Believed Killed

by Alexander Baron

Episode Number: 26
Director: Bob Hird


NOTE: During the making of this episode, there was a trade union dispute,
which resulted in "Believed Killed" being produced in black and white.



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
Jean Ashton   Shelagh Fraser
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Celia Porter   Margery Mason
Michael Armstrong   Mark Jones
Peggy Drake   Amelia Taylor
Mr. Drake   Richard Butler
Frank Cox   John Alkin
John George Porter   Ben Grieve


MAY 1942

A Military Base   Edwin has received definite word that John is alive, so he reports to a military base to bring him home, now that the periods of debriefing and convalescence are over.

He greets John, who is sitting on a bench in the processing room, but John says nothing in reply and hardly seems to recognise his own father-in-law.

In the waiting room for the train, Edwin tries to start a conversation but with little success.

Edwin fibs that Margaret wanted to come, but everyone else thought it best that she remain at home, as they did not know quite what to expect.

When Edwin mentions that the Belgian resistance people looked after him, John laughs mockingly and says, "Yeh, they looked after me."

Edwin asks him how long he will be home, and John shows him his orders, which state that he has twenty-eight days of leave.

John is peculiarly unresponsive—even at the mention of his parents—but his attention focuses the instant Edwin alludes to his baby son, and John asks, "It was a boy?"

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Margaret is getting out of bed and beginning to dress, but Michael begs for another kiss, and she complies.

When Margaret says that lovemaking in the afternoon is best because all problems are forgotten, Michael cynically remarks that they are still there when it is over.

John will be back tomorrow, he states, adding that he regrets not having made her leave home sooner—to "burn her bridges."

Margaret assures Michael that she still plans to live with him, but she does not feel able to break the startling news to John anytime soon.

She does not want to hurt him, she explains, to which Michael responds with a rhetorical question: "Pacifists don't get hurt?"

Michael is frank with her, saying it is inevitable that she will hurt John, and the longer she delays, the harder it will be.

The Ashton Home   Jean enters with Sheila, whom she went to see at the NAAFI canteen, and Sheila soon discovers why her mother-in-law came to visit.

The moment the conversation turns to David, Jean impresses upon Sheila that she needs to make an effort, in order to keep a marriage going.

Sheila, however, refuses to go crawling back after her husband, declaring that she is past that stage in their relationship.

Jean says she is sorry, and Sheila snaps that she is sorry too, and probably so is David, but "being sorry just doesn't seem to be enough anymore, though, does it?"

The Turk's Head   Sergeant Frank Cox teases his friend, David Ashton, about being an officer, and David shouts at him to stop picking on him, even suggesting that Frank is jealous.

When David calms down a bit, they sit at a table and discuss Sheila, with Frank accusing him of not trying very hard to save his marriage.

David insists that he loves his kids—all three of them, including the daughter he has by Peggy Drake.

Frank recalls the time he had to give Peggy a payment of David's "conscience money" because she would not accept it directly from David.

David confesses that he is not proud of himself and admits that sometimes he almost wishes that a burst of flak would bring down his plane, ending all of his problems.

Frank becomes incensed at David's appalling disregard for his crew and tells him, "A fine crew mate you are, thinking that—eight thousand feet over Germany."

David tries to patch up their bitter disagreement by buying Frank a glass of expensive scotch.

Frank has seen Peggy's two-year-old daughter, and David says he would like to see her too, something Frank strongly discourages.

But stiff drinks have emboldened David, and he brashly sets out to visit Peggy after all this time.

The Ashton Home   As Sheila is leaving, Jean tells her to be patient, that David will come back to her.

The Drake Home   At the Drake home in East Anglia, Peggy's father answers the door when David knocks, and the two men go into the parlour.

David introduces himself as "Porter," and Mr. Drake asks him to wait there, that Peggy should be back shortly from making preparations for the church bazaar.

Then David lies that he is just on an errand—that Peggy had borrowed a book from one of the WAAFs at the base, and he is now there to collect the book and return it to her.

Peggy's father explains that Mrs. Drake is away because her sister got bombed out of her house in Norwich.

The men chat about war issues for a moment, but their discussion is interrupted when a little girl comes into the room.

David stares at Junie but cannot get a good look before Mr. Drake leads her away to get a drink of water.

A moment later, as David is gazing at a framed photograph, Peggy returns home and is shocked to see David Ashton standing there.

David says he just dropped in to see her, and he comments that their daughter is a "lovely kid."

When Mr. Drake comes back into the room, Peggy tells him who the officer really is, and Mr. Drake says that is what he suspected.

Looking David straight in the eye, he tells him that he has caused a lot of misery for them all.

Standing his ground, David contends that he came to see Peggy and, of course, the kiddie.

"If you want what's best for her, you just keep away from our Junie," warns Mr. Drake, and David responds, "She is my Junie too, Mr. Drake."

Mr. Drake asks David to leave, but David says he wants to talk with Peggy about her future.

"When did you start caring about her future?" scoffs Mr. Drake.

Peggy shocks David by revealing that she is getting married in four weeks, and David leaves without saying a further word.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Margaret tells Michael that she must be going, but Michael insists that she stay—seeing as how John will be back home tomorrow.

Claiming that she has burned her bridges, Margaret consents to stay at Michael's until tomorrow afternoon.

The Liverpool Train Station   Edwin and his befuddled son-in-law get off the train, and Edwin tells him, "Welcome to Liverpool, John."

The Ashton Home   In the kitchen, Jean informs Freda that the Porters will be coming around ten o'clock tomorrow morning, and Edwin and John should arrive not long thereafter.

Freda resents the fact that Margaret still is not there, snapping, "She might have come home this one evening."

When the front door opens, Jean suspects it is Margaret, but the women are amazed to hear the voice of Edwin—talking to John!

Edwin explains that the army gave John his pass a day early, and Jean rushes to hug the returning soldier.

Freda also welcomes him, and then all four of them go into the living room.

Suspecting that John might be wondering where Margaret is, Freda and Jean begin making excuses for her conspicuous absence.

John says that he is sorry to hear about Robert, and Jean immediately changes the subject to Philip's duties in North Africa with the Eighth Army.

Suddenly, John asks about the baby, who has been asleep since six o'clock, saying that he wants to see him now.

Edwin accompanies John upstairs, but then he leaves father and baby son alone almost at once.

John stares at the boy and then, overcome with emotion, sits down on the bed and weeps.

In the kitchen, Freda condemns her older sister, in absentia, for sleeping in another man's bed—tonight of all nights.

When Jean comes to Margaret's defence, Freda accuses her mother of not wanting to face facts, whereupon Jean shouts back at her, "Maybe I've faced enough facts. Maybe I don't ever want to face facts…ever again, ever."

After Freda apologises, Edwin comes in to say that John is a sick boy, and Freda says crossly, "We've got eyes."

The Drake Home   Though decidedly unwelcome, David returns to the Drake home to talk further with Peggy.

She explains that she is due at the post office by nine, and David says they can chat on the way.

But this Peggy flatly refuses to do, demanding that David leave the house before she does.

That suggestion leads David to believe that Peggy is afraid people will notice them together.

Peggy asks David what he came to say—that he wants to marry her?

David answers, "Yes. Well, maybe," and Peggy quietly repeats, "Maybe…"

She wonders where his wife is, and David says she has taken up with another fellow.

Peggy alleges that he just wants "somebody to fill the gap," and David's brazen response is, "Well, yes, perhaps. But it's not a gap just anybody could fill."

She tells David that she wanted him long ago, when she was lying in that hospital room, having a baby.

When David apologises, Peggy accuses him of always being sorry afterward—but not sorry enough for him to do anything.

David explains that he had the best of intentions on his last leave, but there was a man in his wife's house.

He tries to make Peggy admit that she still feels something for him, especially because of the little girl who belongs to both of them.

Peggy tells him that she feels contented when she thinks about her fiancé, adding, "You're a luxury to a woman, David. I can't afford you."

The Ashton Home   Jean and Sefton are in the living room, and she informs her brother that the Porters should be arriving from Chorley very soon.

Sefton wonders where Margaret is, and Jean explains that she is "out," before adroitly changing the subject by reading aloud from Philip's most recent letter.

Many's the time, confides Sefton, that all he can see is Tony's face in the water, an unthinking statement that pierces Jean's motherly heart.

Sefton apologises to her, confiding that he has never said much to her about young Robert because he cannot seem to find the right words.

When Jean asks him whether there will be any wedding bells for Tony, Sefton grumbles that—as the father—he will be the last to know.

Again he voices his surprise that Margaret is not there for the reunion with John, and again Jean flees from the issue, this time by pleading that there is work to be done.

Sefton fears the consequences if John ever finds out the truth about Margaret, and Jean impresses upon him the necessity of keeping quiet about it.

"What? I'm a closed book when I want to be—you know that," he declares in his own behalf. "A closed book!"

The Turk's Head   David and Frank order pints of beer in the nearly deserted pub.

When Frank warns his friend that he is making the same mistake twice with Peggy, David snaps back that Frank is just a cold fish when it comes to women.

Frank advises David that his trouble is he has lofty ambitions but always picks an ordinary girl like Peggy or Sheila—someone who is simple, forgiving, and mothering, someone who will suffer for him.

The Ashton Home   Celia arrives, explaining that Harry was kept at home because of his ill health.

When Jean says she will awaken John and ask him to come down, Celia is astonished that her son already is there, as he was not expected until the following day.

Her shock quickly gives way to indignation as she scolds Jean for not having the decency to send word that John came home early.

Celia runs to the foot of the stairway and shouts, "John, love, John! Your mother's here."

She again rebukes Jean, proclaiming, "I don't understand some people. They've got no consideration for others' feelings."

Down the stairs walks John, carrying John George in his arms and casually uttering, "Hello, Mother."

Jean offers to take the baby from him, so John and his mother can be alone in the living room.

Once there, Celia smothers John with hugs and kisses, but all John can talk about is whether his son is dressed warmly enough.

He leaves the room, obsessed with putting a thicker pair of socks on John George's feet, and Celia remains behind, wondering what has become of her devoted son.

East Anglian Post Office   About ten female postal employees, Peggy among them, come outside through the rear door of the post office.

Peggy notices that David is there, waiting for her, and she is embarrassed when he places his hand on her shoulder in front of her fellow workers.

She is going to lunch with the girls, she declares, so he will just have to wait until tonight to visit with her.

David reminds her that she promised to be there tonight, whereupon she responds, "Well, you'll just have to hope I'm better at keeping my promises than your are, then."

The Ashton Home   Celia finds it difficult to believe that Margaret would be away at such a time as this.

She wonders if Margaret often stays out all night like this, and Jean replies that she must have missed her bus and was forced to stay with a friend.

Jean then offers another excuse: that the air-raid injury upset Margaret in mind as well as body.

Celia contends that no one has endured as much suffering, in mind or body, as she herself has.

Then, in a startling revelation, Celia discloses that she has done a terrible thing—not telling her husband about John's return.

"He'll never forgive me, you know, never," she declares, but she cannot explain why she chose not to tell him.

Jean demands that Celia call Harry tonight, fabricating that the telegram from Jean did not arrive until after he had gone to work.

In a rare moment of introspection, Celia confesses to Jean that she envies her for being so strong, so able to cope with life's adversities.

Margaret rushes in the front door and immediately runs up the stairs.

She opens the bedroom door and watches her husband playing with their son.

When she says his name, John turns around but shows little emotion, mumbling only an occasional word, and Margaret can see that he is very ill indeed.

Later, in the kitchen, Jean tells Margaret that what her husband needs for therapy are security and love.

But Margaret sees things another way entirely: "Michael and I love each other. You can't sacrifice two lives for the sake of one."

Life is cruel, she adds, sometimes more cruel than war—and besides, she has given Michael her promise.

"You made a promise…in church," argues Jean, but Margaret says she cannot give Michael up.

When Jean asks what is to become of the baby, Margaret assumes that John George will stay with his mother.

Jean advises her not to count on that, in the circumstances, saying she just wants her to face facts.

In the living room, John is holding little John George on his lap while Celia explains that the telegram came too late, but that she will ring Harry tonight.

John is not paying attention to anything she says, finally arising to take John George for a walk in his pusher.

Jean warns Margaret of the likelihood that neighbours will see Michael and wonder, spreading their hateful gossip.

Margaret rushes to catch up to her husband and offers to push John George, but John will have none of it, persisting in going outside with the baby.

In the hallway, Celia expresses to Margaret how happy she is, having her son back, and she once again declares that she never doubted—never—and now she has her reward.

The Turk's Head   Over beers, Frank is surprised when David says Peggy has agreed to meet him at the pub that very night.

He is even more astounded when Peggy arrives, as promised, and actually seems to be enjoying David's company again, just like in the old days.

The Ashton Home   Edwin and Freda are in the living room, and Freda tells her father that she has been accepted as a hospital trainee, "the lowest form of life."

She informs him she will have to begin living at the nurses' home on Monday, week.

When he contends that it is a difficult time to be gone, Freda confides that she has wanted to go much farther away—ever since Christmas and then Robert's death.

Nothing personal, Freda assures him, but she just wants something different, something new.

Edwin says he suspects she simply wants to get away from her unhappy parents, especially with Margaret planning to live elsewhere.

This Freda denies, claiming that she will be back every other day.

Later, up in Margaret's bedroom, the two sisters discuss Mrs. Porter, John, and Michael.

Freda is quite candid about her feelings, alleging that Margaret's surreptitious affair with Michael is dishonest.

Looking into the future, Freda supposes that Margaret will go live with Michael, John will go live with his parents in Chorley, Freda will go live at the nurses' home, and Edwin and Jean will be deserted, living at home…with Robert.

Margaret declares that this was an awful thing to say, but Freda says, "It's true, though."

The Drake Home   Mr. Drake has been waiting up for his daughter, and finally she arrives home with David.

Peggy's father goes to bed after exchanging chilly greetings with David.

When David again looks at little Junie's photograph, he states that she looks more like her mother than her father.

"Yes," Peggy responds. "Well, that's just as well perhaps, isn't it?"

Peggy can see that David is trying very hard to win her around, and David says that things do sometimes turn out for the best.

When David affectionately takes Peggy by the shoulders, she admonishes him, "Don't touch me, David, please."

Thoroughly puzzled at her behaviour, he asks, "Don't you feel anything for me?"

Peggy replies, "No, I don't," and she explains to David that she studied him very carefully tonight, and, in so doing, can now marry Tom without having somebody else on her mind.

Finally, she tells him that the answer is no, that she no longer needs him as she once did.

For the sadness it causes him, she is truly sorry, she says, "because I know how it feels, don't I?"

The Ashton Home   John and Margaret are sitting in the living room, he asleep with his head tilted back, and she looking at him as if he were a stranger.

She reaches forward to remove the burning cigarette from his fingers, and this movement awakens him.

Margaret wonders if John contacted his father, and he replies that Harry will be coming tomorrow.

When Margaret asks how he feels, John tells her that it is a bit like the baby—that the lights seem too bright, and talking is just noise that goes on around him.

John says the doctors believe he will be his "old self" in due time, but Margaret urges him not to worry about that now.

The people in the hospital were very kind to him, he explains, but that only made him want to cry—a result of his harsh treatment at the hands of the Belgian resistance.

"I'm sorry I'm such a mess," he tells her.

Then John shows her his sleeping tablets, but when he stands up to go to bed, he nearly faints, and Margaret steadies him.

She helps him walk toward the stairs, draping his arm around her shoulders for support.

Michael Armstrong's Flat   Margaret rushes in the front door, apologising for being so late.

Michael says he missed seeing her the night before, and they embrace.

As Michael puts the kettle on, Margaret mentions that she saw a troop ship leaving Prince's Landing, and the sailors aboard were waving goodbye to just about anyone.

Now that the bombing has stopped, she adds, it becomes easy to forget that the war is still going on for people like that.

"But not for people like me," Michael says, but Margaret indicates that is not what she meant by her remark.

He can sense that she has not yet told John, and she explains that her husband is mentally ill, virtually a stranger to her, and that it will take time.

"All he needs is a little time," she explains. "We can afford to give him that much, can't we? Just a little time. Can't we?”

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