• title card: white all caps text reading ‘RETURN OF THE CYBERNAUTS’ superimposed on a close-up of the metal cybernaut, weating a black hat, sunglasses and overcoat, carrying the unconscious Dr. Russell on his right shoulder
  • The cybernaut plods across the fields, Dr. Neville still unconscious on his right shoulder
  • The cybernaut strikes down Dr. Russell when he tries to leave
  • Steed holds the copper bust of Emma as he stands next to her in Beresford’s study, she is smiling at him because Beresford has just made the same quip about preferring the original that he just made
  • Steed dives out of the way as the thought-controlled Mrs. Peel speeds away
  • Beresford gloats as his wristwatch present has enabled him to take control of Emma’s brain — he uses the controls that makes her his robot
  • video — Steed tries to repair Mrs. Peel’s toaster — and the toaster blasts through the ceiling

Series 5 — Episode 17
Return Of The Cybernauts

by Philip Levene
Directed by Robert Day

Steed pulls some strings
Emma becomes a puppet

Production No E.66.6.18
Production completed: June 27 1967. First transmission: September 27 1967.

Regional broadcasts

Rediffusion London28/09/19679:00pm
ABC Midlands30/09/19679:05pm
ABC North30/09/19679:05pm
Anglia Television25/11/19679:50pm
Border Television1/10/196710:05pm
Channel Television7/08/19688:00pm
Grampian Television27/09/19678:00pm
Southern Television29/09/19678:00pm
Scottish Television5/01/19688:00pm
Tyne Tees Television25/11/19679:50pm
Ulster Television5/10/19677:30pm
Westward Television7/08/19688:00pm
Television Wales & West1/10/19677:25pm

TV Times listing

TV Times listing for the Channel Four 1980s repeat
Sydney Morning Herald listing for October 31 1967, 8pm
The Age listing for October 30 1967, 8pm
The Canberra Times photo and announcement for October 31 1967, 8pm

The Avengers

Patrick Macnee
Diana Rigg

Return of the Cybernauts
By Philip Levene

Emma and Steed set off on the trail of a missing scientist ‡

Paul Beresford Peter Cushing
Benson Frederick Jaeger
Dr. Neville Charles Tingwell
Professor Chadwick Fulton Mackay
Dr. Russell Roger Hammond
Dr. Garnett Anthony Dutton
Conroy Noel Coleman
Rosie Aimi MacDonald
Hunt Redmond Phillips
Cybernaut Terry Richards

Designer Robert Jones
Directer Robert Day
Producers Albert Fennell
Brian Clemens
Executive Producer
Julian Wintle

International broadcasts

ABN2 Sydney, Australia31/10/19678:00pm
ABV2 Melbourne, Australia30/10/19678:00pm
ABC New York, USA21/02/19687:30pm
ORTF2 France
Suisse Romande, Switzerland8/01/19689:30pm
French titleLe retour des Cybernautes
ZDF Germany16/01/19689:15pm
German titleUnd noch einmal Roboter
KRO Netherlands2/12/19679:25pm
Dutch titleDe robot
Svizzera Italiana19/07/19749:00pm
Italian titleil ritorno del cibernauta*
Spanish titleEl retorno de los cibernautas

* Italian listings showed this as 10pm, as Italy observed Summer Time and Switzerland did not.

This episode appears on 14th November, 1967 entitled “De robot” as evidenced by the synopsis given in television listings . The episode was pre-empted by the broadcast of a football match between Feijenoord and Arsenal, and it was finally shown on 2nd December, 1967, again with the synopsis reference Beresford. It’s possible the listings were wrong, however, as Return of the Cybernauts was broadcast on 17th May, 1969 under the title “De terugkeer van de robots”. It is just possible that these earlier schedules were for The Cybernauts and the synopses were incorrectly associated, even though Zierkzeesche Nieuwsbode seems to disprove that theory. If true, that would mean this episode was first shown in the Netherlands on 17th May 69 at 9pm.

ORTF2 did not include this episode in their contemporary series and its debut in France appears to have been at 5.15pm on 14th July 1973, on TF1.

Netherlands: Zierkzeesche Nieuwsbode highlights for November 14 1967, explicitly identifying “De robot” as “Return of the Cybernauts”
Netherlands: Nieuwe Leidsche Courant announces The Avengers pre-empted by a football match
Netherlands: Limburgsch Dagblad listing for December 2 1967, 9.25pm
Netherlands: Provinciale Zeeuwse Courant listing for December 2 1967, 9.25pm
Netherlands: Dagblad de Stem listing for May 17 1969, 9pm
Netherlands: Zierkzeesche Nieuwsbode highlights for May 17 1969, mentioning The Avengers
Switzerland: L’Impartial listing for January 8 1968, 9.30pm
Germany: Hamburg Abendblatt listing for January 16 1968, 9.15pm
Spain: ABC Madrid listing for January 21 1968, 4.10pm
USA: New York Times listing for February 21 1968, 10pm
France: L’Impartial listing for TF1, July 14 1973, 5.15pm
TV Svizzera Italiana: Radiocorriere listing for July 19 1974, 10pm Italian time
TV Svizzera Italiana: Stampa Sera listing for July 19 1974, 10pm Italian time
USA: Chicago Tribune listing for February 21 1968, 9pm
Germany: Hamburg Abendblatt article about Diana Rigg

Episode Rating

Subject 0–5
Direction 5 stars
3½ stars
2½ stars
4½ stars
Mastermind 5 stars
Plot 4 stars
Emma 4 stars
Set Design
3½ stars
8½ stars

A worthy reprise of the original, Beresford is even more malicious than his equally insane brother. Add to that better production values, special effects and sets and we have one of the best of the season.

Paul Beresford, while becoming friendly with Steed and Mrs Peel, resurrects his brother’s most dangerous invention — the Cybernaut. Using the robot to kidnap important scientists he gives them a task: kill the avengers! Professor Chadwick creates a watch that contain circuitry to control the mind through the salt on the victim’s skin. Steed leaves his at home and isn’t affected when Mrs. Peel suddenly drives off, her gaze completely blank. Steed gives chase, but is captured. While trying to put a new watch on Steed, Beresford is overpowered and Steed slips it on the Cybernaut, causing it to go awry. After killing Beresford, the Cybernaut shorts out, and Mrs. Peel tips it over with a single finger.
Steed shows less electronic skill later when, trying to repair Mrs. Peel’s electric toaster, he put two toast-shaped holes in her ceiling.

The Cars

Marque/Model Colour Number Plate
Jaguar Mk I 2.4 1956 brown, walnut & champagne interior 62 AUR
Bentley Speed Six 1926 British racing green RX 6180
wheelchair - -
wheelchair grey and red -
Rover P5 3.5 litre grey MOY 548D
Lotus Elan S3 glacier blue SJH 499D

Who’s Killing Whom?

Victim Killer Method
Dr. Russell Cybernaut V* Beaten to death
John Hunt Cybernaut V* Beaten to death
Dr. Garnett Paul Beresford V* Tampers with the control to blow his mind.
Professor Chadwick?? V* Cybernaut V* Clubbed in fight at end
Dr. Neville?? V* Cybernaut V* Clubbed in fight at end
Paul Beresford V* Cybernaut V* Crushed to death
Click a name to see the face

The Fashions

Emma’s Fashions Steed’s Fashions
  1. forest green evening dress (mini length), embroidered, high neck, 3 buttons on cuff
  2. black coat, dark olive minidress
  3. tan coat and skirt
  4. black coat, burgundy dress, silver shoes
  5. ... later revealing a burgundy dress
  6. collared green catsuit with white trim (collar, zip, piping, shoulder holster patches), white calf boots, white leather watch strap
  7. white silk embroidered dress
  8. red plaid wool coat with wide red belt, pink sleeveless dress, yellow and pink shoes
  9. striped sundress
  1. black/midnight blue tuxedo with silk facings and piping on trousers, pale blue ruffled shirt, blue velvet bow tie, black dress shoes
  2. black overcoat over above
  3. grey single-breasted 3-piece suit with triangular flap pockets, tan shirt, pale gold tie, later copper tie match handkerchief
  4. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with a peaked collar, white shirt, purple/red patterned tie
  5. light grey chalk stripe single-breasted 3-piece suit, white shirt, blue tie & handkerchief
  6. navy single-breasted 3-piece suit with piped cuffs, wc with piped lapels, white shirt, navy patterned tie
  7. pale khaki shirt, brown patterned tie, taupe/grey trousers

Continuity and trivia

  1. 3:00 — A dark smudge, possibly on the camera lens, appears on the centre top edge of the screen in the dramatic closeup freeze-frame of the cybernaut just before the titles appear.
  2. 3:03 — The caption scanner was very dirty so the freeze frame for the episode title has hairs and dust all over it. Rare at this stsage for “The Avengers” to use a freeze frame, it was a staple of “The New Avengers”.
  3. 5:15 & 11:03 — Mrs. Peel’s handbag was not left where it was found the next day — the edge of the counter is clearly visible, and clearly empty, at 5:15.
  4. 6:00 — Mrs. Peel uses a single finger to push over the damaged door, a reference (repeated later for anyone who missed the significance) to her toppling of the deactivated cybernaut in The Cybernauts.
  5. 7:47 — The scene of Dr. Neville is missing from the old Australian broadcast master. A recent showing on Gem shows that a new print is in circulation.
  6. 9:00–10:45 and throughout — Dr. Neville’s attire varies greatly. When he is running to the car and drops his keys, and when he’s removed through the roof of the car, he’s wearing tan suede Chelsea boots, a brown jacket and grey trousers. However, when he’s being carried to Beresford’s house by the cybernaut (10:36), he’s wearing black leather Oxfords, and a navy suit. Once in Beresford’s lab and awake, he’s back in his brown jacket, and one would assume, his suede boots.
  7. 11:31 — Shades of Get Smart — Steed has a phone in the Bentley.
  8. 16:15 — The colour balance is off in Beresford’s close-up before the fade for commercial break.
  9. 16:27/17:58 — Steed’s tie changes colour for no good reason from gold to orange, when worn with the same shirt and suit. Some time has elapsed between the scenes though.
  10. 24:26 (Network) — the shadow of the boom microphone can just been seen on the ceiling as Garnett says he met Steed once.
  11. 21:48–21:58 — Paul Beresford holds a glass of wine up for Steed to look at and says it’s definitely corked, and he’ll have to get another — problem is, you detect if a wine is corked by smell, not sight — cork-taint is a fungal growth in the cork wood, not bits of cork floating in the wine!
  12. 22:57 — John Hunt’s house is given the same address as Benstead’s house in Dead Man’s Treasure: High Pines, Edgington. But it’s a different house! Beresford’s house is Woolmers Park, Essendon Road, Letty Green, Herts., while Benstead’s is Shenley Hall, Rectory Lane, Shenley, Herts. WD7 9AN.
  13. 23:35/25:42 — Steed is supposed to be in a hurry to get to Hunt’s house, but arrives in a navy suit after leaving Beresford’a in a grey suit. Did he stop to change clothes? (Maybe the Continuity girl — Gladys Goldsmith in this case — wasn’t paying attention). No wonder people are always dying before The Avengers get there (a fact made fun of by Mrs. Peel in Something Nasty in the Nursery).
  14. 23:55 — There’s the usual colour shift in the back projection scenes.
  15. 24:00–25:25 — It’s definitely Rocky driving the Bentley, especially at 25:24.
  16. 34:31 — When Steed’s wrist is photographed to obtain details of his watch, the resulting black & white photograph has the watch the wrong way round on his wrist — the winder is towards his hand instead of towards his cuff, he’s wearing a different suit and the time is different! However, in both shots it’s an Ingersoll 7 Jewels Shockproof wristwatch.
  17. 39:10/42:25 — Mrs. Peel arrives at Steed’s flat wearing the red tartan jacket and deep pink belt, with the belt wrapped around her counterclockwise (loose end to her left), but when she arrives at Beresford’s house, the whole time in a trance-like state, the belt is worn clockwise, with the loose end to her right, especially obvious when Beresford starts removing her jacket, and flips the belt out to her left, exposing the white back of the belt.
  18. 40:15 — It’s Cyd Child who walks to the car.
  19. 40:20–40:30 — There’s colour shift as Emma gets in the car and when Steed tries to stop her — they’ve obviously been shot in the studio with a blue screen.
  20. 40:25 onwards — Cyd & Rocky do the driving and Rocky leaps over the Lotus as it speeds away.
  21. 41:05 — More colour shift for the close-up of Steed driving.
  22. 47:30 — Mrs. Peel goes to push over the deactivated cybernaut but Steed stops her and says, “My turn”. Another reference to Mrs. Peel toppling the deactivated cybernaut in The Cybernauts with a single finger.
  23. Running time: 49′14″
  24. The Australian broadcast master of “Return of the Cybernauts” has a great many cuts taken out of it to allow more advertisements. The scene where Dr. Tingwell is captured is cut just as he evades the cybernaut, then we see Steed and Mrs. Peel arriving at Beresford’s — a good 1:50 of footage is missing. That’s not the only bit, either. Most of the cars chases — when Mrs. Peel’s in a trance, Benson driving to Hunt’s place — are missing, as is most of Steed’s second conversation with Rosie.

A note on the timecodes

Timecodes for episodes are problematic as each release has its own quirks so the 2009–11 Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD sets have different run times compared to the A&E and Contender DVD sets from a decade beforehand. The newer Studio Canal & Via Vision blu rays seems to be back in line with the earlier releases, except they often have StudioCanal idents lasting 20 to 22 seconds added to the beginning.

The Optimum Releasing/Studio Canal DVD releases were remastered and their frame rate has been changed, resulting in a shorter running time. However, the picture quality has increased markedly. I assume this is because they used a simple 2:2 pulldown (24 @ 25) when converting from the original film masters (film runs at 24 frames per second, while PAL runs at 25fps, the new DVDs are in PAL format).
This pulldown was also the cause of audio errors on many episodes, especially for Series 5, as the audio sped up to match the new rate (4% faster), rather than being properly pitch-shifted. Checking the dialogue sheets, which list the feet and frames of the reels, it looks like the speed change is around 5.04%, so there may be some cuts as well — probably from around the commercial breaks and ends of reels, as they amount to about 25 seconds. All my assumptions are based on the episodes having been filmed on standard 35mm film, which has 16 frames per foot and runs at 24 frames per second, so a minute of footage uses 90 feet of film (1,440 frames).

The audio errors have been corrected in the currently available DVDs, but the 2:2 pulldown remains. There is also the addition of a Studio Canal lead-in, converted to black and white to match the episode for Series Four, but colour for Series Five, adding an extra 18 or 19 seconds to the running time and making it harder to match timecodes with previous releases. It’s annoying that it has been slapped on every single episode, Series 1–3 didn’t suffer this indignity.

The previous Contender and A&E DVD releases didn’t seem to suffer from these problems, so I assume they either used soft telecine and preserved the original 24fps rate of the film (my preferred option in DVDs) or they used 24 @ 25 pulldown (2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:2:3 Euro pull-down).

Thankfully, the new blu ray releases for series 4–6 appear to use native 24fps with soft telecine so the running times and pitch all seem to be correct again along with a much greatly improved picture quality, most notably in the Tara King episodes which are finally (mostly) back to their original glory.

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