John Thornton, Look Back at Me – pt 8

Chapter 8

    The Husband’s Secret  Life

 

John arrived home to a waiting Dixon and Higgins.  Shrugging out of his coat, he bid them a hello as he hung it on a peg.  Dixon handed him a cup of tea.  “Thank you, Dixon, I was in need of this, he said, taking the cup from her.  “Please sit, both of you.  I just want to stand a moment longer; my legs are stiff from the ride.  While he drank his tea, John paced the room, wondering where to begin.  The day had been a big event in his life, but he didn’t want to share everything that happened.  His affectionate words to Margaret would remain private.

Higgins and Dixon settled into chairs in the parlor, anxious to hear the news he brought from London.  Dixon was fidgeting, while Higgins sat forward with his elbows on his knees, absently tapping one foot on the floor.

“Master, you look tired.  How did the day go for you and Miss Margaret?”  Higgins finally asked, relaxing back into the cushioned chair, propping an ankle on the opposite knee.

John soon sat down and began relating his day from his arrival at the chapel to his departure from the church grounds.  “As much as Margaret appeared brave,” he told them, “her perseverance eventually failed her.  She was holding herself fast, buffering the sadness, but when she recognized me there, it was like she surrendered her courage.  I’m sure she would have reacted the same way, had either of you two, been there,” he added, although not entirely sure that was true.  “Despite having her own family and her husband’s family near to guide her, she displayed a different posturing to me.  It was as if I was the only friend she had in her world for that moment, and perhaps we are her only friends.  And if that news isn’t disturbing enough, I had an unsettling feeling there was more, lying beneath the surface somewhere.  When I assured her of our support, she referred to it as an “Oasis in her Desert,” and her relief emerged far more serious than I would have expected, which signaled to me that she was under some strain in addition to the funeral.  Something has happened to her.  I sense a change, almost like desperation, in her.  It was all I could do to leave her today.”  John set his tea cup off to the side and stood up.  Walking back and forth in front of the fireplace, he took some time forming his thoughts before he continued, “The only thing that I can equate it to, is what it must feel like to be drowning and then suddenly be pulled to the surface.  It was as if she had been startled back into life.  She appeared very downtrodden; I guess that’s what I would call her behavior, before she saw me.  Sadly, she is not the spirited Margaret, we all remember.  I will stay in contact with her and find the cause of this change, if it’s the last thing, I do.  I will only wait three months before I visit her, and it will be unannounced.  Something is wrong there, even though she did not speak of any such problems.  But, she wouldn’t, of course.  I want her here, away from London.  I will only wait so long before I become very involved in her life, whether her family likes it or not.  I won’t sit back and wonder what’s going on, ever again.  I want her here where she is free of outside pressures and free to make her own decisions.”

Listening intently and with increasing concern, Dixon quickly interjected, “I cannot even begin to know what she might have on her mind, but I think she was unhappy in her marriage, almost from the very beginning.  I’ll write her and ask her to come to Milton as soon as she can.  I don’t think it matters where she lives during her bereavement period, as long as she has the support of people around her.”  She blotted her eyes with her apron.

“Why do you say she was unhappy in her marriage, Dixon?”  John inquired with due concern.  “You’ve never mentioned this before.”  Looking back, it also would explain some of her reactions to him on the veranda as well as today.

“Master, I would tell you if I knew.”  Dixon replied.  “It just seemed as if all the spark went out of her soon after the wedding.  I could feel it before I left to come here, and her letters have done nothing to make me feel different.”  Of course,” she added, “she isn’t looking forward to returning to her family, either.”

“Yes,” he agreed, “and that’s exactly what bothers me about her being in London.  This news of her unhappiness, while married, may well have had a lot to do with what I was sensing.  I had wondered why she showed so little sorrow.”  John said, frowning at this new disquieting information.  His mind was racing with errant thoughts.  Suppose he beat her or abused her in other ways . . .?  Thankfully, Higgins interrupted his wild exaggerations.

“Master, you can count on Mary and me to write her.” He said reassuringly.  “We, too, will urge her to return to her friends here.  She’s always been very dear to my family and me.  I have worried along with you, but now I see that we have a chance to reclaim her, and we can’t waste this opportunity by sitting idly by and letting her heal, or bereave, or whatever you want to call it,” he finished, rather profoundly, as he caught the look of unexpected admiration on John’s face.

“Higgins,” John said, “you have stood beside me for nigh on three years and have never expressed that depth of your feelings for Margaret, as you just have.  This tragedy in her life has brought your heartfelt sentiments to the surface.  I’m pleased that you feel such a kinship to her, but why am I just now seeing your strength of character in this regard?”  John asked in a lighthearted tone.

Higgins looked directly at John, slightly embarrassed.  Man to man, as if Dixon weren’t present, he told him, “I felt the void, as you did, when she left.  Then, as you and I became better acquainted, and we talked about personal issues with each other, I became almost as emotionally upset as you were when you spoke of her.  I never could speak up; for fear that you might misunderstand my feelings.  I love her, too, but not as you do.  I’m filled with compassion for her, but not passion for her.  She feels like family to me, perhaps she’s standing in for Bessie in some regard. I don’t know how to explain it.  I’ve missed her insights and our conversations, just as you both have.”

John walked over to Higgins and placed his hand firmly on his shoulder “Now, there’s the firebrand as you were once described to me!”

Smiling fondly at them, John concluded, “Thank you both for expressing your support.  Obviously, we all have the same goal for our Margaret.  Let’s hope for the best.”

The room remained quiet for several minutes as they looked down at the carpet, apparently deep in thought over all that had been spoken.

Eventually, John cleared his throat, “I’d like to ponder this more in private, and we will speak again, but in the meantime, please write to her.  So…what else is there to discuss?  Higgins?”  John had detected a slight change in his expression.  “You look like you have more to say.”

“Yes, I do have something and after telling you of my feelings for Miss Margaret, it better get said, now.”  Higgins laughed, relieved that his Master had given him an opening.  “Aside from all of us wanting Miss Margaret to come back, I would like to announce that I’m going to be married.”

“Higgins!  This is wonderful news!”  John said, walking from the hearth to shake his hand excitedly.  Higgins was embarrassed but smiling broadly.

“I cannot believe I didn’t see this coming.  Do I know the lady?”  John asked enthusiastically.

“Master, I do not think so, unless you know her from somewhere else in the city.  You may find this interesting, but her name is Margaret, Margaret Randall, but she prefers to be called Peggy.  You may know her younger brother, Constable Wilson.”  The tone of Higgins’ words clearly showed his pride in Peggy.  “She is widowed with no children, and has been tutoring Tom with his lessons.  She is well educated.  She comes from a merchant family who had little fortune, so she had to seek her own work.  Young Tom has been working with her for nine months, but she and I have been courting for about two months.”

“Higgins!  You rascal!  Courting for two months and not a hint of that to me.  Tell me, does the lady know she’s engaged, yet?”  The two men laughed at John’s words of sentiment for his friend.

“We must toast to this happy announcement,” John said, glancing at Dixon.

She handed a brandy glass to everyone, giving her Master the bottle, and he poured their drinks.

Glasses raised, John spoke, “To Nicholas Higgins and Peggy Randall.  May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.”

“One more thing Master, before I should be going.  Would you be my best man?”

John smiled broadly at his friend.  “I would have been disappointed if you didn’t ask.  Of course, I shall . . . with pleasure,” and the two men shook hands once again.

“I hope someday to repay the favor.”  Higgins told him sincerely.

“Yes, let’s hope to see that day, Higgins…”  And when is all this taking place?”

“Well . . . we haven’t settled on a day, yet.  With my position here at the Mills changing and a new wife coming, I want to acquire a nice cottage which can accommodate all of us comfortably.  That will come first and then we will set a date.”

“I couldn’t be happier for you.”  John told him again.  “Thank you both for sharing this night with me.  Dixon has her gentleman, the postman, Mr. Granger.  Look how far we’ve come in half a year.  Perhaps, there is hope for us all.”

Higgins rose to leave.  “We have hope, now, Master.  You know I will do whatever I can to see Margaret back in Milton.  I’ll be going, now.  See you tomorrow,” he said as he started towards the door.

“Goodnight, Higgins.”  John said, and finishing his brandy, he turned to Dixon.  “The rigor from the day has me quite tired.  Please excuse me; I think I’ll take myself off to my bed.  Good night to you, Dixon.”  And with a smile and slight inclination of his head, he turned and walked down the hall to his room.

“Good night Master.  We’ll all do what we can.”

Settling into bed, John sensed his world was straining to right itself.  Hope was at least a possibility, where only a day ago it had never existed.

 

God might not have finished with me, after all . . . Mother?

 

Christmas was only a month away, and John had written a congenial note to Margaret.  He had been careful not to pressure her into any hasty solutions, as she pondered the direction her life would take.  The three-month  deadline was nearing, and John wouldn’t wait much longer before making a brief unannounced trip to London.  Reading her response to his letter had lifted his spirits, as she had expressed gratitude for having received correspondence from Nicholas and Dixon, each hoping to see her in Milton soon.  As he had predicted, she was not happy to be back with her family.  Nothing changed  in their determination to have her embrace London with all its culture.  She confided in him that she was getting very close to fleeing London.

This worried John because she had given no indication from her writings which direction she might be heading.  Suddenly, and all too clearly, he realized she could choose somewhere else . . .  Helstone, perhaps, where she was  reared as a child.  John couldn’t let that happen.

Several days later, back in London, Margaret descended the stairs as the housekeeper was admitting a visitor.  Since she never had visitors, she continued on her way into the kitchen.  A moment later, the housekeeper came into the pantry and told her there was someone to see her.

“Do you know who it is?”  She asked.”

“Here is his card” she said, as she handed it to Margaret.  “It says a Dr. Pritchard.”

“Oh, how delightful!”  Margaret took the card from the housekeeper and smiled.  “He was such a good friend to Booker and me.  Please, tell him I’ll be right in and then could you bring us some tea and biscuits?”  Margaret washed her hands and checked herself in the mirror.

“Dr. Pritchard” she said, as she entered the sitting room.  “I’m pleased to see you; I’ve missed our conversations immensely.  Please, have a seat.  “She pointed to an overstuffed chair by the window.  “We will have tea ready in a moment.  How have you been?”  Margaret said as she settled into a chair next to the piano.

“Fine, Margaret, fine.  And how have you been?  So, tell me my dear . . . what direction is life taking you?”

“I am bearing up well, Professor, thank you for asking.  However, I don’t like London at all, as you know.  I want to be where I can be of service.  Lately, I have been thinking about Milton, with its impoverished population.  I’ve decided to return there.  I have friends there, too.  I don’t know exactly what I would be able to do, but at least I would be living in a town where some of the people mean a lot to me.”  Margaret said.

“I’m glad to hear you say that, Margaret,” the Professor said with a mysterious smile on his face, “for I have something that might interest you.”

“You’re looking at me as if I should know to what you are referring.”  Margaret replied, somewhat quizzically.  “What is it that might interest me?  No . . . don’t tell me!  Are you going to Milton to study the Industrial Age like you’ve mentioned on many occasions?  Oh, please say, yes!  I would love to know that you were there in Milton with me,” she said excitedly.

“Yes, Margaret.  You have it exactly.  I am going to have hands-on research this time.”  He laughed as he continued.  “I made up my mind about a month ago to head out at the end of term.  These are my last days at the college.”

Margaret turned her attention to the tea service which the housekeeper had set on the table.  She started to pour the tea, “Oh, Professor, I am indeed happy to hear this.  I’m envious of what you are about to do.  And to think, we might be living close together.  I would have missed you very much.  I’ve always enjoyed your company and our chats.”

“Before we talk more about my plans, I really want to know how you are doing since Booker’s accident.”

“I seem to be doing well, which I find surprising compared to when I lost my parents.  Despite loving Booker differently, I think it has seemed easier because I only knew him for a short number of years.  That must sound terrible, but I know I can talk openly with you.  I feel guilty about it.”  Margaret said, as tears seeped out of the corners of her eyes, catching her off guard.  She started to wring her hands in her lap, as she began to sniffle.

The professor leaned over and patted her on the knee, saying, “Judging by your tears,” he said gently, “you aren’t doing as well as you pretend.  I was afraid of that, and that’s one of the reasons I have come today.  Child, you should have no guilt over anything, and it was not different because of the length of time you knew him.  You were the best wife he could ever have had, and he was extremely lucky to find you, but for you, it was also unfortunate.  You endured much so he could live his academic lifestyle.   I believe you were discomfited in that marriage, as I never saw what I considered to be true happiness in you.  It was hard to tell with Booker because he was such a composed individual and always in his element at school.  I was wondering if you had ever realized that he had shown too much interest in his students, primarily his male students?”

“I don’t think I know what you mean,” Margaret said.  “There were many times that some male students would come to study, and I did wonder why he didn’t allow them to study with him in our quarters.  They seemed to go somewhere else to study.  I think I assumed it was the library.  Why?”

The Professor could see the confliction settling over her face.  “First let me say, there is no fault here, on anyone’s part.  There was nothing that either of you could foresee, and probably you never did see.  You were thrust into his world on campus, which was all new to you.  And you bore it well, despite all that you had to hide.  I could see this . . . he never could.

“You felt I was hiding something in my marriage?”  She questioned, realizing with embarrassment, where he might be headed.

“Margaret, I’m sure of it.  You were a strong independent woman, but I could see your spirited nature, and the self-confidence that I had always admired in you, slowly beginning to wane.  I am sure Booker caused that, although, perhaps not intentionally.  I’m very sorry he is gone, but I hope you can move on to a life you want, one, which will benefit your talents and your heart.”

“I am going to try,” Margaret said, “but why do you say, Booker caused it?”  Before he could answer, she continued.  “I felt sometimes I did not give him all the love I could.  I didn’t feel the passion of love, or what I had expected it to be like, from him.  I’m filled with confusion and guilt.”

The Professor inhaled deeply before proceeding.  “I’ve come by today, concerned that you might be feeling that way . . . burdened with guilt.  Relieve yourself of that right now.  I feel I am the only one in the world who knows why and where your life has taken you the past two years.”

“Why?  Where?  If anything, I was too naive in my feminine ways.  I bored him, I’m sure of it.  He quickly lost interest in me, and I was ashamed of myself, and didn’t know what to do about it.”  Margaret spoke softly in between silent sobs.

“Yes, Booker did lose interest in you, Margaret, and it was natural that he did so.”

Margaret was dabbing her eyes with her lace hanky when the Professor’s words suddenly took her aback.  Shocked, she looked into his eyes and asked, “Professor, what are you saying to me?”

“I think Booker was hiding something of himself from both of us and perhaps even from himself, too.  I am sure he was suppressing a strong propensity for young males in his life.  And I mean that in the most emotional and sexual way.  Feeling certain this was the case, he must have come face to face with his own deep preference immediately after he married you.  I will venture to say that the two of you had no pre-marital relations.  Had you, possibly the marriage never would have gone forward.  But, who’s to say?  Yes, pine the loss of someone you knew, but do not pine the lost love, for you had very little.  Please take my advice and sweep away any self-doubts.

Margaret was crying heavily now.  The emotional hardship she had suffered for a year and a half was suddenly lifted from her.  She had always known that she had never garnered his full affection.  “Professor, I’ll never understand how you’ve come to know me so well.  I have forever admired your intellect and insight, but I never knew it was so penetrating.  You have just encompassed my entire marriage with Booker.  If the truth be known, all my late husband left me was emotional scarring and an utter lack of confidence in myself as a wife and a woman.  I didn’t think  . . . didn’t think I’d ever hear myself saying that to anyone.”  She finished softly, “I was so sure it was me.”

“Margaret, early or later in your marriage, you could have done nothing more.  I know you thought it was your fault that he lacked deep affection for you, but there never would have been any more from him, and I daresay, what there was, would have slowly faded to the point of friendship.  You need to recognize your marriage for what it was rather than what it should have been.  I was only able to see this after he married you.  I felt quite sorry for you, as I gradually came to realize that the love you were looking for would never come to you.”

“Professor, I never suspected anything like that,” Margaret spoke earnestly, “but I wouldn’t have recognized it in any regard.  I know why Booker couldn’t help me, now.  He was too ashamed to talk about it with me, knowing he’d let us both down.  I hope that I can come to terms with what I feel inside.  I’ve been devastated for a long time about my inability to please him.”

“Child, the only fault, lies with Booker in the grave.  He should have done the proper thing and freed you, once he was sure.  Leaving you to suffer his disgrace was unpardonable,” said the Professor.  You know, that makes me wonder how you knew you had a lot more love to give.  There must have been someone in your past for whom you had strong feelings; perhaps you were not even aware of those feelings yourself.  Somewhere, there must be a man you really cared for, because you sensed a difference with Booker.  You had the emotional depth and capacity to know there should have been more affection or passion in your marriage.  Do you know who this person from your past might be?”

Margaret was nodding her head, as if in slight agreement.  “I’ve just recently begun to wonder about that myself.” She said.  “There was . . . is… a gentleman I once thought I might want to get to know better, but all of that got swept away before I could fully grasp what those feelings were.  But love . . . I don’t really know…  I was young.”  She continued, wistfully, “Perhaps it was merely youthful infatuation.”

“Margaret, you should revisit that in your mind.  Look back . . . over your life.  I think you might find that you have left your ultimate destiny behind you, somewhere.”

“I have been giving that a lot of thought, because I am headed in his direction to live,” Margaret said with a slight smile.

“You must do that.”  He declared “No more guilt!  Go out and enjoy the world, while you’re still young.  You are a beautiful woman.  Find that confidence again.  I am sure that real love awaits you somewhere in your future.  Ok, enough of the life and times of Margaret Reed.”  They shared a moment of mutual laughter.

Charmed by seeing, once again, her adorable half smile, the Professor cleared his throat, preparing for the ultimate question.  “Margaret, when I get to Milton and begin my research, I will need an educated person, let’s call this person a ‘partner’, someone who can keep me organized, scribe my work to paper for eventual publication and be there to share conversation and challenge my thoughts . . . Margaret, I would like you to be that person.”

Margaret felt herself flush from head to toe.  She was startled into silence and was trying to embrace his words, and their meaning to her future life.
He’s just answered my prayer.

“Margaret, you can take time to think it over. You don’t have to answer now.  I know I am being presumptuous walking in here like this, asking you to come away with me to Milton and be my research partner.”

Margaret stood up and walked over to where the Professor was seated across from her.  She threw her arms around his neck.  “I don’t need to think,” she told him, enthusiastically.  “I accept!  There is no question in my mind that I would love working with you more than anything.  “Dr. Pritchard,” she continued, but was interrupted.

“Trevor, please call me Trevor or Professor.  We no longer have to adhere to the formalities impressed upon us by the academic world, and we are good friends after all.  Are you absolutely sure you don’t want to think this over?”

“As sure as I’ve ever been about anything.”

“But Margaret . . .”

“There are no -buts-, Professor.  When do we leave?”  She asked merrily, clapping her hands like a school girl.  Margaret was breathless with excitement; she couldn’t remember being this happy in her life.  She sensed the black cloud that had followed her since Bessie’s death, was now dissipating into smoke, never to reform again.  “Professor, I feel the sun on my face.  Do you see it?”  She asked, smiling broadly.

“Margaret, you are certainly beaming, that’s for sure.”  The Professor smiled.  He was joyful, too – both for him and for her.  “Let’s talk about this a bit before you totally set your mind to it, shall we?  First, I will be moving within a couple weeks, before Christmas gets here.  I already have a home picked out.”

Margaret countered, “I will have John Thornton find a nice place for me to live near where you will be living and depending on that, I may be there before Christmas myself.  You don’t know how much I want this,” Margaret declared.

“Thornton?  Wasn’t that the man . . . the mill owner you told me you knew when you lived there previously?  I wanted to ask you about him before I left, but I didn’t think you would accept so quickly.”

“The man you seek in Milton is John Thornton of Marlborough Mills.  He will have all the history you will need to get you well started.

“Thank you, Margaret, I must write that down.  By the way, I insist on paying you a wage, even though I am calling it a partnership.  There really is no monetary value in research, but I have plenty of money and must insist on paying you a wage and expenses to get there.”

“I’ll think about it,” Margaret said, knowing she would not accept any such wage, but she didn’t want to throw a stone into the glassy pond now.

“Well Margaret, what about the matter of your family and leaving them behind?”

“I think you know how I feel about that without me telling you and there’s even more that you don’t know.  I was already planning my escape,” she said, still in her giddy mood.

The professor smiled then continued.  “My plans are to go to Milton the day after tomorrow, Friday, to finalize the sale of the house I have selected.  I’ll return home on Sunday, pack, exit the college and be gone by the end of two weeks.”

“Fine.  Margaret replied, with no hesitation in her voice.  “That suits me just fine.  I’m coming with you.  I can communicate with Mr. Thornton far more effectively in person, than if I were to send him a letter.  When do we leave?”

“Margaret, you are scaring me with your enthusiasm,” the Professor laughed.  “I . . . we will be taking a late train to Milton on Friday evening.  Meet me at the station at 5:00 p.m.; our arrival should be close to 9:30.  Are you sure that is not too late for someone to be expecting you?”

Laughing unfettered, Margaret said, “Well, they won’t be expecting me because they won’t know about it.  However, I know I can stay in a hotel, if my surprise doesn’t work out.  You see, my mother’s former housekeeper, she’s been in our family since before my birth, is up in Milton, too; she’s employed by Mr. Thornton.”

“I guess there is nothing more to say right now.  We will have plenty of time on the train to talk over things before you are totally committed to the move.  You have made me a very happy old codger, and I hope it’s the right decision for you, too.  I’d better be off, now.  Good afternoon, Margaret.  See you in about forty-eight hours.”

“Good bye Professor.  Whether you know it or not, you and your boat have rescued me from my deserted rocky island.  And though I am looking forward to the great times ahead, I must thank you, most of all, for lifting the burden since my marriage to Booker.  I can understand the ‘why’ of his actions now, but time and circumstances will have to guide me the rest of the way.  I have been in exile . . . now, I feel a bit freer.”

They hugged each other at the door, and then the Professor left.

 

Earlier that same evening, John went into his study to complete some work that needed his attention.  Sitting in the center of his green felt desk top was the diamond wedding ring he had carried with him since his mother died.  He gave it little thought and placed it back in his pocket.  He assumed Dixon or Jane must have found it, where it had fallen from his clothing in his bedroom, and placed it on his desk.

Before dinner was served, John returned to the sitting room to read his paper.  Dixon was setting the table.  “Dixon, where did you find the diamond ring?  In my bedroom?”

Dixon turned around to face him as she spoke, “I’m sorry, sir.  What ring is that?”

John pulled it from his trouser pocket, walked over, and showed her the ring.

“Sir, I’ve never seen that ring before.”  Dixon said, shaking her head.  “Should I ask Jane?  She’s about ready to leave.”

“Yes, Dixon, if you don’t mind.”  He was beginning to sense that something wasn’t quite right…  “I don’t want to take a chance on losing it again, so I need to know where it was found.  It must have dropped out of my clothes that needed to be cleaned.”

Dixon went back down the kitchen steps to find Jane and bring more dinner items to the table.  Returning a few moments later, she said to John, “Master, Jane has never seen a diamond ring, either.  You must have forgotten and set it there, yourself.  None of us has ever seen a diamond ring in this house, and that included Cook.”

John pulled the ring back out of his pocket and stared at it as if seeing it for the first time.  He knew where that ring was every minute, and knew he hadn’t placed it on his desk.  “How could that possibly have happened?  With a rush of air escaping his lungs, John whispered to himself . . .

 

Mother ? . . .  Is this your sign?  It is unmistakable, just as you promised.  Please let this be possible.  There is no other explanation for where I found it.

 

Sensing a change was soon to come into his life, John cautiously allowed his spirit to soar.

The Limehouse Golem (Horror) with Bill Nighy

Victorian mystery thriller THE LIMEHOUSE GOLEM which is
scheduled for UK release in September. Directed by Juan Carlos Medina it has a very British cast lead by Bill Nighy alongside Olivia Cooke and young British hunks Douglas Booth and Sam Reid! Daniel Mays, Eddie Marsan and Adam Brown also star in the movie about a series of murders that has shaken the community to the point where people believe that only a legendary creature from dark times – the mythical so-called Golem – must be responsible.  Releases Sept 01, 2017 UK

 

Bill Nighy took the lead role from Alan Rickman who had to leave the project before he died from cancer.

“Game of Thrones” viewers may get to spend a little more time in Westeros than they’d thought.

Very Early Stages

A spinoff — or possibly spin-offs, plural, or prequels or sequels — of the immensely popular HBO drama is in the works.

The network said in a statement Thursday that it has closed deals with four writers to “explore different time periods of George R. R. Martin’s vast and rich universe.”

“There is no set timetable for these projects,” the network said. “We’ll take as much or as little time as the writers need and, as with all our development, we will evaluate what we have when the scripts are in.”

The network also said that Martin, the creator and author of the books that the series is based on, would also be involved in writing scripts.

HBO added that the creators and showrunners of the main series, D. B. Weiss and David Benioff, are continuing to work on finishing the upcoming seventh season of “Game of Thrones” and are “in the midst of writing and preparing for the eighth and final season” but would be attached, along with Martin, as executive producers.

“We will support them as they take a much deserved break from writing about Westeros once the final season is complete,” the network said.

Related: ‘Game of Thrones’ creators: Final season will only be six episodes

Plans are still far from final, and it’s possible that there could be multiple new shows — or none at all. But adding something to the “Game of Thrones” franchise is a logical next step for HBO; it’s one of the most talked-about shows on TV, and arguably the crown jewel of the cable network’s lineup.

Some sort of continuation of the franchise has been talked about for a long time. Casey Bloys, HBO’s programming chief, was asked about it at July’s Television Critics Association press tour in Los Angeles.

“It’s not something I’m opposed to, but of course it has to make sense creatively,” Bloys said at the time.

The main show’s seventh season premieres July 16. Its eighth season, which will have only six episodes, is slated to be its last.

(HBO, like CNN, is owned by Time Warner.)

BBC Drama Unveils Netflix, PBS Co-Pros, ‘War of the Worlds’ Adaptation

Headed our way is a three part adaptation of H.G. Wells‘ novel WAR OF THE WORLDS from Poldark and Victoria‘s Mammoth Screen!  At the dawn of the 20th century, Horsell Common in Surrey is struck by a huge meteor, and the inhabitants of Earth slowly fall victim to a vicious invasion. The three-part drama follows one man’s attempt to escape the ruthless Martians – but they are determined to destroy all human life as they attempt to conquer the earth…

Writer, Peter Harness says: “I’m feeling phenomenally lucky to be writing The War of the Worlds, and blowing up gigantic swathes of the Home Counties at the dawn of the twentieth century. Wells’s book is ground zero for all modern science fiction, and like all the best sci-fi, manages to sneak in some pretty astonishing comments on what it is to be a human being too. I’m hoping to follow in the great man’s footsteps by making a terrifying, Martian-packed series which manages to be emotional, characterful, and – deep breath, dare I say it – even political at the same time.”

Damien Timmer, Mammoth Screen Managing Director, adds: “It’s a great honour to bring H.G. Wells’s masterpiece to BBC One. This huge title – the original alien invasion story – has been loosely adapted and riffed on countless times, but no one has ever attempted to follow Wells and locate the story in Dorking at the turn of the last century. We hope Peter’s adaptation will be the definitive adaptation of one of the great classic novels – and a visceral, thought provoking thrill ride!”

The War of the Worlds has been commissioned by Piers Wenger and Charlotte Moore, written by Peter Harness (Doctor Who, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Wallander) and will be produced by Mammoth Screen (Poldark, The City And The City, The Witness For The Prosecution, NW) for BBC One. Filming will begin early 2018.

Poldark moves to summer slot to avoid clash with ITV’s Victoria

Anita Singh, Arts and Entertainment Editor (The Telegraph)
6 May 2017 • 10:00pm

The BBC will move Poldark to a summer slot in order to avoid a repeat of last year’s bruising clash with ITV’s Victoria.

The two period dramas went head-to-head in the 2016 schedules, and Victoria emerged as the ratings winner.

Both occupied the coveted 9pm Sunday night slot across September and October, months traditionally reserved for major costume drama as autumn weather brings viewers indoors. But the BBC is expected to announce that Poldark will be brought forward to June, ensuring viewers do not have to choose between the rival shows.

  The BBC’s new head of drama, Piers Wenger, declined to comment on scheduling decisions. But asked if Poldark would be moved, he said: “I think we’re going to put it out at a time when most people can enjoy it.”

It would represent a reversal for Charlotte Moore, BBC’s head of content, who said last year: “My duty is to the licence fee payers and to our audience, and to try and find the best place in the schedule for a piece we know is much loved by the audience is incredibly important.

“I want to put one of the most loved dramas on television in that spot and I think it would be very wrong to move out of that.”

However, the finale of Victoria last year attracted an audience of 5.5 million. The penultimate episode of Poldark, screened at the same time, drew 4.9 million.

Kevin Lygo, ITV’s director of programmes, indicated before Victoria was broadcast that he would not be backing down.

“Sunday night is a particular place for 9 o’clock dramas. Victoria has obviously been a year in the making. If we had run away from Poldark, I don’t know what we would have put there,” he said.

“You can record – there are many different ways to watch these shows. Neither of us should give up the land.”

The next series of Poldark will be the third. It will see Ross Poldark, played by Aidan Turner, set out to rescue a friend captured by the French.

“It’s boys with guns. It’s very exciting. There’s a little war movie in the middle of it,” Turner said during a recent appearance at the Radio Times Festival. A fourth season has been commissioned.

The second series of Victoria, which is expected to remain in the autumn slot, will find the young queen struggling to adapt to life with a baby.

“Victoria and Albert are facing the challenge of being new parents and Victoria is not very keen on motherhood,” said the series creator, Daisy Goodwin.

First Cast Photos of the Orient Express

 ‘MURDER ON ORIENT EXPRESS’

Delightful photo treat comes to you today from the latest edition of ‘Entertainment Weekly’ who have published the first cast photos from the latest big screen adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famous detective novel MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS directed by legendary Kenneth Branagh who also takes the lead role of the famous Belgian detective Hercule Poirot, this time with some seriously huge moustaches :)  He is tasked with finding a mysterious murderer aboard the famous train stuck in the middle of a blizzard somewhere in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Her cinematic highness Judi Dench stars as Princess Dragomiroff who is acting all helpless and confused which she actually isn’t. Johnny Depp stars as Edward Ratchett, a paranoid, rich businessman with dark secrets! Michelle Pfeiffer is a loud and very annoying American on the train. Daisy Ridley is the quick thinking governess Mary Debenham. Penelope Cruz is Pilar Estravados, the missionary who actually isn’t a stranger to rough situations. Sir Derek Jacobi is Masterman, Ratchett’s butler, who has a spiky relationship with his boss! Willem Dafoe is Austrian professor Gerhard Hardman, armed in a number of ways. Tom Bateman is flirty louche director of the train company and a friend of Poirot’s! The  lavish train ride through Europe which quickly unfolds into the thrilling mystery of thirteen strangers stranded on a train, where everyone’s a suspect, should start in cinemas later this November. One man must race against time to solve the puzzle before the murderer strikes again.  Release Nov 10th  USA

 

Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Olivia Colman, left, and Judi Dench
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Kenneth Branagh, Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Daily Ridley
Murder on the Orient Express (2017)
Tom Bateman, Johnny Depp, Willem Dafoe