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  • 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

8 stars

by Roger Marshall
Directed by Roy Baker

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction
3½ stars
Music 3 stars
Humour 4 stars
Intros/tags 4 stars
Villains
3½ stars
Plot
3½ stars
Emma 4 stars
Sets/Props
3½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
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
MGB -
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. 1:03/00:10 - 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. 3:10/3:00 - The mid-shot of the taxi leaving the airport 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 (2:48/2:38) and later when it arrives at Mrs Peel's flat (3:35/3:25) onwards, it's an earlier model Austin taxi with the licence plate {VGF 345} (the same one that was used in Epic).

  3. 3:30 - Mrs Peel lived at Highpoint 2, Highgate. (You get a better view at 6:14).
  4. 3:45 - The backdrop behind Steed as he calls from the cab doesn't match the location streetscape at all.
  5. 6:45 et passim. - 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 "Dangerman" all the time (except it's funny).
  6. 6:56 - Pansard or Lamb??? - The sign on the door reads Brian Pansard, Theatrical Agent, but Georgie said she was briefed by a Mr Lamb, who promptly tumbles out of the cupboard with a knitting needle in his back.
  7. 7:46/7:50 - The advertising firm of" "Bates and Marshall" is an Avengers in-joke, referring to John Bates (Ms Rigg's wardrobe) and Roger Marshall (screenplay).
  8. 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.
  9. 10:04/10:12 - it sounds like a redub when Georgie says "Fred" at the end of "John, Paul George and..." - but Fred is in the original script (PDF 13.4MB) so it can't be, can it?
  10. 10:08/10:17 - 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".
  11. 12:00 - There's a dark torn-edged smudge at top of screen, it looks like a loose bit of plastic.
  12. 13:08/13:19 - 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!
  13. 13:40 - We can just glimpse Steed through the window - but it's not Macnee! It's a portly looking gentleman in a bowler hat.
  14. Throughout the episode, the taxi driver amuses himself (at Steed's direction), with the sporting gear Steed has brought back from holidays:
    • 6:14 - diving mask
    • 16:26 - boxing gloves
    • 17:20 - fishing hat
  15. 17:10 et passim. - Melton House, 65-67 Clarendon Road, Watford, is the location used for the offices of Art Incorporated and Arkwright's Knitting Circle.
  16. 18:33-19:03/19:00-19:30 - 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) halfway through scene 43. By the way, who did the casting? Yolande Turner doesn't look "fortyish" to me at all.
  17. 19:27-19:37/19:53 - Georgie Price-Jones whiles away a quiet moment or two with books from Mrs Peel's bookshelf - first up is" "Basic Nuclear Physics", but most notably is "No Holds Barred", a self-defence book written by Ray Austin, Stunt arranger and frequent on-screen presence for The Avengers.
  18. 20:25 - Mary Merrall is substituted by a stuntman in a mask
  19. 22:08 - 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".
  20. 22:40 - 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".
  21. 23:32-38/24:12 - 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.
  22. 23:50 - The receptionist asks Steed's name and he sorts through a pile of business cards until he arrives at one for "Wayne Penny Feather ffitch".
  23. 27:45 - 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.
  24. 28:00 - 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.
  25. 31:57 - the sign reading Lot 65, which had been in the bottom left corner of the Mona Lisa (31:00-31:30) is now in the bottom right corner.
  26. 35:17 - Steed leaves without his gentleman thief's kit.
  27. 35:36 et passim. - it's the same basement set as in Castle De'ath.
  28. 35:50 - 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.
  29. 38:12 - Ivanoff is reading Pravda when Steed arrives.
  30. 38:38/40:00 - Who are those stunt men? It might be Val Musetti playing Steed and Fred Haggerty playing David Bauer.
  31. 44:46 - Auntie describes Mrs Peel as "this outstanding example of British pulchritude", which raises her eyebrows.
  32. 45:32 - Steed seems to be standing somewhere completely different on the change of shot.
  33. 46:10-46:20 - 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.
  34. 46:51 - Steed asks Arkwright what the old ladies are knitting and he replies, deadpan, "A bungalow".
  35. 48:26/50:00 - 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.
  36. 48:46/50:26 - 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.
  37. Running time: 49'48"
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). Let's hope the much-rumoured bluray release will revert to native 24fps with soft telecine so we won't have these problems again.

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