Production Number: 3414 Tape Number: Unknown

PLOTLINE

John Steed is instructed by One-Ten to investigate the death of a fellow agent who has been killed while working undercover at a government dockyard. A nuclear submarine is under construction on the premises and Steed's superiors have reason to believe that a hostile foreign power has been able to infiltrate the facility. Their purpose is almost certainly to steal secret plans of the vessel's revolutionary nuclear reactor that are stored at the location.

The murderer a foreign spy called Kolchek is posing as a labourer at the docks and recognises the newly-arrived Steed as an old foe. He realises Steed can expose him, so moves his plans forward and plots to deal with the British agent.

Kolchek is blackmailing Charles Fleming, the personnel manager at the docks, and forces him to take a briefcase containing a bomb on board the nuclear submarine during a tour of inspection.

Steed has indeed recognised Kolchek and has engaged the help of Liz Wells, Fleming's secretary. The police are also on hand, although Steed finds their assistance something of a contradiction in terms for the most part... Between them, Steed and the others must find Kolchek and the hidden briefcase before a violent explosion rips through the docks and half of London...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 17
Production Completed:
Thu 22 Jun 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 24 Jun 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
ABC North: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Anglia:
Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
ATV London: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Southern: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
TWW: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Tyne Tees:
Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Ulster: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
Westward: Sat 24 Jun 1961, 8.50pm
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Kolchek
Sir William Bonner
Liz Wells
Sam Pearson
Charles Fleming
Geordie Wilson
Jack
Inspector Georgeson
PC Butterworth
One-Ten
Pardoe
PC Geary
Sergeant Brodie
Chandler
Puppy
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Peter Arne
Frank Thornton
Nyree Dawn Porter
Paul Dawkins
Sean Sullivan
Redmond Bailey
Robert G. Bahey
Barry Keegan
Tom Adams
Douglas Muir
Gary Watson
Patrick Connor
Hamilton Dyce
Billy Milton
Juno
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

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

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer James Mitchell
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
Robert Fuest
Story Editor
John Bryce / Reed de Rouen
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Peter Hammond

Other credits not available

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

DEATH ON THE SLIPWAY DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... This was the first episode in the earlier timeslot of 8.50pm on a Saturday night, prompted by the series' success over several episodes at 10.00pm. Producer Leonard White recognised this as something of a two-edged sword, as he noted in an internal memo of 17th May 1961: "Normally this might be regarded as being a great asset to us but it is my conviction that during the summer months this time slot will be very difficult to hold at any high level. I therefore think that we have to make even greater efforts to maintain and to improve our ratings."

  • Director Peter Hammond and designer Robert Fuest worked together regularly during Series 1. In a memo of 19th May 1961, Leonard White remarked that he was pleased that the personnel department had been able to maintain this association and that their collaboration had "worked out very well. [It is] of great value to the series when a staff designer is used and when contact is maintained with the director by the same designer."

  • Death on the Slipway is something of a Steed-centric episode, despite producer Leonard White's dictat of 27th February 1961 which stated that, with episodes now transmitted fortnightly rather than weekly, there was no longer any need to concentrate on one actor or the other in episodes. Ian Hendry appears as Dr David Keel at the beginning and the end of Death on the Slipway but otherwise makes no real contribution to the story. A 17th May memo noted that Ian Hendry had requested a holiday for Episode 18 Double Danger and perhaps a compromise was arrived at which permitted Hendry a week's holiday during the rehearsal period for Death on the Slipway. Ingrid Hafner's character Carol Wilson does not feature in this episode at all.

  • There was also the suggestion that Hendry might require time out to appear in an Armchair Theatre production at some point during the recording of The Avengers. Hendry had managed to guarantee two starring engagements in the prestigious series (made, like The Avengers, by ABC) as part of the contract he signed on 31st May 1961 committing him to continue as David Keel for 13 further episodes. As it happens, Hendry's participation appears to have been affected by the Equity strike and the first of his two appearances in the series, in Afternoon of a Nymph, was recorded in late 1961 and not transmitted until 30th September 1962.


  • On Location... This episode was realised completely in the television studio, with no location footage being played in. 


  • Trivia... Actor Peter Arne (Kolchek) made four appearances in The Avengers, all in the series' black and white period. Aside from his appearance in Death on the Slipway, Arne featured in two Series 2 episodes Warlock and The Golden Eggs before making one last appearance in Room Without A View, in Series 4, alongside Diana Rigg. Due to some short-sighted scheduling, Arne's two Series 2 episodes, despite being made 5th and 19th in that run, were actually run on two consecutive weekends, which perhaps wasn't the best way to transmit them!

  • Director Peter Hammond clearly appreciated the talents of actor Redmond Bailey (Geordie Wilson), for he appears in three of Hammond's Series 1 Avengers episodes Brought to Book, Nightmare and Death on the Slipway. Six years later, Bailey would once again appear alongside Ian Hendry in several episodes of the Associated-Rediffusion series, The Informer, in which he portrayed the recurring role of Charlie the Barman. He also appeared, usually in minor roles, in programmes such as Armchair Theatre and the BBC's classic serials The Count of Monte Cristo (1964) and Treasure Island (1968).

  • The synopsis for Death on the Slipway in Dave Rogers' The Complete Avengers states that Kolchek "arranges an accident" for Steed but does not describe what that accident comprises. The Tele-Snaps feature one image from this sequence, depicting Kolchek on the gantry about to drop an oil drum. It is clear that this is the unfortunate accident intended to befall Steed. The same synopsis also suggests that Steed goes to confront Fleming with the bomb, which sounds quite ridiculous as the later explosion proves it has not been defused. The Tele-Snaps reveal that Steed and Fleming's confrontation is on the slipway, so it must be assumed that Fleming was able to give Georgeson the slip or had perhaps insisted on being allowed to make amends.


  • And Finally... The actress Nyree Dawn Porter was reportedly ABC Head of Drama, Sydney Newman's first choice for the role of Cathy Gale as the second year of The Avengers was being mapped out. Producer Leonard White favoured Honor Blackman and thought Porter wrong for the role. Newman went off on holiday, expecting White to cast Porter in his absence, but returned to find the producer had gone with his gut instinct and had cast Blackman. And history was made...

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

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

 

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