• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE GOLDEN EGGS’ superimposed on two gold eggs in a glass box
  • Diana reassures DeLeon with a cup of tea
  • Hillier sets up a set of fake headlights to force the ambulance to crash
  • Steed on the left and Cathy centre question Dr Ashe about his experiments
  • Redfern, in the foreground, meticulously examines an antique box while Elizabeth and Hiller stand behind him
  • Ashe says goodbye to Cathy and Steed in his greenhouse

Series 2 — Episode 19
The Golden Eggs

Teleplay by Martin Woodhouse
Directed by Peter Hammond

Production completed: 31 January 1963. First transmission: 1 February 1963

TV Times summary

Steed and Cathy hunt for two eggs that must never be allowed to hatch

Plot summary

Two gold-painted, frozen eggs which contain a deadly virus are stolen from Dr Ashe but the burglar hides the eggs when he gets sick. His ex-employer Redfern races against Mrs Gale to find the eggs, but she gets there first. Redfern captures Cathy and steals the eggs but she escapes and threatens to break the eggs unless he surrenders. It was all a ruse though, Cathy had already swapped the real eggs for wooden ones used to train chickens.

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Prologue

Dr Ashe (Donald Eccles) is working late on some virus slides. His secretary, Elizabeth (Pauline Delaney), tells him not to work too late - it’s already after midnight. He locks the door after her and opens the refrigerated safe. She smiles to herself as she notices a figure in the dark as she passes through the conservatory, and Leo DeLeon (Gordon Whiting) slips from the shadows then heads for the Doctor’s study. He attacks the academic at the safe and a petri dish crashes to the floor. They fight and DeLeon lands in the spilled culture as he knocks the doctor down but recovers and steals some golden eggs from the safe.

Act 1

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) are having breakfast as his flat. He points out an article in The Morning Post about the break-in at Dr Ashe’s lab and explains the doctor has his own lab but rarely publishes the results of his virus research. Steed’s arranged an appointment for Cathy with Dr Ashe and wants her to discover if anything was actually taken.

At the lab, Ashe and Elizabeth have cleaned up and he cheerfully says the lab will be sterile again in 48 hours. Elizabeth asks him if it were dangerous and he evades the question, instead asking about ‘this magazine woman’. She tells him Cathy is from ‘Galileo’ magazine and looks alarmed when the doctor holds his head in pain. He dismisses that also. Cathy arrives and outlines her magazine story angle:

CATHY: We’re aiming to be more personal in our approach to science and scientists. We want to find out what they’re thinking, what their opinions are, instead of just reporting what they’re doing.
ASHE: What a frightful idea! Scientists, Mrs Gale, are, as a group, boring, narrow-minded and self-opinionated. Rather like everybody else in fact.

Ashe recites the newspaper story about the break-in and denies being there when it happened. He goes to show her his routine pathology work and winces in pain - lying he hit his back on an open cupboard door when standing up. Ashe explains that he keeps his refrigerated safe locked as the lab is a pretty public room and denies that he keeps dangerous material in it. When she notices the spot he’d sterilised he concedes he did it with a blow torch as he couldn’t guarantee the nature of the virus involved.

DeLeon is at his scrap yard with his wife, Diana DeLeon (Irene Bradshaw). Diana reassures Leo, who is convinced he picked a nasty bug up in the lab. He swears he’ll have a word with Redfern, who only paid him £100 for the job when Hillier (Robert Bernal) arrives. Hillier turns the place over and demands the goods, but Diana tries to stop him. DeLeon refuses to hand it over until he knows what’s wrong with him and the thug leaves empty handed. Cathy meanwhile revisits Dr Ashe but he rebuffs her:

CATHY: I’m sorry to barge in on you like this, but my magazine is very interested in this article and they thought it might -
ASHE: Your magazine doesn’t exist, Mrs Gale!
CATHY: No... I’m sorry about that. But I’d still like to talk to you. And I’m sure you’d rather talk to me than the police.

Ashe still denies anything was taken and informs Cathy it’s Elizabeth’s her day off and he doesn’t enquire into the movements of others when she notices his assistant isn’t there.

Elizabeth meanwhile is in the antique shop of Julius Redfern (Peter Arne). Redfern is complaining that the £2,000 he’s paid her for information is proving very unprofitable. He asks what effect the stolen virus would have and she suggests respiratory failure but it had only been tested on animals. She is shocked to discover that Leo is ill and says he must be isolated. She is furious with them as she had warned them they didn’t know what they were handling. Hillier arrives as she storms out and is told to get a hold of Campbell and Hall, and an ambulance...

Leo is trying to return to the lab to find out what’s wrong with him when Campbell (Louis Haslar) and Hall (Charles Bird) arrive, saying the ambulance was ordered by Redfern. DeLeon panics, recognising them, but, being quite delirious, Diana doesn’t believe him and he’s carried out. Elizabeth returns to Redfern’s and learns that DeLeon won’t be brought there - Redfern rings Hillier, who’s waiting at a telephone box in the countryside, and tells him they’re on the way. Hillier sets up a set of fake headlights and causes the ambulance to crash.

Act 2

Steed returns home to find Cathy ‘turning it into a small factory’ as she’s painstakingly gluing a broken Rococo vase. He tells her the ambulance has been burnt out with thermite after the crash and the remains of the three bodies inside are completely unidentifiable.

CATHY: Teeth?
STEED: Teeth? Oh, no, that’s an old fallacy. Find a body, they say, doesn’t matter what condition it’s in, take it along to the dentist, and he’ll identify it by it’s teeth. Well, it’s not so!
CATHY: Do sit down! As long as you’re standing up, I’m terrified you’re gonna shake this table.
STEED: In the first place teeth aren’t all that indestructible. In the second place, not everyone has got them. And in the third, most dentists wouldn’t recognize their own teeth if you handed them to them on a plate. On a plate. Ha!

Cathy shoos him away, afraid he’ll break the pot she’s repairing, but laughs anyway. She tells him that something was taken from Ashe’s refrigerated safe but he still refuses to admit it. Steed replies that DeLeon, a safecracker his department used to use, had been in the wreck - his tungsten carbide drill bits with diamond tips, which he wore in a locket, had survived the conflagration.

He asks her to call on Ashe again - it’s been four days and the stolen item is either refrigerated or someone is very worried about it. Steed says he’ll visit Mrs DeLeon and Cathy says he has as much tact as a rhinoceros; he objects and leaps to his feet, managing to smash the pot Cathy had just pieced together.

Cathy goes to see Mrs DeLeon and finds her packing a suitcase, keen to escape the flat which has been ransacked by Hillier. She angrily tells Cathy Leo didn’t tell her what he stole or where it was, and nor had he told the people who hired him. She flounces out, leaving Cathy to search while Elizabeth arrives at Redfern’s shop. Elizabeth describes the case - a grey case like a sewing machine with a cable - to Hillier to help him find it, and hopes the electric plug is still connected, then says if she’d stolen the case she’d have dropped it in the ocean. Redfern blithely threatens her with the same fate as DeLeon and orders Hillier to keep an eye on her, but first to search the scrap yard.

Hillier arrives at the yard about the same time as Cathy and Dr Ashe. Ashe complains about the cold as they shuffle through the grubby snow in the yard and insists it must be inside as it ought to be plugged into the mains. They go inside - Hillier climbing in a window to keep an eye on them - and Ashe describes the case to Cathy. She has an idea and suddenly tells him to go home as it would take a squad of men to search the yard properly, and virtually shoves him out the door, then goes to the fuse box. Following an electrical cable, she locates the case hidden inside a drain outside but is surprised by Hillier. He approaches too closely while pointing a revolver at her and she proceeds to disarm him they fight him off.

Hillier runs away and she takes the case to Steed, who tests it with a stethoscope and some electronic equipment before opening it. Just then, Dr Ashe arrives and orders him to close it carefully.

STEED: Perhaps you’re right. Very nice. A virus, I expect?
ASHE: Quite right. I congratulate your friend Mrs Gale. Virus Verity Prime. The world’s most recent killer.

Act 3

Ashe demonstrates to Cathy how he grows viruses inside eggs, and tells her this new virus causes respiratory paralysis and death. Ashe tells Cathy he obtained the original culture from a colleague at a conference some years ago.1

Meanwhile, Redfern tortures Elizabeth to reveal all she knows about Cathy. Ashe shows Cathy some of his research and laughs at her suggestion that he turn it over to the government, then describes the virus’ effects to Cathy.

CATHY: Myxomatosis for us instead of rabbits.

Redfern meanwhile announces he’s leaving the country in 24 hours, and intends to have the case with him - ordering Elizabeth back to work and Hillier to steal it, it’s worth half a million. Cathy asks to take over Verity Prime and waits until Elizabeth returns before ostentatiously leaving with the case, as she tells Steed later when he offers to take the case to East Maxted himself if they don’t show up. He leaves to fetch some dinner and moments later Redfern arrives with Hillier and orders her to unplug the case and come with him to finalise a deal. The phone rings as she is lead out but she’s hurried on with a wave of Redfern’s revolver.

It was Ashe calling and, worried at developments, he glances at his safe then grabs a bottle of benzine. Cathy is incarcerated in a concrete bunker, where she challenges Elizabeth for selling out. Elizabeth defends herself, saying with Redfern you’re either in or dead, but looks worried when Cathy wonders if they’d be offered the same choice. Elizabeth returns to Redfern, who has just made sure the eggs are still inside the case, and is greatly concerned when Redfern tells her she’ll travel with them as far as Valencia.

Cathy suddenly realises the master switches are in her cell and turns off the power, overpowering Hillier with Elizabeth’s help when he arrives. When she emerges, Elizabeth tells her where to find the case but Redfern shoots at them in the dark when they go to collect the case. Cathy threatens him, opening the case and removing the eggs.

CATHY: Are you in the market for a handful of death?
REDFERN: (SLOWLY) Alright ... 100,000....

Cathy counters that that’s not enough so Redfern offers £200,000, at which Cathy replies, “That seems to me like a fair price - catch!” She throws them at him, causing him to collapse in shock against a pianola that starts playing.2

The next day, Steed asks Cathy if she made her replacement eggs of wood and she replies that they were plaster, sold to put in hen houses, but she did paint them herself. They go out to see Dr Ashe, who’s cleaning up in the green house after he burnt all his experiments and he delights Cathy by informing them that his irreplaceable research has been destroyed. She returns the case and he thanks her, but says he won’t be needing it anymore. Oh the way out, she complains about Steed disappearing the night before and he tells her he was right behind her all the way.

CATHY: I didn’t see you.
STEED: (GRINS) Well of course not, my dear. You fused the lights, remember?

  1. Presumably not in China...
  2. It’s not entirely clear if Redfern dies of a heart attack but if he did, this would be two episodes in a row that starred Peter Arne as the villain, directed by Peter Hammond, in which Arne’s character dies of a shock-induced heart attack. It must have been very confusing and repetitive for viewers at the time. I wonder if many viewers experienced déja vu back in 1963.

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