Directors of the Capital Land and Development Company, a business involved in a secret government
project, are being murdered one by one. Steed and Mrs. Peel are called in to investigate. A
clown's nose at the scene of the crime leads them to suspect Merry Maxie Martin and his partner
Jolly Jenkins, retired music-hall artists residing at Greasepaint Grange (a home for
ex-vaudeville acts). It seems they may be part of a campaign against the Company, in
retaliation for its policy of buying up and closing down old music-hall venues - a campaign
orchestrated by the leader of the Greasepaint Grange residents, Mr. Punch.
Two old contacts of Maxie - Marcia Rugman, curator of the clown registry, and Bradley Marler, Maxie's
old gag writer - are killed before they can pass on information to Steed and Mrs. Peel, and it is
only by luck that Steed finds Maxie's address in Marler's office. Meanwhile, after she fails to
prevent the murder of another company director, Maxie and Jolly manage to overpower Mrs. Peel, and
present her to Fiery Frederick at Greasepaint Grange. His act is cutting ladies in half with a blow
torch and he needs a new victim!
Bradley Marler expired just before
Steed got to him. Now there's a surprise...
Steed arrives at the Grange under the guise of "Gentleman Jack - A Song, A Smile And An Umbrella". He
manages to get a tour of the home, but is hustled out before he can find anything. However,
he notices Mrs. Peel's car and breaks into the house, only to rescue her from the clutches of
Fiery Fred. The two of them manage to deal with the other residents including Maxie and Jolly,
and unmask Mr. Punch - who turns out to be Seagrave, one of Capital's remaining directors.
Seagrave has actually been trying to sabotage the government project the company was involved
with by using the demise of the music halls as a reason to get Maxie and company to do his dirty
work for him.