The Lost Ones

by Alexander Baron

Episode Number: 45
Director: Baz Taylor



David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Freda Mackenzie   Barbara Flynn
Peter Bryant   John Collins
Chrissie   Lynda Bellingham
Derek Robbins   Richard Thorp
Jill Robbins   Jennifer Hilary
Marjorie   Anne Kristen
The Nursing Sister   Barbara Mullaney
The Doctor   Mike Murray
John George Porter   Paul Brett



The Ashton Home   Margaret is having difficulty hearing the person on the telephone because of the noise her husband and son are making.

Finally, she is able to gather that David has been hurt in a motorbike accident, sustaining a serious head injury.

She tells John that David is in a civilian hospital, near the base, but the nursing supervisor said he is not on the danger list.

The Hospital   A doctor informs David that soon he will be well enough to be transferred to an RAF hospital.

David is frustrated because the doctor will not divulge if he will ever be fit to fly again.

He suspects that the doctor thinks he is "Charlie"—which he explains is a commoner's term for yellow, scared, with a lack of moral fibre.

"If I can't get back to flying," maintains David, "I might as well be dead."

Sheila's New Flat   Sheila has moved into a small but comfortable flat, and Margaret has come to talk with her.

She informs Sheila that David is in hospital, with a very bad crack on the head.

"Fell out of somebody's bed, did he?" quips Sheila sarcastically.

When Margaret reports that he may never fly again but should return to health, Sheila acts disinterested, and Margaret can see how much her sister-in-law has hardened.

Though Margaret urges her to go and visit him, Sheila can see no purpose in that, contending, "As far as I'm concerned, and as far as he's concerned, we're divorced already."

The Turk's Head   Chrissie and Peter are playing snooker while discussing the bad luck that seems to follow David around.

Peter explains that poor Jill was told by someone that Derek had been killed, but actually he was able to land safely in Holland.

Derek is still on the duty list, says Peter, and he still has six more ops to go.

Just then, Derek comes into the pub, buys a beer, and—trudging directly past Peter and Chrissie—seats himself at a corner table, where he seems intent on drowning his problems.

Alarmed at Derek's odd behaviour, Chrissie asserts, "Peter, I don't think he even saw us."

A Liverpool Street   On his lunch hour, John is walking home from work through a bombed-out sector, and children are all around him, playing army with their wooden toy rifles.

Their play brings back some terrible memories, and his mind drifts so far afield that he does not even hear the female voice calling out his name.

He snaps to his senses, and there stands Marjorie, wondering if he had gone deaf.

She tells him the good news of war victories, but he still seems despondent, recounting the number of empire troops who have been killed.

The Ashton Home   Marjorie has walked home with John and is now in the living room with him, discussing campaign strategy.

Though she is very zealous, he seems to be distracted from fully appreciating what she has to say.

John admits that he was recollecting some things that happened to him during the war, which prompts her to argue that it is the future that matters, not the past.

Marjorie has big plans for fund-raising activities, but John's enthusiasm is markedly less than hers.

When Marjorie exclaims how wonderful it is that the Russians are storming into Germany, Margaret—who has brought John's lunch in to him—adds, "Well, our boys are there too, you know."

The Turk's Head   In chatting with Derek, Peter becomes convinced that his friend has been pushed too hard and is no longer psychologically fit for flying.

But when Peter suggests that Derek talk to the medical officer about it, Derek is resentful, snapping, "You want me to go and see the M.O. and say, 'Please, Sir, I'm scared. Let me off'."

"Just let him examine you," pleads Peter. "You're overtired. You're not well."

Derek is shocked to think that Peter would want him to "cry off" with only six ops to go, when all the others continue to risk their necks.

"You want me to go out with 'lack of moral fibre' stamped all over my discharge?" he asks.

Peter suspects that all Derek needs is a few days of rest, so he volunteers to talk to the M.O. about him.

Derek will have none of it, threatening, "If you say one word to the M.O. or the flight commander, so help me, I'll kill you."

After telling Peter, in no uncertain terms, to mind his own business, Derek storms from the pub.

The Ashton Home   As they wash the dishes, John confides to his wife that the neighbourhood children playing war brought back to him the terrifying feeling of being cut off behind enemy lines.

Though Margaret assures him that these flashback thoughts will go away, John contends that they are occurring more and more often.

The strange thing, he says, is that he does not want them to stop, as he enjoys telling the men at work what it was like to destroy a German machine gun emplacement with a hand grenade.

He adds that even the excitement of staring death in the face seems better than going back to the office.

"The closer you get to death," he proclaims, "the more you feel you're alive."

The Hospital   David begs the nursing sister to tell him what his prognosis is, and finally she reveals that he will be going home—but flying no more.

Later, Margaret visits him, and David laments that he must now give up the one job that he learned to do well.

He explains to her that the small fracture did something to his inner ear that will make him a "sitting duck" if he ever tries to fly again.

Margaret shows little sympathy, contending that she hopes he spends the rest of the war in that hospital bed, safe from a violent death in battle.

David tells her that he has been in the RAF for seven years now—a lifetime—and he is fearful of facing the future as a civilian.

And yet he cannot tolerate staying in with a ground job either, he says, because giving up those wings on his uniform would be like getting castrated.

The Robbins Home   Derek and Jill are drinking, and he has had too much, so she suggests that he go up to bed.

He tells her to stop fussing over him, as he had enough of that from Peter Bryant.

Jill explains that Peter meant well, but Derek says he was just being impudent.

When she proposes that it is no disgrace to go to the M.O., Derek becomes angry and tells her to be quiet about things she cannot understand.

He informs her that he regrets not being with his crew when they went all the way to Leipzig "through four hundred bloody miles of flak."

She accuses him of being a hypocrite, alleging that he does not want to fly anymore but just will not admit it.

Jill tries to explain to him how unbearable it is to be at home with the children all day when he goes off—wondering, keeping up the bright chatter for their benefit.

Again she implores him to do as Peter says, but Derek refuses to do so, contending that he must continue flying.

She tells him that she sat there, numb, for hours, waiting for word about him when his plane did not return with the others.

Derek advises her not to expect him to cry over her difficulties, inasmuch as he brought in a plane with two engines on fire for the sake of a gunner, who turned out to be dead already.

Jill accuses him of loving it so much that he has to go again—something he denies but cannot put into words.

"You're all mad," she says, "you and your dead men. I knew them. I knew them so well. They used to come here. They'd play with the children. And they've gone and gone and gone. You think, he's nice, he's good, but you never see him again."

The Hospital   Sitting beside David's hospital bed, Chrissie informs him that Jill asked her whether she thought it would be all right to send a letter to Sheila, inviting her to stay at the Robbins' if she came to visit David.

Chrissie told Jill yes, send it, but David doubts that Sheila will come.

The Ashton Home   Sheila shows Margaret the letter she received from Jill, inviting her to stay with them if she was planning to visit David.

Though Sheila suspects that Margaret put her up to it, Margaret assures Sheila that she never has met Jill Robbins.

Sheila asks Margaret what she would do, but the doorbell rings before she can answer.

Freda has come to say hello, and she proudly announces to Margaret and Sheila that the Mackenzies hosted their first dinner party last night.

While there, she says, an American brigadier general offered Ian a lucrative position in the United States, but Ian turned him down, being more idealistic than mercenary.

When Sheila permits Freda to read the note from Jill Robbins, she wonders what Freda would do.

Freda contends that the tables have turned—Sheila can call the shots now because she has "got him on a plate."

But Sheila claims that the last thing she wants to do is "crow" over her bedridden husband, and she decides then and there not to go to the hospital at all.

She leaves abruptly, refusing even to stay for tea, and Freda feels guilty over the effect that her blunt comments have had on any possible reconciliation between Sheila and David.

The Hospital   Peter Bryant sneaks a bottle of beer to David, and they both agree that the "bloody civvie doctor" is wrong in thinking that David will never fly again.

When Peter mentions that Derek is a nervous wreck, awaiting his next flying orders, David encourages Peter to do something about it.

David suspects that Derek does not even know what he wants, possibly feeling that getting killed would be preferable to the disgrace of a medical discharge and wearing a bowler hat.

But never mind Derek's feelings, adds David, who urges Peter to go to the M.O. and do Derek and his crew a favour by reporting that he is mentally unfit for further missions.

The Robbins Home   Derek and Jill are sitting in silence when they hear a knocking at the door—Sheila has come to visit David.

The next morning, Sheila looks out the window and remarks that today is a much better day than yesterday, and Derek responds with little conviction, "Yes, good flying weather."

Jill comes into the room, to join them for breakfast, and her husband snaps at her for suggesting that a piece of dry toast would not upset his stomach.

Sheila becomes embarrassed by the couple's bickering and the palpable tension that exists between them.

The telephone rings, and Derek is told that he is to report to the squadron office.

After he has left, Jill tells Sheila, "You had the sense not to live where you could see it happening."

Sheila, though, contends that it is the same no matter where you live, the difference being that David never shows his feelings.

Instead of tea, Jill produces a bottle of gin, though she is proper enough to acknowledge, "Disgraceful at this time of the morning, I know."

The RAF Base   Derek looks disconsolate as he emerges from the squadron office.

Peter approaches him, explaining that he is on general duty today, which amounts to trying to look busy.

When Derek tells him that he just came from the office, Peter says, "I know," and Derek adds pointedly, "I know you do."

Peter tells Derek that he is glad everything is fine, and he begins to walk away.

"Peter, I wish you were flying," snarls Derek. "I could see you go down, burning, and laugh."

The Hospital   Sheila pops in on David, and they appear pleased to see each other.

She has brought him some magazines to read, but his attention focuses on the sound of aircraft overhead, which prompts him to say, "There goes our fellows."

The Robbins Home   Jill hears the planes, too, inspiring her to have another drink.

The Hospital   David asks Sheila about the children and promises that he will always take full responsibility in supporting them.

However, when David begins to talk about the possibility of providing a proper home for them, Sheila refuses even to discuss the matter.

"Look, Sheila," he says, "I won't go back on my word. I couldn't—not after what I did to you last time."

Realising from experience the senselessness of further discussion, Sheila declares, "It must be fifty times we've tried again, and it doesn't work."

David insists upon talking to her, so Sheila suggests that they be honest with one another and face facts.

"What have you and I actually got in common, David?" she asks. "The whole marriage was a mistake."

Contending that you cannot just throw away thirteen years, David begs her to stay for a while longer, but she can see that her visit has only upset him.

Sheila leaves, and David has no choice but to lie helplessly in bed, brooding.

The Robbins Home   Jill, who has drunk too much, is staring forlornly at the fireplace.

Derek comes home, confessing that the M.O. has grounded him, and Jill complains that he could have phoned and spared her several hours of needless anxiety.

She insists that what Peter did was for the good, and Derek grudgingly agrees.

Derek maintains that he is a failure, and now he must go back to teaching.

Jill has, by now, broken down in tears, and Derek comes near to comfort her.

Angrily, she declares, "He's dead, and you're moaning about being alive!"

"I'm crying for Jack—Jack Ridley," she sobs, and Derek is stung by the candor of her admission.

Knowing full well what her husband is thinking, she assures him, "Nothing happened," but then, spitefully, she adds, "I wish it had."

Their eyes meet, and impulsively they make love on the floor.

Later, when Sheila arrives back from the hospital, Jill buttons up her dress and relates how she and her husband must be "ginned up" in order to perform.

"We do it like a pair of maniacs," she confesses. "It makes no difference afterwards."

She confides to Sheila that she knew another man, but he got killed, and now she cannot stand Derek anymore.

Jill wonders whether Sheila's husband ever got on her nerves so badly that she could not bear the sight of him.

Sheila says no, that she never has loved any man but David, though there were other factors that drove them apart.

Jill declares that she can never leave Derek—because of the kids, of course, but also because she feels that she owes him something.

"He's a lost man," she explains. "I can't leave him, not now, not when he needs me most."

The Turk's Head   Peter is drinking with some friends when Chrissie gently confronts him about his flying assignment for tomorrow.

He has finished his tour, Peter says, but now he will be "hanging in for a few ops."

Chrissie forces him to admit that he is taking the six ops that Derek failed to complete.

The Hospital   At David's bedside, Sheila tries to convince him to strive for a rewarding job when he leaves the service.

But David is dejected, feeling inferior because of his lack of a proper education.

"I've only got one incentive," he says, "and I'm looking at you right now."

When Sheila implores him to try and be sensible, David speaks sincerely and from the heart.

"Ever since the day we met," he confesses, "I've done nothing but think about myself—the things I wanted—but it's not like that anymore. I'm cleaned out. I want to start again, Sheila, but I can't do it on my own."

Then he adds that he has stopped pretending, thrown away his pride, and now he has nothing, so he begs her to give him a home.

She reminds him that they have discussed these same things over and over, but David argues that he just did not see it until now.

Sheila retreats, alleging that David is confusing her, but the hint of desperation in his voice indicates that he may indeed have changed, so she asks him to let her think about it.

Chrissie chooses this inopportune time to arrive with David's mended pajamas, and Sheila suspects the worst.

After Chrissie leaves, David swears that she is just a friend, but Sheila is not so easily dissuaded from a darker suspicion.

"Just as well she came, really, wasn't it?" she asks rhetorically. "We might have made fools of ourselves."

David insists that Chrissie was Frankie's girl, and he accuses Sheila of automatically pronouncing him guilty.

The same thing happened in Wales, he explains, when Sheila saw him talking with some girl.

If she is suspicious, snaps Sheila, just who was it that made her so?

"We could have been a family again," he says, but this only makes Sheila break into tears at the futility of it all.

At this, David accuses her of making him crawl, rubbing his nose in it, and giving him no credit.

He shouts, "Well, all right, Sheila, I have got pride—and I've had enough!"

She sobs an apology, but he tells her to just go, a bitter command which she tearfully obeys, shutting the door behind her.

As Sheila stands alone, crying in the hallway, David's door opens, and he staggers toward her, soon sinking to the floor in a faint.

Sometime later, he is back in bed, and they are holding hands.

"You're a good girl," he says, but she scoffs at such a notion, simply responding, "It comes down to me always wanting you."

He pledges not to let her down again, but Sheila knows better, certain that they are asking for trouble.

"You're you," she says sadly, "and I can only be me."

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