• title card: white all caps text reading ‘ROOM WITHOUT A VIEW’ outlined in black and superimposed on a close-up of a Chinese disc wind chime
  • Mrs. Peel fights the laundryman who has helped abduct Dr. Wadkin
  • Pasold collapses as he tries to turn off the gas pouring from the radiator
  • Over the shoulder view of the guard stroking Mrs. Peel’s neck menacingly with his riding crop as she looks up at him from the straw floor
  • Steed remarks that Chessman’s business is booming as they regard the huge world map on the wall
  • Steed, in his white waiter’s uniform, encounters the gas-mask wearing guard hiding in the wardrobe or room 621
  • Steed turns to look towards us — and the oncoming guards, as he is unlocking Emma’s cell door; she peers through the grilled window
  • Steed conveys Emma away in a rickshaw (or at least, their stunt doubles do)

Series 4 — Episode 15
Room Without a View

by Roger Marshall
Directed by Roy Baker

Production No E.64.10.9
Production completed: April 29 1965. First transmission: January 4 1966.

TV Times summary

In which Steed becomes a gourmet — and Emma wakes up in Manchuria …

Plot summary

A missing scientist called Wadkin suddenly turn up at his home and attacks his Chinese wife. He seems to have been in a Manchurian prison camp and is barely able to remember anything except the number 621. He is abducted again by Chinese Laundry men before he can be questioned further.
His old colleague Dr. Cullen says Wadkin is a traitor but then he also vanishes in the night from his hotel, so Mrs. Peel gets a job as a receptionist and Steed poses as M. Gourmet to infiltrate the hotel, run by the crass Max Chessman. Mrs. Peel is captured after she finds a body in the laundry, then Steed and Varnals interrupt a meeting between a Russian agent and the hotelier. They rescue Mrs. Peel and the missing scientists from the replica prison camp inside the hotel, behind the fake Room 621.
Steed transports Mrs. Peel away in a rickshaw.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Prologue

A gnarled hand grips the curtain then passes over the chinoiserie decorating the room. It stops at the photo of a pretty Chinese woman. The man removes it from its frame then crumples it. Hearing voices, he hides in the curtains then Anna Wadkin (Jeanne Roland) enters with some friends. Grace comments on the wind chimes and Anna goes to close the French doors to stop the breeze. She finds the photo then gasps, “John!” when she sees the man, who then attacks her. Her friends leap to her aid and she tearfully confesses that the man is her husband, Dr. John Wadkin (Peter Madden).

Act 1

Driving down to the house, John Steed (Patrick Macnee) informs Emma Peel (Diana Rigg)l that Wadkin is a physicist who went missing two years ago and hopes he can give them a lead on seven other physicists who also disappeared in the last year or so.

Varnals (Peter Jeffrey), a green, young Ministry eager-beaver who has been assigned the case, predictably objects to Mrs. Peel’s presence but Steed brushes him off. They learn that Wadkin is speaking but reveals littles as he now has the mind of a cabbage.

STEED: Well, we’d better go in and see him.
VARNALS: This way, please.
(TURNS TO MRS. PEEL) Oh perhaps I should warn you, it’s not a pretty sight.
STEED: Oh … well … if it worries you, you stay outside. After you, Mrs. Peel.

They are led in to see him and Varnals tells them that, based on the official department charts, Wadkin has been brainwashed for an extended period at a prison camp in Northern Manchuria,1 probably one called Nee San. Steed recalls some of the features of Nee San2 — including that no matter what the time the clocks always strike three — and sets the clock to chime. Wadkin immediately intones, “Three o’clock, three o’clock”.

Mrs. Wadkin offers them tea and tells them she dropped her husband at the station the day he disappeared; he later phoned from the hotel to say the room was comfortable — and moments later, it appears, he checked out and disappeared for two years. She admits she was born in Peking but ducks a question3 about her parents still living in China and goes to fetch some food.

VARNALS: Are you off, Steed?
STEED: Yes, I am. But Mrs Peel is staying on for a while. I’ve searched her for deadly weapons. An old colleague of Wadkins is coming here very soon. I’d like them to meet, it might produce a spark. I’ll leave you to it!

Dr. Cullen (Richard Bebb) arrives and brusquely — and briefly — tries to make Wadkin recover his memory but all the victim can recall is the number 621. Cullen declares him a traitor who will receive no more help from him — three weeks after Wadkin’s disappearance their research became common knowledge.

Anna comes back in with some coffee and she and Emma, haring a noise outside, see some men putting a hamper in a laundry truck and Anna wonders what they’re doing. They hear a crash from the next room and Mrs. Peel rushes in, finding Wadkin gone and Varnals on the floor with a pistol being pointed at him by a laundryman (Romo Gorrara).4 She attacks the intruder but he gets away when Varnals grabs her foot by mistake.

Mrs. Peel is searching for clues when Leonard Pasold (Peter Arne) arrogantly strides in, looking for Dr. Cullen. He tells Mrs. Peel to tell… no, ask … Cullen to call him — on a matter of life or death.

Steed has never heard of Pasold but, hearing what he was doing, orders Varnals to keep an eye on Dr. Cullen that night — he’s checking into the Chessman hotel in London at 8pm.

That night, Dr. Cullen is personally welcomed to the hotel by the Maître d’hôtel, Carter (Philip Latham), and Steed hears him say they’ve put him in Room 621.

Pasold and Varnals are also watching in the lobby, Pasold leaving as soon as he hears the room number, while Varnals remains, ridiculously hidden by a newspaper right up against his face, which makes Steed shake his head in disbelief.

After Carter leaves Cullen in his room, Pasold emerges from behind the shower curtain saying, “Dr. Cullen? I’ve waited a long time for this”.5

The next morning, Steed notes that Cullen hasn’t come down for breakfast, the waiter claims he had it in his room. Steed rings his room — then hangs up when he hears the receptionist call the porter to take Dr. Cullen’s bag. He turns and sees the man checking out is an impostor.

Act 2

Steed investigates Room 621 but finds nothing amiss, so catches up with a sleepy Varnals who has been up all night, watching Cullen. He runs through Cullen’s movements up until he disappeared after collecting the morning paper.6 Varnals tells Steed about a coincidence he discovered — Wadkin stayed at the same hotel the night he disappeared! Steed decides to work on Mrs. Peel…

EMMA: I absolutely refuse to do it… I refuse to do it!
STEED: It’ll grow on you.
EMMA: I dislike the idea of working in a hotel.
STEED: Then it will be a new, fascinating experience.
EMMA: (SUCKS ON STRAW) I’ve had my fill of new, fascinating experiences.

Steed tells her the undercover job on the reception desk has already been fixed and while they’re talking she sees Pasold arrive — he’s arguing with the receptionist and says he has an appointment with Cullen. Carter arrives and confides that Cullen had a ‘small scene’ with a young lady in his room and was asked to leave. Steed overhears and doesn’t believe a word of it.

Steed joins Pasold after lunch, posing as an agent for another chemical company, annoyed that Pasold beat him to Cullen by a day and adds he was “kidnapped right under my nose”.

When Pasold excuses himself, Steed realises Pasold doesn’t have Cullen. Carter has seen them talking and is suspicious of Steed, who covers admirably by claiming to be the world’s leading hotel critic, M. Gourmet.

Pasold meanwhile is making a phone calls and learns that Dr. Cullen has not returned to his office or house so he investigates Room 621. He’s horrified when he opens the curtains to discover a metal shutter across the window and turns to find another one has sealed the door. Gas starts pouring from the radiator…

Dr. Cullen meanwhile wakes to find himself in a bare cell, the sounds of the prison yard and fog horns on the river filtering in the high, narrow window. He’s still clutching a chess piece in his hand as he hears marching feet then the sounds of a firing squad executing a prisoner outside his cell.

Panic stricken, Cullen thumps on the cell door, begging to be let out, then hears Wadkin say “It’s no good” in the next cell and speaks to him through the ventilator — Wadkin knows nothing and is unsure what year it is. The clock chimes three and a guard (Anthony Chinn) enters, brandishing a riding crop.

Upstairs in the penthouse, the overweight hotelier Max Chessman (Paul Whitsun-Jones) examines the day’s menu with Carter and his head waiter — he finds the soup has too much salt but, after Carter samples it for him, declares the Red Grouse ambrosia — then throws it in the bin.7

The waiter then serves Chessman’s own lunch — a banana and a large round pill with a glass of Evian mineral water. After checking his weight, Chessman sighs and foregoes the banana. Carter tells him M. Gourmet is a guest at the hotel and Chessman orders him to invite Steed to dine with him that evening.

After passing the invitation to Steed, Carter hands some letters to Mrs. Peel at reception and Steed sidles over after he leaves. He asks her to find out if Wadkin was also in Room 621, which will require her to find the old register. Steed is taken upstairs and shown in to meet Max Chessman, who gushes over his guest.

CHESSMAN: My dear fellow, I’ve waited a long time for this.
STEED: I was not aware you are a disciple.
CHESSMAN: I’ve read every word you’ve written. I’ve often tried to picture you … young, old, thin, fat. I’d have bet you were French.
STEED: Gallic only in matters of taste.

Steed complains about the malossol caviar at lunch, saying the Normandy butter was salted, and is then made “to work for his supper” — Chessman wishes to test his palate. Steed notes that the room is very warm and Chessman explains he has to keep it at 80°F8 due to his thin blood.

Downstairs, Carter notices Mrs. Peel looking through the 1963 register, which she explains away by saying a regular guest wished to book his usual suite and she was looking up which it was. They’re interrupted by a crash — two Chinese laundrymen (Anthony Chinn and Michael Chow) are dragging a wicker hamper across the foyer. Carter orders them to the trade entrance but Emma recognises the firm is the same as that which recaptured Wadkin.

Steed meanwhile manages to slip Wadkin into his conversation with Chessman, suggesting he had quite a story to tell after his two year disappearance.

Back downstairs, Mrs. Peel manages to sneak away and investigate the laundry room. A laundry hamper slides down the chute beside her and the lid flips open, revealing Pasold’s dead body inside.

Act 3

Upon returning to reception Mrs. Peel is dismayed to be ordered by Carter to prepare Room 621 for a special guest, she senses a trap. Unfortunately for her, Steed and Varnals are talking in the florists and they don’t see Mrs. Peel being led away.

Steed has noticed a Russian9 chess grand master and spy, Pushkin (Vernon Dobtcheff), in the bar and suggests Chessman is offering the East something big in exchange for being allowed to build hotels on the Black Sea coast. Varnals suddenly notices the change of receptionist and the new girl tells Steed Mrs. Peel’s gone to Room 621.

Mrs. Peel is gassed in the same manner as Pasold and taken away by one of the laundrymen. By the time Steed reaches Room 621 everything is normal and he finds the room empty and innocent. Steed decides they need to act on Chessman despite Varnals’ protests and when he sees Pushkin being summoned by a waiter he suggests they head for the service lift.

Carter tells Chessman that Cullen cracked like an old stick9 but he will have to dispose of Mrs. Peel, Chessman is squeamish and just wants to be told when it is done. They plan the refreshments for the meeting and Chessman gloats about his prospects.

CHESSMAN: The first luxury hotel on the Black Sea. Then cross East. Napoleon couldn’t do it. But I will!

Pushkin joins Chessman for dinner and Steed and Varnals ambush two waiters to steal their uniforms.

Meanwhile, the guard with the crop sadistically threatens Mrs. Peel and questions her actions in the laundry and with the register.

GUARD: You under-estimate me, Mrs Peel. We’ve never had a woman in this camp before. Never. You will tell us everything … in a little while.

Chessman demands £50,000 from Pushkin and permission to build his hotel in return for access to the scientists he’s captured which the Russians10 can interrogate at their leisure. Pushkin mentions Wadkin’s escape which Chessman dismisses as a security lapse which they have corrected.

Varnals and Steed enter in the guise of waiters and take charge, Chessman wilting as Steed turns down the heating and revealing that Mrs. Peel is in Room 621 on the seventh floor.

Steed enters the room and easily disposes of the guard wearing a gas mask,11 then enters the secret rooms which are a facsimile of a Chinese prison camp. He attacks the guard playing tapes of sound effects and takes his keys then checks the cells until he finds Mrs. Peel.

STEED: You rang, madam?
EMMA: Yes. I want to change my room. There’s a honeymoon couple next door.

Another guard appears as he tries the lock and the other gets back to his feet. The two guards attack Steed with bayonets and he fends them off while Mrs. Peel tries the keys until she unlocks her cells and then she joins him in defeating the guards.

Epilogue

Mrs. Peel, under her parasol, tells Steed to steady on, it’s a thirty mile per hour limit, as he transports her away in a rickshaw.


  1. Steed makes no secret of his disapproval of Varnals’ inexperience and by-the-book learning and application. Varnals uses long-winded language to describe the conditioning and puts great credence in the official charts, even though the conclusion seems highly unlikely.
  2. Steed’s recollection seems to indicate he was held captive at Nee San himself at some point:
    Rice husks, gruel, shavings of bad pork and water. Brackish water tasting of dust. Some friendly sort of place, Nee San. You have nothing to do all day but lie in a cell listening to the world go by … marching feet, fog-horns on the ships going up river, and the chiming of the clock. And there’s no sense of time because whatever the hour in Nee San, the clock always strikes three.
    Varnals, being an office man, is quite shaken by realising Steed had been at Nee San. It’s mentioned in Man with Two Shadows that Steed had been caught behind the Iron Curtain as well.
  3. Roger Marshall puts this play on words in his script and Patrick Macnee delivers the line straight without the faintest smirk.
    Still Peking though, and she ducked the question about her family
  4. As with Terry Plummer later on, Romo is wearing hideous yellow-face make-up to make him look like a caricature of a Chinese villain. I can only assume they did this because Romo and Terry are the stunt stand-ins for Michael Chow and Anthony Chinn.
  5. Thereby deepening Pasold’s rôle as red herring.
    • Varnals records the following:
    • 11.04pm — Lights out
    • 7.45am — Opens his curtains
    • 8.25am — Came down to foyer, bought a paper and returned to his room.
  6. You could tell this scene was going to be comic relief as it starts with a lilting harpsicord theme.
  7. 26.7°C.
  8. Ironic, as he earlier complained about Wadkin revealing everything he knew in only three weeks.
  9. As usual, Russia is not actually named but the inference is clear.
  10. Steed disposes of the guard by compressing the air hose of his gas mask to deprive him of air and knock him out, much as he himself was knocked out in Castle De’Ath. Would that even work? Surely pulling the mask aside would have stopped that working.

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