The Avengers (1961) s05e02 Episode Script

The Fear Merchants

Richard Meadows, found at Wembley Stadium in his pyjamas.
Maybe he sleepwalks.
Some walk.
He resides in Birmingham.
That's 100 and 13 miles away.
So, he went to bed in Birmingham.
And woke up in Wembley.
He's deranged, a complete mental wreck.
What does he do? He runs English Earthenware.
That's one of our top-dollar earners.
But it won't run without him.
The pressures of big business.
He wouldn't be the first.
How right you are, Mrs Peel.
He isn't the first.
John Tyler, found on top of a mountain.
- In his pyjamas? - And dressing gown.
David Wallace, found on a raft in the English Channel.
- In his bathing suit.
- Dinner jacket and cummerbund.
- The same old pattern.
- His name is Fox.
Went berserk in a gymnasium.
- Scared out of his wits.
- By what? - A mouse.
- A mouse? Been known to stampede a herd of elephants.
Martin Fox, director of Fox, White & Crawley.
They make bone china.
- Meadows ran English Earthenware.
- Right.
- And Tyler's company produces? - Pottery.
- And Wallace? - The same line, ceramics.
- It is the same old pattern.
- Almost.
They ran one-man concerns.
- Fox has two fellow directors.
- Mr White and Mr Crawley? Yes? I'm Crawley.
Fox, White & Crawley, bone china.
How do you do? - Your name is? - Steed.
John Steed, CPC.
- Central Productivity Council.
- Oh, sorry to have kept you.
Some darned chap dropped in from a market research firm, asking pointless questions.
- Upset the entire morning.
- I'll be brief.
If we are to compete in world markets, we must reduce wastage, eliminate bottle necks, increase productivity.
The prime minister agrees.
- Now, if you have any problems - Oh, we've got a problem all right.
We just lost one of our directors, Fox.
Managerial dispute? Sudden breakdown.
Extraordinary.
No indication.
Yesterday, he was as right as rain.
- Will it affect production? - Of course.
Fox was the expert in fine glazing.
Very difficult to replace.
Excuse me, Mr Steed.
My secretary.
Yes? - Your car has arrived, Mr Crawley.
- I'll be right down.
You'll have to excuse me.
I've an urgent appointment.
I must find a replacement for Fox.
Ah, White.
Mr Steed, Central Productivity Council.
You're late.
I wanted to go through these figures.
- Got held up, some market researcher.
- Oh, you too.
I couldn't see him so he left a questionnaire.
There's been trouble at the kiln.
- What's wrong? - I wouldn't know.
That was Fox's territory.
It needs an expert's eye.
Let's hope we can find one.
Oh, thank you.
Williams? Williams! Williams! Williams! What are you doing? You know my limit's 45.
Williams! Williams! Slow down! Williams, stop! Stop! Williams! Williams, you know I can't Stop! Williams! Mrs Peel? Found something? Magnificent, isn't it? Aluminium, eight-cylinder, twin exhaust.
7,000cc, 9:1 compression ratio.
Do 120mph at least, wouldn't you say? Hmm, I would, judging by those skid marks.
- Really? - Well, they run for at least 80 yards.
Steed? - Steed? - In here, Mrs Peel.
Ah.
- X marks the spot.
- Crawley? Found right here, shattered, broken and witless.
Indian or China? - Coffee.
- Coffee it is.
Well, with Fox, Meadows and Crawley gone That leaves Mr White.
One lump or two? Hmm? - A clue? - An offer.
- From somebody called Jeremy Raven.
- Oh? An offer of what? "Rising costs would suggest a merger of the following companies.
" - A merger? - Of which companies? Those controlled by Richard Meadows He was the one found in a football stadium.
- John Tyler - On top of a mountain.
- David Wallace - On a raft in the middle of the Channel.
And Fox, White & Crawley.
Just a moment.
"I await your reply with interest, "Jeremy Raven, Director of British Porcelain.
" Jeremy Raven? It would be interesting to discover just what Crawley's reply was.
It's probably in the files of Fox, White & Crawley.
You're lucky to find me.
Two colleagues have been taken ill.
Now, what did I do with the questionnaire? It's somewhere.
Ah, yes.
Here we are.
I hope that's all right.
You haven't completed section 12.
Oh, haven't I? Oh, yes, I see.
"Do you dislike animals?" That's an odd question.
Well, I don't dislike them all, but I do have an aversion to Oh, blast.
My pen's run out of ink.
Try mine.
Thank you.
These questions on my childhood, are they relevant? Well, if they weren't, they wouldn't be there.
All right.
You market research people certainly probe, don't you? - Did you hear something? - No.
I'll just check.
White's questionnaire, duly completed.
Thank you, Gilbert.
As president of the Business Efficiency Bureau, I abhor complacency, but a well-chosen compliment stimulates enthusiasm.
Congratulations, Dr Voss.
Your diagnosis of Crawley was excellent.
I receive an excellent remuneration, Mr Pemberton.
You too, Gilbert, for dispatching Crawley with such speed.
- I enjoyed the drive.
- I gather he didn't.
A trifle car sick.
Into the "Dead" file.
- Now, to our Mr - White.
He's a junior director of Fox, White & Crawley.
Hmm - Your conclusions, Gilbert? - Oh, a very unstable character.
Ideal for our purposes.
His father was an ornithologist.
I see.
Doctor? Hmm White looks most promising.
Infantile hand, regressive personality, and these replies indicate a very definite panic area.
Then confirm it at once.
I want White disposed of immediately.
You found out nothing? Nothing in the files, not even the courtesy of a reply.
That won't please Raven.
He wanted a monopoly.
I should think it positively displeased him.
I must go and don a new disguise and you keep an eye on White.
And you cast an eye over Raven.
I intend to.
Lesser-billed white-throated crimson nighthawk.
Quite charming.
Not quite charming enough, Mr Steed.
I can't stand the slightest flaw.
Majolica, alkaline glaze.
Exquisite.
But I aim at unparalleled excellence.
Well, Mr Raven, I - Jeremy, please.
- Oh.
Jeremy Since I took over, I personally inspect every piece.
May I say that you're extremely young to run a place of this size.
- Youth at the helm and all that.
- Right.
Oh, I don't deny I've inherited a great tradition.
Also some pretty archaic methods.
But we are soon to change all that.
Oh, yes, indeed.
- Do you know my motto? - Do tell.
Creation by automation.
A classic piece in every home.
Here Oops.
Now, then, you name it, I'll make it.
Grecian urn, Corinthian vase, Minoan jar.
Or would you prefer Chinese? Florentine? Persian.
Very well, stand clear.
Still in the experimental stage.
Before long, we shall cover the entire field of ceramics, capture world markets.
Which brings me to the point of my visit.
Now, if you would, Mr Raven er, Jeremy - Monopolies Commission? - I'm just a minor official.
Well, you're certainly monopolising my time, Mr Steed.
Oh, er, please carry on.
It's about this letter you sent, suggesting the formation of United Ceramics.
A darned good idea, don't you think? You see, you pool knowledge, reduce overheads, cut costs.
- And what's the result? - You've cornered the market.
Er, true, but the customer gets the best at the cheapest price.
Oh, excuse me.
Oh, you've had a wasted journey, Mr Steed.
My offer was rejected by one and all.
- Oh? - Yes, er, dunderheads.
No more foresight than that darned thing.
It's very decorative.
You say everyone turned down your offer to merge? - They did.
- Fox, White & Crawley? Unanimously.
Excuse me.
Yes, old diehards.
They said modernisation would ruin craftsmanship.
Well, has it? I ask you, has it? I agree.
No, Mr Steed! That's perfection.
Persian? Well, as I said, in the experimental stage.
Your sales are certainly rocketing.
New promotion techniques.
Only way to survive.
Otherwise you soon fall by the wayside.
A few of your competitors already have.
It's a highly competitive business.
Show the slightest weakness and you crack.
It's a simple matter of elimination.
- Elimination? - To coin a phrase.
The secret is to survive, Mr Steed.
You seem to have found it, Jeremy.
Indeed I have.
Well? We have the key to White's destruction.
A feather, a solitary feather.
An empty bird cage and one Mr White, extremely dead.
- He fell out of the window? - Through it, actually.
Fell, pushed or jumped.
Or maybe he suffered from a delusion.
Maybe he thought he was a bird, perked up, preened himself, flapped his arms and Maybe he was migrating south.
Well, that's one feather we can't put in our caps.
Somebody else was there.
- Eh? - In Mr White's office.
Somebody tipped a display cabinet on me.
Half a ton of china came hurtling down.
- Quite unnerving.
- I can imagine how you felt.
How did you get on with Jeremy Raven? He seemed genuine enough.
Seemed? Well, the proof is in the pushing.
I've got to get him off-balance, agitated.
I think I must start putting some pressure on Mr Raven.
I'm a patient sort of chap, Steed, but one more question and I shall throw you out.
You mean, you'll try to throw me out.
Now, look, if I've bagged most of the market, it's merely the fruits of enterprise.
They seem to have ripened rather quickly.
Well, you know what they say.
Fresh soil brings an early harvest.
I've given the old firm a facelift, that's all.
Oh, I see we're still sceptical.
Very well.
- Handy.
- Oh Well, I I have a licence for it.
I - I was after that brochure.
- If you don't mind.
I'll go after it.
I saw that ad and called them in.
- Efficiency's hardly a crime.
- Depends how it's applied.
Well, you You know the sort of thing they do.
They study the market, observe competitors.
- Examine statistics.
- I've been doing a little of that too.
Out of your seven main competitors, six have been driven out of their minds and the seventh fell through a plate-glass window.
I don't Eliminate your competitors, didn't you say? You've certainly done that, Jeremy.
But if one of those six men recovers, maybe we'll learn just how.
And then Ah, Mr Raven.
Your phone call was irate.
What's troubling you? Do I need to tell you? No conundrums, please.
Do be seated.
I had better come straight to the point.
Would you? A direct approach is the essence of good management.
Well, Mr Raven, you have our undivided attention.
Look, I engaged you to study the market and improve the firm's efficiency.
Well, from your sales figures, I'd say we'd succeeded, admirably.
- Your profits have soared.
- It's not the profits I'm here about.
Please sit down, Mr Raven.
It's your methods.
- Our methods? - Oh, you know what I mean.
I've been to the hospital.
I've seen Fox and the others.
But we were merely carrying out your instructions.
- What? I never asked you to - Didn't you? That's a short memory you have.
Great handicap for a young executive.
You haven't forgotten our first interview, surely? You wish to employ us to what end, Mr Raven? To increase my share of the market to eliminate competition.
- You're very ruthless, Mr Raven.
- Oh, one has to be.
You've a free hand.
I leave it to you.
Blow 'em all up if you have to.
But I didn't mean that literally! Then how did you mean it? You wanted your competitors eliminated.
We have carried out your instructions.
And now we trust you'll honour your part of the bargain.
Your cheque? Most gratifying.
It's the last you'll get.
We shall see you as usual on the first.
Oh, and should you consider criticising our methods any further, how would you explain this? We have the assurance of your continued patronage? Yes.
- Yes, of course.
- Good.
You know your way out, Mr Raven.
He lied to the last question.
Give me Raven's file.
- This is John Steed.
- Mr Steed.
Your call is being answered by a recording device.
Kindly dictate your message in three seconds from now.
This is Jeremy Raven.
I must see you, Steed.
I'm at the factory.
Can you call? It's very urgent.
It's bad.
I did warn you about Raven.
Ruthless in business but has a strong moral sense.
He'll talk, I promise you.
Pity.
Time we stopped trading with young Mr Raven.
His questionnaire? - Already programmed.
- And "The Business Efficiency Bureau, "offering a unique means of building your business up "by knocking your opponents down.
"Bring science and psychology into the battle for bigger profits.
" - Steed, what are you doing? - What am I doing? Practising my high-powered tycoon look.
- Crawley filled in a questionnaire, right? - Right.
Crawley is now and then White, and then Raven.
And before that, Tyler, Wallace, Meadows and Fox.
- Right? - Right.
- The conclusion is obvious.
- The BEB is involved.
- Right? - Right.
And they only deal with the best business people and I, Mrs Peel, am the best business people.
And what time is your first appointment, sir? 11 o'clock with Mr Pemberton at the BEB.
Right? All right.
Right on the dot.
I like that.
Punctuality is the prime rule of efficiency.
Be seated, Mr Steed.
- Your business, Mr Steed? - Travel.
I run a group of agencies.
- Your gross turnover? - The 100,000 mark.
- But there's room for expansion.
- I'm sure.
- But you feel cramped by competition? - Er, no, thank you.
Stifled.
Then we must revive your markets, allow you to breathe more freely.
Mm-hm, but how? Oh, like any game.
By exploiting the weaknesses of your opponents.
That's a That's a thought.
More than a thought, Mr Steed.
It's a reality.
Besides my own extensive experience you're buying the services of two brilliant psychologists.
- Mr Gilbert.
- How do you do? - And Dr Voss.
- How do you do? With modern psychiatric techniques we study your competitors.
- Probe their entire histories.
- Pinpoint their deficiencies.
- Their defects - Their flaws.
- And then - Pierce the chink in their armour.
- Nicely put, Mr Steed.
- And the cost of this service? 50% of your increased profit.
Modest, I think you'll agree.
I agree.
We'll need a list of your competitors.
Well, there's only one in the area that I operate.
- The name? - Mrs Peel, Mrs Emma Peel.
- Raven's improving? - He has moments of sanity.
They don't last very long.
Our methods will delight you, Mr Steed.
- It's results I want.
- They're guaranteed.
What's wrong? He lied to every question.
Follow him.
- Dr Raven? - I tried.
Another relapse.
- How did you fare at the Bureau? - They took me on.
But they seemed more interested in my competitors so I produced one.
- Who? - You.
We're in the travel business.
I provide luxurious igloos in Iceland.
- Complete with a deep freeze.
- Bearskin rugs.
And hot and cold running Eskimos.
Why, now, that's quite an idea! - And where do I operate? - From your flat.
Very convenient.
But if you want my opinion I'd love it but we have to observe the priorities.
Pemberton? Steed's at the hospital.
I don't like it.
Voss was right.
Deal with him.
Raven? What happened last night? You called me.
Why? Take it away.
Please, please, please! Take it away.
No, no, no! - A spider? - Raven went berserk when he saw it.
- Arachnophobia? So that's the trouble.
- Eh? A dread of spiders.
There are hundreds of repressed fears and phobias but without a complete history, difficult to diagnose.
Even the patient might be unaware of it.
There's a fear of mice, isn't there? - Pretty common.
- And speed? I've known cases.
And the more usual, like being shut in: claustrophobia, Fear of open spaces: agoraphobia.
But with a fear like that, how would a man react if he woke up in a vast open space, say Wembley Stadium.
It'd be like removing a foundation.
He'd crack, disintegrate.
- I rang for Gilbert.
- He hasn't reported back.
He's always punctual.
I'm well acquainted with Gilbert's virtues.
This woman Steed mentioned, Mrs Peel.
She may supply the answer.
What a strange set of questions for market research.
They're extremely revealing, I assure you.
I was sure I'd be asked what kind of detergent I used.
There, I think that's it.
Any more questions? - Just one.
- Yes? You won't be troublesome, will you? - So travel's your business? - Well, it's so broadening.
- Your main competitor is John Steed? - I have no competitors.
But you and Steed are in the same line of business? I suppose you could say that.
But it has nothing to do with travel, has it? Are you asking me or telling me? I'm showing you.
That chair, it's an advanced form of lie detector.
Records the slightest variations of pulse, respiration, blood pressure I know, it goes around and around and it all comes out there.
We are not playing, Mrs Peel.
The stakes are too high.
Now, how much does Steed know? Well, I'd say he had a pretty high IQ.
Questionnaire.
- Hm.
Some interesting answers.
- Eight out of ten? Eight and a half? - Nine? - I'd rate you much higher than that.
But we don't tout for accuracy.
What we sell are hidden truths.
Our territory is the mind.
Our merchandise is fear.
The inner fabric of us all, Mrs Peel.
The dark balloon we try to hide.
Prick it and well, you'll see.
- What's this? - What it says.
She has a high fear index.
We'll need to probe further.
There isn't time.
You're extremely well adjusted, Mrs Peel.
- And just look where it's got me.
- Remarkable.
- A woman without fear.
- Oh, I have my fears.
Don't you? - But I've learned to live with them.
- All of them, Mrs Peel? The universal fear, the ultimate in horror? Pain, Mrs Peel.
Pain.
Pemberton.
Forever an open house.
I rarely see clients without an appointment, but you're privileged, Mr Steed.
- So I see.
- Over there.
And, er You see, Mrs Peel, fear of death makes a man obey.
His very presence here demonstrates his fear for you.
And you, Pemberton? What about you? The fear of discovery, perhaps.
That's one that need no longer concern me.
Maybe you have another pet fear.
Let's have a guess, shall we? Doctor! Emergency lighting! Thought so.
Afraid of the dark, eh? No, no! Save me! No! May I offer you a light? No! How very obliging of you, Mr Steed.
Steed! No need to shout, Mrs Peel.
You didn't think I'd get here in time, did you? The thought never entered my head.
- Never, Mrs Peel? - Never, Mr Steed.
Don't move.
Ah.
Ah.
Completely safe.
Lights on.
Curtains drawn against the the birds.
No spiders.
Not a mouse in sight.
You're not afraid of mice? Chocolates.
You're not frightened of chocolates, surely? - They really are chocolates.
- Naturally, for services rendered.
Now, where do we keep the champagne? I've run out.
- Not a drop in the place.
- What? Now, that really frightened you, didn't it? Ah.