Episode 1: Dr David Keel Era
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Keel loses a love
Steed gains an ally*

Production completed: 30 December 1960
UK Premiere: 7 January 1961
London Premiere: 18 March 1961

Drug dealer Ronnie Vance finds out that his heroin has been delivered to the wrong doctor's office by mistake. Thus Dr David Keel's fiancée, the unintended recipient of the package of "snow," is murdered in order to cover up the bungled delivery, and the police are unable to solve the case. Vowing vengeance, Dr Keel gets as far as the doctor's office that should have received the drugs, where he then meets a mysterious spy named John Steed. Together they plan a trap for Mr Vance...


Although only the first act (~20 minutes) of this episode survives, it provides just enough insight into both the story and the storytelling to get a decent sense of how the series got its beginnings. In spite of being a crude production by today's standards, everything else about the episode (everything that matters, I hasten to add) shows a high degree of professionalism and skill: good writing, good acting, great direction (no surprise, really, with Don Leaver at the helm), and, in particular, a fine lead.

Ian Hendry demonstrates exactly why Sydney Newman was so very anxious to get him in front of television viewers: he is a natural. His acting is easy, smooth and captivating. Alas, the first act ends before the introduction of the series' co-star, Patrick Macnee. And since Macnee doesn't even appear in "Girl on the Trapeze," we are still left with only "The Frighteners" to understand how John Steed was realized in the series' first season. But don't take this as carping; I am genuinely grateful for the opportunity of seeing this rare gem.

Technically "Hot Snow" is at least as good as any Cathy Gale episode. If I had to complain about anything (and I have to work at this, mind), it would be the repetitive use of certain music cues, and a slightly awkward sequence when Dr Keel's fiancée is shot. To compensate, there is some excellent camera work, including a very creative special-effects shot to simulate the view through a telescopic rifle sight, and solid editing. Location footage is smoothly integrated into the "as-live" studio action. If anything, the end product is somewhat more polished than episodes in seasons to follow, when flubbed lines and technical gaffes were commonplace.

For all of the legitimate complaints directed at Canal+ for their handling of Avengers video products, they are to be commended for this transfer. The video quality is exceptional, with some good restoration work evident, and the results look substantially better than I had anticipated—indeed, "Hot Snow" looks considerably better than most Cathy Gale episodes. Which only serves to throw harder light on the fact that the rest of The Avengers never got the restoration work it surely deserves.

OK, now I'll confess my biggest gripe: Why can't anyone find the rest of this great episode?


Spoiler: Vance eludes capture by the police. But the story is continued in the next episode, "Brought to Book," the title suggesting the ultimate outcome of what could rightfully be considered a two-part episode. Ray Rigby's screenplay is based on a story by Patrick Brawn; Rigby and Brian Clemens co-wrote both "Hot Snow" and its sequel.

Catherine Woodville, who plays Dr Keel's fiancée, became Patrick Macnee's second wife. (Dr Keel wasn't around to recognize his dead fiancée brought back to life as Laurie in "Propellant 23.")

Astor Sklair (Det.-Sgt. Rogers) paid this website a visit on 17 June 2007.

*This unofficial subtitle is by Yours Truly.

 Essential Reading


Written by
Designed by
Directed by
Music by
Story Editors

Ray Rigby
Alpho O'Reilly
Don Leaver
Leonard White
Johnny Dankworth
Patrick Brawn & John Bryce


Dr. David Keel
John Steed
Dr. Tredding
Det.-Supt. Wilson
Det.-Sgt. Rogers
Mrs. Simpson
Ronnie Vance

Ian Hendry
Patrick Macnee 007
Philip Stone # 007
Catherine Woodville #
Godfrey Quigley #
Murray Melvin
Charles Wade
Alister Williamson #
Moira Redmond #
Astor Sklair
June Monkhouse
Robert James #


Robert James

Brought to Book
Death à la Carte
Too Many Christmas Trees
Look - (stop me if...

Godfrey Quigley

Brought to Book
The White Elephant

Moira Redmond

Kill the King

Philip Stone

Brought to Book

Alister Williamson

Brought to Book
The Living Dead

Catherine Woodville

Propellant 23

All materials copyrighted per their respective copyright holders.
This website Copyright © 1996-2017 David K. Smith. All Rights Reserved.
Page last modified: 5 May 2017.

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