Steed clowns around. Emma feels the joke is on her.

6 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
Look – (Stop Me If You've Heard This One)
But There Were These Two Fellers...
(1968),
written by Dennis Spooner

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 - Wednesday 20th September 1972
Episode 2 -
Thursday 21st September 1972
Episode 3 -
Friday 22nd September 1972
Episode 6 -
Monday 25th September 1972
Episode 5 -
Tuesday 26th September 1972
Episode 6 -
Wednesday 27th September 1972
This is a best guess from available data

Knock 'Em Dead!
No-one likes a critic, and these two
know just how to deal with them.

PLOTLINE

Directors of the Capital Land and Development Company, a business involved in a secret government project, are being murdered one by one. Steed and Mrs Peel are called in to investigate. A clown's nose at the scene of the crime leads them to suspect Merry Maxie Martin and his partner Jolly Jenkins, retired music-hall artists residing at Greasepaint Grange (a home for ex-vaudeville acts). It seems they may be part of a campaign against the Company, in retaliation for its policy of buying up and closing down old music-hall venues – a campaign orchestrated by the leader of the Greasepaint Grange residents, Mr Punch.

Two old contacts of Maxie – Marcia Rugman, curator of the clown registry, and Bradley Marler, Maxie's old gag writer – are killed before they can pass on information to Steed and Mrs Peel, and it is only by luck that Steed finds Maxie's address in Marler's office. Meanwhile, after she fails to prevent the murder of another company director, Maxie and Jolly manage to overpower Mrs Peel, and present her to Fiery Frederick at Greasepaint Grange. His act is cutting ladies in half with a blow torch and he needs a new victim!

Steed arrives at the Grange under the guise of 'Gentleman Jack – A Song, A Smile And An Umbrella'. He manages to get a tour of the home, but is hustled out before he can find anything. However, he notices Mrs Peel's car and breaks into the house, only to rescue her from the clutches of Fiery Fred. The two of them manage to deal with the other residents including Maxie and Jolly, and unmask Mr Punch – who turns out to be Seagrave, one of Capital's remaining directors. Seagrave has actually been trying to sabotage the government project the company was involved with by using the demise of the music halls as a reason to get Maxie and company to do his dirty work for him.

GUEST REVIEW

I say, I say, I say! Did you hear the one about those dynamic partners in crime fighting, the debonair John Steed and the girl with "M" appeal, Mrs Emma Peel, tackling a band of murderous vaudevillains whose aim is to bump off the board of directors of the Capital Land and Development Corporation? You didn't? Well, let me enlighten you further...

Having successfully adapted episodes from the 1965-67 Emma Peel seasons of The Avengers, the production team at Sonovision Studios were presented with a problem when these scripts ran out. Subsequent television scripts featured the ingénue agent Tara King alongside John Steed, but it was decided that these new adaptations should still feature the tried and trusted partnership of Steed and Mrs. Peel. Often, this would prove to be less than desirable, as Emma found herself inheriting some of Tara's characteristics and mannerisms. The amalgam of the two agents proves, however, to be quite an interesting take upon the character as portrayed by Diane Appleby. To my mind at least, Mrs Peel now comes across as a 'jolly hockey-sticks' type of girl, slightly daffy and so eager to please. Shades of Tara coming through here, perhaps, a case in point being the sequence in Episode One, where Steed and Mrs Peel are driving to the Capital Land and Development Corporation. Mrs Peel manages to get Steed completely lost owing to the fact that she's reading the map upside down! Something I feel the ultra-cool and sophisticated Mrs Peel would never have done, surely?

As for Donald Monat as John Steed, inevitable comparisons are bound to be drawn between his portrayal and that of his TV counterpart, Patrick Macnee. However, I feel that Monat does a more than credible job. Not satisfied with simply turning in a carbon-copy performance, mimicking Macnee's urbane charm and sophistication, Monat manages to instill his performance with style and nuances entirely of his own making. It is some achievement that it is quite possible to forget Patrick Macnee's supposedly definitive portrayal while listening to Donald Monat's creation. A formidable talent indeed! As for Hugh Rouse's narration, this helps in filling in the visual information that the medium of radio so often cannot deliver.

The adaptation remains quite faithful to the story as televised originally. Two old time vaudevillains, Merry Maxie Martin and Jolly Johnny Jenkins are bumping off the board members of the aforesaid Capital Land and Development Corporation at the behest of a mysterious third party. Martin and Jenkins receive their murderous instructions via a Punch and Judy show in a rest home for show people, Gresham Grange, more commonly referred to as Greasepaint Grange. This being Avengerland, I'm happy to say that the deaths are suitably bizarre, the highlights being death by duckcall, a gag writer "getting the point" courtesy of a very large knife (OUCH!) and somebody comes to a very slippery end via a banana skin. I must confess though to a slight disappointment that the death of Lord Bessington was excised from this version. In the television episode, he literally has the rug pulled from under his feet and takes a flying swandive out of the window to his death!

As this story features old music hall acts, the dialogue incorporates many groan-inducing gags of the sort that I've previously mentioned, but it's refreshing to note that both Monat and Appleby keep their repartee quite sparkling, perfectly in tune with the vast quantities of champagne consumed throughout the television show.

One slightly worrying factor that seems to be glossed over is Emma's lack of fighting skills. When the story draws to its close, it is Steed (in the guise of "Gentleman Jack - A smile, a song and an umbrella" - rather apt, don't you think?) who has to rush in to save Mrs Peel from a fate worse than death at the hands of Fiery Frederick. But when it comes to the final mop-up, rest assured that Steed and Mrs Peel deliver the goods before revealing the diabolical mastermind to be Seagrave.

All in all, a very pleasant and diverting way of passing an hour and a quarter, but now I must depart, because, as in the words of Merry Maxie Martin, "When you've go to go, you've got to go!"

Martin Holder

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE

Name Changes: Caritol Land and Development Corporation (TV) becomes Capital Land and Development Company (Radio).

Vauda Villa (TV) changes to Greasepaint Grange (Radio).

Marcus Rugman (TV) becomes Marcia Rugman (Radio).

Maxie's sidekick is Jolly Jenkins on the radio, whereas his television counterpart is called Jennings.

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.

Maxie's sidekick finds his voice on the radio instead of using a car horn to communicate (TV).

Marcus Rugman (TV) has a sex change and becomes Marcia Rugman (Radio).

A female resident known as Lettie the Lass from Lancashire appears at the Grange (Radio only).

Storyline Changes: A scene appears at the beginning of the radio adaptation where Mrs. Peel is map-reading for Steed as they drive to the Capital Land and Development Company. However, they only find the place by luck as Mrs. Peel has been reading the map upside-down!

PRODUCTION NOTES

Another radio plot difference is that one of the directors is strangled whereas in the TV version he has the carpet pulled from beneath his feet and falls out of an open window to his death. This sequence was a late addition to the television version, and was absent from the script supplied to Sonovision.

This serial is known to have been the next one broadcast after Straight from the Shoulder.

Alys Hayes

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