6 x 15-minute episodes
based on the television episode
The Morning After (1968),
written by Brian Clemens
Donald Monat as John Steed
Diane Appleby as Emma Peel
Hugh Rouse as The Narrator
Adapted and directed by Dennis Folbigge
Produced by David Gooden
Transmission on Springbok Radio (7.15-7.30pm):
Episode 1 - Friday 25th August 1972
Episode 2 - Monday 28th August 1972
Episode 3 - Tuesday 29th August 1972
Episode 4 - Wednesday 30th August 1972
Episode 5 - Thursday 31st August 1972
Episode 6 -
Friday 1st September 1972
This is a best guess based on available data
Merlin. Jimmy Merlin.
And don't you forget it.
Steed and Mrs Peel are driving
through the Suffolk market town of St. Catherine's in order to
make a rendezvous, or more correctly, spring a trap. The object of
their aim is a double agent named Jimmy Merlin, whom Steed has
been trying to catch for some time. They go to the offices of the
Postern Trading Company, which is where Steed has lured Merlin
with a promise of money. Merlin arrives and as Steed attempts to
hold him, Merlin detonates a sleeping gas. All three are knocked
out until the next morning.
When Steed wakes up, he manages
to handcuff Merlin and prepares to drive off to Headquarters.
However, as they are about to leave, they are suddenly struck with
how deserted the town suddenly seems. It appears that the
inhabitants have left in something of a hurry – but why? After
wandering around for some time, Steed and Merlin hear shots. They
find the body of a man wearing a placard proclaiming "Looter". He
seems to have been professionally executed. In fact, he was shot
by an army platoon led by Sgt. Hearn, who catches up with Steed
and Merlin. As the platoon prepares to shoot the two agents as
looters, Steed and Merlin jump the Sergeant and escape back to the
Realising that the town is
under martial law, the unlikely partners find a radio van; inside
are television reporter, Jenny Thurston, and her driver, Yates.
Jenny shows them a recording of her report – St. Catherine's has
been evacuated due to an atom bomb being left in the Eastern
Hemisphere Trade Commission building in the town. Only the army,
led by Brigadier Hanson, are left. The four drive back to the
office building, spotting an army Major on the way. Steed tries to
tell the officer of his identity, but Merlin recognises the man as
being a Russian agent.
Meanwhile, Hearn and his men
have found Mrs Peel in the office – still asleep. Steed and
company run across some army trucks containing genuine British
troops – all drugged. It does seem that the army people at the
Commission building are imposters. The four continue back to the
Postern office and are ambushed there by Hearn and his group.
Merlin escapes but Yates is shot, leaving Steed, Jenny and a
slumbering Mrs Peel at Hearn's mercy. Hearn tells them that far
from dismantling the bomb, the Brigadier and his men are building
it! When the bomb is ready, the all-clear will be called, the
town's population being permitted to return to their homes. The
Brigadier will then tell the Government the truth and threaten to
explode the bomb within twenty minutes unless a ransom is paid.
Hanson believes that the Government will pay up, knowing that it
is impossible to evacuate the area in that time. The Brigadier has
planned the scheme in revenge for his approaching redundancy – he
is to be replaced by a machine. Suddenly, Merlin appears and lets
off another capsule. It knocks out Hearn, but also Mrs Peel who
has just woken up.
Steed and Merlin agree to
co-operate and go to the Commission building in order to let off
lots of sleeping capsules there – knocking out the Brigadier and
all his men, and foiling the plot. Steed lets Merlin go in return
for helping him, and Mrs Peel finally wakes up – wondering what
The particularly clear
recording of this serial lets us hear just how good everybody's
diction is. To make it as understandable as possible must have
been one of the programme makers' first considerations. I really
enjoy the prelude of this one which includes Mrs Peel thinking
about her perfect leisurely trip in the country. They'll become
town agents for the remainder so it's a brief breath of fresh air.
Steed turning in the double agent Merlin appears initially to be,
after some adventure, what the story will end with; we'll see.
Merlin sounded as if he was of a similar age to Steed here and
younger than in the TV version. They have quite similar accents
and possibly educations. This lets us discover in what way Merlin
is different to Steed when confronted by their similar adventures.
That is apart from the obvious difference that Merlin wants to
escape! He is a fast talker whereas Steed has a steady pace and
this also helps to distinguish the two. Then Merlin reveals a
dislikeable aspect of his character when he suggests that Steed
wants a dead man's ID papers to send his widow some flowers. By
chopping and changing his behaviour, it then seems to confirm
Steed's view that he's unreliable.
When they come across Jenny, a
TV reporter, the news recording she plays back to them suitably
explains what appears to have been happening. I like hearing such
asides from the narrator but this is one part that could be
slotted straight in for radio without changing. Given that Mrs
Peel spends much of the time under the influence of the sleeping
gas, Jenny is a welcome second female character in the serial. It
is a similar voice to that of Mrs Peel's, but whether Diane
Appleby spoke the part or someone else I certainly don't know.
There's a lot to uncover yet, from the earlier Russian agent's
role through to the brigadier with a big grudge. It's easy to
believe that the brigadier is a maniac when we hear him laugh. The
admission by one of his men that the brigadier's men are
mercenaries sounds only reasonably convincing.
Now returning to Merlin, the
twists in the story change his character again and the actor is
very good at redressing Steed's belief (to some extent) that
Merlin is an unreliable character. To be quite honest, with all
the military goings-on here, this is not amongst my top ones but I
found Merlin's behaviour interesting. (Totally irrelevant, but I
promised myself to put on record that in writing these reviews
I've never drunk so many cold cups of tea).
Name Changes: The
company offices that Steed and Emma wait in change from the
Rostarn Trading Company (TV) to the Postern Trading Company
Brigadier Hanson is Brigadier
Hansing in the television version.
Character Changes: This
is one of a number of episodes adapted for the Sonovision
Avengers which replaces the television character of Tara King
with that of Emma Peel.
Storyline Changes: The
TV episode is set in a un-named English town, whereas the radio
serial clearly identifies the town as St. Catherine's in Suffolk.
The TV version of the story
also shows Merlin to be a card-sharp – able to make playing cards
appear in his hand.
The tag scene of
the TV episode also has an in-joke referring to US comedy series
Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, when Steed is heard to comment "...sock
it to me" as he switches off his TV. This American series was
scheduled against The Avengers in the States and proved to
be a smash hit, leading to the cancellation of The Avengers
at the end of the Tara King run.
Some of the incidental music
used during this story is remarkably similar to the theme
of the ITC series, Department S.
This serial is known to have
been the next one broadcast after All Done by Mirrors.