Production Number: 3419 • Tape Number: VTR/ABC/1390

PLOTLINE

King Tenuphon, the ruler of an unstable Far Eastern country called Shanpore, is visiting London to sign an oil treaty with the British Government. However, this will not be a formality, as the Tukshan, an opposing dissident force in Shanpore, is opposed to the treaty. The Tukshan have staged five failed assassination attempts on the King's life in the previous three years and plan to complete the job while the King is in London. Steed is tasked with preventing the King's death and ensuring that the treaty is signed.

It transpires that there are two threats to the King's continued good health. The first comes from U Meng, a Shanpore bookseller based in London, who plots the King's death with his associates, Suchong and Ta Pai. The second is even closer to home – the mercenary Major Harrington tricks his way into the flat of Mrs Zoe Carter, which is directly opposite the King's London suite. Zoe's estranged husband, Tony, went missing a year ago in Shanpore and is presumed dead. Harrington reveals Tony is alive – held hostage by Tukshan rebels. If Mrs Carter will play host to him while he completes his mission, Harrington can have Tony released. Zoe has little choice but to play along.

Steed and his colleague, the somewhat ineffective Crichton-Bull, must keep the King and his entourage safe and deal with two deadly enemies. They are not helped by the King's cavalier attitude to his safety. Can Steed keep the King alive until the treaty is signed and the King is safely aboard his return flight?

 

Read the full story in Two Against the Underworld

PRODUCTION & ARCHIVE
The Avengers: Series 1, Episode 22
Production Completed:
Wed 30 Aug 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 2 Sep 1961
Never transmitted outside the UK

UK REGIONAL PREMIERES

ABC Midlands: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
ABC North: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Anglia:
Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
ATV London: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Border:
Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Grampian: Not transmitted
Scottish: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Southern: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
TWW: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Tyne Tees:
Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Ulster: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
Westward: Sat 2 Sep 1961, 8.50pm
CHARACTERS & CAST
Dr David Keel
John Steed
Carol Wilson
King Tenuphon
General Tuke
Mei Li
Zoe Carter
Ingrid Storm
Crichton-Bull
Prince Serrakit
Major Harrington
U Meng
Suchong
Ta Pai
Detective
Voice of One-Ten
Concubine
Steward Assassin
Servant
Servant
Male Extra
Extra
Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee
Ingrid Hafner
Burt Kwouk
Patrick Allen
Lisa Peake
Moira Redmond
Carole Shelley
Peter Barkworth
James Goei
Ian Colin
Andy Ho
Eric Young
Myo Toon
Victor Charrington
Douglas Muir
Unity Bevis
Sarmukh Singh
Jerry Lee Yen
Jean Woo Sam
Eugene Che
Uncredited
ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK

Not released.

DVD EXTRAS

StudioCanal, UK: Reconstruction by Alan and Alys Hayes, narrated by David G. Hamilton, based on original script combined with off-screen Tele-Snaps and on-set photographs • Stills Gallery

PRODUCTION CREDITS

Writer – James Mitchell
Series Theme & Music –
Johnny Dankworth
Designer –
Paul Bernard
Story Editor –
John Bryce / Reed de Rouen
Producer –
Leonard White
Director –
Roger Jenkins

Production Assistant – Sylvia Langdon-Down
Floor Manager – Patrick Kennedy
Stage Manager – John Wayne
Lighting Director – Luigi Bottone
Technical Supervisor – Campbell Keenan
Senior Cameraman – Tom Clegg

Other credits not available

Studio – Teddington 2
An ABC Network Production

KILL THE KING • DECLASSIFIED

  • Production Brief... James Mitchell provided two scripts for Series 1 – Death on the Slipway and Kill the King. He went on to write three further scripts for the Honor Blackman era – Immortal Clay, School for Traitors and Man With Two Shadows – before creating the memorable Callan series, beginning with an entry in the acclaimed Armchair Theatre series, called A Magnum for Schneider. A decade later he created the equally well-respected BBC series, When the Boat Comes In.

  • The camera script refers to Prince Serrakit as Sarraket at one point. Crichton-Bull is referred to simply as 'C-B' throughout.

  • Inlay effects (a means of electronically replacing a chosen area of the television picture with input from another camera) were used to represent the views through Major Harrington's telescopic lens and through Crichton-Bull's binoculars.

  • The episode was rehearsed and recorded in Studio 2 at Teddington. Camera rehearsals were held on Tuesday 29th August 1961 from 10.30am until 9.00pm and on Wednesday 30th August 1961 from 10.00am until 6.00pm. Recording followed on directly from this second rehearsal session and wrapped at 7.00pm.

  • The recording of Kill the King 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.

  • The episode ends with a caption slide that states 'THE AVENGERS....... returns on DEC. 9th', which marries up perfectly with the transmission date of the subsequent episode, Dead of Winter. This suggests a planned break in the transmission of Series 1, as recording continued unabated, with all twenty-six episodes in the can by Wednesday 18th October 1961. This would appear to dispel the commonly held suggestion that the break was an unplanned result of the 1961 Equity strike.


  • On Location... This episode was entirely studio bound. There were establishing 35mm mute film inserts, one of which depicted the helicopter approaching.


  • Trivia... Actress Moira Redmond is one of those nearly women of The Avengers. Aside from the fact that neither of her appearances in the series (Stella in Hot Snow and Zoe Carter in Kill the King) survive today, she was also very much in line, four years later, to play Emma Peel in the series. She was screen-tested for the role after the actress originally cast, Elizabeth Shepherd, was deemed unsuitable. Having been shortlisted as one of eight actresses from approximately twenty who were tested, the final choice hinged on two candidates – Redmond and a relative unknown, Diana Rigg. Interviewed by Dave Rogers for his book The Ultimate Avengers, Brian Clemens recalled that, "Howard Thomas was there. Julian Wintle was there, others came along and we ran these eight tests. At the end of it, I was leaning towards Moira Redmond, with Diana Rigg second. It was a hung parliament except for Howard Thomas or Julian Wintle, who said that they would go with Diana, because she was a new face."  Moira Redmond, who had started her career as a nude tableau performer at The Windmill Theatre, had by this time established herself as a strong talent in British films and television. She continued to work consistently as a character actress until the late 1990s, but never achieved the worldwide fame that would have inevitably come had she played Emma Peel in The Avengers. She died of a heart attack at 77 in a London nursing home in 2006, having suffered for several years from senile dementia.

  • General Tuke has a somewhat chequered military history. He spent five years in the Commandos before joining the French Foreign Legion. After eighteen months, he deserted and was taken on by King Tenuphon who instantly promoted him to General. This role afforded him diplomatic immunity, meaning the French could not prosecute him. He is also married to Mei Li, Prince Serrakit's granddaughter.

  • King Tenuphon was a graduate of the English University system. Considering his reputation with the ladies and his predilection for London nightspots, Steed is perplexed that his educational achievements were so distinguished!

  • There are numerous similarities between Kill the King and the earlier Series 1 episode The Yellow Needle:

    • In the opening scene, a visiting foreign leader (King Tenuphon and Sir Wilberforce respectively) survives an assassination attempt;

    • The foreign leader is in London to sign an important treaty (for an oil concession and national independence respectively);

    • The foreign leader has some rather ineffectual official protection (Crichton-Bull and Inspector Anthony respectively);

    • The foreign leader gets some rather more effectual protection from Steed (who cares about the dignitaries' wellbeing only for very selfish reasons – his own career prospects if he fails);

    However, the personalities of the callous and pleasure-seeking King Tenuphon and the humble and honourable Sir Wilberforce could hardly be more different.

  • The surviving copy of the camera script of Kill the King is missing two pages (36 and 78). Our best guesses are that the pages would have contained the following:

    • On page 36, we get from Steed asking Ingrid about her dancing – "So you're a dancer, Miss Storm?" – to Steed thanking Ingrid for something, and then they discuss sports. It is possible that Ingrid tells Steed that, as a dancer, she has to work hard to stay in shape. This might well prompt Steed to compliment the dancer on her figure, at which point Ingrid could return the compliment regarding Steed's physique. "Thank you," replies Steed.

    • Page 78 is harder to extrapolate, as there appears to be a scene change. Steed's final line on page 77 – "There's nothing much I can do. You have your diplomatic immunity," – is unlikely to be the end of the scene, as the Tele-Snaps suggest that it would have been followed by a long shot of the King and a shot of the dead Serrakit, but it still works as the end of the scene. It is far from clear how Steed and Keel's conversation gets to where it's at on page 79 – the final page of the script. In the Tele-Snaps they are looking up, very likely at a sunset, probably discussing how they have each had a long and busy day, in their own very different ways. It is possible that the widowed status of Zoe Carter has been mentioned, or perhaps watching the sunset is simply something that Keel and Peggy used to do, which brings his late fiancιe into the conversation: "...Peggy and I used to..."

  • At 6.15pm on ABC Television on the night of Kill the King's screening, Patrick Macnee was seen in an entirely different light, appearing in Holiday Town Parade. This edition, the final programme in the series, was transmitted live from Morecambe, a popular seaside resort on England's north west coast. Macnee's role in the proceedings was as the chief judge of a bathing beauties competition.

  • Border Television was the twelfth ITV region to come online and was created to serve the areas of Berwick, Dumfries, Roxburgh, Cumberland and the Isle of Man. The channel's first day of broadcasting was Friday 1st September 1961. It is believed that the first episode they carried would have been Kill the King. The Avengers Declassified has been able to confirm the broadcast, but not the title of the episode screened. It is, however, highly unlikely to have been anything other than Kill the King.


  • Stop Press... The 2nd September 1961 edition of Manchester Evening News made mention in Max North's Tele-review of Patrick Macnee's involvement in the Holiday Town Parade beauty competition. The item suggested that while Kill the King was being transmitted, he would be "relaxing with a drink after an even more nerve-racking assignment" judging the competition.


  • And Finally... The reconstruction of this episode was particularly challenging, despite the existence of more than of three hundred production photographs. Many of these feature actors out of costume, in completely different make-up or with completely different hairstyles compared to those seen in the Tele-Snaps from the transmitted episode:

    • James Goei (Prince Serrakit) was in costume but not in full make-up – in the recorded episode, he was aged significantly to look like an old man;

    • Carole Shelley (Ingrid Storm) wore a blonde wig in the episode, but in most of the rehearsal shots, has her own hair (also blonde) pinned back and does not wear the wig;

    • Andy Ho (U Meng) wears a dark casual top and slacks in some rehearsal shots and these had to be painted out;

    • Patrick Allen (General Tuke) is often seen in shirtsleeves rather than Tuke's full military uniform;

    • Many shots featuring Ian Colin (Major Harrington) were not usable due to his predilection for wearing cardigans during rehearsals. The Major wore a houndstooth jacket throughout the episode as recorded, or so it appears from the Tele-Snaps.

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