Series 6 — Episode 29
Teleplay by Terry Nation
Directed by Robert Fuest
Production No E.67.9.30
Production completed: February 21 1969. First UK transmission: April 18 1969. First transmission (USA):April 14 1969.
TV Times summary
A gang of crooks captures and terrorises a couple living in a lonely country house. The gang intends to use the house to train a long-range weapon on a nearby conference of foreign ministers, but they have reckoned without John Steed…
A handcuffed man escapes from a limousine, but the man guarding him coolly flicks his cigarette lighter and the man dies from an explosion - in his neck.
Steed’s going to celebrate Christmas in February with an old POW chum, but the villains get there first and implant phosphor bombs in the couple’s throats. Steed arrives and the criminals’ plans to disrupt a conference by killing the assembled foreign ministers is delayed. Later, thinking Steed dead, they are ready to blow up the conference with a long-range missile. Tara drops by to catch up with Steed, manages to overcome their manic surgeon, Circe, and Steed delivers the coup de grace by stick a bomb to the leader’s neck.
Steed is playing invisible golf in Tara’s apartment, when she joins in, she ends up breaking a window.
Ernest Lomax (Keith Buckley) drives a Rolls-Royce down a country road, his passengers are a handcuffed man (Art Thomas) and Fenton Grenville (Tom Adams)m who hold a gun on the captive. The limousine breaks down and the prisoner escapes which his guards look at the engine, but it’s a set-up; Grenville coolly flicks his cigarette lighter and the man dies, clutching at his throat.
Tara King (Linda Thorson) invites John Steed (Patrick Macnee) sailing but he tells her February in the Channel is not his idea of fun! He’s off to the countryside for shootin’ and fishin’. Grenville and Lomax arrive at a country house with Gilbert Sexton (Garfield Morgan) and Circe Bishop (Hilary Pritchard). Grenville greets the butler, Sergeant Groom (John Comer) as an old friend and tells him to help Sexton & Lomax with the bags. Groom is confused, not recognising him at all, but does his duty. The lady of the house, Laura Bassett (Elizabeth Sellars), enters and questions him but he simply orders his people about and introduces her to Circe, whose behaviour he excuses by saying she “works very hard at being a character”. Laura thinks them friends of her husband, Bill, but when he returns, she’s shocked when Grenville tells Bill Bassett (Michael Gwynn) they’ve never met. Grenville and Sexton draw pistols then Circe descends the stairs in medical garb. She anaesthetises Groom then approaches Bill; Laura struggles and is told she will be last, Grenville wants her to see what they’re doing - Circe opens her attache case and extracts a scalpel.
Steed gives Tara the address he’s staying at and asks her to drop by when she returns. At the country house, Bill demands to know what they want but is met with scorn from Grenville. The captives plan an escape but are overheard by Circe; Bill grabs her and Groom escapes out the front door and runs down the driveway. Inside, Grenville adjusts his lighter and flicks it. He descends the stairs with Lomax and Sexton and orders them to retrieve Groom. Bill and Laura tell him his plan is foiled and he best leave, but are horrified when Groom’s body is dragged into the house. Sexton prepares dinner but none are prepared for Steed’s arrival, laden with Christmas tree and presents. Grenville questions Christmas in February and Steed explains Bill and he were taken prisoner in Nanking and locked in a cell without a window so lost track of time; they made their own calendar and later discovered they’d celebrated Christmas in February, and have done so ever since. Steed goes to collect his luggage and Grenville warns them not to even hint there’s anything wrong.
After dinner, Steed wins 20 guineas off Grenville in a parlour game “Guess the tune” then Laura excuses herself. Steed suggests Bridge but Grenville says he and Bill need to discuss business, leaving Steed with Circe. She tells him she thinks she’s pretty and she was expelled from medical school; then she says she spends all her money on new noses and plans to get another one. She says good night with a kiss then tells him not to sleep here, Fenton doesn’t like him at all. Steed retires and notices Sexton leaving the attic, he then overhears Laura crying in the next bedroom and goes to investigate. Bill tells him he’ll be tied up in meetings and it’d be best if he return to London but Steed notes he and Laura don’t give the same story. He says he’ll go shooting in the morning with Sergeant Groom but is told he’s away. Grenville enters and offers to join him on the hunt in the morning and tells Bill they’ll postpone their meetings. Grenville offers a wager of 100 guineas for the first kill of the day.
Steed sits up in bed and rises at a quarter past two to try the door of Lomax’s room - it’s locked and Lomax hears him trying the lock. He goes to the stairs and sees Sexton hide the key of a cupboard under the seat of an antique car in the middle of the foyer. He evades Sexton and descends to investigate but is prevented from finding anything out by Grenville, who tells him he drinks when the magic of sleep eludes him. Steed tests Grenville’s art knowledge but is unable to fault him and they retire up the stairs. Sexton is shocked to see Steed up and about, Grenville claims Sexton is there because he receives a lot of calls from the United States. In the morning, Steed descends and force the cabinet open, discovering Groom’s body inside. At that moment, Lomax, Grenville and Sexton all appear, carrying their fowling pieces. He reiterates the wager and they draw lots for position when they arrive at the hunt. Bill and Steed get the flanks, Grenville the centre. Grenville tells his goons to beat for them, and head for the high ground to the North. He warns them to avoid the marshes and Sexton smiles, “You might disappear without trace”.
Grenville warns Bill not to try to contact him but once their in the woods, Steed sets his hat so he appears to be holding his position and doubles back behind Grenville to reach Bill. Bill tells him he doesn’t know what they’re up to but it will be over by Wednesday. Lomax and Sexton hear then talking and rush over, but Steed has already returned to his hat. He calls to Grenville - but his hat has been similarly set up and Grenville opens fire from the bushes with his pistol. Steed runs for it as the three men shoot at him, Lomax exulting when he’s hit. Steed staggers into the marshes and fills his shooting bag with stones. He skewers it on a branch which he impales one of his gloves on and hurls it into the marsh, and the villains arrive just in time to see the glove sinking beneath the mud. “The first kill of the day, gentlemen”, Grenville announces and they swagger off. That night, Grenville tells the Bassetts his work is of “international importance” and will end shortly, then toasts, to Laura’s disgust, “the losers of the world” and couples it to the name John Steed.
Steed finally reawakes in the marshes, while back at the house Sexton is annoyed Lomax won’t leave his post for dinner. The doorbell rings and Laura greets the two Special Branch men, Norman Clifford (Anthony Sagar) and Corby Trayner. Clifford takes everyone’s names and asks them to contact the police if anything unusual happens - there’s about to be a high security event in the area. Laura thinks of telling Clifford about the invaders, but Grenville opens his lighter and she pauses. The policemen leave and Grenville tells the Bassetts they’d been kept alive for the security check, he could kill them anytime now; he smiles and says he won’t as he’s sentimental - and they may come back. As if on cue, the doorbell rings again and Grenville ushers everyone except Laura into the dining room. When Laura answers the door, it’s Tara, looking for Steed. Tara has a drink with the company and is told Steed left that morning after receiving a phone call, she departs but notices Steed’s bowler and umbrella on a sideboard. Grenville prevents her leaving and has her bound and gagged. He explains that Circe implants radio-detonated phosphor bombs in their victim’s necks, and they prepare Tara for the operation. Steed is running towards the house through the dark, and Lomax suddenly stands and looks through his binoculars. He smiles and says, “It’s begun”. He calls down the stairs and Grenville and Sexton go to see, leaving Circe to finish the operation.
Tara pretends to be anaesthetised then attacks Circe; she defeats her and the Bassetts free her hands; Bill tells her she’s almost certainly killed them. Grenville descends and the Bassetts tells him Miss King has escaped, but she’s hiding behind the car and attacks him. He drops his pistol in the fight and Laura grabs it, then Sexton appears at the top of the stairs, brandishing the lighter. Steed sneaks into the parlour while Grenville is explaining the Bassetts have bombs in their throats, a flick of te lighter would kill them. She will not come between him and the job he’d come there to do - the assassination of several foreign ministers at Critchley Manor, eight miles away, using an ultra long range weapon. Steed meanwhile applies contact adhesive to some of the bombs and fires one at Grenville with an elastic band. It sticks to his neck and he shouts at Sexton, telling him not to touch the lighter. Steed charges across the room and launches himself at Sexton - Tara grabs the lighter and Steed hurls Sexton over the railing. Grenville concedes his long range weapon is in the turret room and Steed and Tara rush up the stairs. Lomax is so intent, peering through the scope, that he doesn’t notice who’s entered until Steed says, “Wonderful view”. He looks up and is knocked out when Steed swings the rocket gun around on its mount. Steed smiles and tells Tara the problem with going to the country is nothing ever happens.
Steed is playing invisible golf in Tara’s apartment; when she joins in, she ends up breaking a window.