Clash by Night

by Jack Ronder and John Finch

Episode Number: 29
Director: Bob Hird


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



Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Jenny Graham   Wanda Ventham
Parker   John Ronane
Sister   Ingrid Hafner
Mary Foster   Joan Heath
Stafford   Patrick Godfrey
Malley   Colin Edwynn
Todd   Michael de Freyne
Leggett   Barry Wilmore
Doctor Willy   Alick Hayes
A Business Man   Frank Birch



A Train Station   It is the sister's responsibility to see to it that every man on her medical list is back aboard the train, so she shouts for orderlies Leggett, Morgan, and Davis to round up any stragglers.

All of the soldiers (Philip Ashton included) have boarded the train except for two, and finally Parker and Todd arrive as well—with the smell of liquor on their breaths.

A business man begs a second time for Sister to let him sit in her coach, but again she tells him, "Reserved."

Aboard a Train   Parker tells his friend, Todd, that Sister has everything he wants in a woman: "beauty, brawn, and plenty of lip."

Then, as the train begins moving, he proclaims, "Roll on, civvy street!"

The Briggs Home   When Mrs. Foster arrives, Sefton is lying ill in bed, ringing for her help.

He demands to know where she has been, and she answers that she went to the fish shop for supper.

Sefton informs her that the telephone rang while she was gone, and it could have been Tony.

Angrily, Mrs. Foster argues that she cannot be in two places at one time.

Sefton suspects that his housekeeper is tired of working for him and would like to find another position, but Mrs. Foster denies this, assuring Sefton that she would never abandon him in this condition.

The doctor will return in the morning, mumbles Sefton, who then appears to drift off to sleep.

However, when he hears the door shut, he peeks over to make sure that Mrs. Foster has gone.

Aboard a Train   Parker hands Todd the bottles of beer he secured while the train was stopped, some contraband he plans to sell at a handsome profit.

Also in their compartment is Malley, who hopes to be discharged because of his gangrene, the result of being wounded in action.

Though Parker speaks frequently to Todd, actually his friend is stone deaf.

Malley complains about the war, asking Parker, "Where would we be if it wasn't for the Russkies, eh?"

At this, Parker gives him a snarling look and says, "The Russkies. Don't talk to me about the Russkies, mate."

Meanwhile, in the next compartment, Philip explains to Stafford that he can see the edges of shapes with his right eye but only light and dark with his left eye.

Stafford says he rang home when the train stopped—the first time he talked to his wife in two years—and Philip says he rang home too.

In the other compartment, Parker accuses Malley of being a "Red" and explains that he himself was a comrade once, calling it the "worst bloody mistake" of his life.

Sister enters and gives Malley a tablet for his temperature, cautioning him not to drink the train water.

She says the train is scheduled to arrive in London at five, but it usually runs about three hours late.

Parker props his feet up, provocatively close to where she is standing, so she scolds him, "Parker, just behave yourself."

In addition to the beer, Parker has managed to secure several cartons of cigarettes, another profitable investment.

Malley, however, refuses to buy black-market tobacco from the scheming Parker.

That prompts Parker to tell Malley that his thirty-five years on earth have taught him one thing—to look after number one.

The talk returns to politics when Parker challenges Malley to defend Stalin's activities in Spain.

Malley asks him what he knows about it, and Parker says, "Malley, I was there."

As evidence, he offers a tattered photograph of himself in the International Brigade in 1938, posing alongside Philip Ashton.

In the other compartment, Stafford is preaching Buddhism to Philip, urging him to adopt an attitude of acceptance toward his blindness.

The Briggs Home   Tony arrives home with Jenny Graham around ten o'clock at night, and they decide against waking Mrs. Foster—asleep in a kitchen chair—because probably she has been up for all hours, taking care of Sefton.

As Tony enters his father's bedroom, Sefton is asleep, but he awakens only a few seconds later.

When Tony asks him how he feels, Sefton replies that his heart is beating irregularly, sometimes as fast as a clock without its pendulum, and that he would rather have a plumber than old Doctor Willy.

Sefton says a specialist is coming tomorrow, and he admits (grudgingly) that Mrs. Foster is looking after him quite well.

Tony discloses that he brought a visitor home with him—Jenny, who is off getting some fish and chips for a late dinner.

Aboard a Train   Sister asks where Parker is, and Malley replies that he has not come back yet, but that Todd moved a couple of doors away.

Malley complains that he can get no sleep because Parker keeps sparring with him about politics.

With that in mind, Sister decides to put Stafford in with him, while moving Parker next door with Sergeant Ashton.

A few minutes later, Parker is returning with a wad of money in hand.

He hides the ill-gotten gain upon seeing Sister straight ahead, and then he makes it a point to pass her in the narrow center aisle.

They speak at close quarters, with Parker asking about his insulin injection and Sister telling him he will be awakened at the proper time for that.

Now Parker enters his new compartment and is shocked to see that he is sharing it with Philip Ashton, whom he wounded in the leg during the Spanish Civil War, in August of 1938.

Outside their compartments, Parker and Todd share a smoke, and, though his friend is deaf, Parker nonetheless mentions to him that he just saw someone whom he had not laid eyes upon in four and a half years.

He tells Todd that when Ashton recognises him, he will be in big trouble.

Just then, Philip opens the compartment door and walks right past them, seemingly oblivious to his old nemesis.

The Briggs Home   Tony and Jenny have finished eating their black peas and fish and chips in the living room, so Mrs. Foster is clearing their plates.

Jenny offers to sit up with Sefton, trading off with Tony, so Mrs. Foster can get some well-deserved rest.

When the bedroom buzzer sounds, Jenny volunteers to answer it, as Sefton has not seen her as of yet, and she would like to tell him hello.

Tony goes into the kitchen to ask Mrs. Foster about the sleeping arrangements.

Sefton has insisted that Tony and Jenny have separate rooms on either side of his, seeing as how the corner room, he claims, is too damp.

Aboard a Train   Sister notices that Parker is loitering in the center aisle, so she asks him if he is having trouble sleeping.

Parker replies that he once shot a man in the back, that the man was not an enemy combattant, and that the incident has caused him to suffer from nightmares.

Sister suggests that this might be a good time for his injection, and he wonders aloud whether she is inviting him inside her nurse's compartment, to which she responds, "Don't be silly."

Philip passes by, and now Parker can see clearly that he is blind.

As Sister is giving Parker an injection in his left arm, he asks her about Ashton's vision, and she replies that he will continue to be blind for quite some time, though not permanently.

The Briggs Home   In the living room before bedtime, Jenny notices that Tony is looking through a thick book of some sort.

It is a medical dictionary, he explains, because he is curious about his father's abnormally rapid heartbeat.

"Tachycardia," says Jenny, who is a practicing pharmacist, and Tony is duly impressed.

Tony tells her that Doctor Willy does not consider the condition to be particularly serious, and that Mrs. Foster thinks Sefton is "laying it on a bit," exaggerating for the sake of sympathy.

Mrs. Foster goes into his bedroom to tend to the fire, and Sefton wonders if they know about the room assignments.

They do, she says, and Tony was none too pleased about them either, which prompts Sefton to repeat his contention that the corner room is damp.

When Mrs. Foster tells him that Tony and Jenny will alternate watches over him, he says that is not necessary—but she declares that it was doctor's orders.

Old Willy should have hung up his shingle years ago, he grumbles, but Mrs. Foster notes that the war has caused many men to stay long past their usefulness.

This comment he takes personally, pointing out to her that Tony needs several more years under his belt before he can inherit management of the business.

"He needs a bit of encouragement, too, if you ask me," she snaps.

"I didn't ask you, Mrs. Foster," he shouts, "and when the time comes I'm not able to do a good day's work, I'll ask you then!"

She leaves his room, but the heated argument has left Sefton with chest pain and a racing heart.

Jenny chats with Mrs. Foster in the hall, and the housekeeper seems worried, stating that she has never seen Sefton like this before.

The first watch is Jenny's, so she greets Sefton and mentions that Tony has gotten a promotion, an extra ring on his uniform sleeves.

Sefton comments that there is no sign of a ring on her, however, and Jenny accuses him of thinking she is an immoral woman.

Jenny explains that she thinks there are more immoral things than being like Tony and her—unmarried—things like bringing children into the world during wartime.

Tony was born during a war, argues Sefton, adding that there would be some mighty big gaps in the population if people only had children in peacetime.

"You can get married without having children, you know," says Sefton, to which Jenny responds, "Yes, well, I can't say I see the point in it."

Sefton declares that he would still be glad he married Tony's mother even if they had never had the children, confiding, "It was a great loss to me when she died."

Jenny curls up on a chair to doze while Sefton goes to sleep.

Aboard a Train   Confident that Philip cannot see, Parker joins him in the compartment, explaining that Sister did a swap.

Parker introduces himself as "Jack" and tells Philip that he probably is headed for civvy street because of his diabetes.

He adds that his wife left him two years ago, so he has nothing to go back to—unlike Ashton, with his college education.

Philip is curious how "Jack" knew this, joking, "I don't wear a badge."

Parker scrambles to explain that it is Philip's voice, his accent, that identifies him as someone who attended university.

This causes Philip to remark that "Jack's" voice sounds familiar to him, a suspicion that Parker is quick to deny.

In an effort to escape this dangerous line of discussion, Parker decides that it is time to get some sleep.

Nervously lying in his berth, he can feel the sightless eyes of Philip Ashton staring at him.

Later that night, when Philip arises to visit the toilet, the increasingly paranoid Parker watches him carefully, to make certain that is really where he is going.

Sister approaches Parker in the center aisle, and he begins chatting, wondering if her husband is doing his bit for the war effort.

She replies that he has been a prisoner of war since the fall of Singapore.

"Makes it seem a long war, eh?" he asks, and she responds, just as he hoped she would, "Yes, makes it seem a very long war."

The Briggs Home   Tony comes to relieve Jenny, who has been sleeping on her watch—"Court martial for you tomorrow," he teases.

They kiss goodnight, and Jenny returns to her own bedroom.

Sefton awakens and offers belated congratulations to Tony on his promotion, confessing that it fell to Jenny to inform him because it had escaped his notice.

When Sefton says he wants to talk to him, Tony crouches down to tend to the fireplace while encouraging his father to get some sleep.

This annoys Sefton, who shouts at him, "Don't turn your back on me when I say I want to…"

Suddenly, Sefton clutches his chest in pain, and Tony comes running to his side.

Aboard a Train   As Philip is returning down the center aisle, Parker grasps him roughly by the arm with malice aforethought.

Just then, Sister opens her compartment, and Parker explains that he was making certain that Sergeant Ashton made it back safely.

"Thank you, Parker," she says, calling him by name.

Philip stops in his tracks for an instant, just long enough for Parker to suspect that his anonymity has been forfeited.

He enters the nurse's compartment and explains to Sister that Ashton thinks he has met him somewhere before.

As for himself, it is difficult for him to be certain, Parker muses, because all men look the same—not like women, each of whom is unique.

Sitting very near to her, he elaborates, "Mostly it's in the eyes. Sometimes it says, 'Keep off.' Sometimes it says 'Don't believe me, even though I'm saying keep off'."

Parker places his hands on her hips, and she does not reject his advance.

Meanwhile, in the other compartment, Philip waits patiently for Comrade Parker to return.

The Briggs Home   Sefton requests that Tony call George Askew in the morning, so a new will can be drawn up, a revision that is more favorable to Tony.

Placing their own relationship in context, Sefton says his father brought him up in his own image, while Sefton failed to do so with Tony.

Sefton declares that he should have said no to his father more often than he did, much like Tony was able to do in conversations with him.

For the first five years of Tony's life, recalls Sefton, he was a spoiled child—until Sefton's father pointed out that he was ruining the boy.

But then Sefton overdid it the other way, and, Sefton contends, Tony never has forgiven him.

Sefton explains that spoiling Tony was his way of showing that he cared, so when he refrained from spoiling him, Tony must have interpreted that to mean that he no longer cared.

Likewise, whenever Tony came back at him, Sefton had to lay it on a bit harder, and Tony has been coming back at him ever since.

Aboard a Train   An orderly, Leggett, is surprised to find that the nurse's compartment is locked.

Once unlocked from the inside, there stand before him Sister and Parker, looking guilty and with their clothing rather disheveled.

Parker returns to his own compartment, and Philip loudly spits out the name, "Parker."

When Philip asks why they were paired up, Parker explains that Malley did not appreciate his views on politics, so Sister moved him.

"He's a commie," charges Parker, and when Philip surmises that he is not so idealistic anymore, Parker confesses, "Chucked in my party card."

Philip cannot forgive Parker for shooting Norton in the back, despite Parker's self-justifying, "That was war. I believed I was right."

When Parker asks Philip, "Wasn't I right?" Philip responds by posing a question of his own—"What are you looking for, Parker, absolution?"

Philip contends that Parker cannot simply place the blame on Uncle Joe Stalin, especially in view of the fact that he also tried to kill another man, Philip Ashton.

"It's your word against mine," states Parker in a shaky voice. "All the others are dead."

That is when Philip reveals that he received a letter from Rust six months ago.

Philip explains that Norton was not deserting—he was just turning his back on something that did not make sense anymore.

"You're the real deserter, Parker," alleges Philip. "You follow the nearest flag, don't you?"

Suddenly, Parker grabs Philip by the lapels and bodily threatens him to keep silent about the incident.

Philip acknowledges that he is even more of a sitting target now than in Spain, but he claims that Parker would not have the guts to attack him again—not without the party to support him.

"You murdered a man, Parker," states Philip, and the alarmed Parker asks what he is going to do about it.

"I'm going to get some sleep," answers Philip.

When Parker says, "I want to speak to you, Ashton," Philip rolls over in his berth and calmly announces, "I'm turning my back on you, Parker."

Now Parker is desperate, screaming again, "I want to speak to you, Ashton!"

The Briggs Home   Old Doctor Willy is examining Sefton in the bedroom but only mutters repeatedly, "Hmm," leaving Sefton to wonder what his prognosis might me.

Then the doctor winks at Tony, intimating that the patient's condition is not nearly as grave as Sefton would like others to believe.

In the kitchen, Mrs. Foster is making tea when Jenny enters, asking about all the opening and closing of doors that she heard this morning.

Mrs. Foster explains that the doctor is with Sefton now.

Jenny wonders if Sefton is any better, and Mrs. Foster replies cagily, "It looks like a remarkable recovery to me."

In the living room, Doctor Willy informs Tony that the patient's pains originate in the stomach rather than the heart.

While Tony seems peeved at his father's deception, the doctor waxes philosophical about it, declaring, "Well, it got you a spot of leave, didn't it?"

The doctor hands Tony a prescription to give to Mrs. Foster, and he begins to leave.

Just then, Jenny comes into the room, and the doctor momentarily is stunned by her beauty, causing Tony to chuckle.

Tony explains to Jenny that the medical problem has been diagnosed as wind, originating in the stomach.

Now that his father seems to be out of danger, Tony decides to return to his ship later that day.

Jenny resolves to go back to bed, so Tony asks her, "Are you tired?" to which she responds with just the hint of a smile, "Are you?"

"Could be," he says, and he follows her upstairs.

Sefton, meanwhile, is lying in bed, reading Punch, but he hears Tony's door slam shut and calls to him before Tony can join Jenny in her bedroom.

Tony peeks in, and his father wonders whether the doctor left a prescription for him.

Yes, says Tony, who assures him that he will be all right, adding that he is planning to get some sleep now, as he and Jenny must be leaving before lunch time.

When Tony promises to ring George Askew, Sefton seems to have lost interest in such morbid things, stating, "Life's too short to be worrying about wills, isn't it?"

Aboard a Train   Sister awakens Philip and then casually shares a smoke with him.

She says Parker told her that Philip believed he met him somewhere before.

"Yes, we met in Spain," explains Philip, but he divulges nothing else, and Sister suspects that Philip could get Parker into serious trouble over something in their past.

"That must be why, then," she says, going on to disclose that Parker jumped off the train at the last stop.

She calls him a fool because he needs his insulin injections.

"Don't worry about Parker," says Philip. "He'll get his insulin. He's what is known as a born survivor."

Then, ironically, Philip reveals to her that the bad time in the Pyrenees was private, so he was not going to say anything.

Sister smiles, pats Philip on the shoulder, and leaves his compartment.

She can be heard issuing orders to Leggett, Morgan, and Davis to get the men ready, as there are only ten minutes to go before the train arrives in London.

Script Excerpt 1

Script Excerpt 2