Salute the Happy Morn

by John Finch

Episode Number: 30
Director: Les Chatfield


NOTE: During the making of this episode, there was a trade union dispute,
which resulted in "Salute the Happy Morn" 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
Philip Ashton   Keith Drinkel
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Michael Armstrong   Mark Jones
Harry Porter   Patrick Troughton
Celia Porter   Margery Mason
Colin Woodcock   David Bradley
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Peter Bryant   John Collins
Grace Gould   Adrienne Corri
Tommy Cox   Bryan Sweeney



David's and Sheila's Flat   Though it is only 12:30 in the afternoon on Christmas Eve, little Tommy Cox and three other children are singing carols around the neighbourhood.

Sheila and Doris each drop a couple of coins in his collection cup and send them on their way.

Freda goes upstairs to gather the other packages for the Ashtons' Christmas celebration.

Doris tells Sheila about the gynecologist, Ian Mackenzie, whom all the nurses are "gooey" about because of his movie-star good looks.

She goes on to say that the other nurses are jealous of Freda, who seems to be "clicking" with him.

Colin Woodcock drops in to give Sheila a Christmas gift—much to Sheila's embarrassment, as it takes place in full view of Doris and Freda—and Sheila gives him a gift as well before walking him to the door.

Aboard a Train   Celia Porter tells her husband that the only reason they were invited to the Ashtons' was because Edwin and Jean felt obliged to do so, not because John cares a whit whether they come.

"A liar, that's what he called me," she declares, "a liar—his own mother."

Celia says she knows very well who has been poisoning his mind, something Margaret has been doing ever since the day they were married.

Harry scolds his wife for saying such terrible things to John, such as women being tempted when their men are away.

Celia accuses Harry of talking to Edwin on the telephone and always siding with Margaret—"Of course, we all know you think she’s wonderful."

The Bryant Home, London   David Ashton accompanies bomber pilot Peter Bryant to his parents' posh London house, where his sister, Grace Gould, now lives while their father's ministry is evacuated to Wales.

Grace is away for a couple of days, says Peter, who offers David some American rye whisky.

While David is in the "bathroom" (as he affectedly calls it in polite society), Grace comes in, disappointed that her friends' unit has been posted.

David returns to the living room, where Peter introduces him to his libertine sister.

When Peter tells her that he has asked David to stay for three days, Grace comments, "Well, thank God I'm not going to be on my own, anyway."

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila unwraps the gift from Colin and sees that it is a bottle of sherry.

The Ashton Home   Freda and Doris come in and rush upstairs with their packages, greeting Freda's father as they pass him.

A package has been lying on the entry table, but Edwin picks it up and carries it into the kitchen, explaining to Jean that it is from Sefton.

Jean refuses to touch it, as it appears to be a black-market turkey, which goes against her principles.

Food comes in ships, she declares, which is why rationing is necessary, and then she adds, "It comes in ships, with boys like Robert on them."

Jean sees the irony here because it was Edwin who used to object to such illicit practices—and she puts her feeling into words: "I seem to have found my principles. Where have yours gone to?"

Edwin responds, "My principles were sacrificed to expediency the day I sold myself to your family," and Jean adds, "The day you married me," whereupon Edwin accuses her of pushing him into saying things.

"Mustn't tell the truth to each other, you mean," says Jean.

Edwin becomes conciliatory, wishing there could be some understanding between them—tolerance, compassion…forgiveness.

"Forgiveness," she scoffs. "When shall I see him again, Edwin? Never. Never, Edwin. There's a word, 'never.' My love, my boy. My good, sweet boy," and she breaks down in tears.

Edwin tries to comfort her by saying she has kept her grief to herself, all bottled up, for all these months.

"Don't turn away from me, please," he begs, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Don't turn away from me."

Jean stops sobbing long enough to scold him, "Don't touch me. Don't ever touch me again."

Upstairs, Doris teases Freda about Ian Mackenzie and then leaves for work.

Margaret tells her sister that all is fine between her and John, except that Michael continues to write to her.

When Freda asks if she has written him back, Margaret replies, "No! Well, just once, to ask him not to."

Freda volunteers to go talk with Michael, and Margaret gratefully accepts her offer.

The Bryant Home, London   Peter is in a bit of a spot because Brenda, the girl he had in mind to entertain David, has gone to Brighton.

He wonders whether Grace would consent to keep the Liverpudlian company while Peter visits his girlfriend, Patsy.

Peter reminds his sister that David is married, but then of course, so too is she—to Charles Gould, now stationed in Cairo, Egypt.

"Stop worrying," says Grace. "Just leave your little friend to me—I won't eat him. I'll just show him how the other half lives."

The Ashton Home   In the kitchen, Edwin tells Margaret that David is on leave in London, but a friend of his at the Turk's Head pub supplied the telephone number where David is staying, so perhaps Sheila can talk to him on Christmas.

Meanwhile, in the living room, Celia tells John that his father is as yellow as a Chinese from working in that munitions factory in Chorley.

Harry argues that someone has to do it, and the money is better.

Celia notices that their Christmas card is not displayed with the others, but Harry points out that it was not posted until the day before yesterday.

Jean comments that the mails are a bit erratic at Christmastime, and anyway there will be another delivery later today.

Celia continues her complaining—about the lack of bag handlers at the train station and the surliness of the cab driver.

The Hospital   Freda, Doris, and a large contingent of nurses serenade the wards with "Once in Royal David's City."

The Ashton Home   When Celia begins to go upstairs, she hears the afternoon post drop through the door slot, and she rushes to see whether their Christmas card has arrived.

Yes, it is there, and so is a letter to Margaret, addressed in a man's handwriting.

Celia cannot restrain her curiosity, so she carries the mysterious envelope upstairs, where she hides it in her travelling case.

The Bryant Home, London   David is luxuriating in the elegant bed as Grace spoils him with some morning tea.

Then she tosses him an oriental robe to cover himself—saying he looks "cuddly" in it—and offers him some breakfast.

Suggestively, she informs him, "I can cook, too, believe it or not."

The Ashton Home   Celia brings Harry a cup of tea in bed—Jean's orders—and she complains that everyone has long faces in this house, even though it is Christmas.

After Celia leaves the room, Harry gets up to shave, so he reaches for the case which Celia has slid under her bed.

He discovers the letter that his wife has purloined and tosses it onto the bed.

Edwin enters, and the two men have a friendly chat, including Edwin's invitation to Harry for the two of them, as well as John, to visit the pub before dinner—and Harry confesses that he will have to incur the wrath of his wife if he chooses to accept the offer.

Much to Harry's surprise, Edwin confides that his own marriage is in trouble at the moment, the result of some sin of omission, he supposes.

Harry wonders aloud about John and Margaret, whether they got married for the right reasons and whether they are going to be happy together.

A Public Building   Freda meets Michael at the appointed time, but he is surprised to see her instead of Margaret.

She had to trick him, she explains, for he would not have shown up if he knew it would be Margaret's younger sister who would be there.

Michael recalls his last meeting with Margaret, an awkward, five-minute conversation in which neither of them knew quite what to say.

"Look, she's not going to come back to you, Michael," says Freda bluntly, and Michael wonders whether he was not more important to her than just to be "pushed off."

Freda contends that nothing is permanent, going on to say, "I suppose how you feel about somebody can be as permanent as you are."

Michael considers that statement for a moment and then responds, "Yes. Yes."

He walks over to the window and gazes outside, and she follows him.

Michael inquires about Owen Thomas, but Freda explains, "Well, it was nice while it lasted, as they say."

He turns to her and grins, stating, "So you've got nobody too, eh?" and she replies with a smile, "Nobody."

Freda tells him she must be going, so he promises not to write again and asks Freda to give Margaret his love.

"Goodbye, then," she says, and he responds, "Goodbye."

Then Freda kisses him on the cheek before running off, and Michael sorrowfully watches her through the window.

The Ashton Home   Harry, John, and Edwin have returned from the pub, a bit tipsy, and Margaret greets them in the hall, confirming that they are all in the doghouse for being away for so long.

They share a joke and are in wonderful spirits until Celia's voice calls crossly from upstairs, "Harry? Is that you?"

Edwin and John go into the living room, but Harry must report to his wife.

In the bedroom where they are staying during Christmastime, Celia accuses Harry of being drunk.

"No, Celia, I'm not drunk," he snaps, "but I wish to God I were."

He sits on the bed and shows her the letter, addressed to Mrs. Margaret Ashton, causing her to say, "Should be Mrs. Margaret Porter, shouldn't it?"

Celia snatches it out of Harry's hand and tears the envelope open, gasping in shock when she reads the words.

She tells her husband, "She had another man when John was away. She was pregnant."

Harry cannot believe it, and he alleges, "You're ill. You're mad!"

Celia forces him to read it, holding the letter in front of his eyes, and then she crows, "There's your precious Margaret for you."

Harry cautions her that if she ever tells John about this, it will destroy him.

Later, at the dinner table, the Christmas festivities are a gloomy affair, with hardly a word of conversation passing among the dour company.

Doris tries to liven things up with flatulence humour, but it falls flat, so Freda excuses herself to bring some crackers.

Celia persists in smirking at Margaret until she feels quite self-conscious.

Finally, almost in desperation, John remembers that the King is about to speak, so he goes to switch on the radio.

The Bryant Home, London   David and Grace are kissing passionately on the sofa when the telephone rings.

Grace says the call is for him, and David is startled, wondering how anybody knows that he is there.

He hears the familiar voice of his father, who asks him how he is enjoying Christmas, and David—with Grace rubbing his chest and nuzzling him from behind—stammers, "Yeh, yeh. Well, you know, it's all right."

With all the cuddling, it is difficult for the distracted David to maintain a coherent dialogue.

The Ashton Home   Edwin urges Sheila to get on the line, and, very reluctantly, she does so.

The Bryant Home, London   David manages to shake loose of Grace long enough to tell Sheila that he sent Christmas gifts to the kids in Wales.

The Ashton Home   The Ashtons' front doorbell rings, and Edwin is told that "the front legs"—that is, Ian Mackenzie—is there to drive Freda and Doris to work, so the girls leave excitedly.

As Edwin chats briefly again, Sheila goes to the living room and tells Jean that David wishes to speak with her.

When Jean is handed the receiver, she sounds confused and exhausted, but she does exchange "Happy Christmas" with her eldest son.

The Bryant Home, London   David tries his best to sound sincere when he tells his mother, "I'm thinking of you all up there."

The Ashton Home   Later, in the kitchen, Margaret assures her mother that Sheila caught her bus, elaborating that she fully understands why Sheila left early: "Anyone who wants to get out of this house has my sympathy."

She repeats Sheila's empty excuse that she wanted to visit her parents, who are celebrating Christmas at her brother's house.

After Jean leaves to have a rest upstairs, John comes into the kitchen and tells Margaret that Edwin and he are going for a walk to Sefton Park, wheeling John George along with them.

John is relieved to observe that his wife is still the same person as she was before—calm, collected Margaret, who knows her own mind.

"Am I? Do I?" she asks, not at all so sure of herself these days.

John says that is what got him through his ordeal in Belgium, knowing that she would be the same, and he adds that he realises how lucky he is to have her.

When Margaret does not respond, John is confused, and her off-hand, almost chilly "See you soon" does nothing to set his mind at ease.

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila is pouring a cupful of sherry for herself, as she spends Christmas day alone, David's vacuous words still haunting her memory.

The Ashton Home   Harry comes into the kitchen to help Margaret with the dishes.

He asks how she and John are getting along, and Margaret bristles at the question, one she hears everyday from her dad, mum, and sister.

She responds, "It's like being put in a cage to mate, and everybody peeping in and saying, 'Are they doing it? Is it working?' "

Seeing no gentler way of informing her, Harry decides to blurt to Margaret the devastating news that Celia knows about this other man.

Hearing this, she goes to pieces, dropping a plate to the floor and kneeling down, sobbing in her shame and humiliation.

Nothing Harry can say will comfort her, and he chastises himself for making such a brutal, stupid comment to someone of whom he thinks so highly.

Upstairs, Celia is lying in bed when Jean enters, telling her sister-in-law that Philip will be coming by special train tomorrow.

"Oh, children," grumbles Celia. "They don't care," whereupon Jean remarks, "Perhaps it's us. Perhaps we care too much…"

Jean walks over to Robert's wooden model ship and continues, "…too much, so it becomes all of us. When they're gone, there's nothing left."

Jean tells Celia about when she slapped one of the boys and locked him in his room so she could go shopping—and when she returned, she could see his face through the window, looking down at her, tears on the glass.

Even the self-centered Celia knows whom she is talking about, for she quietly utters the name "Robert."

In the kitchen, Harry is sitting next to Margaret on the floor, and Margaret explains to him that the baby was stillborn and that sometimes when she looks at John George, she sees two of them.

Harry reveals that Celia had a miscarriage the year after John was born, and sometimes he wishes there had been two babies.

He asks her if she still sees this man, and she says no, which likewise is her answer when he inquires whether John knows about her affair.

"Maybe sometime I'll have to tell him," she speculates. "Maybe sometime I won't be able not to."

When Margaret confirms that John is not ready to hear the truth, Harry says, "Well, I shall just have to stop her, that's all."

Margaret contends that Celia must hate her, to which Harry responds, "She hates as she loves—much too easily."

Speaking very frankly, Margaret says that Harry makes her feel ashamed, having moved away to Chorley for John's sake, while she simply indulged herself in Liverpool.

This he does not believe, nor when she confides, "I'm not the person that you think I am, you know."

Harry makes her laugh when he confesses that she would be surprised to know "what goes on under this rather tatty, middle-aged exterior—this, uh, what did she call it?—this yellow-as-a-Chinese exterior."

The Bryant Home, London   David and Grace come in, rather drunk, and she is giggling at that "Great Industrial North" voice of his.

Sitting on the sofa, they each confess to be married, something that is news to David but not to Grace.

Just as they begin embracing, the sound of a key in the lock is heard, and Peter enters the house.

Grace is amused by how nervous David appeared to be, fearing that the intruder was her husband.

When David leaves to visit the toilet, Grace tells her brother that they had a wonderful time at the Savoy yesterday, and David paid for everything because his father has a printing works.

"Don't worry. He's having a marvelous time," she says, "and they're all stinking rich up there anyway."

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila, who has been drinking, looks at the framed photo of David in his sergeant's uniform, and then she angrily throws it across the room—shattering its glass—as she bursts into tears.

There is a knock at the door, and it is Colin, explaining that he has come to visit her.

She seems delighted to see him, practically tearing the coat off his back.

Sheila needlessly informs him that she has been drinking the sherry he gave to her, a fact that is patently obvious by her slurred speech and loss of equilibrium.

The sherry makes her see things differently, she explains, pulling him close to her for a kiss.

Then she excuses herself to go upstairs and tidy up a bit, which gives Colin a moment to notice the picture frame's shattered glass and the empty bottle of sherry.

The Ashton Home   Celia claims that she cannot sleep because Harry is reading, and the light is in her eyes.

When he turns the light out, she comments that he never did leave her alone with John the entire day, something that he will not be able to keep up forever.

"Not that it makes any difference," she says. "If I can't say it without you, I shall have to say it in front of you, shan't I?"

"Over my dead body, Celia," threatens Harry, and she responds that he is just bluffing, play acting.

When he asks her to imagine what would have happened, had they had this conversation thirty years ago, she accuses him of verbally abusing her.

"Abuse you?" he snaps. "You abuse me every time you open your mouth."

He claims that the worst abuse was her taking John away from him for all those years, building a wall around their son, to keep him away.

"You've lost him now," he contends, "and if you tell him what you say you're going to tell him, I doubt if he'll ever want to speak to you again."

If she loses both of them, he adds, who will care whether she lives or dies?

David's and Sheila's Flat   Sheila comes back downstairs, looking much fresher, but Colin will do nothing beyond telling her goodnight—much to her disappointment.

He reasons that if anything happened between them tonight, she would be furious at him in the clear light of day.

"Sheila, I want you," he says, "not what a bottle of sherry kids you, you want to be."

He kisses her and explains that things between them will be different if she feels the same in the morning, after the drink has worn off.

When Colin leaves, Sheila picks up David's photo and says to it, "Yeh, and I would've done too, David Ashton. I would've done—oh, would I."

The Ashton Home   Philip arrives very late at night, and his father takes him to the living room.

He is wearing eyeglasses with corrective lenses, but the home looks wonderful to him.

"It's what the chaps all dream about," he says, "you know, first time home," and Edwin adds, "We dream about it too."

Edwin tells him they all owe his doctors a very great debt.

Jean has awakened and come downstairs, and mother and son embrace.

As she is going to the kitchen to prepare him something to eat, she stops to admire the small table Robert brought back from West Africa.

She now believes it was Philip who gave the table to her, and she assures him that she has polished it every day.

Jean goes to the kitchen, and Edwin explains to Philip that she gets things a bit mixed up these days.

Through the serving hatch, she says to Philip, "You'll come and talk to me, then."

Philip smiles at her but then sees the worried look on his father's face.

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