Happy Returns

by David Weir

Episode Number: 35
Director: Richard Martin



David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Peter Ashton   Alan Guy
Janet Ashton   Michelle Sussock
Mrs. Thomas   Brenda Bruce
Mrs. Jones   Myvanwy Jenn
Peter Bryant   John Collins
Christine Maver   Pippa Rowe
A Man on the Train   Ernest Hare
Mr. Roberts   Talfryn Thomas



Aboard a Train   Sheila is travelling to see her children—twelve-year-old Peter and nine-year-old Janet—both of whom have been evacuated to North Wales.

An elderly gentleman in her compartment strikes up a friendly conversation with her, showing Sheila some photographs of his grandchildren, his garden, and even his granddaughter’s Scottish terrier.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Mrs. Thomas approaches her house after shopping, and a neighbour, Mrs. Jones, begins speaking with her.

When Mrs. Thomas explains that the children's mother will be visiting, Mrs. Jones comments that it is always either the mum or dad, but never the two together.

Mrs. Jones gives Mrs. Thomas a bouquet of freshly-cut flowers to brighten up her guest room.

When the children come running home and go inside for tea, Mrs. Thomas reveals that tomorrow will be Janet's tenth birthday.

Mrs. Jones remarks that Mrs. Thomas will miss the children when they are gone, a poignant truism that brings a look of sadness to Mrs. Thomas's eyes.

The RAF Base   David is relaxing on his bed when Peter Bryant comes into their quarters, and Peter imparts the welcome news that tonight's bombing mission has been scrubbed, so there will be a leave instead.

Peter discloses that his sister's husband, Charles Gould, has gone to Scotland, adding that their marriage seems to have reached a final impasse.

When he suggests that David accompany him to London to renew acquaintances with Grace, David appears more amused than tempted.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Sheila arrives, receiving excited hugs and kisses from the children.

She assures them that their father writes long letters to her and that when he visits London it is only for a course.

The RAF Base   David informs Peter Bryant that he will not be going to London on leave.

Peter asks if he has a message for Grace, and David cryptically replies, "You can tell her that the medicine worked."

When Peter wonders if David is going home, David can only laugh at the irony of that statement and repeat the word, "Home?"

The Thomas Home, Wales   Sheila and Mrs. Thomas are sitting by the fireside, chatting, when young Peter comes downstairs, asking what his mum brought Janet for her birthday.

This Sheila will not reveal until morning, so Peter leaves the room, disappointed.

When Mrs. Thomas says it is a pity the children's father could not be there too, Sheila confesses that they rarely see each other anymore.

Mrs. Thomas appears genuinely surprised, having based her judgment upon what both David and Sheila have told her, but Sheila explains that such cheerful comments are just for the children's sake.

Sheila confirms that she and David have drifted apart, and she adds that the children are all they seem to have in common.

When Sheila laments how much she misses the kids, Mrs. Thomas says she understands but that it would be unwise to return them to Liverpool in such perilous days as these.

To this, Sheila responds, "We always get around to this, don't we?"

Mrs. Thomas nods her head and says, "When the time comes to lose them, I shall be more than sad."

The next morning, Janet awakens her mother at eight o'clock, and Sheila invites her daughter to run downstairs and find her birthday present in the sideboard cupboard.

When Peter and Mrs. Thomas come in with tea, Sheila proclaims that there is a gift for him as well, so he runs from the room.

Those gifts are revealed to be a paint set for Janet and a football for Peter—assuming that the local butcher, Mr. Reese, can find a pig's bladder—and Peter has made Janet a sewing box at school.

Sheila confesses that she is a bit jealous of Mrs. Thomas, getting to see the kids on a regular basis, but Mrs. Thomas contends that perhaps love from two of them is better than love from just one.

Though Sheila fears that the children will forget her, Mrs. Thomas assures her that there is little chance of that happening.

The morning post is delivered, and Janet reads the card from her dad.

She acknowledges that it is a nice card, but she is unable to hide her disappointment that he cannot be there in person.

Roslyn, Wales   As Sheila walks to a shop to buy some stockings, she is startled to find herself face to face with David, and they tell each other hello.

The Thomas Home, Wales   When the couple arrive at the front door, David has a hug and kiss for his "birthday girl," who hardly recognises her own father.

David has not had time to buy Janet a proper gift, so he gives her money instead, claiming that a ten-year-old can find just the right item for herself.

Mrs. Thomas suggests that Janet sleep with her tonight, so mum and dad can share a bed, but Sheila quickly balks at the idea, and David offers to stay at the pub.

Roslyn, Wales   As Janet is deciding what to purchase with her birthday money, David expresses his need to talk with Sheila, who remains aloof.

Dissuaded for the moment, David wanders over to the school, where Peter is playing football with his friends.

David watches the action until an errant kick places the ball squarely in his hands.

Peter recognises his father almost at once and appears to be pleased to see him.

The Thomas Home, Wales   The rather nosy next-door neighbour, Mrs. Jones, pays a visit, admiring the lovely music box that Mrs. Thomas gave Janet for her birthday.

Mrs. Jones agrees to arrange for David's lodging at the Roberts pub—where she works, part-time—speculating that the unhappy marriage might allow the children to stay with Mrs. Thomas.

But Mrs. Thomas insists that her intention is to bring the couple back together, despite the seeming insurmountability of that task.

Near Roslyn, Wales   All four members of the David Ashton family are enjoying a day in the countryside, romping atop a characterful bridge.

David tells his wife that further raids on Liverpool are unlikely, but Sheila is reluctant to take the kids back home, as she is not sure that she can look after them properly.

The children seem perfectly happy, playing in the country air, and David tells Sheila that is just as well—the way things are.

After Sheila has a few moments to ponder David's comment, she asks him what he meant by it, and he explains that he does not want their children to go home and find another fellow there.

Sheila denies the implication that she has engaged in adultery, claiming that the man David saw (Colin Woodcock) is respectable and even wanted to marry her once.

When David accuses her of being willing to marry someone just for the kids' sake, Sheila flashes a bitter look and says the war has not changed him a bit, that he is just as self-centred as ever.

David shouts that he is fighting a war while his wife sits around sipping tea with her respectable boyfriend.

At the peak of this heated argument, Sheila suddenly blurts that she wants a divorce.

Just then, as David struggles to digest this startling bit of news, Peter calls for help, so David hurries away to help him down from his precarious perch on a log over the stream.

By the time David looks back, Sheila has walked away.

The Thomas Home, Wales   The family arrives back at Mrs. Thomas's home, and Sheila and David are still bickering, though making an effort to hide their acrimony from the children and hostess.

Mrs. Thomas reveals that she has prepared a room for the couple, but Sheila objects, despite David's stated willingness to abide by this arrangement.

The children are trying to find Janet's birthday cake when David discloses that he needs to catch the next train home, to see his widowed father.

Mrs. Thomas reminds him that the train would not arrive in Liverpool until midnight, this being a Saturday.

Sheila suggests that David take his own advice and stay the night at the local pub, and Mrs. Thomas agrees to ask her neighbour, Mrs. Jones, to book a room for him.

Before Janet's birthday party begins, Mrs. Thomas delivers a prayer of thanksgiving.

That night, after Peter has fallen asleep, his mother tucks his arms under the bed covers—carefully setting the football aside—and then kisses him, departing the room with suitcase in hand.

A Pub in Roslyn, Wales   David orders a pint of beer, feeling very much a lonely stranger, surrounded by curious looks from the regular clientele.

After David seats himself at a table, part-time worker Mrs. Jones gossips to the landlord, Mr. Roberts, that Mrs. Thomas has plenty of room in her home for this Mr. Ashton to stay there with his wife, rather than on his own.

Hearing enough of such prattle, Mr. Roberts asks Mrs. Jones to secure with pins the rolled-up bottom portion of a poster, which ironically reads, "Careless Talk Costs Lives."

A pretty woman, Christine Maver, requests a light from David and then offers him a cigarette.

She explains that she has been doing war work on a near-by farm for two years and is bored with the lifestyle and local inhabitants.

Sheila comes in, spots David chatting with the young lady, and—without his knowledge—leaves the suitcase with Mrs. Jones.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Peter awakens, only to discover that his mother is not there, so he arouses his sister from her sleep.

Both children are tearful that their mother would leave without even saying goodbye, especially on Janet's birthday.

The front door is heard to open, so the children hurry back to bed, feigning sleep.

Mrs. Thomas asks Sheila if anything was said between her and David at the pub, and Sheila says no.

"Every time you harden your heart, the next time it's easier," cautions Mrs. Thomas, and Sheila coldly responds, "Good."

Sheila says she will work part-time at the NAAFI to support the kids, so David's selfish presence in their lives is not required.

Hearing this, and with the loss of the children in sight, Mrs. Thomas can control her emotions no longer.

"There you are, minding your own business," she recalls, "and suddenly you're told you're going to have two children. The next thing is, they're your whole life. And then someone says they're going to take them back now. What about this place? Empty!"

As gently as possible, Sheila explains that when the time comes, she has no choice but take the children back, and Mrs. Thomas can only nod her head in acquiescence.

A Pub in Roslyn, Wales   David tells Christine that she reminds him of somebody (meaning Grace Gould)—but in a nice way—and Christine is surprised that he could possibly know so much about her after a couple of hours of pub talk.

Mutually attracted, Christine makes a toast: "Here's to the beautiful friendship that never was."

It is closing time, and Christine must return to her farm through the blackout, so David offers to walk her there.

"You'd never live it down," she quips, whereupon David responds, quite frankly, "No. That's one thing about being a fellow like me. You don't have to live anything down. People take you for what you are."

As David and Christine leave together, a glowering Mrs. Jones gathers it all in for future recounting.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Lying next to her sleeping son in bed, Sheila is sad but determined to live her life away from David.

Near Roslyn, Wales   David walks Christine to her wartime home, describing what it is like in a bomber, giving Hitler a taste of his own medicine—though he concedes that many of the German people are innocent of Nazi beliefs.

When they reach her farm house, Christine reveals that her brother is being repatriated, having lost an arm in the fighting.

Christine invites David inside for coffee, and he seems tempted by the offer.

But then, in a life-altering instant, he has second thoughts.

"I'm thinking of that fellow," he says, "the one that doesn't have to live anything down. Maybe if I said no just for once, it might make it easier."

Christine suspects that he is married, and he confirms that, adding that he has two children.

Belatedly, they exchange names, and then they kiss each other goodnight.

"That's for the beautiful friendship that never was," she declares. "They happen all the time these days, don't they?"

As David walks back to the pub, there is a lightness to his step, joyful and proud at having made an effort to turn his life around.

The Thomas Home, Wales   As they prepare to go to church, Mrs. Jones tells Mrs. Thomas what she saw in the pub, and she urges her to reveal all to the children's mother.

She adds that Christine, the farm labourer, is always enticing men by wearing trousers and smiling at the pub customers.

Mrs. Thomas tells her neighbour that the Ashtons have gone bicycle riding up to the old lead mine, before David catches the train to Liverpool.

Referring to the children, Mrs. Jones says, "You are their family now," to which Mrs. Thomas exclaims, "That's devil's talk!"

When Mrs. Jones objects to the allegation, Mrs. Thomas is apologetic, confiding that indeed she was thinking the very same thing—that she might become the children's family if there is a divorce.

Near Roslyn, Wales   The four Ashtons—David, Sheila, Peter, and Janet—are bicycling along a country road.

When they reach the abandoned lead mine, David insists that the children play together for a few minutes, so he can be alone with their mother.

"I think we should talk," says David, but Sheila responds, "We've got nothing left to say, David. We've said it all."

When the children venture into the old mine, Sheila follows them, with David close behind.

Though Sheila is evasive, David persists in claiming that he wants to be honest.

Understandably skeptical, Sheila continues to follow the children, and David is reduced to scurrying after her.

Sheila asks if he wants to be honest about his other women, and David says yes, finally admitting that there have been extra-marital romantic interests.

"Well, that makes it easier, doesn't it?" she snaps, later explaining that she was referring to their future divorce.

Sensing trouble between his parents, Peter has explored the mine and is now running in the field near-by, with the others following to protect him from harm.

David tells his wife, "I think you're wrong. Look, all I know is, Sheila, that I need them. I need you."

"I don't want to be needed," she declares. "I want to be loved."

David begs her to give their marriage a fresh chance to succeed, despite the other women in his past—"I've had all that. That's not what I want. I know what that's worth."

There was only one who ever meant anything, he says, and Sheila mentions the name of Peggy, whom David readily acknowledges.

The letters were all true, he confesses, and Peggy is the mother of his baby.

When he admits that he loved Peggy, in a way, Sheila is heartbroken, feeling betrayed because she wanted to be the one he loved.

David declares, "You can love more than one person, Sheila," and reaches out to hold her in his arms.

She pulls back from the embrace, and David loses his balance, sliding down the loose wall of earth into a gravel pit, unable to claw his way back up to the top.

"You can love people in different ways," he insists, helplessly lying prone on the gravel.

The children see him in his ridiculous predicament and laugh down at him.

When Sheila turns to walk away, David shouts, "Sheila," and the children leave to follow their mother.

Again he calls out to her, "Sheila!"

Script Excerpt 1
David/Peter Bryant

Script Excerpt 2
Sheila/Mrs. Thomas