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

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 - 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

Soap, Suds and Bullets
What a wonderful window cleaner.
He's so violent.

PLOTLINE

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.

GUEST REVIEW

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.

Ron Geddes

DIFFERENCES COMPARED 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.

Myra, Webster's 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 sherry!

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 Tara.

Bloopers: At the start of Episode Five, Hugh Rouse mistakenly refers to the character Ferret as 'the Ferret' this isn't Batman, old chap!

PRODUCTION NOTES

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.

Alys Hayes

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