The Strange Case of the Missing Corpse
Emma and Steed find themselves without a case to investigate in Prince Ali’s chambers until Steed finds a body under a bearskin rug - “Bare skin!”, he exclaims as a sultry blonde stands up. Quite taken with her, he takes her away, leaving Mrs Peel to knit some atomic socks.
Filmed on the set of Honey for the Prince, this three-minute advertisement for the US market announced that “The Avengers” were switching to colour film - a move entirely motivated by the sale to America as Britain still broadcast in black & white. This is the only time we see Emma Peel is that tight leather catsuit with the zips in colour, and it’s revealed to be a deep mahogany instead of the black everyone always assumed it was.
As it’s only three minutes long, I’ve transcribed the entire script. At 1:38 there’s rather obvious product placement for Moët et Chandon.
Some lines of this teaser film were used in the Cliff Richard film, Finder Keepers (1966) (around 35:41), where Robert Morley is trying to spy on Cliff but picks up a nearby television set instead.
MID OOF Doorway and signboard
PULL FOCUS as EMMA (DIANA RIGG) saunters in, waggling a gold revolver in her right hand. She’s wearing a cream woolen suit with large buttons and a large, pale check, with matching rollneck skivvy.
HOLD on her. The signboard (OFF CENTRE) is revealed to say:
THE STRANGE CASE OF THE
with a sticker obliquely across it, RED ink on WHITE reading “IN COLOR” (sic)
C/U STEED (PATRICK MACNEE), looking surprised.
He is wearing a brown pinstripe suit with cream shirt and dark brown bowler hat and tie.
2. STEED: Where’s what?
3. EMMA (OC): The body!
4. STEED (furrows brow): The body?
5. C/U EMMA: Mmm! The corpus delecti - oh, I’m not particular; it could be stabbed, strangled, riddled with bullets, mutilated beyond recognition -
6. C/U STEED: You’re quite right! Until we find a body -
7. C/U EMMA: - we’ve nothing to investigate
8. C/U STEED: We’re defunct!
9. C/U EMMA: Obsolete! (crisply)
10. C/U STEED: Out of business (worriedly)
C/U EMMA, she turns and runs out of shot STAGE LEFT
- he looks baffled, shakes his head,
and walks out of shot STAGE RIGHT
MID Emma searching a divan, throwing cushions carelessly over her shoulder.
GRAMS. Trombone fanfare
11. M/C/U STEED: Something’s bound to turn up! There’s always a body hanging around- (spots a teapot on a pillar) - somewhere - (picks it up and squints inside, then replaces it on the pillar)
MID Emma gives up on the sofa and heads towards a large honey jar.
12. STEED: - after all, it’s only one body we need
13. EMMA (leaning on jar): I remember discovering three in one night
(She lifts the lid and looks inside)
14. One was in the closet, (replaces lid, moves STAGE RIGHT, under a palm frond) - another was underneath the bed and the third one arrived -
(CUT to MID Steed, smiling and leaning on umbrella) 15. EMMA (O/C) - on my breakfast tray.
STEED chuckles, CUT back to Emma, who adds:
16. EMMA: It was a four-star hotel
She backs off and heads STAGE RIGHT again;
CUT to C/U EMMA 17. EMMA: Steed, it’ll be a crime if we don’t find a body.
18. M/C/U STEED: It’ll be a crime if we do!
C/U EMMA, a gleam in her eye and a mischievous smile on her face
19. EMMA: Ah! But then I get a chance to exercise my feminine wiles.
She smiles and turns CUT back to Steed looking perplexed.
GRAMS. Drum roll
MID Emma enters from behind a curtained doorway
GRAMS. theme music; EMMA is wearing a tight black leather catsuit with silver buckles and zips, and calf-length black boots.
She marches sexily towards the camera until in extreme C/U
20. EMMA: Attacked, I fight!
EMMA feigns a few karate blows [GRAMS. instrumental hits in time with action]
CUT to C/U STEED, looking excited, and bouncing on his feet like a boxer
CUT to EMMA, still feigning parries, then stops to say -
21. EMMA: Back and forth!
EMMA recommences action, CUT to STEED
22. STEED: Forth and back!
CUT TO EMMA - she pauses to look at him, feigns a shoulder throw to her LEFT, then grabs her own throat.
23. EMMA: I’m losing!
CUT to C/U STEED
24. STEED: No!
CUT to C/U EMMA - she stops and looks at him again
25. EMMA: No? Oh - (she stands up straight)
26. EMMA: A leg trip! Psssh! (feign action)
27. C/U STEED: A prodigious throw!
C/U EMMA - she does the action to her RIGHT, making a sound of exertion.
CUE SFX - heavy landing, broken crockery etc.
EMMA puts her right hand to her brow, and looks STAGE RIGHT, as though peering at a distant object
C/U STEED, smiling and laughing
C/U EMMA -she turns to him, smiling
28. STEED (O/C): Very good!
CUT MID STEED, wearing a tuxedo and bow tie
29. STEED: Meanwhile, I’m invited to dinner by the diabolical mastermind
(sits at a table)
30. C/U EMMA: Of course, it’s a trap.
31. STEED: He wants to find out how much I know.
32. C/U EMMA: How much do you know? (wrinkles eyebrows)
33. MID STEED/STEED: Ah (wags finger)
34. C/U EMMA / EMMA: You fence with him -
CUT back to STEED, who picks up the foil that has appeared on the table, and points it at camera
35. STEED: Right!
CUE SFX - crashing of metal
C/U EMMA, pursing lips in disapproval
36. EMMA (sarcastic): Verbally!
37. MID STEED: Eh?
C/U EMMA, nods briskly.
38. MID STEED: Oh! (puts down foil)
39. C/U EMMA: He plies you with champagne?!
MID STEED (picking up the bottle that has appeared)
40. STEED: That’s very nice of him
41. (examines the label) An excellent vintage!
42. Er.. for a diabolical mastermind (feigns seriousness)
43. C/U EMMA: Don’t drink it!
44. MID STEED: Poison?
45. C/U EMMA: Worse!
46. MID STEED: Not...?
C/U EMMA she nods.
47. MID STEED: Never fear!
(he feigns throwing the content of the glass at camera)
CUE SFX water splashing
C/U EMMA looking unamused
48. MID STEED: Tossed the glass in his face.
Feigns karate strike with LEFT hand [CUE SFX]
49. STEED: Fell him with a single blow!
50. C/U EMMA: I burst in shooting! brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!
(turns head towards STAGE RIGHT as she rolls the rs)
51. C/U STEED: The secret of the double-barreled atomic sock-knitter is safe!
GRAMS. drum roll
C/U EMMA, who gazes skyward, RIGHT:
52. EMMA: The nation is secure!
STOCK Union Jack being raised up a flagpole in high wind
MID EMMA & STEED sitting on the divan, looking disconsolate
53. EMMA: Feels very strange without a body
ZOOM IN UNTIL THEY ARE FRAMED
54. STEED: Not like home at all
55. EMMA: I feel a deep sense of loss (holds her LEFT side in pain)
56. STEED: When you think of all the bodies we’ve had in the past..
(waves hand in resignation)
57. EMMA: More than we needed sometimes
58. STEED: Didn’t know when we were lucky...
STEED looks down and clicks his fingers
CUT to C/U of a white fur rug
59. STEED (O/C): The bearskin rug!
CUT back to STEED and EMMA - he turns his umbrella around to use the handle to lift the rug
60. STEED: We haven’t looked under there
61. EMMA: Steed! Whoever heard of finding a body under a bearskin -
GRAMS. light humorous music
C/U of a rug being pulled back by the umbrella handle to reveal a shapely leg in fishnet stockings disappearing into a cricket jersey.
62. EMMA (O/C): Bare skin!
The legs move enticingly.
CUT to STEED and EMMA
63. EMMA: It is a body!
64. STEED: A woman’s body!
GRAMS. light romantic music
CUT to the rug being pulled away to reveal a pretty blonde (VALERIE VAN OST), who sits up and winks at him
CUT to STEED and EMMA
65. EMMA: But it’s alive...
66. STEED: I don’t mind... I’ll handle this personally!
[He stands at the word ‘this’]
CUT to FAR shot of STEED offering VALERIE his hand
She gets up and they turn to leave arm in arm
[GRAMS. theme music] They stop and look back halfway to the door, then depart, STEED patting her bottom
EMMA sighs, lifts a cushion to reveal a half-knitted sock which she picks up and start to knit.
FADE TO BLACK. F/U SLIDES:
02:49 — titles as per the signboard (without sticker)
02:50 — sticker overlaid, and flashes on and off several times
02:52 — coloured spot overlays
03:03 — ABC television ident
The film has a scene where Robert Morley’s character, Colonel Roberts, and Graham Stark’s character, Burke, have just turned on a radio to tune into a bug they’ve concealed in Cliff Richard’s room at the hotel. They then hear a bit of The Avengers. It starts with one of Macnee’s later lines (line 11) as a lead in, then uses the snippet where they discuss finding a body (lines 6–10), ending with line 13.ROBERTS: ..this radio. Shhhh!
STEED: Something’s bound to turn up! There’s always a body hanging around- somewhere - (line 11)
EMMA: Oh, I’m not particular; it could be stabbed, strangled, riddled with bullets, mutilated beyond recognition - (line 5)
STEED: You’re quite right! Until we find a body - (line 6)
EMMA: - we’ve nothing to investigate (line 7)
STEED: We’re defunct! (line 8)
ROBERTS (OVER): Who’s he talking to?
EMMA (IN BACKGROUND): Obsolete! (crisply) (line 9)
STEED (IN BACKGROUND): Out of business (worriedly) (line 10)
BURKE (OVER): Mrs Emma Peel, you’ve got the wrong wave length.
EMMA (IN BACKGROUND): I remember discovering three in one night. (line 13)
|John Steed||Patrick Macnee regular 007|
|Emma Peel||Diana Rigg regular 007|
|The Body||Valerie Van Ost regular Carry On.. Space 1999|
|Teleplay by||Brian Clemens regular Danger Man The Champions The Professionals Adam Adamant|
|All characters and events in this Teleplay are fictitious. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely co-incidental.|
|Directed by||James Hill regular The Saint|
|Produced by||Julian Wintle regular|
|In Charge of Production||Albert Fennell regular The Professionals|
|Music by||Laurie Johnson regular The Professionals Jason King|
|Associate Producer||Brian Clemens regular Danger Man The Champions The Professionals Adam Adamant|
|Photography||Lionel Banes regular The Saint|
|Art Director||Harry Pottle regular 007 Carry On..|
|Film Editor||Lionel Selwyn regular|
|Production Manager||Geoffrey Haine regular The Champions|
|© Associated British Productions Limited MCMLXVI|
|Diana Rigg’s wardrobe designed by||John Bates regular|
|and her shoes by||Edward Rayne regular|
|Assistant Director||Richard Dalton regular|
|Camera Operator||Tony White regular The Saint Space 1999 Department S|
|Casting Director||G.B. Walker regular The Saint|
|Continuity||June Randall regular 007 The Saint|
|Make-up||George Blackler regular The Saint Carry On..|
|Hairdresser||Bill Griffiths regular|
|Wardrobe||Jackie Jackson regular|
|Sound Editor||Jack T. Knight regular 007 Space 1999|
|Sound Recording||Simon Kaye regular 007 Indiana Jones|
|Dubbing Mixer||Len Abbott regular The Champions The Saint Department S|
|Recording Director||A.W. Lumkin regular The Saint|
|Stunt Arranger||Ray Austin regular The Professionals The Saint Randall and Hopkirk The Champions Department S Space 1999|