Series 5 — Episode 4
The See-Through Man
by Philip Levene
Directed by Robert Asher and Roy Rossotti
Steed makes a bomb -
Emma is put to sleep!
Mrs Peel is surprised to find a message on one of her microscope slides, saying she’s needed to investigate an apparently invisible man.
Ambassador Brodny is convinced that Major Vazin, a top agent recently arrived in England, has acquired the secret of invisibility. A front for their government, The Eastern Drug Corporation, recently purchased the formula from Quilby - a mad professor expertly played by Roy Kinnear. It is all a plot to fool the British government into diverting much needed resources into pointless research but the Avengers see through the scheme.
They dispatch the villains, and flummox Brodny, before going out for something to eat, if they can catch up to the old Rolls that has a will of its own!
Government employee Wilton (David Glover), returning a dossier to the archives, is worried about doors apparently opening and closing by themselves, disembodied footsteps and filing cabinets being rifled by an unseen hand - he investigates and is knocked out by an assailant who isn’t there...
Emma Peel (Diana Rigg), working on a scientific paper is astounded when one of her specimen slides reveals the message “Mrs. Peel - We’re Needed” under the microscope, and John Steed (Patrick Macnee) whisks her off to the ministry archive where they discover the assailant must have passed upwards of twenty people without being seen at all. In the filing cabinet they find a note reading “Ernest Quilby, submission 144, transferred to Special Section”. Moments later, that section has a visit from the unseen visitor. This perplexes the bureaucrat in charge, Sir Andrew Ford (John Nettleton) who charges out the door after being knocked down by a cabinet door, just as Steed and Mrs Peel arrive. They declare they haven’t seen anyone. File 144 - Ernest Quilby’s, the one transferred - is missing but Sir Andrew only knows Quilby’s a crank inventor. He suggests they ask his predecessor, Lord Daviot, or Quilby himself what file 144 contained. Enemy agent Ulric (Harvey Hall) watches them leave the ministry and is told by his commander to start plan 2.
Steed visits Quilby’s lab, noticing a quaint old taxi parked outside. Inside, Professor Quilby (Roy Kinnear) and his assistant, Ackroyd (Jonathan Elsom) are conducting some explosive experiments. Quilby is an absent-minded inventor of useless items - the self-thrusting bayonet, jet-propelled army boot, rain-activated explosive, and 144 - an invisibility formula, which he had sold to the Eastern Drug Company - to the astonishment of Steed and the devious Ackroyd - for £100,000. Ulric reports Steed leaving Quilby’s house and is ordered back to the embassy.
Meanwhile, Emma arrives at Daviot Hall, passing a Jaguar saloon in the driveway. A shot rings out and the assailant escapes in the Jaguar, leaving Lord Daviot dead, face down in the ornamental pond.
Emma tells Steed about Daviot, and he reveals the buyer of Quilby’s formula is a front for Ambassador Brodny and his cohorts at an Eastern Bloc embassy, which is being visited by Major Vazin and his wife Elena, two of their top spies - she’s being watched but the Major hasn’t been seen since he arrived. Emma quips he may have taken some of Quilby’s formula, and they both do a double take.
Brodny (Warren Mitchell) enters the guest apartments, looking for the Major and finds the shower running while having no-one visible inside it. He’s about to check the cubicle when Elena Vazin (Moira Redmond) stops him, telling him the major is taking a shower. Brodny is worried about the withdrawal of £250,000 from the embassy account ("Guests are allocated 12 units a day, now you’ve been here a week so that’s...") - Elena says it was at the order of the Supreme Central Committee and produces the authority from her stocking garter, saying the funds were for a secret weapon. Brodny rechecks the shower cubicle and finds it definitely empty, and returns to the office to see the major’s in his office chair - and faints when Vazin turns to him and he see a headless man in a dressing gown!
Brodny comes to and astoundedly accepts a drink from the seemingly invisible major - who swivels his chair around, opens and closes drawers and windows and so on. The major explains they’ve bought Quilby’s formula so they can invade Britain with impunity, but Steed is onto them. Vazin asks Brodny about Steed who blusters “great talents, impeccable taste, a good friend-” (realises his faux pas) - “A sworn enemy!” Ackroyd rings the embassy, seeking £100,000 of his own to ‘forget’ what he knows about the formula and Elena arranges a meeting. Brodny is aghast at another £100,000 being spent, but Elena takes a gun from the drawer instead, grimly observing, “We will pay him”.
Elena leaves, followed by Emma in her Lotus, while the guard allows Steed to slip into the embassy to see Brodny, who is just taking leave of the major. He opens the door to find Steed and panics and slams the door shut. the major reassures him - he won’t be seen! - and Steed is let in. They banter, and Steed notices cigars and vodka which Brodny hates, and Elena’s photo. He mentions Quilby’s formula has been offered to them - “A fraud, of course”, and Brodny lets slip how much he thinks Vazin has paid for it. Steed further incommodes him with insinuations about an affair between Brodny and Elena, and plants a bug on her photo. Outside, he hears the major reprimand Brodny and order the destruction of the bug.
Elena arrives at the rendezvous and is about to shoot Ackroyd when Mrs Peel turns up, scaring him off. Elena contacts Vazin, who chases Emma in his Jaguar, trying to run her off the road. They skid to a halt after narrowly avoiding crashing into a truck and she sees the headless driver take off, leaving his hat - inscribed ‘Major A. Vazin’ - behind.
At her flat, Steed and Emma discuss the scientific basis of the formula. She says she didn’t see who Elena was talking to, but describes the old taxi which Steed remembers from Quilby’s house. He revisits Quilby - another explosion - and learns it was Elena who bought the formula ("a veritable Martha Barry" says the muddled inventor), and that Ackroyd had taken the car out earlier, and had gone for a stroll in a nearby park. Quilby gets back to trying to rediscover his formula while Steed goes to the park, where Ackroyd has arranged another meeting with Elena. Steed offers a rival bid for his information when the park gate and swings start moving by themselves. Steed goes to investigate and finds a cigar stub, and a dead Ackroyd on his return.
Steed receives a call from Quilby - he’s rediscovered the formula - (or so he says at gunpoint) and Steed leaves Emma to her chemistry experiments. When he arrives he finds Bertha the hamster apparently invisible and Quilby knocked out (or dead?), but is struck down by the headless major before he can learn anything more. Mrs Peel is then chloroformed and abducted by the major and she comes to in the embassy, where Elena gives Brodny a gun to guard her with. Steed escapes from the lab and breaks into the embassy while Mrs Peel is introduced to the seemingly invisible major and learns of their plans for world domination. Elena orders Brodny to take her outside and kill her, and the Vazins plan to return home, fully expecting Mrs Peel will escape and warn the MoD of the formula’s efficacy.
Sure enough, she does escape, but is suspicious and heads back toward the Vazins’ apartment. Steed, too, enters the apartment and discovers a control room full of relays and monitors. Mrs Peel knocks out Ulric and confronts Elena with the gun she’d given Brodny - she pulls the trigger, knowing it to be empty and she was supposed to escape. They fight and Elena is finally knocked out by a cabinet drawer that opens spontaneously. Steed demonstrates a few of the remotely controlled doors and windows, and directs Emma to the control room from which the fraud was perpetrated. The headless Vazin enters but Steed knocks him out, a much smaller man wearing a built up torso disguise. Steed playfully squirts Brodny with a soda siphon when he come in, begging not to be sent back East (“it’s so cold!”)
Back at Emma’s apartment, she pretends her chemistry apparatus has become invisible, proving it with a slide that reads “I’M HUNGRY” - Steed proposes lunch, and gets his 1909 Rolls-Royce out of mothballs for the occasion. He has trouble crank starting it, and it takes off on its own when they give it a push start.
|Transmission dates:||Foreign title||
brandy and soda
|Spain||---||(El hombre invisible)|
|Holland||2/04/68||(De onzichtbare man)|