Series 6 — Episode 24
Teleplay by Jeremy Burnham
Directed by Peter Sykes
Production No E.67.9.21
Production completed: November 22 1968. First UK transmission: February 14 1969. First transmission (USA): February 3 1969.
TV Times summary
Vital secrets are disappearing from a Whitehall ministry — and it’s not surprising, for the civil servants working there have suddenly become major security risks.…
At a top secret Whitehall meeting, the chairman, Sir Rodney, tells those present that everything is top secret, but seconds later he reveals every detail to a charlady he’s smitten with.
Soon, all his minions are falling for her as well. Steed and Tara are on the case, Steed investigating Casanova Ink, a publisher of lurid romance novels while Tara reads through the documents the ministerial officials were handling. Steed discovers minute projection units that subliminally tell the reader they will fall in love with the next person they see, but Tara has already come under the spell and falls for the villain, Bromfield. Steed overcomes the gang, not by force, but by using 30 of the love buttons.
Steed rushes into his flat, pursued by the lovestruck students from a nearby girls’ school; he’d forgotten to remove the buttons. He’s found no sanctuary however, as Tara falls for him.
A top secret Whitehall meeting breaks up, with the chairman, Sir Rodney Kellogg (Robert Harris), telling his staff everything is top secret and must not be divulged outside these four walls. He secures the report and dismisses the security men outside, then seconds later he’s bleating every detail to a char lady, Martha (Veronica Strong), he’s smitten with.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) is so intent on his newspaper while walking down a street that he falls down a manhole - into an indoor cricket arena where Mother (Patrick Newell) is facing the furious bowling of Rhonda (Rhonda Parker). Mother tells Steed and Tara King (Linda Thorson) there’s a security leak at the Missile Defence department. Back at the department, Metcalfe (David Baron) overhears Rodney tells Martha his secrets and arrests them both. Martha promises to get ‘Rodders’ out of the mess and produces a revolver. Steed arrives just in time to hear the shots and places Kellogg under house arrest, while Martha escapes to tell her controller Kellogg has been thrown to the wolves. Steed reports back to Mother that Kellogg seemed in a trance when interviewed. Kellogg asks a security man (John Cobner) for the personnel file, then leaps out the window after discovering Martha’s address. Mother is furious, asking what would make a middle-aged civil servant do such a thing. Steed suggests desperation and Tara gasps, “Love”. Rodney arrives at Martha’s address but doesn’t recognise her, out of her char lady disguise, when she answers the door. Martha tells him ‘Auntie’ is in the bath and she can’t let him in. Martha returns to the door in disguise while steed ploughs through the papers Kellogg had been reading and tells him he must return to the department. He suggest they escape together - she sees a car edging up the street and agrees, when they leave it follows them. Martha makes him pull over a short way down the road and shoots him; she removes her disguise and gets into the other car, apologising for having to kill Kellogg.
Tara and Steed investigate Kellogg’s body and she detects an exclusive perfume, “Reckless Abandon”. Tara visits the makers, but doesn’t notice that Martha is already in the shop. She asks Mr Bellchamber (Peter Stephens) about the perfume - he tells her it’s priced beyond the pocket of most people and they would have no more than twenty customers. Tara purports to be writing an article, “Perfumes of the Aristocracy” and asks for the client list to give him some publicity. To smooth the waters, she asks for him to send her a case of “Lily of the Valley” and hands him her card, which Martha glances at after she leaves. Martha rushes to the car and tell the driver that Tara has a list with her name on it; he radios Freeman (Larry Taylor) who gets to her flat as she’s going through the list with Mother on the phone. Freeman forces her to set fire to the list at gunpoint, Tara surprises and disarms him and they fight, Freeman dying when his gun goes off in the struggle. Tara searches him and finds a ring inscribed “Casanova Ink”. Steed meanwhile is learning from Tait (Brian Oulton) that Kellogg was a confirmed bachelor like himself, and had no time for women. His secretary (Robin Tolhurst), all perky breasts and tight clothes, delivers the top secret report and departs with a smile while Tait states he’s glad to have scotched the rumor of Kellogg’s affair. “De mortuis nihil nisi bonum”, Steed comments. When Steed leaves, Tait leaps on the phone and tells Basil Roxby (Norman Pitt) who laughs off the idea. Roxby hangs up and kisses Martha; she asks him to have secrets to tell her next time and leaves, knocking on the door of George Fryer (Frank Gatliff), who opens it and embraces her. Martha sees Tait has nearly finished the report and telephones to says she’s moving in, but stops in her tracks when she sees a policewoman (Ann Rye) at Tait’s door. The officer has come to tell him he’s illegally parked and is surprised when he declares his undying love for her.
Tara goes to the Ministry and starts reading the report while Steed visits Casanova Ink, publishes of the most tepid romance stories. He finds Thelma (Patsy Rowlands) dictating a particularly purple example. She’s surprised when he claims to have read all 437 of her books and confesses they’re generated by a computer - Rosemary Z. Glade - which looks like a piano, key romantic scenario chosen by pressing different keys. Thelma tells him Bromfield is the technical genius behind it all, but he isn’t in the office. Steed spots some of the rings and describes Freeman to Thelma, who identifies him as one of their printers. Steed is introduced to Athene (Zulema Dene) in the printery but she says Freeman isn’t there. Thelma offers Steed an advance copy of the next book but Athene yells at her when she picks one up; Athene calmly continues that that was a library edition and offers him a deluxe copy instead. Nigel Bromfield (Terence Alexander) arrives just as Steed is leaving and they’re briefly introduced; Steed then passes Martha who recognises him. She tells Bromfield who tells her to convince Fryer to kill Steed out of jealousy. Martha then notices Tara reading the report and Bromfield tells her he’ll be there as fast as he can. Steed is peering at some odd indentations on the cover of a book when Fryer arrives. Steed offers him a drink but he pulls out Martha’s pistol. He declares his love for her and apologetically says he must kill Steed. Steed disarms him and knocks him out and wonders who he was talking about. Tara meanwhile has opened the door to discover Bromfield, with whom she falls madly in love. Bromfield gently leads her away...
Fryer has come too and is racked with remorse - and declares he still loves Martha. He tells Steed he was reading when she came into his office at the ministry and he was instantly smitten. Steed shows him the book he was examining and Fryer confirms it was the one. Bromfield meanwhile is gloating over the success of his subliminal microdots, broadcasting their message through every page of certain books. He tells Martha love is a stronger emotion to tap into because it’s co-operative, those under its spell are like soft putty. Bromfield his staff to empty the office and he leads Tara over to the window as Martha looks on in horror. Bromfield tells her he to step out onto the ledge then tells her if there was no chance of their love working she would have no reason to live. He goes to pack up and Steed arrives in the street below. He sees Tara and hurries upstairs, avoiding the villains as they leave. Steed runs to the window and grabs Tara just in time, then hauls her back inside. Bromfield returns just as Tara is telling him she wants to die and they fight; Steed is surprised when Tara tries to hit him when he knocks Bromfield out, so he delivers her a blow of his reinforced bowler. Steed enters the printery and discovers the dots broadcast the message, “You will fall in love with the next person you see”. He starts ripping them from the backs of the books while outside Martha, Thelma and Athene have returned to find Bromfield unconscious on rosemary. Steed has place twenty dots on his waistcoat and when they approach him, guns drawn, he stands there looking like the Pearly King and says, “Go on, admit it. I’m irresistible” - even Bromfield is taken with him. Steed is leading them all away for arrest when Tara leaps up, gun in hand to stop him taking Bromfield away. Steed bares his waistcoat to her and she too falls under his spell.
Tara is preparing for a romantic evening with Steed when he arrives, breathless from being pursued. He says he went to pick his niece up from school and forgot he had the trick waistcoat on, he’s been chased by hundred of teenagers. He turns to Tara, muttering he ought to take his vest off and she breathes, “Go on”, moving towards him lustfully...