Thriller (1973–1976)
4 user 2 critic

Death in Small Doses 

Ring Once for Death (original title)
Recently widowed Laura Vallance returns home to England after many years living abroad. She knows few people in England, but she desires rest and seclusion in her time of grief. However, ... See full summary »


Robert D. Cardona


Brian Clemens (created by), Brian Clemens (story) | 1 more credit »


Episode cast overview:
Michael Jayston ... Roger Masters
Nyree Dawn Porter ... Laura
Barry Nelson ... Hugo Fane
Thorley Walters ... Dr. Ledworth
Janet Key Janet Key ... Lisa
Victor Winding Victor Winding ... Detective Sergeant Rainer
Clare Sutcliffe Clare Sutcliffe ... Betty
Richard Oldfield ... Piers Fane


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Recently widowed Laura Vallance returns home to England after many years living abroad. She knows few people in England, but she desires rest and seclusion in her time of grief. However, she is more alone than she bargained for when she hires Roger Masters as her butler. With small doses of poison, the ruthless butler plans to keeps his wealthy employer incapacitated... permanently. Written by L. Hamre

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Plot Keywords:

butler | maid | poison | scam | drunk | See All (5) »

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User Reviews

Not Such a Devoted Servant...
9 August 2002 | by alanbriscoeSee all my reviews

Another exceptional episode of "Thriller" - one of the best.

Roger Masters (Michael Jayston) is a butler employed by widow Laura Vallance (Nyree Dawn Porter). Unknown to her he has already poisoned his last employer. Immediately he is at odds with the existing maid Betty (Clare Sutcliffe) so he frames her for a theft to get her fired, then brings in his girlfriend Lisa (Janet Key) as her more accommodating replacement. The pair slowly poison Laura, aided by a disgraced doctor (Thorley Walters).

Over time Laura becomes sicker and suspicious as Masters cuts her off from outside contact, particularly with her American friend Hugo (Barry Nelson). He also becomes worried by Masters's refusal to let him see her. Masters starts to realise that he is under pressure and the stage is set for some very fateful decisions...

This riveting story was written by the excellent Terence Feely. The direction by Robert D. Cardona is first class and creates a very tense ambience. The climax is superb. The script also features some very witty dialogue.

There are many fine acting displays. Jayston is marvellous as the spiteful Masters. Behind his terribly correct exterior Masters is aggressive and bullying. Jayston pulls this image off with ease. His nastiness is irresistible to watch. Especially powerful are the scenes with the disgraced doctor, very capably played by Thorley Walters, in which Masters's resentment at his humble origins explodes in the presence of the shambling, alcoholic doctor who has squandered his privileged upbringing. Nyree Dawn Porter is, as always, accomplished as the hapless Laura, and generates real affection for her character. Sadly she virtually disappeared from the screens after this. In the supporting roles there are strong displays by Janet Key, Clare Sutcliffe, and Victor Winding as a very sharp detective.

Definitely an episode to check out - you will not be disappointed!

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Release Date:

6 December 1973 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Death in Small Doses See more »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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