• title card: white all caps text reading ‘DRESSED TO KILL’ superimposed on a close-up of Christmas decorations — a bauble and some tinsel
  • Some of the fancy dress guests jostle the conductor — the disguised Newman
  • Steed cheekily tweaks the tail of Pussycat’s costume and she responds with saucily feigned indignation, Preston and the barman are in the background on the right
  • Newman, on the right now out of his beard disguises, confers with the barman after drugging Dorothy
  • Steed tries to pick the lock of the handcuffs which are keeping him and Cathy prisoner
  • Back at Steed’s flat, Cathy and Steed sit back to back and enjoy some champagne from champagne saucers

Series 3 — Episode 14
Dressed To Kill

by Brian Clemens
Designed by David Marshall
Directed by Bill Bain

Production No 3617, VTR/ABC/3194
Production completed: December 6 1963. First transmission: December 28 1963.

TV Times summary

In which Steed is quick on the draw; and Cathy becomes a highwaywoman

Plot summary

Festivities at a New Year’s fancy dress party turn sour when one of the guests starts to kill his companions. All the revellers share an interest in vital land next to early-warning stations and someone seems determined to stop them reaching an important business meeting… Steed and Cathy manage to defeat the shadowy conductor, barman and Napoleon at their own private Waterloo (station)!

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Newman (Leon Eagles) cuts through some barbed wire and creeps towards an early warning station near Westwell. He sets up his short wave radio transmitting a false signal which makes the station’s First Officer (Peter Fontaine) report a raider alert. The nuclear attacks sirens go off, pleasing Newman and the man he phones … every station went to full alert.

NEWMAN: Well, sir… a Merry Christmas to you.
VOICE: And a happier New Year.

Act 1

Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) goes to Steed’s apartment which is a complete mess after a raucous Christmas party.1 John Steed (Patrick Macnee) tells her he missed half the party as World War III nearly started last night, with all early warning radar stations detecting an incoming missile strike; the signal disappeared before retaliation was launched.

Cathy in intrigued about the source of the signals and Steed adds that the Smallwood station didn’t pick up the signal at all. It’s on the Cornish coast and he points her to a map of it, buried under a teddy bear wearing a Christmas hat. Cathy checks the map and asks what the marked neighbouring plot of land is, and Steed casually says it’s a plot he’s taken an option on … where he might do some trout fishing and which just happens to overlook the entire installation.

Cathy is surprised when, rather than pursuing the phantom missile strike, Steed pulls out a cowboy hat, saying he’s been invited to a New Year’s party — on a train!

CATHY: Yesterday we were on the brink of World War Three, is that cause for celebration?
STEED: This party should be fun. It’s being given by a friend of mine called Tony Linklater. He made a fortune out of fertiliser. Hey! Would you like to come?
CATHY: Where is it being held?
STEED: Bambury, Wolverhampton, Wellington, Shrewsbury. Wrexham and Chester. It begins at Paddington!

Steed arrives at Paddington station in costume, tipping his hat back as he gazes up at the cavernous roof.2 He jostles with the other costumed guests and helps push Humpty Dumpty, who is stuck in the door, into the carriage. On the train, the conductor (Newman wearing a false beard) directs him to the club car, away from most of the other guests who are sent to the Pullman coach.

In the bar, Napoleon — Frederick Preston — (Alexander Davion) and Pussy Cat — Jane Wentworth — (Anneke Wills) are being served champagne by the barman (Frank Maher). Steed introduces himself and is quite taken with Jane when she twirls to show off her skimpy cat costume.

PUSSY: I’m a pussy cat!
PUSSY: Ooh! You’ll make me purr. Actually though, I’m really glad you arrived. Well, I thought everyone was going to be really stodgy.

A highwaywoman — Dorothy Wilson — (Anthea Wyndham), Victorian policeman (Richard Leech) and sheriff (John Junkin) join the train, but a hooded monk slips by Newman without surrendering an invitation and hides in the toilet. Looking around, Newman decides the monk has disappeared into the Pullman coach.

The new arrivals mingle, Steed recognising Dorothy as the fashion editor of the Sunday Clarion and is impressed with her authentic costume, all the way down to the real flintlock pistol, which is loaded. The Victorian policeman is suitably stuffy about Jane’s slang, and the sheriff startles Steed by drawing a gun on him — which displays a “Bang!” flag. The sheriff suggests a showdown at noon tomorrow which makes Steed query his choice of time sharply.3 The sheriff points at his badge and says it’s “just the form”, then confides he was a railwayman until he won the Irish Sweep.

A late-arriving Robin Hood — William J. Cavendish — (Leonard Rossiter) joins the train just before departure. He demands to know where his host, Charley Minters is, then tries to follow some scantily clad young women into the Pullman coach, but is firmly directed towards the Club car.

The sheriff is telling Steed and Jane that he’s bought a railway station on the Cornish coast as the train lurches into motion. Cavendish is a boorish self-made man and demands a large drink, telling all assembled that he’s sure Charley has told them about him, confusing the other guests. Misreading their reaction, he sullenly sets in to some heavy drinking.

Newman locks the door through from the Pullman coach as the train speeds through the night. Cavendish tries again, making fun of Steed’s name and his public school background, then tries to impress them with owning a mansion in Cannes and five cars. When this falls flat, and Jane rejects his advances, he goes in search of Charley and the barman follows him out.

Newman won’t let Cavendish go to the other carriages and the barman knocks him out; meanwhile the other special guests are discovering they’ve all been invited by different people.4

Newman stops the barman from entering the toilet and they look out the window as the train slows for the stroke of midnight. The guests in the club car all drink, and dance and sing but then the Sheriff notices they’ve stopped. Looking out the window, Steed announces they’re in Wolverhampton, but the Sheriff thinks it’s too quiet so they go to see.5

They find Cavendish who tells them the conductor clobbered him and Preston leads him to the bar.6 Outside, they find it’s not Wolverhampton but Badger’s Mount, an old disused station, and the rest of the train has gone, leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere.

Act 2

The monk slips out of the carriage onto the empty platform, melting into the darkness before the sheriff wanders past. Steed is trying the candlestick telephone in the ticket office but the line is dead. Going outside, he opens a cupboard and gazes blankly at the monk before closing the door when Preston returns. Steed says he’s found nothing and leads Preston into the waiting room, finding the sheriff entering from another door. Unsure what to do, they all go to talk to the others in the club car, the monk once again ducking out of sight as they come past.

Dorothy has just twigged that three of them have to be in town at twelve tomorrow when they’re interrupted by the return of the others. Steed tells Cavendish the place is deserted and then learns from the sheriff that the nearest town is ten miles away.7

POLICEMAN: Well, it seems we’re marooned and will have to make the best of it.
Pus.St. R.f.g.8
PUSSY: I say! Could be fun!

Cavendish however insists that he has to be in town at 12, and points out that Steed does too, so he ‘volunteers’ the sheriff to fetch help. Dorothy doesn’t want him to go but after a brief discussion he heads off, leaving Steed thinking hard.

Outside, the sheriff is followed by the barman as he sets off into the darkness while inside Steed corners Dorothy. He asks why she didn’t want him to go but she says it was just a feeling she had, it’s no joke. At this, Cavendish points out they ought to have known, the small print on their tickets says “Valid for single journey only”. At that, the lights go out and they move to the waiting room as the car’s batteries have run down, Cavendish grabbing another bottle but leaving his bow and arrows behind.

They find the fire in the waiting room already lit, which suggests someone else is on the station. Trying to find a common link, Preston suggest occupation, but Steed is evasive about his.

STEED: There’s not much to me, I ride, shoot a little, cast a creditable dry fly.
ROBIN: But that’s not work, is it?
STEED: Can be, these weekend house parties, the dogs take all the best chairs, the guests have to sit on the floor playing ma-jong! Excuse me.
ROBIN: A ruddy lounge lizard.
STEED: Gentleman of leisure, please.

They discover they all have to be in town at noon to finalise land deals on the Mill House Estate in Cornwall — next to the radar station at Smallwood. If they’re not there to take up the options at noon, they will become invalid and someone else could move in.

Cavendish goes to fetch more booze from the car, leaving Steed to ask the policeman, who has revealed he works in electronics for the government, if he works at the Smallwood station. Dorothy has just realised the plot will fail if they are only slightly delayed when they hear a noise outside. Entering the ticket office, Steed discovers the sheriff’s body with one of Cavendish’s arrows in his back.

NAPOLEON: But… but who could have done this?
STEED; It wasn’t cupid.

As they check the body, Cavendish returns, saying someone pinched his bow and arrows. Dorothy goes to the club car to take a heart pill and is chloroformed by the barman. Cavendish meanwhile is protesting his innocence, then Steed grimly observes that the arrow answers the question of how they are all to be kept there, shocking Jane. He asks Napoleon to take the others into the waiting room while he looks around.

Alone on the platform, Steed calls to the monk, now revealed to be Cathy. She says she saw two figures outside, one of them the conductor, hiding on the other side of the railway line but says she saw the sheriff leave; they must have brought him back. Steed had thought the sheriff was their man as he was so eager to leave, and advises Cathy to stay this side of the line.

CATHY: Surely you’re not worried about me, Steed?
STEED: No, me! You’re my only ally.
Steed enters the waiting room and notices Dorothy is missing and goes to look for her, which makes Cavendish suspicious of him. In the car, Steed is attacked by the barman, then shot at with the bow by Newman after the barman escapes his retaliation.

When he returns, Cathy is impersonating Dorothy in her highwaywoman costume, and the others have worked out there’s one person too many for the land. Suspicion has fallen on Steed. The policeman produces a map of the Smallwood estate and makes everyone nominate their plot on ballots — Cathy is aghast when it’s revealed that she and Steed wrote the same number, but we never learn what Cavendish or Preston had written.9

The policeman insists that they both be locked up, as a woman could just as easily be behind the plot and they were both absent for long periods of time. Steed stands to object, but stops when the policeman pulls out a small pistol.

STEED: Does that go with the costume?
POLICEMAN: My government work, Mr. Steed. It compels me to carry it at all times. But these do go with the costume.
STEED: Meticulous!

Act 3

A short time later, Steed and Cathy are chained to each other and a bar of the ticket office window; he turns to her with a pained expression.

STEED: What on earth made you pick my plot, number 4?
CATHY: A sea view with trout fishing. Trout fishing, remember? And I pick the one plot of land the trout stream doesn’t run through. So how does it turn out to be yours?
STEED: (CHUCKLES) You might’ve known I’d be poaching.

Steed briefly considers shooting the cuffs with his revolver but as he knows someone who lost a hand trying to shoot off a cuff, he elects to use her hairpin instead. Cathy is stunned when she realises the gun is real but he tells her he couldn’t use it on the policeman because he might be an innocent man who just meant well.

As he works, he tells her they’ve known for some time that someone had been buying land near early warning stations, using Swiss bank accounts and spurious companies, but it wasn’t until the other day that they realised why. If they can send false signals to all stations at will, the radar boys will begin to doubt their equipment.

By daybreak the policeman is beginning to doubt that Steed was responsible, he couldn’t have done it on his own, so goes off to look around. Jane realises whoever organised the trap wouldn’t have made such a simple mistake about the plots which gives Preston the chance to insinuate that a “meticulous mind” — the policeman — is the culprit. They go off to see what he’s up to but Jane frowns and holds back…

Steed and Cathy are still trying to get free and Steed throws away Cathy’s hairpin, as it’s not strong enough to force the handcuff locks. Steed is sure the man behind the plot is at the station, with his friend Tony Linklater being in Argentina, he knew the party was part of the plot all along. They are increasingly aware that they’re sitting ducks if they don’t get free soon. Sure enough, at that moment, Newman is telling the barman to kill everyone as the plan’s been exposed.

Jane creeps over to see Steed and Cathy and he flirts with her, trying to get her to help release them. As he cajoles her, he purloins the brooch on her costume.

STEED: Now, I warn you, the longer I stay here, the more danger you’re in.
PUSSY: I would have thought it completely the opposite.
CU Cathy. Reaction.

Jane suddenly stops the charade and says she won’t help. After she’s gone, Steed gets to work with the brooch pin, freeing them fairly quickly. Cathy surprises Steed when he tells her Dorothy was already laid out cold when she found her. Meanwhile the policeman and Preston find Dorothy unconscious in the compartment — realising Cathy’s an interloper. The policeman sends Preston to get brandy but is knocked out by the barman.

Cathy returns to the waiting room and forces Jane to pick up the paper under the table — it’s blank but Cavendish protests it’s not his, which he still has, and has the number 3 on it. Just as Cathy realises that Preston is the ringleader, Preston and the barman arrive and hold them at gunpoint. Preston coldly tells them they stand in the way of his mission and he can’t have that.

CATHY: Committing the world to an atomic war, you call that a mission?
NAPOLEON: There will be destruction, yes. But there will also be the defeated, and the victors. I intend to be among the latter.10

Preston goes to find Steed and Cathy attacks the barman, hurling him into a speak-your-weight machine11 and eventually knocking him out. Steed guns down Preston in an Old West style duel12, then Cathy shoots Newman who was about to fire an arrow at him from behind. Janes runs over to hug Steed as some mournful Western music plays…13


Back at Steed’s apartment, Steed gets off the phone to his boss14 and tells Cathy all the land — including his plot — is being bought back by the government under compulsory order. They celebrate a belated New Year with 1945 vintage Moët et Chandon champagne, Steed wishing her many more.

CATHY: Steed. Let’s not press our luck. We only just got through this one.

  1. Including possibly the first appearance of his tuba, which was a standard decoration in the Emma Peel era. Here it seems to have a fish in it.
  2. This shot is achieved with a pan across a still photo of the interior of Paddington station, mixed in with a close-up of Steed with stereotypical Western movie music playing in the background as he imitates John Wayne. The music is listed in the script as “IA.222/A. Track 1”.
  3. Our first inkling that something is going on, and Steed is well aware that it will.
  4. Steed was ‘invited’ by Tony Linklater, Cavendish by Charley Minters, the policeman by Sir Arthur Lyndon, Frederick Preston by Major Manvell, the Sheriff by the Irish Sweepstakes people, Dorothy Wilson by her editor; we don’t know who was supposed to have invited Jane — she doesn’t care so long as she has a good time. This episode was remade as The Superlative Seven with some changes but this scene is pretty much identical.
  5. Preston half-heartedly tries to dissuade them.
  6. At this point Jane looks straight at the camera, as though into the bar, and shrugs her shoulders at Dorothy. It’s a masterful piece of acting, understated and sincere.
  7. The nearest town is Padiham and indeed there are old mines and quarries near Padiham, Lancashire, but as that’s twice as far from London as Wolverhampton it seems a coincidental match rather than scripted intention.
  8. This stage direction means Pussy Cat to Steed, right foreground. Camera right rather than stage right, as it’s a camera script.
  9. The policeman had plot 1, Jane had plot 5, and both Steed and Cathy wrote plot 4. We learn later that Cavendish had plot 3 and Preston didn’t write anything on his.
  10. This episode was remade as The Superlative Seven but this speech reappears almost word for word as Masgard’s speech near the end of The Living Dead. All three episodes were written by Brian Clemens.
  11. In an Emma Peel era burst of levity, the machine announces “You are six stone two and have a strenuous day ahead”, then “You are eighteen stone and [unintelligible]”.
  12. Preston shoot first, using the policeman’s pistol, but must have missed as Steed wins the duel.
  13. The script notes the music as “T.2.Q11 or Night Camp IA.222A.”
  14. We assume — he apologises for not having filed a report yet and makes a joke about taking a long time to get back to Waterloo (in reference to Napoleon).

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