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Monday 7 September 2020

The Girl Who Was Death

Death is most often personified as male, although in some cultures Death is perceived as female. Published in 1933 “The Appointment In Samarra” is the retelling of an ancient Mesopotamian tale retold by W Somerset Maugham. The speaker is Death; 

    “There was a merchant in Baghdad who sent his servant to market to buy provisions and in a little while the servant came back, white and trembling, and said, Master, just now when I was in the marketplace I was jostled by a woman in the crowd and when I turned I saw it was Death that jostled me. She looked at me and made a threatening gesture, now, lend me your horse, and I will ride away from this city and avoid my fate. I will go to Samarra and there Death will not find me. The merchant lent him his horse, and the servant mounted it, and he dug his spurs in its flanks and as fast as the horse could gallop he went. Then the merchant went down to the marketplace and he saw me standing in the crowd and he came to me and said, why did you make a threatening gesture to my servant when you saw him this morning? That was not a threatening gesture, I said, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”

      Whether or not scriptwriter Terrence Feely was aware of this retelling of ancient Mesopotamian tale by W Somerset Maugham, and thereby given the inspiration for Death being female in ‘The Girl Who Was Death’ is unknown. However it is always possible. Terrence wrote this episode based on an idea by director David Tomblin, so was it Tomblin or Feely’s idea to make Death the Girl? Generally one does one’s best to avoid death, as in “The Appointment In Samarra,” however its Death who leads Mister X a merry dance of death in a series of adventures, at the cricket match, then avoiding death in the Thatched Barn hotel. The dance continues to the Turkish baths, then onto all the fun of the fair and Barny’s Boxing Booth where Mister X is given a clue as to the whereabouts of Death…….the tunnel of love where again death is cheated! A car chase leaves the funfair miles behind and ahead of them the deserted village of Witchwood where Mister X is due to die. The dance leads Mister X through the butchers, the bakers, and the candlestick makers where he is meant to die. But one can only go on avoiding death for so long, even using an International 100b Drott loader as a tank for protection will not save him, only by his wits does Mister X live to fight another day!


 Be seeing you


  1. In this 'fantasy' episode, we meet number doc's fellow agent Potter who is the scorekeeper of the cricket match and a shoe shine man. The same character with the same name played by the same actor was an agent in Koroshi, the color Danger Man set in Japan. A clue that six is Drake?

    1. Hallo Elliot,
      Yes indeed. 'The Girl Who Was Death' is an unused 'Danger Man' story. So in my mind what we see in the episode is a glimpse of No.6's former employment as a secret agent John Drake.
      I myself have always thought the identity of No.6 is John Drake, there has never been any doubt in my mind. Drake was my boyhood hero, and although there was a gap between 'Danger Man' and 'the Prisoner,' being abducted to the village the opening sequence shows us what happened to John Drake, having resigned his job.

      My best regards
      Be seeing you

  2. Number six not number doc. Damn autospell.