Steed flies after a bird. Emma is saying nothing.

7 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
The Interrogators (1969),
written by Richard Harris and Brian Clemens

Principal Cast:
Donald Monat as John Steed
Diane Appleby as Emma Peel
Colin Fish as Mother
Hugh Rouse as The Narrator

Production:
Adapted and directed by Dennis Folbigge
Produced by David Gooden

Transmission on Springbok Radio (7.15-7.30pm):
Episode 1 Friday
Episode 2 Monday
Episode 3 Tuesday
Episode 4 Wednesday
Episode 5 Thursday
Episode 6 Friday
Episode 7 Monday

I'm Asking the Questions!
Colonel Mannering wanted to
know all the answers, too.

PLOTLINE

Two men are sitting outside a room where interrogations are going on. One of them goes in and a man named Colonel Mannering violently demands to know the names of his contacts, but he gives nothing but his name (Caspar), rank and serial number. Mother is worried because this Caspar, one of his important intelligence men, is missing so Mrs Peel and a forensic team examines his apartment. When one of Caspar's contacts is killed, Mother reluctantly discloses the identity of Caspar's other contact to Steed, but he gets to him too late.

The second contact had managed to tell Steed where he was going to meet Caspar. Steed collects Mrs Peel, return to Mother and then, after some speculation, they go to the meeting place. There they find Caspar and take him back to Mother. Steed then sends Mrs Peel to check on another intelligence man, Minnow, who is just being visited by Mannering.

Minnow is taken away by Mannering out of a back door. At Mother's, after the body of Caspar's second contact is shown to him, Caspar is persuaded to go away and think about how he could be responsible for the deaths of his two contacts. Steed follows and sees him releasing a homing pigeon! Meanwhile, Mrs Peel enters Minnow's apartment. He too gets interrogated by Mannering about his contacts. During the session, the pigeon arrives and Mannering recognises it as having come from Caspar. He decides that Caspar must now be eliminated.

Steed hears Caspar being shot dead as Mrs Peel examines Minnow's flat. Mother and Steed now decide they had better try and warn Minnow's contacts. Mrs Peel is sent to the first one but can only witness him being shot and informs Mother, who is now understandably very worried about the second one. Minnow is now almost being tortured about this second contact, but strangely appears to think it's all just a test part of some training course. Mrs Peel finds the second contact and helps him get his attacker's gun and shoots him.

The second contact disappears and no-one at Mother's HQ knows who his would-be assassin is until Minnow unexpectedly walks in and seems to recognise him. Thinking they are in on the test, he says, "I want to contact Mannering". Now they may get somewhere. Mannering is, however, calling on a very tired, off-duty Mrs Peel and convinces her that she must also come for training. Minnow doesn't know where it was, but remembers the name of the course and Mother phones intelligence to check it.

Mrs Peel is taken into the building where the 'courses' are still very much going on. One man, Mallard, seems to know her and Mannering talks to another RAF man. At Mother's HQ, he tells Minnow that he phoned the authorities and the course does not exist. Minnow still insists he didn't talk. As Mallard is being grilled for a name by Mannering he suddenly stops, says "You've passed," and takes him to the bar. Mallard is then tricked into giving the name. At the same time, Minnow, realising he must have been tricked in the bar too, says "I have a pigeon".

Minnow explains to Steed that if he releases his pigeon, Mannering is to contact him within the hour. Mrs Peel is now being interrogated as to Steed's whereabouts. With Minnow releasing the pigeon, Steed follows in a helicopter! It leads him to the building where Mrs Peel is being ever more forcibly questioned. Mannering issues pistols to all his 'trainees' telling them they contain blanks and that in this test, there are ten points for whoever shoots the intruder, a Mr Steed, who they may know. Mrs Peel breaks free as Steed gets into the building past the shooting guards. About to be shot by five of the men (who intend to share the points) he persuades them, with Mrs Peel's assistance, to first take a shot at Mannering. He survives the real bullets, but his deadly scheme has come to an end.

GUEST REVIEW

Mother telling Steed that he might need a drink suggests this is a difficult case for the team. Colin Fish's slightly more relaxed interpretation is very close to the one we see on TV. There are lots of scenes in this first episode with its interrogations, meetings with Mother, a report from a flat, and incidents at an archery range and a fairground. The man repeating his name, rank and serial number stays in the mind. Changing the location where Steed and Mrs Peel meet a contact to the Green Pheasant Inn adds variety and, unlike it would have done on TV, didn't cost a thing. Mrs Peel isn't heard much initially while she's on errands and in audio this somehow makes her appear more absent that in video. The top interrogator, Mannering, is on fairly equal terms with his subordinates but should maybe be being more assertive and is less confident (more later). The forensic expert helping Mrs Peel examine the flats of agents sounds very normal. The pronounced delivery of the TV character gave us briefly another slight eccentric. So, maybe the humour here is being given mostly to Mother. Not that Steed and Mrs Peel are always serious (even if the situation usually still is). As one of Mannering's men dies, they announce a temporary dead end and that it's time for lunch! It doesn't just sound like a quick sandwich either, more likely back to the Green Pheasant. Later, Mannering is persuading Mrs Peel that she must go on a training course. Whereas he was quite civil with his men earlier he, surprisingly, doesn't use much charm now. No-one will mind me saying that Christopher Lee's performance on TV is a better one.

A pivotal scene in the story however is really well done on radio. Mother and Steed are still baffled by their men insisting that they said nothing. Steed asks, "How the devil do they work it?" and the narrator answers, "How? It's done like this!" - and all is revealed (to the listener) in the training course bar. Its location is now revealed to Mother and Co. with the help of a homing pigeon. "No pigeons were harmed " I'm sure. Indeed, considering all the stunts, the travel for location shooting, the makeup etc. that are needed for TV, radio production has its advantages. It seems to have plenty of funny moments too. The soldier, after reporting on the pigeon's arrival, adds, "and there was a helicopter following it". The actor sounds like he just managed to keep a straight face! Steed now seems more unconcerned by all the rifles pointing at him than Steed on TV.

Ron Geddes

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE

Name Changes: None.

Character Changes: This is one of a number of episodes adapted for the Sonovision Avengers which replaces the television character of Tara King with that of Emma Peel.

There is no Captain Soo; Colonel Mannering only refers to 'others' who interrogate (in Episode Three).

Mother has no assistant Rhonda, so Steed wheels Izzy's corpse into the room.

Storyline Changes: Caspar's first contact (who is given the name James Wilson) is challenged at archery this time before being shot with an arrow.

The man with Caspar at the start (who is given the name Dan Fletcher) later gets interrogated.

Izzy Pound is located at a fairground rather than a quarry and, having a talking part, plays a role in tracing Caspar. His tip allows Steed to take Mrs Peel to lunch at 'The Green Pheasant' where Caspar arrives. In the TV version, he arrives at Steed's flat.

Mrs. Peel picks the lock at Minnow's apartment instead of breaking a window.

Caspar releases the homing pigeon from his kitchen instead of from his car.

Colonel Mannering only threatens to make a fake call to Mother while duping Mrs Peel.

Towards the end, Mrs. Peel tries to charm a guard with "Don't be such a silly soldier!"

The story ends by adjourning to the bar without the last TV scene.

Bloopers: In Episode One, Mrs Peel says Jasper initially, instead of Caspar.

PRODUCTION NOTES

In addition to the Friday evening episodes (Episodes One and Six), the concluding episode - aired on a Monday - also carries a 'Friday-style' credit announcement, presumably because it was the last installment of the serial.

There are many references in the radio version to English places such as Salisbury, Oxon, Battersea Park and Bridgewell Road.

Ron Geddes

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