Steed looks into windows. Emma works a nine to five.
6 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
Super Secret Cypher Snatch (1968),
written by Tony Williamson
Donald Monat as John Steed
Diane Appleby as Emma Peel
Colin Fish as Mother
Hugh Rouse as The Narrator
Adapted and directed by Dennis Folbigge
Produced by David Gooden
Transmission on Springbok Radio (7.15-7.30pm):
Episode 1 - Thursday 22nd June 1972
Episode 2 - Friday 23rd June 1972
Episode 3 - Monday 26th June 1972
Episode 4 - Tuesday 27th June 1972
Episode 5 - Wednesday 28th June 1972
Episode 6 -
Thursday 29th June 1972
This is a best guess based on available data
What a wonderful window cleaner.
He's so violent.
MI12 have lost one of their
agents, Roger Jarret, and Mother instructs Steed and Emma to find
him. One lead is that Jarret, a spot security check man, was
visiting British Cypher Headquarters but no-one there remembers
him when Steed questions them. Mrs Peel has more luck at Jarret's
flat. She finds his body hidden there – killed by a gunshot. One
thing Steed does find is Jarret's cigarette lighter (in truth a
mini camera). The photographs developed from the film show
apparently very ordinary photographs of the Cypher HQ offices, but
prove that Jarret did visit the HQ. They give the photos to Peters
of MI12, but as he telephones Steed with information Peters is
shot by one of a couple of window cleaners.
Steed and Mrs Peel arrive at
Peters' office but the photographs have been burnt. However, Steed
still has the negatives so some more prints are made, and in one
shot a window cleaner's van is visible, belonging to the Classy
Glass Cleaning Company. Steed investigates the company and meets
the proprietor, Charles Lather – a seemingly amiable if eccentric
man. As Steed leaves after the meeting two window cleaners, Maskin
(the man who shot Peters) and Vickers, follow him in a Glassy
Class van. Maskin and Vickers attempt to run Steed off the road
and cause him to crash.
Meanwhile, Mrs Peel has been
assigned to covert office duties at Cypher HQ where everything
appears normal. She is surprised to learn that Steed, recovered
from the crash, had tried to telephone her at the HQ but the line
was dead. Even more worrying is that Ferret, another MI12 agent,
had visited Cypher HQ that day but she has no memory of him at
all. They find Ferret's dead body in a Classy Glass van but have
to leave it when Maskin arrives. The next day Emma and Steed ring
each other regularly while she is at Cypher HQ but after a while
the line is out of order again. This is because the men from
Classy Glass have blocked the line before going to the HQ and
using a knock-out gas to immobilise the Cypher staff. Then they
are able to go through the Cypher files and photograph valuable
information. During all this the Cypher staff are played a tape
telling them it is "...a perfectly normal, perfectly ordinary day"
in order to cover the hole in their memory.
Steed infiltrates the building,
dressed in a window cleaner's uniform, and after despatching some
of the Classy Glass men, wakes up Mrs Peel. However, Lather – head
of the operation – turns on them with a gun. He and his men have
been stealing secrets for some days, but before he can shoot
Steed, Mrs Peel knocks him out with a ladder.
There's a drive by shooting,
apparently by window cleaners, at a high security building – The
Cypher Headquarters. The tune for this serial's title announcement
is a suitably speedy one which has been tracked down to the Eric
Siday LP Sounds of Now 1. The story is really suitable for
audio drama and one of the best, as I hope to persuade you. Plenty
of English accents are to be heard, from the boss of the
Headquarters, to Steed's other investigators. This puts it solidly
in the home-counties (if your home is in and around London that
is). I noticed how particularly well the narrator clarifies things
this time, such as Steed spotting what appears to be a dropped
cigarette lighter, when it would be awkward for the character to
say anything. It's amazing how much can be visualised by the
narrator's concise words. We now want to find out who is behind
the window cleaner killers and what the objective is. There's a
great scene between our two agents looking into a second killing,
ending with Steed's suggestions having more than enough innuendo.
Their boss, Mother, thinks "One of us is a blithering idiot and
it's not me"; now I know where I got that from! In general terms,
each episode has a lot of scenes and is still easy to follow which
is a real achievement.
I think The Super Secret
Cypher Snatch would be a good starting point for someone new
to audio drama because of the fine choice of narration, dialogue,
pauses, incidental music and sound effects, and not forgetting the
well designed regular structure of the radio's The Avengers.
Listening to how Steed talks by himself, when he was extricating
himself from his car after a trap set by the window cleaners, I
compared it with how he talks shortly afterwards in consecutive
scenes with Mrs Peel. There is a constancy in the voice which
creates great consistency in the character, all realised carefully
by the actor, Donald Monat. The plan for trying to steal those
cyphers certainly has finesse, even if carrying it out
necessitates several killings.
Another thing that I have
become aware of is that a lot of humour is often added in these
radio adaptations, such as here with the narrator's, "There were
no ladders placed against the wall of the building that morning".
It seems a harmless statement but, given recent events in the
serial, it made me smile in its clever way of implying that nobody
had been killed that morning at the Cypher HQ. It's one of those
casual, darkish Avengers remarks that are one of its
hallmarks (as one in Murdersville when a witness to a
shooting concludes that "it might rain" as if nothing out of the
ordinary had happened). So, when it's cleverly written, one line
can convey a lot in The Avengers (I love P.G. Wodehouse's
writing too by the way). There's lots of scope for the imagination
as Steed takes his time in gaining access to the HQ. As the serial
draws to its close, Mother's somewhat premature toast to their
success at its start is happily proven perceptive. I feel that the
adaptation was done in a particularly stylish way in this one. As
you maybe can tell, I rate it as one of the best.
TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE
Name Changes: Jarret is
referred to as both Roger and Arthur in the radio adaptation,
whereas the TV version clearly identifies him as Roger.
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.
assistant-cum-secretary in the TV programme, who suffers from the
mysterious cigarette burns on her fingers becomes Mr Murray in
the radio serial.
Storyline Changes: The
TV programme has a pre-title sequence where an agent, disguised as
an old woman on a bicycle, is shot whilst trying to get away with
some photos of the cypher documents. It is this death that causes
Jarret to be sent to investigate Cypher HQ.
The TV show also has the rather
visual idea of having Mother direct operations whilst sitting in
his car in the middle of a field. The radio version has him
spending most of his time in Steed's flat – drinking Steed's
Steed awakens Mrs Peel in the
radio serial by recording a wake-up call over the tape used by the
Classy Glass people to smooth out the Cypher workers' memories.
The TV version has Steed using his pocket-watch chime to wake up
Bloopers: At the start
of Episode Five, Hugh Rouse mistakenly refers to the character
Ferret as 'the Ferret' – this isn't Batman, old chap!
There is some debate over the
title of the television episode, with some sources claiming that
it is Sepet Sucpre Cncehc Sypare (Super Secret Cypher Snatch).
Needless to say, Dennis Folbigge was not unkind enough to ask the
narrator, Hugh Rouse to pronounce the full title!
This serial is known to have
been the next one broadcast after A Deadly Gift.
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