Series 6 — Episode 32
Teleplay by Brian Clemens
Directed by Leslie Norman
Production No E.67.9.31
Production completed: March 3 1969. First UK transmission: May 17 1969. First transmission (USA): April 21 1969.
TV Times summary
In the final episode of the current series, Steed and Tara encounter a highly commercialised cemetery, where bodies have a habit of popping in and out of their coffins — even after they are buried!
A woman is found wandering in a field, dressed in a nightgown. Cordell discovers she’s fallen from a train, and she recalls a man climbing out of a coffin and throwing her out.
The man was a corrupt financier employing Mystic Tours to provide a final exit that need not be the end of it all - a go-go club under the cemetery! Steed follows the path to the club and combines with a hot-on-the-trail Tara to defeat the gang.
Tara is admiring Steed’s kit-built backyard rocket, when she accidentally launches the ship, with them in it. Mother is appalled to realise they’re unchaperoned up there.
A young woman wanders across a snow-covered field dressed only in a nightgown. Her bare feet crunch through the snow until she collapses, tears welling from her eyes.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Mother (Patrick Newell) attend her hospital bed, and Tara King (Linda Thorson) tells them she’s been identified as Helen Pritchard (Sally Nesbitt). Steed seems about to leap to a momentous deduction but simply wonders where she came from. Mother barks that’s what Captain Cordell is trying to find out - Captain Cordell (James Kerry) is in the field and spies a train line nearby. He reports back, noting that an overnight sleeper service had gone through an hour before Helen was found. Helen’s reminded of the train and she remembers a dead man in a coffin - a dead man who wasn’t dead! She buries her head from the horror while Cordell recalls from the manifest that there was an inhabited coffin, en route to The Happy Meadows, on the train.
Steed visits The Happy Meadows, a vulgar commercialised funeral parlour and burial ground with signs like “Hurry Hurry Hurry Get In While The Going’s Good” and “The ‘in’ place to be buried ‘in’ - Special terms for parties of more than twenty”. Presiding over this gaudy ostentation is Bagpipes Happychap (Roy Kinnear), a chubby little jester who tells him they like to make death fun, after measuring Steed for a coffin. Steed tells him he’s not there on that sort of business, and asks him about the coffin that arrived by train. Happychap reveals the details - a “class 1 interment” - plastic flowers, mock marble headstone and fibreboard casket, buried in their most exclusive area, Paradise Plot. Steed is shown the plot - and the grave of Jonathan Jupp, surrounded by artificial grass. Steed returns to the hospital and shows Helen some photographs; she quails when she sees Jupp’s photo then screams. The release restores her memory and she tells them she’d gone to the guards van to feed her dog. While there, Jonathan Jupp (John Sharp) has risen from his coffin and grabbed her when she tried to run. He then hurled her out the door while her dog barked madly.
Steed plays snooker with Mother while Rhonda (Rhonda Parker) chalks their cues - he tells Mother he believes Helen’s story for two reasons - Helen correctly identified Jupp, and Jupp was - is? - a crooked financier who escaped being tried for fraud by dying. Mother arranges an exhumation order, and the gravediggers Tom (Michael Balfour) and Bob (Patrick Connor) open the coffin - to reveal a dormant Jupp. Happychap is flabbergasted when Steed merely says he wanted to make sure he was there. Meanwhile, Bradney Morton (Frank Maher) sneaks into Helen’s room and tries to kill her - Tara returns to the room and fights with him and he dies when his gun goes off as they struggle.
Steed reports Jupp is definitely dead but Mother tells him, “that’s not that” and relates Morton’s attack to Steed, revealing that Morton was another corrupt financier who was officially buried six months earlier - at Happy Meadows. Happychap is appalled when he wants to exhume another grave and tells him “this morbid curiosity is verging on an obsession”. Happychap is rendered speechless when Tom & Bob open Morton’s empty coffin. He suggests they have a thief in their midst; Steed glances as the surrounding graves. Meanwhile, Shaw (George Innes) drops Charley (Ron Pember) off at the hospital and tells him Helen’s in Ward 10. Charley checks his gun and sidles up to the ward, where Cordell and Tara are still on guard. He returns to the car and, to Shaw’s disgust, says “No go”, she’s too well guarded. Steed calls Mother and tells him Morton’s grave was empty, and recites the names on other headstones - all shady financiers. Bagpipes yelps, “What? All of them?” when told Mother wants them all exhumed. He’s even more horrified when every grave is discovered to be empty - especially when Steed asks for Jupp to be re-exhumed - he is of course missing. Meanwhile, Mother is trying to placate Grandma, saying Steed is “digging something up”. Steed leaps into Jupp’s grave and tries the sides with his umbrella but finds nothing.
Jupp meanwhile is being fed grapes by three dollybirds in an underground go-go club. Shaw stops by to ask him if he wants anything and he replies seeing the look on his wife’s face if she knew where he was now. Mrs. Jupp (Sheila Burrell) meanwhile tells Cordell she knows nothing, Jupp died suddenly and left her very little - just before he was planning to take her on holidays. Cordell is curious and she says she overheard Jupp saying he wanted to “go away for a long time” to a representative of Mystic Tours, and quips that where he was going was “absolute paradise”. Cordell visits Mystic Tours and tells Shaw he’d like to escape a bit of business trouble. Shaw asks him what sort of place he was thinking of and he replies, “Paradise, absolute Paradise”. He rings Mother but only has time to say he’s on his way to Paradise. Steed rushes over to Happy Meadows and is shown that Cordell is already there - dead in his coffin, having been hit by a car.
Steed reports Cordell’s death to the disbelieving Mother - no pulse, no respiration, ice-cold - and plans a night vigil to catch the grave robbers red handed - he’s given the job to Tara, who is wrapped in blankets alongside Happychap in the plot. Tara quips that Cordell is colder when Happychap grumbles about the cold, but in fact Cordell is smoking a cigar as a young lady administer to his whims while he meets Jupp. Cordell’s fun is short-lived however, as Charley enters and recognises him, Shaw pulls a gun out while he protests his innocence. It’s dawn in the graveyard and Happychap complains a whole night has been wasted, nothing has happened. He’s dismayed when Tara wants the grave exhumed - when the coffin is opened Happychap and his gravediggers are happy to see Cordell is still there - “except this time he’s been shot”, notes Tara.
Mother muses whether it’s too late to hand the case over to another department when he and Steed learn what’s happened. Tara confirms Happychap was with her the whole time and no-one approached the grave. Steed follows Cordell’s trail, learning from Mrs Judd about Mystic Tours and a trip to Paradise. He then visits Shaw and opens a briefcase full of money, saying he intends to try to buy his way into heaven. Shaw leads him out the back where a guru simply called The Master (Fulton Mackay) lies on a bed of nails. Steed notes he’s not breathing and Shaw explains he’s been in a deep trance since last Thursday. Shaw ruffs a wad of notes and the swami immediately awakes. When he learns Steed is keen on “Paradise”, he drops the sham Indian act and happily confesses he’s a charlatan and conman - Steed says that makes two of them. The Master tells him there’s one thing he doesn’t fake - he has learned a way to help people leave this earth and then enjoy “after-death benefits”, his fee is one third of Steed’s ill-gotten gains. Steed agrees but is prevented from leaving by Shaw - he now knows too much and must stay with them. The Master tells him his death is already arranged, it will be violent but quite painless. Shaw leads Steed outside and pushes him out into the path of an oncoming car and The Master smiles when he hears the squeal of tyres.
Mother’s phone rings and a worried Tara grabs it - Steed has been located at Happy Meadows. When she arrives, Happychap tells her he’s gone, then says he’s “in” Paradise plot. The penny finally drops and Happychap assures her he was quite dead before they buried him - yet Steed is now lying on a divan, being roused from his slumber by two young harlots. He muses what it would be like if he’d lead a completely blameless life and Jupp makes a joke about the real life. He recognises Jupp, making him edgy, then explains they worked in the same circles in the City. The Master enters and tells him it was his skill that brought him there - his ability to suspend animation of a subject. His car accident rendered him unconscious, but the Master’s drug made him appear dead and he was buried - the ceiling is the ground of Paradise plot, under which these catacombs run. Doors high in the walls lead back to the graves - it’s just as easy to unscrew the side of a coffin as it is the top. The Master tells him the world above thinks him dead - sure enough, a distraught Tara watches as Bob and Tom assemble the plastic monument, then demands that it be dug up.
Bob and Tom shrug their shoulders and get to work while down below Steed asks Judd if he’s been back outside since his arrival. Judd admits curiosity but says it’s not allowed - not before they’ve been underground for two years. Steed notices dirt creeping through the crack of his ‘door’ and tests it, but it won’t budge. Up on top, Happychap gazes forlornly into Steed’s empty coffin and says he doesn’t feel too well. Tara leaps into the open grave and probes the bottom of the hole. Steed hears her and slides a curved dagger through the gap of the door; she’s just given up and been helped out by bob and Tom when she hears it scraping and leaps back in. She grabs the end of it with her handkerchief and pulls it. Steed is discovered by the villains as he tries to retrieve it, and held at gunpoint by Shaw, Charley and The Master. Steed grabs Shaw’s gun hand and they struggle, Tara digging furiously when she hears the shots go off - and Happychap runs for the protection of Bob and Tom. Steed disarms Shaw and fights the others off until Charley grabs the revolver. At that moment, Tara finds the catch for the door and rolls in, knocking him down. Up top, Tom says, “Now she’s gorn” and Happychap faints at the graveside. Steed and Tara combine forces to round up the crooks and party girls and Happychap faints anew when he sees the procession of people climbing out of the grave - and Tom grabs Bob’s hip flask to steady his nerves. Tara calls to Steed, asking if he’s coming and he looks at the one remaining slut, lying on the divan, and replies he has a bit of “mopping up” to do. Tara smiles and tells Happychap, “Steed is alive and well, but is staying on in Paradise”.
Tara admires Steed’s kit-built backyard rocket - as does Mother, who is very impressed he built it himself. Mother goes outside to take a snap of the rocket for his album. Tara asks where you light the blue paper and Steed laughs, you just press the button. “This one?” she asks, and accidentally launches the ship, with them in it. She asks how you stop it and Steed replies that part arrives next week. He thinks he can get them back down, eventually - there’s no hurry is there? - and their eyes meet. Mother tells us “They’ll be back, you can depend on it”, then is appalled to realise they’re unchaperoned.