• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THEY KEEP KILLING STEED’ (the K is two lines high and serves as the first letter for both of the middle words) superimposed on the dead double of Steed lying next to some black and white photographs of Steed’s face
  • Rhonda sits in the sinking rowing boat in a wetsuit, a red phone on the thwart in front of her
  • Perova has put on his face-changing mask and fills the syringe from the vial
  • Nadine’s disfigured face after his tranformation failed
  • Tara is backed up against the bridge and, no longer knowing who to trust, points her revolver at Steed
  • Baron von Curt fights off Arcos’ men with his saintly swordfighting skills
  • Tara slumps on her sun lounge after the thunder rolls outside — she and Steed are pretending to be at the beach with a pile of sand in the middle of her flat

Series 6 — Episode 12
They Keep Killing Steed

Teleplay by Brian Clemens
Directed by Robert Fuest

Production No E.67.9.15
Production completed: September 20 1968. First transmission: December 18 1968. First transmission (USA): November 11 1968

TV Times summary

The suave features of John Steed are much in demand.

Plot summary

Steed awakes, but it’s not Steed! He’s a recent subject of plastic surgery, who can’t mentally handle his change in appearance and runs, before being shot in the back.
The villain, Arcos, decides to capture Steed to get his features exactly right and infiltrate a peace conference with an impostor. Steed frees himself but, unable to evade some guards, throws a spanner in their works by putting extra kits in the delivery case, so the enemy end up sending multiple false Steeds to the conference.
One of them handily kills all the others before planting a bomb, which the real Steed intercepts and detonates outside, before rushing back to the villain’s lair, chased by Tara and Baron von Curt who assist him in mopping up.
Needing a relaxing holiday after their ordeal, the Avengers relax under a beach umbrella; but they’re in Tara’s apartment, as Mother won’t let them have time off!

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Zerson (Norman Jones) calls Arcos (Ray McAnally) to a wrecked car in an abandoned quarry, underneath which is a secret complex. Arcos removes a metal mask from a man, who is revealed to be Steed. The man is baffled when shown a mirror, saying, “That’s not me!” Arcos is critical, declaring the nose and ears wrong. He decides they must capture the real Steed. The doppelganger leaps to his feet and tries to escape but is gunned down by Arcos.

Mother (Patrick Newell) is on the phone to a General as Rhonda (Rhonda Parker) rows his boat up a river. He tells the General that Steed and Tara are on security detail for the peace conference and Captain Smythe should expect them soon. Rhonda pulls the bung from the boat and it starts to fill with water as Mother tells the General he’ll be working undercover. Rhonda salutes as she goes under.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Tara King (Linda Thorson) are dropped off at the Sun Hotel by taxi, the porter (Michael Corcoran) delivering Tara’s bags to her room. Arcos and Zerson watch them from another taxi, then park outside the church across the village green. Steed and Tara emerge from her room and see an eligible young man, Baron Von Curt (Ian Ogilvy), being chased by two young women, Helga (Nicole Shelby) and Miranda (Rosemary Donnelly). He hides in Tara’s room and when she opens the wardrobe he’s hidden in he asks her to be his wife — for five minutes. “Only five?” she purrs. Helga and Miranda are dismayed when introduced to his wife, who then closes the door on them. Von Curt introduces himself to Tara and Steed, thanks them and departs. Tara looks at Steed mournfully and he warns her that holiday romances never last. Zerson enters the hotel and rings Steed’s room, pretending to be Captain Smythe and organises a rendezvous. Arcos dons a cap and drives his taxi to the hotel and picks up the unsuspecting Steed. Zerson hops in the cab and knocks Steed out.

When he comes to, he has just had a mask removed from his face. Arcos informs him they intend to infiltrate the conference. “With a forged pass?” the groggy Steed queries. “No”, replies Arcos, “with a forged face — your face!” Zerson tells Arcos all five agents are in the country. He suggests a few names but is brushed off; Arcos has already decided Nadine will be used and departs to arrange delivery of the instant plastic surgery kit. Steed meanwhile has been rubbing his bonds on the steel rim of his bowler and knocks Zerson out. Unfortunately, when he emerges, he’s spotted by Werner (Arthur Howell) who shoots at him. Werner, Golda (Bill Cummings) and Smanoff (Frank Barringer) rush over and try to open the taxi door which Steed has promptly locked. Unable to escape, Steed packs another four kits in the case, hoping to confound the plot. Arcos returns with the key and descends with Werner and Bruno (William Ellis), who takes the case while Werner cuffs Steed to a bed.

Bruno delivers the first kit to Perova (Anthony Sheppard) while Tara is employed to protect von Curt from a redhead (Angharad Rees). Tara is surprised when Captain Smythe (Bernard Horsfall) arrives at the hotel, looking for Steed. Tara asks von Curt to drive her to the old London road and they bump into Bruno on the way out, who delivers the second kit to the intended agent, Nadine (Hal Galili). Bruno then delivers the other kits to Mintoff, Bowler and Georgio. The agents put on their masks and inject themselves while Tara arrives at a bridge over the river. She orders von Curt to stop and, to his astonishment, leaps into the river. Once inside Mother’s submarine lair, she informs him that Steed is missing after apparently going to visit Smythe. Steed is playing chess with Arcos, he relying on his knight, Arcos on his pawns. Arcos’ subversive pawns, meanwhile, are removing their masks — except Nadine, who is sealed in his and dies. Steed defeats Arcos, relishing his enemy’s discomfort while Mother is raising the alert. He warns her not to tell Smythe, he doesn’t want a panic, and orders her back to the hotel. When she resurfaces, von Curt is waiting for her and he drives her back to the hotel, not questioning her actions. They return just as the maid (Gloria Connell) is breathlessly telling the manager that “Mr. Steed’s upstairs and he’s dead”. They rush past and discover Nadine, half with his own face, half with Steed’s. Smythe arrives shortly after and observes the grotesque body.

The doppelgangers start arriving at the conference, two of them admitted by the clearly unobservant Chief Guard (Reg Whitehead). The first spots the other and kills him, thinking him the real Steed. A third Steed is admitted just as Tara realises the reason for the fake Steed and she sets off for the conference just as the first Steed disposes of him, too. The first Steed then enters the conference room — and Arcos explains to Steed that a percussion bomb is to be placed in the chairman’s gavel. Tara and von Curt arrive at the conference venue, which he reveals to be his house and they enter. Smythe spots them and tells them that his men report Steed arrived a while ago. Tara and von Curt both find a dead Steed each. Steed manages finally to bend a link on his handcuffs and knocks Arcos and Zerson flying and he then escapes via an air duct. Smythe declares that they must assume Steed is dead and any they meet are to be shot on sight. The real Steed arrives in a taxi, and has to pay the taxi driver (George Ghent) with his watch. He spots one of the fakes arrive and leaps into his car, the doppelganger dying when his revolver goes off. Meanwhile, the first Steed has planted the bomb and leapt out the conference room window.

The real Steed enters the house, fights off a few guards and snatches the gavel out of the hands of the Chairman (Ross Hutchinson). He leaps out the window and throws the gavel as far as he can, the first Steed smiling grimly when he hears the explosion. Smythe misreads the situation and sends his guards out to shoot Steed. Tara and von Curt follow swiftly, Tara convinced that the last Steed was saving the conference and must be the real one. They split up when they hear a shot and Tara encounters a Steed near the bridge. She is wary but relieved when he blurts out the words “strawberry shortcake”. A troop of guards runs by then Tara rushes off to find a car. When she returns, the last remaining false Steed greets her with a revolver but is killed by von Curt’s rapier. The real Steed emerges, causing von Curt to exclaim, “Look! The woods are full of them!” and he takes off. Tara and von Curt give chase first on foot then in cars. Steed loses them and drives to the quarry, running over golda and Smanoff. He leaps out and knocks the recovering Smanoff down, then races for the taxi, locking it just before Werner and Zerson reach it. Von Curt and Tara arrive as Steed descends into Arcos’ lair; he finds Arcos wearing a mask and finds himself face to his own face when it’s removed. Von Curt deals with Zerson, then fights Werner with his rapier while Tara dispatches the resilient Golda and Smanoff. Arcos pulls a gun on Steed and tells him he’ll walk away from the quarry as the most respected agent in the country. “I wouldn’t go so far as to say that”, Steed humbly replies. They fight, one of them finally escaping up the stairs, but when he emerges from the taxi Zerson shoots him. Von Curt meanwhile has dealt with Werner and a desperate Golda. Steed emerges, immediately recognised by Tara because he smiles benignly in the face of the carnage before him. They approach Arcos and are appalled to see his face return to its normal shape.

Tara and Steed are lolling on chaise lounges under a beach umbrella. Tara regrets they didn’t have a holiday and complains about Mother ordering them back to work the next day. There’s a crack of thunder and Steed exclaims that it’s going to rain. The camera zooms out and we see they’re in Tara’s flat, a pile of sand and the beach furniture in the middle of the lounge room.

New York:11/11/1968

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