Simon Templar is walking along a foggy London street. There is the sound of a marching band which turns out to be a tiny procession of clockwork soldiers. He stoops down to investigate and a smoke bomb explodes in his face. Near a doorway a bullet narrowly misses him. The door opens and he goes in. It’s an old abandoned house. There’s another gunshot and this time a flag drops down from a light with the word ‘bang!’ printed on it. A voice over a speaker announces that he’s just been murdered.
I like these quirky episodes which I’m seeing increasingly these days. This opening scene is great and reminds me of The Avengers. The voice telling him he’s “now the famous and dead Simon Templar” implies that the owner of the voice is familiar with the catchphrase from The Saint…
I won’t run through every detail of the plot but basically the ‘death’ thing is part of a new worldwide psychology student craze involving a game where a number of ‘killers’ compete against one another in ‘murdering’ their victims, and score points for doing so. It’s all just pretend of course, and Simon Templar was chosen as pretend victim for a scrawny, bony-faced boy called Grey (John Steiner) and his pretty girlfriend Jenny (Angela Douglas) who thinks it’s all a groovy hoot. Unbeknownst to Jenny though her friend is a psychopath and takes it all a bit too seriously. One of the college lecturers gets murdered for real after expressing his concerns to Templar that there is more to this than a harmless game.
They all end up going to Black Park…I mean Switzerland, where it transpires that a chap called Adolf is using the games as a method of attracting psychopaths like Jenny’s friend, and paying them vast sums of money to work for him – ‘work’ being murder of course. It’s all part of some blackmail shenanigans.
The suspicious lecturer was played by Bernard Horsfall, and this was a nice reminder of what a great and perhaps underrated actor he was. Angela Douglas was fun to watch too, playing one of those chirpy slightly naive sixties girls you see a lot of in this sort of thing. Not so convincing is the blonde girl playing Adolf’s assistant with a dreadful ‘war film’ German accent.
I loved the bit immediately after the opening titles: after all the tension build up and mystery Templar is confronted by Jenny with a tea tray asking if he wants a cuppa!
An entertaining episode, well directed by Leslie Norman, and a nice change of style from the usual plots.