask why, and inadvertently gets between Rosas and Steed. Steed pounces, securing the pistol while Cathy grabs Anna, holding her in front of them as Monroe raises the revolver. Steed holds the pistol to Anna’s forehead. This makes Rosas surrender and order Monroe to drop his gun.

Steed and Cathy return to the embassy, where a flustered Travers is trying to unravel the mess of the invitations. He congratulates Steed on evading the police - but Steed says the police just dropped them at the embassy. Travers then smugly says Sir Henry wishes to see him. Steed smiles and says they’ve just seen Sir Henry, and it’s Travers he now wishes to see. Steed tells Cathy he’d told Sir Henry that Rosas planned to assassinate the Special Envoy from the United States so as to discredit the present government; the Chilean police are arresting people all over the city. Travers returns and says Sir Henry wishes them to attend the reception, and is given Juanita as a consolation.

  1. It’s barely readable on a television screen, which makes you wonder why they did it. It must have been completely illegible on television sets in the early Sixties.

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