Last Days of Singapore (Review of Series 1, Episode 1)

1-1-1Given that this is the opening instalment of a new drama series, it has a surprisingly strong and confident feel. The series’ dramatic and historical context, the introduction of no less than ten key characters and the foreshadowing of events that are to follow, are all given sufficient screen time and, despite being packed with incident, the episode’s fifty minutes pass in no time at all.

The narrative primarily depicts the very last days of British colonial rule in Singapore and the frightening ignorance of its inhabitants as the Imperial Japanese Army begin their invasion of Malaya. Despite this epic backdrop, Tenko nevertheless sets out its stall as an intimate character-driven drama in thebest BBC traditions. As such, its success will depend on both the quality of the scripting and the performances of the regulars, and on the evidence of this first episode the prospects for the series are very good indeed.

Here, Marion Jefferson, the closest Tenko has to a lead character, begins her long and compelling journey from listless army wife to purposeful outspoken leader. Marion is one of the series’ most sympathetic and likeable characters and this is due in no small part to her sensitive portrayal by Ann Bell. Bell manages to balance Marion’s strong sense of what is right and her drive for purpose with her outward fragility perfectly, wisely choosing to underplay the material rather than hammer the script’s messages home. In narrative terms, Marion provides the viewer with an easy way into the series, as we empathise with her concerns for the evacuated Ben, her disgust with the empty banality of her Singapore lifestyle, and her desperation to make herself useful. When she states that she has ‘no role’ there other than to make the numbers even at dinner, she has no idea of the new role she is set to take on in the coming months, one that will change her life forever.

Playing opposite Bell, Jonathan Newth gives an equally strong performance as Colonel Jefferson. Despite his commanding presence, his frustrated reaction towards the people all around him who fail to recognise that war with Japan is now inevitable ensures that he is another character with whom the audience can identify. We cannot help but support his dressing down of the disorganised Major Sims, or share his pleasure that Bernard’s broadcast has revealed the truth about the island’s paltry defences. We warm to him further when it is made apparent that, despite his typically British exterior, he realises that his wife must go home to their son and is willing to openly tell her that he loves her. The story of the Jeffersons’ marriage will necessarily be put on hold for some considerable time, but when it is examined again in the third series it proves to be just as interesting and authentic as it is here

This is an excerpt from Andy Priestner’s acclaimed book Remembering Tenko in which this episode is reviewed in full. The book also explores and details how the series was made and boasts hundreds of behind-the-scenes photographs. You can purchase Remembering Tenko on Amazon.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Free extract from Chapter 10 of Remembering Tenko

blancheroseTo mark the beginning of a full repeat of Tenko on the new Drama Channel – the first episode airs at 11am this morning and is repeated this afternoon – find below an extract from Chapter 10 of ‘Remembering Tenko’ by Andy Priestner (available from Amazon).

After each episode is broadcast, episode review extracts from the book will also be made available here courtesy of Classic TV Press.

Chapter 10 – Sumatra in Deepest Dorset (extract)

Left: Blanche (Louise Jameson) and Rose (Stephanie Beacham) consider their reduced circumstances.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Women bow again… on UK TV’s Drama Channel

UK TV’s new Drama Channel http://drama.uktv.co.uk will be showing Tenko in its entirety from 5th September at 10am. To mark this broadcast, after each episode we will be adding excerpts from the episode reviews in Andy Priestner’s comprehensive Remembering Tenko book to this site together with images from the episode in question.

tenkodramachannel

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pushing boundaries all the time… an appreciation of Anne Valery (1926-2013)

Anne dining at Raffles during filming of Tenko Series 3 in Singapore in 1984 (Jill Hyem)

Anne dining at Raffles during filming of Tenko Series 3 in Singapore in 1984 (Photo: Jill Hyem)

It’s about 4pm, on Sunday 15 May 2011, and for several hours now I’ve been sat in the Lemonia Restaurant, Primrose Hill, opposite one of the most vital and fascinatingly eccentric women I’ve ever met. We’re now well on to our third or fourth G&T, neither of us are counting, and we’re both feeling relaxed, entirely comfortable with each other, and ever so slightly sozzled. We have shared a fantastic Greek meal – and I do mean shared, I was nowhere near brave enough to fend off her cutlery advances – and now after a whole day in the company of this sprightly 85-year-old, I’m still pinching myself. I’m with legendary Tenko scriptwriter, former actress, former model of the London and Paris catwalks, former leading light of the Fitzrovia set, former trained soldier, former everything it seems, Anne Valery. I’m there to talk Tenko for my book on the series, but we’ve only just started on the topic and I haven’t minded one bit. It’s about this time in the afternoon that she first grabs my arm, beckons me close and tells me with passionately wild eyes ‘I loved the war!” I don’t doubt it for a moment, in fact I’m gradually reaching the conclusion that she still misses it terribly some 65 years later.

Anne’s caption: ‘A Paris pose in my Dior dress’

My day with Anne had started inauspiciously. I had arrived at her flat, situated in a rather grand house in Hampstead, at the agreed time of 10am, but when she finally answered the intercom she seemed confused, if not a little irritated, that anyone would be up this early. She told me to go away and come back later. Feeling as though I’d crossed her at the off, rather than the other way around, I set out to find a coffee shop to wait for my interviewee to become presentable. The wait was worth it. I’d been told by Tenko actress Claire Oberman, who had kindly helped me arrange this meeting, that back in her heyday Anne had been stunning, with a cinched-in waist and looks to die for. Her looks hadn’t entirely faded and her timeless jumper and slacks with a thin belt suggested that the same was true of her sense of style. I was immediately invited into her kitchen where the discovery that she had no milk heralded her first rant of the day and her point blank refusal to let me just have water rather than a cup of tea. The rant surely started out as frustration at her lack of grocery supplies but quickly became a tirade against the water drinking obsession of this modern age!

Anne models a locknit nightdress (courtesy of Anne Valery) (2)

Anne herself was sarcastic about this modelling shoot saying ‘rather overdressed for bed in this locknit nightdress’

After establishing that I was there to talk to her about Tenko rather than her time at the Rank Charm School, Kind Hearts and Coronets, her two autobiographies, or her war, and making no bones of the fact that she thought it very odd that I was most interested in what she clearly considered to be the dullest part of her life, the second rant began. This time in response to a phone call from someone whom I surmised was her home help checking in on her. Although pleasant enough to the caller during the conversation, as soon as the receiver went down she spat out: ‘I can’t stand perky people in the mornings. What is there to be so bloody cheerful about!’ I laughed and the ice was partially broken. I was warming to this wonderfully irascible lady who Stephanie Cole would later describe to me as ‘a true English eccentric’. Despite still feeling a bit on edge, there was definitely something about the way that Anne ranted that made you instantly agree with her, she had a winning almost conspiratorial way about her that made you want to join in as she effectively said ‘And up the lot of yer!’ to the world. I’m not one of the world’s most ‘backward in coming forward’ people myself and I immediately identified with her directness. As we began our interview proper, a description of her early life – Anne having decided to talk about her childhood rather than Tenko – prompted a discussion about authority figures. I revealed that I struggle to respect those in authority and dislike being controlled and from that point on I was metaphorically taken to her bosom: ‘Good! Keep on questioning authority!’ she cried. I was home and dry. This it transpired had been a running theme in her life too, stretching from her London childhood to her days on the BBC’s Tenko when she would have screaming run-ins with producer Ken Riddington in his TV Centre office, most memorably when she argued over her scripting of the death of a mother and a baby in her very first episode. Needless to say Anne won the day!

Anne with her actress mother Doriel Paget, outside Victoria Station, in the early 30s.

As I heard about the writing of her acclaimed first autobiography about the pains and pleasures of her early childhood in the 1930s, Baron Von Kodak, Shirley Temple and Me, which turned Anne into a writer rather late in life, it became clear to me that her personality had been shaped by the misdiagnosis of her dyslexia (a condition for which there was no name at the time), the absence of her father, hated periods of schooling, and an overactive imagination fed from her first formative years by a mad, if much loved, nanny. As a result, despite being open about her insecurities (she revealed to me that she occasionally suffered from terrible writer’s block where she ‘became aware of every single word on the page’), she developed a rather brusque nature. But even in this, Anne preferred to be more direct: ‘I’m basically an aggressive person!’ I later discovered this at first hand when we failed to secure a table quickly enough for her liking at the restaurant and she turned to me to darkly intone: ‘I hate everyone in this room’. She didn’t and she knew that I knew she didn’t,  but it vented her frustration to say it. I now think her aggression had much less to do with her childhood and far more to do with her war.

Anne Valery while working at HQ Southern Command in 1944

Anne Valery while working at HQ Southern Command in 1944

The war, as she related to me over our shared moussaka, had given her a new-found freedom in every sense. ‘It was absolutely wonderful. I’d never been so alive as I was in the war. The idea that you might die tomorrow was gorgeous. You were constantly on tenterhooks. There was an awful lot of making love.  It was very liberating. If you were a women it was marvellous. For women, the first time in history, we were liberated.’ However, Anne’s war was to end far too abruptly for her liking. Having been trained in commando tactics she was more than ready to fight. ‘I was taught to bayonet: ‘Twist it round or it doesn’t do anything. Come on Annie! Into the stomach and turn.’ I’d learned how to jump from a parachute platform: ‘Close your eyes and jump!’ I wanted a war. I wanted to do those things for real.’ Anne felt wholly cheated by the Japanese surrender in 1945 and never did get the chance to put into action what she had learned. Or did she? It seemed to me that, in a way, she was still fighting, and perhaps had been since that day in the Medical Officer’s hut when she sat and wept bitterly when she realised she wouldn’t be going to the Far East after all. Anne had campaigned tirelessly throughout her life against censorship and for feminism and enjoyed nothing more than a verbal punch-up. In fact she told me that on one occasion in post-war Dean Street  she actually physically knocked a man out cold because he had annoyed her. ‘I can’t remember what about’ she added casually, ‘but after that my reputation went before me’.

After killing off Japanese guard Shinya in Tenko 2,10 she cradles him in her arms (Photo: Lavinia Warner)

After killing off Japanese guard Shinya in Tenko 2.10 she cradles him in her arms at the Dorset filming, August 1982 (Photo: Lavinia Warner)

I like to think that Anne later ‘got her war’ through writing almost half of Tenko, with the equally talented and vital Jill Hyem: ‘I was for guts and so was Jill,’ she told me with a wicked grin, as she ordered dessert. ‘Ken [Riddington] was wonderful, but the most middle-of-the-road man you could meet. He thought he’d got hold of these writers for this romantic story about women in a prisoner-of-war camp.’ ‘He had no idea he’d taken on these two vipers!’ she added with obvious relish. As we reminisced about Tenko, Anne’s passion for the series’ characters shone through: disaffected Dorothy (‘she was my darling… I loved that the war made her. She was more of a prisoner before the war’); atheist doctor, Beatrice (‘She was marvellous’); Blanche (‘The heroine’); the  scheming Verna (‘I adored her. You’ve got to have someone who will betray everyone. She did have her principles in a way’); Yamauchi (‘We were the very first series to show any sympathy towards the Japanese’); Mrs Van Meyer (‘One of my favourites. Turning her character around was lovely’); and orphan Daisy (who reminded her of a downtrodden cockney maid she once met as a child – ‘I had always regretted not speaking to her’).

Anne talks about writing for Tenko in 1981

Anne talks about writing for Tenko in late 1981.

She still clearly felt and remembered Tenko’s storylines vividly and it became obvious as we talked that the drama was actually a far more important part of her life than she was first willing to admit. Perhaps because it was about the war, but was not the real war she felt she had missed out on? Anne also loved the reality behind Tenko: ‘What was really important was that these were based on real women, real victims and many of them were still alive so we couldn’t let them down. You couldn’t do less than the blazing truth. We had a tremendous responsibility to them,’ but was also keen to expose the British abandonment of the women and children who ended up in the  camps: ‘They were in Japanese prison camps for three-and-a-half years. Half of them died. Their children died. The British government put a hat on it. It was secret. As far as Britain was concerned we had evacuated all the women.  They disowned some of the bravest women in the war. What they did was wicked. I would spit on all of them.’ Anne choosing to hold back as usual. She also loved that it was a feminist piece that had something to say about women’s liberation but perhaps most of all that it gave her the opportunity to go out on a limb. She told me: ‘I like to push boundaries all the time, even when I don’t know exactly where I’m going.’ Her last word on Tenko was: ‘I would have been a survivor in the camp, one way or the other.’ I wasn’t about to argue with her.

Anne modelling after the war.

Anne modelling after the war.

As we concluded our Tenko talk and ordered more drinks, Anne elected to paint me a mental picture of the old London she loved, the London  in which she was married to Greek poet Nanos Valaoritis (the derivation of Valery), the London of the Fitzrovia set when W. H. Auden lived upstairs and Christopher Isherwood called round, the London in which she was ‘known in most bars’. And as she described it, so wistfully and beautifully, I couldn’t help but think that she knew all too clearly as she spoke that her London was long gone and that her occasional rants were simply about the cruel pain of old age.

As our time together drew to a natural conclusion, and we were sat perched on stools at the entrance to the restaurant waiting for a taxi to take her back to Hampstead, Anne offered up one last gem: ‘I do find writing very easy, its dealing with people that’s impossible.’ Anne Valery knew her strengths but she also knew her faults and together these traits endeared her to me completely. Hearing today that Anne died a week ago, painlessly in her sleep, I felt even luckier to have spent the day with this remarkable woman. I think it says something about how special it, and she, was, that it feels like yesterday.

Andy Priestner
11 May 2013

Anne died peacefully, aged 87 on 29th April 2013, after a short illness. Funeral to be held at Golders Green Crematorium on Friday 17th May at 1.30pm. Flowers may be sent to Leverton & Sons, 181 Haverstock Hill, NW3 4QS.

My book Remembering Tenko which contains much of the testimony I gleaned from Anne that day is now available. I highly recommend Anne’s two wonderful autobiographies, Baron Von Kodak, Shirley Temple and Me and The Edge of a Smile which only take her up to the age of 23. Such a shame she never wrote more.

N.B. One of those strange coincidences. Kind Hearts and Coronets, in which Anne plays Clothilde Duval and dies alongside Alec Guinness’s character in a punt, is on BBC2 at 1:15pm today.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Goodbye Elspet

19g

Elspet during filming at Raffles (Stephanie Cole)

Elspet Gray died earlier this week aged 83. Best known for being the wife of the great farceur Brian Rix, Gray was a notable performer in her own right, remembered for her guest roles in Doctor Who and Fawlty Towers and for playing regular characters in Solo, The Black Adder and, of course, Tenko. As RAPWI officer Phyllis, Elspet appeared in eight episodes of the series playing a character who did her best to help the women to start to rebuild their lives after their ordeal in the camps.

Elspet enjoyed playing Phyllis very much and, despite her fast failing health, was determined to be present at last October’s cast reunion at the Imperial War Museum together with her husband Brian.

I reproduce here some excerpts from my book Remembering Tenko, for which she was interviewed last year, and to which she was very keen to contribute:

For the role of RAPWI Welfare Officer Phyllis Bristow, Summers and Riddington chose Scottish actress Elspet Gray. Gray remembers well the day she was interviewed for the part: ‘My agent had rung one morning and told me that Ken Riddington wanted to see me that afternoon. I didn’t think I had time as I had to take my eldest daughter Shelley, who had Down’s, for an appointment at Moorfields Hospital because her eyes were very bad, but my agent was insistent that I should go to Shepherds Bush afterwards. So I arrived very bad-tempered, having made no effort at all and this was clearly why I was cast as Phyllis! It wasn’t the greatest start.’ When it was confirmed that they wanted Elspet for the part and she heard it would involve five whole weeks’ filming in Singapore, she recalls: ‘I said: “What?!” and then: “How lovely!”’

Elspet was born in Inverness but brought up in India by Scottish parents: ‘My mother came from Elgin and my father from Peebles. He was working in India for Lloyds Bank and my mother was sent home to Scotland to have her first child. I was taken out to India when I was nine months old and my younger sister was born in Simla.’ Gray later returned to England until the time of Dunkirk at which point she returned to India. It was while being schooled at a convent in Srinagar that she appeared in her first plays: ‘I always played the male roles because of my height and I remember telling the Reverend Mother that I wanted to be an actress. “Glory be,” she said, “you’ll go to Hell!”’ But the young Elspet was undeterred, and when the Grays returned to England after the war, she went to RADA. During a performance of the play Hassan she was spotted by a talent scout and left drama school to appear in Robert Morley’s play Edward My Son in Leeds and London’s West End.

Gray subsequently enrolled in the Rank Charm School in 1948: ‘This really was a complete waste of time as far as the training was concerned, but we were paid £15 a week, which was a lot of money in those days and my mother was thrilled. All of us in the school were about 17 and trying to look 30.’ Nevertheless, this contract gave Elspet the chance to make several films for Rank that year, including The Blind Goddess, Fly Away Peter, Love in Waiting and Trottie True. The following year she married Brian Rix, who famously staged the play Reluctant Heroes on tour and at the Whitehall Theatre in which Gray also performed. Rix would go on to become the ‘King of Farce’ in theatre, film and television, often appearing without his trousers. In between having four children, Elspet maintained an acting career. As well as playing opposite her husband on stage and television (in forty separate farces), she took the roles of Lady Collingford in Catweazle (1970), Jackie Bronte in The Crezz (1976), Nancy Grenville in The Many Wives of Patrick (1976–78), Mrs Abbott in Fawlty Towers (1979), Felicity Kendal’s mother in Solo (1981–82), and Chancellor Thalia in Doctor Who: Arc of Infinity (1983). Her final TV role before Tenko was as the Queen to Brian Blessed’s King in The Black Adder (1982).

Despite her initial reluctance to be interviewed, Elspet was soon ‘thrilled to be playing Phyllis,’ liking the character very much and thinking it especially ‘interesting that Phyllis was taking a path in life that she probably hadn’t intended.’

cp17a

Elspet films a market scene on Duxton Road, Singapore, with Jean Anderson and Elizabeth Chambers (Veronica Roberts)

Her memories of the Singapore filming and specifically of Jean Anderson were as follows:

‘When I began the filming in Singapore, I found that although the actresses were as close as the actual women in the camps would have been, they couldn’t have been more welcoming to me. It was a wonderful team to be working with.’ She also recalls a specific incident at this location: ‘It was a scorching hot day and Jean Anderson suddenly fainted and was picked up and sat down. It was towards the end of a very long day and I remember thinking: “Thank goodness, we can go back to the hotel then.” But ten minutes later, Jean was saying: “No, I’m fine. We’ll finish the sequence.” She was the most marvellous woman. Stalwart. I like to think it was the Scots in her.’

19p

Elspet with Claire Oberman on Raffles front lawn (Cindy Shelley)

Finally, Elspet’s memory of a visit to Singapore by her husband during filming:

‘One day, Jean, Brian and I went to Newton Circus, had a delicious meal, hired a cab and came back to the hotel. As we got out, Brian suddenly said: ‘Ooh, that’s uncomfortable,’ and he scratched himself. We paid off the cab and Jean and I went into the foyer and Brian followed us in. Suddenly from behind us came the most frightful scream: ‘Arrggh!’ It was Brian, who was now clutching his crotch. He quickly dropped his trousers and out came a very large cockroach! As Brian was so well known for dropping his trousers there were quite a few people who refused to believe this story but it’s absolutely true.’

It was a difficult job for Elspet to join such an established cast, especially as she had a bit of a reputation for being as no-nonsense as Phyllis was, however, last year she also recalled that soon after filming began Veronica Roberts (Dorothy) approached her to make a point of saying “You’re not like that at all. You’re lovely!” Elspet was touched by this and from then on felt part of the team.

Goodbye Elspet and thank you for Phyllis.

Elspet Gray (Elspeth Jean MacGregor-Gray), actress, born 12 April 1929; died 18 February 2013.

Elspetletterhome

Elspet writes a letter home (Veronica Roberts)

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

New Tenko Prints

Tenko’s talented graphic designer, Ray Ogden, who created the series’s memorable title sequence and produced the cover and internal black and white illustrations for Andy Priestner’s Remembering Tenko has now produced two sets of limited edition numbered prints entitled ‘Tenko Remembered’, which are available for purchase from this site.

Collection 1: Crane, Lizard, Tenko bell              See larger image

Tenko Remembered - Collection 1 - 800

Collection 2: Punishment Hut, Graves, Flying Boat            See larger image

Tenko Remembered - Collection 2More details: The prints are sold mounted and the full dimensions are: 51cm (wide) x 27cm (high).  They have been produced using pigment inks on heavyweight acid-free fine art paper to ensure maximum light fastness and longevity. The prints have been lightly taped to their mounts to allow for flexibility in framing. Each print also comes with a commemorative certificate.

Below is a photo of a printed mount to give a better idea of scale:

MountedPrint

Price:
– 1 Print: £45, 2 Prints: £80
– Postage (by special delivery) and heavy duty packaging: £8.50 (whether you choose to buy 1 or 2 prints).

How to Pay:
International buyers: Please email us
UK buyers:
Via PayPal. Click on the appropriate link below:
Purchase Collection 1 only
Purchase Collection 2 only
Purchase both Collections

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tenko Reunion @ the NEC, Birmingham

Dorothy in Series 2

On Sunday 25th November there was another rare opportunity to meet the stars of Tenko at the NEC Birmingham as part of Memorabilia. The event was co-organised by Fantom Films and Classic TV Press and saw 6 members of the cast in attendance. As well as the cast signing and posing for photos, Classic TV Press were in attendance selling copies of Remembering Tenko and two new original Tenko prints by titles designer Ray Ogden.

Guest list: Ann Bell (Marion Jefferson), Veronica Roberts (Dorothy Bennett), Claire Oberman (Kate Norris), Josephine Welcome (Miss Hasan), Philippa Urquhart (Lillian Cartland), Anna Lindup (Daisy Robertson).

Signed photographs of all of the above will shortly be available from this site.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Remembering Tenko launched

Yesterday Classic TV Press launched their new Tenko book at the Imperial War Museum with over 20 members of the series’s cast and crew, together with many fans of the much-loved drama. A short commemorative film can be viewed below.

Signed copies of the book are now available from their website here: www.classictvpress.co.uk

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reunion by Jill Hyem

First broadcast: Thursday 26 December 1985

London, June 1950. Marion bumps into Dorothy and they agree to catch up over tea at Derry and Tom’s. They talk about the reunion planned back in ’45 and Dorothy agrees to go back to Singapore. Marion sends letters to everyone else in the hope that they too can attend: Maggie, Alice, Dominica, Kate and Sister Ulrica. Ulrica, who now works at the St Francis Xavier mission has a near miss Beatrice now runs the Monica Radcliffe foundation with the help of Christina and her boyfriend Lau Peng, relying on them more and more now that Stephen’s health is failing. Dorothy offers to pay for cash-strapped Maggie, who is now married with two children, to come, while Marion persuades Alice’s father to let her return. There are joyful reunions when everyone gets back together. Jake is still in Singapore and Dorothy is particularly pleased to see him. At Raffles the women are reunited with Dominica who, following the death of her husband, has now remarried. Dorothy has purchased a posh suite for herself and Maggie. The women meet Lau Peng and are given a tour of the foundation and in the Joss Holbrook schoolroom are reunited with Christina. They go on to the cemetery where Joss and Tom are buried. Kate meets Duncan Fraser there, a doctor who remembers her and Tom from 1945. That evening the women gather at Raffles for their official commemoration dinner party. Dorothy spots the arrival of Sister Ulrica by lorry and the pair are delighted to see each other again. Over dinner Ulrica tells the women about her work for the mission and they all discuss the threat of the communists. After acknowledging what each of the women has achieved since the war, Marion proposes a toast to all those in the camps, including their captors, who she now thinks they should forgive. Beatrice and others strongly oppose the idea, but after some discussion the majority eventually raise their glasses. Dorothy gets closer to Jake, while Marion discusses Yamauchi and Clifford with Ulrica. Dominica suggests that they all come up to her plantation in Johore the following weekend and allays their fears about the potential dangers. Dorothy confides in Ulrica that she is having an affair with a married man. Alice tells Maggie about her problems with commitment. Marion is furious at her treatment by former friends and complains about she has never been a person in her own right, except in the camp. She also reveals that Clifford and his new wife Angela are going to have a baby. It turns out that Beatrice is scared to go up country because of her eyesight, but Marion reassures her that she’ll be there for her. Kate confides in Duncan that she is thinking of giving up her medical training due to its restrictive nature and the fact that she knows more than the people teaching her. Maggie and Dorothy argue and the latter decides not to go to Johore. Dorothy catches up with Jake and discovers that he is tracking communists to earn his keep. The women arrive at the Sungei Kuching Rubber Estates run by Dominica’s husband Teddy. Dorothy and Jake go to bed together and afterwards she tries to persuade him to come to live in England. Teddy entertains the women with a number from HMS Pinafore. During another song Teddy asks Marion if he can give her name to a solicitor to help Dominica should he be killed by the communists and she agrees. Teddy suggests to Dominica that she go home with the other women but she refuses. Marion asks Beatrice if she will come and move in with her in England, but she has decided she must stay in Singapore for now as Stephen’s health is failing fast and she thinks he should die in the country he loves. Jake spots that in one of Maggie’s photos Lau Peng is talking to a man he suspects of being a communist and wonders if his work at the Centre is a cover. The next morning Ulrica arrives unaware that bandits have stowed themselves away in her lorry. The bandits kill two of Dominica’s servants and line the women up outside while Beatrice is inside the house looking for her glasses. Dominica refuses to tell them where the ammunition its kept and the bandits drag Alice screaming from the line. The leader orders her death. Ulrica runs forward to stop them and is shot. Dominica reveals where the ammunition is hidden. Inside the house, Christina prevents Beatrice from being shot. The bandits take the ammo and leave. Marion takes charge and after discovering Ulrica is still alive drives her to the hospital. Jake wonders who is going to tell Beatrice about Lau Peng’s involvement with the communists. The women learn that Ulrica should make a full recovery. Marion tells Beatrice about Lau Peng and she elects to inform the police. During the police search, incriminating evidence is found hidden in Joss’s picture. Christina arrives and to the others surprise Beatrice tells the police that she is ‘in it’ too. Christina pleads her innocence but Beatrice recalls the order she gave to the bandit not to shoot her and Kate remembers that Christina was there when the ammunition was mentioned. Christina comes clean and states that she should have let the bandits kill them all. Dorothy makes up with Maggie and tells her that Jake is coming to England as they are going to try and make a go of it. Beatrice is furious with herself and Stephen for letting the situation happen under her nose. Stephen suggests they go back to England and reveals that he knows he is dying. Kate volunteers to take over at the Centre, while Dorothy visits a recuperating Ulrica in hospital. Marion visits Christina and asks her to help the authorities so she can be helped at a rehabilitation centre rather than rot away in prison. Alice is to stay on Singapore to help Beatrice with the Centre until Kate has tidied up loose ends in Australia after which the doctor and Stephen will return to England. Beatrice visits Ulrica and they discuss their need for independence. The women say their goodbyes and agree to meet at Marion’s for Christmas. Dominica turns up and reveals that she and Teddy are due to move to England permanently. On Christmas Day, Kate, Ulrica and Duncan hand out presents at the Centre, Christina is alone in her prison cell, while everyone else is together at Marion’s house. While they listen to the King’s Christmas message, the women toast absent friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Series 3, Episode 10 by Anne Valery

First broadcast: Sunday 16 December 1984

The women are preparing to leave Singapore. Due to a new intake of internees Phyllis insists that Mrs Van Meyer be moved in with Beatrice and co. Kate manages to get her to share a room with Christina instead. Stephen is in a foul mood because he is not allowed to see Joss in hospital due to his cold. He is also suspicious of her request to see Mr Ling. Kate and Ulrica join Beatrice and Christina at the Centre. Mrs Van Meyer takes tea and cake at Marion’s house. Dominica is concerned about Jan’s collaboration, but Marion hits on the idea of saving the name of Van Meyer by using her newspaper article. Back at Raffles, Mrs Van Meyer is furious when she discovers she has been moved to the box room. Maggie tells Christina and Beatrice that she is bound for an unmarried mothers’ home and refuses to contemplate staying with Dorothy as she doesn’t want her baby to remind her of Violet. When Jake sees her and suggests the same, he and Maggie argue. Beatrice visits a typically cantankerous Joss in hospital. Clifford and Marion continue to work out their differences and agree to being more honest with each other. They go to bed together. Afterwards Marion explains how she wants to unpick Ben’s public school image. Suddenly she remembers that she has forgotten about the picnic and gets ready to go out. Before she leaves Clifford tells her that he thinks their marriage will work out. At the beach Kate announces that they should all return to Singapore in five years time for a reunion. Marion finally arrives. Beatrice has gone to the hospital to look in on Joss.  At the picnic Maggie questions why she’s leaving the sun behind for London and Mrs Van Meyer admits that she will miss them all. Beatrice arrives with the news that Joss has died. After consoling a bitter Stephen, Beatrice returns to Raffles to sleep before the funeral the next day. After the funeral the wake is held at Marion and Clifford’s home. Mr Ling reveals himself to be Joss’s solicitor and reads them the gist of the contents of her will. As well as lump sums for most of her friends she also leaves an annual sum for Beatrice and Stephen provided they build and run a new centre called the Monica Radcliffe Foundation. The pair begin arguing about it almost immediately. Sister Ulrica tells Marion and Clifford that she is going to work in a leper colony. Mrs Van Meyer reveals to a disappointed Colonel Jackson that her husband is alive and she must return to him. Beatrice leaves Stephen instructions until her return. Clifford reluctantly says goodbye to Marion Maggie receives a call from Dorothy asking her to move in with her. Jake says goodbye to Maggie, gifting her some Japanese stamps that London dealers will pay the earth for. Marion, Beatrice and Maggie board the SS Ranchi and their friends wave them off.  After the boat pulls away, Marion turns away stating “Well, that’s over.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment