Series 2 - Episode 24
A Chorus of Frogs
Teleplay by Martin Woodhouse
Directed by Raymond Menmuir
A diver testing an underwater craft, strapped with electrodes, is ordered to switch his air supply to line 3. He does so but moments later he starts gasping for breath and the controller switches to emergency, despite another voice complaining that he won't have his experiment interrupted. The diver collapses, his frog-shaped good luck charm swinging crazily.
Steed, on holiday in Greece, is called in by One Six (Michael Gover) and shown the body of the diver, Andreos Stephanopoulus, a known smuggler and mercenary agent who was an excellent shallow diver. He learns that the coroner found the cause of death was nitrogen embolism - the bends - but the levels indicate he must have gone to a depth of over 100 fathoms. Steed is amazed he could have gone that deep and is told the body was found by a friend called Jackson, another part-time agent, who says the body was dropped off the side of the huge yacht of Archipelago Mason. One Six says they've known Mason to be working on something on his yacht for the past two years and Stephanopolous' death indicate he found out what, but you have to come up alive to get the bends. Steed is given the good luck charm and told to get in touch with the man's friends, who call themselves "The Frogs".
On board the yacht, Mason (Eric Pohlmann) is celebrating his birthday party, greeting guests while the band plays. Anna (Yvonne Shima), an elegant Asian woman, laughs at him when he joins her and Venus and tells him off for pretending it's his birthday. He apologises to Venus for unthinkingly considering her a commodity and tells her that most of the people on board are layabouts, not working their passage like her. Anna, sensing a diatribe, leaves the table and Aristos (John Carson) watches her go. When Mason takes his leave a moment later after flippantly offering Venus a barge for singing so well Ariston joins her table and introduces himself, watched by a couple - Helena (Colette Wilde) and Jackson (Alan Haywood) - at another table. She excuses herself to sing a song, saying she'll be right back. meanwhile, Dr Pitt-Norton (Frank Gatliff) is telling Mason the leak was found along the packing lines and it wasn't his fault Stephanopoulus died. Mason sets his back by sneering and they argue, Pitt-Norton wanting to make the next dive himself but Mason refusing to let him take the risk, saying Pitt-Norton killed him - with the best intentions - and he disposed of him. "With the best intentions", says Anna, who has just entered and Mason angrily tells her she shouldn't be in this part of the ship and he wishes she'd return "to where she came from". She says Pitt-Norton doesn't understand politics when he asks her to leave, to which he replies, "Oh yes I do, politics are unreliable and imprecise." and she storms out when Mason laughs. Mason reveals he made his millions by playing both sides off against the middle and when Pitt-Norton says he'll be stabbed in the back one day, Mason reveals he's only been stabbed once, by a woman, but he can't remember if it were the East or the West.
Back in the lounge, Venus finishes her song and is pounced upon by Aristos who tells her he's a real bastard, then chats her up a bit. She leaves to practice her scales and Aristo's friends rib about his lack of success, and when he says he has persistence for the girls, the woman grabs his frog charm and says, "And for the job, nothing?".
Venus is furious to find Steed in her cabin and contemplates turning him in until curiosity - and his oath that he didn't fix her gig - get the better of her. He flippantly says he's trying to get to America and asks her if she's met anyone aboard called Jackson but she hurries off to sing another number. Helena and Jackson meanwhile confront Ariston over his lack of zeal but he convinces them of his fortitude. Jackson reveals that someone slipped Andreos' charm beside his plate during the evening, with a note to meet him on the starboard promenade at 12:30. Artisos is dismissive but Jackson plans to make the rendezvous, hoping it's Steed, sent to tell them how Andreos died. Ariston tells him to say nothing unless paid, they're not there to keep British Intelligence happy. Helena asks to keep the charm and says they have to dive tonight. Aristos says he'll go - he knows what to look for, and tells them he suspects there's an underwater lab halfway along the ship. Jackson and he toss a coin to see who'll dive and Jackson wins and says he'll be over the side in an hour. Jackson meets Steed on deck and declares it's impossible for Andreos to have died of the bends, especially at 100 fathoms, as he was the 'best of us'. Steed asks who 'us' is but Jackson refuses to tell him and leaves. Meanwhile, Mason and Pitt-Norton are in the lab, preparing for another dive test.
Steed is roaming the deck when Jackson returns in a wetsuit, accompanied by Helena. He's told not to get in their way and Helena leads him away at gunpoint to the bar, where she tells him to stay put for half an hour. He smiles and says if she puts away her gun he'll buy her a drink. Back on deck, Anna sneaks out of a cabin while Jackson is suiting up and shoots him with his harpoon gun...
The next night in the bar, Venus sings a comic song and Mason cuts the atmosphere afterwards by announcing to all his guests that Jackson drowned while scuba diving the night before and asks his guests to be careful. Helena is convinced they were both murdered but agrees to find out what Steed knows before she resorts to her pistol. Steed meanwhile is being taunted by Venus about his sleeping arrangements, and she supplies him with a rather blunt cut-throat to shave with. He asks is she's seen all of the ship and she says everything except the laboratory. When she tell him Mason keeps 'delicate fish' in there, he's very interested and says he'll be out all night. In the lab, Pitt-Norton again asks Mason to get rid of Anna but she picks up the harpoon gun and says she'll make sure they aren't disturbed. Mason disapproves of her killing Jackson when there's a sick bay he could have been confined to. Anna retorts that he was planning to spy on the lab and his friends would have freed him and says they're out for revenge. She then tells Mason that Steed is on board.
Steed enters the darkened bar and is surprised by Helena and Aristo, who reveal who they are and their history. He overpowers Ariston when he tries to search him and tells them he doesn't care about their vendetta, but if they get in his way he'll tan their hides. Venus meanwhile is struggling with a Learn Cantonese record when Steed arrives with Helena's pistol. Mason follows on his heels, just as Steed says he's tired of playing Fox and Cocks, and confronts Steed, who Venus introduces as her agent. Steed admits being a stowaway then presses Mason, saying he very interested in delicate fish and deep sea diving. Mason invites them to join him in his stateroom in ten minutes, there are some people he'd like them to meet. Ariston and Helena break into the lab while they're being introduced to Anna and Pitt-Norton - Steed recognising Anna from a photograph - and Mason is keen to turn it into a bidding war. Helena and Ariston discover the lab is a diving station with a bathyscaph and Ariston wants to see what it is that cost their friends' lives, and whether it's worth money to someone like Steed. Mason offers to show Steed the lab, ignoring the complaints of Anna and the doctor, and says if he doesn't see it now he'll find his own way there later anyway. Ariston meanwhile locks himself in the hatch after telling Helena to find the winch controls, but Pitt-Norton sees his 'mouse trap' has gone off and goes to see who's in the lab, closely followed by Steed, Anna and Mason. Helena pulls her gun when they burst in but Steed tells her there's a better way as Pitt-Norton tries to free Aristo, who's in the 'scathe with the wrong air mixture. Ariston is taken unconscious from the machine.
Ariston comes to and tells Steed, after he agrees to buy the information, that the scape's hull is too thin to withstand deep sea pressures. Steed suggest their pressure inside will be high instead but Ariston says then the diver wouldn't cope with them. He queries why he ran out of oxygen and when told recalls a theory about different gas mixtures withstanding pressure better. Ariston tells Helena it's how Andreas must have died but she protests that doesn't explain Jacko's death. Steed meanwhile rushes to Venus' cabin and asks her to send a cable to 'his aunt in Rottingdene'. She's suspicious, especially when she sees it reads "Malaga 3 weeks, Hector much worse. Seasick. Run out of pink pills." Pitt-Norton is fuming around his lab meanwhile and tells Anna he trusts no-one anymore. She tells him only she can give him his last shot at completing his experiments now, not even Mason can help, and he agrees when she tells him Mason only wants the technology to build midget submarine that can dive deep to evade detection, not the gas mixture decompression research. Venus finds the Steward (Steve Cory) serving a man (Colin Fry) in the bar and is pointed towards an officer (Norman Johns) who promises to send the cable for her while Steed listens to records in her cabin, but instead relay it to Anna and she tells him to bring Venus to the lab. Pitt-Norton is against it but she warns him he'll be shot unless he does as he's told. Steed becomes worried and goes looking for Venus and is told she went off with the First Officer a few minutes ago. Anna asks Venus if the cable is in code and she claims it's about her dog, at which the officer leads her to the bathyscaph. Steed confronts Mason over Venus' disappearance but he denies all knowledge, adding that the last time he tried to enter the lab he was invited to leave at gunpoint. Steed laughs when he hears that Anna has taken control, telling Mason to stay out of political games but Mason says he intends to let them finish what they came for - he's already been paid handsomely - and reveal that Pitt-Norton is conducting his final experiment. Steed summons Helena to Mason's stateroom while Anna continues to interrogate Venus, but she declares she an innocent singer who met a stowaway. Steed forces Mason's hand when Helena burst in, intending to kill him and he swears he didn't kill her friends, and the murderers are in the lab. She rushes off, pursued by Steed and arrives just as Venus is being led to the bathyscaph. A gun fight breaks out and Helena kills the officer, allowing Venus to take cover under the control desk. Steed burst in and apprehends Helena while Pitt-Norton turn on Anna and disarms her.
Steed and Mason agree terms for the sale of the research, but Steed says he'll never be allowed to land to collect it. Mason says they'll work something out during the voyage and meanwhile the party can go on, and Miss Smith will sing. Venus rushes to the 'phone to book Steed a cabin of his own.