Series 3 — Episode 16
The Medicine Men
by Malcolm Hulke
Designed by David Marshall
Directed by Kim Mills
Imitation pharmaceutical products are causing Willis Sopwith to lose money, but Cathy is unprepared for murder at the company. A new packaging design is prepared in secret, but the details have been leaked to a group that plan to poison future products and destablise a foreign country. Steed, however, changes the Arabic cording into a poison warning and the cartons are useless.
A pretty young Asian woman, Tu Hsiu Yung (Lucille Soong), takes a steam cabinet treatment at a turkish bath house, the masseuse first wipes her brow with a towel, then folds it thickly and smothers her with it.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) knows she was distributing imitations of Willis Sopwith cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, so Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) visits the baths, while he talks to Geoffrey Willis (Peter Barkworth). While discussing the plans to stop the imitations, Willis’ father, John Willis (Newton Blick) comes in. They show Steed the new packaging for the overseas market - a hope to forestall the imitators.
Artist Frank Leeson (Harold Innocent) is visited by a printer, Taylor (John Crocker). Leeson shows him a photograph of the new packaging and tells him they want an exact copy this time, and damn the copyright laws. Leeson’s model, Fay (Monica Stevenson) leaves for the turkish baths - she’s been rolling in paint for an action piece Leeson’s working on. Cathy meanwhile is asking the masseuse (Brenda Cowling) about Miss Tu and is told her pores literally oozed paint, all over her body; Cathy then sees Fay enter the shower, with paint all over her back.
Steed and Willis are told by Edwards (Peter Hughes) that he’s found a printer’s mark on an imitation carton and plans to investigate it. Steed leaves and Willis promptly takes the carton off Edwards. Outside, Steed tells Miss Dowell (Joy Wood) he’s forgotten his gloves, and steals a blank invoice while she’s busy. Leeson meanwhile has a call about the printer’s mark, and comments that murder is rather drastic.
Cathy visits Willis on the pretext of being a buyer, but then purports to represent the Business Efficiency Bureau (well, almost...) pointing at a 23% redundancy in typing on the invoice form - a trick Willis’ grandfather had used to break into the cosmetics business. She’s given free reign of the building, and is shown to the stationery cupboard by Miss Dowell. While selecting some forms, she finds Edwards’ body hanging from the ceiling.
Cathy meets Fay in John Willis’ office and is shown a Leeson painting of her daubs. Steed meanwhile has been to the Printers’ Association, and breaks into Taylor’s print shop, finding the completed proof of a Willis Sopwith Stomach Powders box. Cathy gives him the name and address of Leeson and he sets off, telling her to get an Arabic speaker round to the flat that night. He breaks into Leeson’s studio, but Lesson returns there with Taylor and Fay. Steed overhears that the fake stomach powders will be used to destabilise a tiny oil-rich country called Karim - the populous is pro-British, but a neighbouring country wants the oil and plans to turn the people against the pro-British government by substituting the powder, and other British goods, with poison.
Steed arrives at Willis Sopwith as Miss Dowell is eavesdropping on Fay, who is telling John about the poison plot. She shows him in to Geoffrey then rushes to Leeson’s studio, telling him to find a new girlfriend for John Willis as he’ll need one soon. Steed and Cathy break in to Taylor’s, pinching the petty cash to allay suspicion, and replace the printing block for the forgery. They’re attacked by two thugs while they’re there, Cathy suffering a black eye in the fight, and they find Fay bound and gagged after dispatching them.
Steed visits Leeson, posing as an Icelandic art dealer, and offers him Cathy as a new model. He visits John Willis while she goes to Leeson, but Miss Dowell again overhears and, arriving at Leeson’s, holds her at gunpoint. Steed investigates Miss Dowell’s bugs, and is held at gunpoint by Geoffrey, but Steed shoots him first. Taylor arrives at Leeson’s and Miss Dowell notices the Arabic wording has been altered to a poison warning, but 20,000 false cartons have already been shipped out. Miss Dowell plans to double cross Willis and kill him, framing Cathy for the murder. Steed arrives instead, and Miss Dowell shoots Taylor when Steed ducks behind him. Steed shoots her in return and the gang is rounded up.
Fay leaves for a new modelling career in Paris, giving Steed a kiss goodbye; he and Cathy then head off for a round of golf - Steed is proud of his handicap of 24, until he learns that Cathy’s is 12, but she has the additional handicap of a patch over her black eye, so they’re on par.