View Full Version : 12. May-Day, May-Day!

The Bishop
20th March 2011, 01:25 PM
12. May-Day, May-Day!




This is another episode when neither Mrs Appleby nor Agent Blake are present. Captain Grey appears once more as a pilot but the most notable appearance is by Captain Blue as 'Joe', a machine engineer. It is quite shocking when Blue is gunned down in a drive-by shooting but I think we can assume he survived.



The King of Muldovia is a man of the people who wishes to give oil concessions to the British in return for money that will be used to build hospitals, schools and so forth. His brother, the Prince, is a hostile and ruthless opponent who has already arranged four assassination attempts. We witness the last of these before the King arrives in London when a guard stationed at the Muldovian palace opens fire from the turrets causing the King to receive a flesh wound.

Father Unwin and Matthew are assigned by the Bishop to protect the King while he is in England, where he will sign the oil agreement, and also during his flight to New York where he will meet his four year old son. After signing the concession the King retires for the night in his London hotel. However, the Prince's right hand man, Achmed, is positioned on a roof 2 floors above the King's apartment and he sends an accomplice armed with a knife down by rope to the bedroom window.

The assassin enters the bedroom and is about to stab the King to death when Matthew, who has been keeping watch, calls out for him to stop. The killer thinks that the miniaturized Matthew is a demon and, frightened out of his wits, rushes to the window and falls to his death.

Tired of failure, the Prince and Ahmed go to the Precision Instrument Makers company and pay for a timing mechanism of the kind that might be used to detonate a bomb. This device is fitted inside a large teddy bear containing explosives which was supposed to be a present for the King's son. The bomb is timed to explode only one hour into the flight and there is a backup plan which involves the triggering of a gas canister that will knock out the pilot and co-pilot when they turn off the auto-pilot.


The storyline needs some sort of mechanism for letting the Bishop know that a bomb has been smuggled on board the plane. The best scene, albeit a clunky feeling one, is when the Prince says he wants to check the dimensions of the timing device. He slots it into the assembly cut into the teddy bear's body to the obvious discomfiture of the engineer, Joe (played by Captain Blue).


The Prince of Muldovia is on the left and is the baddie in this story. His brother, the King, is seated on the right and seems to be a decent sort of guy. The Prince's confederate is called Achmed and he is a villain previously seen in the Joe 90 episode called 'Splashdown'. Achmed has a particularly evil voice when instructing the assailant in the hotel building.



When Captain Blue (or Joe) is watching television with his Dad he recognises the teddy bear and box that are being shown on the news before the big football match. He attempts to warn the authorities but is shot outside the door of the police station. Fortunately, he is able to warn the police that there is probably a bomb on board the King's plane.

From that moment we have the same tired old story of someone having to fly a plane because the pilots have been incapacitated. Father Unwin is at the controls and is able to land the jet with the help of Iceland air traffic control after various yawn-inducing time wasting plot devices.

The Bishop
20th March 2011, 01:26 PM



Unwinese is used on 2 occasions and both times the objective is to make cross-questioning difficult and thus sidestep awkward questions about how Father Unwin achieved his results (i.e. with Matthew's help).

Specifically, it prevented the King from finding out how Father Unwin was alerted to the assassin in the hotel bedroom and later how it was possible for a bomb to be located in the hold whilst Father Unwin was occupied on the flight deck.



Father Unwin: "Your Majesty .. Are you alright?"
The King: "Yes .. Father Unwin - what happened?"
Unwin: "Well, there was an interubbers in my sleeve (snort!) to came through and I seem come through to help yode!"
King: "Interubbers? slumb .. I'm not certain I understand?"
Unwin: "Oh, it's alright - your Majesty may sleep again. I'm sorry you've been disturbed. O, sleepy peacefold now."
King: "I think you are very lucky for me, Father Unwin."


King: "What's happened, Father Unwin?"
Unwin: "I'm afraid, Your Majesty, there was a bomb on board but it's been located and disposed of."
King: "A bomb?! But if you were here who found the bomb?"
Unwin: "Ah, I didn't work it loadly. Oh No. I had a very great help of surprising sourcimost."
King: "Supr ... sourcimost .. I don't understand you!"
Unwin: "Well, it's easy. Majestrakers. I have a helper - deep joy of the miniaturization. All tiny, tiny. Very invaluabold!"
King: "Tiny, tiny .."
Unwin: "I must soon attempt a landing, Your Majesty. Would you please go back and fasten your seat belt."




Father Unwin: "Your Majesty .. Are you alright?"
The King: "Yes .. Father Unwin - what happened?"
Unwin: "Well, my sleep was interrupted and I came through to try and help you!"
King: "Interruption? slumber .. I'm not certain I understand?"
Unwin: "Oh, it's alright - your Majesty may sleep again. I'm sorry you've been disturbed. You can sleep in peace now."
King: "I think you are very lucky for me, Father Unwin."


King: "What's happened, Father Unwin?"
Unwin: "I'm afraid, Your Majesty, there was a bomb on board but it's been located and disposed of."
King: "A bomb?! But if you were here who found the bomb?"
Unwin: "Ah, I didn't work alone. Oh No. I had a lot of help from a very surprising source."
King: "A surprising source .. I don't understand you!"
Unwin: "Well, it's easy, Your Majesty. I have a helper thanks to the Minimizer. Very small. Quite invaluable!"
King: "Small .."
Unwin: "I must soon attempt a landing, Your Majesty. Would you please go back and fasten your seat belt."


I am not sure if there was any real advantage to be gained by Matthew from being minimised in this story. It does, however, facilitate the precipitant death of the assassin as he thinks Matthew must be a demon.

After all, Matthew was to take turns watching over the King as he slept and the likelihood was that the King would know Father Unwin was on guard when it was his turn to take the second watch.

Again, both times that Unwinese was employed it was to cover up the existence of the help provided by Matthew. Would it have been such a big deal if Matthew had been full size and simply presented to the King as a bodyguard?



Just the usual excellent Barry Gray music.


Here is a nice picture of Joe (Captain Blue) with his Dad relaxing in the living room waiting for the Big Match to start. The attention to detail is really quite exceptional in this series.



The sets are always excellent and no doubt the props are rearranged so as to make them represent different locations. A sprinkling of snow turns a London airport into an Icelandic one. I like the Royal Muldovia jet and just look at the detail on those tiny figures of the King and Prince.


The Bishop
20th March 2011, 01:27 PM


Here is the ubiquitous Captain Grey in his guise as the Mudovian airways pilot. When he and the co-pilot are gassed the sound of their coughing is quite irritating and unconvincing!



Agent Blake is nowhere to be seen.


Here we have Orson from the Captain Scarlet episode 'Lunarville 7'. I liked the way he was voiced by Martin King in that episode but he doesn't speak here. Instead he shoots a would-be assassin who is firing on the King from the roof of the palace.


Call me crazy but I feel sure that the bullet holes that appear in the walls of the palace have been fired by a real gun. By this I mean a pellet gun or an air gun - I don't know much about guns. If I am right this conjures up the amusing image of someone offscreen actually firing a gun at the puppets!


Father Unwin looks good in his dressing gown and night cap but I don't think it will catch on.


This section affords an opportunity to pick up on some of the live action shots and locations which are a characteristic of this show.


The drive-by shooting of Joe happens at Beaconsfield and here is a link to relevant page of the Avengerland Guide: http://avengerland.theavengers.tv/f.htm#f28 I had to include this shot and would be very interested to know who the gunman actually is.



This is surely another shot of the premises of Century 21 Studios in Slough.



There is nothing outstanding in this story although we get to see Heathrow Airport in quieter times.


The old black car in the above screenshot is lovely and reappears in the final episode of the series. There is an understated elegance about this car and it is a poignant reminder of those bygone days.

The Bishop
20th March 2011, 01:28 PM


My feeling is that this episode was made after the decision to axe The Secret Service had been made. The situation where a member of the public has to land an aircraft has been used many times in the past, both in Supermarionation series and other dramas, and for me it is tedious and disappointing.

The first 1/3rd of the episode is fair enough but the last 2/3rds consists of various stock time fillers such as forgetting to lower the undercarriage and pulling back the stick too far. My suspicious mind suggests that such ruses make it easy to film an episode quickly and cheaply with the minimum of fuss and effort.

The downside is that the viewer knows that the landing will be ultimately successful and that therefore any tension build up is fairly minimal. In fact, the only thing to worry about is whether or not there will be a more interesting scene, however brief, before the end.


I have included a shot from the control tower because of the garish colour of the windows which, together with the controller's extraordinary Icelandic accent, might be remarked upon if they were not mentioned in the review.


This is the worst episode in the series and if it wasn't for the high production values might actually merit a Four star rating!!

Rating: Five stars + 2 Minimiser lights



Here we see Micro Matthew guarding the King in his hotel bedroom. Is the King wearing the same pyjamas as the Director General of the United Asian Republic from the Captain Scarlet episode 'Winged Assassin'?



The only explosion of note is that of the teddy bear when Matthew throws it from the plane but it goes off more like a firecracker. The image is very small but it looks like the entire explosive charge has been moulded in the shape of a bear.


Father Unwin refers to the Book of Job and quotes "But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath" before saying that "the people who hurt us most are those that profess to love us and yet deliberately deceive us for their own ends".


Mrs Appleby is not around to pass judgement!


One of the lighter moments is when we first see the teddy bear. I wonder if it was chosen from somewhere like the Teddy Bear Shop in Henley. There is something cold and unfriendly about this bear and the bowtie seems to accentuate the impression!


This is a thread with a difference in that it incorporates a competition for members of the public Fanderson Forum. The winner will receive a small prize consisting of a resin Matthew Harding head which was taken from the original puppet.

The Bishop will soon be retiring on a nice, fat Civil Service pension. To win the Matthew headcast you must answer the following question: What is The Last Errand Of The Bishop?



Agent Blake: "Excuse me, sir! I've been thinking about this competition to discover your final mission. Well, sir, the trouble is that I haven't got a clue..."

The Bishop: "Really, Blake, and yet there have been several. Surely, any answer must consist of a sequence of words strung together into a meaningful phrase or sentence? Your first task, then, is to identify a finite source of such words. How about the title of each episode - such as May-Day, May-Day!? What do you think, Father Unwin?"

Father Unwin: "There is a deep joy of that, Bishop. Your second undertakers, Agent Blake, must be to falollop the logicold for a word selectyhow of that - you can't use them all. The title of this particular story consists of 4 words [May=1] [Day=2] [May=3] [Day=4] so I have used my portrait to give you a clue as to which word to pick. How about DAY? Do you follow my meal, Matthew?"

Matthew: "I certainly do, Father.

The third and final task would be to sort those words selected from the finite pool into a meaningful phrase - intertwingle them as Father Unwin might say!" I have used my particular portrait to give you a clue as to where to put the word 'day' in the final solution. Place the word DAY in position 13 (my portrait is between positions 12 and 14 - hence 13)."

The Bishop: "To summarise - 1. find a source of words (= the episode titles), 2. select one word from each title (= count the position of Father Unwin's portrait on the fame grid) and 3. place the chosen word in a position in a new string (= count the position of Matthew's portrait on the fame grid). The final solution will consist of a 13 word sentence as there are 13 episodes."

"All that remains is to wish you the best of luck!!"

Steve Gerard
20th March 2011, 03:15 PM
The Bishop I am glad to see another review.

20th March 2011, 03:43 PM
Yes Bishop I look forward to seeing and reading your reviews. This wasn't one of the better episodes I agree but I think the best one is yet to come - episode 13 More Haste Less Speed. A classic finish to an excellent and charming Gerry Anderson show.:D

The Bishop
20th March 2011, 06:38 PM
Hello Steve and Picasso,

Thanks for your support and, in the words of Dick Emery: "You are awful! .. but I like you!"

Lady Martha Hazlewell

Derek Eaton
27th March 2011, 07:35 AM
I quite like this episode and the jet reminds of the Spectrum Passenger Jet if only for the colour scheme. Neat review with a great choice of photos.