• title card: white all caps text reading ‘MAN-EATER OF SURREY GREEN’ outlined in black and superimposed on a close-up of Carter, focusing on his hearing aid
  • Steed and Emma unclover the skeleton in the space capsule
  • Wing Commader Davies, Steed and Emma examine the dead alient plant
  • Mrs. Peel says ‘Cheers’ as she raises a pint
  • Lennox comes out of the woods and takes aim at Pearson with his shotgun, we can just see Pearson’s left shoulder on the right of the screen
  • A close up of cells from the plant through Dr. Sheldon’s microscope
  • Mrs. Peel, possessed by the alien plant, fights Steed in the greenhouse
  • Mrs. Peel sits atop the hay cart wearing Steed’s bowler hat with a dandelion in the band

Series 4 — Episode 11
Man-eater of Surrey Green

by Philip Levene
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Production No E.64.10.12
Production completed: June 11 1965. First transmission: December 7 1965.

Production

Production dates: 31/05 – 11/06/1965

Philip Levene’s script was delivered on May 10th 1965 to Brian Tesler at ABC, who approved it with no amendments. Three weeks later, filming started with Sidney Hayers directing and the crew made full use of the glorious early Summer of 1965 with extensive location filming around the British Rail Study Centre in Hertfordshire and in Borehamwood.

Stunt doubles were required for John G. Heller, Diana Rigg, and Patrick Macnee. They were George Fisher, Billy Westley Jr, and Cliff Diggins respectively. Diana Rigg and Derek Farr did the stunt where Mrs. Peel leaps at Petersen, and it really was Athene Seyler being dragged away by the plant tendril.

Filming was completed without any major issues and the episode completed on June 11th.

Brian Tesler, however, was displeased with the end result and thought the science fiction element had gone too far. Levene’s pastiche of Day of the Triffids, Village of the Damned, and Quatermass, he thought, was a step too far. He grudging approved the episode but ordered Julian Wintle to move it down the broadcast order. It was show six months after it was filmed, but that was little different to most of the episodes from the frist shooting block of Series 4 so it appears Wintle ignored Tesler’s request.

Regional broadcasts

BroadcasterDateTime
Rediffusion London10/12/19658:00pm
ABC Midlands11/12/19659:05pm
ABC North11/12/19659:05pm
Anglia Television9/12/19658:00pm
Border Television12/12/19659:35pm
Channel Television11/12/19659:05pm
Grampian Television10/12/19658:00pm
Southern Television11/12/19659:05pm
Scottish Television7/12/19658:00pm
Tyne Tees Television11/12/19659:05pm
Ulster Television10/12/19658:00pm
Westward Television11/12/19659:05pm
Television Wales & West11/12/19659:05pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for December 11 1965, 9.05pm (Midlands edition)
The Age listing for May 3 1966, 7.30pm
Sydney Morning Herald listing for May 10 1966, 8pm

9.5 The Avengers
starring
Patrick Macnee
as John Steed
and Diana Rigg as Emma Peel
Man-eater of Surrey Green
By Philip Levene

In which Steed kills a climber — and Emma becomes a vegetable …

Cast also includes

Sir Lyle Peterson Derek Farr
Doctor Sheldon Athene Seyler
Laura Burford Gillian Lewis
William Job Alan Carter
Professor Taylor Edwin Finn
Professor Knight Harry Shacklock
Dr. Connelly Ross Hutchinson
Lennox John G. Heller
W/Cmdr. Davies David Hutcheson
Publican Joe Ritchie
Bob Pearson Donald Oliver
Joe Mercer Joby Blanchard

Music by Laurie Johnson
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Produced by Julian Wintle

ABC Weekend Network Production

International broadcasts

BroadcasterDateTime
ABN2 Sydney, Australia10/05/19668:00pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia3/05/19667:30pm
ABC New York, USA25/08/196610:00pm
ORTF2 France12/7/91 FR3
Suisse Romande, Switzerland
French titleLa mangeuse d’hommes du Surrey
ZDF Germany
German titleMörderischer Löwenzahn
KRO Netherlands25/01/19699:00pm
Dutch titleEen mensetende plant / De mensetende plant
Italy
Italian title
Spain5/06/19674:10pm
Spanish titleLos antropófagos de Surrey Green / El canibal de Surrey Green

Italy appears to have never broadcast this episode. Science fiction seems to have been unpopular and contemporary French, Swiss, and German broadcasts also did not include it.

In Spain, it was originally scheduled for 14th March 1967 but pre-empted by The Cybernauts.

USA: New York Times listing for August 25 1966, 10pm
Netherlands: Nieuwe Leidsche Courant listing for January 25 1969, 9pm
Spain: El Noticiero listing for June 5 1967, 4.10pm
Spain: ABC Madrid listing for June 5 1967, 4.10pm
Spain: ABC Madrid listing for March 14 1967, showing Man-eater of Surrey Green which was pre-empted by The Cybernauts

Episode Rating

Subject 0–5
Direction
3½ stars
Music
3½ stars
Humour
3½ stars
Intros/tags 3 stars
Villains 2 stars
Plot 4 stars
Emma 3 stars
Sets/Props
2½ stars
Overall
(0–10)
6½ stars

More science fiction, but it doesn’t gel as well as other forays into the genre. A great bit of ad libbing by the principals and a decent script, but not great. Remind you of Doctor Who as well? The story was treated better there.

The Fashions

Emma’s Fashions Steed’s Fashions
  1. vertically ribbed white t-shirt with corduroy jacket with patch pockets, brown knee length skirt, light shoes later with black driving gloves
  2. (1) without the jacket, with a leopard print lace scarf
  3. (1) with black tom o’shanter and brown driving gloves
  4. (3) without the hat
  5. (4) with a b/w plaid collared blouse and brown handbag
  6. one piece leather overall, open fronted, zipped up back, with black high-neck long-sleeved shirt and black knee-high leather boots
  7. (6) with leather jacket, two short vents
  8. (6)
  9. white rollneck skivvy, briefly with Steed’s bowler with a daisy in the band
  1. black pullover and dark trousers
  2. brown three-piece suit (cloth button at waist and cuffs, six on waistcoat, two vents, sueded collar) with white shirt, dark tie with circle/coin motif, brown bowler, initially with a tan overcoat, the collar turned up and without the bowler
  3. brown hunting jacket (three buttons, double vent) with white rollneck shirt, tan trousers and brown chelsea boots
  4. (3) with brown stovepipe hat and b/w plaid cravat, black umbrella
  5. unbelievably ugly fur-fronted brown casual jacket with dark rollneck skivvy
  6. Prince of Wales check jacket with dark tie, light shirt, black waistcoat with metal buttons, with dark bowler and brown overcoat (dark collar), black umbrella, chelsea boots, white socks
  7. (6) without the bowler, then without the overcoat
  8. (2)

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith LWB, with ‘Teviot’ Touring Saloon coachwork by Hooper & Co Ltd KXQ 777
Bentley -
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
Triumph military motorcycle -
Triumph military motorcycle -
Land Rover -
Bedford 40cwt military truck -
Triumph military motorcycle D 512 752
Jaguar Mk II -
Ford Thames truck 2705 VX
Ford Zephyr 1952–1956 convertible 637 CMU
Bedford flattop truck -

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Bob Pearson Lennox V* shotgun
Alan Carter - electrocuted by electric fence
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
Labourer plant V* eaten
John the Publican plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Villager plant V* eaten
Laura Burford plant V* eaten
Dr. Connelly plant V* eaten
Professor Taylor plant V* eaten
Professor Knight plant V* eaten
Lennox V* plant V* eaten
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:27 — Laura declares, “Reared from seed, Amnesis gloris, the first in captivity!” This appears to be a fictional plant… the closest I can find is Hermesias grandiceps (aka Brownea grandiceps Jacq.) However, this could be supposed to be a rarer taxa of Browneae. The most likely possibility is they’ve invented a name for a rare orchid, which would fit the script as the alien plant induces amnesia in its victims. Cattleya chloris and Trevoria chloris are both South American orchids first described in the 1890s. All three of these plants are South American, so they may have just jammed the two together to invent a new species. The script transcriber had trouble as well, it reads “Amnicus Gloria (?)”.
  2. 4:33 — Steed’s cut rose has become a plastic rose when we cut to the scene in Steed’s living room.
  3. 4:47 — Laura Burford is an expert in plant diseases (not deceases, as the transcript says!)
  4. 6:16 — Sir Lyle’s house is later reused as the location for the museum in The Danger Makers and the home of Lord Daviot in The See-Through Man.
  5. 6:39–48, 13:57–14:16 — There’s a thread caught in the lower edge of the camera lens in the MS of Steed getting out of the car. It reappears when he returns to the car seven minutes later, showing these two sequences were filmed together.
  6. 10:44 — the venus fly traps are very fake and clearly mechanically controlled.
  7. 12:59 — we briefly see the shadow of the boom microphone in the wall as Steed leaves Sir Lyyle’s office.
  8. 15:43 — The barn is reused as a location in Silent Dust (now Strangeways Farm, Rowley Lane, Borehamwood).
  9. 15:45 — Mrs. Peel was wearing white lace stockings at Steed’s flat but when they get to the barn she’s wearing white calf-high socks.
  10. 20:52 — Errant nonsense; Mrs. Peel, speaking of Mars and the Moon, tells Steed, “recent photographs show whole areas of vegetation”. Did they really believe that in 1965? Certainly not for the moon that was well known to be lifeless. It’s true that in May-June 1965 there had yet to be any close photos of Mars and some people thought the seasonal changes of patterns on the planet surface might have been plant life rather than dust storms. That all changed a month later when Mariner 4 showed that the Martian surface was more like the moon.
  11. 22:45 — Petersen’s number is Surrey Green 1141.
  12. 22:50 — The outside is The Three Horseshoes and village green, Letchmore Heath, but the pub interior set is the same one as in Silent Dust.
  13. 27:17 — Wing Commander Davies’ medals are the same as Geoffrey Ridsdale’s, this time only the first two are pinned back to front, the rest are in the correct position:
    Distinguished Flying Cross, General Service Medal, (backwards, with the GSM first and the DFC back to front)
    1939 to 1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-45.
  14. 28:05 — the cameraman loses focus when Carter walks behind the lamp and down stage.
  15. 29:05 — He’s listed in the credits as Sir Lyle Peterson but the sign outside his property reads “Petersen Estate”.
  16. 30:44 — Miss Sheldon declares that the plant needs “Hydrochrome Oxidase” to grow — an enzyme only found in humans. Philip Levene appears to have invented this enzyme but there is a series of Cytochrome c Oxidases which exist in mammals. The enzyme is used for the respiratory system, helping convert oxygen into energy.
  17. 34:06 — Act Three starts with a slow, close panning shot showing Mrs. Peel’s outfit, panning up her body and when we see her face, Diana Rigg yawns and turns away from the camera, whereupon Steed enters. I assume the intention was to start the Act suggesting that Mrs. Peel is now being mesmerised by the plant’s influence, but it’s not entirely clear. Is Diana Rigg bored by science fiction, or dismissive of the attention of the male gaze? Answers, as always, on a postcard.

  18. 36:07 — Mrs. Sheldon says about the herbicide, “Nothing more effective than propionic acid. A teaspoonful of this would kill a large oak tree.” But propionic acid is not a herbicide, it’s an anti-fungal saturated fatty acid which can inhibit the growth of mould and bacteria, so is most commonly used as a preservative for food and stock feed or a pesticide; it’s also used on video and audio tape to inhibit mould growth.
  19. 37:03 — Sir Lyle’s window is suddenly closed again.
  20. 38:09 — five past 6
  21. 38:50 — the cameraman loses focus on Emma and Steed as they approach Joby’s stall in the pub, the camera focusing on the wooden backboard.
  22. 41:22 — Looks like George Fisher doing the stunts for John G Heller.
  23. 41:38 — Miss Sheldon declares, “Oh, Yucca gloriosa! You should see it in the summer.” Except it’s not, it’s an Agave, probably an Agave americana or Agave diformis, but I’m no expert. There’s a Yucca next to it, which she ignores.
  24. 47:00 — stunt double for Diana (overshoulder throw and the mid and long shots of the fight) — it’s probably Billy Westley Jr but he looks too bulky to me; the stunt double for Patrick Macnee looks like Cliff Diggins.
  25. There’s a bit of debate about the scene where Steed kills the giant plant with the weed killer. Some believe him to be dousing Mrs. Peel with the stuff, so when she’s dragged into the gaping maw of the horrific beast the beast will die, but I think that’s not the case, and here’s my reasoning:

    • 47:47 — Steed and Emma clash heads, knocking Emma out.
    • 47:55 — Steed orders Dr. Sheldon to fetch the herbicide while he heads off to stage left, stepping over Mrs. Peel as he does so.
    • 48:08 — Peterson, who has gone to guard the door says, “For heaven’s sake, hurry”, — there’s a strange cut in the scene then he crosses to Steed who starts pouring herbicide, apparently on Mrs. Peel’s unconscious body. (Unfortunately for my theory, the stuntman can be seen breathing at this point).
    • 48:28 — but! we only see top half of the ‘body’ as it’s doused and then dragged away by a tendril.
    • 48:35 — at stage left (the direction Steed headed earlier), after the body passes, the camera pans up a mannequin which was previously whole, with its top half missing.
    • 48:42 — Miss Sheldon, cowering behind Steed in the doorway asks, “Do you think it’ll work?”
    • 50:02 — Steed turns around as the plant starts to convulse and die and goes into the corridor behind, where Emma is lying on the ground, face up and not wearing her jacket, recovering from the head-butt received in the fight — too quickly for her to have returned from the plant’s grasp.

    It’s true that there’s a shot showing the body being dragged and it’s a stunt double rather than a mannequin, but it’s possible that they needed a person as the mannequin might have bounced about.

  26. 50:28 — in the back-projection shot of the tractor towing our heroes away on the hay cart, there’s a hair caught in the top right corner of the camera lens.
  27. Running time: 51′58″
    The transcript from 1980 records a total length of 4685 feet 12 frames or 52 minutes — the exact time for that length of film would be 52:03 so I am assuming we’ve lost a few frames of black here and there at the ends of the reels (there were six reels of film for the episode, of varying lengths). The latest remastered bluray is 52:18 but include about 20 seconds of StudioCanal ident at the beginning.
    The Reels:
    1. Reel 1: 793 feet 8 frames
    2. Reel 2: 786 feet 13 frames
    3. Reel 3: 990 feet 8 frames
    4. Reel 4: 826 feet
    5. Reel 5: 677 feet 7 frames
    6. Reel 6: 611 feet 8 frames
  28. Brian Tesler, Production Controller for ABC Television, considered this script to be too ‘science fiction’ and sternly warned Julian Wintle that it ought to be broadcast late is the schedule. Wintle pretty much ignored him and it was shown six months after completion which was about the average gap for the first half of this series and less than for many other episodes. From episode 16 onwards, the gap reduced rapidly as they ran further behind schedule and the last episode went to air only 18 days after it wrapped.

A note on the timecodes

Timecodes for episodes are problematic as each release has its own quirks so the 2009–11 Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD sets have different run times compared to the A&E and Contender DVD sets from a decade beforehand. The newer Studio Canal & Via Vision blu rays seems to be back in line with the earlier releases, except they often have StudioCanal idents lasting 20 to 22 seconds added to the beginning.

The Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD releases were 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).

The 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 running 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 greatly improved picture quality, most notably in the Tara King episodes which are finally (mostly) back to their original glory.


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