Series 4 - Episode 27 stars
by Malcolm Hulke
Directed by Quentin Lawrence
A bumbling bunch of saboteurs are nabbed red-handed. All the hallmarks of an Ealing Film.
|Emma's Fashions||Steed's Fashions|
|Ford Zephyr 4 MKIII||-|
|Humber Pullman Hearse||OJJ 676|
|Ride-on 1/5 scale train David Curwen 4-4-2 Atlantic 'Blanche of Lancaster'||No. 750|
|Ride-on 1/5 scale train David Curwen 4-4-2 Atlantic 'John of Gaunt' (more info)||No. 751|
|Vauxhall 30/98||XT 2275|
|Dr Marlow V*||Miller V*||? (off screen, under Johnson's orders)|
Continuity and trivia
- I always think of the radar station as being somewhere North but it can't be as Mrs Peel goes from the station to Pringby, then straight to Steed's flat in London without any apparent delay - It's not very clear, givern the camera angle, but the map at the station suggests the installation is in Lincolnshire, but Pringby must be East or South-East of it, given the warning light.
- While filming at The Stapleford Miniature Railway, they actually used two different engines, 'Blanche of Lancaster' (No. 750) and 'John of Gaunt' (No. 751). 751 appears more often on film, but 750 is in most of the promotional stills*.
John of Gaunt is still at the railway, now renamed John H Gretton in honour of the late Third Lord Gretton, but Blanche has been sold to the Trago Mills shopping centre railway in Devon. The Stapleford Miniature Railway is still running today, after a shaky period following the untimely death of the Third Lord Gretton in 1989. Their website has a comprehensive history of the railway and a short section about The Avengers.
* I suspect the green livery 'lit' better than the blue of Blanche, much as Cathy Gale's leather fighting suit was made of green leather so it looked better in black and white footage.
- 2:30 - there's a clear distinction between the grainy stock footage and the studio film.
- 8:44 - a thread is stuck to the bottom centre-right of the camera lens as Steed walks down the path. It reappears (17:10-17:17) in the exterior shot of Steed in the woods.
- 8:50 - the shot of the sign for the hosptial is completely out of focus.
- 9:38-10:08 - a thread is caught at the top right corner of the camera lens in the reverse angle behind Wanda Ventham (see 16:30). It wasn't on the camera at the beginning of the scene, but appears when the vision cuts back after Nurse Spray checks the filing cabinet. These hospital scenes must have been filmed together, much as the exteriors were, as the thread reappears throughout the episode: (16:30-16:57) in the long shot of Emma and Nurse Spray walking down the hallway; (25:15-25:40) when Emma unpacks the flowers and discovers one of the boxes is surprisingly heavy.
- 10:08 - Paul Massie's native Canadian accent appears as he reprimands Marlowe. He slips back into it at 16:57 and 36:40.
- 11:46 - Steed steals a carnation for his buttonhole
- 12:02 - ABC's favourite iron spiral staircase prop makes yet another appearance.
- 12:30 - Steed claims to be from the Foot-platemen's Friendly Association.
- 14:40 - Miller & Son ("Undertake with decorum") is at 22 Carling St, Pringby.
- 15:15 - Steed in splaying with a toy gun that can shoot round corners.
- 32:00-32:10 - scratches on the film
- 39:38 - The Avengers first outré bondage scene, softened later on when Emma is tied to the railway tracks. The scene is more extremely reprised in A Surfeit of H2O. Cathy Gale had been bound and gagged before but never in the suggestive manner used here as Clemens pushes the boundaries of acceptable televison for the Sixties. These days, we wouldn't even blink.
- 41:50 - Sir Horace declares that the Winslips have served in 5 wars, for 4 kings and 2 queens
- 43:59 - Emma tied to the tracks, silent movie style, supreme parody as dramatic silent film music starts as the train approaches her at 46:42.
- 44:10 - sped up footage for Steed running through the woods.
- 44:39 - a delightful piece of comic relief as Steed bends his knees while waiting for the train, acting like a commuter who's been standfing on the platform for a long time.
- 45:05 - more sped up footage as Steed runs after the train at the station
- 45:11 - excellent editing as a stuntman leaps onto the train and then we cut to a closer shot of Macnee in the carriage he just leapt into.
- 45:15-45:25 - Steven Berkoff does his own stunts, leaping on and off the train, but he's replaced by a double at 45:30 as he's thrown from the train by Macnee's stunt double.
- 45:33 - Berkoff's double rolls on the ground, head closes to the bushes, but the cut back to Berkoff has his head away from them.
- 45:40 - black spot on film, left of centre.
- 46:15 - Berkoff isn't one for climbing fences - he struggles to get up, and catches his foot in the wire after he comes down.
- 46:38 - It looks like Cliff Diggins standing in for Berkoff for the leap over the train as he fails to tackle Steed.
- 46:57 et passim - we keep catching glimpses of the camera crew's shadows on the ground on the grass embankment alongside the train.
- 47:05 - Expert editing as Austin raises the laundry basket over the stunt double and we cut to Macnee sliding under him to avoid it.
- 47:48 - More great editing as we get the mid shot of Macnee switch the train to the other train, intercut with the stuntman in the long shot.
- 48:20 - Massie is completely out of focus as he is thrown into the pond.
- 48:29 - the matte in-studio close-up is a bit obvious.
- Running time: 49'46"
- Brian Tesler, Production Controller for ABC Television, asked Julian Wintle to cut the railway sequences by 30 seconds for the transmission print.