The second doppelgänger story (after The Man With Two Shadows). This one has a different twist… It’s a story which features a lot of models in different senses. Col Psev like radio control – and the opening teases with what might be a very poor model shot of a bomber over Westminster, revealed to be a very good shot of a model bomber (there being a crucial difference – one thinks, pityingly, of the tank in the Doctor Who episode Robot… The Avengers production team really knew what they were doing). Steed’s double – Gordon Webster – is the other sort of model, wheeled onto the catwalk by many scantily clad ladies, and with a moustache sprouting from his upper lip. The fashion show commentary is genius – well worth rewinding a few times to catch it all (“a hat with a dash of panache”, “slacks that are built for action”, “that shirt is lipstick proof” etc.)
Warren Mitchell plays ambassador Brodny, a role he will return to. It’s a broadly comical performance, almost slapstick. He plays Stan Laurel while the four aides to Psev play Oliver Hardy – advancing on him together, in step, with comedy music to make the point. It almost seems over the top, but the episode does become quite serious when Mrs Peel believes she has heard Steed being killed on audio. Steed is particularly ruthless in the way he uses her in this one, hatching a plot with Carson and keeping it from her entirely.
The actual reveal – which is where the story differs from The Man With Two Shadows – opens up the question of plot holes. Steed’s radio telephone goes a long way to answering many of the questions. But when Steed dropped Mrs Peel outside the embassy, Gordon Webster was about to go into action. Is it plausible that team Psev would have let him out of their sight? How did he manage to give them the slip? It doesn’t bear thinking about too carefully.
Carson staying with Steed gives rise to a lovely piece of dialogue. “Do you always squeeze the toothpaste from the middle?” Steed complains. “I never did until I got married.”
With last week’s episode The Man-Eater of Surrey Green having foreshadowed a future Doctor Who episode, this one alludes to the Fifth Doctor’s future attire: Brodny, when he spots Webster’s over-elaborate buttonhole, sarcastically suggests sticking a stick of celery in there.
The bridge that Steed approached RAF Hamelin across in The Hour That Never Was is in the grounds of the Russian embassy in this one. The pond underneath it conceals the radio controlled submarine. And how does a radio control submarine work? Do the radio waves travel underwater sufficiently well?
Tag scene transport: horses (ridden over that bridge).