Series 2 — Episode 18
Teleplay by Doreen Montgomery
Directed by Peter Hammond
Production No 3504, VTR/ABC/1854
Production completed: July 7 1962 & January 24 1963. First transmission: January 25 1963.
TV Times summary
Are there witches? Do magic spells have any effect? Steed is out to explode the myth. He enlists the help of Catherine Gale and they have to fight for their lives
Cosmo Gallion claims to use black magic to steal government secrets and is engaged by a sceptical foreign spy to hypnotise Neville, a missile scientist working on a new weapon. Steed and Mrs Gale investigate Neville bewitchment, and discover he was linked to Gallion’s magic circle. Cathy infiltrates the group, unaware that her birthday, 5th October 1930 at midnight, makes her the perfect human sacrifice for an ancient ritual. Steed and Cathy break Gallion’s hold on the circle and he collapses and dies mysteriously...
A Black Mass conducted by a hooded Dr Cosmo Gallion (Peter Arne) culminates in the circle focusing their energies on a framed photograph of Peter Neville (Alban Blakelock) - Cosmo points and the glass shatters, then the photo starts to fade...
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) arrives at Neville’s, where Mrs Dunning (Olive Milbourne) tells him he’s been taken suddenly ill - a stroke, she thought, and has called for a doctor. Steed goes to see him and finds Neville in a daze of shock, gesturing oddly and holding a dark feather trimmed to a sharp point in his right hand. Steed takes the feather, which Mrs Dunning has never seen before, then he checks the morning post and deducts that the feather came in a small parcel, like a cabalistic black spot. Mrs Dunning said he was right as rain at breakfast and was excited because his new idea had been well received officially.
A doctor arrives and Steed waits in the study, answering the phone when One-Ten rings. He gives him the bad news - Neville can’t attend the missile conference - and is ordered to deliver Neville’s papers to One-Ten. The doctor (Brian Vaughan) enters and tells him Neville is suffering from shock and has been sedated - sleep may be the best thing for him. The housekeeper fetches Neville’s keys so Steed can secure his papers and Steed notices there are a lot of books on spiritualism on the shelves; Mrs Dunning says Neville dabbled in it after his wife died. Steed starts collecting the papers from his briefcase and desk and finds “An Occult Grimoire” in the desk, which shows a magic circle identical to that of Cosmo’s Mass. Steed visits the Natural History Museum where he finds Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) holding aloft a skull and he parodies Hamlet.
STEED: I know the face, forget the name... ah yes, poor Yorick. I knew him well, you know. A fellow of infinite jest.
CATHY: More than could be said for you.
She derides his attempt at humour and asks him what he wants and he produces the trimmed feather, saying it appears to be a hex symbol and wants the benefit of her knowledge of black magic. She asks where he got it and he fills her in; when he produces the grimoire she says Neville was probably led into a black magic circle by his interest, and such circles sometimes go in for this sort of thing and ‘put a spell on him’. Steed grins, “You mean like Sleeping Beauty”, and when she agrees he protests that the man was a scientist. Cathy tells him it’s about faith, not intelligence, and adherents believe controlled evil is more powerful than good. She cites a recent murder which the police have conceded was a blood sacrifice and quotes a famous case from France in 1925 regarding a werewolf.
Julia (Pat Spencer) is rehearsing for a mass in Cosmo’s circle when Markel (John Hollis) is shown in by Mogom (Philip Mosca). He sneers at the black magic paraphernalia and asks Gallion if Neville and his formula are there, then refuses to hand over the agreed sum of £5,000 until he arrives. Gallion protests that wasn’t the deal, and cites how he got Watterson and Marshall for them. When Markel is dismissive of magic he says other governments are willing to pay him if Markel’s won’t, at which Markel backs down and hands over the money.
Cathy meanwhile is telling Steed that a ‘warlock’ holds sway over his victims only if they’re receptive and it’s mostly due to psychology. Cathy agrees that a warlock could control someone at a distance and says if the victim were her responsibility she wouldn’t leave him alone.
Neville meanwhile wakes and sees the door and chest of drawers open by themselves - then Gallion appears in the mirror. Steed arrives a moment later and Mrs Dunning is shocked when she finds Neville missing from his room. Steed sends her to look for him while he checks the bedroom and they discover Neville has taken his money and briefcase with him.
Cosmo meanwhile ‘summons’ Neville and he is led in by Mogom. He struggles to keep himself from handing over the paper but finally hands over the case. Markel is furious when he discovers the formula isn’t in it. Gallion says someone must have removed the papers without Neville’s knowledge and Markel determines to force Neville to divulge the propellant formula. A snap of Cosmo’s fingers brings Neville out of his daze and he feebly tries to escape. Markel demands the formula and when Cosmo says it’ll cost more for him to extract it, Markel tries to beat it out of Neville - distressing Julia - and Neville dies from the blow.
A pathologist (Gordon Gardner) and his assistant, Miss Timson (Christina Ferdinando), examine Neville’s body at the morgue and he greets Steed when he arrives, slightly grudging the cloak and dagger nature, and tells him Neville died of a heart attack but he’s not entirely satisfied - he’d been struck in the face before ending up in the river.
Markel meanwhile visits Mrs Dunning, posing as a friend of Neville, wanting some papers for a lecture they were going to give together but when he hears that Steed took the dispatch box he thumps a display case and starts ransacking the study, to Mrs Dunning’s horror. She tries to call the police when he finds the desk is locked but he stops her and demands the key.
Steed meets One-Ten in a crowded pub and is told about Gallion’s other victims, who also had extensive occult libraries. Steed departs to check Neville’s books while One-Ten takes umbrage with Myrtle, the barmaid (Susan Franklin), for serving him the bottom of the barrel.
Steed breaks in to Neville’s study about the same time Cathy does and she throws him to the ground when he grabs her. She starts searching the shelves and notices all the books were bought from an occult bookshop in Elm Street run by Cosmo Gallion. Steed finds his name on a horoscope prepared for Neville and she tells him Gallion’s an expert on the paranormal but she didn’t know he went in for astrology.
She identifies Gallion’s logo as being an eagle, which represents power, and adds he has a reputation for studies into paranormal psychology - hypnosis, trance states, levitation. At the mention of hypnotism, Steed leaps up and is about to head off to the shop when Cathy stops him, saying she’d be better able to discuss the paranormal, and then discovers Mrs Dunning’s strangled corpse in the corner.
Gallion tells Markel he’s a fool for killing the housekeeper as well. Cathy arrives at the shop and Markel suspiciously watches her seek audience with Dr Gallion. Gallion tells her that her recent monograph on voodoo was excellent and she asks him if he can put her in touch with a black magic group in England, flattering him by describing him as an expert in the area. He says he runs a small amateur circle himself and may be able to put her in touch with more advanced circles, then asks for her date of birth to make up a horoscope to see if she’s suitable to join his group. 1
Meanwhile Steed returns to the pub in Covent Garden and chats up the barmaid to see if she knows anything, but he draws a blank. Cathy leaves and is invited to return that night; after she’s gone, Cosmo approaches Julia:
COSMO: You know, Julia, that woman has every qualification to make her the perfect subject for the Ritual of Asmodeus. Now at last I can perform that ceremony.
JULIA: It’s dangerous. What if you fail?
COSMO: That’s a- a risk I must take, Julia.
Steed’s still chatting up the barmaid with talk of palmistry when Cathy enters. Cathy tells him she’s been invited to join the circle that night and Steed insists she bring him along.
They attend the meeting and Cathy introduces Cosmo to Steed, who complains that Cosmo’s lecture was a little elementary. Cosmo asks about his interest and Steed claims he’s been interested for four years after being introduced by Watterson; Cosmo is most interested when he says he’s a physicist working at Bancroft, then apologises to Cathy for not having finished her horoscope yet. Steed and Cathy leave, sensing they’re not wanted, and Cathy is worried that he lied about not having cast her horoscope yet.
Gallion tells Markel that Steed’s aura was wrong for a scientist and he thinks he’s a fake. Markel wants Steed and tells Gallion he’s a fake too, then demands the money back at gunpoint. Gallion mesmerically stops him and summons Mogom to lead him away to the attic, and sneers, “Still think I’m a fraud, Markel?” After they leave, he takes a voodoo doll of Markel from a cabinet and draws a pin from his cloak... and in his lonely garret, Markel suffers an agonising heart attack and dies.
Some devotees arrive for a ceremony while Cathy drops Steed home. She declines to come up to his flat to discuss the case and when he suggests returning after hours to Gallion’s shop she tells him to do it himself. Steed drives himself back to the shop later while the ceremony is being conducted inside and overcomes the guard dog by getting it to attack a cloth dosed with chloroform. He breaks into the room where Markel’s body lies and is attacked by Pasco (Herbert Nelson). After a vicious fight Steed emerges victorious.
Steed steals Pasco’s cloak and join the ceremony just as Gallion is announcing they’re performing a rite which hasn’t been performed in 100 years. The congregation dance deliriously at his signal then stop abruptly when he shouts “Will with me!” Julia drops her robe and stands semi-naked before him as he summons Catherine Gale, who wakes from her sleep as the dancing recommences.
Pasco recovers and rushes to Cosmo’s side, who stops the dancing and Steed is exposed, disarmed and tied to Markel’s bed. The summoning recommences while Steed tries to free himself and Cathy arrives just as he snaps his bonds. Cathy approaches Cosmo and gives the ritual response:
GALLION: What is the law?
CATHY: Do what thou wilt is the whole of the law.
Steed meanwhile tricks Pasco into entering the room by holding Markel’s dead face to the peephole, then knocks him out again and takes back his revolver. He rushes back into the ceremony just as Cathy disrupts it by overpowering Mogom and firing her pistol in the air. The ceremony disrupted, Cosmo suffers a massive heart attack 2 and dies.
Steed buys Cathy a brandy and soda at the pub and they recount the case - Markel being behind it all 3 and they discuss Gallion’s death.
CATHY: The point is, Gallion had complete faith in his power to harness evil. But he believed that if it failed, it would destroy him.
STEED: When I arrived it looked like they were going to destroy you! Were you in the girl guides?
CATHY: Yes, I was Brown Owl.
STEED: If you weren’t under his influence, why did you turn up at that grisly ceremony?
CATHY: When I find a hunt worth joining, Steed, I like to be in at the kill.
Steed says he’d like to do something ordinary and relaxing where someone else does all the work for a change. Cathy looks at one of the pictures on the wall and suggests boxing, at which they both laugh.
- Cathy offers an ideal date with a midnight time of birth to ensure her acceptance into Gallion’s group. ⭮
- In the next scene, Steed says the doctor said Gallion died of a heart attack but he’s been carry a glass box with a snake inside it so he may have been bitten by a venomous snake. ⭮
- There is a mistake on Macnee’s part, as he says Mogom instead of Markel, then adds it’s too late to arrest him now, implying the character is dead. This line is in the remounted episode rewrite so we do not have the script to verify if it was an error in the writing or a fluffed line. ⭮