The Gate of the Year

by John Finch


Episode Number: 4
Director: Michael Cox

 

CAST

Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Harry Porter   Patrick Troughton
Celia Porter   Margery Mason
Connie Edwards   Jessica Spencer
Reg Thorpe   Arthur Cox
Mrs. Cole   Mavis Rogerson
The Taxi Driver   John Comer

 




LIVERPOOL, DECEMBER 1939

The First Aid Post   As they help to put up Christmas decorations, Harry Porter and Reg Thorpe dally with two ARP (Air Raid Precautions) co-workers, Mrs. Cole and Mrs. Edwards.

The Porter Home   Margaret tells her mother-in-law, Celia Porter, that she hopes to have a meal with John at Formby during his brief pass.

Celia is disappointed, saying she had planned to make him a cauliflower cheese for the occasion.

Harry arrives and asks Margaret whether she has found a flat yet, but she says no.

The Base at Formby   John, in full gear, desperately tries to call the Ashtons, but the line is busy.

The Briggs Home   When Tony answers the telephone, John tells him that he has an emergency posting overseas, so he will be stopping home first.

Tony begs a gallon of black-market petrol from his father and then rushes out to tell Margaret the news about John.

The Porter Home   Celia interrupts Margaret's grading of papers to ask her to hold the wool for her knitting.

After doing so for a few minutes, Margaret breaks free, explaining that she wants to visit a fellow teacher.

Celia tells Harry that she resents how little time Margaret chooses to spend at "home."

Harry tells her that he will be leaving for the first aid post.

The Ashton Home   Freda informs her father that Tony is taking her to a charity ball, in order to make his current girlfriend jealous.

Margaret arrives, reminding Edwin that John will be home tomorrow.

The Porter Home   Tony tells Celia that he has received a message from John.

A Taxi Cab   The driver, a veteran of the First World War, talks to John about the importance of using gas masks, saying, "We're all in the trenches now."

The Porter Home   Tony asks where Margaret has gone, and Celia replies, "Don't ask me where—'Just a friends,' she said."

The Ashton Home   Philip tells Margaret that he will be called up for service after Christmas.

He says to her, "It must be a bit grim, living with in-laws," and she agrees, divulging that her mother-in-law does not like her very much.

The Porter Home   John arrives and hurriedly asks his mother where Margaret is, but Celia is very vague about it.

Leaving his kit behind for later, John rushes out to the first aid post, hoping that his father will know where Margaret is.

The Ashton Home   After Philip departs for work, Edwin tells Margaret that her brother will be called up soon, something she already knew.

As Margaret is getting ready to leave, she reluctantly informs her father that she is going to have a baby, something of which even John is unaware.

The First Aid Post   Reg Thorpe escorts Mrs. Cole home, leaving Harry and Connie Edwards alone.

Harry embraces her and immediately apologises, but Mrs. Edwards takes the blame, accusing herself of flirting.

The Ashton Home   Tony tells Freda and Edwin that John called about his emergency posting overseas.

Jean arrives just as Freda and Tony are hurrying out to intercept Margaret's bus.

The First Aid Post   Mrs. Edwards tells Harry that her husband's name is John, and Harry says that is his son's name too.

Harry and Mrs. Edwards realise that they have been sitting under the mistletoe, so they kiss.

John sees them kiss and shouts, "Dad!"

A Taxi Cab   When Harry apologises to his son, John is unforgiving.

Harry tells him that surely he has noticed that things have not been right at home for some time.

John asks where Margaret is, and Harry says at the Ashtons.

This causes John to wonder why his mother did not tell him so, and Harry says she obviously made a mistake.

Harry asks the taxi driver to drop him off at the end of the road, so John can ride to the Ashtons.

The Porter Home   Harry urges Celia to come with him to the Ashtons, so they can deliver John's kit to him.

She accuses Harry of always resenting John's closeness to her.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David, home awaiting transit to a new base, answers the door and is surprised to see Margaret.

Sheila comes downstairs, and David confesses that he and his wife were having a "reunion."

They ask Margaret to spend the night, sharing a bed with Sheila while David sleeps in a chair.

The Ashton Home   John tells Jean that he does not think Margaret is happy living with her in-laws.

He says if Margaret is unhappy at the Porters', then he would rather that she move back in with the Ashtons.

Edwin has called one of the Porters' neighbours ("next door but one"), who says he saw them getting into a taxi.

The neighbour has agreed to leave a note for Margaret to call the Ashtons.

It is decided that John should take a taxi to the station, and then Margaret will meet him there.

John confides to Jean that he was always a bit of a mother's boy and still is—homesick even during his first week in the service.

He says that his mother spoiled him terribly and will not let him go.

After consulting with Jean, Edwin divulges to John that Margaret is going to have a baby.

"She'll be at her wits' end," he says.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David goes upstairs to see to Peter, who is crying in his sleep.

Sheila admits to Margaret that they seem happier than they really are, like a second honeymoon.

Margaret reveals to Sheila that she is going to have a baby, but that John does not yet know.

Sheila tells David that the children miss him terribly, and he accuses her of trying to make him feel guilty.

"In God's good time," she says, "they'll forget they ever had a father."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" he snaps, and she responds, "Is the honeymoon over, then?"

David says he will drop Margaret off at the Porters' in the car he borrowed from an RAF mate.

He puts on his coat, explaining to Sheila that it will take three hours to drive back to the base in the blackout.

David says he will leave the children's Christmas gifts, and then he embraces Sheila, who says she fears for him "up there."

The Ashton Home   Jean tells John that Robert's school has been evacuated to the country.

Edwin appears and says the taxi has arrived but will need to leave with John in just fifteen minutes.

John asks Edwin not to tell the Porters about the baby.

Harry and Celia arrive, and Celia complains that Margaret spends too little time with them.

John tells his mother that he gave Margaret permission to visit the Ashtons as often as she wished.

Spitefully, Celia informs John that Margaret and Harry "are great friends, those two are."

When she further declares that Harry is resentful of their warm mother-son relationship, John begs her to stop talking like that.

Miffed, Celia refuses to see her son off at the station, saying she does not want to "intrude."

She breaks down in tears, and Jean takes her upstairs to rest.

Alone with John, Harry apologises again for the indiscretion of kissing Mrs. Edwards, and he promises his son that he will look after Celia while John is off to war.

Edwin enters with the sad news that Tony has called to say that Margaret was not on the bus.

John laments, "That's it, then."

The Railway Station   The train departs, with John never having seen his wife.

The Ashton Home   The house is festively decorated for Christmas.

Margaret, Tony, Jean, Harry, Celia, Philip, Edwin, Sefton, and Freda listen to King George VII on the radio.

The King quotes a story about the man who stood at the gate of the year, saying, "Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God."


Script Excerpt 1
Harry/John

Script Excerpt 2
John/Celia