This is the fourth episode for which the script exists but the video recording doesn’t, so there’s a logic to suggesting it should have been the fourth episode on the first box set released back in January. Over on the Big Finish forums I learned that the reason it isn’t is because it is an ‘atypical episode’ though (thankfully) no spoilers as to why this was. So approached it with curiosity and an open mind.
An immigrant cleaner picks up a radioactive pellet in the lab he works in to use as a fishing weight. But the pellet will kill him and anyone else he comes in contact with in a few hours. The scientist who left him unsupervised is a friend of Keel’s (this is a Keel heavy episode). So at the heart of the episode there is a thrilling chase – but given that The Avengers is varying considerably in the style and the nature of the plotlines, this wouldn’t have marked it out to me. There’s also a tedious subplot involving a group of former refugees, which give the man a reason to flee the police (but this could have been any MacGuffin). Overall, though, it’s a satisfying and fun episode, even if there is little explanation of why such a dangerous pellet could possibly have been left unprotected even in the lab.
Beth Chalmers (who will be familiar to listeners of Big Finish’s Doctor Who range in which she plays the companion Raine among other things) lends her lovely voice to two roles (including the immigrants from the unnamed slavic-sounding accents). Anthony Howell gives another fine performance as Keel. There’s hardly any Steed in this (it’s only a couple of episodes after the Steed-free Girl on the Trapeze).
And it turns out the reason this is atypical is because it’s adapted from a play that has been produced a couple of times before. Originally written for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation it was then put on by the BBC (both productions have been lost) before being adapted here for Keel and a little bit of Steed. I think it’s very well suited, and among the other series 1 stories I’ve heard and scene it would have stood out only as being a tense and enjoyable thriller.