The Diabolical Masterminds of Series 3 (1963–4)
Ministry officials Bethune and ‘The Wringer’ are double agents who plot to destroy Britain’s security services by brainwashing operatives with the Wringer’s interrogation facilities. They convince Hal Anderson that Steed had betrayed him and the rest of the Corinthian pipeline and Steed is arrested and subjected to the Wringer’s machines. He proves a tough nut to crack, however, and their plans are undone when Steed and Cathy escape and call in the authorities - and Hal, who recognises the Wringer’s voice from his indoctrination.
Fingers the Frog, the ‘Vicar of Toowomba’ plans to take over control of an international crime consortium when the current head, the ‘Bishop of Winnipeg’ dies. All the crime bosses have been called to England, disguised as clergymen, to decide the succession, but Sister Johnson and Beardmore want to control the voting - by killing the voters.
Steed infiltrates the convocation after intercepting a microfilm package - hidden in a doll sent to Gerda and Hasek for repairs - and winds up the outfit, despite being rumbled by the criminals.
Roy Hopkins coerces Dr. Macombie into being his convenient doctor for signing death notices in a scheme whereby people who wish to rid themselves of rich or annoying relative or colleagues will be given a stong arsenic poison to administer, and the bodies will be buried in a Cornish churchyard so thich with mandrake and deadly nightshade that the arsenic trace will be put down to the chemical leeching from the soil. The church sexton is eager to assist and take care of nosy visitors, but is also easily bribed and turns on his employers when Steed and Cathy arrest them.
Heuston, Pantling and Johnson run a Murder Inc. setup from a country stables, training the stablehands in assassination techniques. They set up the men of the stables, and any of Heuston’s debtors, then blackmail the men into becoming their hired guns.
Brown and Johnson run the murder school, while Kirby does the strong-arm and setup work, but it all comes adrift when fforsham, blackmailed over Kirby’s ‘murder’ sees the man at the stables.
Aburanian embassy officials try to get mileage out of the assassination by Britain of an English defector who has now fallen out of favour in Aburain. General Sharp, the defector, returns to England under diplomatic immunity and is set up by his new country, who release the agent originally sent to kill him five years beforehand. Steed and the agent know it, however, and the ambassador and Major Zulficar are embarrassed when they have to let Sharp return home, triumphant.
Eastern Bloc security chief in London, Keller, is tired of the life of service and wants others to ... uh... service him. He forms his own private army, and has them assassinate Eastern Bloc operatives in London, hoping to force an East-West escalation of hostilities.
Hi charm school brigade rip a swathe through Eastern forces, but they hadn’t counted on the resiliance of Steed and his companions, who defeat them in their fencing class.
Power-crazed loon, Brigadier Stuart-Bollinger, hopes to restore the throne to the Scottish clan of Stuart and stages military manœuveurs near London to disguise his assault on the capital. His troops are led by the similarly starry-eyed Captail Trench and his NCOs, as well as other admirals and generals they lead into treason.
Quentin Slim stages his own death to facilitate a heroin smuggling operation with the nefarious Mason, the drugs concealed inside lobsters caught by Slim’s father’s fleet. His pals in the fisheries, Bush and Jackson, organise the workings and fillet and stuff the lobsters but it’s not long before they start to smell and Steed’s nose leads him to his quarry.