• title card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading ‘THE FEAR MERCHANTS’ superimposed on a close-up of Meadows lying face-down on the turf in fear
  • subtitle card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading ‘STEED PUTS OUT A LIGHT
			EMMA TAKES FRIGHT’ superimposed on a close-up of Meadows lying face-down on the turf in fear
  • Youtube video showing Emma entering her flat wearing a pale lavender sun dress. She sees a box of chocolates has been left inside the cavity of her sculpture but opening it reveals nothing but Steed’s signature summons card which reads ‘Mrs. Peel WE’RE NEEDED!’
  • Mrs. Peel, in a purple catsuit, lies on top of a concrete block sculpture she is working on and chips away at it with a chisel and hammer, somewhat disconcerting Steed who is standing next to it, talking to her
  • White is on the floor, cowering behind a tipped-over bird cage as he’s terrorised by his avian assailant
  • The austere BEB boardroom — all black and white. Pemberton sits at the end of the glossy black table, flanked by Dr. Voss and Gilbert, who stand either side of him; all three wear sunglasses
  • Steed dives at Gilbert from behind, having evaded his trap in the gravel pit, while the bulldozer looms ominously over them
  • Dr. Voss pulls on a surgical glove as she prepares to subject Mrs. Peel to the base fear — pain
  • Youtube video showing Mrs. Peel discovering another box of chocolates, this time full and she discovers Steed’s greatest fear — a lack of champagne!

Series 5 — Episode 2
The Fear Merchants

by Philip Levene
Directed by Gordon Flemyng

Steed puts out a light
Emma takes fright

Production No E.66.6.1
Production completed: October 1 1966. First transmission: January 16 1967.

TV Times summary

In which Steed puts out a light — and Emma takes fright …

Plot summary

A man awakes in the middle of Wembley stadium and goes mad, but he’s not the only one.
Emma receives a box of chocolates - but it’s empty except for a card from Steed declaring they’re needed.
All of Jeremy Raven’s business rivals are going mad or dying, through one fear or another. The Business Efficiency Bureau have a motto: “our merchandise is fear” - they discover people’s fears and frighten them to death. Steed, determined to get to the bottom of their plot, enrols as a client and Mrs. Peel becomes his business rival. The Avengers close down the B.E.B. by discovering the evildoers are afraid of the dark.
Mrs. Peel discovers that Steed is afraid she may have run out of champagne.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Middle-aged businessman Richard Meadows (Edward Burnham) wakes up, dressed in pyjamas and a dressing gown, in the middle of Wembley stadium and the shock of his agoraphobia drives him insane, a menacing figure wearing kid gloves watching from the stands.
John Steed (Patrick Macnee) summons Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) to help him investigate with a box of chocolates - the chocolates replaced with one of his Mrs. Peel - we’re needed! cards. At the hospital, she’s shown Meadows and told he went to bed in Birmingham, 113 miles away, and ran English Earthenware plc - which won’t run without him. He’s not the first either, and Steed shows her John Tyler, found on a mountain in his pyjamas and dressing gown, and David Wallace, found on a raft in the Channel in a dinner jacket and cummerbund.

Meanwhile, fit young industrialist Martin Fox (Bernard Horsfall) is working out at a London gym while hefty Saunders (Declan Mulholland) flings his barbell about in the background. He goes to change, and is incapacitated by the shock of finding a mouse in his clothes... The Avengers investigate and realise all the businessmen were in the ceramics trade - Fox heading Fox, White and Crawley. Steed visits Crawley (Andrew Keir), who is rattled by Fox’s attack, and a ‘pointless’ visit by a market research firm, the “Business Efficiency Bureau”. He dashes off to try to find a replacement for Fox and the sinister Gordon White (Jeremy Burnham), the third director, enters - there’s trouble at the kiln and nobody has Fox’s knowledge of it. Steed sees Crawley off then notices his chauffeur, knocked out in the garage. He gives chase but the Rolls has already disappeared, the kid glove wearing driver ignoring Crawley’s fear of speed and accelerating until the man passes out from shock...

Steed and Emma investigate and find an offer to merge the companies of all the victims from a Jeremy Raven. Mrs. Peel goes to search Crawley’s office for his response, and overhears White filling in a survey for a kid glove wearing market researcher, who disappears abruptly after Mrs. Peel makes a noise. He returns to the BEB with White’s questionnaire and is revealed as Gilbert (Garfield Morgan) when he gives the form to Pemberton (Patrick Cargill), president of the BEB. Pemberton congratulates Gilbert and Dr. Voss (Annette Carell) on their ‘treatment’ for Crawley.
Mrs. Peel tells Steed there was no response at all, so Steed visits Jeremy Raven (Brian Wilde) under the guise of the Monopolies Commission. Raven proves to be a young eccentric with new economics in his head, who tells him his merger proposal was rejected by every party and what matters it if his competitors have fallen by the wayside?

Dr. Voss finds White’s weakness - a fear of birds - and Gilbert is dispatched with a hawk in a cage. White is scared out of his top storey window by it just before Mrs. Peel arrives and Gilbert makes his getaway by tipping a display case on her. Steed revisits Raven and learns he called in the BEB to improve his results and eliminate his competitors. Steed tells him they’ve done that all right - 6 are insane and the other dead. Raven angrily visits the BEB but is blackmailed into continuing to pay them part of his profits. The lie detector in his chair has revealed he means to spill the beans though, so they plot to drive Raven insane as well - Dr. Voss has already run the computer analysis and Gilber puts a thick wooden box containing a large spider on the table... Raven calls Steed to meet him, but when they arrive he’s already been driven witless, a BEB brochure on the floor.

Steed arranges an appointment, claiming to be in the executive travel business, Mrs. Peel his only competitor - who is visiting Raven at the hospital, where Dr. Hill (Ruth Trouncer) says he’s improving, but only for short periods. The BEB discover Steed lied to every question and Gilbert, following him to the hospital, is told to eliminate him. Steed discovers Raven’s arachnophobia but on the way home is waylaid by Gilbert, who tries to bury him with a bulldozer. They fight and Gilbert is killed when the bulldozer rolls into the pit they’re in.
Dr. Voss brings Mrs. Peel in at gun point and they interrogate her - to no avail, as she refuses to crack. Steed finds a BEB card with help! scrawled across the back in her apartment and arrives just before they start to use medical instruments on her, as she’d proved beyond their fear detection techniques.
Steed realises Pemberton is afraid of the dark and disables the lights, while the chair-bound Mrs. Peel disarms Pemberton and Voss in turn.

At her flat later, Steed carefully searches for any bugbears and Mrs. Peel fears the chocolate box - might be empty! She then discovers Steed is afraid she might not have any champagne.


Production dates: 9/1966 Drinks
Transmission dates: Foreign title tea and coffee (from a thermos)
champagne (Moët et Chandon [?])
UK 21/01/1967
Sydney 9/05/1967
Melbourne 8/05/1967
USA 27/01/1967
Germany 19/12/1967 (Schock frei Haus)
France 9/07/1968 (Les marchands de peur)
Italy 23/11/1973 (i mercanti di paura)
Spain --- (Los mercaderes del terror)
The Netherlands 17/05/1969 (Handel in angst)

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