Breaking Point

by John Finch

Episode Number: 44
Director: Bob Hird



David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Derek Robbins   Richard Thorp
Peter Bryant   John Collins
Jill Robbins   Jennifer Hilary
Jack Ridley   Richard Easton
Mrs. Crawford   Constance Chapman
Chrissie   Lynda Bellingham
Michael Robbins   Stephen Jarry
Susan Robbins   Tina Hurst


MARCH 1945

The RAF Base   On the flight line, as the bombers are being serviced, David tells pilot Derek Robbins that he will be able to come home with him to celebrate his son Michael's birthday.

With thirty-one missions completed, David has just one more op on his present tour.

Derek, however, has seven more to go, and he admits to becoming more jittery as the total mounts.

Peter Bryant rides up on a bicycle and, in the course of a conversation with David, informs him that David's captain, Jack Ridley, has been having an affair with Derek's wife, Jill.

The Robbins Home   Over snacks at the dinner table of the rental house, Jill confesses to David that she and her husband are getting on each other's nerves.

For his part, David tells her that his divorce proceedings are nearing completion, and he is just now beginning to get used to the idea of being "sort of single again."

He explains to Jill that his kids were evacuated to Wales in 1939, and they have been living there ever since.

David confides that he should have invested more effort in saving his marriage, if only for the sake of the kids.

But these are not normal times, she argues, a comment that David claims is beginning to sound more and more like a convenient excuse.

David asks if Jack Ridley used to come here to the house very often, and Jill confirms that he did.

Jack is his skipper, says David, and he will be flying him on his last op whenever the mission finally takes place, after repeatedly being scrubbed.

Derek comes downstairs, announcing that the children want to say goodnight to their "Uncle David."

Then Derek confesses to David that having too much home life is psychologically unhealthy for fliers—"when you can see everyday what it is you've got to lose."

David says that Derek was right when he called him a masochist, claiming, "What you stand to lose, I've already lost. And I didn't need any help from the Jerries."

When David goes upstairs, Derek helps his wife wash the dishes, and he states that David seems to enjoy coming over to their house, imagining that they are an ideal couple.

"He's a bit of a wolf, isn't he?" asks Jill, and Derek admits that his friend "does get around a bit."

Derek informs his wife that he ran into Jack Ridley today and asked him why he never comes around anymore.

Jack mumbled something about preparing for the post-war world, but the fact that he keeps going to town by himself makes Derek suspect that Jack has a floosie.

The RAF Base   David tells Jack that he went to the Robbins' last night, and Jack admits that he used to go there regularly at one time.

Like David, Jack has two children, only both of his are boys.

David reveals that his divorce is going through, and his conscience makes him wish that somebody would assure him that he is not as terrible a husband as he thought he was—that it happens to everyone.

"It happens to quite a few," responds Jack. "The temptation, anyway."

"Yeh, well, I'm a sucker for temptation," confesses David. "Do you know, I've never said no to temptation in my life."

Jack advises David not to talk about his transgressions because seeking absolution is really just another way of making excuses.

When David then wonders whether he should just accept his failings with no regrets, Jack amends his advice to say, "Better luck next time."

The men see Peter Bryant, who tells them that the op has been scrubbed yet again.

The Robbins Home   Jill is on the telephone, making plans to meet Jack Ridley, when her mother arrives, unannounced.

When she hangs up the phone, her mother—Mrs. Crawford—inquires, "Derek?" and Jill fibs, "No. No, a girlfriend."

Jill apologises for having to leave, but she promised to meet someone in town.

She asks her mother to meet the kids outside school, in case she has not returned in time to do so herself.

The RAF Base   Chrissie, while working in the parachute packing room, agrees to go for a drink with Peter Bryant that evening—if, that is, he promises to have her back by nine o'clock.

David notices the two talking, and Peter seems embarrassed to be seen with her, as she was Frank Cox's fiancée until poor Frankie was killed in an airplane fire after a bombing run.

Peter assures David that there is nothing serious between them, explaining, "I do just enjoy her company very much."

A Road Near Town   David is riding a borrowed motorbike on a country road when he stops atop a bridge spanning the river.

He spots Jill Robbins walking along a footpath beside the riverbank, but the sound of a barge masks his voice when he calls out to her.

Curious, he watches her until she reaches her rendezvous point—a clandestine meeting with Jack Ridley.

To their dismay, the couple see David staring at them for a moment and then riding away on the motorbike.

The RAF Base   Later, on the flight line, David avoids speaking to Jack, choosing instead to climb aboard the bomber, where the sight of his kids' photograph brings a twinge of remorse.

The Robbins Home   Jill sends the children to bed and then chats with her mother, who reminds her that tomorrow is son Michael's birthday.

This takes Jill by surprise, as it had slipped her mind for the moment, but she manages to keep her oversight a secret for now.

Mrs. Crawford asks her daughter if Derek is still flying regularly, and Jill replies, yes, he still has seven ops before the end of his tour.

She adds that Derek cannot sleep after a raid—that he just lies on his back, looking at the ceiling.

When Mrs. Crawford wonders what Derek plans to do after the war, Jill speculates that he may return to teaching, carrying that little brown case again.

Thinking back, she says what she regrets most is that holiday they nearly had in 1939 and the carpet they bought instead.

"We needed that holiday," she laments. "All those stresses of having the kids."

Jill's negative attitude makes her mother ask if all is well between her and Derek, and Jill merely responds that things are not normal these days.

Derek arrives home with David, who carries a birthday gift for young Michael.

When Derek goes to the kitchen to say hello to his mother-in-law, David confronts Jill about her affair with Jack.

He confesses that he cannot inform Derek about it because he does not have the guts to see what it will do to him.

David finds it difficult to believe that she could leave Derek at a time like this.

"Then you've learned something," she declares. "That a time like this can do things to people. People aren't always as you think they are."

When Derek comes into the room, Jill sends him to The Turk's Head pub for a bottle, asking him to take David along with him.

The Turk's Head   Peter and Chrissie are having a drink, and up to their table staggers Jack, who obviously is quite drunk.

After Jack chats for a moment and then walks away, Peter realises that he must not have heard that they are on call for tomorrow.

Peter hurries after him to try to prevent him from imbibing any more alcohol.

The Robbins Home   Jill shouts crossly at her son, telling him to go back upstairs to bed.

She chides herself for taking it out on the kids again and then declares to her mother that she never should have moved so close to the air base.

"You lie in bed here, and you can hear them going," she explains. "Sometimes you're still awake when they get back. And you listen, and you wonder whose turn it was tonight."

Mrs. Crawford asks if she has talked to Derek about it, and Jill replies, "It's too late now. Too late."

The Turk's Head   Over beers, Derek wonders if David happened to see Jill in town today, when he picked up the birthday gift for Michael, and David says, yes, but just to say hello.

Derek complains that an inexperienced navigator will be flying with him on the next raid, and he fears that this will prove to be a jinx.

Just after David and Derek find an unoccupied booth and are seated, Peter comes up and tells them that Jack Ridley is drunk, so they go to sober up their mate.

In the toilet, Jack accuses David of avoiding him all day, alleging with slurred speech that David has become "awfully bloody virtuous, all of a sudden."

He explains that all he and Jill do is steal a half hour here, five minutes there, and look at each other—nothing more than that.

Derek comes in and suggests to David that they take Jack home with them and pour some coffee into him.

When David balks at the idea, Derek reminds him that tomorrow is his final op, and Jack will be at the controls.

The Robbins Home   Mrs. Crawford goes to bed early, planning to read a bit from James Hadley Chase's novel No Orchids for Miss Blandish before falling asleep.

She advises Jill not to let whatever is troubling her get out of proportion.

A Farm   Peter and Chrissie are chatting as they sit against a comfortable stack of hay.

She reveals to him that this is the first time she has gone out with anyone since Frankie was killed.

Shyly, Peter asks her if she would like to go out again sometime, and, to his pleasant surprise, she says, "Yes, of course."

A Road Near Town   Jack has vomited profusely into the bushes and is feeling much better, though still very much under the influence.

Derek tells him that David has gone on the motorbike to warn Jill that they will be bringing Jack home for some strong coffee.

When Derek asks why he does not come around anymore, Jack conjures up the shallow excuse that he does not like to eat other people's rations.

"We miss you," says Derek, to which Jack responds, "I wouldn't hurt you, Robbie…not if they told me you were Hitler in disguise."

The Robbins Home   David has arrived, but Jill is worried about Jack and Derek, wondering what is taking them so long.

Jill asks David if Jack was very drunk, and David replies pointedly that Jack was very talkative.

This, of course, is cause for concern, and Jill asks David why he would use such a term, if not to trouble her mind.

She knows what David is thinking, so she informs him straightway that she has never gone to bed with Jack—mainly because the opportunity never has presented itself.

Her relationship with Jack has been very innocent, she contends, rather like a lovely dream of youth.

"In the middle of all this awfulness," she muses, "it's been like a little speck of gold. And I've clung to it, Dave, and hated myself for it at the same time."

David commiserates with her and has his hand upon her shoulder when Derek suddenly appears.

Derek explains that Jack refused to come inside, so he put him on a bus for the station.

David says he had better be leaving, and Derek, with growing suspicion, snaps, "Yes, I think that would be a good idea."

Seeing no reason to defend his actions, David simply walks out, saying, "I'll see you in the morning."

Derek asks his wife if David tried anything with her, as he does have a bit of a reputation.

He contends that anyone who came around so often, pursuing his friend's wife, would have to be "a bit of a bastard."

This painful remark leaves Jill speechless, so she hurries off to bed, asking only that Derek awaken her in the morning before he leaves.

Again he covets reassurance, so Jill promises to tell him if David ever tries to take advantage of her.

As he goes up the stairs, Derek mentions to Jill that it is Michael's birthday in the morning—something his preoccupied wife had forgotten yet again.

The RAF Base   Jack is inspecting his plane when David comes riding up in a Jeep, wondering if the skipper is all right.

"Yes, I'm fine," answers Jack, but David is not convinced, so he reminds the pilot that this will be his last op of the tour, which accounts for why he has arrived so early to work.

David recalls the years of his youth, when, on the last day of the holidays, he would arise early and toss some pebbles into the sea, knowing full well that the surf will still be rolling in long after he is dead and buried.

The Robbins Home   Derek is eating breakfast when Jill runs down the stairs, complaining that he did not awaken her.

She was smiling in her sleep, he explains, so he did not want to spoil her happy dream.

He tells Jill that he has left his birthday card to Michael on the sideboard—but he must go now, so he decides not to disturb his son's sleep.

Jill wishes him good luck, and he leaves, smiling back at her before he goes out the door.

The RAF Base   The men receive their pre-flight briefing, being told to hold their positions for three minutes over the target, taking no evasive action until the drop is complete.

On the way out of the briefing room, Jack becomes sad and philosophical, confiding to Derek how far away job, home, and family now seem…things that were.

The Jeeps arrive, and the men are driven to their waiting planes.

The Robbins Home   Mrs. Crawford notices that her daughter is listening nervously for something, and Jill discloses that the men have a daylight raid today.

Jill explains that conditions have improved, with the military advances in France, so now there are forward airfields on which to land if your plane is in trouble.

She tells her mother that Derek once was forced to make an emergency landing in France, a courageous deed for which he received the Distinguished Flying Cross.

"They're getting a taste of their own medicine," she says of the Germans. "I don't suppose they like it, but I'm afraid I'm not shedding any tears."

Her mother is shocked at that attitude, accusing Jill of getting very hard.

The RAF Base   One by one, the Jeeps deposit their fliers on the flight line—bombers serviced, fueled, and waiting.

When they arrive at their plane, Jack assures David that he is not going to break up the Robbins marriage, despite the fact that his own wife has taken a fancy to another chap back home.

As they start to climb aboard, the skipper asks David if he has his lucky mascot, and David replies, "No, I don't need it."

The Robbins Home   Jill tells her mother that she is going to town again tomorrow, and she wonders if her mother will look after the kids.

Mrs. Crawford asks Jill what this new interest in town might be—possibly an illicit source of butter, eggs, bacon, sugar…happiness?

Confronted, Jill cannot maintain eye contact with her mother, and she looks down at the floor, her extra-marital lover no longer a private secret.

The Bomber   One by one, all crew members check in with Jack Ridley over the intercom, and he says, "Here we go."

The Robbins Home   Over tea, Jill unburdens her heart by speaking frankly to her mother, confessing that she regrets who she has become but vowing not to hurt Derek and the children.

The Bomber   The planes taxi along the airfield to the runway, about to embark upon their daylight raid.

The Robbins Home   Jill looks up and listens to the ear-splitting sound of departing planes overhead.

The Bomber   Jack's plane is airborne and makes its way across the channel, beyond France, and over the German target.

Heavy flak is encountered, and one of the men is seriously wounded in the upper arm.

Moments later, a direct hit takes out a turret, killing the tailgunner instantly.

The skipper is struck from below, through the floor, and David comes to his aid.

The Robbins Home   When Mrs. Crawford awakens from her two-hour nap, Jill reports to her that one plane has come back to the field, so the others should not be far behind—those that will return at all.

Jill explains that Derek will ring when he is safely on the ground.

"And the other?" asks Mrs. Crawford, an impersonal reference that annoys Jill until her mother reminds her, "Well, I don't know his name, do I?"

The Bomber   David begs Jack to let him administer some morphine for the pain, but Jack refuses to take it, arguing that it will be easier to tell the medics what is wrong if he has a clear mind.

The co-pilot, now at the controls, asks for David's navigational guidance, so David tells Jack that he will have to leave him for a minute.

But Jack can no longer hear him, and his lifeless eyes remain open, as if staring straight ahead.

The Turk's Head   David is now in a celebratory mood, having completed all thirty-two missions of his current tour, and everyone is patting him on the back, offering congratulations.

He brings another round of drinks for himself, Peter, and Chrissie, and Peter cautions him about riding the motorbike in his present condition.

David downs his beer and tells the others that he is off for Derek's.

But his high spirits are doused when Peter informs him that Derek's plane never returned to base.

After David leaves the pub, Peter explains to Chrissie that Jack Ridley died in David's lap, so his next encounter with Jill will be a dreadful one.

A Road Near Town   Haunted by the day's tragic events and uninhibited by the alcohol, David is driving the motorbike much too fast for safety.

Two lovers are necking in an automobile by the side of the road, but David does not see it in time to avoid the shattering impact.

He is thrown from the bike, and his head strikes the ground—a terrible blow that renders him unconscious, his life in danger.

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Script Excerpt 2
Jill/Mrs. Crawford