Steed is no longer unique. Emma sees too much of him.

6 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
They Keep Killing Steed (1968),
written by Brian Clemens

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 – Tuesday
Episode 2 – Wednesday
Episode 3 – Thursday
Episode 4 – Friday
Episode 5 – Monday
Episode 6 – Tuesday

World's Worst Cosplay
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PLOTLINE

Steed and Mrs Peel are given an assignment with a difference – they are to observe at a peace conference, but for once it is not in Britain. In fact, it is being held in Spain, in Tarragon a place near Zaragoza, and the two agents look on the trip as something approaching a holiday. However, what they don't know is that a man called Arcos is waiting for them, or more precisely Steed. Arcos and his co-conspirator Markin have developed a process to literally mould a man's features into those of someone else, and Steed is the man whose features they are copying.

Steed and Emma get to their hotel in Spain and are settling in when Steed gets a call from Captain José of the Spanish Secret Service. Steed gets a taxi to go to José's address, but the telephone call was a hoax, and the taxi is driven by Arcos who kidnaps Steed. Arcos and Markin need Steed's face to make the face mould that they will use on one of their agents. This man will infiltrate the peace conference posing as Steed and plant a bomb in the chairman's gavel to destroy the conference. Meanwhile, Steed will be held prisoner in a chamber under a nearby bullring until the job is done, and then killed. Back at the hotel Mrs Peel has made friends with another hotel guest, Baron Von Curt, and is drinking some wine with him when the real Captain José turns up and asks to see Steed. They realise that the 'phone call was a hoax and that Steed is missing.

Back at the bullring, Steed attempts to escape but doesn't succeed, so he spends some time making up the identity kits for all five of the agents that Arcos has chosen to impersonate him. Steed hopes that all five will attempt infiltrate the conference, causing confusion and alerting security that something is going on. Mrs Peel gets Von Curt to take her to see Mother to tell him of Steed's disappearance, then goes back to the hotel. At that same hotel one of Arcos' agents, Nadine, gets his identity kit (as do the other four agents around the town). Nadine uses the kit but something goes wrong and he dies, with only a half formed face. Emma sees the body and thinks it is Steed but Captain José confirms that it is not.

The conference begins and three of the four disguised agents turn up as Steed. The first to arrive quickly kills the other two thinking that at least one of them is the real Steed. Mrs Peel and the Baron turn up at the conference (the house hosting it actually belongs to the Baron, who has lent it to the Spanish authorities) and meet up with Captain José, who tells them that Steed is already there. Then they find the two bodies – both seeming to be Steed – and realise they are duplicates. José gives orders that anyone resembling Steed is to be shot, reasoning that the real Steed is dead. However, the real Steed is far from dead and has finally managed to escape, taking a taxi to the conference. There he runs into the fourth agent and manages to dispose of him. The surviving agent has managed to place the bomb in the gavel and escapes, but the real Steed manages to break into the conference and escapes with the gavel-bomb. Mrs Peel finds Steed outside, and after establishing that it is really him, agrees to find Arcos' H.Q. As she gets her car the last fake Steed attacks her, but is despatched by Baron Von Curt, enabling Steed to return to the bullring, with Emma and the Baron in close pursuit, although Emma is still not convinced that Steed is the genuine article.

At the bullring, Arcos' men try to stop them and as the battle rages, Steed is in the underground chamber. He confronts Arcos, who has become a clone of Steed himself. Steed shoots Arcos in the struggle, but Arcos escapes – only to be shot dead by Markin outside, who thinks Arcos is the real Steed. Markin is then dealt with, and Steed is reunited with Mrs Peel and the Baron.

Later, Steed and Emma grab some time to sunbathe – back in Steed's flat in London!

GUEST REVIEW

Recently reminded of The Avengers, one of the first I managed to watch was They Keep Killing Steed. Listening to Too many Olés, I didn't expect such short episodes or the mixture of narrative and action. I noticed the name Emma Peel was used, presumably as it would be better known than Tara King. Diane Appleby speaks so clearly and from the outset is so more assertive than her TV counterpart that I liked her right away. However, I wasn't initially used to Donald Monat, being a little different from Patrick Macnee.

In my opinion, a setting in Spain lends itself well to the radio adaptation. Ye Olde Sun Hotel is now the more exotic Miranda Hotel in Tarragon. The villains' bunker is now beneath a bullring, rather than in a quarry. As well as Arcos and his accomplices, both the apparently domiciled Baron and the Captain have Spanish accents, and this helps the listener follow the plot, and also makes them more serious rivals to Steed for Mrs Peel's attention somehow.

In the TV version, there are a couple of superbly surreal scenes at a lake with Mother in an underwater retreat. Here, he only has a brief appearance in a rather more prosaic caravan. I certainly missed the eccentric humour and must find out what was in the original script. Likewise, the fact that the visual scene of Arcos sculpting a face and taunting Steed wasn't portrayed on radio is understandable, but the game of chess with its war of words could have worked. Instead, these bad guys play cards, and throw glasses of wine at Steed and are altogether tougher adversaries.

I began to appreciate this Steed's more pragmatic interpretation as the episodes progressed, not to mention his drier humour. An overpowered Arcos is told, "That'll teach you to click your castanets at me!" It does however give the impression he's slightly less concerned about Mrs Peel. She, on the other hand, is positively enthusiastic when taking a shot, unknowingly, at the real Steed. It is quite alarming! At such times, Diane Appleby balances Steed more by portraying a more independent character than the debutante Linda Thorson.

The two main characters very entertainingly take centre stage in this Avengers radio story. It's mission accomplished - but will they unwind on a real beach this time?

Ron Geddes

DIFFERENCES COMPARED TO THE TELEVISION EPISODE

Name Changes: Television's Captain Smythe becomes Captain José in the radio adaptation.

Arcos' assistant becomes Markin, rather than Zerson as in the TV version.

The name of the hotel where Steed and Emma are based for the duration of the story also changed, from The Sun Hotel on TV, to The Hotel Miranda, Tarragon, near Zaragoza, Spain.

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.

Many characters are Spanish in the radio serial, whereas they are mostly British in the television episode.

Storyline Changes: This radio version transposes the action to sunny Spain – hence the title. They Keep Killing Steed was originally to have been set in Spain (a budget concerns caused the fall back to a British setting), so it is likely that the script that Sonovision received from EMI was an early draft version. This has many knock-on effects:

One is that Steed is imprisoned in a room under a bullring; the TV episode has Arcos' headquarters in a chamber under a quarry, with the entrance disguised as an abandoned taxi cab.

Another is that Mother is based in a caravan outside Tarragon, whereas in the televised version, he has his base submerged under a river (partly so that his sensitive hearing is not disturbed by outside noise).

This adaptation hints at a much closer relationship between Steed and Emma than the television series ever did. In the television episode, Tara King identifies Steed when he mentions their great secret... strawberry shortcake. Here, Steed convinces Emma of his identity by reminding her of the night when he'd got her rather too drunk, not to mention the resultant happening!

The tag scene is much the same in both versions, with the Avengers sunning themselves under lamps back in London – the only obvious difference being that the scene in the TV episode is set in Tara's flat rather than Steed's.

Bloopers: In the heat of the moment in Episode Six, the actor playing Arcos gets his own character's name wrong, proclaiming "I am not Arcost!" as he shows Steed his newly re-moulded face.

PRODUCTION NOTES

The performance of Episode One under-ran, leaving the producer to scramble for his recording of Laurie Johnson's Symphony (Synthesis), tacking a minute of it on the end of the episode as an extended playout.

This serial is known to have been the next one broadcast after A Case of Interrogation.

Alys Hayes

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