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.
TV Times summary
In which Steed almost outbids himself — and Emma is a bird in a gilded cage …
Leaving an all-night party, Mrs Peel goes to help an old lady who has falled off her bike, but the old lady drugs and kidnaps her!
Returning from holiday, Steed finds an impostor in Mrs Peel’s flat but they team up to find Mrs Peel when they discover everyone involved is being killed off - with knitting needles! They track the needles to Arkwright’s Knitting Circle, across the hall from Art Incorporated, who run shadowy private auctions - and Mrs Peel is the next item to go under the hammer. Steed bids for her and wins, but is recognised by the old lady - actual a male assassin in disguise. There’s the usual furious fight and The Avengers depart, squashed into a tiny bubble car, while Georgie drives away in an enormous old Lagonda.
Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) is leaving an all-night fancy dress revel of the most entertaining kind - men in masks, women in bikinis, when she sees an old lady (Mary Merrall) fall off her bicycle. Going to her aid, she is surprised when the old lady turns on her and injects her with a fast-acting sedative...
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) arrives back from holidays, surprising his taxi driver (Ray Martine) by the number of sporting goods the porter crams into the cab. they drive to Mrs Peel’s apartment, Steed seeing her return moments before him, and tell the driver he should be able to find something to amuse himself with while he’s inside. When he catches up to her at her door, he discovers her to be an impostor, and a poorly instructed one. He gives her a lobster from Steed then rings up from the booth outside, pretending to be a Hooray Henry lover boy, who’ll “be round in a couple of jiffs”. Steed tells the driver, now wearing a diving mask, to follow her when she emerges.
Meanwhile, at the office of Art Incorporated, the receptionist (Yolande Turner) tells her boss, Gregorio Auntie (Alfred Burke), that lot 17 has been safely delivered. He orders the elimination of everyone associated with the fake Mrs Peel and she starts with the theatrical agents. The fake is standing in the now empty office of the agency when Steed catches up to her. She smiles and tells him she’s Georgie Price-Jones (Liz Frazer), hired to play Mrs Peel by Mr Lamb who promptly falls out of the cupboard, dead with a knitting needle in his back, when she pulls on a ball of wool she finds on the floor. Georgie tells Steed two advertising men, Bates and Marshall, were also present and they pay them a visit, passing the old lady on the way into their office. Georgie find what she thinks is a code: “S1, K9, K2, tog, tbl.” while Steed finds a diary noting an “Appointment with Auntie”. Georgie spots another ball of wool that leads to the now dead men. One has a cheque for Georgie skewered on the knitting needle in his back, drawn against the account of a firm of solicitors, all of whom are found dead in a car outside their office, similarly stabbed - the old lady riding off before they arrive.
Steed and Georgie climb back into the taxi, Steed startling the driver when he declares, “Six bodies in an hour and twenty minutes!”. They’re at a loss until Georgie, puzzling over the code, latches onto “tog” and remembers the costumiers who supplied the wig and clothes. They arrive at Jacques Brothers and see four mirrored cupboard ominously awaiting them. The first few are empty, prompting Georgie to quip, “Losing your touch?” as she leans against the third. This causes the fourth to creak open and the brothers topple out, all with a needle in their back. Fred (John Rutland) isn’t dead yet and he gasps, “Auntie did it”, before slumping to the ground. They’re left wondering what to do next when a different old lady, Aunt Hetty (Sylvia Coleridge), wanders in, looking for her knitting pattern. She beams at the men on the floor and says she’s their favourite Auntie. Steed whisks her away to Mrs Peel’s flat and they ask her about her nephews over tea and crumpets. They’re getting nowhere until Steed asks her about the needle he removed from one of the bodies. Her eyes light up, excited that he is also a member of the Arkwright Knitting Circle.
They visit Arkwright’s circle, which shares a building with Art Incorporated. Arkwright (Bernard Cribbins) is circling a group of old ladies, chanting rhymes to them as they knit. Steed shows him the needles and Arkwright says he had some stolen from the storeroom last week. Steed departs and runs into a Russian agent, Ivanoff (David Bauer), emerging from Art Incorporated. Ivanoff explains he’s buying a painting for a friend as the ladies bustles past them - the killer is one of them, and she slips past behind Ivanoff. Steed gets back into his taxi where the driver is now wearing boxing gloves and, suspicious of Ivanoff, reminds him to ask after Mrs Peel as he usually does. Steed then tells the driver to go around the block. On his return, Steed pauses at the door of Art Incorporated, where the receptionist has her long, shapely legs up on the console; he changes his mind and heads back to the knitting circle, deftly avoiding Arkwright and slipping inside. He searches the cupboards, overheard by the receptionist who has now pulled out a pistol. Steed is suddenly hit over the head with a vase - by Aunt Hetty, who is surprised to discover it’s Steed. She and Arkwright thought the burglar had returned. Meanwhile, next door, the receptionist is telling someone the deception has failed because Steed returned home early - the fake Mrs Peel is to be eliminated.
Georgie is reading a self defence book when the murderous old lady pays a visit and, following the instructions in the book, manages to defend herself and escape to the kitchen. The old lady pedals away just as Steed arrives in his taxi and he enters the flat. He’s examining the needle stuck in the kitchen door when Georgie clobbers over the head with another vase. Georgie tells Steed about her attacker, who was old enough to be someone’s grandmother - “Or Auntie”, muses Steed. He takes her to Arkwright’s to identify her assailant, leaving her there while he visits Art Incorporated. On the way in he notices a plaque which reads “The unobtainable obtained, the priceless acquired at a price”. He enters, posing as an art connoisseur and notices some knitting. He introduces himself - after sorting through some business cards - as Wayne Pennyfeather ffitch. She tells him they only take personally recommended clients when he asks about ‘the unobtainable’. Another client emerges from the main office and the receptionist hands her her handbag with the knitting in it - but she’s not the killer. Georgie meanwhile fails to recognise anyone and is startled when Aunt Hetty arrives and surreptitiously draws a pistol from her handbag. Hetty smiles and says it’s for her nephew and demonstrates it’s only a water pistol.
At Art Incorporated, Steed has not been recognised and the boss send the old lady to investigate “ffitch”. Steed shows Georgie that he’s borrowed Goya’s La Doña Isabel from the National Gallery to prove his bona fides and moments later, the killer arrives, asking for charity for a dog’s home. She quickly searches Steed’s living room when he goes to fetch some money and is impressed by the Goya. Steed sets off that night, armed with a burglary kit at which the taxi driver looks askance. He breaks into Art Incorporated and finds the Mona Lisa on an easel. The boss appears, armed with a flintlock pistol, and introduces himself as Gregorio Auntie. He says they can indeed get anything but the price is often very high. They always leave a replica in the place of works stolen and Auntie comments on the quality of Steed’s replica Goya which now hangs in the National Gallery. Steed tells Auntie he wishes to acquire a woman - for her mind. He names Mrs Emma Peel but is told he is ten days too late, they have already acquired her for another client. “Ivanoff”, Steed suggests, but Auntie won’t divulge - he has a reputation to protect and can’t sell her on, even for triple the price. Auntie offers a first folio of Hamlet taken from the British Museum and is startled when Steed tells him it’s a replica - he has the original at home. After Steed leaves, Auntie slips behind a tapestry and takes some grapes to Mrs Peel, who is resting on the swinging perch of an enormous bird cage. He tells her her popularity is increasing - ffitch, a true English gentleman, is interested as well. She perks up, but is disconsolate when Auntie wonders what secrets she knows and says she will be moved on in two days and, knowing Ivanoff’s methods, her cage will then seem like a paradise.
Steed, in the cab with Georgie, tells her he plans to “sell her to the enemy” and tapes her mouth before putting an auburn wig on her - the driver nearly crashing when he sees what’s going on. He delivers her to Ivanoff then attacks him when he opens the door at seeing Georgie. Steed tells her to pay the driver while he deals with Ivanoff but he discovers the agent doesn’t know where Mrs Peel is being held - Ivanoff only knows he has to pay $140,000 for her, which Georgie finds in a briefcase. Steed calls for a “package to be collected” and asks for maximum publicity. Auntie is delighted to read of Ivanoff’s arrest, seeing it as evidence of ffitch’s ability and order that Mrs Peel be put up for auction, with particular notice to the Eastern Bloc. He’s arranged for the old lady to silence Ivanoff and he’s murdered in his police cell by the vicious old trout.
Auntie conducts the auction, selling the Mona Lisa to a Russian (Maurice Browning) and promising to deliver it to his submarine. The next lot is Mrs Peel, shown on a closed-circuit television screen. Bidding is fierce between the Russian and a Chinese; Steed joins the bidding and wins the auction for “this outstanding example of English pulchritude and learning” but the old lady has learned his identity and warns Auntie. Steed fights him, dispatching him with the Mona Lisa while Georgie prevents the old lady from shooting him. they set off after the old lady, who’s joined the knitting circle. Steed marches up to her and punches her and she’s revealed to be a man in disguise at the end of the fight. Going to rescue Mrs Peel, Steed fights off a guard (Romo Gorrara) while Mrs Peel fights the receptionist then bends the bars to capture her. She opens the cage and warns Steed not to make any cracks about birds in gilded cages. Steed smiles and introduces the two Mrs Emma Peels to each other.
The Avengers depart, squashed into a tiny bubble car, while Georgie drives away in an enormous old Lagonda.
|Transmission dates:||Foreign title||tea|
|Germany||7/01/99||(Mrs. Peel, zum Ersten, zum Zweiten, zum Dritten)|
|France||18/07/91||(Maille à partir avec les taties)|
|Italy||24/11/80||(Cercate ‘la vecchia’)|
|Spain||---||(La chica de auntie)|
|The Netherlands||23/07/1968||(Een recht, twee averecht)|