Series 3 — Episode 5
Death à la Carte
by John Lucarotti
Designed by Richard Harrison
Directed by Kim Mills
Mrs Gale supervises the visit of the decadent Emir Akaba for his annual medical check-up, while Steed poses as a chef in the kitchen. Their fears are confirmed when Lucien tries to poison the Emir with slow-acting lethal mushrooms. Before the plot can succeed, the Emir dies naturally which panics Mellor since his forces are not ready to seize power. The Avengers prevent him from informing his countrymen, thereby ensuring the coup is defeated.
A shadowy military figure breaks into a research establishment and steals some... mushrooms.
Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) is assigned to Emir Abdulla Akaba (Henry Soskin) as a personal social director - no doubt at Steed’s insistence - while he’s in London for a medical check-up. John Steed (Patrick Macnee) has installed himself in the kitchen, posing as the noted British chef, Sebastian Stonemarten.
Mellor (Robert James), the Emir’s advisor, treats Mrs Gale icily and insists that the Emir be given free reign. The Emir’s bodyguard, Ali (Valentino Musetti) treats her, and indeed everyone, even more icily, never speaking a word.
Down in the kitchen, Arbuthnot (Ken Parry) is organising his chefs - the Italian pasta genius Umberto (David Nettheim) and Lucien (Gordon Rollings), the world-famous French pastry chef. The Emir has always enjoyed the good life, and good food and good wine (despite that being against his religion) are more important to him than his health or his country.
Dr Spender (Paul Dawkins) is greatly worried about the Emir’s health and confides his fears to Cathy, but Steed is more worried about an unnatural end to the Emir’s life and has intercepted word of an overthrow attempt.
Mellor smuggles the poisonous mushrooms down to Lucien in the kitchen inside a cake cover, but when Josie (Coral Atkins) is told to clean it the villains panic and Lucien breaks into the silver room to retrieve the mushrooms, rousing Steed’s curiosity.
He realises Umberto’s pasta has been poisoned and stages a kitchen-door accident to dispose of it, but the determined crooks are sure Steed will use them in his signature dish, Phaisant à l’Ancienne.
Steed removes the deadly mushrooms and uses his own, but the Emir suddenly dies of natural causes, throwing the plot into disarray - Mellor was counting on the ten day delay of the mushroom’s poison to give him time to finalise the coup plans - so he locks Steed and Cathy in a hotel room.
Steed escapes out the window and down the ducts, taking out the minions along the way, and Cathy overcomes Mellor by improvising with a few light bulbs. Afterwards, they sit down to one of Umberto’s sumptuous meals but, revealing himself to be a cockney, he serves them “fish and chips, mate, we’re frying tonight!”