Seven Serpents, Sulphur And Salt – Episode 1

Ace Of WandsMr. Christopher, an acquaintance of Mr. Sweet’s, rushes into Sweet’s bookstore while Lulli is watching the shop. He asks Lulli where Sweet can be reached, and then wants to call him, hiding a piece of paper in one of the books in the shop while Lulli looks for the phone number. But before much of a conversation can take place, a man named Luko appears out of thin air, killing Mr. Christopher and then looking for something until Lulli walks in. Luko vanishes again just as the door opens, leaving Lulli to find Mr. Christopher’s cobweb-covered corpse. Tarot, Sam and Mr. Sweet converge on the store, and Mr. Christopher’s walking stick, imbued with some kind of magical power, directs them to the paper – a scrap of 14th century paper with a drawing of a serpent. Mr. Sweet consults with the verger at a nearby church about the possible meaning and importance of the paper, only to be met with a horrified response. Tarot and Sam, expecting the killer to return to the bookstore in search of the paper, lay a trap, but this time Luko appears with his employer, the sinister Mr. Stabs, who seems to have considerable magical powers of his own – enough to stop Tarot in his tracks. Mr. Sweet and the church verger return with bad news: an exorcism, complete with chalk circles on the floor, will have to be performed on all who have touched the paper. During this ritual, the hand-drawn serpent becomes a real snake – and a terrified Lulli steps out of the protection of her circle.

written by Trevor Preston
directed by Pamela Lonsdale
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Judy Loe (Lulli), Tony Selby (Sam), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet), Russell Hunter (Mr. Stabs), Ian Trigger (Luko), Harriet Harper (Polandi), Llewellyn Rees (Mr. Christopher), Jack Woolgar (Charlie Postle)

Notes: This is the premiere of Ace Of Wands’ second season, but along with the rest of the second season, is missing due to ITV’s policy of erasing and reusing then-expensive videotape in the 1970s. This synopsis is based on the original scripts (included as bonus features on Network DVD’s box set release of the surviving third season) as well as very low-quality audio recordings of the episode in question.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Seven Serpents, Sulphur And Salt – Episode 2

Ace Of WandsWhen Lulli makes a hasty – and premature – exit from the exorcism ritual, the snake vanishes, and Lulli begins claiming that she is Kildaa, the bird spirit – and subtly announces her plans to go to the roof of the building in which Tarot lives so she can fly away. Tarot manages to break the spell and bring Lulli back, but the piece of paper with the serpent drawn on it has vanished. Mr. Postle, the church verger who was performing the exorcism, believes that the paper may have been 1/7 of a map to the location of a legendary secret: the ability to turn base metals into gold. Mr. Sweet and Mr. Postle also find evidence of a magician who was previously seeking that secret, named Estabis – over 200 years ago. Tarot and Sam follow a clue to find Mr. Stabs’ base of operations, where they overcome Stabs’ lackey, Luko, and photograph the other map segments in Stabs’ possession. But Stabs himself, in the guise of a reporter seeking an interview with Tarot, gains entry to Tarot’s apartment, which is occupied only by Lulli and Ozymandias the owl when he drops by. He casts a spell on Lulli to force her to give him the photograph of the missing segment of the map…and to force her to poison Tarot’s next cup of coffee…

written by Trevor Preston
directed by Pamela Lonsdale
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Judy Loe (Lulli), Tony Selby (Sam), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet), Russell Hunter (Mr. Stabs), Ian Trigger (Luko), Harriet Harper (Polandi), Jack Woolgar (Charlie Postle)

Notes: Along with the rest of the first and second seasons of the series, this episode of Ace Of Wands is missing due to ITV’s policy of erasing and reusing then-expensive videotape in the 1970s. This synopsis is based on the original scripts (included as bonus features on Network DVD’s box set release of the surviving third season) as well as very low-quality audio recordings of the episode in question.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Seven Serpents, Sulphur And Salt – Episode 3

Ace Of WandsA suspicious Sam prevents Tarot from drinking the poisoned coffee, and again, Tarot is able to break the spell over Lulli, bringing her out from under Mr. Stabs’ control. But when she reveals that Stabs has the photo of the missing segment of the map, it’s clear that this race for an ancient secret is in a dead heat: everyone now has the complete map, it’s just a matter of who can decipher it and reach it first. The map leads to a dangerous abandoned well in a graveyard near the ruins of a castle, and Sam decides it’s safest for him to scale his way down the well to find part of the symbol that will unlock the secret. The other part of the symbol is under a large, marked stone, guarded by a particularly poisonous snake, though Tarot is able to retrieve it without disturbing the snake. But it’s only now that his nemeses have done the hard work that Mr. Stabs shows up to claim victory…and in that moments, it looks as though Tarot might switch sides.

written by Trevor Preston
directed by Pamela Lonsdale
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Judy Loe (Lulli), Tony Selby (Sam), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet), Russell Hunter (Mr. Stabs), Ian Trigger (Luko), Jonathan Cecil (Mr. Thwaites)

Notes: Along with the rest of the first and second seasons of the series, this episode of Ace Of Wands is missing due to ITV’s policy of erasing and reusing then-expensive videotape in the 1970s. This synopsis is based on the original scripts (included as bonus features on Network DVD’s box set release of the surviving third season) as well as very low-quality audio recordings of the episode in question.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Meddlers – Part 1

Ace Of WandsTarot visits a run-down street market, learning that unlucky accidents have been befalling the merchants there – a grocer whose goods go rotten, a bookseller whose cart catches on fire, and so on. A trio of wandering street musicians draw Tarot’s attention as well, particularly the somewhat threatening attitude of their spoon player. Tarot meets a photographer named Chas and his sister Mikki, discovering that he has a psychic link to Mikki similar to that which he once shared with Luli. Realizing that the stakes are becoming deadly, Tarot decides to stay and help revitalize that market, only to discover that someone doesn’t want his help…and intends to send that message forcefully.

written by P.J. Hammond
directed by John Russell
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Petra Markham (Mikki), Roy Holder (Chas), Michael Standing (Spoon), Barry Linehan (Mockers), Paul Dawkins (Dove), Stefan Kalipha (Drum), Honora Burke (Madge), Neil Linden (Accordion Player)

Notes: This is the premiere of Ace Of Wands’ third season, the only season of the show left intact by ITV’s policy of erasing and reusing then-expensive videotape in the 1970s. While Doctor Who fans may feel Ace Of Wandsunlucky that so many 1960s episodes of that series are missing, Ace Of Wands was produced much more recently, and none of its first two seasons’ episodes now exist in the archives. Involving a crime-solving stage magician with mystic powers and ESP, the series introduced new characters in this episode, replacing the departed Roy (Tony Selby) and Luli (Judy Loe), who had been Tarot’s accomplices in the first two years of the show.

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Meddlers – Part 2

Ace Of WandsTarot narrowly avoids serious injury, and recognizes the runaway horse for the warning that it represents…but this only makes him more determined to find out what’s happening to the street merchants. Tarot’s car has also been moved without his knowledge, but Chas is able to find it thanks to his local knowledge, and retrieves Tarot’s owl, Ozymandias, from the car. Tarot and Mikki talk to one of the merchants who is packing out her store, but as soon as the woman mentions that her stall space has been bought out by a Mr. Dove, the street musicians appear yet again, again with violence in mind for Tarot.

written by P.J. Hammond
directed by John Russell
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Petra Markham (Mikki), Roy Holder (Chas), Michael Standing (Spoon), Barry Linehan (Mockers), Honora Burke (Madge), Paul Dawkins (Dove), Norma West (Chauffeuse), Stefan Kalipha (Drum), Neil Linden (Accordion Player), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Meddlers – Part 3

Ace Of WandsTarot and Mikki notice that Chas hasn’t returned home, and begin looking for him. Along the way, Tarot pays a visit to Mr. Dove, trying to size up the man who is buying the street merchants out of their stall spaces, and trying to figure out why. In the meantime, Chas has found Mr. Dove’s competition, a discovery that puts him in danger until Tarot and Mikki find and free him. The fight to empty the street market centers around a literal buried treasure – but if Tarot is right, it’s not worth any of the trouble.

written by P.J. Hammond
directed by John Russell
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Markham (Mikki), Michael Standing (Spoon), Barry Linehan (Mockers), Paul Dawkins (Dove), Norma West (Chauffeuse), Stefan Kalipha (Drum), Neil Linden (Accordion Player), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Power Of Atep – Part 1

Ace Of WandsTarot and Mikki both have the same dream, involving a ritual taking place in an Egyptian tomb…and a mummified corpse that suddenly appears to have Tarot’s head. A call from Tarot’s old friend, Mr. Sweet, brings bad news that seems even more menacing in this light: Egyptian artifacts related to the mythical figure Atep, who was said to be steeped in his own powerful magic. Tarot and Mikki each follow their own leads, but Tarot must eventually resume his preparations for his next death defying stunt. Mikki finds herself in a psychic summoning circle whose participants call upon to power of Atep to ensure that Tarot can defy death no more.

written by Victor Pemberton
directed by Nicholas Ferguson
music by Andrew Bown

Cast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Ace Of WandsMarkham (Mikki), Sebastian Graham-Jones (John Pentacle), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet), Michael Mulcaster (High Priest), Frederick Beauman (Worshipper), Margot Field (Worshipper), Catherine Brandon (Worshipper), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Power Of Atep – Part 2

Ace Of WandsWhen Tarot fails to surface while practicing a stunt involving breaking free of a straitjacket underwater, Chas leaps to his rescue and drags Tarot back to safety. Mikki breaks from her trance-like state in the psychic circle, revealing that her allegiances are to Tarot rather than Atep; when she, Tarot, Chas and Mr. Sweet go to visit the house where the ritual took place, there’s no evidence that anyone was ever there. Worse yet, Mr. Sweet discovers that the obscure book, “The Power of Atep”, has been stolen. All clues seem to point to Egypt, in the Valley of the Pharaohs, and Chas and Mikki convince Tarot that he must go there. John Pentacle, the leader of the sinister psychic ritual, knows that Tarot will go to Egypt as well…and he will be waiting.

written by Victor Pemberton
directed by Nicholas Ferguson
music by Andrew Bown

Cast: Michael Mackenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Ace Of WandsMarkham (Mikki), Sebastian Graham-Jones (John Pentacle), Donald Layne-Smith (Mr. Sweet), Michael Mulcaster (High Priest), Frederick Beauman (Worshipper), Margot Field (Worshipper), Catherine Brandon (Worshipper), Michael Rose (Tramp), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Power Of Atep – Part 3

Ace Of WandsTarot begins to wonder if his former partner, a fellow stage magician, has a hand in the disappearance of the Atep’s mummy from the British museum, as the unusual theft has some of the hallmarks of an act that they once performed together. Before they arrive in Egypt, Mr. Sweet arranges for Tarot, Mikki and Chas to meet Fergus, the Egyptologist who opened Atep’s tomb and can lead them back to it. Mikki and Tarot both instantly recognize the tomb from their shared nightmares. When Chas takes a photograph in the tomb, Fergus forbids further pictures, but once the travelers are on their own and Chas develops the one photo he took, Mikki spots the man she knows as John Pentacle – a man Tarot recognizes as his former stage partner. But as Fergus finds out not long afterward, John Pentacle has an uncanny talent for looking and sounding exactly like Tarot…a talent that could put Tarot himself in deadly danger.

written by Victor Pemberton
directed by Nicholas Ferguson
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael McKenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Markham (Mikki), Sebastian Graham-Jones (John Pentacle), Joe Dunlop (Fergus Wilson), Lynval May (Arab Boy), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

The Power Of Atep – Part 4

Ace Of WandsTrapped in the tomb of Atep with his vengeful former stage partner, Tarot is told that he will have to survive a magical duel with Atep, who was himself a skilled magician serving the Pharaohs of Egypt. Tarot wants no part of it, but he has little choice, and expects very little competition from a dead man, only to be surprised when at least some of the tales of Atep’s magical prowess prove to be true. Mikki and Chas strong-arm Fergus into taking them to Atep’s tomb to help Tarot, only to find that Fergus has been in league with the worshippers of Atep all along. Will Tarot have to endure the increasingly deadly duel with Atep alone?

written by Victor Pemberton
directed by Nicholas Ferguson
music by Andrew Bown

Ace Of WandsCast: Michael McKenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Markham (Mikki), Sebastian Graham-Jones (John Pentacle), Joe Dunlop (Fergus Wilson), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

LogBook entry by Earl Green

Peacock Pie – Part 1

Ace Of WandsMikki bumps into an ordinary-looking man after nearly being knocked to the ground by armed security guards at a bank. The man tells her that she needs a holiday, and in her mind Mikki sees a remote seaside location. When she next sees Tarot and Chas, Mikki announces that she needs a holiday, a declaration that surprises them. She also describes, briefly, her encounter with the nondescript man, as well as the mental image she picked up from him, which worries Tarot. When they learn the next day that the very bank Mikki visited has been robbed of £40,000, Tarot becomes more convinced that the man she met is involved, and the three set out to investigate. But Mr. Peacock doesn’t want to be investigated, nor does he want to be bothered – and he can overcome even Tarot’s mind to ensure that he’s left alone.

written by P.J. Hammond
directed by John Russell
music by Andrew Bown

Cast: Michael MacKenzie (Tarot), Roy Holder (Chas), Petra Ace Of WandsMarkham (Mikki), Brian Wilde (Mr. Peacock), Dorothy Frere (Mrs. MacFadyean), Jenny McCracken (young Mrs. MacFadyean), and Fred Owl (Ozymandias)

Notes: Chas mentions that Mikki “just has a holiday in Egypt”, a reference to the events of the previous four-part story, The Power Of Atep. A fixture on British TV since the early 1950s, Brian Wilde (1927-2008) has guest starred on such genre fare as The Avengers, Out Of The Unknown, and an episode of Doomwatch that ultimately went unbroadcast; he’s probably best known for playing Foggy in Last Of The Summer Wine. Peter “P.J.” Hammond counts Ace Of Wandsthe (sadly now lost) 1971 Ace Of Wands three-parter Joker as one of his early screenwriting credits; he would also write the script for the series’ final story before resume a “guest writer” career that included the likes of Z Cars, Couples, The Sweeny, Dixon Of Dock Green, Eastenders, Space Island One and Torchwood; he submitted several story outlines (and even some scripts) for the 23rd season of Doctor Who, all of which were left on the cutting room floor (and, later, in the recording studios of audio drama makers Big Finish Productions) when that season was delayed and reworked from the ground up, resulting in The Trial Of A Time Lord. Hammond may be best known for his own creation, the 1979-82 ITV series Sapphire & Steel.

LogBook entry by Earl Green