Series 5 — Episode 13
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
Read the shooting script (PDF 2.3MB)
Script amendments (PDF 1.43MB)
Read the original Overkill script summary (PDF 2.35MB)
Production No E.66.13
Production completed: March 22 1967. First transmission: April 12 1967.
TV Times summary
In which Steed goes off the rails — and Emma finds her station in life!
Emma finds a toy train in her living room - a summons from Steed.
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, 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.
Agent Lucas (Michael Nightingale) is chased through a rail yard by Bart (John Doye) and another man, pistols drawn. He hides in a carriage and throttles one of his pursuers with his tie and makes his escape.
Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) finds a toy train on her coffee table, carrying
a card inscribed ‘MRS PEEL’ - a summons
from John Steed (Patrick Macnee), who appears and says, “We’re needed”. She
flips his nose with the card, and they travel to Norborough
Junction, where Steed has arranged to meet Lucas.
He’s in trouble on the train though, seeing the ticket collector talking to Bart he ducks into a compartment, only to find it occupied by a newly-married bride (Isla Blair) and groom (Drewe Henley). He leaves the compartment and hides his briefcase in the baggage van. Lucas disembarks when the collector announces Norborough, but finds the station is disused and deserted. He discovers he’s alighted at Chase Halt, then the groom emerges from a waiting room and shoots him in the back.
The train arrives at Norborough, where Steed and Emma get on board when Lucas doesn’t appear. They split up, Emma seeing the bride, now with Bart, on her way to the restaurant car. Steed finds the briefcase while Emma is asking the steward (Peter J. Elliott) if he has seen Lucas. The steward calls the ticket collector (James Hayter) over and she claims Lucas said he was in trouble and borrowed £5 from her, at which the inspector suggests Lucas gave her the slip at Norborough.
They meet up and Steed explains an agent always leaves something identifiable behind when on the run. The steward passes down the corridor, announcing King’s Cross and presents Mrs Peel with a £5 note, saying the gentleman apologised for the inconvenience - “I must try that more often”, she tells Steed. The bride notices that Steed has Lucas’ case and sends Bart in pursuit.
They open the case at Steed’s flat, and find a card marked
‘4 7 67’, a picture of Lucas’ ‘Aunt Maud’ (actually a secure
information pouch), a photograph of Salt, secretary to
Admiral Cartney - whom Emma recognises as having been on the
train last might. She visits the Admiral, posing as a
journalist and her interview interrupts (Tim Barrett)
from photographing secret documents. She asks Admiral Cartney (Richard Caldicott) about his new position - head of security
for VIP travel - and she notices when Salt drops his minicamera.
Bart arrives at Steed’s, but is killed by his own gun when Steed slams the reinforced door in his face. He’s searching Bart when Emma arrives, tripping over the body ("Steed - whoops! You really must have a word with that cleaning lady of yours!"); he says Lucas was onto a plot by a radical splinter group to kill a VIP and she recognises Bart as having been with the bride on the train. Steed finds a ticket to Chase Halt in Bart’s pocket and is suspicious - it’s three stops from Norborough but hasn’t been used in years. They visit the station and find Lucas’ body in a trunk just as the station’s owner, a railway fanatic called Crewe (John Laurie), arrives, accusing them of trespassing. He lives in the signal box, but can tell them nothing of last night’s events as he’d been lured on a wild goose chase for an 1892 Jubilee edition water cistern, and had the ignominy of having to catch a bus home. He found some signs reading ‘Norborough’ in the ladies’ waiting room, and says the station is identical id design to Norborough, a Scott Simon design that was used across the country. Steed and Emma decide to get Lucas removed discreetly, and to feed Salt some false information.
The admiral is duly told the entire general staff will be
using HMS Pyrocanthus to visit the enemy’s offshore installations,
and Salt snaps the comminuqué He takes the 8:10 to Liverpool
and Steed shares his compartment, having arranged to meet Mrs Peel
at Norborough. Steed’s umbrella contains a dictophone, and
he records a brief memo about Salt not doing anything suspicious.
He sits in Salt’s seat, then relinquishes it when Salt asks to
sit facing the engine, and Steed sees that it’s seat number
4|7|67. The bride has recognised Steed, however, and the groom
warns the ticket collector, who alerts Salt and Steed is
apprehended at gun point.
Emma joins the train when Steed fails to disembark and spots the umbrella in the luggage rack. Meanwhile, the ticket inspector has discovered Salt’s information is false and sends the groom to kill him. Mrs Peel discovers the tape recording and calls the admiral but the groom gets to Salt first. Emma and the admiral enter the office to ‘the smell of grapeshot’ and find a packet of used return tickets to Norborough, the ticket punch being the right size for a microdot!
Back on the train, the bride fits a bomb under seat 4|7|67
which will be detonated remotely from another train, the carriage
already earmarked for the VIP. Emma checks Chase Halt, fearing to
find Steed in the trunk, and encounters Special Branch agent George Warren (Dyson Lovell) who’s doing a security check of the line.
They go to the signal box with Crewe and he says the umbrella
recording of train noises isn’t a train at all. Warren
recognises it as the Mark V tapping code - a sort of shorthand morse
code. He deciphers the message ("Diddly dah, diddly dum, twiddly dum.
Twiddly, twiddly, twiddly dum. Blinkety blink, blinkety blink.
Chaddley dum, chaddley dah; boopety boop", as Emma transcribes it)
as ‘Durbridge’, a nearby station. Before he can explain, the groom,
having found Lucas gone, shoots the windows out of the signal box
with a tommy gun, hitting Warren. He gasps, “You were right” before
he dies and Crewe fills in the gap - “the Prime Minister, he’ll be on
this line - tonight!”
The PM’s personal secretary (Noel Davis) inspects the carriage, worrying the steward and ticket colelctor when he bounces vigorously on the seat. He wants the PM to thank them personally but is told they’ll be on their regular train, which will pass his at 8:57.
Emma and Crewe board the 8:10 and she enters the bride’s compartment, telling Crewe to follow the ticket collector. He does so, hilariously sitting in a little old lady’s lap at one point to avoid being spotted, and trails him to the restaurant car. Inside, the collector tells Steed, chained to a steam pipe in the kitchen, they plan to kill the Prime Minister after the trains pass at Durbridge, illustrated by a train set governed by a blonde hostess and Georgie, and controlled by a big red button. Emma meanwhile reads the evening paper, and has her attention drawn to the headline article about the PM returning to Downing Street by the bride smiling to herself about it. Crewe hears the stweard use a ‘shave-and-a-haircut’ knock to enter the car, and the ticket collector is warned that Emma is in the bride’s compartment. He signals her the message “Kill the woman” but Emma has heard the taps and jumps the bride when she tries to close the corridor blinds. Crewe explains the ‘secret’ knock and they use it, but the groom is too fast, and orders Mrs Peel to jump from the train, at gunpoint. they fight and she’s about to be flung out the door when Crewe comes to her aid, the groom falling to his death. they enter the restaurant car and defeat the stweard and a blonde hostess after a prolonged crockery fight. Entering the control room, they’re confronted by Georgie’s gun. Steed saves them by breaking the steam pipe and a fight breaks out in the fog, the villains being vanquished. The PM’s train passes and Emma accidentally leans against the button - but Steed has fortunately already disconnected the wires. Crewe excitedly pulls the communication chord to stop the train ("I’ve always wanted to do this!"), but he pulls more and more chord out, to no effect.
The Avengers await a visit from the Prime Minister - “An OBE for you, Sir John Steed”, “Dame Emma”, but having discovered neither of them actually voted for him, they decide to avoid the Prime Minister’s long speech of thanks by pretending they’re out.
|Transmission dates:||Foreign title||champagne (Bollinger Maison Speçial Cuvée Brut [?])|
|Germany||2/01/1968||(Diesmal mit Knalleffekt)|
|France||20/08/1968||(Une petite gare désaffectée)|
|Italy||15/05/1974||(servizio di sicurezza)|
|Spain||---||(algo gracioso ocurrió de camino a la estación)|
|The Netherlands||?||(Treintje spelen)|