Under New Management

by John Finch

Episode Number: 47
Director: Quentin Lawrence



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Sefton Briggs   John McKelvey
John Porter   Ian Thompson
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Helen Hughes   Georgine Anderson
Marjorie   Anne Kristen
Councillor Dewsbury   George Cooper
John George Porter   Paul Brett
The Tory Agent   Clifford Parrish
The Labour Agent   Bill Dean



Marjorie's Flat   Councillor Dewsbury has dropped by, ostensibly to give Marjorie a lift to her canvassing area but actually to see more of his "best and most beautiful worker."

While she gets dressed in the other room, he positions himself so that a series of two mirrors provides him with a tantalising view.

When Marjorie detects his lascivious tactic, she asserts, "I start precisely five hundred yards from here. Don't let me keep you."

He wonders if she ever gets lonely, adding that he has been meaning to ask her out for some time now.

She quips, "A reward for your best and most beautiful worker," whereupon he says, "It would not be a reward so much as a pleasure."

Marjorie looks him in the eye and states, "The only pleasure I'm interested in, Councillor Dewsbury, is the pleasure of seeing a Labour government returned next week."

A Liverpool Neighbourhood   A stylish automobile—equipt with loudspeaker—drives slowly along the streets, a Tory agent proclaiming the dangers of the Socialist Party and urging a vote for Bradshaw.

In contrast, the Labour vehicle is a ramshackle conveyance whose agent's amplified voice alleges that Churchill's party has exploited the people, and a vote for Makin will redress that wrong.

Labour Headquarters   John, Dewsbury, and the other staff members are hard at work, striving for a Labour victory at the polls.

Dewsbury tells John that his predecessor as treasurer was unsatisfactory, but John says he feels bad to have, in essence, pushed her out of a job.

John discloses that it was Marjorie who coerced him into accepting the position, and Dewsbury claims to understand fully—it was her sex appeal that attracted John.

When John seems confused at that notion, Dewsbury explains that having a pretty co-worker or secretary on the side has saved many a marriage.

A moment later, Marjorie returns from her canvassing, and John looks at her from an entirely new perspective, with much more appreciative eyes.

The Ashton Home   Edwin arrives home, and Margaret complains to him that John is rarely around anymore, spending most of his free hours down at Labour Party headquarters.

He suggests that perhaps the new interest will keep John from fretting about his job so much, but Margaret contends that the political campaign has become an obsession with him.

Edwin confides that it was a bad day at the printing works, with Fraser hanging around and Sefton being very secretive about the possible sale.

Margaret suggests that he get in touch with Tony, but Edwin claims that his nephew seems to be avoiding him these days, and he would not want to embarrass him.

The Labour campaign automobile drives by—loudspeaker blaring—and both Margaret and her father agree that those annoying vehicles do more harm than good for their candidates.

Labour Headquarters   Dewsbury and John discuss the Tories' eye-catching use of pretty girls in their campaigns, whereas the Labour women look more "idealistic."

Marjorie interrupts their chat by introducing Dewsbury to Mr. John Aloisius Flynn of Ruby Street, who wishes to speak with him in the privacy of his office.

John tells Marjorie that he is enjoying his work for the party but is beginning to feel a bit housebound, envious of the canvassers.

She says now he knows how his wife must feel, to which he retorts, "She wasn't housebound when I was in Belgium, was she?"

John accuses Marjorie of covering for his wife, in that Margaret used to say she was going to see Marjorie whenever she had a rendezvous with "that chap."

Marjorie is shocked, having assumed that John and Margaret would have sorted that out by now…accepted it.

"Does one ever?" asks John, and she responds, "Well, I would have thought you would have to, if you wanted to stay married."

David's and Sheila's Home   Delivery men are moving the Ashtons' meagre belongings into their new home, and the couple are ecstatic at this fresh start in life.

No more outside privy and inside rats, says Sheila, and David adds, "That's all behind us, Sheila. Yes, clean slate, no connection with the old firm…under new management."

Labour Headquarters   With reference to their earlier conversation, John brings up the subject of infidelity, and Marjorie contends that it is unimportant—unless it endangers a marriage and children are involved.

Then, flashing a seductive smile, she tells him, "I'm what they call an advanced woman, you know."

The Ashton Home   Sefton drops in, looking for Tony, and stays to talk with Edwin in the living room.

It is election eve, causing Sefton (Tory) and Edwin (Labour) to be testier than ever when it comes to politics.

Edwin accuses his brother-in-law of suffering very little before the war, unlike most of the people, and Sefton snaps, "You don't expect me to regret it, do you?"

When Edwin asks him how he plans to make things different in the post-war world, Sefton answers that he hopes to provide employment by re-investing in the business.

Edwin speculates that Sefton could retire, if he so chose, but Sefton says he is not ready for that quite yet.

But it would be his own choice, notes Edwin, and he contends that is where Sefton gets his confidence.

Or, of course, he could go broke, counters Sefton, but Edwin claims that he is far too clever for that.

Edwin declares that the ballot box is where he will have his say, and he calls this general election, "Probably the last chance in my lifetime to see what I believe in put into practice."

Labour Headquarters   John tells Dewsbury that he was separated from his signals unit when they were evacuated from Dunkirk, and he spent the rest of his time in service hiding from the Germans in a basement in Antwerp.

He was posted "missing, believed killed," and his wife thought he would never return.

But he did "turn up like a bad penny," says Dewsbury, adding in jest, "and found her in bed with the lodger."

It is quitting time, so Dewsbury asks John to join him for a drink at a nice little pub around the corner.

Moments later, when Marjorie wonders if he has given any more thought to that night course, he says no, and she invites him back to her place for a chat over drinks.

John tells her that Dewsbury asked him to the local pub, but otherwise he would love to, so she says, "Oh, well, some other time perhaps."

David's and Sheila's Home   Over breakfast, Sheila inquires whether David thinks they have enough money left to buy some second-hand furniture.

Somehow their furniture looks worse here, says Sheila, whereas in the old place at least it looked like it belonged.

David is against the idea, having become more cautious with money than she is, a reversal of their earlier proclivities.

Sheila comments that they now seem to be playing it safe—like Margaret and John—with a safe job and security.

"Safe doesn't get you anywhere, Sheila," he muses. "It's thinking safe that puts you in this position."

Just as David is leaving for work, Helen comes in, and he jokes with her about "fleecing the customers."

Sheila tells Helen that David already is frustrated with his job—a normal attitude for him, as he always has wanted to run before he could walk.

She caught him looking at his uniform the other day, says Sheila, and Helen contends that many men will consider these to have been the best years of their lives, unless they forget about the past and get down to it.

Then Helen springs a surprise, informing Sheila that a van is on its way from the Briggs household to deliver some excess pieces of furniture, which she and Sefton agreed were dispensable.

The Ashton Home   Margaret asks John to distemper the attic, but he reminds her that he works on Saturdays.

"Not in the afternoon," she snaps, but he is unwilling to do the chore today, declaring, "There are more important things in life than distempering attics."

Margaret suggests that he means working at Labour Party headquarters, and she alleges that his interest in politics has turned into an obsession.

When she offers to discuss the election with him, hoping maybe to learn something, he jumps up from his chair and heads for work.

"Well, have an exciting time," she grumbles, spitefully adding, "Give my love to Marjorie."

She mentions that Marjorie has smartened herself up a lot lately, and she surmises that John would have talked his head off, had it been Marjorie sitting across from him at the breakfast table instead of his wife.

John claims that Margaret is jealous, and he snarls, "If anybody's got cause to be jealous in this establishment, I should have thought it was me."

With that, Margaret can see that the memory of Michael Armstrong is still festering, even though, as she reminds John, it was she who sent Michael packing, so she could go on living with her husband.

Sarcastically, John begs Margaret's forgiveness if he has not thanked her humbly enough for her thoughtfulness.

When she accuses him of being petty, John shouts back that surely this Armstrong was not petty.

"Well, at least he didn't think I talked rubbish," she declares, "and he was intelligent."

John contends that Margaret always said Armstrong was not important enough for her to discuss, but now she seems to have quite a high opinion of him and is perfectly willing to talk about him.

By now, Margaret has had enough of this bickering, and she tells her husband to leave her alone and go off to work, which he does, slamming the doors behind him.

Edwin, reading a newspaper in the living room, has heard the shouting and slamming of doors, so he is not surprised when Margaret storms in, furious at her husband.

She claims that John was becoming very interested in that teacher's training course until the political campaign came along.

It has become an obsession with him, she says, but Edwin finds that difficult to believe, contending that politics needs people like John.

"Well," she complains, "something's certainly got into his bloodstream."

David's and Sheila's Home   Sheila and Helen are looking at some of the furniture that has been delivered from Sefton's house.

As Helen measures the Briggs curtains for their "new" home, the women begin to discuss politics.

Sheila states that her dad was a docker, and her side of the family all voted Labour.

When Helen reveals that she too votes Labour, Sheila is shocked, and Helen adds that Sefton probably would question her sanity of he knew that.

Her late husband, Jack, always voted Labour, notes Helen, but Sheila says her husband, David, votes Conservative.

Though Sheila is firmly in the Labour camp, she admits that she will be sorry to vote against Mr. Churchill.

That is what scares her about getting the kids back too soon—the world is unsettled and changing so quickly.

Labour Headquarters   Dewsbury discloses that Sefton Briggs has two votes because his business is located across the river.

Marjorie brings John a cup of tea, telling Dewsbury that she put his in the other office.

It strikes her that John should be at the Town Hall on Saturday morning, but he confides that he played hooky from work.

Marjorie says, "Good for you," but John pleads with her not to tell Margaret.

Sheepishly, he says, "I feel about ten years old, in short trousers," and Marjorie quips, "Stolen sweets are sweeter."

"Are they?" he asks rhetorically, and, for a moment, neither John nor Marjorie can look the other in the eye.

The Ashton Home   In the kitchen, Margaret wonders why David is not at work, and he claims that sales calls on a Saturday morning are a waste of time.

He does not like the job, he admits, but still he puts on a happy face around Sheila because she would blame him and not the job.

"They made me an officer and a gentleman," he complains. "You know what I feel like these days? I feel like a bloody tramp."

David says he tries every day to look on the bright side—he can feel himself trying, and he senses that Sheila can feel it too.

When Margaret suggests that it seemed like such a good opening, David scoffs at that idea, saying, "Ah, Mags, it's a bloody con game."

"Well, maybe that's my line, conning people," he concedes. "I've a good record to prove it."

All he wants is to have his kids back, he explains, but Sheila keeps putting it off, preferring to wait until things are more settled.

David waxes nostalgic for the RAF, those days of lying in the long grass at the back of the hangar and chatting with Frankie.

Frank Cox, he explains to Margaret, was an optimist, and you could not keep him down.

When Margaret suggests that David should take a leaf out of Frank's book, David informs her that he pranged on his last op—he is dead.

"Oh, well, maybe he's better off," grumbles David, lamenting that he has a nice house now but is no better off than he was.

Though he hates the job, he has no choice but to stick with it, confiding that this is a dilemma he cannot mention to his wife because she lives in the past, always afraid that things will end up like they were before.

He tells Margaret that she was smart to marry a steady bloke like John and that he would settle for such security right now—peace of mind.

Finally, David has to laugh at himself, claiming, "I talk a lot of hot air, don't I?" and he adds, "I don't know why. It's just the way I'm made, I suppose."

Labour Headquarters   John declares to Marjorie that life is too short to have lost five years to the war.

When Marjorie suggests that he take the teacher training course, John tells her that he thinks politics is much more exciting.

She submits that she was not aware he was the type who cared about excitement, judging him to be more the steady, respectable type.

John says he has changed after serving in the war, and he suspects that Margaret would prefer to have his former self—as he was when they got married, an "overgrown schoolboy."

Now he wants to "launch out a bit, to get something out of life."

Councillor Dewsbury approaches them at John's desk and requests that they canvass an area just across the park from Marjorie's place.

He adds, with a knowing look at John, "Oh, and when you're finished, your time's your own."

A Liverpool Neighbourhood   The Conservative automobile drives past Marjorie, its loudspeaker proclaiming the perceived failings of the Socialist Party.

She watches John emerge from a flat, where he has been chatting with an elderly husband and wife, both of whom seem to have enjoyed his visit.

The man makes a Churchill "V" sign with his right hand, and, to Marjorie's horror, John cheerfully returns this non-Labour gesture.

That is when she approaches him and—after being assured that the couple are steadfast in their support of Labour candidates—scolds him for wasting time in preaching to the converted.

John says he talked mostly about the man's hobby of building wireless sets, and then they invited him to have a cup of tea.

"Remind me to give you a lecture on practical politics sometime," Marjorie declares.

The Ashton Home   Margaret is ironing her husband's underwear when the doorbell rings, and John George runs to answer it.

Edwin has returned early and confesses to his daughter that he decided not to report to work, an admission that prompts her to comment, "I see—another truant."

"Another?" he asks, and Margaret informs him that Mr. Temple called from the Town Hall, wondering why John did not show up for work, and she had to fabricate an excuse.

Margaret tells her father that she knows where John is—a place that is far more exciting than "this boring establishment."

When Margaret asks what is bothering him today, Edwin says his low spirits can be attributed to Tony Briggs.

Edwin explains that his nephew has stabbed him in the back, becoming ambitious and ruthless.

On the ferry this morning, he began to wonder why Tony sided with Sefton, and the troubling thought made him feel sick, in no condition to report to work.

Margaret contends that his concern about Tony is all in his mind.

"Is it?" he wonders. "And you worrying about John—is that all in yours? You see, we're all victims of our imaginations."

He sinks heavily into his favourite chair, wishing that Philip could come home, and he confides, "I'm really feeling my age these days. It'd be nice to have someone to lean on just now and then."

Sefton Park   Fresh from their canvassing, John and Marjorie are walking along, and he remarks that some of the people just want to have a friendly visitor to talk to, and not necessarily about politics.

She states that it can be hard for a woman, not having a man around, and John says he thinks he understands—that is, if she means Margaret.

They reach a crosspath where they would part, but Marjorie invites John over for a drink, and he seems receptive to the idea.

David's and Sheila's Home   Sheila is cranking some wet laundry through the wringer when David comes into the house.

He kisses her and then takes over the cranking, while she guides the laundry in between the heavy rollers.

She asks if he had a good day, and he fibs yes, adding that Howells is very pleased with his work.

Sheila thanks him for trying—and succeeding—in his sales position, and David assures her that he always has tried, even when she thought he was not.

Feeling that this is a good time to bring up the subject again, he asks Sheila if she has thought what it would be like to have the kids back in this house.

She answers that she never thinks of anything else, but then she urges that they wait a bit longer, to see how David's job works out with Howells.

When David suggests that she would change her mind if they had new furniture, she informs him that they do have some furniture, and she takes him to see it.

The Ashton Home   Edwin tells Margaret that they could save some time and effort by not voting, seeing as how their votes will only cancel each other anyway.

Margaret asks her father how he knows which way she will be voting, as she has told no one, not even John.

Besides, she teases Edwin, how can she be sure that he would not sneak out and cast his ballot behind her back?

"Well, at least we'll know how John will be voting," Margaret declares, "though in his present state of mind he's quite capable of changing sides at the last minute."

Marjorie's Flat   As Marjorie pours some American whisky, she confides that she goes out with Yanks sometimes, when she finds one she likes and who likes her—which is not all that often.

She adds, "I'm not single by choice, you know," which takes John by surprise.

Marjorie explains that she had no interest in marriage until two years ago, when she turned thirty years old.

Disclosing that it can get very lonely in her flat, she states that her problem is that she is so very choosy when it comes to men.

One issue that scares her is the prospect of contracting venereal disease, which is what happened to her sister.

John says he understands, inasmuch as he himself has had it but now is cured.

Marjorie asks if Margaret knows, and he confirms that she does.

"I thought you came here to get evens," she says. "Frankly, I was willing to oblige."

Embarrassed, John quips that he knows she likes his legs, but Marjorie is not amused by the frivolous statement.

"We've all got our funny little quirks," she explains. "When it comes to sex, mine just happens to be legs."

But then Marjorie apologises, sensing that John prefers to be wanted for his mind.

She finds it ironic that two dedicated political workers in the middle of a general election come back to her place to talk about VD and sex.

When she wonders what politicians are supposed to do about people like them, John blurts, "Mind their own bloody business."

This forceful remark intrigues Marjorie, who says, "You're very assertive for a quiet type," whereupon he responds, "Am I? Well, maybe I'm sick of being a quiet type."

Marjorie asks if it is important for a man to get evens, and John answers that he had forgotten about that, which prompts her to confess, "And I had forgotten I was Margaret's friend."

Stepping nearer to her, John works up his courage to state that maybe there is a time when it is best to forget.

Marjorie declares that he is not at all like she thought he was, and he responds, "I'm not like I thought I was either."

She stands up and comes very close to him, saying, "Margaret's loads more attractive than I am. Why me?" and John answers, "I don't think of it like that."

David's and Sheila's Home   David is upset about the donated furniture, telling Sheila that he is getting sick of being patronised.

He claims that such a gift puts him under an obligation to Sefton, someone whom he has looked up to for all these years—or at least to his money.

Sheila contends that Sefton will be "sick as a pig" if Labour does get in, but David assures her that Britain will not turn its back on Churchill.

The country is going to get back on its feet, he contends, and so is he.

Sheila marvels that he really has changed from before the war, stating, "A bit of bad luck used to put you back for days," and she adds with a smile, "We're going to be all right."

The Ashton Home   It is late at night, and Margaret is washing dishes when John finally returns home.

He confesses that he did not go to work this morning, something she already knew from Mr. Temple, and he says he assumed his boss would ring her.

"Is that why you told me?" she asks, and he replies, "Why shouldn't I tell you?" whereupon Margaret grumbles, "I just thought there might be some reason."

Margaret explains that she was very worried about him, so she phoned the election office, learning that he had gone out canvassing—with Marjorie.

"It's not like you to play hooky from work," she continues. "Was it because you were fed up with me?"

John is suddenly contrite, offering an apology for the way he acted that morning, but Margaret remains confrontational.

She says she is concerned about his job, which represents their means of living—unless, that is, he expects her to go on working indefinitely.

She had assumed that she would continue teaching only until he completed his training course, but not forever.

"Well, pack it up then!" he shouts, and she responds, "I just want you to be happy."

John begins to say something, but then, torn between the primal forces of marriage and temptation, he storms from the kitchen, slamming the door behind him.

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