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Episode 92: Emma Peel Era
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"They certainly have hungry moths in these parts."
 
"Peace... and badger hunting."
 
"I can't believe they picked me for a regular cast part!"
 

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 Stats (about...)

SmallwoodMark Brandon

 

 A.K.A.

French: "Voyage sans retour"

German: "Stadt ohne Rückkehr"

Italian: "La città senza ritorno"

Spanish: "Pueblo Sin Retorno"

Dutch: "De spookstad"

 

 DVDs

What's available?
Where to buy?

THE TOWN OF NO RETURN

Steed Finds a Town of Ghosts
Emma Gets Put Into Harness

Originally filmed 29 October to 13 November 1964
Re-filmed 21 July to ca. 30 July 1965
UK Premiere (London, Season 4): 28 September 1965
US Premiere (New York, Season 1): 1 September 1966

Enemy Takeover (click to see category list)Agents are disappearing one after another in the village of Little Bazeley by the Sea, and Steed solicits Emma's help in discovering their fate. The locals greet our duo with unfavorable looks, and it isn't long before they encounter odd goings-on and grim mysteries. For instance, some of the residents have a penchant for badger-hunting on the dunes—at night...

 IMHO

The first Emma Peel episode to hit the air features lots of dark, stylish imagery and subtle avante garde touches, such as the opening sequence in which a grizzled fisherman unflinchingly observes a man emerge from the sea in a giant plastic zip-lock bag. The scene wherein Steed solicits Emma's participation in the assignment whilst crossing swords in her apartment provides a clever and telling character introduction, especially in light of his dirty swordplay tricks, which includes a bratty whack on her butt. There's an abundance of clever dialog and cute set pieces, such as Steed's bottomless goodies bag on the train ("Are you sure you won't have a marzipan delight?"), all of which makes the dated enemy invasion plot easier to swallow. A perfect start for the series. (Ironically, this was the last episode to premiere in the initial U.S. run.)

 Trivia

Much of this episode was shot twice, as Elizabeth Shepherd was originally cast as Emma Peel and later let go. The first version was directed by Peter Graham Scott. It was re-filmed with Diana Rigg partway through the season, which explains why she seems so at ease with her role—although it was still written and played as something of an introductory episode.

The original subtitle of this episode was: "In which Steed finds a town full of strangers - and Emma teaches school." Courtesy of Jaz Wiseman (who has access to Roy Baker's original shooting script).

Note that the swordplay device in the opening, right down to a line of dialog ("Not enough flexibility in the wrist"), was pinched for the dreadful movie. That's Rocky Taylor playing Steed in the swordfight with Emma, by the way.

After appearing in two more episodes, guest actor Jeremy Burnham went on to write five Tara King episodes. After appearing on one more episode, Patrick Newell became a regular cast member, playing Mother in the Tara King era.

Robert Allen notes that the model airplanes hanging around in Piggy Warren's bar make a repeat appearance in "Death at Bargain Prices." In both instances we see the same four models, all built from Airfix kits: Junkers Ju 88A, Heinkel He 111H, Douglas Boston Mk.III, and Handley Page Halifax Mk.III.

Video oops: Although Brian Clemens is the screenwriter and Roy Baker is the director, Philip Levene receives credit as screenwriter and Sidney Hayers as director on the A&E videos! It would seem that Lumiere goofed when they remastered the episode. (Same thing happened to "A Touch of Brimstone.")

Cut or uncut? Are four seconds of this episode missing from the A&E videos? See AvengerNews for details.

Margaret Warren explains the meaning of the quips exchanged between Steed and Emma after discovering their fabric-challenged towels at the inn. Steed holds up his towel (see the first image) and remarks, "Hole in one." Emma enters, holding up a similar towel, and announces, "Hole in both. No hot water, either. As for the sea breezes, well, I shall have to take a couple of reefs in my bedclothes tonight." "A couple of reefs" is a nautical term meaning "to shorten sail", that is, folding the sail to make it smaller, which is typically done in high winds, perhaps suggesting it is breezy in her room. Steed then advises, "We must be prepared to make concessions, my dear. Back to nature!" And Emma replies, "Well, you might have warned me. I'd have packed my pot of woad." "Woad" is a blue dye prepared from the powdered and fermented leaves of Isatis tinctoria. Ancient Britons used to dye themselves with woad, apparently in an effort to spook invaders and look generally terrifying. Emma is probably suggesting that, like some pre-civilised Briton, she might be expected to go starkers and paint herself blue!

 On Location

Wighton served as Little Bazeley, shoreline scenes were shot at Holkham Gap, and the airfield scenes were filmed at Bircham Newton near Hunstanton, Norfolk. Well End Lodge, Well End makes an appearance in the tag scene.

 Best Scene

Steed investigates the abandoned airfield. Not only is the scene rife with atmosphere, but revealing of Steed's sillier side, as he takes a spin on a merry-go-round and tips his bowler to himself in a broken mirror.

Another winner is Steed confronting the fake Piggy Warren—holding a candle under his handlebar moustache to get information. Hints at the harder-edged Steed from the Cathy Gale era.

 Best Line

As Steed unties Emma from the saddle, Emma cries, "Ow! Tight girth!" Steed: "We'll have to cut down on the oats."

 Tag

Steed and Emma buzz off on a little motor scooter, with Emma dreaming of a thick steak, and Steed dreaming of... well, use your imagination.

 

THE TOWN OF NO RETURN

Teleplay by
Directed by

Brian Clemens
Roy Baker

Full production credits

CAST

John Steed
Emma Peel
Brandon
Smallwood
'Piggy' Warren
Vicar
Saul
Jill Mason
School Inspector

Patrick Macnee The 007 Connection
Diana Rigg The 007 Connection
Alan MacNaughtan*
Patrick Newell*
Terence Alexander*
Jeremy Burnham*
Robert Brown The 007 Connection
Juliet Harmer
Walter Horsbrugh

UNBILLED/STUNTS

Soldier

Peter Brace

*DOPPELGANGERS

Terence Alexander

The Correct Way to Kill
Love All
Angels of Death

Jeremy Burnham

The Fear Merchants
The Forget-Me-Knot

Alan MacNaughtan

Who Was That Man...

Patrick Newell

Something Nasty in the Nursery
The Forget-Me-Knot
 

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Page last modified 21 July 2008.