Steed becomes a genie. Emma joins a harem.

7 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
Honey For The Prince (1966),
written by Brian Clemens

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

Additional Cast:
Rex Garner as Arkadi
Bruce Millar as Prince Ali
Kerry Jordan as Grand Vizier

Production:
Adapted and directed by Tony Jay
Produced by David Gooden

Transmitted on Springbok Radio (7.15-7.30pm):
Episode 1 -Tuesday 28th March 1972
Episode 2 - Wednesday 29th March 1972
Episode 3 - Thursday 30th March 1972
Episode 4 - Friday 31st March 1972
Episode 5 - Monday 3rd April 1972
Episode 6 - Tuesday 4th April 1972
Episode 7 - Wednesday 5th April 1972

Arabian Nights
Emma performs with a
whiter shade of veil.

PLOTLINE

Returning from an all-night party, Steed and Mrs Peel find a dying agent Ronny Westcott at Steed's flat. Ronny only manages to tell them that a genie and honey were involved in his death, and that the full story can be found in the rooms of his murdered colleague, George Reed. Steed goes to Reed's home, but someone else a thug called Vincent is already there burning Reed's papers. Vincent escapes and all Steed finds in the room are jars of honey.

Meanwhile, Mrs Peel gets a delivery of Best British Honey at Steed's flat, from B. Bumble and Co. The parcel had been sent to Steed by Reed before his death.

Emma visits B. Bumble and Co., and whilst she is there Vincent and his associate Bernie (who both work for a Turkish man named Arkadi) arrive in the shop. Steed, examining the honey in Reed's room, gets a call from Mr Ponsonby Hopkirk of QQF Inc. Hopkirk thinks that Steed is Reed, and asks him to come over to the QQF building for his appointment. QQF Quite Quite Fantastic is an organisation which helps people live out their fantasies. Steed asks for the same fantasy as Ronny Westcott which turns out to be playing chief eunuch in a harem! Bernie has followed Emma back to Steed's flat, and tries to shoot her, but in the ensuing fight the gun goes off and kills Bernie instead. Emma goes back to Bumble's shop and finds that Bumble is dead, and next to him is Vincent East's application for the QQF. She visits the QQF, posing as a journalist, and meets Hopkirk. After she leaves Vincent arrives for his fantasy an assassination. Back at the flat Steed and Emma realise the connection between the QQF, with its Arabian fantasy and Bumble's honey. Bumble had been at the Bahrainian embassy a few days before delivering honey for the harem. Vincent, meanwhile, shoots Hopkirk dead during his assassination fantasy which involves the killing of the Crown Prince of Bahrain. Vincent then takes the QQF file for this venture in order to use it to assassinate the Crown Prince.

Steed and Emma find the dying Hopkirk who tells them that the Prince is to be killed the next night, but dies before giving details. Steed visits the embassy and gets on famously with Crown Prince Ali, as they share a love of cricket. He is invited back by the Prince to a banquet the following night, and brings Emma along as an offering for the harem. Steed has also noticed the man-size jars of honey around the embassy which could be used to smuggle in the killer. Arkadi is another guest at the banquet it seems his government is losing the Bahrainian oil concession to the British government so he is plotting to have the Prince killed in Britain in order to sour relations between Britain and Bahrain. Mrs Peel does indeed join the harem and investigates the large honey jars inside. She finds the one used to smuggle Vincent in and saves the Prince from being killed. Vincent tells her that Arkadi is behind the plot, and Arkadi hears this. He escapes from the embassy back to the QQF building, but Steed follows him and knocks him out. The successful foiling of the assassination plot means that the Bahrainians are very quick to sign the oil treaty with Britain.

GUEST REVIEW

The only existing radio serial adapted and directed by Tony Jay seems to stick pretty well to the TV version script. Some lines get swapped; in the radio version it is Mrs Peel who says, "I'll call a doctor," and it is Steed who says, "She was a honey". In both cases this creates more of a dialogue which is necessary so that the listener is simply aware of the other character's presence! This could explain why Mrs Peel in the radio version often seems more active and outspoken. She simply didn't have the opportunity to give the expression or gestures that her TV counterpart used. I appreciate more now how well Diane Appleby solved this limitation in the making of the serials. The excellent silent sequences in director James Hill's TV version have been recreated so well by the narrator. We can each visualise our own 'Middle Eastern Room' and picture London changing through the following night until we see Steed and Mrs Peel returning from a party. There's a high ratio of narration to dramatic action here early on, which tails off a bit later in the story as the characters take over. The narration is so good that I'm sort of sorry it didn't employ similar amounts of narration throughout. Many different short pieces of music are used which all added to the excitement, but they could perhaps have been chosen more carefully to create a more constant 'Eastern' feel. However, I can sense the energy being put into the making of the show. Sound effects are quite good but at one point, when a gun being pointed at Mrs Peel turns out to be a camera, there is little by way of sound effects and it all seems to be explained a little too fast. On the other hand, I liked the background chatter at the Prince's party, rather than the use of party music, which is very inventive and could be either a recording or live actors. I'll listen for it next time.

That Mother is mentioned already in this early serial suggests that he was an occasional 'third regular character' throughout the show, despite Tony Jay's denial in later years that he ever used the character. In The Fantasy Game we hear quite a few topical references, such as when choosing a fantasy when there are two mentions of Brigit Bardot, and then when Mrs Peel is being persuaded to dance, she mentions Paul Newman. This works well and lightens the proceedings up. It is a humorous show and that is one reason why I like it. As one of the longer serials, the plot strands concerning the QQF and the Prince almost seem like separate sub-stories; the link being made with the assassination plot (I wonder if Brian Clemens used two story ideas to make one good story, or not).

The character of the Crown Prince is really funny and in being built up more gradually in audio, I would claim, is a better creation. Of course, when Emma dances for him it needs an added commentary for radio compared to the mainly musical scene on TV; another example of her gestures having to be described. In it staying so true to the TV version plot, this serial is a well recreated one with a lot of fine performances from the whole cast.

Ron Geddes

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE

Name Changes: None.

Character Changes: None.

Storyline Changes: Arkadi is clearly identified as being Turkish in the radio story and, by inference, to be working for the Turkish government. The TV episode makes no mention of Arkadi's nationality, just that his country is a rival to Britain for the oil concession. Still on the subject of nationality, the TV version states that Crown Prince Ali is from the fictional country of Barabia, rather than Bahrain as in the radio adaptation. Obviously the people behind the TV broadcast shied away from implicating genuine Arabic countries in a conflict over oil.

An amusing throwaway line occurs in the radio version when Steed and Emma are reading a newspaper: Steed notices an article on whether radio serials are a disturbing influence on their listeners!

PRODUCTION NOTES

This serial, broadcast on Springbok Radio in late March and early April 1972 is believed to be the only surviving Avengers serial adapted and directed by Tony Jay.

The end theme of Episode Four features a special announcement from Hugh Rouse, recommending that listeners tune in on Monday night at 10pm for a new series, The White Oaks of Jalna. This is the only existing episode that features such an announcement for another programme. This announcement has been vital in dating the broadcast of this serial. Many thanks to Frans Erasmus for his invaluable help on this one.

Alys Hayes

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