• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE GIRL FROM AUNTIE’ outlined in black and superimposed on the front wheel of the fallen bicycle, and the knitting that has fallen out of the basket
  • Georgie, dressed as Mrs. Peel, turns to speak to Steed
  • Auntie’s receptionist draws a Luger pistol when she hears Steed outside the door
  • The old lady viciously lunges towards the camera (and Georgie) with her knitting needle
  • Steed, in evening wear, finds the Mona Lisa amongst Auntie’s stolen goods
  • Mrs. Peel is singularly unimpressed with being locked in a cage wearing a bodystocking and a few feathers, Auntie gloats from behind the cage
  • Steed knocks Auntie out by smashing the Mona Lisa over his head, destroying the priceless painting
  • Emma drives while Steed is squeezed into the back of the tiny Messerschmidt car

Series 4 — Episode 17
The Girl From Auntie

by Roger Marshall
Directed by Roy Baker

Production No E.64.10.18
Production completed: October 26 1965. First transmission: January 18 1966.


Production dates: 4–23/10/1965

Another Roger Marshall script that was happily accepted by Brian Tesler, Programme Controller for ABC, who described it as "fast, funny and furious". The casting of Liz Frazer seems to have shaken thnings up a bit, and the final script is funnier and more played for laughs than the occasionally downbeat original - Georgie makes jokes about the mounting pile of bodies rather than screaming at the sight of them, for instance. Marshall was apparently unhappy with the final result, feeling that Brian Clemens had taken too many liberties in revising the script. Roy Baker, on his last outing for The Avengers however loved it, thinking it the best of all the episodes he worked and his favourite.

There’s a brief visit to Dyrham Golf Club for the kidnapping of Emma Peel, a short sequence at the West London Air Terminal, now demolished, and several visits to the front of Highpoint 2, which represented the exterior of Mrs. Peel’s flat. There were also a few locations around Watford for the different offices that Steed and Georgie visit. Dyrham Golf Club had previously been a location for The Thirteenth Hole, which was produced a month before this one.

The rewrites injected a lot of in-jokes, both verbal and visual, and the cast seem to be having a hoot with it. Bernard Cribbins is a delight as the wacky Arkwright, who has a team of old ladies knitting him a bungalow. Some of Marshall’s more laboured sequences of dialogue were cut, making for a snappy, fun episode.

Shooting script changes

  • sequence with Steed trying to bang on car roof cut
  • The lines about how long her deception was supposed to last cut, and the reveal of Lamb’s body is played for laughs with Georgie making a joke rather than screaming
  • Steed’s long conversation with Georgie in the taxi, about her audition, cut and replaced with the last two or three lines, but in Lamb’s office
  • Steed doesn’t use the ‘ad lingo’ in Bates’ office, he just says he’s looking for clues
  • Steed and Georgie’s lines swapped when they get back in the taxi
  • break between act 1 & 2 moved
  • The script has lost all the references to Aunt Hetty knitting warm clothing for the troops in the Crimea
  • James Bond joke about the Double O needles removed when asking Hetty if she recognises the needles
  • Steed’s joke about a Fairisle pullover is cut, as is Arkwright’s reference to the Olympics and another James Bond joke
  • Steed overhearing the receptionist saying the fake Mrs. Peel has to be eliminated is cut; the receptionist’s lines are delivered after Steed leaves
  • Ivanoff being worried about being posted to China has been cut
  • Georgie saying she knitted at Rodean is cut, as is all the other snobby backstory for Georgie
  • Some of the dialogue with the receptionist at Art Incorporated is cut
  • Steed’s phone call to Ivanoff removed
  • Taxi driver dropping snuff and sneezing uncontrollably removed
  • Mrs Peel’s value reduced from $200,000 to $140,000 USD

Regional broadcasts

Rediffusion London21/01/19668:00pm
ABC Midlands22/01/19669:05pm
ABC North22/01/19669:05pm
Anglia Television20/01/19668:00pm
Border Television23/01/19669:35pm
Channel Television22/01/19669:05pm
Grampian Television21/01/19668:00pm
Southern Television22/01/19668:55pm
Scottish Television18/01/19668:00pm
Tyne Tees Television21/01/19668:00pm
Ulster Television21/01/19668:00pm
Westward Television22/01/19669:05pm
Television Wales & West22/01/19669:05pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for January 21 1966, 8pm (London edition)
Sydney Morning Herald listing for June 14 1966, 8pm
The Age listing for June 21 1966, 7.30pm

8.0 The Avengers
Patrick Macnee

as John Steed
Diana Rigg

as Emma Peel
in the story
The Girl from Auntie
By Roger Marshall

In which Steed almost outbids himself — and Emma is a bird in a gilded cage …

Cast also includes

Georgie Price-Jones Liz Fraser
Gregorio Auntie Alfred Burke
Arkwright Bernard Cribbins
Ivenov David Bauer
Old lady Mary Merrell
Aunt Hetty Sylvia Coleridge
Receptionist Yolande Turner
Taxi driver Ray Martine
Russian Maurice Browning
Fred Jacques John Rutland

Music by Laurie Johnson
Directed by Roy Baker
Produced by Julian Wintle

ABC Weekend Network Production

International broadcasts

ABN2 Sydney, Australia14/06/19668:00pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia21/06/19667:30pm
ABC New York, USA6/06/196610:00pm
ORTF2 France18/7/1991 FR3
Suisse Romande, Switzerland
French titleMaille à partir avec les taties
ZDF Germany
German titleNadeln töten leiser / Mrs. Peel, zum Ersten, zum Zweiten, zum Dritten
KRO Netherlands23/07/19689:10pm
Dutch titleEen rechts, twee averechts
Italy24/11/80 C51
Italian titleCercate ‘la vecchia’
Spanish titleLa muchacha de Aunty / La chica de auntie

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, Switzerland, and Germany also did not include it.

Spain: ABC Madrid listing for July 31 1967, 4.10pm
Netherlands: Dagblad de Stem listing for July 23 1968, 9.10pm
USA: New York Times listing for June 6 1966, 10pm

Episode Rating

Subject 0–5
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
Humour 4 stars
Intros/tags 4 stars
3½ stars
3½ stars
Emma 4 stars
3½ stars
8 stars

Mrs. Peel takes an enforced holiday and Steed has an hilarious romp around London, trying to catch up with a murderous old lady. Despite Rigg’s absence – although when she’s on screen she sizzles – this is a great episode.

The Fashions

Emma’s Fashions Steed’s Fashions
  1. white mesh body stocking with feathers at neck and cuffs (leg and arm), feathers and flowers covering erogenous zones, flesh coloured knickers and white open-toe shoes – worn with the diagonally striped black and white" “Chemin” coat at the beginning and end of the episode
  1. brown three-piece suit (2 vents, hard buttons, no pockets) with matching bowler and umbrella, white shirt (town collar) dark silk tie with diamond pin brown chelsea boots
  2. black pullover and black trousers, black shoes
  3. tuxedo with loose jacket (raglan sleeves, standard collar), white city shirt, black bow tie and black leather gloves, black dress shoes
  4. grey three-piece suit single button on jacket waist and cuffs, six buttons on waistcoat, white shirt, dark silk tie
  5. (4) with tan overcoat and dark bowler and umbrella

The Cars

Marque/Model/Type Number Plate
Porche -
Lotus Elan S2 HNK 999C
Ford Zephyr 4 MKIII 7547 BM
Riley Pathfinder VXH 643
Singer Vogue -
bicycle -
Austin taxi BGJ 193B
Austin taxi VGF 345
Humber Super Snipe III 660 DXK
Messerschmitt KR201 cabriolet micro car 905 TPU
Lagonda S Type Special 6 (1934) AYL 431

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Mr. Lamb Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Bates Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Marshall Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Barrett Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Barrett Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Wimpole Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
John Jacques Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Paul Jacques Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
George Jacques Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Fred Jacques Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Joseph Ivanoff V* Old Lady/Man in disguise V* knitting needle
Click a name to see the face

Continuity and trivia

  1. 1:10 — Recognise that gate? The same location is used at the beginning of The Girl From Auntie as the Town Hall, Pendley (the venue for this year’s MFU Charity Fancy Dress Ball) and in The Thirteenth Hole as Craigleigh Golf Club. It’s actually Dyrham Park Golf Club Gateway, Trotter’s Bottom.
  2. 2:15 – it’s the stuntman in the old lady mask who does the tumble off the bicycle.
  3. New

    2:49-4:00 — The mid-shot of the taxi leaving the airport (3:23) is of a 1964 Austin taxi with the licence plate BGJ 193B.

    However, the earlier closeup of Steed inside as the porter packs all his luggage into it (3:00) and later when it arrives at Mrs. Peel’s flat (3:45 onwards), it’s an earlier model Austin taxi with the licence plate VGF 345 (the same one that was used in Epic).

  4. 3:30 — Mrs. Peel lived at Highpoint 2, Highgate. (You get a better view at 4:15 and 6:25).
  5. 3:57 onwards — The backdrop behind Steed as he calls from the cab doesn’t match the location streetscape at all.
  6. 7:20 & throughout – Is Laurie Johnson immitating Edwin Astley? There’s a thread of harpsichord music through the themes in this episode, making me think I’m watching “Danger Man” all the time (except it’s funny).
  7. 7:20 — Pansard or Lamb??? – The close-up of the sign on the door reads Brian Pansard, Theatrical Agent, but the one Steed opens says J. H. Lamb, Theatrical Agent. WAs the close-up wrong, or were there Georgie said she was briefed by a Mr. Lamb, who promptly tumbles out of the cupboard with a knitting needle in his back.
  8. 8:14 — The advertising firm of" “Bates and Marshall” is an Avengers in-joke, referring to John Bates (Ms Rigg’s wardrobe) and Roger Marshall (screenplay).
  9. 8:57 — Barrett, Barrett & Wimpole, solicitors had their offices at 75 Clarendon Road, Watford (just up the road from the location of Art Incorporated, see below). It’s now Hamlin Knight House, the offices of a recruitment company.
  10. 9:26-9.45 – this scene has stand-ins for Mary Merrall, Patrick Macnee and Liz Frazer until we reach the close-ups at 9.47.
  11. 10:33 — it sounds like a redub when Georgie says “Fred” at the end of “John, Paul George and…” – but Fred is in the shooting script (PDF 13.4MB) so it can’t be, can it?
  12. 10:33-10:40 — The outer door of the Jacques Brothers shop reads “Jacques Brothers – Theatrical costumiers – John Jacques, Paul Jacques, George Jacques, Fred Jacques” but the inner door reads “Starr Bros. Theatrical Costumiers”.
  13. 11:56 – you can see the shadow of a crew member’s hands and hear a loud click as a piece of equipment, probably a flare guard, is altered.
  14. 12:31 — There’s a dark torn-edged smudge at top of screen, it looks like a loose bit of plastic.
  15. 13:40 — When Aunt Hetty is having tea with Georgie and Steed, Steed asks her if the Jacques Brothers were alone when she visited them. Aunt Hetty replies, “That could hardly be, there were four of them.” – but Sylvia Coleridge never moves her lips! It’s clearly dubbed in later, and the voice might have been someone imitating her to boot!
  16. 14:19 — We can just glimpse Steed through the window – but it’s not Macnee! It’s a portly looking gentleman in a bowler hat.
  17. Throughout the episode, the taxi driver amuses himself (at Steed’s direction), with the sporting gear Steed has brought back from holidays:
    • 4:11 — canoe paddle
    • 6:31 — diving mask
    • 17:11 — boxing gloves
    • 18:08 — fishing hat
  18. 17:16 – there’s a thread caught in the gate at the bottom.
  19. 17:40 and throughout – Melton House, 65–67 Clarendon Road Watford, is the location used for the offices of Art Incorporated and Arkwright’s Knitting Circle.
  20. 18:03 – it’s that stand-in for Patrick Macnee again.
  21. 18:25 – there’s a thread caught in the camera frame at top right.
  22. 18:44–20:03 — Marshall’s scenes 43–5 have been rewritten – Steed never overhears the receptionist planning his demise (sc. 43/4) as he’s hit over the head (sc.45) straight after him finding the needles at the beginning of scene 43. Scene 44 is then shown after Steed leaves at the end of scene 45, and her line from the beginning of scene 45 (where is was heard through the grille) is part of the same scene. By the way, who did the casting? Yolande Turner doesn’t look forty years old, as described in scene 25, to me at all.
  23. 19:46 – Yolande Turner is out of focus for almost the entirety of the remouted scene 44.
  24. 20:18–20:58 — Georgie Price-Jones whiles away a quiet moment or two with books from Mrs. Peel’s bookshelf – first up is" “Basic Nuclear Physics” by L. R. Williams B.Sc. Ph.D., but more notably is “No Holds Barred”, a self-defence book written by Ray Austin – actually not a real book, Ray was stunt arranger, director, and frequent on-screen presence for The Avengers, but this is just the dust jacket and a cover sheet over a much larger hardback book as the book was fictitious.
  25. 21:22 — Mary Merrall is substituted by a stuntman in a mask
  26. 22:18-22:24 – it’s that stand-in for Patrick Macnee again, and for Mary Merrall as well.
  27. 22:57 — Georgie smashes a vase over Steed’s head and then explains she though he was an old lady with a veil and knitting needles, to which he replies, “They do say I take after granny”.
  28. 23:36 — Steed sends Georgie in to see if she can spot her assailant at the Knitting Circle and tells her, “I take a size 9 3/4 in socks and nothing too garish”. As he does so, the boom microphone swings past in the top righthand corner of the screen.
  29. 24:34 — This bird sculpture, which turns up in Series 5 in Mrs. Peel’s apartment and Tom Savage’s photo studio, turns up here at the offices of Art Incorporated, on the table in front of Steed.
  30. 24:45 — The receptionist asks Steed’s name and he sorts through a pile of cards until he arrives at one for “Wayne Pennyfeather ffitch”.
  31. 25:42 – Roger Marshall repeats his Mellors joke from Silent Dust in the script, with Steed querying “That THE Lady Bracknell?” – asking if a character is a famous fictional character – but the line was cut from the episode. In Oscar Wilde’s society farce “The Importance of Being Earnest”, Lady Bracknell discovers that the suitor for her daughter had as a baby been left in a handbag at Victoria Station and is later revealed to be her long lost nephew.
  32. 28:09 – Steed’s card says his name is Wayne Pennyfeather L. ffitch and he lives at 21, Grade St. London, W.1.
  33. 28:43 — Steed has borrowed Goya’s Doña Isabelle from The National Gallery, a painting that was famously stolen in the early Sixties – and a joke that was also used in Dr. No.
  34. 29:17 onwards — All of Mary Merrall’s lines sound like a man imitating an old lady’s voice – have they been overdubbed? She certainly sounds different in Homicide and Old Lace.
  35. 33:20 — the sign reading Lot 65, which had been in the bottom left corner of the Mona Lisa (32:38–32:58) is now in the bottom right corner.
  36. 36:45 — Steed leaves without his gentleman thief’s kit.
  37. 37:06 and throughout – it’s the same basement set as in Castle De’Ath.
  38. 37:22 — Diana Rigg returns from holiday to sit in a cage for a bit. We haven’t seen her since about the 2:00 mark and she doesn’t do much until 45:00.
  39. 39:45 — Ivanoff is reading Pravda when Steed arrives. The headline is трудовая вахта миллионов but I haven’t discovered the edition.
  40. 40:20 — Stunt doubles for the fight – Rocky Taylor playing Steed and Joe Farrer playing David Bauer.
  41. 46:35 — Auntie describes Mrs. Peel as “this outstanding example of British pulchritude”, which raises her eyebrows.
  42. 47:29 — Steed seems to be standing somewhere completely different on the change of shot.
  43. 48:03–48:44 — The stuntman is wearing the old lady mask in the long shots, and of course the unmasking scene, but it’s Mary Merrall in the close-ups.
  44. 48:48 — Steed asks Arkwright what the old ladies are knitting and he replies, deadpan, “A bungalow”.
  45. 50:25 — The Avengers leave in an unusual fashion in this episode – Georgie Price-Jones drives off in Steed’s Bentley, while Mrs. Peel and Steed are crammed into a tiny Messerschmitt KR201 cabriolet micro car.
  46. 50:50 — Double entendre? Steed describes Georgie as a “charming lady” and Emma replies, “I wonder if she’s going our way” – then Georgie blows them a kiss.
  47. Running time: 51′56″ (The 1966 dialogue sheets record it as 4,731 feet of film which is 52′34″, including Avengers I.D. cards at the beginning and end of the commercial breaks). The Studio Canal blu-ray is 52′16″ but that includes 20 seconds of Studio Canal ident.

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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