Series 5 - Episode 138 stars
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Station
by Brian Sheriff
Directed by John Krish
Steed goes off the rails
Emma finds her station in life
|Set Design||2½ stars|
Fast-paced fun from beginning to end in this special episode for all the trainspotters. They certainly seem to cover all demographics when producing stories for The Avengers and this isn't the least of them. Full steam ahead to adventure!
Emma finds a toy train in her living room - a summons from
They're needed to meet an agent who's discovered foul things afoot on the trains, and it's not the food for a change. When the agent fails to show, and Steed discovers his briefcase, they investigate the disused station of Norborough. Dissidents are passing on information through the ticket inspector on the train, one of them being Salt, a clerk in the Admiralty. They plot to explode a bomb under the Prime Minister by remote control, when they pass by on another train. As the minutes tick towards 8.57pm, Emma and Crewe, the owner of Norborough station (played very humorously by John Laurie from Dad's Army), tackle the train's unfriendly passengers and staff. Steed gets the enemy all steamed up, and they're dispatched in the fog. Crewe, however, finds himself unable to stop the train.
The Avengers, having discovered neither of them actually voted for him, avoid the Prime Minister's long speech of thanks by pretending they're out.
|Class 86 (AL6) Electric Train - Goods train for Wolverhampton HL to Chester via Shrewsbury||blue, white and yellow||3D 66 (E3152?)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train - passenger express to London||blue, white and yellow||1A 57 (E3...)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train - passenger express to London||blue, white and yellow||1A 59 (E3...)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train - passenger express to London||blue, white and yellow||1A 61 (E3...)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train - passenger express||blue, white and yellow||1 15 (E3...)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train - passenger express to London||blue, white and yellow||1A 66 (E3...)|
|Class 86 BR Electric Train||blue, white and yellow||?? ?? (E3...)|
|Unnamed thug [big]||V*||Lucas||Garrotted with tie|
|Bart V*||Steed & himself V*||Slams door on pistol, causing Bart to shoot himself|
|Salt V*||Groom V*||Pistol|
|George Warren||Groom V*||Machine-gun|
|Groom V*||Emma & Crewe||Thrown from speeding train|
Continuity and trivia
- 1:20 - Lucas is chased through Wembley Yard, just south of Wembley Central Station.
- 2:19 - Lucas is wearing an Old Etonian tie.
- 9:26 - There's a yellow cast across this scene, making Mrs Peel's clothes greener than they should be.
- 11:55 - Mrs Peel is unfamiliar with the Auntie Maud pouch, showing that she's not officially a member of the Ministry staff. Also, if Lucas's "Auntie Maud" standard issue army pouch, agents for the use of, is so named for the acronym Microfilm And Unciphered Documents, why does Steed examine its contents and then say (12:05), "this will take some time to decipher?"
- 12:40 - The admiral's office is the same cabin-style set from What the Butler Saw.
- 12:50 - Salt appears to be wearing an Downing College, Cambridge tie. I suppose they're making a connection to Cambridge due to the Burgess & Maclean scandal - they were at Trinity & Trinity Hall.
- 14:40 - Mrs Peel trips over Bart's body as she enters Steed's flat and quips, "You really must have a word with that cleaning lady of yours!"
- 14:58 (15:07) - Why was Bart carrying a Chase Halt ticket at all? It seems a pointless divulgence of the villains' plot.
- 15:30 - It's no wonder Mrs Peel stumbled upon Lucas so easily, he wasn't very well hidden; the end of the packing case he's been hidden in has been cut away so they could lie him flat, and his lets were sticking out the end.
- 16:35 - Crewe tells Emma and Steed that he "missed the last train and had to take a bus... a bus!" But since the trains haven't stopped at Chase Halt for the past nine years, what difference would it have made? (And for that matter, how did he get to the practical joke destination in the first place without taking a bus?)
- 17:40/25:55 - The false signal fed to Salt mentioned using "HMS Pyrocantha" to tour enemy installations.
- 18:29 to 25:00 - Salt and Steed get on the 8:10 to Liverpool (Salt asks which platform it leaves from at 18:29); Emma gets on at Norborough. At the end of the trip, when Emma pops into Salt's compartment and grabs Steed's umbrella, they're in London! It's far enough from London to allow for two calls for dinner, at least. (If the trips were only to Norborough and back, as would seem to be the case from the punched-through tickets in Salt's desk, then why didn't Salt get off at Norborough when Emma got on?)
- 21:25-25:00 - Steed reads "Cheaper Tackle" by Dr. Robert Bruce (Adam and Charles Black, 1966).
- 22:43-23:00 - Mrs Peel seems to be looking the wrong way when the train comes into Norborough (although the lights passing by her support her direction, but the shot of the train at 22:48 contradicts). Earlier, (7:34-7:45) it came into the platfrom from the other direction, and the shot of the train coming into the station supports the earlier shots. However, the motion of the train at 23:18 supports the shot.
- 23:30 - How did Steed get his umbrella up onto the train compartment shelf without being noticed or arousing suspicion?
- 25:40 - If Admiral Cartney's office is full of top secret, could-be-very-embarrassing information, how does the groom pop in and out so easily?
- 26:05 - Just before the groom shoots Salt in the back, the groom says "You may be telling the truth; you may be right!" and Salt replies, "Well, then, in-in that case, surely--" and the groom interrupts him with "In that case... you're under suspicion!" However, if you watch and listen closely, the groom starts to say his line BEFORE Salt ever says "in that case", then stops himself and waits until Salt finishes!
- 27:28 - Why was Salt careless enough to keep his old London-Norborough First Class Return tickets?
- 28:38 - The words "the Prime Minister" are drowned out by the sound of a passing train to maintain suspense.
- 29:43 - The end of the packing case is back on it now that Lucas has been removed, but when the groom checks the packing case (32:47), the end of it is not in place again.
- 30:36 - Mrs Peel tests Warren's knowledge of Steed by asking, "Where does he buy his trilbys?" Warren replies, "He wears bowlers and he gets them from St. James". (Which is not true, they're from Howard Johnson & Son.)
- 34:56 -
This episode breaks one of the supposed tenets of The Avengers - no uniformed policemen; and here the two bobbies wandering in and out of shot seem pointless - they're supposed to lend an air of Downing Street security to the Secretary's inspection of the carriage, but you'd have Special Branch doing that anyway...
- 35:13 - He must face the engine - but Salt said he preferred to have his back to the engine from the same seat.
- 36:36 - The bride has a very sharp memory -sometimes. She remembers Lucas's briefcase and also remembers Steed as the one who found it. However, earlier, Emma stops and looks into her compartment as she sits with Bart, and stays there for several seconds, even tapping on the glass and smiling; yet near the end, when Emma enters her compartment and sits opposite her, the bride doesn't recognize her!
- 36:51 - Watch for some John Laurie comedy gold - when Crewe is trailing Ticket Collector, he opens a compartment and sits in a woman's lap! She's awake and reading a magazine but apparently doesn't even notice!
- Death's Door.
Note that not only the headline is the same, but the sports section (back page) of both says "LUCKY GRAEME"
- 39:14 - The secret knock is "Shave and a haircut, two bits", not a very secret knock!!
- 40:45 - After the bride is bundled up into the luggage rack, we see one of the signs in the compartment reads, "Please keep this train tidy, don't leave litter".
- 41:43 - The set dresser even has a British Rail wine glass for the groom to drink out of.
- 42:30 - When Emma and the groom fight, the train is moving at about 80 MPH. When she opens the window her hair blows all around (very nicely done, by the way!); yet when she opens the door into the 80 MPH wind, the wind doesn't blow the door back at her or even affect it in the least!
- 44:19 - More comic gold from John Laurie - while watching Mrs Peel fight the villains, he hides behind a seat and eats a biscuit.
- 44:29 - The girl who attacks Mrs Peel with the fork and later gets knocked out in the dining room car is seen again in the back room, halfway through the fight scene, running the toy train set again.
- 47:45-48:35 - Neither Steed nor Mrs Peel voted for the Prime Minister and, dreading one of his long speeches, they pretend they're not in when the VIP party arrives to thank them personally. "He's the one in the raincoat", Mrs Peel replies, when Steed presumes him to be the one in the top hat.
- Running time: 49'20"
The following items have been previously submitted by our readers but, on rewatching the episode, I'm no longer convinced they're correct. I present them here for you to make up your own mind.
- After leaving his compartment on the train, Lucas starts walking down the aisle. Suddenly he stops as he sees Bart. Why didn't he notice him before that exact moment, since he was looking right at him the whole time? (ED: I think he's looking out the window or at the floor initially).
- 35:10 - How are the ticket collector and steward overseeing the secretary's visit to commandeer the carriage, when the collector has just been at Chase Halt, telling the groom to take care of the people in the signal box when they discover Lucas has already been found by the security check? (ED: it seems reasonable to assume a passage of time has elapsed unseen).
- Why does derelict, abandoned Chase Halt station have working electricity and gas? (ED: because Crewe is doing it up and has had them reconnected?).
- Also, why don't we hear Salt saying "I--I think it best you don't move!" [said at 22:11] during the tapping code recording playback in the signal box? (ED: we do hear it at 25:08 when Emma is making the 'phone call to Crewe, so I assume we're hearing a different part of the recording).
- In Crewe's signal box, Special Branch man George Warren deciphers the Mark V Tapping Code message recorded by Steed's umbrella, triumphantly announcing "Durbridge!" This means that the Ticket Collector instructed Salt to capture the dangerous man in his compartment (Steed) by tapping out the word "Durbridge"! (ED: Following on from the above, I think we're hearing a later part of the tape - remember Steed left his umbrella in the luggage rack and may have left it recording).
Anyone know who plays the blonde hostess and Georgie. Just who are these people? The blonde girl appeared in the The Prisoner episode, "The General", but received no credit.
- The writer of this episode, Brian Sheriff, is in fact two people: Roger Marshall, who wrote the original script but never finished it; and Brian Clemens who altered it greatly and prepared it for production after Marshall left the show.
- The trains featured are all electric types as used on the then recently-electrified West Coast Main Line, the London terminus of which is at Euston. - However, the restaurant car attendant clearly calls out "King's Cross next stop" at one point (not that it would have been his job to do so!), and a clock dial written "B.R. Kings Cross" (35:52) is also seen, implying that the train started its journeys from there - Kings Cross is the London terminus of the East Coast Main line!
- Secondly, we see a distant shot of what is presumably meant to be Mr. Crewe's signal box at Chase Halt (31:52) - this is clearly meant to be on the same line as Norborough (otherwise the plot doesn't work) and the electrically-hauled train calls there (twice), but there are no overhead wires visible in the shot of the signal box!
- The interior shots of the carriages (studio sets) do not match the exterior railway sequences, all of which feature BR standard stock of one sort or another, and as for the idea that a mere Travelling Ticket Inspector (or even a Guard) could influence the formation of any train set, let alone the selection of a particular vehicle for a V.I.P. train... - The villains would have been better advised to have tipped the chargehand shunter at Longsight - a couple of grand to achieve the desired result!