Production Number: 3375 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1217


Felgate, a civil servant involved with codes and ciphers, is suspected of being a security risk. He has been withdrawing large amounts of money from his bank account for no obvious reason, and is now heavily in debt. A month earlier, another government clerk, also working on ciphers, was pushed into the crocodile pit at Brinkley House, a privately owned zoo. Like Felgate, he had drawn a lot of money out of his bank.

Steed, who is currently posing as a new recruit at Felgate's office, asks Keel to follow Felgate as he visits the Bromango Strip Club and then Brinkley House Zoo. There the civil servant drops a packet, wrapped in colourful Christmas paper, into the crocodile pit. Steed stays behind at the zoo after it has closed, to observe what happens to the package. He sees no one enter or leave the pit, but nevertheless the packet vanishes without a trace.

It transpires that Felgate is being blackmailed by Kollakis, the manager of the strip club, who possesses a potentially ruinous tape recording of Felgate's indiscretions with one of the strippers. When Felgate runs out of money, Kollakis demands a copy of a top-secret file instead which was what he and his boss had wanted all along. When Felgate refuses, his life is put in danger, and Kollakis turns his attention towards Steed, who has recently signed up as a member of the club...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 11
Production Completed:
Thu 30 Mar 1961
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Not Photographed
Reconstruction: Not currently possible
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 1 Apr 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK


ABC Midlands: Sat 1 April 1961, 8.35pm
ABC North: Sat 1 April 1961, 8.35pm
Sat 1 April 1961, 8.35pm
ATV London: Not transmitted
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Not transmitted
Southern: Not transmitted
TWW: Not transmitted
Tyne Tees:
Not transmitted
Ulster: Not transmitted
Westward: Not transmitted
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Man at Zoo
Strip Club Customers
Voice (Felgate's Boss)
Little Girl
Woman (Kiosk Customer)
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Tenniel Evans
Harry Ross
Alastair Hunter
Carole Boyer
Genevieve Lyons
Catherine Ellison
Mark Baker
Richard Neller
Charles Bird

Not released.




Writer Dennis Spooner
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Patrick Downing
Story Editor
Patrick Brawn
Leonard White
Dennis Vance

Production Assistant Sylvia Langdon-Down
Floor Manager Peter Bailey
Stage Manager Barbara Sykes
Lighting Director Peter Kew
Technical Supervisor Peter Wayne
Senior Cameraman Tom Clegg
Sound Supervisor Peter Cazaly

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production


  • Production Brief... Camera rehearsals for this episode commenced at 10.30am on Wednesday 29th March 1961 in Studio 2 at ABC TV Studios, Broom Road, Teddington, Middlesex. They continued with two one-hour breaks, for lunch at 12.30pm and supper at 6.00pm until 9.00pm that evening. The cast and crew reconvened at 10.00am the next day for further camera rehearsals, pausing for a one-hour lunch break at 12.30pm. Camera line-up and make-up took place at 3.30pm, followed by the dress rehearsal at 4.15pm, and further camera line-up at 5.30pm. The episode was finally recorded between 6.00pm and 7.00pm on the evening of Thursday 30th March 1961, two days ahead of transmission on Saturday 1st April 1961 at 8.35pm.

  • The surviving camera script contains numerous additions and alterations to the action and dialogue after the document was initially typed, mostly in the final act. Some of these amendments are typed between the original lines and some are marked in pencil. Presumably these are details that were worked out between the actors and director Dennis Vance during the camera and dress rehearsals. Notable additions include Keel's sarcastic comment about the absence of the barman at the club during Act 1, "Self service here?"; a couple of remarks by Steed about Jimmy's green paws in Act 3; and an extra line each for Kollakis and Keel before their scuffle near the refreshments kiosk.

  • The aforementioned additions may have been prompted, at least in part, by the episode running short during rehearsals. This episode's target duration without commercial breaks was 53 minutes and 10 seconds. This is longer than the programme's usual target duration of 52 minutes and 30 seconds, because Please Don't Feed the Animals had to match the running time of Brought to Book, which was to be aired in certain ITV regions at the same time (see Trivia, below). However, a pencil note on the front cover of the script records a total duration of 49 minutes and 45 seconds (comprising 16 minutes and 35 seconds for Act 1, 17 minutes and 10 seconds for Act 2 and 16 minutes exactly for Act 3). This note is followed by a revised timing of 50 minutes and 35 seconds for the dress rehearsal. The opposite situation would arise during the making of The Springers, which overran by 96 seconds. Both these instances would have been very embarrassing for the producers and would not have made them flavour of the month with the network.

  • Despite the need to extend the episode's running time, a substantial line was cut from Act 3, in which Keel and Steed arrange to meet at the zoo half an hour before it closes. Keel was originally scripted to say, "There's a side road on the left just before you reach the zoo. I'll get you there." This was presumably removed in order to save the cost of filming another exterior location or of constructing another set. Indeed, Keel and Steed's subsequent meeting takes place within the zoo and was realised within the studio.

  • Interviewed by Dave Rogers for his book The Ultimate Avengers, designer Patrick Downing recalled that the script required a swimming pool, presumably to represent the crocodile pit. "It took two weeks to build, in Teddington Number 1 studio and I overspent the budget enormously!" In order to get more money to cover the construction cost, Downing and director Don Leaver staged a mock fight for the benefit of the producers, which ended with Leaver throwing Downing into the water. It is likely that their tussle was a simulation of the opening scene, in which an unfortunate victim is pushed into the crocodile pit. The demonstration met with approval, and the designer got his extra money! Due to the dangers of working with large volumes of water in the electronic studio, two sequences requiring Downing's elaborate water tank had to be pre-filmed on 35mm film in Teddington 1 and then played into the episode when it was videotaped in Teddington 2 on Thursday 30th March 1961. These sequences featured at either end of the first act: the opening teaser, depicting the man being thrown into the crocodile pit (43 seconds), and Steed nearly falling into the pit himself (duration unknown). It is not known whether the opening teaser was silent or filmed with sound. The other sequence is denoted S.O.F. (sound on film) in the script.

  • Other scenes set in the zoo were recorded in the studio. Model work was carried out to show the package and crocodiles in the reptile pit. These shots are not listed as telecine sequences in the camera script, which indicates that they were taped 'as live' during the performance and were not pre-filmed. For reasons of safety and in order to keep things to scale within the model pit, it is possible that juvenile crocodiles were used to represent the creatures. Five years later, this technique would be used to memorable effect in the Thunderbirds episode, Attack of the Alligators.

  • The production made use of four pedestal cameras, three boom microphones, one stand microphone (which was used for the scene inside Steed's car in Act 1), five practical (operable) telephones and one practical intercom, among other equipment.

  • On Location... In addition to the Studio 1 filming described above, there was one specially shot exterior sequence. This comprised Felgate's bus ride to the zoo, pursued by Keel and Steed (1 minute and 25 seconds). There was sound on the film.

  • Furthermore, one unspecified stock clip was used. This is thought to have been an establishing shot of Whitehall during rush hour (20 seconds) in Act 1. It is most likely that this clip was silent, because the script calls for additional sound, "rush hour music", to be played in from grams.

  • Trivia... Numerous synopses published elsewhere indicate that the girl who works in the kiosk (Sarah) is the mastermind behind the blackmailing operation. This is not the case, though the kiosk is involved. As to who Kollakis' real boss is... well, read our detailed synopsis and find out!

  • The synopsis published in the Dave Rogers books The Avengers (1983) and The Complete Avengers (1989) uses the spelling 'cypher', possibly in order to maintain consistency with the title of the 1968 episode Super Secret Cypher Snatch. However, the script for Please Don't Feed the Animals uses the (perfectly valid) spelling 'cipher' throughout. This website's episode guide and synopsis have followed the spelling used in the script. Is that trivial enough?

  • About a month elapses over the course of this episode even longer than the three-week duration for the events of Square Root of Evil. However, most of that month passes between the opening teaser sequence and the rest of the episode. As far as Steed and Keel's involvement is concerned, the case lasts for just a few days.

  • As Steed is posing as a cipher clerk, it is possible that Patrick Macnee donned a bowler hat during this episode, perhaps for the first time...

  • While Please Don't Feed the Animals was being transmitted in the ABC Midlands, ABC North and Anglia ITV regions, audiences in the ATV London, Southern and Tyne Tees regions were shown Brought to Book, which was being broadcast some eleven weeks after its premiere on ABC Midlands and ABC North. Confusingly for viewers in the TWW and Ulster regions, they were shown an episode of the imported US film series 77 Sunset Strip, despite the fact that both regions had screened Hot Snow in tandem with the ATV London, Southern and Tyne Tees transmissions a fortnight earlier.

  • Please Don't Feed the Animals was to be the last of the run of Series 1 episodes which was never aired in the area in which the series was produced, London. ATV London, the region's weekend broadcaster, having shown delayed transmissions of Hot Snow and Brought to Book on Saturdays 18th March and 1st April 1961 respectively, would join the network feed from the next episode, Dance with Death, on Saturday 15th April 1961. The London franchise holders would remain with the series throughout the Sixties.

  • As with many other early episodes of The Avengers, Please Don't Feed the Animals has been poorly served in terms of photographic records. No images are known to have survived from the production, and as such we have had no alternative other than to include a photograph from another source as the image at the top of the page. The photo is of actor Harry Ross (Kollakis) from another ABC Television production, a 1963 episode of Ghost Squad, and is included for illustrative purposes only.

  • And Finally... The camera script is marked in pencil with a small number of shorthand symbols, indicating one additional line of dialogue each for Steed and Kollakis on page 61 and Keel's final line (the last line of the episode) on page 74. Appropriately enough, given the subject matter of ciphers and codes, these marks have yet to be fully deciphered, though it is possible that Steed's comment to Kollakis is: "I'll do as you ask." Kollakis' response to this appears to be: "That's very kind of you, Mr Steed." Keel's remark at the end of the episode seems to be: "I wonder why I bother." Given the quality of Steed's witticism (about how porcupines make love which is very, very carefully), one can understand why Keel would regret having risen to the bait!

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

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


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