Series 3 — Episode 6
by Eric Paice
Designed by Douglas James
Directed by Bill Bain
Production No 3611, VTR/ABC/2965
Production completed: September 27 1963. First transmission: November 2 1963.
TV Times summary
In which Steed buys a firework and Cathy stands for Parliament . . .
To further his investigation into political corruption and a missing warhead, Steed persuades Mrs Gale to stand in a local by-election, replacing an assassinated candidate. They are amazed to find that the MP was not shot, but faked his death to disguise that he was behind the theft of the nuclear missile and extortion attempt against the country. Steed prevents Dyter from using the warhead to destroy the Houses of Parliament.
The results of the by-election for South East Anglia are read out by the returning officer (John Murray Scott), announcing the election of Michael Dyter (Gary Hope), who is promptly shot dead by what seems to be an irate farmer (Frank Maher).
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) visits the House of Commons and button-holes Major Swinburne (David Langton), a Tory MP for whom Dyter had worked as press secretary before running for parliament himself. Steed quizzes him on Dyter and the security scandal he’d threatened to reveal. Meeting a stony response from Swinburne, Steed instructs two old ladies (Aimée Delamain and Evelyn Lund) to follow the Major — they are his Miss Murchisons1.
Dyter’s election agent, Mark St. John (Ric Hutton) is also the election agent for the Labour MP Arthur Dove (David Davies) and is going through his publicity campaign. Dove turns the conversation to Dyter’s murder and St. John is downplaying the issue when Swinburne arrives. Dove is incensed and is about to storm out, saying he sees him every day of the week in Parliament, but St. John stops him. He explains that they both have a common interest in preserving National Security and he has got them together on neutral ground.
SWINBURNE: I’d like to make it clear for my part that anything said here must be treated in the strictest confidence.
ST. JOHN: Yes of course, I had already taken that for granted.
(PAN DOWN & T.I. to tape machine R. as St. John switches it on.)
ST. JOHN: Well gentlemen, shall we begin?
Steed meanwhile visits Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) who tells him that Dyter had hired the professional P.R. man Mark St. John to run his campaign, and shows him a list of St. John’s commercial clients. The Slimerama Keepfit School seem incongruous to the others and Steed wonders if Cathy should sign up for ski lessons.
Steed then tells Cathy that a five megaton nuclear warhead was ambushed en route to an R.A.F. base in East Anglia a week ago, and was the security scandal that Dyter was threatening to expose.
He then suggests that Cathy run for the South East Anglia by-election:
STEED: What would you say to standing for Parliament?
STEED: Oh I don’t know, I think you’d be rather good. I’d vote for you. (PAUSE)
STEED: You’d pull out before Polling day, what?
(CATHY GLARES AT HIM AND STORMS OUT)
STEED: (HURRIEDLY, AS HE CHASES AFTER HER) I’ll pay your deposit! I’ll even kiss a few babies for you.
Back at St. John’s office, Dove can’t believe what he’s hearing about the missing warhead and the secrecy around it, accusing the Tories of incompetence.2 Dove concedes he admires Swinburne for putting the nation before his party and, when St. John says the leaders of the three parties have agreed to stifle debate, proposes putting a question in the order paper. Swinburne suggests it would be better coming from one of the government’s own back benchers — i.e. himself — so long as he gets the support of the Opposition, he can raise enough votes.
DOVE: To bring down the Government. Is that what is in your mind Swinburne?
SWINBURNE: I think we are both agreed. We11, if that’s all gentlemen. No, I can see myself out.
DOVE: Well I’ve met some fly ones in my time, but that one takes the biscuit.
ST. JOHN: Better take the tape, Arthur. I’ll put it on the bill.
The next day, Cathy joins St. John’s Westminster gym run by Fiona (Iris Russell) and Max (Joe Robinson), where she meets Mrs Dove (Ruth Dunning) — they chat about politics and Cathy reveals she’s standing for South East Anglia. Max overhears and Fiona invites Cathy back for special classes that night … Cathy is pleases the bait has been so readily taken and agrees.
Steed meets Swinburne and St. John on the member’s terrace and tells them he’s entering politics as an election agent. Cathy arrives and he introduces her as his candidate for South East Anglia. She shocks them when she announces that she’ll run the same campaign as Dyter, but will expose the scandal as part of her election campaign, rather than after she’s elected. Swinburne asks to meet her before he puts his question about the warhead to the house and is told she’ll be at Slimerama.
Cathy’s threat prompts action, and when she arrives at the gym that night, she’s attacked by the farmer who shot Dyter. She fights him off and he runs away; Steed arrives just as she finds Swinburne’s body.
Cathy ignores Steed’s attempts to write election clichés as she’s trying to work out where the warhead has been hidden or if it was smuggled out of the country. Steed says it must still be in the country, probably in London, and the thieves might be planning to detonate it rather than sell it. After learning that Cathy is not impressed with his efforts, Steed heads off to hire St. John as Cathy’s P.R. man.
Steed ransacks St. John’s office and finds a shotgun in a cupboard, which he checks to see if its been fired, but little else. Hearing St. John arriving, he ducks out, deliberately leaving his umbrella behind.3
Steed then keeps an appointment with St. John and convinces him to run the campaign and deliver everything he can find out about the missing warhead in return for £10,0004 and casually picks up his umbrella when he leaves.
Cathy meanwhile has had Dove round for dinner and they talk about the Hunger Marches and how politics has changed. He then tells her Swinburne was an opportunist.
DOVE: I don’t like walking over corpses, Mrs Gale, but when he disobeyed the party whips and decided to break this Dyter scandal in the house he wasn’t doing it out of patriotism, you know? Oh no, no, he’s got his eye on Downing Street.
CATHY: I don’t understand. If the Government had to resign … ?
DOVE: Well, you see he thought he’d be the one to lead his party in the next election. The only one with the guts to put his country first. You show me a rebel and you show me a budding careerist.
She tells him she will need an experienced ally for her campaign but Dove reminds her there is a Labour candidate standing — but he’s an idiot, so Dove would rather back her. Cathy discovers he’s a roué who has lost touch with his grass roots electorate and his wife “bores him to ruddy tears”.
Rattled, St. John visits the gym and tells Fiona what happened and asks her to find out all she can about Mrs Gale.
The next day, the farmer who shot Dyter puts a suspicious box on the scaffolding above the member’s terrace, observed by Steed as he awaits a meeting with Dove. Steed greets his little old lady spies and one of them passes him a note as they shake hands. Steed reads the note but is interrupted by the arrival of Dove.
Dove demurs on putting a private member’s question to the house but, in return for information, offers to give Cathy a clear field in the by-election by having the Labour candidate pull out, as he has friends in the constituency. In return, Steed tells him what he knows:
STEED: Late last night the Government got a blackmail note. They were told if they pay out half a million pounds5 they’ll be told where to find the warhead.
DOVE: Are they going to pay it?
STEED: (LAUGHING) I don’t know, I’m not the Government.
DOVE: No, but you seem to have some pretty good sources of information.
Dove is sure the government will pay up and hurries off to start his machinations before the government can get themselves out of the mess. Steed’s old ladies reappear on the terrace and he asks them to let him know if they trip over the missing warhead.
At the gym Cathy learns from Mrs Dove that Arthur is no longer the great orator and spends his time in committees and is more obsessed with holding onto his posts — and it bores her to tears!6 Fiona stops Cathy as they leave and makes a veiled threat. When Cathy won’t answer her questions, Max grabs Cathy ands demands she answer,7 but Mrs Dove intercedes and she escapes.
That same evening, St. John returns to his office to prepare for his appointment with Steed and Cathy. As he sorts through his papers, Dyter anters and shoots him with his own shotgun.
Steed is searching St. John’s office when Cathy arrives for the appointment and he tells her St. John is dead — he was being carted away in an ambulance when he arrived — shot, but the police haven’t arrived and there’s no-one there who could have called an ambulance … The shotgun is missing from the cupboard and the office had been ransacked before he arrived. Dove’s and Dyter’s files have been taken, and Steed sits down to test the typewriter while Cathy examines some negatives found amongst the papers.
STEED: Blunt X … Squint I … H above the line.
CATHY: What’s that?
STEED: A very good description of my Auntie Queenie.8 I’ve solved another small problem. The blackmail note sent to the Government was typed on this machine!
Dyter visit the gym and tells Fiona they no longer needed St. John (but doesn’t tell her St. John is dead), his blackmail plans were too small an ambition — he has sold the warhead to a foreign power who don’t even want him to move it …
FIONA: They’re going to explode it?!
FIONA: (SMILING) When?
DYTER: In twenty-four hours’ time. I’ve timed the operation for Tuesday, November the Fifth. Rather appropriate, don’t you think?
Max is sent off on an errand by Dyter while Cathy is examining the photos she’s processed in her dark room. Steed arrives wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and she lets him in and shows him the photos. They show Dyter wasn’t killed at all — St. John covered him immediately and the ambulance men were already on the scene, and the blood stains were touched in afterwards on the photo of Dyter being shot.
Steed reasons that it explains the blackmail angle — St. John and Dyter steal the warhead and pressure the government, but get no response. So they then fake Dyter’s killing but the government still doesn’t play ball. St. John in response manipulates Swinburne and Dove to step up the pressure, but then Dyter starts double-crossing them and kills Swinburne and St. John — he must have a bigger agenda than blackmail.
Mrs Dove calls Cathy to tell her Arthur has gone missing and she heads off to the House of Commons to see if she can help. As she leaves, Steed warns her that the note claimed they had a detonator for the warhead.
CATHY: Warheads work on a timing mechanism, don’t they?
STEED: That’s right.
CATHY: Tonight is Guy Fawkes night.
STEED: Tonight could be the biggest bumper Guy Fawkes of all time.
Max informs Dyter that he’s still on Dove’s tail; Dyter plans to eliminate Dove but thinks he could use him as live bait for Steed and Cathy first. Meanwhile, Mrs Dove tells Cathy Arthur is two hours later for a sitting where he was due to put a private question. She admits that Arthur has been blaming himself for not exposing the bomb scandal. As they part, Max emerges from the shadows …
Dove is doing a search of his own in St. John’s office. He is interrupted by Dyter who sneers at his patriotism and orders him to call his wife to get her, and Steed and Cathy, to the Slimerama Club.
Mrs Dove arrives at the gym and Fiona question her harshly before Arthur is dragged in by Max, blood on his face and his hair disheveled. Max and Fiona demand to know about Cathy and Steed, only to discover the Doves are truly innocents.
DOVE: We can’t help you. We don’t know anything.
FIONA: For the last time Mrs Dove. Where is Steed?
(CUT TO CATHY AT THE TOP OF THE SKI RAMP, REVOLVER DRAWN)
CATHY: He’s been delayed.
Cathy and Max exchange shots, with hers find their mark. Mrs Dove takes the opportunity and hits the injured Max with her handbag then picks up his revolver while Cathy easily apprehends Fiona.
Under the cover of fireworks at the House of Commons terrace, Dyter meets his accomplice and tells him to set the timer for midnight. Steed appears from the shadows and shoots the accomplice, then trades shots with Dyter as they duck between the scaffolding, statues and benches. Dyter takes a shot and Steed slumps to the ground!
Delighted at prevailing, Dyter rushes to take the detonator from its box, unaware that Steed faked being hit and is crawling towards him. Steed throws his keys as a distraction and wings Dyter as he spins around to shoot at the noise in the dark, then grabs his dropped gun.
STEED: I suppose you know it’s an offence to fire those things off within fifty yards of the street.
Cathy and Steed say good-bye to Mrs Dove on the terrace, who regrets that Cathy isn’t entering Parliament. After she leaves, Cathy reminds Steed that Dyter is still the elected representative until his trial.
CATHY: Exactly what did he have against this place?
STEED: Nothing personal, it just happened to be a suitable detonation point. A stone’s throw from here, right in the middle — the War Office, Ministry of Defence, the Admiralty.
CATHY: Yes, whoever was paying him would certainly have got their money’s worth. STEED: Guy Fawkes himself couldn’t have wished for more.
- Miss Murchison is an unassuming old lady who is a friend and confidante of the urbane sleuth Lord Peter Whimsey, and appears in a couple of Dorothy L. Sayers’ detective stories, helping the hero solve cases. In one story, Lord Peter is revealed to have a whole secretarial agency working for him as undercover agents. ⭮
- So no change there then. ⭮
- At least, it seems so given the pointed way he picks up his umbrella later on. ⭮
- £10,000 in 1963 is the equivalent of £210,000 in 2023. Steed started by offering £1,000, then £3,000 so it escalated rather quickly. ⭮
- £500,000 in 1963 would be about £10,460,000 in 2023. ⭮
- This is a wonderful piece of writing, with the elder politician and his wife bored with what each other have become as they lose the fire of youthful politics. ⭮
- This scene is like another 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. ⭮
- A running joke throughout much of the series, Steed often refers to presumably fictitious relatives, in comically disparaging terms. ⭮