Steed has a wizard time. Emma sleeps through it.

6 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
The Morning After (1968),
written by Brian Clemens

Principal Cast:
Donald Monat as John Steed
Diane Appleby as Emma Peel
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 25th August 1972
Episode 2 - Monday 28th August 1972
Episode 3 - Tuesday 29th August 1972
Episode 4 - Wednesday 30th August 1972
Episode 5 - Thursday 31st August 1972
Episode 6 - Friday 1st September 1972
This is a best guess based on available data

The Name's Merlin. Jimmy Merlin.
And don't you forget it.

PLOTLINE

Steed and Mrs Peel are driving through the Suffolk market town of St. Catherine's in order to make a rendezvous, or more correctly, spring a trap. The object of their aim is a double agent named Jimmy Merlin, whom Steed has been trying to catch for some time. They go to the offices of the Postern Trading Company, which is where Steed has lured Merlin with a promise of money. Merlin arrives and as Steed attempts to hold him, Merlin detonates a sleeping gas. All three are knocked out until the next morning.

When Steed wakes up, he manages to handcuff Merlin and prepares to drive off to Headquarters. However, as they are about to leave, they are suddenly struck with how deserted the town suddenly seems. It appears that the inhabitants have left in something of a hurry but why? After wandering around for some time, Steed and Merlin hear shots. They find the body of a man wearing a placard proclaiming "Looter". He seems to have been professionally executed. In fact, he was shot by an army platoon led by Sgt. Hearn, who catches up with Steed and Merlin. As the platoon prepares to shoot the two agents as looters, Steed and Merlin jump the Sergeant and escape back to the Postern office.

Realising that the town is under martial law, the unlikely partners find a radio van; inside are television reporter, Jenny Thurston, and her driver, Yates. Jenny shows them a recording of her report St. Catherine's has been evacuated due to an atom bomb being left in the Eastern Hemisphere Trade Commission building in the town. Only the army, led by Brigadier Hanson, are left. The four drive back to the office building, spotting an army Major on the way. Steed tries to tell the officer of his identity, but Merlin recognises the man as being a Russian agent.

Meanwhile, Hearn and his men have found Mrs Peel in the office still asleep. Steed and company run across some army trucks containing genuine British troops all drugged. It does seem that the army people at the Commission building are imposters. The four continue back to the Postern office and are ambushed there by Hearn and his group. Merlin escapes but Yates is shot, leaving Steed, Jenny and a slumbering Mrs Peel at Hearn's mercy. Hearn tells them that far from dismantling the bomb, the Brigadier and his men are building it! When the bomb is ready, the all-clear will be called, the town's population being permitted to return to their homes. The Brigadier will then tell the Government the truth and threaten to explode the bomb within twenty minutes unless a ransom is paid. Hanson believes that the Government will pay up, knowing that it is impossible to evacuate the area in that time. The Brigadier has planned the scheme in revenge for his approaching redundancy he is to be replaced by a machine. Suddenly, Merlin appears and lets off another capsule. It knocks out Hearn, but also Mrs Peel who has just woken up.

Steed and Merlin agree to co-operate and go to the Commission building in order to let off lots of sleeping capsules there knocking out the Brigadier and all his men, and foiling the plot. Steed lets Merlin go in return for helping him, and Mrs Peel finally wakes up wondering what has happened.

GUEST REVIEW

The particularly clear recording of this serial lets us hear just how good everybody's diction is. To make it as understandable as possible must have been one of the programme makers' first considerations. I really enjoy the prelude of this one which includes Mrs Peel thinking about her perfect leisurely trip in the country. They'll become town agents for the remainder so it's a brief breath of fresh air. Steed turning in the double agent Merlin appears initially to be, after some adventure, what the story will end with; we'll see. Merlin sounded as if he was of a similar age to Steed here and younger than in the TV version. They have quite similar accents and possibly educations. This lets us discover in what way Merlin is different to Steed when confronted by their similar adventures. That is apart from the obvious difference that Merlin wants to escape! He is a fast talker whereas Steed has a steady pace and this also helps to distinguish the two. Then Merlin reveals a dislikeable aspect of his character when he suggests that Steed wants a dead man's ID papers to send his widow some flowers. By chopping and changing his behaviour, it then seems to confirm Steed's view that he's unreliable.

When they come across Jenny, a TV reporter, the news recording she plays back to them suitably explains what appears to have been happening. I like hearing such asides from the narrator but this is one part that could be slotted straight in for radio without changing. Given that Mrs Peel spends much of the time under the influence of the sleeping gas, Jenny is a welcome second female character in the serial. It is a similar voice to that of Mrs Peel's, but whether Diane Appleby spoke the part or someone else I certainly don't know. There's a lot to uncover yet, from the earlier Russian agent's role through to the brigadier with a big grudge. It's easy to believe that the brigadier is a maniac when we hear him laugh. The admission by one of his men that the brigadier's men are mercenaries sounds only reasonably convincing.

Now returning to Merlin, the twists in the story change his character again and the actor is very good at redressing Steed's belief (to some extent) that Merlin is an unreliable character. To be quite honest, with all the military goings-on here, this is not amongst my top ones but I found Merlin's behaviour interesting. (Totally irrelevant, but I promised myself to put on record that in writing these reviews I've never drunk so many cold cups of tea).

Ron Geddes

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE

Name Changes: The company offices that Steed and Emma wait in change from the Rostarn Trading Company (TV) to the Postern Trading Company (Radio).

Brigadier Hanson is Brigadier Hansing in the television version.

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.

Storyline Changes: The TV episode is set in a un-named English town, whereas the radio serial clearly identifies the town as St. Catherine's in Suffolk.

The TV version of the story also shows Merlin to be a card-sharp able to make playing cards appear in his hand.

PRODUCTION NOTES

The tag scene of the TV episode also has an in-joke referring to US comedy series Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, when Steed is heard to comment "...sock it to me" as he switches off his TV. This American series was scheduled against The Avengers in the States and proved to be a smash hit, leading to the cancellation of The Avengers at the end of the Tara King run.

Some of the incidental music used during this story is remarkably similar to the theme of the ITC series, Department S.

This serial is known to have been the next one broadcast after All Done by Mirrors.

Alys Hayes

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