• title card: red all caps text reading ‘SUPER SECRET CYPHER SNATCH’ superimposed on a typewritten page headed CYPHERS - ABSOLUTELY TOP SECURITY NOT TO BE TAKEN AWAY FROM CYPHER H.Q.
  • Vickers, dressed in his Classy Glass Cleaning uniform of all white including his bowler hat, points a silenced pistol through the window towards the camera
  • The Classy Glass Cleaning trainees practice polishing windows anti-clockwise
  • Steed drives his Rolls hunched over the wheel, trying to avoid the ladder being smashed down at him by Maskin, riding atop the cleaning van behind him
  • The Classy Glass cleaners wear gasmasks as they infiltrate the gassed Cypher HQ, the staff frozen in their tracks
  • A window cleaner has an ‘out’ tray smashed over his head and crosses his eyes in comic fashion
  • Steed dangles a pocket watch from his hand, attempting to hypnotise Tara

Series 6 — Episode 2
Super Secret Cypher Snatch

Teleplay by Tony Williamson
Directed by John Hough

Production No E.67.9.10
Production completed: July 9 1968. First UK transmission: October 9 1968. First transmission (USA): September 30 1968.

TV Times summary

In Super Secret Cypher Snatch, an agent named Roger Jarret runs for his life from a cypher headquarters, pursued by an incongruous character, armed and wearing white overalls, a gas mask and a bowler.

Plot summary

A ministry agent intercepts one of the opposition, disguised as an old lady on a bicycle. Mysteriously, he’s carrying top secret code information from the Cypher Division, one of the most restricted installations in the country. Even more mysteriously, the MI12 agent assigned to the case disappears, and all the staff say they never saw him despite photographs of them taken by the missing agent. When the agent is found dead, Tara is deployed to work as a clerk in the division, while Steed investigates their window cleaners, the only unrestricted visitors to the facility in the recent past.
Tara is drugged and brainwashed by the window cleaners, along with all the staff, and reports nothing to have happened all day, while Steed is attacked by some of the window cleaners and another MI12 man is killed with a chamois. Steed arrives in time to prevent a third theft of government secrets, and wakes Tara from her daze in time to help him apprehend the ringleader.
Later, in Steed’s flat, he tries his hand at hypnotising Tara, but winds up hypnotising himself... or does he?

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Wilson (David Quilter) watches an old lady ride her bicycle past him, and reports all clear - then is ordered to chase the lady. The old lady is revealed to be a burly man who is busy waving down a helicopter by the time Wilson catches up to him. They exchange gunfire, and the helicopter departs when Wilson turns his pistol on it after shooting the spy. Among the papers Wilson finds photographs of the latest top secret cyphers...

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Tara King (Linda Thorson) visit Mother (Patrick Newell) who moans that the Minister has given the case to MI12, their man Jarret is at Cypher HQ already. Jarret (Clifford Earl) runs worriedly from the building, encountering a man wearing white overalls and a gas mask, wielding a pistol. He runs for the main gate, where he’s trapped by two more identically-clad men, and a truck in the livery of Classy Glass Cleaning; he’s gunned down by them as the guard, Masters (Alec Ross), and director, Webster (Allan Cuthbertson), look on impassively. Webster’s phone rings just as the truck leaves with the corpse and he jolts to life while Betty (Anne Rutter) approaches the gate and hands her pass to Masters. She asks him what kind of day it’s been and he replies “routine and boring”.

With Jarret now missing, Tara and Steed are instructed to investigate, Tara taking Jarret’s flat while Steed visits Cypher HQ - where Webster denies ever having seen Jarret before. At the flat, Tara meets the MI12 investigator, Ferret (Ivor Dean), and the photographer, Peters (John Carlisle). Ferret deduces that Jarret definitely left the flat on Sunday whereupon Tara finds his body hidden in a window seat. Back at HQ, Webster’s secretary Myra (Angela Scoular) says she’s never seen Jarret either and he couldn’t have arrived during her lunch break because the weather was bad so she didn’t go out. Steed is puzzled - it’s dry outside - then notices Jarret’s monogrammed lighter on Webster’s desk, which he slips into his pocket.
Back at the flat, they inventory Jarret’s possessions and Tara discovers a desktop calendar page for 1 April - the day before - hidden inside a pen. Ferret holds it up to the light to examine it and Maskin (Simon Oates), a window cleaner across the street, sees it in his telescope. Ferret complains that the only item that would help them - Jarret’s cigarette lighter camera - is missing. Steed enters and hands it over, along with the pictures taken with it. Ferret refuses to believe Webster lied and suggests someone else must have used the camera, but the calendar shows the same page. Peters is puzzled by the photos - they’re banal yet not quite right, and departs with them to view them on the projector. Maskin and his cohort, Vickers (Donald Gee), tail Peters to his flat and when Peters spots something in one of the photos, Vickers kills him to prevent him telling Steed about it. When Steed and Tara arrive they find the photos burnt and deduce the killer must have shot him from outside the window. Steed produces the negatives from a pocket and proceeds to make new prints. When they develop a photo of Maskin’s truck, they have their first real clue. They reconvene with Mother who orders Tara undercover at HQ, while Steed arranges to have his windows cleaned.

Next day, the cleaning trucks set off in convoy for HQ where Tara is acting as one of the new secretaries. She sees the trucks arrive and tries to call Steed, but he’s already gone to Classy Glass, where he meets the director, Charles Lather (Nicholas Smith). He is told they gave up the Cypher HQ concession as uneconomical, but is pursued by Vickers and Maskin when he leaves, and is driven off the road by a ladder through the windscreen. When he comes to he finds he can’t reach Cypher HQ so calls Mother instead and Ferret is sent to Tara’s aide. When Ferret arrives he finds posts abandoned, and Tara gazing vapidly at him as he is smothered from behind by a chamois and hauled away. The clock chimes and everything returns to normal, Myra returning Tara’s lighter, and Webster complaining it’s taken Tara all day to retrieve the Q file. Outside, she approves of Steed’s “air conditioning” and surprises him by saying that the cleaners didn’t come to the building. She further confounds him by saying Ferret hadn’t come either, and it’d been “boring and routine” and rained. Steed shakes a nearby branch to disprove this and she’s baffled.
That night, they investigate Classy Glass and find Ferret’s body in a truck, then overhead Maskin & Vickers planning to visit HQ again the next day - “Tomorrow will be yesterday again”. Steed orders Tara to ring him every half hour.

In the morning, Webster lambasts his staff for lack of productivity and Myra confirms it rained the last two days. Tara rings Steed and tells him to check the photos again, there’s something wrong. The window cleaners cut the phone line and invade the HQ, using gas on the guard and pumping it into the air vents. Checking the photos, Steed is astonished when he notices one shows Myra’s cigarette has burnt right down, burning her fingers badly but she seems oblivious, he rings the HQ but is told the line is down. Inside, Vickers removes Myra’s latest cigarette and the cleaners start a hypnosis tape telling the staff it’s a routine day while they ransack the cypher file and photograph the contents. Steed sneaks through the woods, where he defeats Davis and Warren, then bursts into HQ, knocking the villains flying. He rouses Tara and she helps him defeat the ringleader, Lather.

Tara moans she’ll never get the knack of hypnosis, so Steed takes her book and tells her there’s nothing to it. He proceeds to try to hypnotise her with his pocket-watch but ends up sending himself to sleep - until Tara suggests he drive them to the country and order an expensive meal at their favourite restaurant, at which he asks who’s paying.

New York:30/09/1968

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