Production Number: Unknown


In July 1960, Irwin Gunner, an agent for the British government in the Eastern sector, set a trap for 'The White Rat', a double agent. The ruse almost worked, but the traitor escaped without revealing his identity. Gunner, however, left his mark on the man, a bullet wound in the left leg. A short while later, Gunner, whose cover is as a member of a trapeze act in a circus with his fellow agent Cledge, is deliberately made to fall from the trapeze while rehearsing his act and suffers a complete loss of memory.

Seventeen years later, Gunner receives a knock to the head and begins to regain his memory. He makes a series of morse code transmissions to Steed's department and states that he will attempt to complete his mission. Steed races to meet Gunner, but Cledge is also on his trail. Cledge finds him in a church near Meacham, but Gunner manages to kill him and moves on.

With Cledge out of the equation, The White Rat moves to protect himself against Gunner. Steed, Purdey and Gambit are trying to narrow down who the traitor could be. Their only clue is the gunshot wound that Gunner dealt them seventeen years earlier. This would seem to point to the very top of the department, but Purdey has insider knowledge that would not only reveal the identity of The White Rat, but also put her in the firing line...

The New Avengers: Series 1, Episode 5
Production Completed:
Jun 1976
Recording Format: 35mm Colour Film
Archive Holding: 35mm Colour Film


Anglia: Tue 30 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
ATV Midlands: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Border: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Channel: Currently unconfirmed
Grampian: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Granada: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
HTV: Sun 14 Nov 1976, 7.50pm
Scottish: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Southern: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Thames: Tue 30 Nov 1976, 8.00pm
Tyne Tees: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Ulster: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Westward: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
Yorkshire: Fri 3 Dec 1976, 8.00pm
AUSTRALIA: Wed 9 Mar 1977
Thu 24 Mar 1977
Sat 15 Jan 1977
GREECE: Fri 6 May 1977
IRELAND: Tue 26 Oct 1976
ITALY: Thu 22 Jun 1978
MALAYSIA: Thu 8 Dec 1977
MALTA: Mon 21 Feb 1977
NETHERLANDS: Thu 4 Nov 1976
SINGAPORE: Wed 13 Jul 1977
SPAIN: Sun 23 Aug 1981
SWITZERLAND: Tue 30 Nov 1976
TURKEY: Sun 18 Oct 1981
UNITED KINGDOM: Sun 14 Nov 1976
USA: Fri 16 Feb 1979
WEST GERMANY: Thu 23 Mar 1978
John Steed
Mike Gambit
Irwin Gunner
Minister Quaintance
John Cledge
Matthew Gilpin
Patrick Macnee
Gareth Hunt
Joanna Lumley
Ian Hendry
Edward Judd
Robert Flemyng
Barry Jackson
Anthony Sharp
Jeremy Hawk
Bernice Stegers
Jo Kendall
Dallas Cavell
Sally-Jane Spencer
Genevieve Allenbury
Anita Graham
Terry Plummer

The complete incidental score for this episode has been issued on The Music of Laurie Johnson: The New Avengers, Edsel Records, 2009.


No episode-specific DVD extras available.


Writer – Terence Feely
Series Theme & Music –
Laurie Johnson
Production Designer –
Syd Cain
Lighting Cameraman –
Mike Reed B.S.C.
Producers – Albert Fennell and Brian Clemens
Director –
James Hill

Editor – Ralph Sheldon
Assistant Director – Roger Simons
Location Manager – Nicholas Gillott

Camera Operator –
Jimmy Devis
Second Unit Lighting Cameraman –
Jimmy Allen B.S.C.
Second Unit Camera Operator – Malcolm Vinson
Sound Recordists –
Denis Whitlock, Ken Barker
Dubbing Editor –
Peter Lennard
Casting Director –
Maggie Cartier
Art Director –
Robert Bell
Set Dresser – Simon Wakefield

Hairdressing – Helene Bevan, Joyce James
Make-up – Alan Boyle, Peter Robb King
Wardrobe Supervisor – Jackie Cummins
Fight Arranger – Cyd Child
Continuity – Renιe Glynne
Second Unit Continuity –
Pat Rambaut
Post-Production Co-ordinator –
Paul Clay
Production Supervisor – Ron Fry
Unit Manager – Robert Fennell
Construction Manager – Leon Davis

Processed by Rank Film Laboratories

Made at Pinewood Studios and on location

A Production of The Avengers (Film & TV) Enterprises Ltd
for TV Productions and I.D.T.V. Paris


A strong episode given extra weight by a memorable guest turn from Ian Hendry, returned to The Avengers after a gap of fifteen years. Well written, with a good red herring and a nice nod to Hendry's love of the circus. Effective script from Terence Feely and score by Laurie Johnson, although direction from James Hill is a tad pedestrian. However, in essence this is all about Hendry, and he's quite simply marvellous.


  • Production Brief... This is the only episode of The New Avengers credited solely to Terence Feely. Almost all of the series was written by Dennis Spooner or Brian Clemens.

  • To Catch A Rat features the momentous return of the original Avenger, Ian Hendry, who played Dr David Keel, the GP who was catapulted into Steed's world of espionage when his fiancιe Peggy was killed, right at the start of the series. Here he plays a different character, the enigmatic Irwin Gunner, but Patrick Macnee still gets a line to welcome his colleague back after seventeen years.

  • Laurie Johnson's excellent score for this episode is clearly inspired by John Barry's legendary score for the film, The Ipcress File (1965).

  • On Location... The location for the nursing home where Gunner is first seen in the present day was Heathenden Hall, the Georgian mansion around which the world famous Pinewood film studios were built from 1935 onwards.

  • The three churches that Cledge, Purdey and Gambit visit when on the trail of Gunner were the ruined Newark Priory, near Pyrford, Surrey, the Church of St. Bartholomew, Fingest, Buckinghamshire and finally, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in South Harefield, Hillingdon, the church where Gunner was hiding.

  • Trivia... Coincidentally or not, the episode echoes Ian Hendry's early association with the circus, when he befriended one of the stars of the big top, Coco the Clown (Nicolai Poliakoff). Hendry was engaged as Coco's personal assistant, and was taught tricks and routines by his friend. Many years later, Hendry was still performing them for friends. 

  • Steed's reduced role in this and other early episodes of The New Avengers lead Patrick Macnee to lobby for a greater involvement in the action for his character.

  • Purdey gives a glimpse of her stockings, despite Joanna Lumley being opposed to the character being used for titillation.

  • In Print... A special TV Times Souvenir Extra was published to tie in with the new series and this featured an introduction from Ian Hendry, comments and a lengthy biography of Patrick Macnee and a feast of photos from the series old and new.

  • This episode was novelised as To Catch a Rat by Walter Harris, the third novel in the series. This book appeared in Britain in two editions, a paperback from Futura Publications issued in January 1977 and a hardcover from Arthur Barker published on 2nd June 1977 and in paperback in the USA from Berkeley Medallion in 1978.

  • And Finally... Steed reveals his 1960s codename was 'The New Doberman'. He explains further that this was often shortened for the sake of expediency to 'The New D' – the nudie!

Plotline by Alan Hayes • UK Transmissions by Simon Coward and Alan Hayes
International Premieres by Denis Kirsanov • Ministry Verdict by Alan Hayes
Declassified by Gareth Humphreys and Alan Hayes


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