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Rumours of Death was the eighth episode of Series C it was first broadcast 25 February 1980.


From the VHS release:

An uprising hits Earth and Servalan finds herself a prisoner in her new presidential palace. Meanwhile Avon's hot on the scent of "Bartholomew", the Federation agent who murdered his beloved Anna Grant...


Avon is a prisoner of the Federation but they are unaware of his identity. The infamous torturer Shrinker enters his cell to interrogate him and reveals the Federation know Avon has a tracking device implanted and have been waiting to see who turned up. Avon explains they will only turn up when he turns it off, which he just has. Tarrant and Dayna teleport into the cell and take Shrinker prisoner, teleporting back to the Liberator with both him and Avon. Dayna expresses her disappointment that a recent rebellion on Earth seems to have been quashed.

Servalan is preparing for the inauguration of her presidential palace with Councillor Chesku, one of her chief supporters, scheduled to give a speech at the ceremony. Federation officers Grenlee and Forres, in charge of security, allow Chesku and his wife Sula to leave the surveillance area. Sula then reveals the troopers with them are rebels and kills Chesku. More rebels ambush Federation troopers and steal their uniforms. One of the group, Balon, puts Grenlee and Forres at ease by posing as a trooper and contacting them.

Avon teleports himself and Shrinker down to a subterranean cave with no other exit. He unveils a portrait of Anna Grant, who is clearly the same woman as Sula, but Shrinker doesn't recognise her. He does remember Avon however and reveals the Federation placed their top agent, Bartholomew, in his organisation to find out his motive: Bartholomew was the one who arrested and interrogated all Avon's associates so must have been the one to kill Anna. Shrinker doesn't know Bartholomew's true identity but a Federation controller he interrogated while briefly working for the rebels mentioned Chesku. With this, Avon throws his gun to the ground, saying it's Shrinker's only way out, and teleports up, leaving Shrinker trapped.

Using Chesku's clothes and the trooper uniforms, Anna leads the rebels in a surprise attack on the presidential palace. Several people are killed, including Balon and Forres, and the troopers are overcome. Grenlee, shot and left for dead, sends out a distress call. Servalan is taken prisoner and Anna convinces the rebel leader, Hob, to spare her so she can formally hand over power to a people's council.

Avon decides to confront Servalan and force her to reveal Bartholomew's identity. He, Tarrant, Cally and Dayna teleport down to the grounds of the palace and discover the aftermath of the battle. After overpowering a group of rebels left on guard, Avon and Tarrant convince the delirious and dying Grenlee they are Federation officers and get him to lead them to the cellar where Servalan has been chained up. She offers to tell them what they want to know in exchange for her freedom. At that moment, Anna enters. Recalling Shrinker's words, Avon realises she can only have survived if she was Bartholomew. As Cally arrives, Anna draws her gun but Avon shoots first, holding her as she dies.

Dayna joins them, having witnessed the arrival of Federation reinforcements. Avon shoots through Servalan's chains then removes his bracelet. Unfortunately, Vila misunderstands Tarrant's instructions and teleports up him, Cally and Dayna without checking the co-ordinates, meaning he can't put them back down. Aiming a weapon at Avon, Servalan tells him to replace the bracelet and call for teleport, intending to send his corpse back to the Liberator. However, Hob then enters the cellar to warn Anna. Servalan kills him but the distraction allows Avon to teleport safely, telling the crew that rumours of his death have been exaggerated...but only slightly.



Story notes[]

  • Zen does not appear in this episode, making it the second episode, after Gambit, where Peter Tuddenham is credited as playing Orac.
  • John Bryans, who appears as Shrinker, previously played Bercol in Seek-Locate-Destroy and Trial.
  • Aside from the hyphenated Death-Watch, this is the last episode not to have a one word title.
  • Paul Darrow named this as his favourite episode.
  • This is the only episode to feature flashbacks, as Avon remembers his times with Anna.



Filming locations[]

Oxfordshire. "Residence 1" is Cornbury House, located in Cornbury Park.

Production errors[]

To be added.


  • This is the third and final episode to be set predominantly on Earth, after "The Way Back" and "Pressure Point".
  • Anna Grant was established in "Countdown". In that episode, Avon said he would have laid down his life to save hers; here, however, he kills her in self-defence. Shrinker was established in "Children of Auron".


Shrinker: They tell me you're not cooperating.
Avon: Oh? What's the matter? Did I bleed on the wrong bit of floor?

Sula: She is, after all, a tasteless megalomaniac.

Forres: Some days are better than others, sir. They say that where I come from, sir.
Grenlee: Loudly, I imagine, on the day you left.

Tarrant: My concern is that I don't find myself looking down the wrong end of your gun...with him on the right end of it.

Avon: Executions are always in cold blood.

Grenlee: If you ever panic like that again, I'll see you're busted so far down you'll be saluting civilians.

Vila: Don't we get a say in this?
Avon: By all means. Say away.

Dayna: What are you going to do? Stick a gun in Servalan's ear and say "Give me Bartholomew or I'll blow the top of your head off"?
Avon: Something like that.
Dayna: And if she doesn't?
Avon: I'll blow the top of her head off.

Avon: You know Orac's main drawback?
Dayna: He's too useful to destroy.

Home video releases[]

Series 3 DVD

DVD cover

  • Original BBC video release (Volume 17) in 1992.
  • Fabulous Films video reissue (Volume 17) on 3 May 1999.
  • DVD release as part of the Series 3 box set on 20 June 2005.

External links[]