The Forty-Eight Hour Pass

by John Finch

Episode Number: 18
Director: James Ormerod



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Robert Ashton   David Dixon
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Michael Armstrong   Mark Jones
Frank Cox   John Alkin
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Teddy Main   Christopher Strauli
Ted Fiddler   Bill Waddington
Sidney   Edward Harvey



The RAF Base   David, Frank, and the other airmen make ready for that night's mission, and their plane is seen taking off.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila, Freda, and Doris are in the Morrison shelter, consisting of netting around the base of a sturdy, oversized table.

German bombs can be heard falling upon Liverpool, some of them uncomfortably near.

Freda says it has never been this bad before—five nights of raids in a row—and she wonders whether there will be anything left.

Sheila confides to Freda that she dreads the day David receives his commission.

She adds that he rarely comes home anymore, but that he did visit the kids in Wales, something she never would have known had Mrs. Thomas not written her.

A sudden inspiration comes to Sheila: she will buy David and herself a new bed, now that the NAAFI money is paying for expenses, and the money that David sends is being set aside.

When Freda says she hopes her mother and sister are safe, Sheila asks when the baby is due.

The question shocks Freda until Sheila explains that Margaret told her about the baby the other night.

Both women agree that Michael is very nice, but Freda says that his name is seldom mentioned at home because of her mother.

Sheila still finds it difficult to believe that Margaret, of all people, would be pregnant out of wedlock, adding that it is usually women such as herself who do that sort of thing.

The Anderson Shelter   Jean, Margaret, and Michael are in the shelter when the all-clear sounds.

Michael volunteers to put on the kettle, but Jean refuses his offer and says she will do it.

Jean then hints that perhaps he should return home to his daughter, but Michael explains that he sent Barbara to his sister's last week.

After Jean leaves the shelter to go inside the house, Michael reluctantly suggests that perhaps Margaret should stay with the Ashtons for the time being because it is convenient—comfortable and home.

The Air-Raid Post   As Edwin gives Ted Fiddler a report on casualties of the raid, Ted slips him a small package of bacon.

Edwin thanks him for the generosity, but then Ted says, "That'll be tenpence to you," and Edwin pays him.

Ted asks if they have heard from Robert, and Edwin tells him only a telegram with three standard phrases and his name, from somewhere he's not allowed to mention.

The RAF Base   David comes into the barracks after a bombing run over Cologne.

Frank is lounging in his pajamas, unable to go on the mission, and he asks David if he is going on leave in the morning.

David replies that he plans to surprise Sheila, "to catch the old lady at it."

When Frank tells David that Teddy Main wants his fiver paid back, David asks Frank to square it with him instead.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Doris is leaving, so Sheila cautions her to watch out for rats, which the bombings have brought out.

The morning post is delivered, but once again there is nothing from David, only another letter about him—just like she has received before, many times over.

Freda asks what they say, and Sheila explains that the letters claim that David got a girl pregnant.

Sheila tells Freda not to tell her mother because she would never understand.

Sheila adds that her mother never forgave her, and that Jean would never forgive Margaret.

Doris comes back in and discloses that she was bombed out during the last bad raid and is now an unwelcome lodger of her sister.

Sheila invites Doris to stay with her, an offer she is very happy to accept.

The RAF Base   David is about to depart on his forty-eight hour leave when Teddy Main comes into the barracks.

He reminds David of the five quid he owes him, but David says he cannot pay it off until he gets back in a couple of days.

Not good enough, says Teddy, who needs it now because he received his commission that morning and will be moving to officers' quarters.

After a bit of pleading from David, Frank agrees to pay Teddy the five pounds, with the understanding that David will return the money when he comes back from his leave.

The Ashton Home   Sefton tells his sister that he would not have expected such behaviour of Margaret.

Jean changes the subject by asking him how Tony is doing, and Sefton replies that Tony has a girl.

But Jean's mind is still wrestling with that other matter, and she tells her brother that neighbours talking is the worst part, not for her own discomfort but for Margaret's.

When the front door slams, Jean assumes that it is Edwin, but actually it turns out to be Robert, returning home unannounced.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Two delivery men are carrying the new bed upstairs, and Sheila convinces them to assemble it while they are there.

Doris arrives to stay, and Sheila is pleased to have the company.

As Sheila is leaving for work at the NAAFI, she tells Doris that she will be home around midnight.

The Ashton Home   The family is having tea in the living room, admiring the small table that Robert brought them as a gift from West Africa.

Robert sheepishly admits that he traded for the table with a pair of socks that Freda had knitted for him ("too long in the foot").

Sefton wonders aloud whether Robert has seen any enemy submarines, an unthinking remark that nearly brings Jean to tears.

Fortunately, David arrives just then, bearing a gift of his own in the form of a bottle of sherry that Teddy Main gave him as a celebration of his commission.

They drink a toast to their men in uniform—Robert, David, Philip, and Tony.

The air-raid siren wails, so most of the family prepare to go outside to the Anderson shelter.

Sefton decides to make a quick trip home through the black-out, but first Edwin announces to his sons that Sefton has given the Ashtons the deed to their home.

A conspicuously pregnant Margaret rushes into the house, and awkward greetings are exchanged, including a bitter glance from her Uncle Sefton.

After Margaret goes upstairs to see to John George, Michael enters the living room, and Edwin introduces him to the brothers.

Jean complains privately to Freda that Michael has spoiled the joyous reunion—just when Robert and David were both home.

Meanwhile, David confronts his father about Margaret's "friend," and Edwin confirms to him that Michael is the father.

When David says he wants to punch Michael, Edwin tells him that they already have enough trouble as it is, so he should just try to understand.

Edwin asks David if he will be joining the others in the shelter, but David replies that he wants to go see Sheila.

Robert comes downstairs, and the brothers wish each other a good leave, promising to have a night out sometime.

Edwin and Freda talk for a moment, and Freda reveals that Sheila has a new lodger, Doris from work.

Speaking from first-hand observations, Freda bitterly tells her father that she is "right off matrimony at the moment."

David's and Sheila's Flat   David undresses in the dark and crawls into the Morrison shelter in his underwear.

He whispers, "Sheila," and embraces the sleeping woman, only to discover that the object of his affections is a total stranger.

"Christ!" he shouts, and Doris cries out, "Who are you?"

David is dressing when Sheila comes in the door, shocked to see him home.

Doris seems to find the whole incident quite funny, but David is thoroughly embarrassed.

The Ashton Home   Outside, with the sound of enemy planes overhead, Margaret and Michael are saying goodbye for the night.

Margaret tells him that she will disclose their plans to her mother soon, but Michael advises her to let things take their course.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila and Doris share a chuckle over the mistaken identity, but Sheila asks her friend not to let David hear her laughing at him.

She tells Doris that it served David right to be embarrassed, having shown up without any warning.

Someday, she adds, David will return home and see that she has moved.

Doris says that she could tell that David is strong on her, a suggestive remark that makes both women giggle.

When David comes back inside, the women stifle their smiles.

David lends Doris the torch, and she goes outside, leaving the couple alone.

Sheila explains that Doris is a friend of Freda's and that she is now living there after having been bombed out of her own house.

David puts his arms around his wife and suggests that they go upstairs.

Sheila reveals that she bought a new bed and "chucked out" the old one.

David offers to try out the new springs with her, but Sheila says not in the middle of an air raid.

He promises that they will come back downstairs if the raid worsens, and she teases him by saying, "You're an old devil, you are. Aren't you?"

David innocently responds, "Who me? No, I'm just a fellow on a forty-eight hour pass."

Then, when David calls their time together "like a second honeymoon," Sheila tells him he knows all the right things to say, and they go upstairs.

The Air-Raid Post   Edwin is on duty as Michael enters the command office.

In a frank discussion, Michael asks whether Edwin believes in this war, and Edwin confirms that he does.

But then Edwin adds that sometimes—as when Philip went to Spain or Robert went to sea at the age of sixteen—he does not feel sure of anything.

John's ordeal, too, makes him doubt the efficacy of war.

Michael confesses that, though he is a registered conscientious objector, he suspects that he is beginning to think as Edwin does about the war.

He explains that these doubts mean that he and Margaret should not live together because he might need to leave her to enlist.

Edwin says he should not make Margaret go through it all once again, but Michael asks him to suggest an alternative.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila and David lie on their new bed, and she tells him that it cost her seven pounds, five shillings.

When she asks if he thinks that was extravagant, David says he will have to give it his expert opinion.

Just as they embrace, still fully clothed, the loud explosion of a bomb is heard.

Sheila leaps out of bed and makes a run for the shelter.

David, though, remains in bed, insisting that the bombers' target is the docks.

When Sheila does not buy that self-serving line of reasoning, David looks up and defiantly grumbles, "You rotten, lousy bastards!"

The Ashton Home   Jean awakens Margaret after a night of fitful sleeping during the air raid.

Margaret tells her mother that she is going to visit Michael.

She adds that Michael has asked her to live with him, and, in the circumstances, she thinks the only practical thing to do is agree to that arrangement.

Jean confesses that she cannot be entirely happy about the prospect of an unwed couple living together because she was brought up not to accept such behaviour.

When Margaret apologises, Jean says, "No. No. So long as you're happy," and leaves the room.

In the kitchen, she and Edwin briefly discuss Robert—or "Admiral Jellicoe," as he calls him—but Jean is in no joking mood.

Edwin asks what is bothering her, and she tells him that Margaret is planning to move in with Michael.

They both agree, without much conviction, that perhaps it is the only practical thing to do.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila tells Doris that David is still fast asleep, and she hates to wake him.

She then informs Doris that she will not be going to the NAAFI today because David would be furious if he woke up and found that she had left for work.

Sheila walks over to the Morrison shelter and whispers to David, but he remains asleep.

The Ashton Home   Robert and his mother are chatting as she washes his dirty clothes.

The doorbell rings, and Robert, still relaxing in his pajamas, lets Sheila into the house.

Sheila returns the half-pound of butter that she borrowed, and she tells Jean that she is looking better, now that Robert is home.

David's and Sheila's Flat   David finally wakes up, but Sheila does not answer when he calls out her name, so he goes upstairs, suspecting with a rakish smile that she is waiting for him in bed.

The Ashton Home   Sheila has managed to clean the oily stain out of Robert's white shirt, and she asks Jean whether she can have her bath now rather than on Thursday.

Robert is quite willing to let her use the hot water that was intended for him, stating that his philosophy for bathing is, "The later, the better."

David's and Sheila's Flat   David is upstairs, asleep in bed, when Sheila comes home, so she lies down beside him, and the couple make love.

Later, as they lie in bed together, Sheila asks him when he will finish his tour.

He says he already has completed his current tour and that he should be due for a commission sometime soon.

"Pilot Officer Ashton," he proclaims, but when he asks how she fancies that, Sheila quickly changes the subject.

She talks about the kids, and David tells her that Peter hardly said two words to him the last time they saw each other.

When Sheila laments how sad she always feels to leave them in Wales, all David has to say is, "Can you lend me five quid?"

Sheila is angered by his insensitive request, explaining that she is saving that money for their future.

David is furious and rolls over in bed, facing away from his wife.

Sheila complains that he only comes home long enough to have a round of love-making or to borrow five quid.

Then she repeats that the money she saves is an investment in their future.

David says he has no future, that it ends the moment he "steps into that bloody plane."

When she quietly says that she knows, David accuses her of knowing nothing.

Shattered in spirit, she offers to give him the money, and he retorts, "Why didn't you say so in the first place?"

Sheila says it was because she worries that he will try to be something he is not—like when she visited him at the base, and he seemed like another person entirely.

She worries that he will change and go away from her for good.

"Oh, David," she pleads, "don't leave me. Please, don't change."

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Though an air raid is in progress, Margaret and Michael are calmly reading a letter from his evacuated daughter.

Barbara had written to him, "Are you still friends with Mrs. Porter?" and Michael assures Margaret that he is indeed.

Margaret, however, contends that things have changed between them.

He used to be anxious to have her come live with him, she explains, but now he seems to have gone cold on the whole thing.

Michael tells her that he spoke with her father last night, confessing that he was not sure how much longer he could remain a conscientious objector.

He adds that if he decides he cannot retain that status, he will feel obliged to enlist in the military.

Michael philosophises for a moment on the meaning of war and good-versus-evil, but Margaret directs the discussion back to their own situation.

If he joins up, Michael reasons, it would not be possible to live together for awhile.

That statement upsets Margaret, who stands up to leave.

Michael stops her, and they embrace.

Margaret claims that Michael's enlistment would cause her to endure the lonely ordeal all over again, like she did with John, and she cannot face it.

Just then, a bomb strikes the building, causing the roof to collapse upon them.

Coughing amidst the debris and dust, Michael cries out repeatedly for Margaret—hearing nothing in response and thus fearing the worst.

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