The Facts of Life

by John Finch

Episode Number: 1
Director: June Howson



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Ashton   Lesley Nunnerley
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
John Porter   Ian Thompson



The Ashton Home   Margaret, Freda, Philip, and Sheila are preparing for a meal to celebrate the wedding anniversary of Edwin and Jean.

Philip and Edwin talk about the probability of war.

David and Sheila bicker, with David berating himself because his wife must wear a borrowed dress for this special occasion.

Reg Clark has died, so Edwin seems likely to inherit his job as manager of the works.

Jean arrives at the surprise party, and she and Edwin receive the gift of an 18-record set of Handel's Messiah, as conducted by Thomas Beecham.

Tony comes to the celebration with a bottle of champagne in hand, explaining that his father, Sefton Briggs, is not able to attend.

With Margaret at the piano, the young people sing "Pennies from Heaven," but glum David refuses to join in the merriment.

John Porter arrives at the front door and introduces himself to Edwin.

Margaret introduces John to the others, some of whom make fun of his evident shyness.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila accuses David of wishing that he had found someone else to marry.

The tin is empty, and David brands himself as a failure.

Suddenly feeling amorous, David quotes from the Bible (Song of Solomon) some racy text, which he confesses that he memorised as a choirboy in his white robe.

Sheila repels David's advances, saying, "We can't afford…"

Rejected and dejected, David leaves for his favourite pub, The Bricklayers.

The Ashton Home   Edwin and Jean say how much they like Margaret's boyfriend, John.

David comes "home" in the rain, feeling sorry for himself.

Edwin tells Jean that David must learn to stand on his own two feet, accusing her of giving him some money.

Edwin slips David a bit of money, telling him to put it in his pocket and say nothing about it.

The Works   Tony, Sefton, and Edwin return from Reg Clark's funeral, and Sefton suggests that Tony look around the works.

Edwin advises Sefton to invest in a couple of new flatbeds.

When Sefton laments the loss of his late manager, Edwin reveals that he has been doing most of the calling on customers anyway.

The Briggs Home   Jean presses Sefton to appoint Edwin as manager of the works.

Sefton is noncommittal, conceding only that Edwin has done all right "for a working-class lad."

Jean asks her brother whether he can give David a job at the works, and Sefton indicates that probably can be arranged.

 David's and Sheila's Flat   David gives Sheila a shilling for the meter, and, suspicious, she asks where he got the money.

Sheila complains that it was embarrassing when Edwin dropped in last night to inform her that David was not in any condition to come home.

Sheila confronts her husband with the question, "What is it you want, David, hmm? What is it that means so much to you that it drives you to make us all so unhappy?" 

 The Briggs Home   Tony asks if it was family respect that caused Sefton to drag him along to Reg Clark's funeral.

Sefton snaps that the younger generation has no respect, pride, or guts.

Unaware that Jean has already done so, Edwin arrives to ask Sefton whether he might consider giving David a job at the works. 

 David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila has set a romantic table for David, who, certain that his Uncle Sefton will not let him down, announces, "It's gonna be all right."

 The Briggs Home   Sefton offers Tony the post of manager of the works, and Tony refuses—to no avail.

 David's and Sheila's Flat   After kissing Sheila and the children goodbye, David sets out for his presumed job at the works.

 The Works   Tony announces to Edwin that Sefton wants him to take over Reg Clark's position as manager of the works, and Edwin is shocked.

In his own defense, Tony claims that he really has no option in the matter.

Edwin says he too felt that he had no option when he first agreed to work for Sefton.

Trying to be philosophical about his disappointment, Edwin admits that he would not be thrifty enough for Sefton anyway, certainly less so than "yes man" Reg Clark.

Tony leaves just as David arrives to claim his job at the works, but Edwin must inform him that he was unable to secure one from Sefton.

David has assumed that Edwin would become manager, but Edwin reveals that Tony has inherited the position.

Edwin laments that he has served, for nearly thirty years, a man whom he considers to be "a second-rate human being," paying the family bills with his self respect.

David admits that he no longer has his job as a glorified errand boy at the docks, already having given notice.

The Briggs Home   Tony tells Sefton that he informed Edwin of the managerial decision.

In a statement that Sefton fails to grasp, Tony tells his father, "You managed to waste a bit of time when you were keeping the wheels turning."

 David's and Sheila's Flat   Edwin informs Sheila that David’s hopes of securing a job at the works have been dashed.

In a reflective moment, Sheila tells Edwin that David must have been a little charmer as a boy.

Sheila says it was her out-of-wedlock pregnancy and Peter's subsequent birth that upset David's apple cart.

On the other hand, confides Sheila, she wanted David very badly—and for keeps.

Edwin comforts Sheila as she breaks down in tears.

David returns home, all smiles, and announces that he has joined the RAF.

He says to his wife, "How do you fancy having a fellow in uniform, then?"

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