Production Number: 3411 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1283

PLOTLINE

Steed and Keel go undercover in order to trace an escape route for inmates at a prison in the South of England. The route appears to go via the canals to the coastal town of Belport, ending up in Norway, where several old lags have been apprehended. Steed poses as a warder at one prison, to keep the real Fenton under surveillance, while Keel takes Fenton's place as an inmate at the compromised prison.

Steed finds out from One-Ten that a man who visited Fenton in prison has recently cashed a cheque from a Mr Groves, Principal of Belport College for Young Ladies. At One-Ten's suggestion, Steed pays the college a visit, in the guise of a Commander Kenilworthy. A young agent accompanies him, posing as his daughter Melanie. They meet Groves, who is eager to place Melanie at his school, which is on summer recess. They get the guided tour and meet the matron, Lisa and a parent, a man called Neame.

Later, Keel is sprung from the prison and is picked up by Lisa, who drives him to the canal, where they hide out at a lock keeper's cottage.

Events snowball when Steed returns alone to the college and is caught in the act of planting a recording device by Neame. He is confined in a trunk store and Neame orders Lisa to bring Fenton in. Can Steed escape before Keel's cover is blown and can Melanie extricate Steed from a sticky situation?

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 14
Production Completed:
Thu 11 May 1961
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Photographed
Reconstruction: Made 2010
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 13 May 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
ABC North: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
Anglia:
Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
ATV London: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Not transmitted
Southern: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
TWW: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
Tyne Tees:
Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
Ulster: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
Westward: Sat 13 May 1961, 10.00pm
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Groves
Neame
Straker
Pheeney
One-Ten
Melanie
Lisa
Haslam
Elton
Prison Governor
Caroline Evans
Arthur
Skewer
Jessup
Prison Officer (Spk)
Prison Officer
Dr Fenton
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Arthur Howard
Donald Morley
Charles Farrell
David Webb
Douglas Muir
Ann Saker
Barbara Evans
Brian Murphy
Michael Forrest
Ian Ainsley
Margo Andrew
Max Miradin
Charles Saynor
Tom Payne
Uncredited Extra
Uncredited Extra
Uncredited Extra
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

StudioCanal, UK: 'Mission Brief' reconstruction by Alys and Alan Hayes, narrated by Alan Hayes, combining off-screen Tele-Snaps with a newly-written narration Stills Gallery (images not actually from this episode)

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writers John Whitney and Geoffrey Bellman
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Alpho O'Reilly
Story Editor
Patrick Brawn / John Bryce
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Don Leaver

Production Assistant Barbara Forster
Floor Manager Harry Lock
Stage Manager Barbara Sykes
Lighting Director Peter Kew

Technical Supervisor Peter Wayne
Senior Cameraman Michael Baldock
Sound Supervisor Michael Roberts
Vision Mixer Esther Frost

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

THE SPRINGERS DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Rehearsals for The Springers were held at The Tower, Brook Green Road, Hammersmith on Friday 28th April 1961, beginning with a read through from 2.30pm, followed by rehearsals later the same day.

  • Camera rehearsals for this episode commenced at 10.30am in Studio 2 at ABC TV Studios, Broom Road, Teddington in Middlesex on Wednesday 10th May 1961. The session broke at 9.00pm and the actors and crew reconvened at 10.00am the next day, Thursday 11th May 1961, working towards a dress rehearsal between 4.15 and 5.30pm, with the final recording between 6.00 and 7.00pm. The episode was transmitted from videotape two nights later on Saturday 13th May 1961 at 10.00pm.

  • The recording of The Springers overran by 96 seconds compared to its target running time of 52 minutes and 30 seconds. The recorded duration of 54 minutes and 6 seconds was arrived at as follows: Act 1 (17 minutes and 35 seconds), Act 2 (20 minutes and 27 seconds) and Act 3 (16 minutes and 4 seconds). The commercial breaks were of 2 minutes and 5 seconds and 2 minutes and 35 seconds length respectively, and the full programme duration including these intermissions was 58 minutes and 46 seconds. Programme overruns were frowned upon by the ITV network and an overrun of more than a minute and a half would have been unusual.

  • Four extra performers were requested for this production, although one of the roles (Prison Governor) was ultimately cast with a full-time actor, Ian Ainsley. The other roles were two prison officers (one speaking, one non-speaking) and a prisoner. This prisoner was the Dr Fenton character and was a non-speaking role. The extras requirement sheet noted that the extra should be a convincing double for Ian Hendry (since Keel was to pretend to be this character). Both Ian Hendry and the extra were given identical facial scars in make-up. It is unclear whether the extra selected to play Fenton was the same shown in a photograph later in the episode. Neither were credited.

  • Rates of pay for extras on this episode were 10 guineas a day for speaking roles (a guinea being a pound and a shilling) and 3 a day for non-speaking extras.

  • The budget costs for this episode amounted to 4272 and 13 shillings. Artiste and extras payments amounted to 1752 and 11 shillings with 1510 being spent on design and construction and 95 and 12 and 8 shillings being committed to wardrobe and make-up respectively. The wardrobe cost was noted as being particularly high due to the work being contracted to outside agencies for this episode.

  • The props list for this episode included orders for items as varied as portable tape recorders, prison whistles and metal plates, handcuffs, keys, newspapers (The Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph), sherry decanters, revolvers, an Ordnance Survey Map of the East Coast of England and plates of cooked bacon and eggs to be delivered to the studio at 4.15 and 6.00pm on Thursday 11th May.

  • Leonard White noted in an internal memo of 17th May that "the ratings on Episode 14 [The Springers], although not very high, were, nevertheless, the highest of the evening both in London and the North."


  • On Location... Location work for this episode was shot on high resolution 35mm black-and-white film. These sequences were shot silent and were covered by incidental music, as was standard practice.

  • Location footage included the teaser showing Keel's arrival at the prison and an outdoor scene of Keel's escape, where he clambered over a prison wall to be driven off in a waiting car. Ian Hendry (David Keel) and Barbara Evans (Lisa) were present on location for this second sequence.

  • The footage of the real Dr Fenton looking through his prison door was also shot on location. It is unclear whether the actor playing Fenton in this sequence is the same seen in a photograph later in the episode. Neither were credited.


  • Trivia... While the camera script of this episode suggests that The Springers opened with a filmed teaser showing Keel's arrival at the prison, the surviving Tele-Snaps for this story reveal that the episode as transmitted began with the title sequence as normal. The idea to include a teaser appears to have been a last minute decision in any case, as the revision to the script is handwritten. Only one episode of the series, Square Root of Evil, appears to have opened with a pre-titles teaser. Double Danger was scripted to feature one too, but again, surviving Tele-Snaps have proved this idea was dismissed before recording. 

  • The popular British actor Brian Murphy made only his second television appearance as Haslam in The Springers. Murphy has gone on to appear in a series of high profile comedies and dramas including the comedy successes George and Mildred and Last of the Summer Wine. He has also appeared in film and television productions by Ken Russell (The Diary of a Nobody, The Devils and The Boy Friend) and popular television dramas such as Z-Cars, The Plane Makers, Callan and more recently Jonathan Creek.

  • Dressing room allocations for the camera rehearsals and recording at Teddington Studios are known for this episode. Both Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee had their own dressing rooms. The following performers shared dressing rooms: (Donald Morley/Arthur Howard), (Charles Farrell/David Webb), (Douglas Muir/Ian Ainsley), (Brian Murphy/Michael Forrest), (Ann Saker/Barbara Evans/Margo Andrew), (Max Miradin/Charles Saynor/Tom Payne), (3 Male Extras) brackets indicate rooms.

  • The plot element in The Springers which sees Keel assume the guise of a criminal so that he may infiltrate an organisation who know of the man by reputation and not sight may seem familiar to fans of The Avengers. The earlier Series 1 episode, Square Root of Evil, features a similar narrative device, with Steed going undercover as Timothy James Riordan. Later, Keel again goes undercover as Dr Fischer, a minor member of the Phoenix organisation, in Dead of Winter.

  • The character of Lisa is occasionally referred to as 'Liza' in the camera script. However, the script's cast list uses the spelling 'Lisa'.

  • Sometimes having a set of Tele-Snaps for an episode doesn't give you the full picture. Despite 84 of these off-screen stills surviving, not one features the characters of either Skewer or Jessup!


  • Stop Press... Reveille, "Britain's All-Family Weekly Newspaper", printed a colour centre-spread of Patrick Macnee and Ian Hendry enjoying a race. Whether it was a fair competition is up for debate, as Macnee was riding a horse and Hendry a motorcycle! The stunt had been arranged by ABC Television press officer, Marie Donaldson and was intended to highlight the different backgrounds and skills of the series' leads. 


  • And Finally... At the time of recording, Ian Hendry was living on a boat called Two Seas, which was moored at Cubitts Yacht Basin in Chiswick, London W4. Cubitts Yacht Basin, situated near Chiswick Bridge on the River Thames, was a fashionable location and in addition to Hendry and his first wife Joanna, several writers, artists and other actors made it their home. The off-river dock was sold by its owner, the Duke of Devonshire, in the mid-1970s and was subsequently redeveloped, with the greater majority of the quay being filled in. A housing estate Chiswick Quay was constructed on the site, which now encircles a small but exclusive marina with the capacity for fifty boats (see below).

 

Plotline by Alan Hayes UK Transmissions by Simon Coward, Alan Hayes and John Tomlinson
Declassified by Alan Hayes with Richard McGinlay

With thanks to Dave Matthews, Dave Rogers, Piers Johnson,
Jaz Wiseman and StudioCanal for their kind assistance

 

Back to Top