• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE SECRETS BROKER’ superimposed on a dark close-up of Paignton taking the revolver from the box
  • Marion and Allan kissing on the sofa
  • Cliff Howard and Cathy in the lab
  • Steed peers into the barrel darkroom after pretending to stumble into it, the Wilsons and Waller put on a brave face
  • Marion Howard sits in the audience of the seance with Cathy keeping an eye on her from the back
  • Cathy and Steed sample some of the commandeered wine

Series 3 — Episode 19
The Secrets Broker

by Ludovic Peters
Designed by Anne Spavin
Directed by Jonathan Alwyn

Production No 3613, VTR/ABC/3094
Production completed: October 19 1963. First transmission: February 1 1964.

TV Times summary

In which Cathy attends a seance; while Steed tastes wine to discover the secret of the bottom of the barrel

Plot summary

A bogus medium and a wine merchant are the front for a blackmail ring, stealing goverment and military secrets. After a failed attempt to steal a new tracking device, the culprits are traced and seized. Their information will never again be smuggled in microdots within wine lists from Waller and Paignton’s.

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Mrs. Mimi Wilson (Avice Landon) leads a public séance with her medium daughter, Julia Wilson (Jennifer Wood) while Bruno (Valentino Musetti) guards the door. Julia identifies Frederick Paignton (John Stone) in the audience, whom she gives a message.

JULIA: I have a message from the other side. Marshall is waiting for you. There may be danger, but you must act quickly. Marshall must join our friends on the other side.

Mrs. Wilson hands him a box, which contains a revolver.

Act 1

Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) is preparing slides for an anthropology lecture when John Steed (Patrick Macnee) drops by.1 He shows her a newspaper report about his colleague David Marshall who was found murdered near Bridlington’s Research Centre. He tells her the Centre is working on a new under-water tracking device2 and someone has got very close to stealing it; he thinks Marshall knew who it was.3 Steed ‘asks’ Cathy to infiltrate the centre, while he investigates Marshall as they only have a week until the device is sent to the Pacific for testing.

CATHY: Is Bridlington’s worth investigating?
STEED: Yes. Don’t worry, by the time you get there, they’ll already be expecting you.
CATHY: What as, an anthropologist?4

Meanwhile, Frederick returns the gun, but is blackmailed — and threatened at gun point — by Mrs. Wilson to keep working for them.

FREDK: No, not again. I introduced my brother to Marion Howard, just as you wanted — I’ve committed murder for you. Isn’t that enough?
MRS. WILSON: Well I’m sorry Freddy, but there’s no going back now.

Cathy arrives at the Centre and meets Marion Howard (Patricia English) and Cliff Howard (John Ringham), and learns his chief engineer, Jim Carey (Brian Hankins), resents Cathy’s presence.

MARION: Mrs. Gale, this is Jim Carey, my husband’s chief assistant. Jim, Mrs. Gale.
CATHY: How do you do?
JIM: I do hope you won’t be staying with us long, Mrs. Gale.

Cathy quickly discovers that Marion has a lover when Marion receives a call from Allan Paignton (Ronald Allen). Frederick comes home as Allan ends the call and is a bit short with him. Sensing something is up, Allan suggest he can ask for help if he’s in any sort of trouble.

Steed, following the lead of a business card5, investigates Waller & Paignton’s, where Jack Waller (Jack May) introduces him to some fine wines despite not being as experienced as he claims.6

Waller raises Steed’s suspicions when he berates Frederick for dropping some flyers he was posting to customers and mixing them up. Steed steals one of the flyers by asking Waller about an ornate brandy bottle behind him as he orders some wine, then asks for a wine list before leaving. He doesn’t give Waller his address, saying he’ll be back in person to pick up his order.

Cathy returns home from her lecture and finds Steed waiting for her. She tells him about Marion’s lover and says the lab was otherwise above board. He tells Cathy about Waller’s strange behaviour with the flyers, especially as the one he stole just had the same wine list as on the counter. Cathy suggests he asks Forensics to examine it and he departs abruptly, leaving her thinking hard.

Marion is kissing Allan passionately on the sofa but breaks off to get home before her husband. When she leaves, Mrs. Wilson arrives and asks to talk to him about his brother…
Meanwhile, Steed breaks into the winery and is tackled by Mrs. Gale, who’s on the same errand, and they discover a photographic dark room inside a barrel.

Mrs. Wilson proceeds to blackmail Allan, with the double prong of exposing his brother committing murder and his affair with Marion. She orders him to make sure Marion cuts the alarm system at Bridlington’s on Tuesday night.

Act 2

Allan manages to convince Marion to betray her husband to ensure the safety of Freddy and themselves while Steed returns to the wine merchant’s where Freddy is at the counter and gets his crate of wine. Steed decided to get an apricot brandy as a present for someone with “lamentable tastes”. Freddy seizes the opportunity and offers to send him their next wine list as they have an interesting consignment coming in. Steed hands him a card and departs with his crate but as soon as he’s gone Waller lurches in, tapping his walking stick.

WALLER: Odd isn’t it? Quite suddenly Mr. Steed, of whom we have never heard before, finds time to visit us once a day.

Cathy returns to the lab and Cliff takes her through the security procedures while Waller is telling Freddy to invite Steed to their next tasting party. The next day, Steed catches Cathy when she returns home7 and gives her the brandy.8 He tells her the lab checked the list and enlarged it, when they saw a full stop had marks on it, they enlarged that, and what does she think was on it?

CATHY: The tiniest wine list in the world?

Steed frowns and says it was part of the plans for a new anti-tank gun, but only a part, so they might be part of a large organisation, each never given enough to double-cross the others. He then says he’s going to a wine-tasting party and suggests she get an early night.9

Marion is unable to turn off the alarm as Cliff insists on working back to finish some designs for Jim to work on in the morning. Apparently aware of her infidelity, he grimly tells her to enjoy herself as she leaves.

Waller holds a wine tasting party and greets Steed effusively when he arrives, and introduces him first to Marion and Allan, then the Wilsons.

WALLER: Millie, I want you to meet Mr. Steed. Mrs. Wilson —
STEED: It’s an honour, madam.
- WALLER: — and her daughter, Julia.
WALLER: Help yourself to anything you fancy, Mr. Steed.
STEED: That’s very generous of you.

While talking to the Wilsons, Steed ‘accidentally’ falls into the barrel with the dark room and they all pretend to be amazed at it. Waller rushes over (no walking stick this time!) and explains photography is one of his hobbies and, grabbing Julia quickly, he says he has a model close at hand — Julia joins in and offers Steed “standard rates”.

Meanwhile Cliff finishes his drafting at Bridlington’s and, coming back to collect his suitcase, interrupts Freddy photographing plans. When Cliff sets off the un-disconnected alarm and blocks his escape, Freddy shoots him in panic.

Waller admonishes Freddy for his failure and says Marion will have to be eliminated while another branch takes over their part in the plot.

Marion is lamenting her husband’s death and is alarmed when Allan insists she not go to the police, they have to get through it together by keeping quiet.
Mrs. Wilson visits Mrs. Howard at the lab, claiming to offer the help of her spiritualist circle but pivoting quickly to threatening her. She orders Marion to attend a spiritualist meeting, but Cathy overhears and phones Steed about it. He tells Cathy to stay close to Marion as she’s the spies’ only hope of getting the plans.

Steed breaks into the cellar again, this time finding Freddy’s body in a barrel.

Act 3

Mrs. Howard attends the séance, and Cathy follows her through the curtain to the side door onto the alley after she’s ushered through it by Mrs. Wilson. Bruno sees Cathy following, and intercepts her, but Cathy overcomes him with judo and knocks him out. Mrs. Howard has been led to the wine cellar, where Waller and Mrs. Wilson threaten to kill Allan unless she helps them again — she is to steal copies of her husband’s work.

Steed goes to the research facility and enlists the help of Jim and asks him if only three of them knew about the alarm system.

STEED: So if Cliff Howard wouldn’t have cut the wires, and I believe that you didn’t —
JIM: How very trusting of you, Mr. Steed.
STEED: It’s quite alright, the police report said you were at a Young Socialists meeting at St. Pancras Town Hall at the time.

Jim is shocked that Marion was involved but admits he did know she had a lover — Allan Paignton. Hearing his last name, Steed tells Jim to get him down to the lab. When Allan arrives he doesn’t want to help as others are involved; Steed tells him it’s too late to protect his brother as he’s already dead.
Meanwhile, Cathy sneaks into the cellars while Mrs. Wilson dismisses the séance attendees, but then realises Bruno is missing.

Allan stops Marion copying the plans and tells them they’ve killed Freddy, so she reveals that Waller is the ring leader — Steed dashes to the wine shop before Allan can talk to him.

When he arrives, Julia takes him at gunpoint, then orders him inside. As she’s an amateur, he disarms her easily and orders her to call the other conspirators into the cellar. Waller appears and Steed tells them to stand together, but Bruno rushes in and attacks Steed from behind.
Steed knocks him down and the gun clatters to the ground. As Steed goes for it, Waller kicks it away then draws a sword from inside his cane and attacks, but Steed grabs a small keg to defend himself.
Mrs. Wilson and Julia are hurriedly collecting documents when Allan arrives to apprehend them. Steed takes down Waller while Cathy takes care of a revived Bruno.

STEED: Now all we need is mummy!
Allan enters b/g with Julia and Mrs. Wilson.
STEED: Ah! Now the family is complete.


Steed and Cathy receive a telegram from Carey saying the testing of the SONAR device in the Pacific has started and they relax by tasting some of Waller’s stock that … wasn’t confiscated.

  1. Not very correct: Steed comments, “Very nice” when he sees Cathy’s slide of a topless African tribeswoman.
  2. i.e. SONAR.
  3. Sound familiar? Too Many Christmas Trees also involves a medium and a colleague of Steed’s called Marshall being killed off-camera at the beginning of the episode.
  4. Cathy is oddly acquiescent about being interrupted and dragged into another case. Normally she gets quite annoyed by Steed.
  5. Steed starts taking the card out of his wallet just before Waller’s line then Macnee glances quickly at the director.
  6. Steed first tastes a Chambertin Grand Cru Pinot Noir, then a Château de Rayne Vigneau Premier Cru Classé Sauternes, which Steed doesn’t like. Then there is a Hock (Reisling, and Steed tells a tale of his father refusing to drink Hock once the “Hartstadt” grape went out).
    The script says “Harteisnsch grape” — Harthuensch or Gouais Blanc, an ancestor of Elbing and Reisling which is widely disparaged as the peasant’s grape and was last popular in Mediæval times; this appears to be a trap set by Steed to test Waller’s wine merchant credentials as it disappeared from general retail at the end of the Nineteenth Century as other grapes became popular.
  7. She tells him he ought to have used her door bell and he replies he’s not appearing on her telly screen again until it’s in colour. Ironic, as the show was in black and white for another season and a half.
  8. She somewhat echoes his previous line and asks if he thinks she has “depraved tastes”.
  9. i.e. break in and be there to assist him.

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