Coming Home

by John Wiles

Episode Number: 48
Director: Gerry Mill



Edwin Ashton   Colin Douglas
David Ashton   Colin Campbell
Sheila Ashton   Coral Atkins
Margaret Porter   Lesley Nunnerley
Freda Mackenzie   Barbara Flynn
Ian Mackenzie   John Nettles
Tony Briggs   Trevor Bowen
Doris Jackson   Diana Davies
Trevor Howells   Leonard Sachs
Eric Fraser   Donald Pickering
Mrs. Jones   Myvanwy Jenn
Mr. Jackson   John Barrett
Mrs. Jackson   Dorothy Gordon
The Café Manageress   Beryl Cooke
Peter Ashton   Michael Condon
Janet Ashton   Jane Hutcheson



David's and Sheila's Home   When Sheila arrives home, David is talking on the telephone, and it is plain to see that this is a very serious conversation.

He hangs up and must tell his wife the bad news—that was Mrs. Jones on the telephone, and she said Mrs. Thomas died of a heart attack last night.

David informed Mrs. Jones that he and Sheila would come to Wales in the morning to bring their children back home.

He tells his wife, "Well, that settles it, Sheila. They're coming home," but her response laments the kindly lady’s passing: "Oh, they loved her. They really did."

The Ashton Home   Freda, her husband, and her father come into the living room, and Edwin remarks that she is looking a bit peaky.

After she explains that it is from lack of sleep, Edwin offers her a drink, but then Ian presents him with a bottle of liquor from a grateful patient who had twins.

Freda goes into the kitchen and says hello to Margaret, who tells her she found a bag of clothes that Doris left behind when she stayed there once.

At first, Freda says that she never sees Doris anymore, so she cannot return the garments to her, but then she changes her mind and accepts them.

Back in the living room, over drinks, Ian advises his wife to give the clothes away because they would never fit Doris in her present condition.

Freda, however, is adamant about returning them, a stubborn attitude that prompts Ian to say, "Still think you let her down, don't you?"

When he asks what she proposes to do about Doris, Freda replies, "I'll think of something."

Edwin comes back into the room with a glass for himself, and they all drink a toast to the Labour government.

David's and Sheila's Home   Sheila and David remember Mrs. Thomas, who was like a loving parent to the children for five years of their lives.

The Ashton Home   Ian and Edwin are discussing the possibility that the printing works will be sold.

Edwin says he is trying to be open-minded about the sale, thinking about the entire family and not only himself.

Helen sided with Sefton, he explains, but it was Tony's desertion to his father's ranks that hurt him the most.

Edwin says it was as if Tony was playing some sort of a game, rather like Sefton might do, and he contends that if the sale does go through, "there will be a whole heap of dirty laundry brought out for public washing."

The Works   Tony has informed Fraser that there is a much higher offer on the table, but Briggs & Son will remain committed to his proposal nonetheless.

When Fraser wonders what Sefton thinks about it, Tony confesses that he has not been told, adding that the deal can be closed by the time his father returns from London.

Fraser asks why Tony is doing this, and Tony responds, "Domestic reasons. I'll tell them everything when it's all over."

The telephone rings, and Fraser's solicitor, Hawkins, announces that the contracts were exchanged at five minutes past eight.

Tony Briggs and Eric Fraser celebrate with a drink from Tony's hip flask, whose contents were replenished, he says, "from the ever-flowing spring behind Father's bookcase."

The Ashton Home   Edwin tells his daughters that he is considering retirement as an option, feeling that he deserves it after giving thirty-five years of his life to Briggs & Son.

Freda, though, suspects that there is a deeper motive than that—namely, what he sees as the betrayals of Helen and Tony.

"Why don't you stick it out now and give the new owner a chance?" she asks, and Edwin replies, "Because I feel I've had enough. I'm too old to start learning new tricks."

Suddenly, Ian interrupts the discussion by suggesting that the matter will work itself out, so they should just leave it like that.

When Freda claims that is what he always says, Ian tells her, "There are some things you cannot change simply by talking about them. As I've remarked before, you've got to have a positive solution before you can do any good."

Freda takes this personally, sensing that her husband is referring to Doris now, and she declares that it is about time this family did a bit more honest talking.

David's and Sheila's Home   Trevor Howells comes in, and Sheila assures him that David will be right back with his order book.

He gushes over her how much he likes their living room, and Sheila cautions him not to mention that he has been there before because David might misinterpret such a suggestive comment.

David arrives with his order book, and Howells examines the figures, seeming none too pleased.

Howells takes a few orders and puts them in his coat pocket, while David explains that he needs a couple of days off to collect their children in Roslyn, North Wales.

When David says he will be needing the contact list for when he returns to work, Howells informs him that he will have no need for it after all.

He indicates that David will get his commission, but that will be the end of it.

David cannot believe his ears—that he is sacked—but Howells declares that he never said the job would be permanent.

He bought this house on the strength of the job, explains David, and he pleads with Howells to reconsider.

But Howells simply walks away, unwilling to help, until David calls to him, "You bastard! You bloody spiff!"

Howells walks back toward him and says, "Watch it, lad. You may need a reference one day. All that RAF stuff won't get you far. The war's over, forgotten."

Then, adding insult to injury, Howells casually mentions to David, "Tell the wife how much I like the room—always have."

The Ashton Home   Ian explains to Margaret that Doris overheard their conversation about her pregnancy and that she left without saying a word.

Margaret says it is not the end of the world to have someone else's baby, adding that it happened to her, but the baby died.

Ian tells Margaret that Freda has made Doris her personal crusade, blaming herself for the help she did not give her.

Margaret agrees with Ian that you must have a positive solution to do any good.

He declares that pity is much worse than charity, saying, "It makes the giver feel good and does nothing at all for the victim."

But he confides that Freda does not agree with him on this point, considering him to be a cynic.

It is Ian's firm belief that you can help people in practical ways—with money, food, or a place to sleep—but you cannot help them emotionally.

Margaret suggests that perhaps Freda should find that out for herself by visiting Doris in person.

Ian asks how they can find her, and Margaret tells him that they have her mother's address somewhere in the house.

When Freda comes back into the room, Ian informs her that Margaret thinks it would be a good idea to see Doris and her parents, and she could return the clothes at the same time.

David's and Sheila's Home   David is sitting in the dark, so Sheila switches the lamp on and tells him that she went next door to Mrs. Barnes, who loaned her some bedding for the kids.

As she chatters away, David tries to tell her the bad news about his job but cannot bring himself to do so.

"Oh, David," she says, "thank God we've got somewhere for them to come back to," a comment that makes David worry all the more.

A Bus   A helpful passenger alerts Freda that the next stop is hers, the first on the left.

The Jacksons' Town   Freda climbs off the bus and makes her way on foot toward her friend's family home.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Mrs. Jones puts the kettle on, but David resents the fact that she has everything packed already, as though she cannot wait to be rid of the kids.

The children, she tells David and Sheila, are at the cemetery, wanting to see the grave where Mrs. Thomas will be buried tomorrow.

Mrs. Jones explains that Mrs. Thomas simply fell over in the street and died, never knowing what hit her.

It was her heart, she says, "too big for her body, full of love she was. Yes, killed her, loving did."

Sheila asks how the children took the tragic news, and Mrs. Jones replies that they cried their little eyes out, Mrs. Thomas being like a mother to them.

It will be difficult for them to leave, she adds, because they had all the space in the world and plenty of love.

Peter and Janet arrive, back from the cemetery, and they have grown so much that they look like strangers to David and Sheila.

The Jackson Home   Freda is speaking with Doris's parents—a very inhospitable father and a tight-lipped mother—but they refuse to tell her where Doris is.

When Freda explains how worried she is about Doris and the baby, Mr. Jackson is bitterly unreceptive to such sentiment.

Freda asks him to tell her where Doris is, but all he will say is, "She ain't here."

A moment later, Doris comes out of the back room, and Mr. Jackson sneers, "She still ain't here."

Doris wears a nondescript print dress, has no make-up on, and her hair has not been washed in many days.

"Well, it's you and your sort that's done this to her," Doris's father alleges, whereupon Freda responds, "But she is going to have your grandchild."

"Not her," he snaps. "She's gonna drop somebody's pig. That's what she is—a bloody sow."

Freda contends that Doris would be better off living with her, but Mr. Jackson says that is where her trouble started.

He leaves the room, granting Freda five minutes to say her piece, but he pauses long enough to snarl, "Forty years, slaving for the likes of you, and what's it got me? Somebody else's bastard."

The Works   Tony reveals to Edwin that he pushed through the sale to Fraser for the good of the firm.

He also claims that he thought Fraser would give Edwin the backing he needed to make the business a success.

But Edwin resents charity, and he tells Tony that he wants to make his own decisions for once, to stop being pushed around by Sefton Briggs or his son.

He informs Tony that he will have his letter of resignation by tonight, and he declares to his nephew, "You've done well, lad. You got rid of me in one go. That's more than your father could ever do."

The Jackson Home   Freda and Doris are having a private conversation, Doris explaining that her father is crippled because a crate fell on his legs about ten years ago, and he has not been able to work on the docks since that accident.

Doris has decided to have the baby, but she tells Freda that she has not been to the doctor in months.

Freda urges her to fix herself up a bit by washing her hair and wearing more attractive clothes—to give the baby a better start in life.

She adds that she came to look after her friend, and she is determined to do just that.

When Freda suggests that they go for an early lunch, the thought of being out of her suffocating daily existence seems to lift Doris's spirits.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Peter asks his mother where they will be living when they get to Liverpool, and Sheila replies that it is a bright, cheery house with a small garden.

But, he sighs, there will be no hills to climb, and Sheila concedes that it will take awhile for him to get used to his new surroundings.

Peter misses Mrs. Thomas terribly, and he asks if they can view her body in the hospital, but his mother does not think that would be a good idea.

He asks if his father will be living with them and seems disappointed when Sheila says yes, so she explains that he now has a good job, which means they will never be separated again.

A Café   Freda and Doris are in the shabby Seaview Café, where the gruff manageress resents the inconvenience of brewing some coffee expressly for them, in response to Freda's food and drink order.

When Freda teases that all Doris needs is "some wildly rich young man who's dying to fall in love," Doris scoffs at the notion.

She tells Freda that Ricky, her American boyfriend, used to say, "Money makes love," but Freda disagrees with that philosophy, contending that you can fall in love with the oddest people.

Freda's troubled friend takes this innocent remark personally, telling Freda that it is all very well for her to talk—she and her "cozy consultant."

The manageress returns with their cups of coffee, but now Doris contrarily demands tea instead, assuring the lady that she will not be so common as to order fish and chips on a newspaper.

Freda is embarrassed by such odious conduct, but Doris says it put the lady in her place—and, anyway, she did prefer tea, despite what Freda might have assumed.

Doris is jealous of Freda's comfortable lifestyle, claiming that the Jackson hovel only has cold water and an outside lav, and she has to keep her clothes in an old, rotting suitcase.

"Well, I'm sorry," she snaps, "but it's not easy."

The Thomas Home, Wales   Everyone is eating with Mrs. Jones except for Janet, who has gone to say goodbye to the hens and the rabbits.

Sheila asks David to describe for Peter his new sales position, so he boasts that he sells radios, and—in response to his son's inquiry—proclaims that he will be buying a new car, maybe one of those big Yankee jobs.

Then he discloses that he is thinking of going into the second-hand car business, a revelation that brings a look of concern to Sheila's face.

Janet runs into the room and seats herself at the table with the others.

When Sheila asks her husband what he meant by saying there is a big future in the used car business, David replies, "Oh, just that I think it's time for a change, that's all."

A Café   Doris is still contentious, asking Freda what business it is of hers what she does with the baby and her own life.

She blurts that she will give the baby away, and then she accuses Freda of coming down here like Lady Muck, knowing nothing, with her nice husband and her nice home and her grand way of life.

Anyway, she sneers, the Ashtons are not so "la-di-da," considering what happened to David and to Margaret.

Others in the café are beginning to notice her loud tirade, but she persists in berating Freda—suggesting that she is no better than anyone else and that she should stop giving herself airs, adding, "You're not the Duchess of Liverpool yet, you know."

When Freda asks her to quiet down, Doris swears at her and storms out of the café, walking to a promenade that overlooks the seashore.

The Thomas Home, Wales   David is struggling with the suitcase when Sheila confronts him about his comment that he is thinking of having a change.

She claims to be very worried, but David assures her that everything is all right with Howells.

A Café   Freda is sipping her coffee when the manageress begins cleaning the table, contending that she is not surprised that the low-class young lady did not return.

She could see that this other one was only trying to help, but to no avail, and she proclaims her rules for living: "Keep yourself to yourself" and "Nothing for nothing."

When she offers to bring another cup of coffee, Freda's response is an icy no, so the manageress adds up the bill, neglecting nothing that might be construed as chargeable.

The Jacksons' Town   On the street, Freda waits for the bus, but then, when it does arrive, she decides not to climb aboard.

The Thomas Home, Wales   Peter and Janet are tugging over a mat, each claiming ownership, so David intercedes to stop their bickering.

The Jackson Home   Freda has returned, this time to speak with Doris's mother, who remains sullen and aloof.

When Freda denies wanting to hand out charity, declaring instead that she just wishes to be a friend, Mrs. Jackson says, "Friends is for children. We know better."

"You have to make do the best you can," she adds, and Freda responds, not unkindly, "You make living sound so lonely."

Freda suggests that Mrs. Jackson must think she is a busybody, and the woman agrees by saying, "The word's yours."

Trying her best to understand this woman's sad, isolated world, Freda asks, "You mean that's all there is—just being born, growing up, and dying?" and Mrs. Jackson voices a chilling, "Aye."

Freda wonders what they will do when the baby comes, and Mrs. Jackson says that will be up to her husband.

But when Freda asks if she agrees with Mr. Jackson that Doris is just a sow going to drop somebody else's bastard, the woman's eyes come to life for the first time, and she utters an emotional "No!"

Freda begs her to let Doris live with her and her husband, who is a doctor—assuring the woman that it will cost the Jackson family no money whatsoever—but the woman says Mr. Jackson would never have it.

After Mrs. Jackson asks Freda, in disbelief, "Does it mean that much to you?" Freda says yes, but the conversation comes to an abrupt end when her surly husband returns.

Freda explains that Doris can go with her and have the baby, and Mr. Jackson snaps, "She can go or she can stop. It's all the same to me."

So now it is up to Doris, who tells her friend, "It won't work," adding, "You can't look after us for the rest of our lives, can you?"

Speaking for herself and the baby, she says, "This is our home. Forget it, Freda."

"You have your answer," growls Mr. Jackson, and Freda angrily leaves the house without wasting a further word.

David's and Sheila's Home   The Ashton family arrive with the children's boxes of belongings, and Sheila cheerfully announces to them, "We're here now. You know…home."

But Janet responds, "It doesn't look much like home," and her candid remark hits David hard.

Seeing this, Sheila tactfully asks him to go next door to borrow some milk from Mrs. Barnes.

While he is away, she puts her arms around the children and implores them to trust her, saying, "We're all together now, and that's what matters, right?"

The Works   Fraser has asked Edwin to step into his office for a talk, and Edwin wastes no time in handing him his letter of resignation.

They both agree that the resignation will not take effect for one more month, and Fraser commiserates with Edwin, saying he understands how it must have felt to be pushed around for all those years.

Fraser seeks Edwin's advice in choosing a successor, explaining that the new manager will be expected to be fully in charge for the next six months.

As for Fraser himself, he will be in London during that time, negotiating a deal for a series of educational books.

He explains to Edwin that the self-instruction books will teach returning servicemen such trades as carpentry, car maintenance, welding, and bricklaying.

Edwin quips, "Printing?" and Fraser replies, "Why not?" adding that they can follow these up with books on sport and even languages—the possibilities are virtually endless.

Fraser says the new man will need to be able to handle some complicated artwork, so he must be thoroughly familiar with all facets of the printing industry.

Edwin begins laughing at the irony, and he tells the owner, "I've spent the past thirty-five years hoping for an opportunity like this—waiting for something that really matters—and the moment I resign, what happens?"

Fraser picks up the letter of resignation and hands it back to Edwin, who tears it up and smiles.

David's and Sheila's Home   It is late at night, and the kids are in bed, leaving Sheila and David alone to reflect on the events of this long-anticipated day.

"Not exactly a success, was it?" says David. "The great homecoming! Still, what did they expect, Downing Street?"

Sheila contends that they were just tired and hungry, but David insists it is not just that—they were spoiled by Mrs. Thomas.

When she alleges that he already is regretting their return, David says that he and Sheila have no choice but to be "lumbered" with them.

Sheila can sense from his irrational comment that there is something terribly wrong, and she suspects the worst.

"You've lost your job, haven't you?" she guesses, and he tells her yes.

But then he paints a rosy picture of the future, how he will make a fortune in the second-hand car trade, reminding her, "I made something of myself in the RAF."

Sheila is skeptical and wonders what he plans to do, whereupon David responds, "I'll go to London. I'll try my luck."

He has faith that something will turn up, just as when he got the job with Howells, but then Sheila is compelled to reveal to him that it was she who got him that sales position.

"It was only 'cause I went crawling around after Sefton Briggs that you got that job," she confesses.

David is stunned by this news, calling her well-meaning but misguided effort "bloody charity."

He puts on his coat and announces that he is going to London, a self-serving pronouncement that causes Sheila to ask, "Well, what about us? What about this house? David, what about the children?"

Shattered by his clear failure as a husband and father, David cannot summon an answer, so he shakes his head and walks sadly away.

The Ashton Home   Edwin and Tony are listening to a radio news report, describing the annihilation of Hiroshima, Japan, by an atomic bomb.

Into the living room comes Freda, who explains that she stopped here because she remembered that Ian would not be home anyway.

Tony announces to her the good news that Edwin is not resigning after all—that he gave his letter of resignation to Fraser but then decided to tear it up.

As he turns to leave, Tony assures his uncle, "I’m very pleased," and Edwin responds, "Goodbye, Tony. Thanks…for everything."

Looking exhausted from her long ordeal, Freda tells her father that she had a bad day, and he can see that she has been crying.

She lays her head on his shoulder, and he reminisces aloud about when she was a little girl.

"You used to lie in bed sometimes, with your eyes tightly closed. You'd say, 'You can't see me, Dad. I'm invisible. I've got my eyes closed'."

Freda smiles for a moment but then surrenders to the tears, seeking comfort in her father's reassuring presence.

Script Excerpt 1

Script Excerpt 2