Production Number: 3371 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1141 (off-air)

PLOTLINE

Steed is instructed by One-Ten to pose as a crooked airline steward, John Ryan, in order to infiltrate a gang of international diamond smugglers. He takes up residence in a bungalow near Heathrow Airport, which used to belong to Harcourt, a suicide who is believed to have been a member of the illicit organisation. Starting his new job, Steed meets Fiona Charles, an attractive nurse employed by Dr Collard, the medical adviser of Globe Airlines, and Sharp, the pilot with whom he will be flying to New York the next day.

Following an uneventful return trip, a party is thrown. Steed eventually leaves the party, somewhat the worse for wear. The morning after, Steed is awoken by a telephone call. A mysterious voice on the phone advises him to read the morning papers. They all carry a story about a young woman who was killed in a hit-and-run accident the previous night. Told by the caller to check his car, Steed finds that it is dented and covered in dried blood. He has been set up...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 7
Production Completed:
Sat 18 Feb 1961 (Live)
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Not Photographed
Reconstruction: Not currently possible
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 18 Feb 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 18 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
ABC North: Sat 18 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
Anglia:
Sat 18 Feb 1961, 10.00pm
ATV London: Not transmitted
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Not transmitted
Southern: Not transmitted
TWW: Not transmitted
Tyne Tees:
Not transmitted
Ulster: Not transmitted
Westward: Not transmitted
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
One-Ten
Fiona Charles
Dr Collard
Stella Creighton
Sharp
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Douglas Muir
Sandra Dorne
Hamlyn Benson
Joy Webster
Uncredited
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

None.

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Max Marquis
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Robert Fuest
Story Editor
Patrick Brawn / John Bryce
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Peter Hammond

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

DIAMOND CUT DIAMOND DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Diamond Cut Diamond was the fifth of seven consecutive Avengers episodes to be performed and transmitted live. Contrary to popular belief, this does not mean that the episode was never taped. Camera scripts that are known to survive for the live episodes Square Root of Evil, Girl on the Trapeze, The Radioactive Man and Ashes of Roses all state VTR (video tape recording) numbers and note that the recordings were to be made from transmission. Furthermore, a production memo concerning a proposed 1962 repeat run of Series 1 episodes lists VTR numbers for all of the live episodes, indicating that these recordings were in existence as at 30th March 1962.

  • Writer Max Marquis (1925-) is one of The Avengers' one-hit wonders, Diamond Cut Diamond marking his only contribution to the series. According to his recorded credits, The Avengers appears to have been only his second major commission for television after making his breakthrough writing for Interpol Calling, a film series made by the Incorporated Television Company (better known as ITC). Prior to this, Marquis had been an FA County football referee and his interest in the sport would later lead him to write a book in 1970 which profiled the FIFA World Cup winning England football manager, Sir Alf Ramsey for publishers Arthur Baker. After Diamond Cut Diamond, he would go on to write for soap operas Harpers West One, Compact and General Hospital, for thrillers such as Ghost Squad, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Crane and Riviera Police. He also served as script editor on BBC drama series Detective and The Expert. Later in his career, Marquis took to writing fiction for print, initially novelising three General Hospital storylines between 1976 and 1978 before branching out into original fiction. In all, he has written nine novels, four of which feature his detective creation, Harry Timberlake, The Twelfth Man (1992), Undignified Death (1994), Written in Blood (1995) and Death of a Good Woman (1998). His other works, also thrillers, are Traitor Machine (1980), Bodyguard to Charles (1989, with Michael Varney), Vengeance (1990), Deadly Doctors (1992) and Elimination (1993). Based in London after living for many years in France, Max Marquis remains a well-respected figure in television sports journalism.

  • This episode marks the first confirmed appearance of Steed's superior One-Ten, portrayed by Douglas Muir. Details about the episodes Nightmare and Crescent Moon are extremely sketchy, so one cannot definitively rule out an earlier appearance by Muir as One-Ten in either of those two stories, but Diamond Cut Diamond certainly saw his first billing in contemporary TV listings. One-Ten would brief Steed on his assignments in several more episodes during The Avengers' first two series. Steed had previously received instructions from a similar character known as '5', played by Heron Carvic, in the episode Square Root of Evil.


  • On Location... It is not known whether any location work was carried out for this episode. However, it seems likely that some stock footage of airports and aircraft, and perhaps landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty, would have been used to represent Steed's journeys between London and New York.


  • Trivia... As in Square Root of Evil, Steed goes under cover, masquerading as a known offender though unlike Timothy James Riordan, John Ryan has been released without charge rather than imprisoned. Once again Steed fills a vacancy in the criminal underworld, a situation that has been left vacant by the death of his predecessor though unlike Tobert, Harcourt was not a fellow agent of the department. It is unclear whether the real Ryan is an Australian or whether he just happened to be in Australia when he was arrested, so we do not know whether Steed has to put on an Australian accent in this episode.

  • The use and abuse of barbiturates is a recurring theme during Series 1. Barbiturates act as central nervous system depressants with a wide variety of effects, ranging from mild sedation to total anaesthesia. In Diamond Cut Diamond, Steed is doped into insensibility by a massive dose of the drugs. In the previous episode, Girl on the Trapeze, Katrina Sandor is killed by a barbiturate overdose. Earlier in the season, in Brought to Book, Keel threatens Spicer with a supposedly lethal injection, but in fact his syringe contains "a harmless barbiturate". Nowadays, barbiturates are known to be far from harmless. They can be addictive, and have largely been replaced by benzodiazepines in routine medical practice, primarily because benzodiazepines are less dangerous in overdose.

  • Though only one production photograph relating to Diamond Cut Diamond is known to exist, it nevertheless offers plot information that is not included in previously published synopses. The image shows a concerned-looking Steed on the telephone while Fiona (Sandra Dorne) weeps on his shoulder. This suggests that Fiona is present when Steed receives a call from the sinister voice on the phone. We theorise that this call is received when Fiona hands over the package that Steed is to smuggle into New York. Perhaps the voice has some instructions for its delivery.

  • Stella Creighton (played by Joy Webster) is the only character credited in contemporary TV listings for Diamond Cut Diamond who is not mentioned by name in synopses for this episode. By a process of elimination, one can presume that she is the "someone in New York" to whom Steed must deliver his package, referred to in the synopsis in Dave Rogers' The Complete Avengers (1989), and one of the "Two beautiful women" who "make it difficult for John Steed to keep his mind on his work" referred to in the TV Times summary for this episode.

  • On the subject of Joy Webster's character, one wonders whether several writers of the early Series 1 episodes had a particular liking for the name 'Stella'. There are characters called Stella in Hot Snow (written by Ray Rigby), Diamond Cut Diamond (Max Marquis) and Hunt the Man Down (Richard Harris) that's three Stellas in ten episodes!

  • The chief villain's decision to dispense with his trusted accomplice seems rather arbitrary. In the synopsis published in The Complete Avengers, the accomplice simply "knows too much for her good". Inspired by the synopsis (though not the actual script) for Please Don't Feed the Animals, in which Steed passes on false ciphers, it is tempting to speculate that Steed replaces the smuggled diamonds with fakes. Such an event would provide the villain with a better motivation for believing that his associate has been compromised and has outlived her usefulness.

  • As with many other early episodes of The Avengers, Diamond Cut Diamond is poorly represented in terms of photographic records. Just one photograph is known to survive from the production, and this was reproduced in Patrick Macnee's 1997 book, The Avengers and Me (co-written with Dave Rogers). As this photograph is in a square format, we present it below, uncropped, and have opted to include a generic photograph of Douglas Muir as One-Ten as the image at the top of the page. This is sourced from the Avengers episode Mr Teddy Bear, and is included for illustrative purposes only.

 

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and Fiona Charles (Sandra Dorne)


  • And Finally... Diamond Cut Diamond was the first Avengers episode to be transmitted by Anglia Television, which picked up the series earlier than any other non-ABC ITV region. Many of the other latecomers commenced their runs with Hot Snow and Brought to Book in order to set the scene, but those episodes never aired in the Anglia region. Because The Avengers would now be broadcast outside of the ABC network (ABC Midlands and ABC North), producer Leonard White issued instructions that the word "NETWORK" be omitted from the station identification slide at the end of each episode from this point on.

Plotline by Richard McGinlay UK Transmissions by Simon Coward, Alan Hayes and John Tomlinson
Declassified by Richard McGinlay with Alan Hayes

With thanks to Piers Johnson, Dave Matthews, Dave Rogers, Jaz Wiseman and StudioCanal for their kind assistance

 

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