• title card: white all caps text reading 'DIAL A DEADLY NUMBER' outlined in black and superimposed on a closeup of a large, black, old-fashioned rotary dial telephone with a printed card insert behind the dial to remind the user of the letters associated with the numbers
  • Steed tips the waiter, dressed as the Mad Hatter, for pointing out Jago
  • An overhead view of the Boardman's coffee table, showing that it's designed to look like an old coin. Steed, Mrs Boardman, Mr Boardman, Mrs Peel, and Harvey sit around it
  • Steed is attacked in the basement carpark by two men on motorbikes who atempt to run him down
  • The wine duel begins in the cellar: Harvey faces us holding a tray with two glasses of red wine, he smiles at Boardman to his right. Boardman and Steed are both in profile, facing each other, Boardman on the left
  • Looking over the shoulder of Fitch, who points his silenced pistol at Emma as he undoes her zip and touches her soft white skin
  • Steed crouches behind a wine rack as he hunts down Harvey in the cellar
  • Steed and Emma, seated in the back of a cab, sample one of the bottles they liberated from Boardman's cellar

Series 4 - Episode 10
Dial a Deadly Number

6½ stars

by Roger Marshall
Directed by Don Leaver

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
1½ stars
Intros/tags 3 stars
Villains 4 stars
4½ stars
3½ stars
Sets/Props 3 stars
6½ stars

Is it just me? Financial storylines just don't grab me, so this episode slips down the list.

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. light jacket with pink furred hem and button line - no buttons visible, the jacket is two overlapping semicircles, with large fur handbag and pale calf-length skirt, the hem below the knee being in dark silk, pale court shoes
  2. cotton hooded coat with drawstring with long-sleeved blouse
  3. pale embroidered knee-length dress, embroidery in flower pattern covers the breast, belly, shoulders and cuffs of long sleeves
  4. (3) with mink jacket (closed down back, belted at waist) and small handbag
  5. dark dress with lace on shoulders and cuffs - triangles of interlocking leaves
  6. (1) with chamois gloves
  7. zip-up leather catsuit with buckles, with knee-high boots
  8. black high-collared, long-sleeved dress? with black gloves
  1. navy three-piece suit with white shirt, dark silk tie with diamond pin
  2. grey three-piece suit - 2 vents, flap covered pockets, cloth buttons - with white shirt with blue stripes (collar striped), light silk tie
  3. (2) with brown overcoat, tan bowler and black umbrella
  4. evening suit with black bow tie, plain formal (city) shirt, initially with black overcoat, the waistcoat has metal buttons
  5. (4) with overcoat and gloves
  6. (2) with dark tie and pale green shirt
  7. (1), briefly without the jacket, then briefly with a bowler
  8. Navy chalk stripe three-piece single breasted suit, single vent, slit pockets. Matching waistcoat, white shirt, navy tie with pin, then with a pale horizontally striped navy tie.
  9. Prince of Wales check jacket, dark waistcoat with metal buttons, dark silk tie (plain) and white shirt, tan bowler
  10. brown serge suit, white shirt, dark patterned tie

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Mercedes Benz 300 saloon -
Bentley 3 litre UW 4887?
Austin Mini -
Jaguar S-Type -
Volvo 122 S Saloon -
Austin Mini 24 BLX?
Triumph motorbike -
Triumph motorbike 452 VMF
Ford Zodiac 1956-62 -
Ford Zodiac 1956-62 5418 MW
Austin A35 M15 63?
Austin taxi SGY 477
Ford Thames 1956 E83W van YMV 445
Bedford CALV van IPS 523
Austin taxi PKL 767

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Todhunter Fitch V* needle through heart
Myers? Steed and himself V* motorcycle crash (caused by gunshot?)
Frederick Yuill V* Fitch V* needle through heart
Fitch V* himself and Steed bicycle pump gun (in fight)
Henry Boardman? Ben Jago V* shot
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:09 - The clocks above the bar read: Frankfurt irregular 2:10, Zurich further losses 2:10, New York firm 8:10, Melbourne further rises, 10:20, Tokyo sharp losses 10:23.
    The times in Melbourne & Tokyo are wrong by 10 and 13 minutes respectively.
  2. 3:23 - the 'phone number of the bar is Leadenhall 7141. The same 'phone turns up again in Two's a Crowd, did the Russians steal it?
  3. 3:50 - Steed tells Emma the dent in the pocket watch he's been bequeathed saved his uncle's life in the Great War. "German bullet?" she queries, and he replies, "Canadian mule!"
  4. 4:00 - we go straight from the board room to Steed's kitchen for no apparent reason.
  5. 12:16 - the Bank on England facade outside Yuill's window is a bit too obviously a blow-up.
  6. 14:58 (15:14) - When Steed first meets Ben Jago he tells him they have the same broker; Jago replies, "Charlie Bingham?" as a test. Steed looks taken aback and replies "Yuill, Brian Yuill" (but the character is called Frederick Yuill, as Boardman says at 7:35), and Jago merely says, "One can't be too careful."
  7. 15:30 - Separated by a common language - When Steed queries the lack of ice in his drink, the waiter explains it's a house rule. A Wall Street broker once asked for "bourbon on the rocks" and two brokers fell dead on the spot. ("On the rocks" of course being City slang for bankrupt).
  8. 20:27 - Steed questions Emma's lack of tan and is told it's the rainy season in Barbados; Harvey chips in that half the annual rainfall of 36" falls between September and November, putting this episode in October or November - it was filmed in January and screened the following December.
  9. 22:09 (22:45) - Steed contradicts the above when he notes that next Tuesday - the day of the wine-tasting - is the anniversary of the relief of Ladysmith in 1900 (which occured on 28 February, and was a Tuesday only in 1961 and 1967). If, on the other hand, the date was the start of the seige of Ladysmith, then it's 2 November 1965, which works perfectly.
  10. 24:25 (25:10) - Yuill causes more problems later on when he swallows while Emma examines his corpse.
  11. 26:57 - Steed approaches Emma at the wine tasting, smiles and says, "Agreeable, well-rounded, a little on the flinty side". She smirks and he produces a glass of Pouilly Blanc Fumé which she tastes (and spits everywhere in what seems to become a theme for the episode). She then replies, "Venerable, devious, a little ambivalent" - and reveals she's talking about Boardman's. (A similar exchange happens in The Murder Market).
  12. 27:06 - Emma & Steed 27:39 (28:27) - Later, at the wine tasting, when Steed chooses a wine for the duel, he tastes a glass of the Latour '59 but spits most of it onto his jacket.
  13. 28:40 (29:33) - Steed's tasting notes:
    It's either a '65 Algerian red or a Premier Cru...
    Chateau Lafitte-Rothschild.
    [BOARDMAN: What year?]
    No nose; it's old, very old. Pre 14-18 War?
    [HARVEY: Correct.]
    It's an outstanding vintage, definitely pre 1914 but no earlier than 1880.
    [BOARDMAN: You still have 34 years to play with. Well?]
    190- 8 [Harvey smiles] - would not be the year. 1909!
    [Boardman looks surprised]
    From the northern end of the vineyard.
    [Boardman's is so surprised his monocle falls from his eye]
  14. 30:08 (31:10) - When Fitch examines the frame showing Steed's watch, you can see the spools are still turning on the projector when they should be still. Furthermore, why does he examine the still at all, when he already has a blow-up of the frame?
  15. 40:07 - Fitch claims to have invented the bicycle-pump gun.
  16. 48:10 (49:50) - Mrs Peel emulates Steed's wine identification in the cab - but she's read the label:
    A claret with unusual body, - the Bordeaux distict.
    Mmmmm... the little village of St. Perignon which would make it the de Villé vineyard.
    A Mérignac Sainte-Claire!
    Nineteen-thirty... would not be the year - 1931!
    Fantastic, Mrs Peel! Nose or palate? Uh uh, eyes, I read the label.
  17. Running time: 49'45"
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.

Support this site via Paypal Join us on Facebook Become a Patron!