There’s a scene at the start of Mark Taverner’s wonderful radio comedy In The Chair where the soundscape puts us in a dentists’ surgery. The dentist is reassuring the patient, who we only hear in gurgles. “I must insist you remain seated. Good god! No! No!” There are two gunshots. Somehow, that scene reminded me of the opening of this episode: “Don’t bring the heater in. It’s dangerous.” It’s that panicked “No! No!” that someone owes more to exposition that expression, and it makes it funny even when it’s not intended to be. That only stands out because otherwise these adaptations are so skilfully transferred to audio that most of the time one is barely conscious that the material was originally intended for television.
This one, like Quick Quick Slow Death later, is concerned with a dance school. Keel is drawn into the school when he attends a woman who believes herself to be the victim of a number of murder attempts; then when she is killed he becomes a suspect and Steed is drawn in. Intriguingly, given his clout with various authority figures later, he claims “I’ve got no influence with the police.” Do we believe him? I guess, in these early days he was a less omnipotent figure (think Nutshell or The Wringer). Steed is undercover as ‘Rogers’ rather than using his own name.
Steed also claims to need to capture the murderer in the act – which means while the victim is in her bath. He is boring through the adjoining door when he is caught by the porter.
“I think you’d better come down and talk to the manager.”
“Sorry, old boy, I haven’t time.”
“The manager’s not going to like it.”
“I can’t help that. There’s a girl in that bathroom.”
The relationship that develops between Steed and ‘teacher’ Beth (his dance instructor) is wonderful, the highlight of an excellent episode. Their relative status shifts between contexts, giving us a glimpse of the more complex dynamic that would grow in Avengers partnerships.
Keel goes to see Hancock at the cinema (as with the similarities between The Radio Ham and that scene in Never, Never Say Die an indication of his influence…)
And that concludes another superb box set of audio Avengers. No more until January, alas, but at least we know that won’t be the last box now!