• title card: white all caps text reading ‘CASTLE De’Ath’ outlined in black and superimposed on the head of an iron maiden
  • Mrs. Peel blows into a tiny set of bagpipes, behind her an ornate tapestry hangs on the wall
  • After dinner, Angus leads Mrs. Peel and Steed down an armour and weaponry decorated corridor to see where Black Jamie was walled in. Angus on the left and Steed on the right are in formal Scottish attire with furred sporrans and tight black jackets; Mrs. Peel wears a blue lamé suit without a blouse
  • Steed sits on the stone floor, his back against the wall he is manacled to; a gillie points a rifle at him
  • Vision on the controller’s monitor of two-man minisubs leaving the pen
  • Mrs. Peel strokes a cannon suggestively as she waits to ambush the villains
  • Steed, sword and targe in hand, turns to face Angus as Roberton appears in the door behind him and takes aim with his revolver
  • Steed and Emma drive into the loch in their Amphicar

Series 4 — Episode 5
Castle De’Ath

by John Lucarotti
Directed by James Hill

Production No E.64.10.15
Production completed: August 20 1965. First transmission: October 26 1965.


Production dates: 2-20/08/1965

After the last two episode (in broadcast order) being studio-bound, this episode saw the return of location filming although it appears only the second unit went to Kent for the filming at Allington Castle. The tag scene filmed at Ruislip Lido also only featured stand-ins, with the close-ups of Macnee and Rigg filmed against a projection screen and added during editing.

Brian Tesler approved the shooting script on or about July 20, 1965 and James Hill, making his first Avengers episode, started filming on August 2nd. Filming wrapped on August 20th. After the completion of filming the crew had a welcome two week break before restarting production in September.

Regional broadcasts

Rediffusion London28/10/19658:00pm
ABC Midlands30/10/196510:05pm
ABC North30/10/196510:05pm
Anglia Television28/10/19658:00pm
Border Television31/10/19659:35pm
Channel Television30/10/19658:25pm
Grampian Television30/10/19658:25pm
Southern Television28/10/19658:00pm
Scottish Television26/10/19658:00pm
Tyne Tees Television30/10/196510:05pm
Ulster Television29/10/19658:00pm
Westward Television30/10/19658:25pm
Television Wales & West30/10/19658:25pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for October 30 1965, 10.05pm (Midlands edition)
Sydney Morning Herald listing for May 17 1966, 8pm
The Age listing for May 24 1966, 7.30pm

10.5 The Avengers
Patrick Macnee
as John Steed
and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Castle De’Ath
By John Lucarotti

In which Steed becomes a strapping Jock — and Emma lays a ghost …

Cast also includes

Ian Gordon Jackson
Angus Robert Urquhart
McNab Jack Lambert
Roberton James Copeland
Controller Russell Waters

Diana Rigg’s wardrobe designed by John Bates

Music by Laurie Johnson
Directed by James Hill
Produced by Julian Wintle

ABC Weekend Network Production

International broadcasts

ABN2 Sydney, Australia17/05/19668:00pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia24/05/19667:30pm
ABC New York, USA2/05/196610:00pm
ORTF2 France3/7/91 FR3
Suisse Romande, Switzerland
French titleLe fantôme du château De’Ath
ZDF Germany10/01/19679:15pm
German titleDas schottische Schloß
KRO Netherlands (N2)16/08/19679:20pm
Dutch titleHet geheimzinnige kasteel (N2)
Italy30/10/80 C51
Italian titleL’ultimo dei De’Ath
Spanish titleEl castillo de la muerte

Italy did not show this episode in the 1960s, the Italian titles are from the Tele Torino International broadcast in the 1980s, and DVD releases. Contemporary broadcasts in France and Switzerland also did not include this episode.

USA: New York Times listing for May 2 1966, 10pm
Germany: Hamburg Abendblatt listing for January 10 1967, 9.15pm
Netherlands: Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant listing for August 16 1967, 9.20pm timeslot on Nederland II
Spain: ABC Madrid listing for July 23 1967, 4.10pm

Episode Rating

Subject 0–5
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
4½ stars
Sets/Props 4 stars
7½ stars

The Avengers hare off to Scotland (well, Kent isn’t it?) and return with a well-balanced and pithy piece, which doesn’t quite set the world on fire.

The Fashions

Emma’s Fashions Steed’s Fashions
  1. tartan tight-fitting sleeveless blouse, zipped up back, the tartan diagonal, with matching pants (tartan horizontal) and black and white boots, initially worn with a light-coloured pleated-pocket collarless long-sleeved cardigan (faux military style with epaulettes and dark metal buttons)
  2. silver/blue metallic crop top with matching hipster pants and unbuttoned jacket, the jacket fastened with two pins at the breast and just below the collar, black bra, no blouse
  3. white lace nightshirt (short sleeved, waist length) and white knickers, later with a sheer lace ankle-length nightdress over it (bow with long ribbons at low v-neck, which is ruffled, long sleeves with ruffled cuffs)
  4. (1) without the cardigan
  5. (1)
  6. stretch jersey catsuit with vinyl triangular patches front and back, buttoned down the front, with Edward Rayne’s black and white boots
  7. (4)
  1. pale tartan kilt with light v-neck jumper over dark polo shirt, pale khaki knee-high woollen socks with chevroned tab, brogues, dark leather sporran
  2. dress tartan — same kilt, but with feathered sporran slung below it, large buckle on belt, black jacket with pyramidal silver buttons (one on each epaulette, three on each cuff, three visible below ruff of shirt, three on each side of front hemline), ruffled shirt (at neck/chest and cuffs), argyle socks (knee high), patent leather brogues
  3. (1)
  4. diving gear (dark swimming briefs, flippers and mask, aqualung)
  5. (1)
  6. Grey single breasted three-piece suit, two vents, flap pockets, lapels on the waistcoat. Worn with a dark tie and bowler, and white shirt

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
one-man minisubs -
Amphicar ELK 981C

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Diver unknown V* stretched on rack
Controller? V* Steed (sort of...) killed by exploding controls
Ian Angus V* dirk thrown into back
Roberton V* Emma crossbow bolt
McNab V* Emma thrown over railing
Angus V* himself V* trapped in Iron Maiden
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. Is it just me or does the plot make no sense? I know we’re supposed to think Ian is behind it all, but why would Angus invite people to the castle if he wanted to keep things secret? Simply to throw suspicion onto his brother for the diver’s death? It doesn’t make any sense at all. Also, why doesn’t Ian recall there hadn’t been any ghost until quite recently, to cover up the noise made by Angus’ minions under the castle?
  2. 1:13 — Castle De’Ath is in fact Allington Castle in Kent, a frequently-used location in British television.
  3. 1:25 onwards — the passage of the ghost is done using a hand-held camera, which gives the scene a very modern feeling.
  4. 1:28 and throughout — The interior set, including the upstairs hallway, stairs and great hall, was also used as part of Brandon Storey’s house in Too Many Christmas Trees.
  5. 3:05 — The iron maiden in the cellar reappears a year or so later, it’s in the museum in Little Storping in Murdersville.
  6. 3:49 etc. — Throughout the episode it’s rather obvious when a double is standing in for Diana Rigg for the long shots and action sequences, her hair is lighter and shaggier, and she’s less lithe. She may be the “Emma clone” from The Hour that Never Was.
  7. 4:40 — ABORCASHAATA is Mrs. Peel’s cover in the episode, the acronym standing for the Advisory Bureau on Refurbishing Castles and Stately Homes as a Tourist Attraction. Steed has the unlikely cover of “Jock McSteed”, a historian researching the wayward 13th Laird, Black Jamie.
  8. 6:245 — You can see the boom microphone wobbling about at the top of the screen as Angus shows Emma the banqueting table.
  9. 8:50 — Ian puts Emma up in the Flora Macdonald Room, named after the woman who helped Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnnie Prince Charlie) escape the English.
  10. 9:41 — If you look carefully you can just see the string pulling Steed’s paper boat.
  11. 10:20 — it’s the same basement set as used in The Girl From Auntie but dressed with woodwork over the metal banisters.
  12. 12:56 — It’s clearly stunt feet, given the camerawork, as Steed does the sword dance. It may possibly be a return performance from George Macrae who was in Esprit de Corps.
  13. 14:52 — So much for proud Clan history: Angus gets the date of Wallace’s execution wrong; he says William Wallace and Ewan De’Ath, the Fifth Laird, were executed by the English in 1304, but Wallace died in 1305. He then adds that the Sixth Laird, Charles, was with Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn (1314). Ian then says there was a De’Ath at the Battle of Pinkie (1547), at Flodden Field (1513), and at Alamein (1942).
  14. 15:07 — if Steed’s brandy is vibrating like that during dinner, why isn’t everyone else’s?
  15. 16:38 etc. — the dining hall set is also used in Too Many Christmas Trees.
  16. 18:30 — Roberton moves Steed to the Lord Darnley Room, named after Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley, the second husband of Mary Queen of Scots, who was probably murdered on her orders. The name is a hint at an impending doom.
  17. 26:50 — the ‘morning air’ music, based on Pastorale which we hear during external shots of the castle is reused in Murdersville.
  18. 27:58 — Bonnie Prince Charlie asked the twenty-fifth Earl to help him — presumably in 1745.
  19. 34:00 — can you really knock someone out by covering the vent of their diving mask and turning off the air? Steed did the same thing to the guard in Room Without a View.
  20. 35:30/36:46 — the minisubmarine footage is taken from The Silent Enemy (1958) and depicts manned torpedoes ridden by Italian frogmen, sailing out of the underwater door of the Italian ship Olterra in the neutral Spansih harbour of Algericas to attack Allied ships in Gibraltar harbour. They used British Chariot manned torpedoes for the Italian vessels in the film which starred Laurence Harvey, who appears as Sir Clive in The Master Minds.
  21. 47:50 — obvious stunt doubles for both Mrs. Peel and McNab. It’s a stuntwoman I don’t recognise and Billy Cornelius.
  22. 48:37 — the ‘stone wall’ moves when Mrs. Peel falls back against it.
  23. 49:02 — even more obvious stunt doubles for Angus and Steed during the sword fight. Ray Austin and Arthur Howell stand in for Robert Urquhart, Macnee’s stand-in is Mike Stevens.
  24. Running time: 52′05″
A note on the timecodes
Where I have listed two sets of timecodes, the first is from the 2009–11 Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD sets, any other timecodes are from the A&E and Contender DVD sets from a decade beforehand.
The new releases have been remastered and their frame rate has been changed, resulting in a shorter running time. However, the picture quality has increased markedly. I assume this is because they used a simple 2:2 pulldown (24 @ 25) when converting from the original film masters (film runs at 24 frames per second, while PAL runs at 25fps, the new DVDs are in PAL format).
This pulldown was also the cause of audio errors on many episodes, especially for Series 5, as the audio sped up to match the new rate (4% faster), rather than being properly pitch-shifted. Checking the dialogue sheets, which list the feet and frames of the reels, it looks like the speed change is around 5.04%, so there may be some cuts as well - probably from around the commercial breaks and ends of reels, as they amount to about 25 seconds. All my assumptions are based on the episodes having been filmed on standard 35mm film, which has 16 frames per foot and runs at 24 frames per second, so a minute of footage uses 90 feet of film (1,440 frames).
These audio errors have been corrected in the currently available DVDs, but the 2:2 pulldown remains. There is also the addition of a Studio Canal lead-in, converted to black and white to match the episode for Series Four, but colour for Series Five, adding an extra 18 or 19 seconds to the runnning time and making it harder to match timecodes with previous releases. It’s annoying that it has been slapped on every single episode, Series 1–3 didn’t suffer this indignity.
The previous Contender and A&E DVD releases didn’t seem to suffer from these problems, so I assume they either used soft telecine and preserved the original 24fps rate of the film (my preferred option in DVDs) or they used 24 @ 25 pulldown (2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:3 Euro pull-down).
Thankfully, the new blu ray releases for series 4–6 appear to use native 24fps with soft telecine so the running times and pitch all seem to be correct again along with a much grreatly improved picture quality, most notably in the Tara King episodes which are finally back to their original glory.

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