• title card: white all caps text outlined in black reading ‘MISSION...’ superimposed on a view of a deserted, dusty country lane
  • title card: the white all caps text outlined in black has changed to read ‘MISSION... HIGHLY IMPROBABLE’ superimposed on a view of a deserted, dusty country lane
  • The shrunken Captain Gifford stares up at the telephone which dwarfs him
  • The Saracen armoured car is bombarded by artillery
  • Steed, reduced to minature size, tries to use Schaffer’s telephone to get help from Emma, the similarly shrunken Saracen is also on Schaffer’s desk
  • Steed stalks along the skirting board, wielding a (to him) huge pen as a weapon
  • Emma turns her back to Steed and asks him if ‘everything’ has returned to normal
  • video — It sounds like rain, so Steed gallantly offers Emma his much-shrunken umbrella and turns up the collar of his suit

Series 5 — Episode 24
Mission... Highly Improbable

by Philip Levene
Directed by Robert Day

Steed falls into enemy hands
Emma is cut down to size

Production No E.66.6.24
Production completed: September 22 1967. First transmission: November 15 1967.

TV Times summary

In which Steed falls into enemy hands — and Emma is cut down to size …

Plot summary

Professor Rushton has invented a miniaturising ray, but his assistant Chivers uses it for unpatriotic activities. First he shrinks the minister who had come to examine their finances, then a snooping Captain, and finally to steal the new Saracen FV603 armoured car. The buyer — Shaffer — is unaware that Steed was inside the armoured car when it was shrunk, and has come along for the ride!. Rescued by Mrs. Peel, they escape and Steed is returned to normal size, only for Emma to be shrunk. Emma then frees Steed, the Professor and his daughter, and is in turn returned to normal — “Everything? Everything!” Shaffer and Chivers are then shrunk and collected in Steed’s bowler.
With rain expected, Steed offers Emma his still shrunken umbrella...

show full synopsis

show plot summary

A motorcade arrives at a government research unit and is stopped at the gate by Corporal Johnson (Nigel Rideout). As he approaches the car, Captain Gifford (Nicholas Courtney) arrives and takes over. He greets the arriving VIP,Sir Gerald Bancroft (Kevin Stoney) who has come from the Treasury to audit the unit. Gifford offers to personally escort Sir Gerald’s Rolls-Royce to the testing area and the gates are opened, Sir Gerald’s escort riding ahead and Gifford behind. Coming around a bend in the road, Gifford is astonished to see only the two motorbikes ahead of him, the Rolls vanishing without trace.. .

John Steed (Patrick Macnee) arrives to investigate, but finds only the nest of a Lesser Throated Warbler and a toy Rolls-Royce. He spots a man apparently hunting butterflies with a large net, whom Gifford identifies as Dr. Chivers (Francis Matthews) from the Metal Fatigue Division. Meanwhile, a miniaturised Sir Gerald is trying to attract Steed’s attention, but he can’t hear him and Chivers finds him first, bundling the hapless bureaucrat into a box. Steed finds some fresh tracks in a lane overlooking the road where the Rolls disappeared which are too narrow to have been made by the Rolls, and may be traceable by a worn off-side tyre. Steed later identifies them to Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) as being a heavy multi-tread tyre from an MT4 truck. At the unit, Chivers disposes of Sir Gerald in a rubbish bin just as Professor Rushton (Noel Howlett) arrives with his daughter, Susan Rushton (Jane Merrow). Chivers tells Rushton Sir Gerald has been delayed ‘by a load of rubbish’ and convinces Rushton to keep his prototype invention secret from the Ministry and from Susan, as it was built without approval and isn’t ready yet. Susan queries her father about his overspending the allocation but he remains tight-lipped. Outside, Chivers discovers Steed checking an MT4, who presents Treasury credentials when challenged. He’s introduced to Rushton and Susan (who hides her accounts from him). Susan is put in Charge of showing Steed the paperwork, but hides documents and pretends the vehicle inventory is missing when he asks after an MT4 with a worn tyre.
Gifford meanwhile breaks into the experimental shed which houses a Saracen armoured car and the MT4 they’re looking for. He’s spotted by Chivers just as he realises the ‘toy’ Rolls bears Sir Gerald’s number plate and he puts it down on the side of the Saracen while he goes to call Steed. Chivers sneaks into the shed and trains a device on him from the back of the MT4, cutting off his conversation with Steed by shrinking him to a height of a couple of inches. Chivers then callously washes Gifford down a drain.

Steed returns to Emma’s apartment and tells her about the new disappearance, asking her to rifle Rushton’s desk while he attends the demonstration of the new FV603 armoured car. They discuss the suspects: Rushton was considered brilliant in his day but has been put out to grass; Chivers had potential but stepped on some political toes. Back at the base, Rushton shows Susan the MT4 Steed was looking for and she demands to know where the missing money has gone. Rushton explains they were testing a new alloy when a machine that fires electrons broke down, forcing Rushton to improves a new one. He was astonished to discover he managed to shrink the metal by 5%, so he built a more powerful machine, which he reveals in the back of the truck. He says it can reduce and restore matter and proves it to his incredulous daughter by shrinking a wooden crate.
Steed tells Emma the demonstration will be attended by top brass, and some Eastern Bloc observers. She asks if that isn’t dangerous but he laughs and says they’re not exactly going to walk off with an armoured car!

Commander Schaeffer (Ronald Radd) is getting dressed for the event and chastises his aide, Josef (Stefan Gryff) for giving him a naval jacket instead of a military one — “Today I’m a general, not an admiral!”, and then for not having enough medals on the jacket. He’s startled a moment later when the blonde (Cynthia Bizeray) he brought home last night rises from her slumber on the sofa and asks him if the medals are “for endurance”. He orders Josef to get rid of her and Chivers enters, offering his treachery. Chivers is surprised that Schaeffer knows so much about him but is told that he’s of no use as security is too good. Chivers dismisses this and promises the armoured car will be delivered — “Mission Highly Improbably, I grant you, but not impossible”.

At the demonstration, Steed points out Schaeffer to Susan as the other sides head of intelligence as he’s led to the front by Colonel Drew (Richard Leech). Steed greet Schaeffer and makes fun of the fact he’s wearing a Crimean War medal. Drew orders his sergeant (Peter Clay) to begin the demonstration and the quarter-pounders open fire, with absolutely no effect. Steed examines the Saracen after the guns fall silent and finds the ‘toy’ Rolls. He follows the vehicle back to the shed and finds the suspicious MT4; hearing Chivers entering the shed, he hides inside the Saracen which Chivers shrinks with the ray gun and hides in his raincoat pocket. Schaeffer meanwhile asks Drew for a closer look at the armoured car and they’re astonished when they find the shed empty. Emma’s ransacking Rushton’s office when the alarm is raised and is discovered there when Susan bursts in to see what the noise is. Drew announces all visitors are accounted for — except Steed — and Susan asks what Emma is doing there. Chivers meanwhile leaves at the main gate, offering to let Johnson check his pockets for the Saracen, and is let through. Emma’s credentials are found to be in order, even down to rifling privileges and she’s given free reign of the unit. Chivers delivers the APC to Schaeffer, who takes it for a scale model. Chivers explains the reducing ray to him and a closer examination reveals real mud and grass on the wheels. Schaeffer leaves to radio headquarters for instructions, giving Steed the opportunity to escape the vehicle and clamber around the desk. He has to hide behind an ashtray when they reenter, and hears Schaeffer, who has realised the ray is a greater weapon than the Saracen, plot to kidnap Susan and exchange her for the machine. They leave again and Steed struggles with the dial of the phone but finally manages to ring Mrs. Peel. He warns her to protect Susan and mentions Rushton’s ray but Schaeffer returns before he can elaborate.

Mrs. Peel drives to Susan’s house and is searching her car when Josef and two thugs (Nosher and Dinny Powell) arrive and kidnap her by mistake while Susan looks on. When Josef returns, Schaeffer precipitately calls Rushton, demanding the machine in exchange for his daughter — whose standing next to him. Susan explains to her confused father that they grabbed Mrs Peel instead, as Schaeffer is just discovering. He apologises to Mrs. Peel and clips Josef about the head. Chivers leaves to ‘do it himself’ and Mrs. Peel is left in the study with her hands tied behind her back. She’s startled when Steed emerges from the APC on the desk — “Steed? It can’t be! It’s a dream, a dream, a tiny dream” — but he proves his existence by prodding her with a pen and explains that Rushton’s ‘infernal machine’ was used by Chivers on the tank while he was inside. She cheekily asks if everything is to scale and he laughs, then proceeds to cut her bonds with a letter opener.
Rushton is burning his notes in the shed when Chivers appears and captures them before Rushton can destroy the machine. Emma is freed while susan is being stopped at the gate by Johnson, and Emma and Steed quickly defeat the guards before the truck arrives, Steed jabbing their ankles with his pen while she attacks them with kung fu. She spots Chivers demonstrate the device on a summer house and pops Steed in a small bag “trying to get you king-sized again” although she notes it’s one way to “bag a man”. She hides the bag in the house which is promptly restored by Chivers, Steed crawling from a sack inside, but Josef spots Emma and Chivers shrinks her with the ray, but they lose her in the grass when Steed emerges from the house. A miniature Emma appears a while later in the study and helps Steed get free. Once they’re all unshackled, Rushton restores Emma to the correct size. worried, she asks Steed, “Well?” “Back to normal!”, he heartily cries, but she’s unsure. “Everything?”, she asks, spinning around so he can check her figure. “Everything!”, he affirms with a smirk. They spot Schaeffer and Chivers preparing to leave with the APC and ask Rushton to shrink them, Steed capturing the villains in his bowler.

Steed helps Emma rearrange her furniture, complaining that Rushton shouldn’t have destroyed his machine, and they contemplate things they’d like reduced: monstrous apartment blocks (Emma); government offices (Steed); bank overdrafts (Emma); elephants (Steed); bermuda shorts (Emma); miniskirts (Steed) — Emma tells him it’s just wishful thinking. they decide to console themselves with a gigantic feast but a storm is brewing. "Not to worry", says Steed, and offers her his still-shrunken umbrella while he turns up his collar...


Production dates: 22/09/1967 Drinks
Transmission dates: Foreign title NONE (even though Susan says they’re being served)
UK 18/11/1967
Sydney 12/12/1967
Melbourne 11/12/1967
USA 10/01/1968
Germany 22/02/1968 (Hätten Sie’s nicht ein bißchen kleiner?)
France 18/08/1978 (Mission très improbable)
Italy 21/07/1974 (un esperimento stupefacente)
Spain --- (Una misión altamente improbable)
The Netherlands 5/03/1968 (Een hoogstonwaarschijnlijke missie!)

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