• title card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading ‘THE JOKER’ superimposed on someone wearing a mustard jumper cutting up Emma’s photo with a pair of scissors
  • subtitle card: white all caps text with black dropshadow to the left reading ‘STEED TRUMPS AN ACE
			EMMA PLAYS A LONE HAND’ superimposed on the hands feverishly chopped at the remains of the photograph with the scissors
  • Youtube video — Mr. Peel drops round to see Steed who stumbles down his stairs. She breaks in and he gasps, ‘Mrs. Peel, you’re needed’
  • The inside of the house with the ominous Death’s head ace playing card as the door at the top of the stairs
  • The Strange Young Man holds the severed telephone wires up for Emma to see
  • Emma stares wildly at the carving knife embedded in the pine wall of the kitchen by the door
  • A worried Emma stands behind a chair, the candles on the foreground are ot of focus with the narrow field
  • An extreme close-up of Prendergast, so close he entrirely fills the screen and you can’t see all of his face
  • Youtube video — Steed is playing Solitaire when Emma drops round. He shows her a card trick — the two cards she chooses add up to the year of his vintage champagne; she throws down two jokers

Series 5 — Episode 15
The Joker

by Brian Clemens
Directed by Sidney Hayers

Steed trumps an ace
Emma plays a lone hand

Production No E.66.6.15
Production completed: April 11 1967. First transmission: April 26 1967.

TV Times summary

In which Steed trumps an ace — and Emma plays a lone hand …

Plot summary

After a fall down the stairs in his apartment, Steed barely has the strength to tell Mrs. Peel she’s needed — to care for him!
She has already arranged to spend a weekend in Devon with a bastion of the Bridge world — Sir Cavalier Rusicana. Steed is told an old nemesis of the Avengers, Max Prendergast, has escape gaol in Germany and heading their way. Realising that his injury was no accident, Steed sets out for Devon, sure that Max is trying to kill them. Alone in a country manor, Emma is terrorised by the strange housekeeper and a disturbed young man, then nearly murdered by Prendergast, but Steed plays the joker — finishing the criminal’s plans.
A relaxing game of solitaire interrupted by Mrs. Peel, the Avengers trade card tricks — Mrs. Peel not wanting to ruin the trick that produces a bottle of Bollinger.

show full synopsis

show plot summary

Under a ticking clock, a man’s hand opens a copy of ‘Bridge Players International Guide’ and turns to an article written by Mrs. Peel, Better Bridge with Applied Mathematics. He cuts out the full page photo of her and manically cuts it to pieces.

Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) arrives at Steed’s place and rings the door bell. John Steed (Patrick Macnee) trips while coming down the stairs, hurting his knee and she has to break a window to get in and help him. “Mrs. Peel”, he gasps, “you’re needed!”. she had dropped by to ask him to run her down to Devon, as she’s been invited to stay the weekend by Sir Cavalier Rusicana, a bastion of the Bridge world who was impressed by her article. After she leaves, Steed is visited by Major George Fancy (John Stone) who warns him that an old nemesis of Steed and Emma’s, Max Prendergast, has escaped gaol in Germany and has returned to England. Emma is more at risk, as she was more involved in the case than anyone. Meanwhile, Mrs. Peel arrives at a rotting manor in Exmoor and knocks on the door, but she’s being watched by someone in the garage... The door is answered by Ola (Sally Nesbitt), a strange young woman whose mind wanders with startling rapidity. She says Sir Cavalier has been called to London and hopes to return late that night, and leads Mrs. Peel to her room, talking of creepy crawlies and not having a murderer in the family — Ola has spotted a man standing on the lawn. She explains there are no other staff, they never stay long as the house is so isolated.

Back in London, Steed discovers a trip wire on his staircase and calls George, asking for Sir Cavalier’s address and to run a background check. Ola meanwhile prepares dinner, hacking at a fish with a meat cleaver. Emma dresses for dinner, unaware she is again being spied on; she finds a chest full of thousands of records then Ola announces dinner, saying Sir Cavalier rang to say not to wait for him. She excuses herself from dining, saying she’s ‘slimming’ and sets a second place for ‘Uncle’ Cavalier. The phone rings and she tells Mrs. Peel a friend in the village has taken ill. Emma lends her her car and Ola says, “You’ll be stuck here and won’t be able to leave”, and, “lock the door behind me”. Emma discovers all the records are the same, "Mein Liebling, Mein Rose", and settles down to read a book after removing a bouquet of roses from her pillow. She hears a noise in the house and finds a rocking chair moving in a bedroom. The doorbell rings and she goes to answer, the person hiding under the bed closing the door behind her. At the door is a strange young man (Ronald Lacey) who pretends to be Baron von Duffiel, looking for a stately home to buy, and has run out of petrol. She hands him the phone and he admits he’s not Duffiel, and she hasn’t recognised him because he’s had plastic surgery, he then shows her the line has been cut. George meanwhile visits Steed and tells his Sir Cavalier left the country four days ago and lives at Dayton, near Exmoor. Steed grabs his bowler and a paying card flutters out of it. George picks it up and cuts himself on the razor blade stuck to the back of it — he sucks his finger and collapses, poisoned. Back at Exmoor, Mrs. Peel and the man look for tools to repair the phone and she throws him out of the house when he accuses her of trying to keep him there. As he leaves, he tells her she’s not alone in the house — “take a look in the dining room”. Sure enough, the second meal has been eaten and a cigar smoulders in an ashtray.

Steed slowly travels down country roads in the fog, trying to reach the house, while Emma retires to her room, and finds the bouquet has had the blooms severed from the stalks, and her slashed photo is inside the book she was reading. Steed pulls up at a sign promissing an unrivalled view of four counties, but he can see nothing but fog; at the house, Emma gets her pistol and starts searching the rooms. The phone rings suddenly, but the line is still dead. A noise draws her into the kitchen, and the swinging back door leads her outside. Nothing, but when she returns a chef’s knife is quivering in the wall near her head.
In the garage, Ola pays the young man for his rôle and he complains it’s only half what he was promised. She tells him he hasn’t given them a scream yet, and he gives her one half heartedly. A gun appears and he really screams, bringing Emma rushing to the scene. When she arrives, there’s only a scarecrow in the car, but she hears the boiling kettle suddenly stop whistling, and tears back to the kitchen. Thoroughly discomposed, she hears music coming from her room and enters to find it completely festooned with roses. She breaks into the room with the rocking chair and finds the dead young man, shocking her greatly while outside Steed has found her Lotus parked in a byway.

The music starts again and she leaves the room to find the entire corridor filled with roses. She returns to the front hall when the music stops and is replaced by a voice whispering her name. Her terrorist is revealed to be Max Prendergast (Peter Jeffrey) - “Berlin, not long ago”, and he rebukes her for using her feminine wiles to betray him to the authorities when he was trying to flee to Rio. She counters that he made a business of betrayal, turning over refugees he’d taken money from to arrange an escape route from the East.
He lunges at her and she shoots, but he’s unharmed: “I’m dead Emma, you can’t kill me twice”. Ola appears at the top of the stairs behind her and tells her her gun is loaded with blanks, while Ola’s has live bullets. Emma leaps on Ola and knocks her out, but is backed into the dining room by Prendergast, who is dismayed when the music suddenly starts again and an outsized playing card lumbers over and knocks him down. Steed appears from behind the card and offers to take Emma home.

Steed’s relaxing game of solitaire is interrupted by Mrs. Peel and the Avengers trade card tricks — Mrs. Peel not wanting to ruin the trick that produces a bottle of vintage Bollinger.

Production dates: Production date: 11/04/1967 Drinks
Transmission dates: Foreign title brandy
red wine (label obscured)
champagne (Bollinger Maison Speçial Cuvée Brut)
UK 29/04/1967
Sydney 10/10/1967
Melbourne 9/10/1967
USA 12/05/1967
Germany 30/01/1968 (Weekend auf dem Lande)
France 2/09/1978 (Le Joker)
Italy 25/01/1974 (il jolly)
Spain --- (el bromista)
The Netherlands --- ?

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