Series 3 — Episode 23
The Outside-In Man
by Philip Chambers
Designed by David Marshall
Directed by Jonathan Alwyn
When Mark Charter is released from custody in Abarain, Steed is concerned that he will seek revenge and kill Sharp, the traitor he was ordered to kill five years earlier. Sharp is returning to Britain under diplomatic immunity and Mrs Gale is assigned to protect him. Charter’s release is no coincidence; the Abarain Government wants Sharp dead as he has become a hindrance. Charter reveals he was secretly working for Steed and never intended to kill Sharp anyway, they just wanted to ensure a trade deal.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) visits an East End butchery run by Bob (Paul Blomley) and is taken into the cold room, which conceals PANSAC (the Permanent Agency for National Security And Counter-intelligence) - where Quilpie (Ronald Radd) assigns him to protect Sharp, a defector to Aburain who’s returning to Britain under diplomatic immunity.
Steed enlists Catherine Gale (Honor Blackman) on the case and reflects on the irony of protecting a traitor they tried to kill several years ago - losing several agents in the process. One of the missing agents, Mark Charter (James Maxwell) arrives at PANSAC surprising Alice Brisket (Virginia Stride) - and everyone else! Charter says he was released last night by Aburain after five years detention, his fellow detainee dying of pneumonia in the meantime, but their mission to kill Sharp was never discovered. Charter knows Sharp is due to arrive, but just wants his back pay! Charter goes to his club and resumes his preferred seat, infuriating Edwards (Anthony Dawes) who had been using it for the last five years. The club butler, Jenkins (Ronald Mansell) takes Mark’s side. Steed arrives, asking him if he’s been brainwashed - the coincidence of arrivals is strong, and Aburain claims Charter overpowered his guards and escaped. Cathy checks the embassy arrangements with Major Zulficar (Basil Hoskins) and the ambassador (William Devlin). Charter precipitately buys a sports car (carefully chosen by Steed to be easy to trace) and leaves town; he gives Quilpie a report on his mission. Upon reading the report, they discover that Charter plans to carry out the orders given him in ’59...
Charter visits Helen Rayner (Beryl Baxter), widow of his fellow detainee and still bitter about the failed mission, and obtains a list of his war comrades. He then visits ex-colleague Michael Lynden (Arthur Lovegrove) who runs a garage, wanting his car resprayed - and new plates! - Lynden’s not very happy to see him, but accepts the money and does the job. Steed takes Cathy to PANSAC, where Quilpie asks Cathy to trail Charter, and inform the Aburainian embassy of his disappearance. At the embassy the officials are unconcerned, but the Major has Cathy followed. Cathy goes to Lynden’s garage, looking for the blue Vogel Prentice but Lynden claims he can’t remember Charter at all but not before she spots a wet spray gun. She then visits Mrs Rayner, who refuses to help and hopes Charter kills Sharp. Cathy tries to contact Steed, but he’s reading Tintin and doesn’t answer the phone.
Mrs Gale concludes that Charter is hiding at Mrs Rayner’s cottage in Sussex and sets off, but so do some Aburainian soldiers (Valentino Musetti and Eddie Powell). Charter meanwhile has been warned to expect Cathy - Steed is playing a double game. Cathy talks to Charter, and helps him ambush the soldiers when they turn up. One is shot, and Charter turns the gun on Cathy, taking her to London with him. At the embassy, they’re dismayed that Charter escaped, but only because he might not make it to the airport in time... General Sharp (Philip Anthony) arrives at the embassy with Steed and reprimands the staff for not telling him about Charter. The Major discovers Charter hiding in the boot of a car in the garage - and welcomes him! Bob, delivering supplies for the reception, see him and tell Quilpie. The ambassador asks Charter to be the fall guy for the assassination of Sharp and they’ll set him up for life in return - the Major will be the actual killer. Sure enough, Charter enters the reception that evening but dismays the ambassador by refusing to shoot, saying nothing was further from his mind; Cathy meanwhile comes between the Major and Sharp, preventing him using his silenced pistol.
Back at Steed’s flat, they reveal that Charter and Steed had planned the whole thing, with Cathy as a decoy, knowing that Sharp was out of favour, but they weren’t going to give them an opportunity to back out of the arms deal.