• title card: white all caps text reading ‘INVASION OF THE EARTHMEN’ superimposed on three students in orange rollnecks looking just to the right of the camera, smiling maliciously
  • The inflated astronaut sails through the blue room visible through the window
  • A cryogenically frozen student inside her casket, the label reads Penelope Harwood, age twenty-one, packaged 8–8-67
  • Huxton aims his rudimentary bow and arrow at Tara
  • Tara is surrounded and captured by the students
  • Emily leads some of the students as they search the Tunnel
  • Close-up of Steed teaching Tara a judo technique in his flat

Series 6 — Episode 15
Invasion of the Earthmen

Teleplay by Terry Nation
Directed by Don Sharp

Production No E.66.6.26
Production completed: January 23 1968. First transmission: January 15 1969. First transmission (USA): March 27 1968

TV Times summary

Steed and Tara enter a world of spacemen and astronomical evil.

Plot summary

Agent Grant, investigating some fascistic teenagers, is caught in a bear trap and killed by a huge snake, much to the teenagers’ glee.
Investigating his disappearance, Steed and Tara visit the school, and are forcefully escorted in to see the Principal, Brett. They pretend to be parents of a prospective student, and Tara is astonished to glimpse an astronaut in a classroom, but is knocked out for her trouble.
Returning under cover of darkness, they infiltrate the school, but Tara is caught and made the quarry in a hunt, she escapes into “The Tunnel”, a testing ground for final year students. There she meets Steed and they combine forces to rout the students and Brett, ending his dreams of a cryogenically frozen army of teenage astronauts, ready to conquer space.
Back at his apartment, Steed gives Tara a refresher on Judo techniques.

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show plot summary

Agent Grant (George Roubicek) cuts through a wire fence and finds three uniformed teenagers - Huxton (Christian Roberts), Emily (Lucy Fleming), and Trump (Warren Clarke) - signalling an unknown contact. Intent on their purpose, he fails to notice a boa constrictor moving through the grass. He also fails to notice a bear trap and is caught in the jaws. He cries for the teenagers to help him, but they stand impassively by, watching the snake in the grass. The trio smile as the snake reaches its victim...

Tara King (Linda Thorson) is practicing judo with her sofa cushions when John Steed (Patrick Macnee) arrives. He catches a cushion and advisers her to always try to throw her opponent through a plate glass window if possible. He tells her Grant has gone missing and she rushes off to change, excited at the prospect of action - she emerges wearing a blonde wig as a disguise. They pick up the trail at a country hotel, Grant’s last known stop, and are watched by Huxton and Trump. They search Grant’s room and Steed finds a brochure for the Alpha Academy. Tara recognises the school logo as being on the Land-Rover outside and they watch the watchers. Steed decides a visit to the Academy is in order and they’re followed out there by the Land-Rover. They’re met at the gate by Bassin (Christopher Chittell), Sarah (Wendy Allnutt) and some other fascistic looking teenagers who allow them in when Steed asks to see the headmaster - whom they call the commander. The students escort them to the school buildings and they’re locked in the commander’s office while Emily fetches him. They discover it to be a futuristic room with models of the solar system and the headmaster’s desk is totally electrified. Steed is picking the lock when the headmaster, Brigadier Brett (William Lucas), arrives. Steed claims to not be able to stand locked rooms since the war and introduces himself as Colonel Steed of the 8th/9th Lancers, now in the Civil Service; Tara is his wife. They are seeking to place their 18-year old son in an English college as Steed has been seconded to the colonies, er... Commonwealth. Brett hands them the prospectus and queries whether they might have already seen Grant’s copy, given to him three weeks before. Steed explains they’d only just arrived and don’t know Grant. They’re escorted out again and Steed dives down a side corridor, hoping the explore the school, but Emily and Trump stop him. Tara takes advantage and enters a classroom. She’s astonished to see an astronaut floating in a chamber, then is knocked out by Huxton. Steed returns with the others and rush es over, and Tara is baffled when she revives and sees a blackboard where the chamber was.

Tara relates what she saw as they drive away, followed again by the Land-Rover. Steed loses them and they head for Tara’s apartment until the hue and cry has died down - Grant meanwhile puts the academy on security alert yellow. Steed and Tara are detected when they cut the wire to re-enter the grounds and enter a quarry where they see a student evade a rabbit snare. Tara trips it, bringing down a ton or rocks. Steed sets off to enter the school while Tara checks the grounds. He enters a window easily while she has to hide from an astronaut in the quarry with a scorpion sitting on her hand. Grant orders Huxton and Bassin out on night survival, they are now enemies and only one can return. Huxton queries the yellow alert and is told everyone he meets he should consider an enemy. Steed discovers a room full of cryogenically frozen students and a door marked “The Tunnel” while Tara is escaping one peril after another outside. She sees Bassin about to drop a boulder on Huxton and warns him but he fires an arrow at her in thanks. Tara escapes back to the car where she is captured and Steed sees her being carried back to the school. Grant questions her but it’s she who learns that the quarry is where is kill or be killed. Grant reveals that he plans to colonise space with his army of teenagers - just by waiting until East and West have devised the means of space transport. He has perfected cryobiology and 80 students have already been frozen at their peak. He allows Tara to escape with a 60 second lead - his students will hunt her down. Steed meanwhile overpowers Bassin and ties him up. He learns about the fight to the death and the tunnel where final year students face their deepest fear. He leaves and Bassin is startled to see Huxton approach, brandishimg a sharpened stick over the helpless student. Huxton suddenly frees him instead, saying there’s a condition red for Steed.

Tara defeats several students while Steed craftily evades Huxton and Bassin, and they both enter the Tunnel from opposite ends. Tara is faced with rats and spiderweb and the howling of wolves. She pushes on, into a metal tube which seals in front of and behimd her. Spiders drop from the roof and she frantically kills them before opening the far end. Grant and Emily watch her progress, and see Steed is approachimg from the other end - Steed evades a trap and leaps a tank of acid. Grant sends the students in at both ends to capture them. Steed and Tara are reunited just before the students catch up and the give them the slip up a ventilation duct. They block the duct then lock both ends of the tunnel, trapping the students. Trump radios Grant, who comes down to sort it out. Steed takes care of Huxton and Bassin, who were still in the quarry which Tara defeats Grant. “Stars in his eyes,” says Steed; “Head in the clouds,” concurs Tara.

Back at his apartment, Steed gives Tara a refresher on Judo techniques - and she hurls him bodily to the ground. She offers his a quiet tete a tete, dinner in the country, or a ride in the park - and he opts for more practice.

This episode has a video Q&A and commentary with Christian Roberts, Chris Chittell and Philip Hawkins, and an introduction by Linda Thorson, on the Lives in the Pictures YouTube channel.

New York:27/03/1968

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