Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 39. Death of a Batman

A lot of good things about this episode. The plot's quite simple - Steed's former batman (that's an Army valet in case you're wondering) Wrightson leaves to his wife more money than he could possibly have earnt in his lifetime. Steed, Cathy and Wrightson's son John (David 'first incarnation of Granada Watson' Burke) are all intrigued as to where the money came from, and whether it had anything to do with possible services rendered by the deceased to the merchant banking firm of Teale and Van Doren.

But this simple setup leads to some wonderful scenes: first, the vaguely feudal honour paid to the Wrightson family by having Lord Teale (Andre 'Marshall Tavannes' Morell) and the gentlemanly Steed at their humble terraced house for the funeral tea.

Second: several scenes where Steed chats up Lady Cynthia, one of T&vD's clients, as part of his investigation. They ought not to work given the age difference, but I'm starting to think that Patrick Macnee can make absolutely anything seem perfectly natural as Steed behaviour.

Third: a confrontation between John Wrightson and Lord Teale at the kitchen table, where Wrightson tells Teale he's worked out the money mystery. Teale excellently doesn't touch the beer he's been offered until he realises that he's been cornered.

Fourth: the suggestion that Teale, despite their common bond as former soldiers, looks down on Steed for having served in I Corps, which to save you looking it up is in this context part of the army of occupation in Germany after 1945. A good exchange between them on this subject in the climactic scene, which pivots around the banking firm's butler Cooper (Ray Browne making his fourth appearance so far).

Philip Madoc is also back, for the third time, as van Doren - his last two roles were very stiff, controlled characters but here he gets a chance to do some likeable irony. He makes a nicely-timed joke with Cooper in the final scene which I'd've appreciated more if I could have made out the exact words - the sound is still quite murky in parts in these older eps.

Naive Avengersthon - 38. The Undertakers

A striking, Prisoner-esque opening with a group of the eponymous undertakers shooting Madden (Patrick Holt returning from Intercrime) before solemnly doffing their top hats.

Then we have a series of scenes where Steed tries to see Professor Renter, who he's been tasked with accompanying to America, but is put off by Mrs Renter (Lally 'You're Only Young Twice' Bowers). She, it transpires, is a central figure in the 'undertaking' scheme, which is basically about pretending that dead people are still alive, in order to avoid inheritance taxes. The apparent assassination of Madden is a quite confusing first impression to give us, because it suggests the scheme works in the opposite way.

The best bit for me was Cathy being taken on by Mrs Renter as assistant, and being warned to watch out in case a Mrs Catherine Gale should call. Also some amusing allusions to Dracula when one of the characters hides in a coffin. But on the whole this story didn't really satisfy me: the fight among the empty coffins feels a bit contrived, and the gun battle at the end goes on for too long. And Steed gets a terrible closing gag which I think is meant to make him sound raffish, but comes across as making him seem like a pervert. I was surprised to see that Malcolm Hulke was the scriptwriter, perhaps this was one of his off days.

I notice that the incidental music is getting more varied as we go along: back in series 2 it was all just bits of the theme tune, then there seemed to be a new, but quite limited selection of other cues; by this point though there's far more variety. The gun battle for example features the main riff from the signature tune being played on what sounds like some kind of tuneable drum (sorry, I'm not very good with musical terms).

Ronald Russell (Lord Holdhurst in the Granada Naval Treaty) as one of the dead-people-impersonating actors employed by the Undertakers.

Howard Goorney returns from Girl on the Trapeze.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 37. The Grandeur That Was Rome

Hugh 'Channing' Burden is excellent as Roman-obssessed Bruno Luca, who plans to make himself emperor of the world. His agrochemical company is distributing contaminated seed and fertilisers, creating famine and panic - whereupon his fascist political party can take over. He'd have gotten away with it too if he hadn't got impatient and decided to spread the Black Death as a quicker solution.

Steed and Cathy quickly trace the link from the factory to the party's headquarters, and a few escapes and recaptures later have dealt with the fascists. Further time is saved by the way that Luca's lieutenant Marcus (John Flint, the 3rd Crusaders actor so far to appear in The Avengers) fancies himself in the role of Brutus and stabs him to death.

I like the combination of ideas in this story. but it seemed a bit flat and unsatisfying - there was no real difficulty for Steed and Cathy in uncovering the plot. Steed's Roman disguise, and hand-to-hand fight with Marcus, are enjoyable though.

Three actors return from previous episodes: Ian Shand from Traitor in Zebra, Kenneth Keeling from Mr Teddy Bear and Raymond Adamson from The Decapod.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 36. Don't Look Behind You

We open with an unseen figure cutting up a photo of Cathy's face. This isn't going to end well... especially when she's invited to stay in a big house on the edge of Exmoor.

It's a highly suspenseful and creepy episode - the best in these respects since Mr Teddy Bear I thought - but it suffers from having two incredibly annoying grotesques as supporting characters. They take up about 10 minutes each with their ramblings, and they turned all my tension into irritation. 'Get - on - with it.'

When the villain Goodman (Maurice 'Phineas Clanton' Good) finally appears, his resemblance to Swiss Toni detracts from the admittedly sinister impression created by his manner, but I suppose I can't blame the production for that.

On the plus side, there's some location filming (welcome as always) with Steed driving Cathy down to Exmoor in his new car. The happy mood and outdoor scenes make the gloom and claustrophobia of Goodman's house more effective by contrast.

If this episode hadn't caused me so much annoyance, I'd rate it highly.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 35. Man With Two Shadows

A man is assassinated by his double, who then assumes his identity. Bizarrely this takes place in a holiday camp chalet, which gave me the unshakeable impression that he was one of the redcoats. I couldn't lose that idea however many times it was explained that he was Gordon, an agent taking a holiday there.

Meanwhile Paul 'The Marshal' Whitsun-Jones is taking Steed to visit Borowski (Terence 'Orum' Lodge) who has been driven insane by enemy brainwashing (a real perceived threat in the post-Korean war years). There are a couple of scenes like this and they're effectively unpleasant.

Steed listens carefully to Borowski's odd lucid remarks and realises that there may be a plot to replace British agents with doubles. So when Gordon's mutilated corpse apparently turns up, he gets the man's own doctor (Geoffrey Palmer back again) and dentist to identify the body. (Despite having said in The Golden Eggs that dental records weren't to be relied on).

But then it appears that Gordon's alive, so Steed travels to the holiday camp and has the medical and dental inspection done on him for good measure. Good bit of misdirection here where it might be suggested that Geoffrey Palmer's part of the plot.

Cathy joins Steed at the camp in search of two further imposters, but spends most of the time hanging round with Gordon's fiancée Julie (Gwendolyn Watts, who's in the background in most of the hospital Carry Ons). So when Steed may or may not himself have been replaced by a double, some quick thinking and mutual bluffing is called for to outmanoeuvre the imposters. Philip Anthony, who wants to see the Mars-Venus game in Dalek Master Plan, and George 'Haroud ed-Din' Little are among the villains. Coincidentally, Robert Lankesheer, also from The Crusaders, plays a holiday camp official.

There's a certain amount of predictability here, as soon as the 'doubles' motif became clear I knew that Steed would be doubled, and that we'd be left in doubt about whether or not the Steed we saw was the real one. I did however like the clever double-bluff he and Cathy use in the climactic scene. It's one of the episodes I had to watch three times before it properly made sense, which hasn't necessarily been a bad thing in previous cases in this Avengersthon.

Also there's some interesting moral ambiguity in the way Steed chooses to leave the imposter Gordon in place at the end, so he can be used as a channel for false intelligence. Cathy thinks this rather unfair on Julie, but Steed has an answer to that one too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 34. Death a la Carte

An intriguing opening with a shadowy military figure making a night raid to steal mushrooms. The use they might be put to becomes obvious very soon, when we find Cathy acting as 'social director' to an Emir and his entourage in a London hotel; the Emir's right-hand man, Mellor (Robert 'Lesterson' James) has imposed strict controls over the preparation of his food.

Down in the kitchens Steed is undercover as a chef. Although he acts the part well, I can't believe it would be so easy to fool other top chefs just by throwing the names of a few hotels about. Luckily his fellow cooks are too busy insulting each other in broad children's-TV style: it's quite funny nonetheless, David 'Fedorin' Nettheim (who was also one of the doctors in The Schizoid Man) and Gordon 'The Herbs' Rollings do make it work.

Ken Parry, who I think was the royal chamberlain in that episode of The Young Ones where the king is 'bored shitless with interesting things', is also amusing as the rather camp head chef. Nettheim's character refers to him as a 'cream puff' which I think is the most blatant reference to gayness I've come across in 60s TV.

Although there's some counter-suggestion that the Emir's doctor (Paul 'the German general in the film of Dad's Army' Dawkins) has non-food-related poisoning plans of his own, we're soon shown what happened to the stolen mushrooms and how they find their way into the cooking. And the mystery is all in the logistics, there isn't much scope for doubt about who's actually behind the plan.

There's not much subtlety to this, but the comic bits, however obvious, were a lot of fun. Even the obligatory 'foreign chef isn't really foreign' gag and the komedy ending. (I liked the way there were three place settings at the table there, indicating that Steed, Cathy and the remaining chef are all going to have a meal together in the kitchens).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 33. The Golden Fleece

A slight tale about army officers (among them Warren Mitchell and the returning Tenniel Evans) engaged in smuggling gold to the Far East. Cue much Chinese restaurant business and an appalling moral conclusion, with a speech from Mitchell's Captain Jason about how the proceeds are being divided among deserving ex-soldiers, which persuades Cathy and Steed to destroy the evidence of what's happened to the money. I bet Nicky from Death on the Rocks is kicking himself wishing he'd tried that approach when they broke up his diamond-smuggling scam.

Even Cathy's undercover role at the regimental museum can't make up for this awfulness.

Naive Avengersthon - 32. The Nutshell

A highly promising opening with a rubber-clad young woman breaking into what's obviously a high-security installation, the eponymous Nutshell. Rubbergirl is Edina 'Dolores in Carry on Cowboy/Nicole Cauvin' Ronay making a return appearance.

The triumph of this episode is in creating an incredibly sinister impression of Nutshell, which is after all run by the ostensible good guys. Steed takes it in his stride but Cathy doesn't like it one bit. I sometimes wonder if there was any propaganda the deterrentists could have used to make nuclear shelters seem like cosy refuges. (There's a nod to contemporary deterrence controversies in a discussion Steed and Cathy are having when we first join them).

We soon find out that Steed is well acquainted with the latex burglar, who it appears has stolen a list of double agents which is of enormous strategic importance. There's an intriguing scene between him and her at her premises which has in its foreground one of her escapology students attempting to escape from a bodybag. The 'dominatrix dungeon' subtext is rapidly becoming text at this point.

After this the suggestions that Steed himself organised the break-in come thick and fast. We could almost believe them - if, firstly, he wasn't so incredibly obvious about it, talking into a secret transmitter right in front of Cathy, and, secondly, if we hadn't been led up the garden path in a very similar way in the previous episode. Unless we think it's an elaborate double bluff we aren't going to fall for it.

However, the authorities at Nutshell are much easier to convince, and they subject Steed to various tortures to try and make him confess. (They have the equipment all ready, there's no attempt here to show 'us' as any nobler than 'them'). Eventually, as Steed planned all along, the real traitor outs himself by trying to rescue Steed, and we're on our way to the comedy ending.

John 'Prof Krimpton/Narcissus' Cater as a very senior official, not named Disko as I thought, but with the post of DISCO (Director of Intelligence, Security and Combined Operations).

If I was giving these episodes ratings, which of course I'm not, this would be a high second-ranker. The oppressive atmosphere of Nutshell, even before they get going with the interrogations, is a triumph. If there'd been slightly more doubt about Steed's real motives it'd be a first-class ep, no doubt about it.

Naive Avengersthon - 31. Brief for Murder

Formerly obscure lawyers the Lakin brothers have brought about a startling series of acquittals on technicalities. Steed and Cathy find that they're actually arranging the defence before the crime is committed. A swift bit of entrapment later and the Lakins have their own defence to think about.

Not very enjoyable for me I'm afraid, I have a general dislike of plots where the object is to cast doubt on acquittals. I wondered if the writer shared my doubts and bottled out at the last minute, because Steed's first attempt to hook the Lakins, based on a faked murder attempt on Cathy, doesn't work, and they have to go again by getting the brothers to try a new trick and transfer guilt to an innocent person.

I did however like the way S and C are apparently working against each other for half the episode - shouting threats at each other at one point. (That won't be a spoiler unless you really believe he's willing to murder her). It's a setup that works best the first time, though, as we'll see when we come to the next episode.

The scenes of Steed fleeing after the 'murder', dropping his hat in his haste, are memorable.

John Laurie is a treat as one of the Lakins. His brother isn't Scottish though. Is that possible?

Alec 'Bob Hall' Ross as the acquitted alleged traitor. Michael 'Craddock/Elton Laleham' Goldie also appears. Fred 'the copper in Planet of Giants' Ferris has been promoted to Inspector.

Naive Avengersthon - 30. Concerto

Season 3 opens with a slight tale most notable for its 60s concern with East-West relations, and for Steed chumming up with one of his counterparts from behind the Iron Curtain, Zalenko (Nigel 'Wrong Number Six/Professor Hayter' Stock).

Zalenko is the secret police minder of concert pianist Veliko, who has a talent for wandering naively into trouble, thus endangering crucial trade talks. Certain people stand to profit by the failure of said talks -it's quite often 'certain people who stand to profit' who did it in The Avengers - and they use a simple but effective trick to get him into a position where he can be blackmailed. Steed and Zalenko co-operate to defeat them.

Geoffrey 'Mr Perry' Colville as the murderous Burns.

I called this episode 'slight' but I liked it. I do enjoy these depictions of Steed as a professional agent, with perhaps more in common with other agents, from whichever side, than anyone else.

(Thanks to Warren again for pointing out that this is another Dicks/Hulke scripting effort).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 29. Killer Whale

The first episode, I think, to have its own special picture in the credits - one of the eponymous whales. This is another 'bizarre combination' episode - its pairing of boxing + couture is a hit like The Mauritius Penny's fascism + philately, rather than a miss like Box of Tricks' conjuring + faith healing + espionage.

Steed makes a generous offer to sponsor young Joey Frazer into professional boxing. With a name like that he could go far. He's also Cathy's top youth club judo student, and she takes on the role of manager. I'm starting to think the writers were competing to see who could place her into the most unlikely role, but she's equal even to this challenge.

Joey starts training at a gym run by Pancho Driver (Patrick 'the priest in Hawk the Slayer' Magee) where he accidentally uses an unusual bar of soap. Cathy deduces that the 'soap' is actually the highly valuable, highly smuggleable whale-derived perfume ingredient ambergris, and not surprisingly, it turns out Steed suspected that Pancho was receiving the stuff all along.

As neither of them mentions their suspicions to Joey, he innocently investigates the source of the soap that Mrs Gale seems to like so much, and gets a good beating from Morris 'Captain Dent' Perry for his pains. I think that here they're trying to misdirect us into thinking Joey's got plans of his own for the ambergris, and if so, Kenneth Farrington's acting is just right for creating that impression without making it the only possible one.

The buyer for the ambergris is fashion designer Fernand (John 'Edward Waterfield' Bailey), who's got Christopher 'Stubbs' Coll working in a clandestine laboratory to make perfume out of it. Some rather good scenes at Fernand's salon, both with Robert Mill's sinister mortgage collector and with Steed ordering a wardrobe for his 'niece'. I really liked the way Steed uses this transparent pretence about his 'niece', which lets Fernand think he's seen through him and lulls Fernand into a false sense of superiority.

On the other hand though I didn't like the idea that Steed dumps a corpse in a cupboard just to make a point about Pancho being a 'dangerous friend'. Not so much for the gratuitous shock value, but because I can't imagine Steed thinking that dragging dead bodies around was a suitable use of his time.

Also noticed: Fredric 'Potter in Do Not Forsake Me' Abbott, and John Lucarotti at the typewriter.

Another one of my favourites. John Bailey is particularly good.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 28. Six Hands Across A Table

This episode definitely repaid repeated viewings. First time round it just seemed like a load of old men talking incomprehensibly about share prices, and implausibly prepared to commit murder in furtherance of their schemes. But I wasn't going to let a Philip Madoc appearance go to waste: second and third time round, his portrayal of the tightly-controlled, inscrutable, indispensable Seabrook really makes the story work.

Another bonus is the Cathy love interest - mostly done through allusion, but it's interesting to see that she can be given this stuff without it seeming out of character or inconsistent. I don't know whether to praise Honor Blackman or the writing.

A couple of Prisoner stars on show: Guy 'no. 1 Number Two' Doleman and John 'Sir Charles' Wentworth as two of the scheming shipyard owners (the latter playing another Sir Charles here). And from soapland there's Stephen 'Ernie Bishop' Hancock as a Geordie draughtsman.

Some nostalgic reminders of the post-war consensus in this by the way, with lots of union consultation in the shipyards, and Sir Charles being manipulated through his desire to see Britain's industries lead the world.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 27. A Chorus of Frogs

One of my least favourite episodes so far, though a summary can make it sound quite exciting: millionaire Mason (Eric Pohlmann) is conducting depth-diving experiments from his yacht, duping his tame scientist as to their real purpose and incurring the enmity of a secret organisation of expert divers (the eponymous frogs) by getting their members killed in accidents.

Steed is on the scene to investigate. A couple of nice scenes with Venus, who's scandalised by his requests to stow away in her cabin. He doesn't show much regard for Venus, does he, using her as cover for his dangerous missions; in this one he puts her in danger by getting her to send a coded telegram which is immediately spotted by the villainous Anna (Yvonne Shima), who's the best thing in this by miles.

Also noticed: Alan 'Hector' Haywood and John 'Ambril' Carson as members of the diving fraternity. (Thanks to WarrenAndrews for spotting JC where I missed him)

I think what makes the story fail for me is the lack of anyone other than Venus to sympathise with: the divers are a mercenary bunch and Steed comes across as using Venus quite ruthlessly. Frank 'Ortron' Gatliff gets a speech about how he isn't the stereotypical cold-blooded scientist, but he doesn't put up any resistance when Anna takes over the project and explains its true purpose. (She is holding a gun on him, mind).

File this story with Immortal Clay, Box of Tricks and Intercrime as ones that failed to grab me.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 26. A Conspiracy Of Silence

This one is pretty good, but some of that is contrast with the quite poor episodes either side of it.

Top clown Carlo (Robert 'police chief in The Italian Job' Rietty) visits a circus agency and meets an unwelcome face from his past in the shape of Mafia representative Sgr Sica, who orders him to assassinate Steed. A welcome bit of location filming here, with Steed happily taking Sheba for a walk in some woods - then the shooting starts...

Carlo's shots go wide, and he flees the scene, conveniently leaving his briefcase for Steed to find and deduce that his would-be assassin was a clown. Cathy is duly dispatched to the agency, and then to Gutman's Circus in the guise of a journalist. (Roy 'President of the High Council' Purcell as the eponymous owner).

The episode thereafter revolves around different clowns being the same person/impersonating each other, and Sica's henchman's undercover presence at the circus. The two-clowns-are-the-same-clown thing is extremely confusing and I don't really understand how it can work: if the pretence has been going on for a long time, surely someone would have become suspicious; if it's only just begun, how come the false identity clown has been so rapidly accepted into the circus without anyone thinking he seems familiar?

Alec Mango as Sica is suitably dangerous for a Mafioso. Unusually for an Avengers villain, he's initially quicker on the draw than Cathy. I don't think I've seen one of her moves fail before this. Still, she's too quick for him the next time.

John 'Gaffer Gamgee' Church as circus handyman Terry, Willie 'Chumbley' Shearer as the trivia-spouting Professor.

Rather a good final scene where Steed churlishly upsets Cathy by making fun of her for thinking he'd been killed. I like it when they don't get on and I like it when Steed's charm fails to work, so I particularly enjoyed that.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 25. Man in the Mirror

A bit of a let-down this one, a fairly dull tale about civil servant Trevelyan (Haydn 'Lenny Vosper' Jones) faking his own death and hiding in a funfair until Ray 'You cannot come in' Barrett can smuggle him - and his valuable secret knowledge - out of the country.

That description makes it sound a lot more interesting than it is. Ray Barrett is a perfectly satisfactory, acceptably menacing villain I suppose.

One thing I didn't get is why Steed sent Venus to take pictures of the funfair in the first place. Her reaction suggests that his stated reason was implausible, but he had no reason to suspect that Trevelyan was hiding there at the time.

David 'Kerensky' Graham as the producer at the recording studio Venus is using. Rhoda 'Marta in State of Decay' Lewis as Mrs Trevelyan.

And I see co-writer Geoffrey Orme also wrote The Underwater Menace.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 23. School for Traitors

A highly enjoyable episode, not least for the early 60s Oxbridge setting (or Oxbridge as TV viewers imagined it in the early 60s.) It's made me want to read The Masters again.

Oxbridge scientist Richard Davis has warned Steed that he's being blackmailed into giving away research secrets - Steed sends Venus Smith along for Rag Week to keep an eye on him, but he's found dead. So Steed also makes his way to the town in the guise of a Johnsonian scholar.

The blackmailers have a good system going: one of them employs a clever ruse to trick the victim into forging a cheque, then presenting it to their accomplice, who threatens to turn them in for forgery unless they give away secrets/follow instructions. The realisations that it's a scam, and that it's one they do regularly, are nicely spaced out.

We see the scam employed on two different students - sorry, undergraduates. The second of these, the strangely Ian Hislop-like Ted East, has already met Steed while conducting his own amateur investigation into Davis' death, and they join forces to defeat the blackmailers and their traitorous academic boss.

Reginald 'Sir Dennis' Marsh as pub landlord Higby; Melissa Stribling as the wicked artist Claire, who either keeps reptiles in a tank in her studio or collects plastic models of reptiles, I wasn't quite sure what they were getting at there. Either way she's evil, and wears fishnets to prove it.

I thought John Standing as East was excellent, he can even carry off a scene where he's required to drawl 'Dig this, honey' to Venus before playing her Yellow Bird on his guitar; cue impromptu singalong in the cloisters.

One of my favourites so far.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Naive Avengersthon - 22. The Golden Eggs

Steed is curious about a break-in at the lab of virus researcher Dr Ashe, in which the doctor claims nothing was stolen. Cathy has to pretend to be a journalist again and go and question him; meanwhile the burglar is feeling distinctly peaky. His employer - Peter Arne returning as brilliantly sinister music-box enthusiast/crime boss Redfern - thoughtfully deals with his illness by having him burnt to death. Arne has now played two villains with upsetting facial hair within the space of three episodes in production order; and if I've read the broadcast order right, Warlock was actually shown the week before this episode.

Ashe eventually concedes that something was stolen from his lab after all: a refrigerated case which Cathy eventually locates, fighting off Redfern's henchman who's also on its trail. There's a very suspenseful moment where Steed cautiously opens the case, it made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And from here it's a short run to a slightly disappointing confrontation with Redfern; Cathy uses an ingenious bluff, but I expected something cleverer from Redfern than just trying to shoot her.

I had a strange sort of Planet of Giants feeling about this one - Donald 'Krasis/Pollio' Eccles as Dr Ashe kept reminding me of the First Doctor, and Pauline Delaney as his assistant had many elusive hints of Barbara Wright (it's the hair).

One thing I didn't get was why the eponymous eggs were painted gold: to stop them being mistaken for ordinary eggs I suppose, but there ought to have been some exposition to this effect.

Naive Avengersthon - 21. Box of Tricks

I'm finding fault with this recent batch of episodes, I can see... I liked the central idea of this one, that a general's well-meaning daughter is manipulated, via her belief in faith healing, into bugging his conferences without even knowing it. But the connection with the club magic act seems wrong, as if the two ideas side by side are competing and clashing badly.

I suppose you could criticise, say, The Mauritius Penny on the same grounds that the 'fascist takeover' idea doesn't need the philately one alongside it. But the fascists need an unobtrusive, innocent-looking cover, for which a stamp shop is ideal; the villains here seem to be going all out to draw attention to themselves, by relaying the general's secrets from a nightclub basement and using a disappearing cabinet to murder - in front of an audience - anyone who finds out.

Back to Venus Smith with this one. I can't decide whether I find her arms-by-her-sides, delightedly wriggling singing style engaging or annoying.

Two undercover roles for Steed. Patrick Macnee hasn't put a foot wrong for me since I started this 'thon - I liked his masseur and his hypochondriac millionaire here as much as I did his steward in Mission to Montreal. Extra fun here when the general sees through him, and he abruptly drops the act and switches into clipped military/secret agent mode.

Dallas 'Sir James Quinlan' Cavell, reminding me oddly of Terry Jones, as the club manager.

Peter Ling at the typewriter - I presume this is Peter 'The Mind Robber/Crossroads' Ling?