Production Number: 3415 Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1340
Working Title: 'Confession From A Dead Man'

PLOTLINE

Working on behalf of an insurance company, Steed arranges for the convict Ted Mace to be sprung from prison. He hopes that Mace will lead him to the place where he has hidden two hundred thousand pounds worth of uncut diamonds, stolen from a Hatton Garden jewellers. However, word of the operation has got out on the criminal grapevine and nothing goes to plan. Mace is not only snatched from under the noses of Steed's men, but he also gets himself shot in the process.

Later, Keel is tricked into tending to the seriously injured Mace on a houseboat on the river. Mace's kidnappers, led by Al Brady, are also interested in the whereabouts of the diamonds. Keel manages to remove the bullet, but Mace's condition continues to worsen. With his last breath, he whispers a clue to Keel, "it's John Bartholomew's plot" and dies.

Steed follows a lead from Carol and arrives at the houseboat, where he fools the villains and saves Keel. Steed soon links Keel's captors to the co-owner of the robbed jewellers', Leonard Bruton, and the pair of them follow up the clue Mace gave in his dying words. Their investigations lead them into the countryside, where an elderly man unwittingly holds the key to the mystery and a fortune in uncut diamonds...

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 18
Production Completed:
Thu 6 Jul 1961
Recording Format: 405 Line B/W Video
Archive Holding: DOES NOT EXIST
John Cura Tele-Snaps: Photographed
Reconstruction: Made 2009
INTERNATIONAL PREMIERES
UNITED KINGDOM: Sat 8 Jul 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
ABC North: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Anglia:
Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
ATV London: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Border:
Not transmitted
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Southern: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
TWW: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Tyne Tees:
Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Ulster: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
Westward: Sat 8 Jul 1961, 8.50pm
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
Al Brady
Lola Carrington
Leonard Bruton
Bert Mills
Mark Crawford
Harry Dew
John Bartholomew
Taxi Driver
Ted Mace
3 Additional Extras
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Peter Reynolds
Vanda Hudson
Kevin Brennan
Ronald Pember
Charles Hodgson
Robert Mill
Gordon Phillott
Blaise Wyndham
Howard Daley
Uncredited
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

StudioCanal, UK: Reconstruction by Alan and Alys Hayes, narrated by Leonard White, combining original script with off-screen Tele-Snaps and on-set photographs Stills Gallery (most images are erroneously attributed to The Far Distant Dead)

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer Gerald Verner, adapted by John Lucarotti
Series Theme & Music
Johnny Dankworth
Designer
James Goddard
Story Editor
John Bryce / Reed de Rouen
Producer
Leonard White
Director
Roger Jenkins

Production Assistant Izabella Lubicz
Floor Manager Patrick Kennedy
Stage Manager John Wayne
Lighting Director Kenneth Brown

Technical Supervisor Peter Wayne
Senior Cameraman Michael Baldock
Sound Supervisor Michael Roberts
Vision Mixer Gordon Hesketh

Studio Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

DOUBLE DANGER DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... Prior to writing this episode, Gerald Verner met with Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee in April 1961, to discuss and gauge how the characters worked.

  • The episode carried the working title, Confession From A Dead Man for a while, before Double Danger became the firm title.

  • This episode, written by and credited on screen to Gerald Verner, was heavily rewritten prior to broadcast by writer John Lucarotti, who was engaged on a freelance basis to adapt the script on the strength of one he had recently submitted himself, The Far Distant Dead. Verner was greatly incensed by Lucarotti's tampering, which he claimed left his story in tatters.

  • Verner's own script bears testament to his anger at the rewrite. He has scribbled over his name, and handwritten in biro in its place, "John Lucarotti put on now under Gerald Verner", meaning the episode as broadcast carried his name but he no longer considered it representative of the work he had put in.

  • The variations between Verner's original and Lucarotti's rewrite are extensive. Here are a few tasters:

    Gerald Verner's Original: John Lucarotti's Rewrite:
    • Steed's men are Lew Sleater and Harry Dew, East End types.
    • Lew Sleater is renamed Mark Crawford. He and Dew are now public-school types.
    • Mace is unwittingly shot by Steed's men.
    • Mace is hit by a stray bullet that came from Brady's gun (Keel notices that the calibre of the bullet appears to match it).
    • Keel is taken to a bungalow to tend to Mace.
    • The bungalow becomes a houseboat on the River.
    • Hatton Garden jewellers called Lowenstein and Brune.
    • Changed to Lowestein and Bruton.
    • Steed covertly gains access to the bungalow and picks off members of the gang with his umbrella handle.
    • Steed calls out to a non-existent army and suggests they surround and then rush the boat.
    • Carol locks Bruton in his study and then Brady and Mills arrive.
    • Carol just runs away and Brady arrives alone.
    • In the lock-up, Keel collapses and Steed saves the day by shutting off the car's ignition and opening the door.
    • In the lock-up, Keel switches off the car's ignition and Steed opens the doors.
    • Old Bartholomew has Brady and Mills shift furniture looking for diamonds he knows are not there.
    • Bartholomew's resistance is more to do with being too near death to be scared of dying.
    • Brady double-crosses Mills. Were it not for Steed's intervention, Brady would have shot Mills to have all the proceeds from the diamond haul for himself.
    • Brady and Mills remain partners.
    • The episode ends back at the surgery, where Keel and Carol conclude their discussion of the hypochondriac patient Mr McLeary.
    • The episode ends at the cemetery.

     

  • The first actors' read through of Double Danger was held at The Tower, RCA Building, Brook Green Road, Hammersmith, from 10.30am on Monday 26th June 1961. Rehearsals began later the same day.

  • The recording of Double Danger was planned to run to a target running time of 52 minutes and 25 seconds plus two commercial breaks of 2 minutes and 5 seconds each which would bring the full transmission duration to 56 minutes and 35 seconds.

  • Camera rehearsals began for this episode on Wednesday 5th July 1961 at 10.30am and continued with two one-hour breaks for lunch and supper until 9.00pm that evening. The cast and crew reconvened the next morning at 10.00am for further camera rehearsals, ending at 3.15pm. The dress rehearsal commenced at 4.00pm after a short break for tea, camera line-up and make-up, with the episode going before the cameras for recording between 6.00pm and 7.00pm on the evening of Thursday 6th July 1961. All the sessions on Wednesday 5th and Thursday 6th July were held in Studio 2 at ABC Studios, Teddington Lock, Middlesex. Double Danger was transmitted from videotape on Saturday 8th July 1961, with a scheduled start and end time of 10.00-11.00pm.


  • On Location... Although scripted to take place at night, the springing of Ted Mace from jail was shot during daylight hours and was not night-filtered, as evidenced by the surviving Tele-Snaps. These invaluable off-screen photographs reveal that actual night shoots were undertaken for scenes around the houseboat and Bartholomew's cottage.

  • The locations for Double Danger are not at present known, though considering its proximity to the studios, it is quite likely that the houseboat sequences were filmed at Teddington Lock.

  • In total, the episode contained six 35mm sequences, all appearing during the first couple of acts: the opening prison escape; Keel and Lola arriving at the houseboat by car and boarding the vessel; Mills' car arriving at the boat, followed by Steed in his Rolls Royce; Mills jumping from the boat into the water; Lola and Brady running from the boat, while Mills climbs out of the water; and Mills following Steed to the cottage.

  • Two additional film sequences represented the rising tide in Act 1 and (on 16mm film) the rainfall at the end of the episode. However, these were probably stock footage rather than specially filmed material.

  • Gerald Verner's rehearsal script called for several more exterior film sequences, including short scenes set outside the surgery and the garage, but these were cut from the final version, presumably for reasons of cost or time.


  • Trivia... While the camera script of this episode suggests that Double Danger opened with a filmed teaser showing Ted Mace's escape from prison, the surviving Tele-Snaps for this story reveal that the episode as transmitted began with the title sequence as normal. Only one episode of the series, Square Root of Evil, appears to have opened with a pre-titles teaser. The Springers was scripted to feature one too, but again, surviving Tele-Snaps have proved this idea was dismissed before recording. 

  • Though he is unbilled in contemporary TV listings and at the front of the camera script, the end credits at the back of the script reveal that Ted Mace was played by Howard Daley. The actor had previously appeared alongside Ian Hendry in three episodes of ABC's Police Surgeon. In all three of his Police Surgeon appearances, Daley portrayed a police constable, possibly the same police constable each time. He was billed simply as PC in Under the Influence, as Police Constable in Lag on the Run, and finally afforded a surname in Smash But No Grab, in which his character was named as PC Thompson.

  • In an unusual move, Peter Reynolds (appearing as Al Brady) received a credit in the opening titles of this episode, alongside Ian Hendry and Patrick Macnee.

  • Aspects of the plot to Double Danger bear comparison to Hunt the Man Down. In both episodes the villains are searching for hidden loot, which Dr Keel's injured patient, the former prison inmate who originally stole it, knows the location of. Suspecting that the patient has passed information to Keel, the villains comprising two men and the robber's estranged wife kidnap Carol in order to make the doctor talk. The main difference is that this time Keel does know something. It is possible that some of John Lucarotti's rewrites, such as the houseboat setting and the softening of Lola's character, were intended to reduce the similarities to Hunt the Man Down.

  • The reconstruction of this episode, produced for StudioCanal Releasing's DVD release of The Avengers Series 3, featured a voiceover delivered by original Avengers producer, Leonard White. At the time of recording, White was 92 years young and did a fine job, sounding not a day over sixty. The narration script featured a few nods to Gerald Verner's original script, where it was possible to do so without being at odds with the Tele-Snaps and rehearsal photographs that survive. While no significant deviations from the story as broadcast were made, a few lines of dialogue from Gerald Verner's version were slipped in as Lucarotti's revisions were less captivating.


  • Bloopers... Keel's phoney Latin message to Carol is initially given as "Fonum Equus". However, in a subsequent scene with Steed and Carol, it is referred to in the camera script as "Fonus Equus".


  • Stop Press... Prior to the transmission of Double Danger, TV Times magazine, cover dated 30th June 1961, ran a half-page interview with Patrick Macnee by Charles Bayne, entitled Who Am I...? wonders Patrick Macnee. In the feature, Macnee revealed some of his biographical details, and mused, "Am I really like John Steed of The Avengers? Very English, a master of the understatement, polished, educated, wealthy? Sometimes I wonder who's who. Patrick Macnee or John Steed - who am I? Perhaps Patrick is not everything John is, but we are alike in many ways. In real life I am an adventurer. I fancy myself as a sort of Scarlet Pimpernel. I crave excitement. After the war I wanted to go in for gun-running. Of course I have Walter Mitty dreams about splendid things. Who doesn't? During the war, when I was commander of a motor-torpedo boat, we ran across a pack of German E-boats off the Channel Islands. There was one thing to do. Sink the lot, quickly. We had the advantage of surprise. It was quick and deadly. We moved in and got most of them. Quite an action. How I wish that story was true. But it is just a bit of my Walter Mitty fantasy life. In fact, I used to get seasick every time we went out."

    Reaction to this episode was not particularly positive, with a somewhat dismissive review appearing in The Stage and Television Today on 13th July 1961:

    Gerald Verner replied to this review in outspoken fashion in the journal's subsequent edition, published on 20th July 1961.

    While Verner's letter may have cleared his name with regards to "the fiasco of Double Danger", it did however make waves, which resulted in Verner leaving the Avengers writing team. He had been pencilled in to write further scripts for the series, but the fall-out over Double Danger restricted his contribution to the series to this solitary entry. A successful thriller author, Gerald Verner returned to writing novels and short stories, and never wrote for television again. He died aged 83 in 1980, leaving a legacy of over 120 novels which had been translated into more than 35 languages. Verner is probably best known today for his prolific work on the Sexton Blake Library, for which he wrote 44 stories, although he wrote a large number of popular thriller novels of his own invention and could count The Duke of Windsor among his fans.


  • And Finally... A mere five years later, it was John Lucarotti who found himself in Gerald Verner's position, when story editor Donald Tosh made extensive revisions to Lucarotti's Doctor Who script The Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Eve (coincidentally, another Bartholomew plot!). Lucarotti restored some of his original ideas when he wrote the novelisation, which was published in 1987. It is tantalising to imagine Lucarotti and Verner meeting in a bar some time in the late Sixties and agreeing that rewrites can be a painful experience!

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

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

 

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