“The Charmers” Review

Here’s yet another story that gets remade – it’s another Brian Clemens story – which later became the equally fogettable The Correct Way to Kill. I’d forgotten this original so comprehensively I previously, mistakenly, stated Warren Mitchell (who appeared already in series 3 in The Golden Fleece) made three guest appearance whereas he in fact made four. Where he played it straight last time, here he’s an absurd Russian agent, jealous of the expenses that his colleague and enemy Steed is given by the British. There’s a glimmer of Brodny, the character he will play in his next two appearances, here, but none of the charm.

We are spoiled for guests in this, because we get the wonderful Fenella Fielding and Vivian Pickles (who would among many other roles, go on to play Aunt Dahlia to Hugh Laurie’s Bertie Wooster). There’s a very Clemensesque line about how Steed likes working with a woman in this (which is why the Russians choose to partner Fielding with him) but of course, it ignores all the occasions when he worked with the medical men, Drs Keel and King.

There’s a bit of sinister dentistry too, but it’s not a patch on that in The Mauritius Penny.

Presumably the reason it was remade was because of all the self-referentially English puffery (crates of bowler hats, the charm school teaching etiquette as well as assassination, and a reverential towards the propriety of Steed’s manner even from his enemies which is a motif Clemens will come to use excessively). But actually there’s nothing to this episode but fluff.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

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