Vault of Death
|Season 1, Episode 13|
|Original Transmission||December 23, 1965|
|Written by||Dennis Spooner|
|Directed by||David Elliot|
|Edited by||Peter Elliot|
The Mighty Atom
The Mighty Atom
Vault of Death is the 7th produced episode and the 13th broadcast episode of the first series of Thunderbirds.
Parker’s exceptional safe-cracking skills convince officials at the Bank of England to install a more modern strongroom. But when an employee is unwittingly locked inside the vault, will International Rescue find a way to bypass the new security measures before all the air is pumped out?
Synopsis written by SuperMarioMan
On a murky night, a police officer is on duty outside the Bank of England in London. Out of the thick fog, Lady Penelope approaches and, claiming that she is lost, asks for directions to the Tower of London. Before the officer can reply, however, he is suddenly chloroformed by Parker. After hiding the unconscious body, Parker deactivates the Bank’s alarm systems so that Penelope can blow open the front door with plastic explosives.
Entering the building, the pair arrive at the Bank’s vault and Parker sets to work cracking the safe. After two and a half hours working stubbornly with just a stethoscope, one of his combinations works and the vault is opened. At that moment, employees of the Bank come out of hiding and congratulate Penelope and Parker: the robbery was engineered by Lord Silton, the President, to prove to the Board of Governors that a modern, more secure strongroom was required. Silton promises to keep a dinner invitation at Penelope’s mansion and reassures Parker that he will answer for any “trouble”. Meanwhile, the police officer has regained consciousness outside and is desperately blowing his whistle for assistance.
While Parker drives Penelope back home in FAB1, he remarks that he can think of just one other person with a similar expertise in safe-cracking, and that he is “retired”. That night, at the Parkmoor Scrubs Prison, one of the inmates lifts a slab from his cell floor and escapes underground. Alarms and searchlights are activated, but the administration fails to notice him taking refuge in a large bin.
The next day, the new vault to house England’s monies, deeds and documents has been installed at the Bank. At closing time, Lord Silton instructs his aide, Lovegrove, to register the employees. One worker, Lambert, is absent but another claims to have seen him leave earlier. Confident that the vault is completely vacated, Silton uses his unique electronic key to seal the sliding vault door for the next two years. He then leaves to dine at Penelope’s mansion, boasting that the briefcase containing his key never leaves his side. The air inside the strongroom begins to evacuate to preserve the papers, much to the approval of Lovegrove. However, unknown to them all, Lambert has returned and is locked inside the vault, with the air supply already diminishing.
Lambert, a workaholic, continues to work intently on his figures, unaware that his air is fast running out. With Lambert still missing, Lovegrove’s suspicion that he is trapped inside the vault deepens. However, his attempts to contact the employee fail when Lambert irritably shuts his radio in his desk drawer, demanding not to be disturbed. Realising that his fears have come true, Lovegrove decides to contact Lord Silton via the Bank’s emergency call system.
At the Creighton-Ward Mansion, Silton thanks Penelope for a good meal and praises Parker’s service. The butler, meanwhile, is in the kitchens poking fun at Lil, Penelope’s cook, until he spots a newspaper article reporting the escape of his former cellmate, nicknamed Light-Fingered Fred, from Parkmoor Scrubs. At the same time, the driver of a refuse truck transporting rubbish from the prison fails to notice one of the bins roll off his vehicle. Cascading down a hill and crashing into a tree, Fred emerges, embedded in waste.
Later, Parker is serving tea to Penelope and Silton. An emergency alarm rings out inside Silton’s briefcase, warning him that he is needed at the Bank immediately. Upon Penelope’s suggestion that the bank is being robbed, Parker is startled and accidentally spills the tea all over Silton. Furiously ordered by Penelope to clean up the mess, he instead spies on the pair through the keyhole in the dining-room door and cuts the wires feeding the videophone before Silton can call Lovegrove to establish the problem. After Penelope commands Parker to prepare FAB1 so that Silton can travel to the Bank in person, his shears falls out of his waistcoat, but Parker claims to have been pruning roses. Once in the car, Parker drives at a purposely slow pace to waste more time. Penelope heatedly commands him to speed up; he does so, but then takes a wrong turning.
With 90 minutes to go before the vault’s air supply is completely drained, Lambert unsuspectingly continues working. With no sign of Lord Silton, Lovegrove calls International Rescue for help. John relays the message to Tracy Island from Thunderbird 5. Jeff sends out Scott in Thunderbird 1 and Virgil and Alan in Thunderbird 2, carrying the Mole with the intention of burrowing into the vault. With one hour to go, Scott lands at the City of London Heliport, followed closely by Virgil and Alan. However, it is quickly established that the Mole cannot be used due to the sheer multitude of underground cables. Virgil and Alan try cutting through the thick door but have little success.
Meanwhile, Parker stops FAB1 on a desolate cliff edge, incongruously named “Lovers’ Leap”. Penelope is unconvinced by his excuse that he is lost and takes him outside, demanding an explanation for his persistence in trying to prevent Lord Silton from getting to London. Reluctantly, Parker describes how, as a convict, he shared a cell with Light-Fingered Fred. One night, Fred announced his intention to rob the Bank of England. Now that he has escaped from prison, Parker is unwilling to foil what is possibly his friend executing his threat. Penelope has little sympathy for his predicament, and decides to drive FAB1 herself. However, she narrowly avoids surging off the cliff and then drives horrendously, just missing a tree and causing another car to swerve and crash, before taking a hazardous shortcut through a field. Meanwhile, inside the vault, Lambert is noticing that it is getting stuffier.
Knowing that the cutting will not gain them entry in time, and that the Mole is useless, Scott calls Tracy Island for ideas on how else they could effect a rescue. Remembering her youth, Grandma suggests that there might be a way through the disused London Underground network. Her thought is useful, and Virgil and Alan mount their hoverbikes and set off up one of the tunnels, eventually reaching Bank station. As Lambert, now barely able to breathe, finds to his horror that the vault door is locked and that the air is now almost completely evacuated, Virgil and Alan prepare to detonate an explosive device at the end of the station lift shaft.
Penelope stops FAB1 at the Bank of England entrance and serenely expresses her desire to drive more often, unaware that Parker and Silton are traumatised by their experience. Once inside, and with one minute remaining, Lovegrove urges Silton to open the door with the electronic key, but the President sheepishly realises that he has left his briefcase at Penelope’s mansion. Parker, having inspected the lock, asks for one of Penelope’s hair clips.
Meanwhile, Virgil and Alan’s charge explodes, demolishing the back door of the vault. A breathless Lambert, who was considering calling International Rescue himself, is innocently amazed at the organisation’s efficiency. Parker picks the front lock with Penelope’s hair pin and succeeds in opening the door. Silton and Lovegrove are dismayed at his speed, and agree to revert to using the older vault, which still took him two and a half hours to crack.
In FAB1, Parker explains that he could have opened the first vault much quicker, but did not want to disappoint his audience. He is relieved that Fred was not involved in the incident after all. However, at that exact moment, Fred blows his way into the vault, only to find that two entrances have already been made for him.
- Jeff Tracy — Peter Dyneley
- Scott Tracy — Shane Rimmer
- Virgil Tracy — David Holliday
- Alan Tracy — Matt Zimmerman
- Gordon Tracy — David Graham
- John Tracy — Ray Barrett
- Grandma Tracy — Christine Finn
- Brains — David Graham
- Tin-Tin Kyrano — Christine Finn
- Kyrano — David Graham
- Lady Penelope Creighton-Ward — Sylvia Anderson
- Aloysius "Nosey" Parker — David Graham
Guest Voice CastEdit
- Lord Silton — Peter Dyneley
- Lovegrove — Ray Barrett
- Lambert — David Graham
- Lil — Sylvia Anderson
- Light-Fingered Fred — David Graham
- Taylor — David Graham
- Carter — Shane Rimmer
- Moore — David Graham
- Longman — Peter Dyneley
- Barrett — David Graham
- Policeman — David Graham
- "Vault of Death" features the only appearance of (part of) a human face in the Thunderbirds television series: the eye of Judith Shutt, a puppet operator and Lady Penelope’s hand double throughout the series, represents Penelope as she peers through a spyhole in the Bank of England door in the opening scene.
- Ray Barrett’s voice for Lovegrove is an imitation of late actor Sir John Gielgud.
- The City of London Heliport model consists of remnants of the Marineville Tower featured in Gerry Anderson's previous series Stingray.
- Since Grandma recalls her own grandmother talking about the “old London Subway” when she was a young girl, it is implied that the London Underground has been out of use since the late 20th century.
- The electric drills that Virgil and Alan use to plant the explosive, are the WASP pistols from Stingray.
- When Lovegrove realises that Lambert is locked in the vault, Carter, is voiced first by Shane Rimmer, then by David Graham.
- Virgil and Alan arrive at Bank station through a tunnel from Piccadilly Circus even though the two stations are in fact on completely different lines of the London Underground: Piccadilly Circus on the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines, Bank station on the Central, Northern, Waterloo & City and Docklands Light Railway lines.