• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE GRANDEUR THAT WAS ROME’ superimposed on dead worms in a box of soil
  • Cathy meets the disguised Steed at United Foods
  • Marcus, centre stage in Roman armour, gloats at Cathy, foreground left while Bruno gazes at her from the shadows
  • Sir Bruno leads his courtesans into the revel, dressed in an emperor’s toga
  • Steed, wearing a toga, is held at gunpoint by Apollodorus
  • Cathy is restrained by two Roman guards as Bruno plans to poison her

Series 3 — Episode 8
The Grandeur That Was Rome

by Rex Edwards
Designed by Stan Woodward
Directed by Kim Mills

Plot summary

When Mrs Gale finds ergot in grain produced by United Foods and Dressings Ltd, Steed is sure that it is a deliberate infection. Lucer, the chairman of UFD, dreams of re-instating the Roman Empire and plans to decimate the world by releasing bubonic plague. Unbeknown to him, his deputy - Dodds - plans to overpower Lucer and become the new Caesar. When Mrs Gale stumbles on the truth she is given a poisoned chalice, but Steed dashes to the rescue. It is too late for Lucer though; he has been slain by Dodds already.

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Sir Bruno Luker (Hugh Burden) is visited by his deputy Marcus Dodds (John Flint), just returned from international trips, who cryptically tells him the pigs walk backwards and the grass is black.

Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) visits United Foods and Dressings Ltd, a major world supplier of fertilisers and grains, to investigate reported famine conditions in much of England, and is greeted by (Ian Shand), the PR officer, who offers her the assistance of the entire factory, but raises the ire of his director Appleton (Kenneth Keeling) who doesn’t want her in his factory.
Sir Bruno’s companion Octavia (Colette Wilde) arrives, and Bruno outlines his far more deadly plan for world domination - the synthetic recreation of the Black Plague, rather than simply creating famine. Bruno has scientists developing an inoculation for it, which will keep them safe and allow them to ransom the entire world.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) discovers that Sir Bruno, a known lover of Roman antiquities, is the silent chairman of UFD, and that sacks of contaminated grain bore a Roman monogram. He visits Sir Bruno under the pretext of selling Roman artefacts, but raises suspicion by first trying to sell a proto-Corinthian urn, and then giving the British Museum’s telephone number as that of the seller. On his way out, he meets Dodds, whom he recognises as a fascist political bully boy. Bruno orders him killed if he ever returns.

Marcus plots Bruno’s death with Octavia, and when Lucius (Raymond Adamson) arrives from America for Bruno’s conference and Bacchanal, he joins the plot. Meanwhile, Cathy offers to throw herself to the lions, and deliberately has herself found at night in one of the factory’s labs by Sergeant Barnes (Colin Rix), who identifies himself over the phone as Cassio. The next morning, Barnes tells Appleton, Eastow and Steed that Cathy ordered a taxi to her hotel and left shortly before 9:00pm. A while later, Steed intercepts Barnes as he adds a white powder to one of the mixing machines, and forces information out of him.

Steed infiltrates the bacchanal, dressed in a toga and roman-style hair, but is spotted by Apollodorus, now revealed to be Eastow, and put in the cell where Cathy is trying to escape with the aid of an iron nail. Coming to collect Cathy to test the plague serum upon her, Lucius finds Steed missing, but he springs from a coffin and they fight sword against club.
Cathy is taken upstairs and presented with a goblet of poisoned wine, which she throws in Bruno’s face as Steed appears, having dispatched Lucius. The Avengers overcome the guards, but by the time they reach Bruno he has been stabbed and killed by Marcus.

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