Series 3 — Episode 5
Death Of A Batman
by Roger Marshall
Designed by Paul Bernard
Directed by Kim Mills
Production No 3609, VTR unknown
Production completed: August 14 1963. First transmission: October 26 1963.
TV Times summary
In which Steed is named in a will; and Cathy goes into Big Business
Steed is astonished when his one-time batman, Wrightson, leaves £180,000 in his will to his wife. Wrightson was a low-paid draughtsman for Lord Teale and forgery seems a likely possibility. Cathy investigates and they discover the share certificates are genuine — Wrightson was tipping off Lord Teale and Van Doren in an insider-trading scam. Teale declares he used the money to support the British electronics industry from external take-over but Steed has no option but to arrest the men, despite their good intentions.
An old man lies, dying in his bed, his war medals arranged on his chest as his wife sobs quietly. He suddenly gasps for breath then is still, and his wife Edith (Kitty Attwood) gently closes his eyes. His son John (David Burke) comes over to his father, then places his dad’s war medals reverently in a drawer. We see photographs of the officers under whom he served, and his World War II officer is John Steed (Patrick Macnee)…
Steed attends the funeral and reading of the will. Another former officer under which Wrightson served in the Great War, Lord Teale (André Morrell), now a merchant banker, also attends1 and both are astonished when Wrightson leaves his wife £180,000.2
Steed returns to his flat wielding a brand new polo mallet and asking if there has been a call about some polo ponies. Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) is there and he tells her about Wrightson’s bequests and that Wrightson was a £20-a-week draughtsman. She quickly works out that his wage would have left him £138,400 short even if he never spent a penny or paid any tax, so she guesses he must have been a forger. Steed doesn’t think so, but asks is she might use her miniature camera to take some photos… so she kicks his polo mallet.
Lord Teale returns to his office and tells his financial partner, Van Doren (Philip Madoc), what happened at the testamentary reading and they realise they’re in trouble.
VAN DOREN: When the will goes up for Probate, everything will break loose. Every tax inspector in the country will be in on the act.
Lord Teale worries about what to do and Van Doren tells him they’ll sit tight, they had become too dependent on Wrightson because they’d been left behind by the financial markets.
VAN DOREN: Four generations ago, when Dutch know-how was allied to English aristocracy that was all right. But what’s left? An Englishman with a Dutch name and one very faded old school tie.
LORD TEALE: We represent some of the finest companies in the country.
VAN DOREN: We’re a pair of financial pimps, that’s all we are. Ancestral homes, dinners, golf clubs, varsity matches. Bet you haven’t missed an Eton Wall game since the war, have you?
Van Doren decides to press ahead with their planned deal with Mearsham, and bid to take control of Gibbs Electronic but Teale worries if they’ll be able to raise the funds to do so.
Cooper (Ray Browne) is searching Wrightson’s bedroom when Cathy arrives to photograph the share certificates on the wall. He hides under the bed before she enters then pulls he leg from under her when she starts to photograph the share certificates on the wall — one of which is for the upcoming Mearsham deal! They fight and he is easily defeated by Cathy’s judo.
Lady Cynthia (Katy Greenwood) is one of Teale’s clients, and calls later to discuss her portfolio, although she’s displeased at being served tea instead of a Bloody Mary. Lady Cynthia is a dilletante and party girl who can’t keep a job, or a lover, for long.
LORD TEALE: Ah, well, the important thing is that you enjoy yourself.
LADY CYNTHIA: Mmm. There’s this rather dishy porter from Covent Garden.
LORD TEALE: Oh, now, Cynthia, please. No more scandals. That Scandinavian air-steward was quite bad enough.
LADY CYNTHIA: Spoil sport. That blonde hair and all those open sandwiches. The way he said “Smorgasbord”…
Lord Teale tells her she has a strong portfolio with a mix of income and growth; she should keep everything. As soon as she leaves, he tells Van Doren to sell every single stock.3 The firm’s butler enters to clear away the tea and is revealed to be Cooper.
Steed meets Cathy at a trade show at Gibbs Electronics and confirms the photographed share certificates are genuine. Victor Gibbs (Geoffrey Alexander) interrupts them, welcoming him to his “At Home” and sympathises when Steed says he hasn’t understood anything for hours. Steed asks Gibbs why he decided to make his company public and Gibbs freely admits to having had a heart attack and had to step back a bit. Steed then claims to be going public himself.
GIBBS: What’s your line, Mr Steed?
STEED: Dog kennels.
GIBBS: Hmm. Constant demand, I suppose?
STEED: Oh, they’re running in and out all the time.4 There’s the accessories, the Fido bowl and brush, I expect you’ve heard about them.
Steed asks Gibbs why he chose Teale and Van Doren to float the company and Gibbs says they were very competitive, then bustles off to fetch a brochure.
While he’s gone, Steed mentions that Teale has a mania for electronics firms, having bought controlling shares in 19 of the 27 firms that had recently floated. Gibbs returns and hands them the brochure and Cathy commenting on the high quality of Teale and Van Doren’s clients. Gibbs agrees, and points out that the Earl of Ashdown’s daughter, Lady Cynthia Bellamy, is among them.
Van Doren gets on the phone to a broker,5 placing deals to sell of Cynthia’s portfolio. Lord Teale enters and prompts him to buy more Mearsham stock.
Meanwhile, Steed and Cathy are scanning the society pages, looking for a mention of Lady Cynthia, finally finding her in a photo from the Honourable Jeremy Barnes’ Mayfair party and giving Steed a chance to liaise with the aristocracy.
The next day, Steed arrive at the florist’s, where Cynthia is perched on a ladder arranging some blossoms, giving Steed a chance to leer at her uncovered knees. He then asks for two dozen roses to be sent to Cathy, then pretends he knows her from somewhere.
STEED: Er, excuse me, don’t I know your face?
LADY CYNTHIA: No, I think it’s the knee that you know. That’ll be two guineas.
Steed inveigles himself with Cynthia by claiming to have shared a taxi from Jeremy’s party, and to have mentioned her banker, offering him financial advice. She was so drunk at the party she decides she must have, even though she remember none of it, and agrees to meet him for dinner to go through her portfolio.6
Meanwhile Teale learns that Mearsham has risen to 21 shillings, giving them a 50% profit, and they sell, intending to buy back all of Cynthia’s shares. Cathy enters, having installed herself at Teale and Van Doren after Steed arranged for the old receptionist, Jenny, to leave precipitately. She’s worried when Cooper arrives with some papers for Lord Teale and they recognise each other, but Steed tells her he’ll arrange everything.
STEED: You’d better stay here. It should produce some action one way or another. I’ll look after him. (PAUSE) Trust me.
CATHY: (ARCHLY) Why?
Steed is there to visit Teale, purporting to be helping a friend raise money to extend the plant for his electronics firm. Teale initially declines but when he hears it’s electronics he takes the bait.
The next day, Steed shows Cathy Cynthia’s list of shares, and reveals they have all dropped in price while the market has been steady. Cathy smiles and says they’ve all been sold, robbing Steed of his big reveal.
Cathy visits Mrs Wrightson and learns that she doesn’t know where Clarence obtained the money, but doesn’t think he stole it. Edith has just revealed that Clarence might have seen Lord Teale at regimental dinners and so on when they’re interrupted by John coming home. He’s suspicious of Cathy’s presence and questions her before she can leave,7 and calls her a vulture after she’s gone.
John tells her he knows Cathy would have asked where the money came from, then reveals that he does know, and tells her they’ll be alright.
That night, Steed breaks into the florist’s shop and cracks the safe but before he can go through Cynthia’s papers he’s surprised by the night watchman, “Goliath” (Stan Simmons) and they fight. Steed defeats him easily, using the big man’s weight against him, and then beats a hasty retreat.
Lady Cynthia turns up at Steed’s flat first thing in the morning, positively gushing over Steed’s exploits against Goliath.
LADY CYNTHIA: How did you do it?
STEED: Do what?
LADY CYNTHIA: You don’t look all that muscular. You must be very deceptive.
STEED: I am … Now, what have I done?
LADY CYNTHIA: Goli, Goliath, my devoted bodyguard.
STEED: Oh, the fellow in the shop, yeah.
She gives Steed a brand new polo helmet as a reward after confirming she hasn’t sold any of her shares.
Van Doren meanwhile is tabulating the profit from the Mearsham deal — £71,2688 — but sadly the last deal from Wrightson.
Cathy puts a call from John Wrightson — and Cooper watches her listening in… John arranges to meet Teale that night to ‘do a deal’.
John tries to blackmail Teale, telling him he knows how they made their millions — his father gave them advance warning whenever he was required to draught a new share certificate.
LORD TEALE: Where’s your proof?
WRIGHTSON: Oh, I don’t need proof.
LORD TEALE: No?
WRIGHTSON: No, that’s up to the police. I’ll leave the police to find the proof.
LORD TEALE: Oh, and you think they’d believe it?
WRIGHTSON: With a hundred and eighty thousand quid to account for — they’d believe anything.
John says he can’t have his ‘old mother living off dishonest money’ then twists the knife and asks for a payment of £10,000 — a year9 — from Teale to keep quiet.
Steed and Cathy meanwhile have discovered that all of Cynthia’s shares have gone back up to their previous value, having been bought back again. Cathy reasons someone needed cash quickly and recalls Van Doren mentioning that Mearsham made a free issue which saw the share price rise steeply. Steed guesses that it was no surprise to Teale and Van Doren and when Cathy says they would issue share certificates straight away after the Annual General Meeting, she realises Wrightson would have known — and is then angry when she realises that Steed already knew!
Teale meanwhile shocks Van Doren by saying they won’t sell to cover John’s demand, and he’d rather kill him instead.
VAN DOREN: You can’t be serious.
LORD TEALE: Oh, yes I am. We’ve a unique role to fill, Eric. Never forget that. We can help make this country great again, and save the world. That’s a reasonable life’s achievement. (PAUSE) You don’t think so?
Steed rushes round to Wrightson’s and takes down the share certificate hanging on the wall, verifying that it’s for Mearsham Ltd but he is interrupted by John, who enters holding a gun and says he’s sorry that Steed got so interested. A short time later, John leads Steed in to Teale and Van Doren’s offices at gunpoint and Steed divulges that he knows all about their insider trading and the sale of shares to cover the deals.
Lord Teale argues that they did it to help struggling British technology firms because the country wouldn’t; they’ve made very little profit out of it. Lord Teale declares himself a patriot, not a traitor, but when Steed is unmoved he orders John to kill Steed to earn his £10,000 ‘pension’ and tells him to take Steed next door. After they go, Teale tells Van Doren they’ll fix it to make it look like they killed each other, and orders him to follow them while he tells Cathy to leave the building.
As she turns to go on a spurious errand, Cathy sees Steed’s hat and umbrella and gives the game away by turning back in shock. At that moment John returns to Teale’s office and recognises her immediately.
Meanwhile, Steed tries to reason with Van Doren, telling him Teale is mad. John tries to grab Cathy but she overpowers him just as Van Doren concedes and hands over the gun. Steed leads Van Doren into Teale’s office and orders the three of them against the wall then Cooper comes in — he’s been paid off by Steed10 — I Corps all the way — and helps them take Teale and Van Doren in.
Steed gets on the phone as soon as they leave and Cathy asks who he’s phoning.
STEED: I’m still after that pair of polo ponies.
CATHY: But they’re not going to sell them behind your back?
STEED: That’s very likely what might happen. There’s a very important person after them.11
- Lord Teale inherits the Military Cross which he had given to Wrightson on Armistice Day. Teale declares that by rights it belonged to Wrightson rather than himself, as Wrightson was a fine soldier. Steed inherits the £10 he lent Wrightson in 1945 to help buy some draughtsman’s tools. ⭮
- £180,000 in 1963 would be worth £3,743,477 in 2023, an enormous sum for someone who was officially earning only £20 a week (that would be £21,630 p.a. in 2023, but the average wage for a draughtsman in London in 2023 is £33,000). The original script was even more alarming, and used the figure of £480,000 which would by almost £10 million today. ⭮
- Van Doren’s plan appears to be just to sell all of their client’s shares. ⭮
- Cathy is in the background eavesdropping and rolls her eyes when Steed makes this joke. ⭮
- The dialogue sheets for the episode identify the broker as Cooper but the rehearsal script doesn’t. ⭮
- "You know Patelli’s? The steaks are this thick and the zabaglione’s fab." ⭮
- There are several lines dropped from the original script where Cathy and John have a physical alternation in this scene: ⭮
JOHN: You know something, don’t you?
CATHY: I know that you’re scared — scared stiff.
JOHN: Who’s scared?
HE PUTS OUT A HAND TO GRAB HER. CATHY GRABS IT AND TWISTS IT UP BEHIND HIS BACK.
CATHY: All right?
HE NODS. SHE RELEASES HIM. HE RUBS HIS SHOULDER.
JOHN: Tell Mr. Steed We can manage. Thank you very much!
- That’s about £1.5 million in 2023 terms, a 50% profit return. ⭮
- About £210,000 today. ⭮
- Cathy is startled when Steed gives him a wad of cash and a ticket to Johannesburg, and Lord Teale is disgusted. ⭮
- Cathy gasps and smiles when she realises he’s in competition with HRH Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh for those ponies. ⭮