Series 5 — Episode 8
The Hidden Tiger
by Philip Levene
Directed by Sidney Hayers
Steed hunts a big cat
Emma is badly scratched
Production No E.66.6.8
Production completed: January 15 1967. First transmission: March 1 1967.
TV Times summary
In which Steed hunts a big Cat — and Emma is badly scratched!
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.
Steed hunts a big cat
Emma is badly scratched
A butler - Williams (John Moore) - tidies up a room, puts a saucer of milk out for the cat and shuts the door to shut out the dog’s barking when he’s suddenly set upon and mauled to death.
Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) is redecorating her flat; she strips off some wallpaper
to discover the legend “Mrs Peel -” underneath, and turns to see
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) reveal “- We’re Needed.” on another wall. They examine the
murder scene and Williams’ employer, Sir David Harper (Jack Gwillim),
enters, saying something wild and inhuman must have attacked him -
yet it appeared without warning and disappeared without trace.
Sir David is concerned about the livestock at his experimental farm,
so Steed and Emma search the grounds, taking the dog with them.
The dog sudden growls and sets off back to the house, where Sir David
has just been attacked - inside the house, with the door closed.
They find the body, doors all closed, the cat hiding under a
table, and no footprints or traces of any kind. Steed reflects it
must have been a cat of some kind - “We plead not guilty”, says Emma,
holding the frightened cat. Steed smiles and says he thinks it
was “something a little larger than that”.
He visits Major Nesbitt (John Phillips), a big game hunter nearby, for advice - Nesbitt is surprised to hear about Harper, and refuses to believe there’s a big cat about, claiming he can smell them miles away. Nevertheless, he says the cat will need to eat soon, so can’t stay hidden. At the farm, Emma asks George Erskine (Stanley Meadows) about their work, trying to establish a motive, and is rudely brushed past by Peters (Michael Forrest), one of the farm hands. Peters bursts back in moments later, saying the prize bull has been killed - despite the ring of animal traps around the cow shed.
Nesbitt excitedly joins Steed and Emma on a safari, he and Steed
taking the high ground while Emma covers the farm, where she hopes
to bump into Erskine, who’s working late. There’s no romance for
her though, as Erskine is attacked while checking the milk store
and killed, caught in one of traps while trying to escape. In the
lab, there’s nothing but broken equipment and an empty milk can.
Next day, having turned up nothing in Sir David’s notes, they go back on safari, Emma bringing a box of miniature directional microphones and earpiece receivers. Nesbitt has brewed a smelly stew which is guaranteed to attract big cats (a popular idea) and sets it in his parlour in front of a steel cage which Steed locks him inside of - “safer in than out!” - telling Steed to watch the waterhole. Emma scatters the microphones around the farm while Steed sets up on the ridge: picnic hamper, champagne... then Peters arrives, claiming to have to tidy up. Shortly afterwards, they hear the purr of a cat on the microphones near the farm, but Mrs Peel can find nothing - the cat turns away, heading for Nesbitt’s place and Steed sets off in pursuit. He’s too late tohugh, as Nesbitt is attacked inside the cage, but Steed finds a medallion near the body inscribed ‘P.U.R.R.R. FURRY LODGE SUSSEX’.
He visits P.U.R.R.R. in the morning, a cat sanctuary serviced by a fleet of milkmen and meets the proprietor, Edwin Cheshire (Ronnie Barker) inside, playing a mournful organ for the funeral of one of the cats. Cheshire tell him that the Philanthropic Union for Rescue, Relief and Recuperation is England’s largest cat protection society, and has 1,110,043 members in London alone, according to his secretary, Angora (Gabrielle Drake) who signs up Steed’s ‘beloved pussy’, Emma - “a cuddly bronze tabby, and what a delight it is for you when she’s curled up in your lap”, exclaims Cheshire, who offers Steed a drink - of milk! The sour Dr Manx (Lyndon Brook) enters, sneering at Cheshire being “on the bottle again”. Steed asks if big cats are also covered by the Union, which silences them, Angora hurriedly giving him a brochure and ushering him out. Outside, he’s amazed to see that Harper, Erskine and Nesbitt were all on the governing committee, leaving only Samual Jones and Walter Bellamy alive. Not for long however, as Bellamy (Reg Pritchard) is chased across wasteland near his home and mauled on the doorstep just before Steed arrives. He rushes to Mrs Peel’s flat, straight past her at the door, looking for the phone book - "He went that-a way!", she quips. Steed starts phoning all the S. Joneses in London while Emma visits P.U.R.R.R. to sign up her ‘Little John’, an aristrocratic cat who’s grumpy before his first glass of champagne in the morning. Cheshire makes a composite photo of the cat using his patented Indenti-Cat system and shows her over the society’s facilities and she surprises Dr Manx and Angora locked in embrace in the ‘treatment room’, of which she is suspicious. she leaves just after Peters arrives in a van and is recognised by him when Angora sees her inspecting the van, the interior of which is set up like a small apartment. Peters says she was at the farm with Steed, which makes Angora jump - Peters wants to kill her but Angora stops him, says they can only be suspicious and don’t know anything definite.
Steed finally tracks down the correct Samuel Jones (Brian Haines)
and tells to lock himself inside - penthouse flat notwithstanding,
and hurries over but Jones’ cat comes in the catflap as he locks
the door, and out it again just as Steed arrives. Jones has been
mauled to death. Peters get a gun from a drawer to kill Mrs Peel,
but Angora tells him Jones is dead and Mrs Peel will be killed
the usual way, and gives him a cat and a medallion. Steed rings
Emma to tell her about Jones, and notices the cat’s medallion has
sprung open, revealing an electronic circuit - “the cat’s out of
the bag!”. He ask Dawson (Frederick Treves) to examine the circuit,
who tells him it contains an electrophon, a recent development
that transmit brainwaves, and can release primæval instincts
in lower creatures.
Cheshire arrives at Emma’s place with the cat, saying he’ll fill the empty place in her heart and Steed goes to PURRR, knocking Peters out and dumping him in the van before breaking in. He knocks out Cheshire when challenged inside, but is captured by the real villains - Angora and Manx, who reveal their plan to conquer Britain by killing the population with their cats. Manx flicks a switch in demonstration - warning Emma of her peril "I think that’s grounds for divorce", she says, and takes the cat back to PURRR after discovering the circuit in the medallion herself. When she arrives, she takes care of Angora, dumping her in the van next to Peters, and enters, avoiding Manx in the hall as he leaves after setting a one minute timer until the cats become tigers. She frees Steed and they flick every switch on the board, managing to turn off the system in the process. Outside, Manx panics when he sees Emma’s cat, which had leapt into the familiar van seat from her car and he crashes the van.
Emma and Steed are painting her flat - he’s doodling on the wall: a cat “repressed personality”, signed “Steed” in large letters “with extrovert overtones”, then a cat’s head and a love heart with JS in one corner, which he hurriedly paints over when she notices, saying "By acting as we did, we averted a terrible-" he steps in a paint tray and Emma smiles, “CATastrophe!”
|Transmission dates:||Foreign title||
champagne (Bollinger Maison Speçial Cuvée Brut)
|France||17/06/1973||(Le tigre caché)|
|Italy||28/12/1973||(la tigre nascosta)|
|Spain||---||(El tigre oculto)|
|The Netherlands||26/06/93||(Voor de poes)|