Series 4 — Episode 15
Room Without a View
by Roger Marshall
Directed by Roy Baker
A missing scientist suddenly turn up at his home and attacks his Chinese wife. He seems to have been in a North Korean prison camp and is barely able to remember anything except the number 621. He is abducted again by a Chinese Laundry before he can be questioned further.
His old colleague Dr Cullen says Wadkin is a traitor but then he also vanishes in the night from his hotel, so Mrs Peel gets a job as a receptionist and Steed poses as M. Gourmet to infiltrate the hotel, run by the crass Max Chessman. Mrs Peel is captured after she finds a body in the laundry, then Steed and Varnals interrupt a meeting between a Russian agent and Chessman and rescue Mrs Peel and the missing scientists from the replica prison camp inside the hotel, behind the fake room 621.
Steed transports Mrs Peel away in a rickshaw.
A gnarled hand grips the curtain then passes over the chinoiserie decorating the room. It stops at the photo of a pretty Chinese woman. The man removes it from its frame then crumples it. Hearing voices, he hides in the curtains then Anna Wadkin (Jeanne Roland) enters with some friends. Grace comments on the wind chimes and Anna goes to close the window. She finds the photo then gasps, “John!” when she sees the man, who then attacks her. Her friends leap to her aide and she tearfully confesses that the man is her husband, Dr John Wadkin (Peter Madden).
Driving down to the house, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) informs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)l that Wadkin is a physicist who went missing two years ago and hopes he can give them a lead on seven physicists who have disappeared in the last year or so. Varnals (Peter Jeffrey), a young Ministry eager-beaver who has been assigned the case, predictably objects at Mrs Peel’s presence but Steed brushes him off and they learn that Wadkin has the mind of a cabbage. They are led in to see him and Varnals tells them his diagnosis is that Wadkin has been brainwashed for an extended period at a prison camp in Northern Manchuria, probably one called Ni San. Steed notes some of the features of Ni San - including that the clocks always strike three - and sets the clock to chime. Wadkin immediately intones, “Three o’clock”.
Mrs Wadkin offers them tea and tells them she dropped her husband at the station the day he disappeared, and he later phoned from the hotel to say the room was comfortable - and moments later, it appears, he checked out and disappeared for two years. She ducks a question about her parents still living in China and goes to fetch some food. While she’s gone, Steed takes his leave, telling Mrs Peel that an old colleague of Wadkin, Cullen, will arrive soon and advises Varnals he’s “searched Mrs Peel for deadly weapons”.
Dr Cullen (Richard Bebb) arrives and brusquely - briefly - tries to make Wadkin recover his memory but all the victim can recall is the number 621. Cullen declares him a traitor who will receive no more help from him - three weeks after Wadkin’s disappearance their research became common knowledge. Anna sees some men putting a hamper in a laundry truck outside and wonders what they’re up to - they hear a crash from the next room and Mrs Peel rushes in, finding Wadkin gone and Varnals on the floor with a pistol being pointed at him by a laundryman (Romo Gorrara). She attacks the intruder but he gets away when Varnals grabs her foot by mistake.
Mrs Peel is searching for clues when Leonard Pasold (Peter Arne) enters, looking for Cullen. He asks Mrs Peel to tell Cullen to call him - on a matter of life or death. Steed has never heard of Pasold but, hearing what he was doing, orders Varnals to keep an eye on Cullen that night - he’s checking into the Chessman hotel in London at 8pm.
That night, Cullen is personally welcomed to the hotel by the Maître d’hôtel, Carter (Philip Latham), and Steed hears him choose room 621. Pasold and Varnals are also watching in the lobby and after Carter leaves Cullen ,Pasold emerges from behind the shower curtain saying, “Dr Cullen? I’ve waited a long time for this”. The next morning, Steed notes that Cullen hasn’t come down for breakfast and rings his room - then hangs up when he hears the receptionist call the porter to take Dr Cullen’s bag. He turns and sees the man checking out is an impostor. Steed investigates the room but finds nothing amiss, so catches up with Varnals who runs through Cullen’s movements up until he disappeared after collecting the morning paper. Varnals has discovered that Wadkin stayed at the same hotel the night he disappeared...
Steed coerces Mrs Peel into taking a job on the reception desk and while they’re talking she sees Pasold arrive - he’s arguing with the receptionist and says he has an appointment with Cullen. Carter arrives and confides that Cullen had a young lady in his room and was asked to leave. Steed overheads and doesn’t believe a word of it. He joins Pasold after lunch, posing as another chemical company agent and realises Pasold doesn’t have Cullen. Carter sees them talking and is suspicious of Steed, who covers admirably by claiming to be the world’s leading hotel critic, M. Gourmet. Pasold meanwhile hears Cullen has not returned to his office or house so investigates room 621. He’s horrified to discover a metal shutter across the window and turns to find another one has sealed the door. Gas starts pouring from the radiator...
Cullen wakes to find himself in a bare cell, the sounds of the prison yard filtering in the high, narrow window. He’s still clutching a chess piece in his hand as he hears fog horns on the river, then the sounds of a firing squad executing a prisoner. He then hears Wadkin moaning the in the next cell and speaks to him through the ventilator - Wadkin knows nothing and is unsure what year it is. The clock chimes three and a guard (Anthony Chinn) enters, brandishing a riding crop.
Max Chessman (Paul Whitsun-Jones) examines the day’s menu with Carter and his head waiter - he finds the soup has too much salt but, after Carter samples it, declares the Red Rusk ambrosia - then throws it in the bin. The waiter then serves Chessman’s own lunch - a banana and a pea. After checking his weight, Chessman foregoes the banana. Carter tells him M. Gourmet is a guest at the hotel and Chessman orders him to invite Steed to dine with him that evening. Steed sees Carter hand some letters to Mrs Peel at reception and sidles over. He asks her to find out if Wadkin was also in room 621 but she’ll have to search for the old register.
That evening, he tells Chessman the butter at lunch was salted and is then made “to work for his supper” - Chessman wishes to test his palate. Downstairs, Carter notices Mrs Peel looking through the 1963 register, which she explains away by saying a regular guest wished to book his usual suite and she was looking up which it was. They’re interrupted by a crash - two Chinese laundrymen (Anthony Chinn and Michael Chow) are dragging a wicker hamper across the foyer. Carter orders them to the trade entrance but Emma recognises the firm is the same as that which recaptured Wadkin. Steed meanwhile manages to slip Wadkin into his conversation with Chessman, suggesting he had quite a story to tell after his two year disappearance.
Mrs Peel investigates the laundry room and discovers Pasold in one of the hampers; upon returning to reception she is dismayed to be ordered by Carter to turn down the bed in room 621 - she senses a trap. Steed and Varnals are talking in the florists - Steed has noticed a Russian chess grand master and spy, Pushkin (Vernon Dobtcheff), in the bar and suggest Chessman is offering the East something big in exchange for being allowed to build hotels on the Black Sea coast. They don’t see Mrs Peel being led away until Varnals notices the change of receptionist - the new girl tells Steed she’s gone to room 621 and he hurries off. Too late, however, she is gassed and taken away by one of the laundrymen before he arrives and Steed finds the room empty and innocent.
Pushkin joins Chessman for dinner and Steed and Varnals ambush two waiters to steal their uniforms. Meanwhile, the guard with the crop sadistically threatens Mrs Peel and questions her actions in the laundry and with the register. Chessman demands £50,000 from Pushkin and permission to build his hotel in return for access to the scientists he’s captured which the Russian can interrogate at their leisure. Pushkin mentions Wadkin’s escape which Chessman dismisses as a security lapse which they have corrected. Varnals and Steed enter in the guise of waiters and take charge, Chessman wilting and revealing that Mrs Peel is in room 621 on the seventh floor. Steed enters the room and easily disposes of the guard wearing a gas mask, then enters the secret rooms which are a facsimile of a North Korean prison camp. He attacks the guard playing tapes of sound effects and takes his keys then checks the cells until he finds Mrs Peel. She asks him for a different room as “there’s a honeymoon couple in the next room”. Another guard appears as he tries the lock and the two attack Steed with bayonets. He fends them off while Mrs Peel tries the keys until she unlocks her cells and then she joins him in defeating the guards.
Mrs Peel, under her parasol, tells Steed to steady on, it’s a thirty mile per hour limit, as he transports her away in a rickshaw.
|Transmission dates:||Foreign title||
|France||27/07/91||(Avec vue imprenable)|
|Italy||10/10/69||(Stanza 621 / Camera senza vista)|
|Spain||---||(La habitación sin ventana)|
|Holland||28/01/67||(Kamer zonder uitzicht)|