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Episode 90: Emma Peel Era
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Emma: "So, how d'ya want it? Straight up or on the rocks?"
Steed: "They sure don't make these like they used to."
Steed: "Woah, there, who do you think I am, the Lone Ranger?"

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English: "Strictly for the Worms"

French: "La poussière qui tue"

German: "Tödlicher Staub"

Italian: "Morte silenziosa"

Spanish: "Polvo Silencioso"

Dutch: "Dodelijke mest"



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Steed Watches Birds
Emma Goes Hunting

Produced: ca. 14 June to 2 July 1965
UK Premiere (London, Season 4): 31 December 1965
US Premiere: Not included in original Season 1 lineup

Science Fictional (click to see category list)"Where have all the martlets gone?" This query from a birdwatcher sends our duo searching for a deadly chemical that may have gotten into the wrong hands—specifically those of a "huntin', shootin', fishin', sittin' on every committee" slimeball who has cut a deal with a curious assortment of greedy locals to bring the government to its knees by defoliating the countryside. As Steed tells Emma, "Don't confuse me with the facts."


This outdoorsy outing loses points for unevenness and a tendency to drag, and the villains are not particularly interesting—with the possible exception of Juggins the pig-killer. Plus it features the most unimaginative teaser of the series: little more than stuffed birds (and some fruit bats, according to Tony McKay) being dropped on the ground. Still, there are a number of worthwhile bits: Emma's opinion of Omrod, as expressed to Steed in the pub, is a right giggle and I love how Steed keeps his wine cool. Steed and Dr. Fellows exchange some great lines, and the foxhunting protesters at the end add a cute touch.

As a follow-up note, my opinion of this episode has softened somewhat (hence the added half-bowler) with the release of the A&E videos, as many wonderful little bits were cut from the "uncut" off-air version I had recorded back in the 80s. Sadly, they were not enough to compensate for the episode's shortcomings, but they did make the hour pass more enjoyably.


Exclusive: Writer Roger Marshall has penned an essay about his tenure on The Avengers.

When developing the Steed/Emma incarnation of the show, the producers created a list of directives, one of which was to exploit Patrick Macnee's horsemanship, although Macnee recalls asking the producers for an opportunity to ride. Of note, the horse Macnee rode was the same one mounted by Laurence Olivier in Henry V, twenty years earlier.

By contrast, it is said that Diana Rigg had never ridden a horse before in her life—she had one lesson the day before shooting. Also, Ray Austin doubled for Diana during the stunt when she falls from the horse, and he was knocked unconscious for five minutes.

Of minor note, Steed calls his partner "Lady Emma" in this episode. I only learned of this when the A&E tapes were released, as my off-air copy was missing the entire pub scene where they gather lunch supplies.

By the way, recall all the hubbub about the whipping scene being shortened in "A Touch of Brimstone"? Well, there was just as much whipping going on of Emma by Juggins at the end of this episode, yet no one has said so much as boo about it. As Margaret Warren puts it, "seems you can whip Emma all you like, so long as she is properly dressed."

And another thing... Many folks have made note of the fact that Steed handles the titular chemical with his bare hand, then eats an apple immediately afterward using the same hand. As the chemical is described in the episode, it is a fertilizer that turned out to be deadly to earthworms, and not something toxic to humans.

Steed's Aunties: Miss Snow says she can't keep her horse away from the trough. "Just seems to want to keep on drinking all the time." Steed: "Oh, dear! I once had an auntie like that." (Could be Sybil Peabody from "A Sense of History." Also may have a mention in "The £50,000 Breakfast.")

 On Location

The Stirrup Cup Inn was actually Well End Lodge, Well End. Deeves Hall Lane makes another appearance. And Tyke's Water Lake, Elstree, was used yet again—On Location provides a present-day view.

 Best Scene

Steed has a bizarre delusion of Emma being an old-west doc as she removes a bullet (see the first grab).

 Best Line

Steed spots Miss Snow entering the pub and tells Emma, "I'll see what I can pick up here." And Emma quips, "I'm sure you will... pick up something."


Steed and Emma float away in a hot-air balloon.



Teleplay by
Directed by

Roger Marshall
Roy Baker

Full production credits


John Steed
Emma Peel
Miss Snow
Clare Prendergast
Sir Manfred Fellows

Patrick Macnee The 007 Connection
Diana Rigg The 007 Connection
William Franklyn*
Jack Watson*
Conrad Phillips
Normon Bird
Hilary Wontner*
Joanne Wake
Isabel Black
Charles Lloyd Pack*
Aubrey Morris
Robert Dorning


William Franklyn


Charles Lloyd Pack

You'll Catch Your Death

Jack Watson

The Living Dead

Hilary Wontner

The Winged Avenger

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Page last modified 21 July 2008.