• title card: white all caps text reading ‘TWO’S A CROWD’ outlined in black and superimposed on the wet message bomb
  • Webster (Steed) hams it up for the audience as a blond bikini model looks on behind him
  • Psev’s monitor screen shows Steed being greeted by two generals at the conference
  • Ivenko pins a riduclously large buttoniere to Webster’s lapel
  • Mrs. Peel leans against the fireplace, her wrists bound with cloth tape
  • Steed takes aim at the imcoming model aeroplane with his revolver
  • Steed frantically tries to find the frequency of the model bomber while Emma watches the incoming toy aircraft
  • Steed, dismounted next to his grey, meets Mrs. Peel riding a chestnut mare

Series 4 — Episode 12
Two’s a Crowd

by Philip Levene
Directed by Roy Baker

Production No E.64.10.11
Production completed: May 28 1965. First transmission: December 14 1965.

TV Times summary

In which Steed is single-minded — and Emma sees double …

Plot summary

Steed learns that the entourage of the shadowy Colonel Psev has arrived in Britain but he has to attend a security conference and wants Emma to investigate. Psev wants to infiltrate the conference and the ambassador, Brodny, is amazed when he sees a dead ringer for Steed at a fashion show, a model called Webster. Webster is bribed to betray his country but they want a test run against Mrs. Peel first. She’s a bit suspicious so they tie her up, the evil Webster toasting her health then smashing his glass, Russian style, in the fireplace beside her.
Webster has apparently succeeded but insists on only giving the film to Psev himself, and the entourage reveal they are ALL Psev, whose name is simply their initials. At this point they discover that Webster is a phoney, and was in fact Steed all along. Steed and Emma escape but have to divert Psev’s model bomber back on the enemy spies when they’re attacked. The Avengers meet later on horseback, but Emma claims she’s someone else…

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Ambassador Brodny (Warren Mitchell) is enjoying a couple of glasses of punch on the balcony of his country’s embassy when he hears the whir of an approaching aeroplane, which has crossed the skies of London bearing a bomb beneath its fuselage. The plane drops into a dive and he looks for cover when he hears the tell-tale change in the pitch of the engine. The bomb is released — and falls with a mild splash into the puncheon bowl.1 He fishes out the tiny plastic bomb and finds a note attached:


Act 1

Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) drops by to see John Steed (Patrick Macnee) and finds him apparently unconscious on his Knole sofa. A man in a trench coat enters quietly and taps her on the shoulder — she whirls round and attacks him, easily getting the upper hand — then steps on his hands! Steed “wakes” — he was pretending all the time — and tells the man, Major Carson (Eric Lander), he owes him £5:

STEED: I told you… Mrs. Peel has all the qualifications for the job.
EMMA: What job?2
STEED: The Major’s from the Department, assigned to me till after the conference.

Steed explains that Carson is his bodyguard; Steed will be representing Security at an upcoming Defence Chiefs conference. The department has learned that the entourage of a top enemy spy, the mysterious Colonel Psev, has arrived in the country but no British agent has ever seen Psev. She’s shown photos of the entourage — Elena (Maria Machado), Vogel (Julian Glover), Shvedloff (Alec Mango) and Pudeshkin (Wolfe Morris) — and told Psev likes luxuries: Crème de Violettes, Jamaican torpedo no.3 cigars, smart suits and model planes.

Accordingly, Emma’s set to work in a model shop and is visited by an embassy underling called Sergei Ivenko (John Bluthal), who wants to buy a radio controlled Lancaster bomber model “with all the accessories”. Steed is hiding behind the shelves and whisper that Ivenko’s appreance confirms that Psev is in the country.

At the Embassy, Brodny tries to deliver the model to Psev personally but Psev’s staff intervene and Vogel slaps him across the face for buying a small box of Torpedo number 2 cigars, instead of Torpedo number 3s in boxes of a hundred. They then query Brodny about the upcoming conference.

BRODNY: But the Conference room is impregnable.
PUDESHKIN: Who is this ‘John Steed’?
BRODY: Umm, Security, but incorruptible. I know him personally… I am having him watched but —
SHVEDLOFF: Brodny, you know the purpose of this conference is to plan the basis of supplies of the Polaris submarines?
PUDESHKIN: The Colonel intends to obtain this information.
BRODNY: Well I hope he does… but I’m sorry I… fear he may return home empty handed.
VOGEL: If he does, Brodny, you will be coming with us…

Brodny is sent away to get Psev’s cigars and liqueur and Steed catches up to him in a bar, desperately searching for the elusive Crème de Violettes.3 He teases him with hints of returning to the Motherland4 before giving him a bottle of the rare liqueur — and tricks him into revealing that Colonel Psev is at the Embassy.

Brodny rushes back with the liqueur to the Embassy, where he is brushed off and sent to a fashion show with Ivenko. Ivenko nudges a slumbering Brodny awake5 and Brodny is astonished to see the sleazy model on stage, Gordon Webster, is a dead-ringer for Steed. Brodny rushes to the phone and calls Steed; he smiles and hangs up when he hears Steed’s voice on the phone…

Brodny reports back to Psev’s entourage, Ivenko confirming the information. Brodny has checked up on Webster:

BRODNY: Yes… his name is Webster — Gordon Webster. He’s an actor by profession and an opportunist by nature. He drinks — he gambles — he …
BRODY (cont.): womanises.
SHVEDLOFF: He is corruptible. We get the point.
BRODNY: Yes but comrades, don’t you see? This is a magnificent opportunity to infiltrate the Conference room. Now, I think —
ELENA: (INTERRUPTING) Colonel Psev will do the thinking!

Vogel enters and tells them the plan is excellent — Brodny is to remove the agent watching Steed’s apartment so no suspicions are raised, and place a bugged umbrella in Steed’s apartment.

Brodny switches the umbrella for Steed’s when he delivers a gift of brandy in return for the liqueur. When he returns, Vogel orders the television be turned on and they watch Steed greet some generals at the conference — and as they watch, Webster saunters in.

Act 2

The spies are pleased with Webster’s resemblance to Steed and ply him with drink and cigars, Pudeshkin inadvertently letting Psev’s name slip. Webster says he’s in over his head, especially when Vogel reveals they know his murky past, being cashiered out of the RAF.

Ivenko breaks one of the model planes when he lights Webster’s cigar and is sent from the room in disgrace — at the door he overhears Shvedloff suggesting he be sent home. Meanwhile the spies offer Webster cash to work for them, but he turns down the initial two wads of cash.6

Ivenko orders a new model and Mrs. Peel offers to deliver the replacement herself. Meanwhile, Webster agrees to eliminate and impersonate Steed, for a very hefty fee, and is pleased to discover the luscious Mrs. Peel is a ‘close friend’ of his target.

WEBSTER: I’ve got to get his mannerisms, er, the voice.
ELENA: You’ll also need to study this.
ELENA: She’s a close friend of Steed’s.
WEBSTER: Lucky Steed!

Their bug picks up Steed’s phone ringing and the spies and Webster listen in on him reporting to Security. Webster makes a reasonable impersonation, slipping backing into his own voice occasionally, but Elena is impressed.

Mrs. Peel arrives at the Embassy to deliver the model but insists on £2 before handing it over7 — she takes the opportunity while Ivenko is getting the money to look around and sees Webster through a doorway.

She visits Steed, who declares he hasn’t been near the embassy, and has been working on an enormous model of a tall ship with Carson.

EMMA: Then the man I saw was a twin … an absolute double!
STEED (DISTORT): Oh, come now Mrs. Peel, if I had a twin I’m sure Mother would have mentioned it.8
PUDESHKIN: If he believes her we’re done for!
EMMA: But you have a double … and if I am right, Psev could be planning a swap to get him into the Conference.
STEED: How could he do that with my watchdog here? Anyway, if I had a double you’d notice it in thirty seconds. People may look alike, but they don’t behave alike. So what are we worrying about?

Back at the embassy, Brodny has Webster attired like Steed but is less convinced as to his panache than the others. Vogel proposes an acid test — he will stand in for Steed at a cocktail party and if Mrs. Peel accepts him, he’s in.

WEBSTER: There’s just one point old sport … supposing Mrs. Peel rumbles the fact that there are two Steeds?
VOGEL: Then there will be one less Mrs. Peel.

Next day, Elena calls Steed, using a codeword to divert him from the Embassy party to report to HQ. Carson stays behind9 and Steed drops Mrs. Peel off at the Embassy for the cocktail party. Brodny is dismayed when they arrive together, but Steed drives off and she enters the party alone. She greets Brodny inside then mingles with the other guests when he is called away to make sure Webster is ready.

Ivenko pins a massive foiled carnation with leaves to his lapel and Brodny is shocked a moment later when he sees Webster wearing it while chatting to Mrs. Peel. Mrs. Peel immediately spots the flower and senses something is wrong so she tests Webster by asking, “Will Fido will be alright for Saturday?” Before he can reply, Brodny whisks Webster away and Elena strips the buttonhole back to just the flower.10 Webster asks who “Fido” is — Mrs. Peel just asked him — and Brodny tells him it’s a vintage car.

He returns and Mrs. Peel is polite but has noticed the change in the carnation she goes to ring Steed’s apartment, but the line cuts out when she calls. Webster enters behind her and pulls the pistol he’s been given; he explains to the spies that she spotted him. Vogel advocates keeping her hostage instead of killing her.

Later, Brodny gives a dismayed Ivenko his ticket home and bids him goodbye with a kiss on each cheek. Ivenko checks Brodny’s desk and finds his file marked “FOR ELIMINATION”. He rings Steed and asks for protection — he can tell him who Psev is. They agree to meet at the lake in the embassy grounds in half an hour.

But he has been overheard: A shadowy figure11 steps from behind a curtain then watches him through the window with binoculars. The man operates a remote controlled submarine model, which surfaces and shoots Ivenko before he can reach Steed.

Act 3

The next day,12 Mrs. Peel is dragged into the control room, her hands tied, and then the guards leave. She’s surprised when Steed climbs in the window and asks her if she’s all right. She tells him about the double as he searches for a knife to cut her bonds. He asks her how she spotted the fake then some of the spies enter — they are pleased she thought Webster was Steed in this second rehearsal. Webster is shown a map of London marking his route and given the key to Steed’s apartment and a gun.

BRODNY: Well wouldn’t it be wise for someone in authority to accompany Webster?
BRODNY: Oh, my dear fellow, don’t think that I don’t have immense faith in you. Immense. It’s just that, ha, ha, I don’t trust you. (LAUGHS).
VOGEL: I think it is an excellent suggestion, Ambassador.

Brodny realises too late that he has talked himself into having to do this dangerous assignment when Vogel turns his beady gaze upon him.

BRODNY: No, I would be no good at all. You see I’m slow witted. Yes, yes, my mother always said to me … Sergei душенька,13 she said, you are “slow witted” … and as for tact and initiative…

Webster gloats over Mrs. Peel, knowing he fooled her and has a celebratory drink, smashing the glass in the fireplace next to her, Russian style.

Brodny calls when they reach Steed’s apartment and they tune in to the bug — they hear Carson shout in surprise, then two gunshots. Vogel paces the room anxiously until they have confirmation of success.

Webster arrives at the conference, seen on Vogel’s live TV coverage, just as Mrs. Peel retrieves the broken glass from the fireplace; she starts to cut her bonds as Webster is granted entry.

An hour later, Webster emerges at the end of the conference — the plan has worked. Webster returns with Brodny and Vogel lets him — but not Brodny — in to see them.

Mrs. Peel, now free, snatches a gun from a guard and hold them all at gunpoint, demanding they hand over the camera. Webster wrestles the gun from her grasp and she surrenders the tie pin camera to Vogel. Vogel gasps — there’s no film in it!

Webster says he will only hand the film to “Colonel Bogey there” — meaning Psev, and directs them to the inner sanctum with the revolver. There’s no-one inside and Vogel proudly tells him they are all Psev — the name comes from their initials — Pudeshkin-Shvedloff-Elena-Vogel. Webster hands over the film then quietly backs out of the room with Mrs. Peel. The first picture is not of the conference at all, Steed has tricked them and it simple reads:


The four Psev spies prepare the model planes for an attack as Steed and Mrs. Peel run out into the grounds of the embassy. Steed’s surprised when Mrs. Peel whips a tree branch back in his face and grabs his gun — she still thinks he’s a fake.

EMMA: Pity. All right, on your feet Mr. Webster.
STEED: Steed.
EMMA: Oh no, I KNOW Steed.

He tries to prove he’s really Steed — he and Carson guessed who Psev was from their initials and set out to prove it; in fact Webster never existed and even the conference was faked.

Mrs. Peel doesn’t believe him until the Hawker Hurricane model does a strafing run, trying to shoot them, and they run for cover. Steed shoots down the model aeroplane that has been sent to attack them but a bomber is then launched and he’s out of ammunition. Steed opens the case he’s been carrying — it’s a short wave radio — and he tries to reach the Major for help but Carson’s frequency is the same as that of the bomber.

EMMA: It’s the radio control. We’re getting their frequency.
STEED: Well, if we’re getting theirs … that plane could get ours … Watch it.
EMMA: Hold that frequency, it works.

Steed sends the bomber back at Psev and the bomb falls on the embassy.


Steed is riding14 in the embassy grounds when he meets Mrs. Peel, also on horseback.15 He greets her but she haughtily replies, “I’m afraid you’re making a mistake, my name isn’t Peel. So sorry.”, then rides off. A short distance away she stops and calls to him, he canters over and they ride off together.

  1. Setting the scene for the rest of the episode, as Warren Mitchell puts in a tour de force comic turn as the hapless Brodny.
  2. Mrs. Peel has learned to be wary of Steed’s generous offers and now expects him to happily sign her life away for investigations without a twinge of remorse.
  3. I know how he feels, I tried to buy a bottle recently and it was harder than expected! Having said that, get yourself one and mix an “Aviation” cocktail, they are sublime.
  4. They never say Brodny is from Russia but all the “Motherland”, “Comrade” and Vodka stuff is a complete giveaway. Philip Levene’s original script did say Russia but Brian Tesler asked that it be changed so as not to cause a diplomatic incident.
  5. Is Ivenko in the pay of British Intelligence? Later events in the episode would suggest so, as he desperately nudges Brodny awake to make sure he sees Webster.
  6. I assume each bundle of notes is £1,000 and Shvedloff takes five of them from the safe, Webster turns down one, then two bundles. He finally accepts ten bundles, which Vogel says is only a deposit. If we assume a 50% deposit, Webster stood to make £20,000 — the equivalent of £324,000 in 2023; a 10% deposit would be £1,000,000 so £16.2 million in 2023.
  7. Mrs. Peel shows some familiarity with the Russian language, saying “Простите” (excuse me) as she is allowed in by Ivenko.
  8. A possible first mention of Steed’s department head, Mother, or just flippancy on Steed’s part?
  9. When she’s leaving, Mrs. Peel tells Major Carson to feel free to take off his raincoat and is surprised when Steed exclaims, “He can’t do that!” — a joke about the cliché of secret service men always wearing mackintoshes.
  10. Brodny reprimands Ivenko for the flower and remarks, “You fool, why don’t you put a stick of celery in there as well?” — is this where Peter Davidson, as the Fifth Doctor Who, got his stick of celery on his lapel?
    Patrick Macnee, meanwhile, takes the chance to look Maria Machado up and down in every scene they’re in together, he can’t keep his eyes off her.
  11. I think they meant this to be a trick that it’s the mysterious Colonel Psev finally playing a part but it’s fairly obvious that it’s Vogel.
  12. Vogel says, "It was such a bad rehearsal yesterday. The Colonel requested a final one."
  13. душенька means "Darling, sweetheart, dear" in Russian.
  14. The same grey horse, previously ridden by Laurence Olivier in Henry V, he rode in Silent Dust.
  15. It’s a stunt double for the long shots for Diana, she hadn’t learnt to ride yet.

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