CHURCHILL’S SECRET ON MASTERPIECE

Set during the summer of 1953, Churchill’s Secret tells a little-known part of Winston Churchill’s great life story. Having suffered a life-threatening stroke, which his inner circle conspired to hide from the public, the film charts the course of Churchill’s (played by Cranford‘s Michael Gambon) remarkable recovery with the help of his spirited nurse (Emma‘s Romola Garai).

Told from the point of view of his children, his long-suffering wife, and the men of his cabinet, the film casts an honest light on the tensions within his brilliant and dysfunctional family, and investigates the strain that his great public service wrought upon his private life.

Churchill’s Secret airs as a one-night television event on Sunday, September 11, 2016 at 8/7c on MASTERPIECE, and stars Michael Gambon (Cranford), Lindsay Duncan, Romola Garai (Emma), and Matthew Macfadyen.

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I Killed Him – Pt 5 (ep1)

Chapter Five   (ep1)

John did not rise to see anyone out. He did not answer their departing words as they left; he just stared straight ahead.

I Killed Him 250x375He turned his chair around to face out the window, propping his feet on the window sill after carrying the scotch bottle to his side table. For hours he sat there in silence. His meal went un-eaten, the table cleared, and the staff had gone home.

He rose out of his chair only to find another bottle of blessed numbness.

 

John was in his court chambers going through the laws on marriage, before breakfast. Although most marriages were performed in church, he was sure there was no special law dictating that. Digging through his books, he found a section on ‘Clandestine Marriages’ that he had been looking for.
It read . . .

 

While marriages are usually celebrated publicly by priests, in churches where the parties are known, many couples have reasons — among them parental disapproval, religious nonconformity, property considerations and previous entanglements — to marry in other ways. Nor is this difficult, due to there not being a unified marriage code, and a simple exchange of vows can constitute a valid marriage,

 

He only needed a chaplain to execute the vows. John was relieved that would be an easy process to accomplish when she awoke. What would he do if she said, no? She couldn’t say, no. She had been through hell to get back to him. John was sure she had to love him. Margaret had said as much when he carried her through the door.

 

Captain Lenox visited Captain Hartford the next morning and still found him recuperating in his leather chair. Maxwell was starting to feel unsettled as he did not look ill. Something was wrong for him to be placed in the exact position as the day before. With Margaret still missing and Grant keeping his groin area covered, Maxwell did not like what he was thinking.

“Grant, are you feeling better,” Maxwell inquired.

“I am indeed. I should be up tomorrow. Have you any word on Margaret? I’ve been feeling quite guilty over my last conversation with her about moving the marriage up. I only hope when she is found, that is the only reason for her disappearance. I shall begin a search tomorrow, myself. What is being done?”

“I think the family is fairly close to informing the police. Her close friend, that she may have been encouraged to visit, does not seem to be in town. His neighbor said he has been gone for two days, this being the third. That would put him away from home before Margaret vanished. I suppose you have no other thoughts since I was here yesterday?”

“No, and I have been deep in thought about this. I’ve gone over every minute of our time together that night. I have only begun to consider one idea.”

“I would be glad to discuss it with you if you have a mind to, Captain.” Maxwell wheedled.

“I have thought about her being abducted for revenge against me, as a possible motive. I’ve been wondering if I will get a ransom note. I was a rambunctious young man, and there may be things in my past that I hope would not be brought to light.”

“Such as . . . if I may ask.”

“Maxwell, I just said I don’t want them brought to light. But since this is of such urgency, I will say that I have been quite the lady’s man in the past. I am sure I have not strayed from the gentlemanly ranks since buying my commission, but one never knows what a jealous husband or boyfriend can do.”

“I see. You could be right about that.” Maxwell let him think that there was merit in this concocted idea. Since visiting him yesterday, Maxwell had asked around and found some shady rumors about his conduct with women. As an officer, he was allowed to see women as long as they were single, but he heard of other conduct unbecoming an officer. He wasn’t sure how true it was, but another friend in the pub last night led Maxwell to believe he left an unwed mother behind, several years ago. Perhaps, there was something there with that issue. He would scout around for more information on that. It could lead somewhere.

“May I inquire into the nature of your illness, Grant?”

“Well, it’s rather embarrassing. I discovered a small boil on my privates, here. I immediately went to the doctor to ensure I had not come down with any disease. I was spared that, but the doctor chose to lance it. I’m afraid movement is very uncomfortable.”

“I can well imagine. You did right in seeking precautions as soon as it was discovered. That sounds like an awful place to have a cut.” Maxwell’s bad feelings were confirming. He decided to visit the doctor on post and see if Grant had been there recently. He could not mention his worries to the women at the Shaw residence.

 

Dear Mrs. Shaw,

 

I am writing to inform you that Margaret has returned to Milton She arrived at Mr. Thornton’s home in a particularly injurious condition. Dr. Donaldson, a very reputable physician, had her admitted to the Greater Milton Hospital. She only spoke a few words before collapsing, and those were something about her brother. I hope he is well. Miss Hale is under medication to keep her sleeping.

I believe I will be seeing you and your daughter about this and we shall meet at the Milton Grand Hotel. I shall have rooms reserved for the two of you hence one day from your receipt of this letter. John Thornton, acting as a Magistrate, has taken the authority, along with the doctor for any medical decisions. There is no fear for her life.

 

                                                      Respectfully,

                                                      Adam Bell

 

Adam set down his pen and folded the note. No imagination could conjure up what the family would think when they received it. Being a well educated man of the world around him, Adam still could not conceive of any woman or any man being tortured like that. Even though Margaret had once been a hope in his mind to spend her days with him, she was still the most important person in his life, as she was in John’s. If she had endured all that she had, to save her brother, then, his goal was clear. The only help he could be to her was to relieve her mind about Frederick. He would have done that for himself alone, as it was. He knew Frederick to be savvy, and he had been on the run for several years. He had even found away to come back to England for his mother’s passing. If he was being watched by Hartford’s henchmen, Adam hoped he would be shrewd enough to know it. Possibly by today or tomorrow, Frederick should know that a situation had arisen and to move on, and contact him at the Milton Hotel at his earliest time.

 

A slim man with a beard and worn clothes asked if there was any mail for Randall Moyers at the postal station, in Paris. The clerk walked away but eventually came back with a note posted to him. He slid it across the worn counter and asked if there would be anything else.

Frederick Hale, said, “No. That is all.” Frederick placed the note in his pocket and left the small building hearing the overhead bell ring, as it always did whenever the door was opened. As precaution had always dictated and three years of watching over his shoulder, he scanned the street for any suspicious people or faces that he was seeing repeatedly. Paris was a huge city, and it was rare that he should see the same person more than twice, even around a postal station. He had always varied his times of arrival, which were usually once a week.

Frederick had spent most of his past three years in France, but only the last one in Paris. He had learned the language and felt easy moving among the natives. There was very few if any of the British Navy ever seen in France or any soldier of England was hard to find in that country, at least not in uniform. As usual, he took a circuitous route home, actually entering the rear of a building and exiting through the front door. Feeling confident that no one was behind him, he made his way to the flat he was sharing with the woman he would marry.

As he came into the flat, he broke the seal and read the note:

 

Randall,

 

It is with regret that I write to inform you of something that has just come to light. I feel there is danger for you, but from a most unexpected source.

It appears that your sister is being coerced into a marriage from a Captain in the Army, who portends to know your whereabouts. I feel he is aware of my endowment to your sister and wishes to benefit by a marriage to her. Whether he really knows of your location, is not known, but your sister is taking no chances. I wish you to move so we can advise her of your knowledge of this situation.

Today, I will go to Milton and speak with a John Thornton about this. We will protect her from this man if she will allow it. I fear she will follow through with this most unhappy occasion for your safety.

I hasten to say, I doubt a marriage will prevent this horrid man from following through with his promise to her.

Please write at your earliest convenience. I believe we will plan to come and aid you. Let me know how to contact you.

                                                                  A.B.

 

Frederick was alone in the flat. The thought of being on the run again was sickening and this time, he would have his ‘intended’ with him. He immediately began to pack two small satchels of clothes. When Lisa came home, they would continue their evening as usual, so the oil lamps in the house continued to glow at their normal times. Once it appeared they had gone to bed, Frederick and Lisa would leave through the back door. Fortunately, he had an immediate contact with one of the other officers, also on the run. He could stay with him for a few nights, while plans were made to relocate temporarily to another part of the city. There he would await Adam and his plan. Spain was his country of preference, but he could use the help in getting there. Had it been only him, he would not care, but it wasn’t only him. Not only did he have Lisa, but the love of his sister meant a lot to him. Her sense of his safety weighed heavily.

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Hearts Adrift – Part Thirty-Four

Armitage_00412- small

Chapter Thirty-Four

 

August twenty-second dawned with a shaft of golden sunlight piercing through the gap in the curtains of Richard’s bedchamber. He woke with a start when the light touched his face with pleasant warmth. His arm flung out to reach for Manon but to his utter disappointment, she was no longer there. He turned to the small ormolu clock on his nightstand, which told him it was barely seven in the morning.

A feeling of utter loss assaulted Richard as he reclined on his back with his arms supporting his head. He now knew for certain that he must have hurt Manon during their nightly lovemaking, great lumbering brute that he was.

Up until now, he had never had to concern himself with the women he bedded other than to gain his satisfaction from them. They had all been experienced. Yet he had always made it his duty to give as much as he took in the way of pleasure, and more so, to avoid causing pain during the process of intercourse. He had never suspected that he had failed in doing so since none of his former lovers had complained, the morning after.

However, now, something was vastly different. He had made love to his virgin bride, his companion for the rest of his life, and his soon-to-be wife. He had introduced his soul mate to the pleasures of the marriage bed and had made a thorough mess of it since his Manon had fled their chambers.

Lord! He must rise and dress and go to find her. Beg for her forgiveness, and promise never to hurt her, ever.

 

Manon stepped out of the copper bath and into the large towel Bessie was holding in front of her. The warm, lavender-scented water had effectively soothed her aches, even in those places Manon had never felt hurt before. With heat-suffused cheeks, Manon began drying herself. All the lovely things she and Richard had shared, all the wondrous caresses they had exchanged, and all the deep, soul-touching feelings they had experienced – they all came to life again. It was unbelievable, but she again felt those magic stirrings, deep in her core, just by thinking of her Richard. Oh, dear Lord, if there were just one, single wish that Manon would love to make today, it would be to have that kind of sharing with him for the rest of their lives together! She ached for him yet again and as strongly as she had last night when she had spotted him on the terrace. He had been exactly how she wanted him, tall and lean and so exquisitely male. And so incredibly sweet and infinitely gentle.

A tap on the dressing room door had Bessie hurrying to open it. It was Pru Butterworth, glowing with excitement while she stepped in to greet Manon. In her wake was Mrs Briskley, carrying a breakfast tray with a pot of steaming hot chocolate and a plate of freshly baked scones.

“Come and sit down, Manon,” Pru ordered. “Have some breakfast first before Bessie starts dressing you.”

“Has Madame delivered the gown?” Manon asked, a bit of anxiety in her voice.

Finding a suitable wedding gown had been a daring challenge. Manon wanted it to be something unique, something that showed her true self. She had gone to Brighton in the company of Pru and Bessie to visit Madame Tourtereau’s establishment. It was said that Madame was of aristocratic descent, related to the French royals and that she had barely escaped the guillotine, a few months ago. Manon knew that it was all a sham. The clever seamstress was as English as a field of daisies. She had been born in Leicester as the daughter of a tailor, but she took care to lace her speech with enough French words to describe her business so that most of her unsuspecting clients believed her story.

Pru smiled and gestured to Franny and Mabel, who stepped forward to present Manon’s gown. With a gasp of wonder, Manon clasped her hands on her chest.

“Oh, Pru,” she whispered, “it is all I wished for!”

Then she took Pru by the waist and began twirling around the room with her, in a burst of unchecked joy. “I am going to be Richard’s wife, Pru! I am going to be his!”

 

Richard opened his dressing room door, eager to dress and go find Manon, but he was waylaid by his valet Bright.

“Begging your pardon, sir, but you have got only one hour to ready yourself. I have your bath prepared, and you can have a quick bite afterwards. Now if you would care to sit down so that I can shave you, then we will start.”

With a sigh, Richard surrendered to his valet’s care but he wondered if perhaps there would be a few moments later on, because he desperately needed to see Manon.

“Do you know if Miss Favier has woken yet, Bright?” Richard inquired, striving to keep his tone neutral.

Bright grinned broadly while he began lathering his master’s face in preparation for a shave.

“The activity in her quarters started an hour ago, sir. I saw Miss Butterworth coming up the stairs at nine o’clock with Mrs Briskley and two maids following her. Do not concern yourself, sir. Mr Thornton has everything well in hand. He will give the signal when it is time to set off for the church.”

Richard met Bright’s positively glowing gaze in the mirror, and it abruptly dawned on him in full force. He was getting married today. In just two hours from now, he would be Manon’s husband. If she was indeed preparing herself for their wedding, Manon could not possibly have seconds thoughts about becoming his wife.

With a broad grin, he settled down in his chair and willingly surrendered to Bright’s ministrations.

 

Bessie put the finishing touch to Manon’s toilet by adding just a spot of rouge on her already flushed cheeks.

“There, miss,” she said, beaming with pride, “now you can go and marry Sir Richard!”

Manon gazed at her own image in the large cheval mirror, happiness warming her heart. Her wedding dress of sea-green taffeta had a snug bodice that dipped just enough to reveal the curve of her breasts. The neckline left her shoulders bare so that Maman’s pearls were shown to their best advantage. Elbow-length sleeves encased Manon’s slim arms, while her hands were clad in short, white chiffon gloves. The gown’s skirt was narrow and in the Empire style, hugging her slender hips in flowing lines and ending in a short train, as to emphasize Manon’s upright bearing. Her thick auburn hair was left unbound, but Bessie had styled the long waves with tiny pearl clasps so that Manon’s face was framed with heavy wings on both sides. It gave Manon a regal air, which she liked very much. After all, she was marrying a noble of the realm.

“Thank you, dearest Bessie!” Manon whispered, taking the girl’s hands in hers. “You will stay with me after I marry, I hope?”

“Yes, Miss, I would be happy to! My mum no longer needs my presence, since my younger sister took over the task of caring for her.”

“How is your mother, Bessie? I am truly sorry for not asking earlier about her health, but my own circumstances have kept me vastly occupied recently.”

“She is doing better, miss. Thank you for asking.”

At that moment, the door opened. Jake Davies led a splendidly dressed Jéhan into the room, and Manon gasped in surprise.

“Oh, mon chou! You look absolutely magnificent! How you have grown over the last weeks, little brother!”

Jéhan drew himself up to his full height of three-foot-four. He was indeed tall for his five years.

“Manon, no more calling me French names. I must become an English gentleman.”

The way her little brother eyed her, Manon had no doubt he would become just that. She hid her smile and curtsied.

“I beg your pardon, Sir John. I forgot my manners.”

Then Jéhan grinned broadly at her and went to embrace his sister.

“I am glad that you are marrying Uncle Richard, Manon,” he said and kissed her cheek.

Manon inwardly grimaced at the name Jéhan still called her beloved. They had, of course, tried to explain it all to Jéhan, but to no avail. At five years old, notion of legal descent was too hard to comprehend. To Jéhan, Richard would be considered his uncle until he came to an age when he knew enough about life to understand. Manon was just immensely relieved that Jéhan had never been told that he had once been considered to be the heir to Richard’s title.

“My firstborn son will be the next Baronet Bearsham, sweet,” Richard had explained to Manon. “However, I promise you that Jéhan will never lack for anything for as long as he resides under my roof. He will be allowed to make his way in life as he wishes, and I will not withdraw the funds that my father wanted him to inherit when he comes of age.”

All this had overwhelmed Manon with joy, of course.

It is time, miss,” Bessie said, interrupting Manon’s thoughts. “Here is Miss Butterworth to take you to the wedding carriage.”

 

In St Wulfram’s Church, Richard was waiting for Manon to arrive.

He was pacing in front of the small blue stone altar, an exquisite piece of stonemasonry, with little, elegant niches, in which red sandstone saints stood.

Richard, however, did not notice those tiny pieces of art. He was growing more nervous with every minute that passed. Would Manon still want to become his baronetess? What if she had changed her mind after he had initiated her so forcibly, last night? He damned himself now for not having been more circumspect. He should have…

“Here she comes, Rich,” Lucian’s voice dragged him back from his dismal thoughts, and Richard swivelled round toward the church entrance. Yes, there she was, his Manon, and what a sight she was to behold!

 

In the brand new, white-and-gold wedding carriage, especially bought by Richard as a wedding

present to his bride, Manon fantasized with rapt anticipation about what was to come in the next hours. Today, she was Richard’s bride! They were about to be joined in matrimony, for the rest of their lives. Joy, pure and hot, sped through her heart like wildfire. A bright smile curved her lips.

Her brother, sitting on the bench opposite, saw it and asked, “What are you smiling for, Manon?”

Of course, Manon mused. Jéhan was too young to understand that this was a pivotal day in his sister’s life. In all their lives, for that matter.

“I am smiling because you look so extremely handsome, mon chou. And also because you are giving me away to my future husband, which is only right, since you are my only living male relative.”

Jéhan reflected on this for a while, his young face screwed up in concentration.

“Is that what a brother must do, Manon? Must I give you away forever when you marry Uncle Richard?”

“No, my sweet, I will not be away from you at all, aver. You are going to do a very important thing, my love. It is an English tradition to give away a woman to her husband. A brother places his sister’s hand in that of her husband because he entrusts her welfare and happiness to the man she loves. To the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with.”

She stroked his cheek and smiled fondly at him.

“My sweet Jéhan,” she said, fighting down the huge lump in her throat, “you will always be the dearest person in my life. You are my one and only brother whom I love more than life itself.”

The carriage stopped at the foot of the low knoll that bore St Wulfram’s Church, a fortress-like Saxon building. Manon stepped down, her hand held by Jake Davies.

“Are you ready, Master John?” he asked Jéhan.

“Yes, Mr Davies,” the boy replied solemnly and took up his position beside his sister.

The tones of Jeremiah Clarke’s “Prince of Denmark March,” performed by the village organist and accompanied by one of Brighton’s renowned trumpet players, began resonating through the nave. Every head turned toward the open double doors in anticipation.

Manon, her small hand in that of her brother, was stepping down the aisle towards the man of her dreams, who was awaiting her at the altar.

Oh, how handsome he was, her Richard! His finely tailored coat of moss green superfine wool covered a shirt of the sheerest white lawn and a cream-coloured silk waistcoat over a pair of buff buckskin breeches. He stood solid as the rock he truly was, his long, muscular legs encased in rust-coloured boots of the softest leather. In his trembling hand, he held his black beaver hat.

It was his bright blue eyes, however, that captured Manon’s gaze in rapt, intense love. She returned it with her beautiful green gaze, equally full of love.

Finally, their day had broken. At last, their lives would truly begin.

Pride and Prejudice 1995

PandP1995Pride and Prejudice is a six-episode 1995 British television drama, adapted by Andrew Davies from Jane Austen’s 1813 novel of the same name. Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth starred as Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.

Critically acclaimed and a popular success, Pride and Prejudice was honoured with several awards, including a BAFTA Television Award for Jennifer Ehle for “Best Actress” and an Emmy for “Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special”. The role of Mr Darcy elevated Colin Firth to stardom. A scene showing Firth in a wet shirt was recognized as “one of the most unforgettable moments in British TV history”.

Entire 6 episode plot here

The 1995 version is my second all time period drama ever.  I give it 5 fans  5 fan favorite

 

Colin Firth’s famous wet shirt video.

To me, the scene is just another great scene with Colin, because he would have made a name for himself without it.  He is quite brilliant

My personal best scene I felt was the proposal. Compare it to the 2005 proposal scene.

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