Series 3 — Episode 3
Man with Two Shadows
by James Mitchell
Designed by Paul Bernard
Directed by Don Leaver
Production No 3605, VTR/ABC/2799
Production completed: June 21 1963. First transmission: October 12 1963.
TV Times summary
In which Steed hides from himself and Cathy is ordered to kill him
Alerted by Borowski that doppelgangers are about to infiltrate Britain, Steed keeps a close eye on Gordon who is staying in a holiday camp. It appears that a switch has been made, as the impostor passes all medical tests — except a recently removed tooth has returned! John Steed is the next victim, leaving Mrs Gale with the dilemma of possibly having to kill Steed. Steed turns the table and unveils Cummings as an impostor and the ringleader, and the Avengers finish their assignment. Steed infuriates Cathy by allowing the fake Gordon to stay so they can feel false information to the Soviets.
William Gordon (Daniel Moynihan), staying at a holiday camp, goes to his chalet to relax before dinner. He decides to change so he removes his clothes but when he opens his wardrobe he finds himself face to face with a man who looks exactly like him! The doppelganger grins evilly and shoots him with a silenced pistol. After killing Gordon, he flashes a torch three times at the window then puts on the dead man’s clothes and takes his rings and watch.
Steed’s superior Charles (Paul Whitsun-Jones) takes John Steed (Patrick Macnee) to see Borowski (Terence Lodge), a Ministry agent who had been captured and brainwashed. Charles tells Steed this time it’s different, normally they replace the personality with the one they want him to have, but with Borowski they given him fragments of multiple personalities. Borowski proves to be quite mad and despite his Jewish background thinks himself a Gestapo commander, Russian nobleman, American thriller writer and several other conflicting personalities. Steed manages to get through to the real man inside — by repeated questioning and kicking him — and in a moment of lucidness Borowski hints at a plot to replace British security personnel with doppelgangers, then adds “Who wants to go to a lousy holiday camp anyway?”
Later, Steed tells Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) about Borowski, and says the other side would do the same to him if they caught him again. Cathy thinks the plot is real, the law of averages means there will be people very alike, and plastic surgery can take over where nature left off.1
STEED: But even if you could build a replica physically and psychologically, how could you fool your nearest and dearest?
CATHY: You couldn’t — if they were expecting it. But why should they be? But for Borowski planting the seed, your double could have walked in here this evening and I’d never have known. How could I?
They then go through Borowski’s effects and find a 1963 brochure for Baxter’s Holiday Camp, and Steed muses that Borowski hasn’t been in the West since 1959…
Back at the holiday camp, Julie (Gwendolyn Watts) goes looking for Gordon, telling head waiter Sigi (George Little) they had arranged to meet at 4pm. He directs her to the Vienna Room, then he and the taciturn steak chef Rudi (Douglas Robinson) exchange a conspiratorial smirk, then Rudi laughs evilly. Julie finds Gordon, who recovers quicky when she asks him where he was, and claims he was working.
JULIE: You’re sure you forgot? You haven’t changed?
CU GORDON (reaction)
JULIE: I mean … you’re not sorry about last night?
GORDON: Sorry about last night — don’t be silly.
Nonetheless, she senses a difference from the night before, less passion in his kiss, a detachment… but she dismisses it as anxiety about their nascent relationship. She mentions swimming and he claims he can’t swim, so she gently reminds him she had promised to teach him…
Steed arrives at Cathy’s, weary and hot after slogging around Whitehall investigating. He says there are four possibilities at Baxter’s, but she is already on the phone, dressed only in a bikini because of the heat — a body has turned up, horribly mutilated in a hit-and-run near Newcastle and it seems to match Gordon’s description. Checking his notes, Steed tells her Gordon is a junior researcher with a bright future at an Atomic Energy Commission lab in Deepdale. Cathy replies that Gordon’s doctor and dentist are on their way and Steed is sent by plane immediately to join them.
Steed meets Dr Terence (Geoffrey Palmer) and Miss Quist (Anne Godfrey) at a mortuary in Newcastle and learns that the body was hit twelve times by a car, but must have already been dead. Terence considers it unidentifiable and Miss Quist agrees, normally teeth are like a fingerprint but the damage is too great. She tells them Gordon had come in the previous week to have a bicuspid extracted.
Back at the camp, Sigi assures Gordon that the body was dumped three hundred miles away in Dawden,3 and Rudi made sure it was unidentifiable. Gordon asks when they might expect Steed and Sigi says it depends on how much Borowski told him…
Steed and Cathy have already arrived and she says Julie thinks Gordon in genuine, and is in love with him. Steed thinks that would cloud her judgement and tells her that Gordon is privy to top secret information so they have to be sure.4
STEED: I’ve sent for his doctor and his dentist. This time they can have a look at the live Gordon — and if his little toe’s a tenth of an inch too long he goes straight into the cooler.
Gordon meanwhile has spotted them and calls Frank Cummings (Philip Anthony), a local politician, and tells him Steed has arrived. Cummings reassures him the plan will proceed as planned and hangs up.
He then takes a wad of cash from his desk and hands it to another man, saying, “Steed’s gone down to Baxter’s holiday camp. It’s time for you to join us.”
The man replies “Good”, and we discover he looks and sounds exactly like John Steed!
Steed is lying in his cabin, reading Tintin in Tibet5 when there is a knock on the door. It’s Gordon, whom he had summoned to his cabin. Steed hands him a letter from the director of Project S7, which reads that all staff need fortnightly medical and dental checks because of radiation sickness amongst the staff. Steed reassures him he won’t lose his holiday, the medical staff will be there shortly, and moments later Dr Terence and Miss Quist enter.
Cathy meets up with Julie and asks about the swimming lessons, and looks worried when Julie says she can hardly believe he hadn’t swum before.
Meanwhile, Dr Terence is sure it’s really Gordon, the body has the appendix scar and fractured clavicle that didn’t set properly. But Miss Quist swears it’s not — she says she could swear all the dental work in the man’s mouth is her work, then reminds them about the bicuspid she mentioned removing — now it’s back in his mouth!
TERENCE: But how do you copy another human being?
STEED: At Deepdale they must have a medical file on Gordon a foot thick. Copy that, and you’ve got a perfect replica.
Steed asks them to return home and report that Gordon is perfectly fit and well. A bit later, Steed enters the Vienna Room just after Julie takes Gordon off for a swimming lesson and he tells Mrs Gale that it’s not the real Gordon. They’re going to have other people at Deepdale tested to allay his suspicions. He then says Borowski has started talking, so he wants her to return to London to see him.
Meanwhile, Sigi lets the impostor Steed into Steed’s chalet and hands him a silenced pistol, saying an announcement will be made in six minutes.
STEED: Good. I can hardly believe it’s going to happen. Five years learning to be somebody else.
SIGI. I quite understand. Mr. Gordon felt the same way.
STEED: Gordon! huh! two and a half years, that’s all. Mug up a little scientific jargon, have a couple of operations … But Steed — He’s a man of many talents, many faces …
SIGI: I must get back.
STEED: Of course, yes I’m sorry: I was forgetting Steed’s also a little vain.
Cummings phones Gordon and tells him to let their Steed take care of the real one and not get involved. They discuss the medical checks and Cummings tells him he’ll be there tomorrow to give instructions. Gordon then goes to Steed’s table and chats to him until the tannoy blares into life, asking that John Steed return to his chalet.
The fake Steed ducks into the shower cubicle and draws the curtain, pistol at the ready, while the real Steed arrives outside and looks around cautiously before starting to unlock the door…
Mrs Gale, in London, is visited by Charles, who has brought some ice cream because of the heat, then plays back recording of Borowski talking about doppelgangers. There are three doppelgangers — Gordon, a politician or bureaucrat, and a British agent. Charles asks after Steed and Cathy realises he is wondering if he has been switched already. Charles says Steed is the only agent captured by the opposition that ever managed to escape — and they held him for four days before he did so could have made their blueprint then. Charles then suddenly asks Cathy a series of questions to see if she can supply the correct counter phrases, or is a doppelganger, and is pleased with the answers.
CATHY: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
CHARLES: Rem acu tetigisti.6 You will keep an eye on Steed for me, won’t you Mrs. Gale? A good eye. They didn’t hold me for four days.
Back at the camp, Gordon finds Steed, sporting a plaster oh his temple and wearing a different tie to earlier — he says he “had to use the one he was wearing”. Gordon says he wasn’t supposed to contact him, but they had overlooked that he had a girlfriend, and Steed was with Mrs Gale earlier. Gordon fills Steed in on who he had met and mentions the medical check, happily reporting that they’re satisfied he is Gordon. Meanwhile, back at Steed’s chalet, Rudi and Sigi put the body in the shower into a laundry hamper and drag it away.
Cathy returns to the camp and learns that Gordon and Steed are off having a drink. She looks concerned when Julie says she thinks Bill is about to propose. At that moment, the Holiday Camp Official (Robert Lankesheer) enters with Cummings who has been invited to judge the Miss Beautiful Legs competition.
After Julie leaves, Steed enters, looking far too casually dressed and sporting sunglasses, which gives Cathy a turn. He asks how her visit to London went and she cagily asks about what. He immediately says Borowski, and she relays the information about two more doubles, but still eyes the plaster on forehead carefully. She tries the same counter phrases as Charles used, but Steed says he invented this game and deliberately gives all the wrong answers, thinking Borowski named him as a double. He then tells Cathy there was a double for him, who tried to kill him an hour ago.
CATHY: Where was he?
STEED: In the shower. The curtain moved. I shot him and found I’d shot myself, Now I know what I look like dead.
Cummings excuses himself from the holiday camp official and joins Gordon and Steed. He orders Gordon to return to Deepdale immediately as there is some new work they the need to spy on. He then tells Steed to make sure his people are satisfied it’s the real Gordon, and, learning that Cathy is suspicious of Steed as Borowski revealed there were three doppelgangers, to convince her — or kill her!
Cathy meanwhile is on the phone to Charles, saying she thinks they have switched Steed. Charles give her almost the same advice Cummings gave Steed — if it isn’t Steed she will have to kill him!
Julie finds Mrs Gale later on and gushes that Bill had finally asked her to marry him — but then says Gordon went back to Deepdale straight after proposing, as ‘something big’ came up. However, Cummings suspects Steed is not their man and learns from Sigi that he didn’t actually see their Steed kill the real Steed.
SIGI: Why do you think this is not our Steed?
CUMMINGS: He is altogether too relaxed — almost as if he was enjoying it — and something he said ‘In this business you learn to recognise your own kind.’
That was the remark of an experienced professional — the real Steed. Our Steed had training but no experience. He could never have said a thing like that.
Cummings orders Sigi to have Steed and Mrs Gale killed before they are all exposed, telling him he is leaving the camp in five minutes and they are to do it after he’s gone.
On his way out of the camp, Mrs Gale stops him and says she thinks Steed is a traitor. Cummings prevaricates in best politician style, trying to leave the camp before the deed is done.
CUMMINGS: This isn’t really my line of country.
CATHY: The security of the nation?
CUMMINGS: Very well Mrs. Gale, if you put it like that… What do you want me to do?
CATHY: Come with me.
They go to Steed’s chalet, arriving just as Steed overpowers Rudi. Mrs Gale bursts in, and orders Rudi to leave.
CATHY: You’re not Steed!
STEED: I certainly am! I told you, I killed my double.
CATHY: You are the double. How could Steed have killed you, if you were waiting for him?
STEED: Luck, and a few brains. I did the thread trick so I knew someone had come in.
Cathy doesn’t believe him and asks Cummings to make a call for her — not the police, but a special security number. He looks unsure and suggests they wouldn’t believe him or think he was seeking publicity, maybe she should make the call…
CATHY: Will you be able to watch him?
CUMMINGS: I think so. I’ll need the gun of course.
CU STEED (Reaction)
CUMMINGS: I’m quite a fair shot.
STEED: And I’m quite a fair target! When you go out of here he’ll kill me.
She gives Cummings her gun and goes to make the call, leaving Cummings to keep guard. Cummings can’t believe his luck and when she’s gone he turns on Steed. Steed talks quickly, trying to save his live, but Cummings won’t have a bar of it and pulls the trigger — but it’s a trick and the gun is empty. Steed tackles Cummings while in the Vienna Room Rudi attacks Cathy from behind but is unprepared for her judo prowess 7and she subdues him after a fight around the fountain.
A few days later, Steed catches up with Gordon at the Deepdale research centre and tells him Rudi and Cummings were caught, but they’ve got away with it and are safe to continue their work.
GORDON: For the rest of our lives eh?
STEED: Yep. And you can marry your girl.
GORDON: (FROWNS) Julie, yeah. Our security is important, Steed.
STEED: Yes it is.
Back in London, Cathy is incensed that Steed is allowing Julie to unwittingly marry the false Gordon, just so the Ministry can feed false information back East through the Russian agent.
STEED: I don’t think little Julie would thank us for saving her from a fate worse than… And really, it’s very much the same with us.
CATHY: How do you mean?
STEED: Am I the same Steed you knew over a year ago?
CATHY: You tell me.
Steed smiles and whispers something outrageous in her ear and she roars with laughter.
- Reminiscent of the plot for the Danger Man episode, “The Prisoner”, where Drake tries to find a double of a diplomat to impersonate a diplomat who is trapped in a Central American nation. ⭮
- Steed’s implict sexual suggestion makes Cathy roll her eyes. ⭮
- This would seem to place Baxter’s along the Channel coast somewhere, most of which is just under 290 miles away, you would only reach 300 miles in Devon or Cornwall. If they meant by road rather than as the crow flies, anywhere from the coast of Essex and South Wales and further South are possibilities. ⭮
- This is the era of the Space Age, so he goes on to mention that Gordon is due to go to Cape Canaveral next year. ⭮
- A minor recurring theme of the season, Steed is seen reading an English-language copy of “Tintin in Tibet”. Steed has just reached the bit where, just as they decide to abandon their search, Tintin spots Chang’s scarf caught on a rock high up on a cliff, page 36.
Macnee even reacts with a surprised expression. (You can see identifying panels of page 37 in the bottom corner of the right-hand page). ⭮
- After replying with all the correct counter phrases, Cathy quips, “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” (correcting the script which reads “Quis custodies custodebit.”) The phrase means “Who guards the guards?” and is a quotation of Juvenal.
Charles smiles and replies, “Rem acu tetigisti” (“You have hit it with a needle”, a quote from Plautus and equivalent to the modern “you’ve hit the nail on the head”). ⭮
- This scene is like an advertisement for Honor Blackman’s book, Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence which is profusely illustrated with pictures of Honor performing Judo techniques on Joe and Douglas Robinson. Read more about Honor Blackman’s Book of Self Defence. ⭮