• title card: white all caps text reading ‘THE REMOVAL MEN’ superimposed on a shot of Dragna walking through the nightclub
  • Dragna and Binaggio menace Steed
  • Steed is impressed by Mrs Dragna’s assets
  • Godard tells the gang to kill Nicole Cauvin
  • Siegel questions the Harbourmaster
  • One-Ten propositions Nicole on the beach

Series 2 — Episode 6
The Removal Men

Teleplay by Roger Marshall and Jeremy Scott
Directed by Don Leaver

Production completed: 4 October 1962. First transmission: 3 November 1962

TV Times summary

Steed arranges for Venus to sing at a Riviera night club – which happens to be the meeting-place for professional murderers

Plot summary

Steed is sent to infiltrate an assassination bureau run by Jack Dragna and Bud Siegel after a series of political murders in the south of France. Siegel also runs a nightclub where Venus is singing and she offers to help Steed find out about him. Steed’s first job is to kill a pro-Independence film actress, Nicole Cauvin, but he puts her in hiding instead. Siegel, suspicious of Steed, finds Nicole Chauvin and exposes Steed as a hoax. They’re facing the music, with Venus playing the piano, but Steed manages to turn the tables and defeat the killers.

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Prologue

Bud SiegelBud Siegel (Edwin Richfield) stalks Les Centaurs nightclub and finds Godard (Donald Tandy) and Jack Dragna (Reed de Rouen) discussing business in a gloomy corner, Godard trying to keep the deal to 75,000 francs but Dragna insists on 100,000 fr. Godard finally agrees so long as the work is completed that week and Dragna tells him, “He’ll be dead by Sunday” then leaves with Siegel.

Act 1

A man stealthily enters an apartment, his torch playing over the naked, sleeping form of Cecile Dragna (Patricia Denys) before he goes to the safe. He pockets some jewellery then deliberately breaks a glass to wake her and pulls out a revolver. He is John Steed (Patrick Macnee), of course. Cecile appears at the saloon-style doors and he invites her to come in, giving her a robe to cover her nudity as an afterthought. He tells her he knows her husband is in Italy and they won’t be disturbed and orders her into the bathroom. She grabs a big bottle of whisky1 and he locks her in so he can make a clean getaway, grinning as he leaves.

The next day, Charlie Binaggio (George Roderick) calls Dragna to his jewellery shop and tells him a snappily-dressed Englishman had been in the shop to have some items valued and he’d recognised the jewellery as belonging to Dragna. He followed Steed afterward to Siegel’s club. Steed meanwhile drops in on Venus Smith (Julie Stevens), who’s rehearsing with Dave Lee at the nightclub. She’s not happy to see him and can’t believe he’s just taking a seaside holiday. He claims that he’s thinking of retiring and plans to buy the club from Siegel, who passes their table, and wishes he knew exactly how much income it made. She naïvely offers to snoop around for him and he murmurs that he wouldn’t want her to get into any trouble...

Dragna and Binaggio arrive and shoo Venus away; then menace Steed after Binaggio tells Dave Lee to “Play something loud” to cover their conversation. Dragna asks for the jewels and Steed hands him a safe deposit box number, then is led away at gunpoint by the men, Siegel in tow. At Dragna’s place Cecile checks the jewellery and notices a change to a necklace; Steed admits to having it cleaned and restrung, leaving the Dragnas to ask why.

STEED: To see if they were genuine.
DRAGNA: You think my wife would wear artificial jewellery?
STEED: When I join a firm I like to know it’s in a healthy state.
SIEGEL: Now wait a minute, who’s joining who?
STEED: I’m joining you.

Siegel is against the idea but Dragna, despite saying they have a full keep, is interested and tells Siegel to check up on him.

Steed goes to the beach and finds One-Ten (Douglas Muir) arguing with the Les Centaurs waiter, Georges, (George Little) about his cocktail. Steed’s told that his cover is exactly what Dragna was doing ten years ago – con man, petty theft, preying on rich old ladies. More recently, Steed got away with an emerald job in Nice. The local authorities are supporting their operation as they want the firm closed down.

Siegel is known to have done a political killing in Italy the previous week but it can’t be proved. Steed asks for Binaggio to be arrested for theft, so as to create a vacancy in Dragna’s firm. They’re planning another killing so he’ll join up, see how they operate, and then the police can arrest the lot of them.

Siegel bribes the jailer (Hugo de Vernier) to enter Binaggio’s cell and tells him they’ll spring him that night. Meanwhile, Steed arrives with a huge bunch of flowers at Dragna’s where Cecile tries to chat him up.

STEED: ... I’d like to live long enough to retire.
CEClLE: If you make a pass at me you don’t think you would? I wouldn’t have to tell Jack.
STEED: You wouldn’t?
CECILE: But you like him too much.
STEED: Let’s say I have a healthy respect for him.
(CECILE LEANS FORWARD TO SHOW HER CLEAVAGE)
CECILE: Do you have a respect for me?
STEED: (STARING AT HER BOSOM) Enormous respect.
CECILE: Thank you!

Dragna arrives and Cecile tells him that Steed either doesn’t like her or he really wants the job. Dragna tells him Binaggio has been picked up and offers him the job. Steed feigns caution but accepts the job. He asks if there’s a chance Binaggio will talk and Siegel, who’s just arrived, says, “No chance at all”. At the jail, the jailer discovers Binaggio hanged in his cell...

Act 2

Cecile is delighted to read in the newspaper the next day that the police think Binaggio committed suicide. She wants the firm to stop work for a while, as Godard’s jobs are always front page news then reconsiders when she hears the fee is $250,000.

Steed brings Godard to the house and learns that the target is Nicole Cauvin, a film star who has been espousing independence for the colony of Aluda, where she was born. Godard leaves and Dragna orders Siegel to drive him anywhere he wants, leaving him to tell Steed what the job is worth.

STEED: It’s a lot of money.
DRAGNA: It’s an expensive service.
STEED: How are you going to do it?
DRAGNA: I’m not. You are.

Venus is chatted up at the club by Siegel2 and, learning he might sell it, says she has a friend who might buy it. Meanwhile, Nicole Cauvin (Edina Ronay) is sorting through her bouquets, dressed in her underwear and wearing thick spectacles, while her secretary, Charlie Bonet (Hira Talfrey), finds her a dress. Charlie tells her she has an appointment with Mr Mcgrath from Homeric Studios about a new script. Charlie departs before Mcgrath arrives and Nicole whips off her spectacles in preparation. Mcgrath arrives – Steed, of course – and he discovers she’s very short-sighted:

STEED: I brought some flowers to add to your collection.
NICOLE (SQUINTING): How lovely, daffodils.
STEED: Er... roses.
NICOLE: I’m so sorry – they all look the same to me.

Steed tells her he’s been sent to kill her because of her pro-independence stance, and someone is watching him. She doesn’t believe him at first and tries to ring for help but he manages to convince her they go to her car in the basement garage to take her into hiding, unfortunately passing Venus by the lifts in the lobby on the way.

The next morning, the Dragna’s radio blares out the story of Nicole’s tragic death at the wheel of an Italian sports car and reports that Homeric Studios have never heard of Mr Mcgrath. Siegel is unhappy because there’s no body and tells Steed he was “very clever” as they pass in the hall. Steed delivers the proof – Nicole’s bracelet. Cecile complains it’s broken and she winces when Steed says, “It was a tight fit”.

At the club, Venus carelessly mentions seeing Steed leave the studio with Nicole just before her car accident to Siegel. Siegel senses an opportunity and tells her to forget Steed now that he’s on the scene. He grabs her by the shoulders and she kicks him before storming off. Siegel then rings Dragna, saying Steed has slipped up and Venus saw him with Nicole. They’ll have to get rid of her – or Steed!

Act 3

Siegel invites a Harbour Officer (Ivor Dean) to the club to listen to the Dave Lee Trio rehearse and asks him about the investigation. The officer reveals they haven’t found the body despite finding the car, and doesn’t expect to, probably washed out to sea. He then suggests the death was a publicity stunt, bodies from the Corniche are normally washed up within 24 hours so he thinks it’s a fake. Siegel murmurs that he’s beginning to agree... Dragna meanwhile tells Steed about Venus seeing him with Nicole.

STEED. Can’t you fix me an alibi?
DRAGNA: How can I?
STEED: Well – what are we going to do?
DRAGNA: We’ve got a choice – either we lose her or you. Which is it to be?

Siegel next visits the film studio, posing as the security man, and finds Charlie packing Nicole’s belongings to send to her mother. He questions her about where the suitcases are going then overhears her ask the operator to call a number in Aix-en-Provence. Hearing a thump, she opens the door to find Siegel removing Nicole’s name plate from the door, and he says, “You won’t be needing this anymore”.

That night, Steed and the Dragnas watch Venus sing “An Occasional Man” then Siegel turns up, armed with a photo he took in Aix-en-Provence that morning of Nicole. He presses a gun into Steed’s back and Dragna orders Cecile to go home and pack everything while Siegel starts clearing the club of customers. He tells the band to wrap up and drags Venus over to the table then tells the waiter to keep a lookout.

While Dragna and Siegel plan how to get rid of them, Cecile is emptying the safe into a bag. She is unable to resist a bottle of spirits and slumps on the sofa.

DRAGNA: No, Mr. Steed – it’ll have to be the Corniche. You seem attached to it.

Steed tells Venus to sing them a song and, despite Siegel’s suspicions, she tearfully plays “Sing for Your Supper”. Steed reaches for the champagne as her song comes to an end but Siegel warns him off by pointing his pistol at Steed. Steed sits back and then, when Siegel picks up the champagne, he takes his opportunity and tips the table over, knocking Siegel to the ground. Steed then dives behind the bar and turns off the lights.

Venus shouts that there’s a gun in the till and Steed grabs it, then shoots Siegel when he goes to capture Venus. Dragna agrees to throw his gun out to Steed but has already stealthily taken Siegel’s pistol while feigning surrender. Steed collects Dragna’s gun cautiously and then they exchange gunfire. Cecile arrives just in time to see Jack fall when he’s hit.

The next morning, One-Ten convinces Nicole to join him at Le Bon Auberge in Antibes, a four star resort, and they leave the beach just before Steed arrives for some sunbaking. Venus appears, having been kicked out of her hotel because Steed shot her boss and she has no money. She tells him it was going a bit far just to buy a club and he grins.

STEED: Buy that place? – it’s got a terrible reputation!

  1. There’s a sub-text throughout the play that Cecile is an alcoholic, presumably to numb her to her husband’s work.
  2. Siegel spends much of the episode failing to pick up Venus.

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