Spread a Little Happiness

by David Weir

Episode Number: 39
Director: Baz Taylor



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Freda Ashton   Barbara Flynn
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Helen Hughes   Georgine Anderson
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Mary Foster   Joan Heath
Ian Mackenzie   John Nettles
Mrs. Mackenzie   Joyce Heron
Ada Down   Stephanie Bidmead
Reverend Burdekin   Charles Carson
Sergeant Lou Henniker   Richard Pendrey
A Girl in the Pub   Linda Renwick


JUNE 1944

Southeastern England   Coastal guns are seen trying to destroy one of Hitler's unmanned V-1 rockets, commonly known as a "doodlebug" or "buzz bomb."

A Pub in Sevenoaks, Kent   A pretty girl behind the bar pours David a drink and begins flirting with him.

When David hears an unfamiliar sound overhead, he tells the girl to quit talking for a moment and turn down the radio's volume.

It resembles the noise that a motorbike makes, but why would it seem to be coming from above?

Suddenly, the noise stops, and—no longer concerned—David invites the girl to dance to the radio music.

An explosion shatters the building, causing part of its roof to collapse, but David and the others inside miraculously escape injury.

The Nurses' Home   Doris rushes in to awaken Freda because it is half past four in the afternoon, and Ian Mackenzie is due to take her home to meet his mother.

Freda rushes to get dressed and brush her hair, lamenting the fact that she has no stockings.

Doris reaches beneath the mattress of her own bed and produces a package of new nylons, a gift from an American sergeant.

She tries to give them to Freda, who at first declines the generous offer but soon relents.

The Ashton Home   Helen asks Edwin to walk her back to the Briggs home, but he refuses to go, still reeling from his row with Sefton when Tony was in hospital.

She implores him, explaining that poor Sefton will be returning to an empty home after his holiday in Scarborough.

But Edwin stubbornly rejects her pleas, and she departs alone, accusing Edwin of being just as bad as Sefton, in his own way.

The Mackenzie Home   Freda and Ian stroll through the garden, and she playfully invites him to compare her beauty to that of the roses.

Ian, though enjoying her youthful company, feels uncomfortable saying "pretty things" and suggests that they go inside and have some tea instead.

The Briggs Home   Sefton still has not arrived, and Helen is fussing about the kitchen, interfering with Mrs. Foster's preparation of dinner.

Mrs. Foster resents the intrusion, no matter how well intentioned, because it is her own job to fetch and cook for Sefton—and that is why she is paid.

Sefton's voice is heard, calling out to Mrs. Foster and Tony, and Mrs. Foster soon discovers that he has not come alone.

He informs her that his lady friend, Mrs. Ada Down, will be stopping for a few days.

It is clear to see that Mrs. Foster does not approve of this imperious woman, nor does Helen when she is introduced to her.

They overhear Ada telling Sefton that there is no need for Mrs. Foster to make tea when she is perfectly capable of doing it herself, claiming, "I've got to start sometime, haven't I?"

The Mackenzie Home   Freda and Ian are in the garden greenhouse, and his mother seems to be quite fond of Ian's sweetheart.

Mrs. Mackenzie instructs Ian to go do some weeding, so that she and Freda can share some girl talk.

After Ian departs—taking the family dog with him—Mrs. Mackenzie asks her new friend to help her water the plants and flowers.

Freda asks her what she wishes to talk about, supposing it to be the age difference between her and Ian, but Mrs. Mackenzie says no, indicating that the issue is of little significance.

They both laughingly agree that Ian is not exactly chatty.

Mrs. Mackenzie informs Freda that there will be a church garden party there over the weekend, and she invites Freda to help out with one of the stalls.

That being settled, she begins to tell Freda about Ian's first marriage—how his wife, Mary, left him for another man, leaving Ian shut off from society and living with his mother.

As she pleasantly rambles on, she comes to realise that this talk is far too serious for the young lady to fully grasp, so she stops herself and tells Freda, "Oh, my dear, I'm so sorry. I think all I'm trying to say is, 'It's nice to see you here'."

The Briggs Home   Ada is relaxing in the living room with Sefton, while telling Tony and Helen what a marvelous man he is.

To Sefton's delight, she proclaims that he is understanding, thoughtful, established (a word supplied by the mischievous Helen), respected, and sure of himself.

When she calls Tony "the strong, silent type," he becomes uncomfortable amidst all this unwarranted flattery and excuses himself for the evening, saying he will not return until late.

Ada continues to compliment Sefton, claiming that the parents are the real heroes of this war.

Mrs. Foster begins to collect the used cups and saucers, but Sefton commands her to stop, as "Mrs. Down is talking."

Ada declares that Sefton never complains about the war's hardships, a statement that has Helen and Mrs. Foster exchanging incredulous glances.

Mrs. Foster retreats to the kitchen, and Helen leaves too, explaining that she promised Edwin she would call.

Sefton has a glum look when Helen mentions Edwin's name, even when she adds that Sefton's brother-in-law asked after him.

Helen stops for a moment in the kitchen, where the fuming Mrs. Foster snaps, "Well, what are we going to do about her?"

David's and Sheila's Flat   David bangs on the door, awakening Sheila, but she does not open the door or even make a sound to let him know she is home.

Soon David removes his gloves and tries his keys, which no longer seem to fit the lock.

He shouts at her, "Sheila!" and then, trying a gentler approach, calls softly, "Look, Sheila…"

Finally, after he rattles the doorknob in frustration, Sheila does reveal her presence by saying, "Look, I've had the lock changed."

When he asks why, she tells him quite frankly, "Because you don't live here anymore."

The Ashton Home   Sheila rides her bicycle to the Ashtons', leaning it against the stone fence and then ringing the doorbell.

When Edwin greets her, she explains that David came by, but she would not let him inside.

However, she continues, it began to worry her that perhaps he had called with news of the kids.

But Edwin tells Sheila that David seems to have come home for the sole purpose of retaining a solicitor.

He offers to help Sheila with the legal fees, if it comes to that, but Sheila is reluctant to take advantage of his kindness, feeling awkward about asking him to help her divorce his own son.

The Briggs Home   David arrives, informing Tony that he is there to see Sefton, who is expecting him to call.

Tony, still wincing in pain despite the assistance of his walking stick, ushers David to the living room, where he shouts to his father that David Ashton is there.

From upstairs, Sefton's voice is heard telling David that he will be down shortly, and Tony quips, "Audience granted."

Tony reveals that his father has been wondering what David plans to do with his life after the war, suggesting that there could be a position for him at Briggs and Son.

When Sefton comes into the room, dressed in his bathrobe, Tony teases him by asking whether Ada is still with them—"You know what they say, Father, about the morning after."

David and Sefton agree that there are no hard feelings between them from their recent row about David's sale of his shares in the business.

What David is there for, he explains, is to ask his uncle for the name of a solicitor—to handle a divorce.

Though initially shocked at these drastic measures, Sefton readily agrees to help David, so Tony wonders aloud who is helping Sheila, declaring, "She's the one, it seems to me, who needs a bit of help."

When David snaps at him, "Well, then, you'd better volunteer then, hadn't you?" Tony responds bitterly, "You know, I might do that."

Ada Down enters the kitchen, very regally, and requests that Mrs. Foster prepare her a lightly boiled egg.

Mrs. Foster informs her that breakfast was at eight o'clock, and there are no eggs except dried.

In any case, Mrs. Foster adds, she is leaving for the shops before they all sell out, mastering those long queues being a matter of perseverance.

After Mrs. Foster leaves, Helen explains to Ada that Sefton's housekeeper is cranky because he is such a difficult person to serve.

Sefton, she adds, is being thwarted by his brother-in-law, Edwin—another widower, she notes—who does not want him to sell the printing works.

When Ada says she cannot wait to meet Edwin and the family, Helen cheerfully responds, "Oh, I think that could be arranged."

The Nurses' Home   Freda and Doris are dressing, putting on make-up, and brushing their hair prior to their dates.

Doris says her date is "Yankee Doodle," and Freda expresses her disapproval, saying there are other men besides Americans.

Speaking candidly, Doris confesses that she is jealous of Freda, whose sweetheart is the most popular and handsome doctor at the hospital.

There is a knock at the door, and Doris lets Ian into the room, which sends the scantily-clad Freda scrambling to cover herself with a blanket.

Ian tells Freda that he can give her a lift to work in the morning, and then, message delivered, he turns to leave.

He surprises the giggling girls by re-entering the room, wondering whether Freda will be here or at home when it comes time to pick her up, and she replies at home.

The Ashton Home   Edwin explains to David that the entire family will be going to the garden party at the Mackenzies' to give Freda some moral support.

David tells his father that he will not be attending, as he has decided to go back to the base tonight—to remind himself that there is a war on.

London is under attack again, but here in Liverpool, he complains, "It's all garden parties, divorce, stocks and shares. What are we going to do when it's all over?"

When Edwin accuses him of exaggeration, David admits to being guilty of that, as well as of promiscuity, according to a solicitor he consulted—someone whom George Askew recommended.

David recounts that this young lawyer, "a grade C3 weed called Watts," proceeded to disapprove of him, so he walked out of his office.

Edwin doubts that leaving was the wise thing to do, as most everyone would disapprove of David's behaviour as a husband.

"Oh, you think so?" asks David. "You think that's right, then, do you?" to which his father responds, "Well, right or wrong, it's true, isn't it?"

David's and Sheila's Flat   Tony is there, for the first time ever, and Sheila wonders why he has come.

He explains to her that he heard his father helping David, so he wanted to help her.

Tony acknowledges that David told him she was seeking a divorce, adding that Sefton has found David a lawyer.

This news stuns Sheila, as it suddenly has made the proceedings seem all too real.

Tony offers her the business card of a lawyer friend of his, explaining to the naïve Sheila that she and David cannot share the same legal counsel.

Sheila does not know what to do next, but she assures Tony that seeking a divorce is her decision alone and that David has not coerced her into doing so.

Then she begins feeling sorry for herself, expressing her envy for what she perceives as Tony's carefree life—always knowing where he is going and why—all sunshine and flowers.

"Nobody just lives happily ever after," he tells her, a negative sentiment that she dislikes hearing, in that it ruins the illusion of hope that has made her life more tolerable during these past few years.

The Briggs Home   Sefton is on the telephone, listening to Helen as she tries her best to convince him to go to the garden party.

Finally, he consents, with the understanding that Edwin will not be there too.

The Ashton Home   Helen tells Edwin that Sefton has agreed to attend, and Edwin is elated because it seems to let him off the hook—Freda's rich uncle will go instead of him.

"Two grown men!" grumbles Helen, who exhorts her brother-in-law to come along, for the sake of his younger daughter if nothing else.

Only when Freda enters the room does his resistance weaken, and the persuasive Helen proclaims, "He's going to love it."

The Briggs Home   Ada is preparing a meal, and her cheerful singing of Frank Sinatra's current hit, "I Couldn't Sleep a Wink Last Night," alerts Mrs. Foster to that culinary transgression.

When Mrs. Foster storms into the kitchen, she is appalled to see that Ada has used a fortnight's butter ration in her frying.

"A lovely bit of chicken, that is," states Ada, whereupon Mrs. Foster must inform her that the meat is, in fact, not chicken at all but rabbit.

Mrs. Foster rushes into the living room to complain to Sefton that "Mrs. Downs" (as she mispronounces the name) is in "her" kitchen, fixing lunch.

Furthermore, she adds, that woman is burning every gas jet on the stove, squandering all the butter, and attempting to fry the rabbit that was to be eaten for Sunday supper.

Sefton comes to his new friend's defence, declaring that Mrs. Down is only trying to help.

He asserts that Ada is a guest, and Mrs. Foster must remember her place—and her manners.

Humiliated, Mrs. Foster gives her notice and begins to leave, pausing only long enough to tell her former employer, "If she's a war widow, well, I'm Vera Lynn. She hasn't cooked for a man in twenty years."

Sefton resents being spoken to like that, and he demands an apology.

Just then, Tony stands up—with the aid of his walking stick—and becomes a peacemaker, suggesting that his father merely explain the household situation to Mrs. Down.

Sefton agrees, grumpily asking Mrs. Foster to step aside so he can proceed to the kitchen and converse with his houseguest.

The Mackenzie Home   The gracious backyard has been transformed into a church bazaar, with stalls and games for young and old alike.

When Sefton and Ada come face to face with Edwin and Helen, Sefton is chagrined to see his brother-in-law, as the two still are not on speaking terms with one another.

He introduces Ada to Edwin, who seems quite pleased to make her acquaintance.

Ada flatters him by telling Helen, "You didn't tell me he was so distinguished looking."

Disgruntled at his friend's very public flirting, Sefton wants to escort Ada aside, but she insists on trying to locate Edwin's daughter, Freda.

Activity is everywhere, and at one point, Sefton becomes entangled in a little girl's rope that she has been skipping.

Helen asks Reverend Burdekin whether he has seen Freda Ashton, and the elderly gentleman informs her that she went inside the Mackenzie house.

Sefton purchases ten shillings' worth of raffle tickets, hoping to win a chicken and thus assuage the injured feelings of his housekeeper.

Some very proper ladies of the church happen upon a pair of lovers in the bushes, and Mrs. Mackenzie confronts the amorous couple, who are mortified at being discovered.

Mrs. Mackenzie explains to them that this is her home, and she demands that the couple depart the grounds at once.

Freda and Ian are innocent bystanders too, and the woman involved, Doris Jackson, apologises—"Sorry, Freda"—as she and her contrite American soldier begin to leave.

Mrs. Mackenzie asks Freda whether she knows this person, and the thoroughly embarrassed sweetheart of Ian Mackenzie must acknowledge that she does.

Meanwhile, back at the raffle table, Ada calls Sefton's purchase of the tickets rather tactless, which annoys Sefton but appears to amuse his wily sister from Australia.

Sefton's winning number is 74, redeemable for a jar of homemade pickles, while Edwin's number 7 is good for a bottle of wine.

It turns out that Edwin also holds ticket number 131, which corresponds to the chicken—much to Edwin's delight and Sefton's vexation.

The garden party is at an end when Freda apologises to Mrs. Mackenzie for her friend Doris's despicable behaviour, but Mrs. Mackenzie is good-natured about it, contending, "These things are sent to try us."

Ada continues to pursue Edwin, though his admission to owning no car is a distinct hindrance to any lasting interest on her part.

Standing aside, chatting with his sister, Sefton is annoyed at this turn of events, made even worse when Helen informs him that she told Ada that Edwin has "great expectations."

Sefton approaches his brother-in-law, bitterly telling him that he had a particular reason for wanting that chicken.

At this, Edwin offers to give the chicken to him, but Sefton insists on paying him a pound for it, something Edwin cannot accept.

While this haggling is going on, Ada notices the Mackenzies' hungry dog near the raffle table, eyeing the savory chicken.

Out of spite, Ada "accidentally" causes the chicken to fall to the ground, and the dog runs away with the prize in his mouth.

The Ashton Home   A newspaper, lying flat on Edwin's chair, has headlines that tell of "The Nazis' New Air Weapon: Pilotless Planes in Raids on Britain—Missiles of Terrific Speed and Bright Lights."

Edwin and Sefton are sharing glasses of beer in the living room, and Sefton explains that Helen took Mrs. Down to the train station.

This surprises Edwin, who had assumed that Sefton's lady friend would be staying for quite some time.

No, says Sefton, just a couple of days is all, and then he adds that you meet some odd people in life—like Mrs. Down, who took advantage of his better nature when he was feeling a bit sorry for her.

After seeing Ada to the station, Helen returns and informs Sefton that Mrs. Down apologised for the mishap with the chicken and said she enjoyed the visit.

"Enjoyed it, did she?" says Sefton. "Well, there's no harm in spreading a bit of happiness, is there?"

Helen looks at him, amused at the self-serving comment, and Edwin can only frown in disbelief.

The Mackenzie Home   Ian and Freda have finished cleaning up the grounds, burning the debris in a large, metal trash can.

He explains to her that his mother tends to be a "proper little lady" and that she places great importance in her garden.

Ian notices that Freda has a smudge of dirt on her face, so he wipes it clean with his handkerchief.

Then he kisses her, and she responds warmly, after which they walk—romantically, arms around each other—toward the house.

Viewing them from the garden greenhouse is Mrs. Mackenzie, who is talking to the family dog.

"We know him better than he knows himself, don't we?" she says. "He's not going to ask her 'til he's sure she'll say yes."

The young couple casually stroll along, by all appearances very much in love.

Script Excerpt 1
Helen/Ada/Mrs. Foster/Sefton/Tony

Script Excerpt 2