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  • title card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading 'THE HIDDEN TIGER' superimposed on a tiger skin lying over Williams' contorted body
  • subtitle card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading 'STEED HUNTS A BIG CAT
					EMMA IS BADLY SCRATCHED' superimposed on a tiger skin lying over Williams' contorted body
  • Youtube video - Removing wallpaper in her flat, Mrs Peel is amazed to find 'Mrs Peel -' written beneath one sheet. She turns to see Steed remove another, under which is written '- We're needed.'
  • View through the bars of a tiger cage: Nesbitt aiming his rifle to the right of the camera. The cage bears a sign that reads 'DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS'
  • Mrs Peel, holding the cat-shaped PURRR brochure, purrs appreciatively when Steed, holding the E-K phone book, refers to her as a 'beautiful, bronze tabby'
  • Cheshire's identi-cat system, whowing Mrs Peel's 'Little John'
  • Angora dangles the dangerous locket from her right hand as she haughtily tells Peters not to worry
  • Steed, strapped to a chair, is relieved to see Mrs Peel burst in and rush down the corridor between the soon-to-be lethal cats, a large cat statue is on the right
  • Youtube video - Steed helps Emma redecorate her flat, but ends up stepping in a tray of paint

Series 5 - Episode 8
The Hidden Tiger

9½ stars

by Philip Levene
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Steed hunts a big cat
Emma is badly scratched

Episode Rating

Subject 0-5
Direction
4½ stars
Music
4½ stars
Humour 5 stars
Intro/tag
4½ stars
Mastermind
4½ stars
Plot
4½ stars
Emma
4½ stars
Set Design
3½ stars
Overall
(0-10)
9½ stars

My absolute favourite Avengers episode. Elegant, ludicrous, eccentric and just plain joyous. Great clothes, inspired guest performances and an attention to detail make this the episode par excellence.

Redecorations are interrupted by Steed's message, hidden under the wallpaper.
The Avengers have to track down a vicious cat on the rampage, killing people and animals near an experimental farm. Ronnie Barker plays Cheshire, the innocent proprietor of PURRR, excellently - patting his own head and lapping milk in my favourite scene. One by one, the members of the board of PURRR are being killed by cats - the killers are ordinary cats that are being driven wild by brain-wave modulators implanted in their collars. Steed signs up Emma as his beautiful bronze tabby, and Mrs Peel responds by joining her missing Little John, who's very grumpy before his first glass of champagne in the morning.
Dr Manx and Angora, from PURRR, plan to unleash every domestic cat on England, using radio waves to make them primeval beasts. Steed is tied to a chair, surrounded by cats, but Emma arrives in time to free him and disable the transmitter. Seeing a now placid cat in his van, Manx panics and dies in a car accident.
Mission accomplished, Mrs Peel can return to her redecorating - but Steed puts his foot in it.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Landrover SWB soft-top (covered, spare on bonnet) dark green OPC 104D
Mini Moke milk truck blue LYP 794D
Mini Moke milk truck blue LYP 792D
Mini Moke milk truck blue LLU 253D
Mini Moke milk truck blue AJD 12C
Bentley Speed Six 1926 British racing green RX 6180
Austin Princess Vanden Plas Hearse black -
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D
Commer 30cwt van royal blue, PURRR written in white on the side 396 EUW

Who's Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Williams Harper's cat cat
Sir David Harper Harper's cat cat
George Erskine cat cat
Major Nesbitt cat cat
Walter Bellamy cat cat
Samuel Jones Jones' cat cat
Dr Manx V* himself V* crashes van into a tree
An unusual episode in which no-one is murdered directly; all the deaths (bar the last) being caused by cute, fluffy, enraged moggies.
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma's Fashions Steed's Fashions
  1. blue/pink catsuit
  2. mid-tan/camel coat, with white shoes & skivvy & knee length skirt
  3. plaid sports coat, white skivvy, tan trousers & white ankle boots
  4. yellow jacket with large A shaped lapels, white skivvy & trousers & ankle boots
  5. pink sleeveless sundress, white stockings, br open-toes shoes (sandal-like)
  6. ... & red quilted jacket
  7. black catsuit with silver trim, high neck, ring at neck ,zippered, black ankle boots
  8. (1)
  1. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with a peaked collar with blue & white cravat, white shirt
  2. grey double-breasted overcoat, cream shirt, red tie, grey bowler hat & umbrella
  3. pale grey double-breasted suit, felt collar, flap pockets, 2 very long vents, wide skirt, grey chelsea boots, umbrella and bowler, white shirt, dark brown paisley cravat
  4. brown and green hunting blazer with dark brown paisley cravat, houndstooth trousers, pale khaki shirt, brown suede boots
  5. dark taupe jacket, green waistcoat, brass buttons, pale brown shirt, deep gold tie, beige trousers, brown bowler and chelsea boots, black umbrella

Continuity and trivia

  1. 5:19 - "We'll check around the grounds" Really? It's two stand-ins who do the walking around. The woman's stockings are a completely different colour to Diana's.
  2. 7:37/7:42 - The footage of the attacking lion (7:17) is taken from the Patrick McGoohan film "Nor the Moon by Night".
  3. 8:08 (7:45) -
    While at Nesbitt's, Steed crosses the room followed by Nesbitt, and the shadow of the boom microphone dances across his forehead.
  4. 9:12 - As the camera pans across, following Peters, you can see a glimpse of the studio ceiling and lighting gantry in the top left corner. It would have been considered to be outside the scan area for Sixties television sets but even so there's a clear corner in the "sky" above the shed in the corner.
  5. 13:35 (13:13) -
    When Erskine is attacked outside the barn, we get a low angle view - to represent the cat's POV - unfortunately, you can also see the studio ceiling.
  6. 14:49 - They've used the American spelling of "pasteurized" on the milk can.
  7. 17:02 - Product placement for Moët et Chandon.
  8. 23:00-23:25 - Going through the gates of PURRR are a lot of mokes - actually, it's four, which go through the gate three times, giving the impression that 10 mokes had entered. (all 4; then 2 in front of Steed and 2 behind as he stops at the gate; then we cut to Steed, with all four queued up behind him again).
  9. 23:28 - The first cat-shaped sign is followed by a red and then a yellow one in the long shot, but we never see them again after the close-up.
  10. 25:10 - Cheshire is mourning the passing of "Prince Courtney of Chippenham" when Steed arrives.
  11. 25:27 - Cheshire bids adieu to Prince Courtney by saying, "Farewell, faithful, fair and fulsome feline friend!"
    Fulsome? The word used to be a positive adjective but these days it suggests "overweight" or "overfed" or, worse, "offensive" or "excessive". Perhaps Prince Courtney was a fat cat.
  12. 26:00-26:20 - Distinct innuendo from Cheshire. He asks Steed, "The name of your beloved pussy?" Steed looks blank then replies, "Oh, err, Emma".
    A moment later Cheshire observes, "And what a joy for you it must be when she's curled up in your lap." to which Steed replies, "Well, I've never thought of it like that."
  13. 26:28 - Cheshire offers Steed a drink - of milk! : "Homogenised, pasteurised, full cream, dairy special or perhaps you prefer a short?"
  14. 26:43 - When Cheshire has a drink of milk, the cat he's holding tries to drink it so Angora quickly takes the cat off him.
  15. 30:44-31:20 - Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, the is no Continuity error when Cheshire's playing with the Identi-Cat system - true, he replaces the chin, which is the top sheet, with another. However, when Mrs Peel says the eyes are wrong, he places another sheet over the top (31:14) - on top of the chin and smaller eyes below [see enlargement].
  16. 31:41 - Emma tells Cheshire her "Little John" is "very grumpy before his first glass of champagne".
  17. 32:50 - Diana Rigg must be allergic to cats, her eyes are all puffed up as they walk down the hallway.
  18. 33:50 - Angora is wearing Mrs Peel's pink and black woolen suit from The Cybernauts
  19. 35:14 - Left:Peters is talking to Angora and goes to pour himself a glass of milk, only to find it almost full already, so he just tops it up and drinks. Must have required a couple of takes for that one. (34:52)
  20. 41:17 - Rocky Taylor stands in for Macnee again, he runs for the wall and leaps over it.
  21. 41:42 - Right:The view from the peephole that we see from Steed's point of view is impossible - he's in a side room and yet he can see straight down the middle of the hallway. (41:16)
  22. 42:21 - there's a black spot on the film almost dead centre as Cheshire attacks Steed.
  23. 44:30-44:45 - Diane West does a lot of the running around in the dark, standing in for Diana Rigg.
  24. 44:55 - The cat Cheshire gave Mrs Peel and which escapes from her car (44:55) to the van clearly walks across the middle of the hallway (45:40) when the cats are released by the villains, but reappears in the van (46:24) in the next scene, scaring Dr Manx into crashing the vehicle.
    In Emma's arms
    ...in the hall
    ...in the van
    ©1961-9 CANAL+IMAGE UK Ltd All Rights Reserved
  25. 45:51 - When Emma arrives to saves Steed she purrs, "Pussies Galore!" after running down the hallway full of cats.
  26. 46:51/47:16 - stand-ins do most of the running around in the dark to reach and then leave the crashed van.
  27. 47:00 - When Dr Manx falls out of the cab you can just see the head of a crew member at the bottom of the screen, waiting to catch him.
  28. Running time: 49'06"
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.

Cast notes

  1. Gabrielle Drake (Angora) went on to star as Lt. Gay Ellis in the TV series UFO. She is also the sister of the tragic musician Nick Drake.
  2. Several actors are uncredited - the undertaker and pallbearers who leave PURRR with a cat-sized coffin when Steed arrives. Anyone know them?
    Pallbearer Pallbearer
  3. There are also the hearse driver and four milk float drivers, but they're too indistinct to be recognisable.

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