The Jewel in the Crown – tape 2444

First on this tape is the first episode of a repeat run in Channel 4 of ITV’s acclaimed drama The Jewel in the Crown.

Here’s Om Puri, from East is East, as Dr deSouza, a doctor working with a Nun, Sister Ludmilla, who is running a sanctuary.

Om Puri

Tim Pigott-Smith arrives as the district superintendant of police, Merrick. It must have been exhausting for him to maintain that sneer throughout the filming process.

Tim Piggott-Smith

He’s there looking for “a wanted man”. The only man there of any interest is the young man found the previous night by the doctor and the nun, lying drunk in a ditch. It’s Art Malik as Hari Kumar, who only speaks English, and seems to know his way around the law. Merrick arrests him (“on no charge”) as all he sees is an Indian face.

Art Malik

We meet Daphne Manners (Susan Wooldridge), an English ex-pat living with Lili Chatterjee. She knows Merrick, and at a couple of events she meets Kumar and seems to fall for him, although he seems less interested. But Merrick is also interested in her, and invites her to listen to his copious collection of Sousa records.

She has a couple of lovely meals with Kumar, and clearly likes him. So when she meets with Merrick, and he proposes to her on the first date, she politely declines. Awkward. And he’s very disapproving of her friendship with Kumar.

Daphne finds out that Kumar was seeing her to be polite – not because he was interested in her, so she stops seeing him.

All this is playing out against the backdrop of the campaign for independence. Trouble is coming. The episode ends with a night of unrest, and Daphne has gone missing on her way home from the hospital.

Next is episode 2, The Bibighar Gardens. Daphne has gone to find Kumar, in the Bibighar Gardens where they had walked before. The heat of the moment takes over and they start kissing, unaware that they are observed by some Indians.

Merrick is going all over town looking for Daphne, clearly assuming she’s with Kumar.

Then Daphne turns up, distressed, alone and injured. She was attacked. Not by Kumar, she claims, but by someone else. I wonder if Merrick will believe her.

Of course not. He finds Kumar at his aunt’s house, cleaning himself up. He’s got marks on his face. Merrick pulls him in, beats him, arrests all his friends to try to get Kumar to admit he raped Daphne.

A flashback shows us what actually happened to Daphne and Kumar – while they were resting after their steamy session, they were both set upon by a gang of ‘hooligans’, and she was raped. But she can’t admit that Kumar was there, as their affair would be a huge scandal. I can’t help thinking that this one decision is the cause of all that follows.

Also, I’m struck that this plot seems to be almost identical to A Passage to India. A shy English girl at the heart of a rape charge against an innocent man. I guess the fear of the ‘other’ is a common trope.

Plus, two episodes in and there’s no Charles Dance. I thought he was the star of this.

Before the next episode is another in-vision Channel 4 announcer.

Channel 4 in vision

Then, we skip forward to episode 8, The Day of the Scorpion. There’s another tape, with some of the missing episodes on it coming up in a couple of days, so you might need to wait for that one to keep up with the story, but here’s episode 8.

Ranpur 1944, the title tells us. Sarah was only in Ranpur for a stopover, but she meets Eric Porter’s Count Bronowsky on the platform.

In the train with Bronowsky is Nigel Rowan, the man who took Hari Kumar’s testimony for his aunt. The subject of Merrick comes up, but he claims not to be familiar with the case, or if the young men incarcerated are released.

Later, Bronowsky talks to Ahmed Kasim (Derrick Branche) who had been at the wedding. He explains that Merrick’s heroic action will somehow purge the scandal around the Manners case, and the men in prison would now be released.

Kasim is there to meet his father, Mohammed Ali Kasim, who had been imprisoned politically.

Sarah arrives back home to see Sarah. Sarah is having trouble accepting the baby.

Laytons and the baby

Barbie is packing to leave, having been asked to leave by Mildred Layton, when her friend (Anna Cropper) comes to see her to ask her about some gossip she’s heard. The gossip is that Barbie shouldn’t be staying in the same house as Sarah and Susan because they think the elderly spinster is a lesbian. Of course, that word is never spoken, and only barely alluded to, but it certainly came out of nowhere, although it might explain people’s reaction to her.

Meanwhile, Merrick is his usual charming self, getting used to his artifical arm, and being looked after by Warren Clarke.

Merrick and Dixon

The scene with Merrick is shot very cleverly, using an amputee as a  body double, and framing the shots so that the two of them can slip in and out of frame, giving the strong illusion that Tim Pigott-Smith has actually lost an arm. No CGI here.

Merrick's injury

Susan is still not coping with the baby, and re-enacts something she had seen as a child, where an Indian boy set a small ring of fire, and put a scorpion inside, and the scorpion appeared to sting itself. But she reenacts this with her baby and a ring of burning petrol.

Baby in the Ring of Fire

Thankfully, a sharp-eyed servant sees her doing it and rescues the baby unharmed.

So that’s the end of episode 8. Number of Charles Dance appearances so far: 0

After this episode, recording continues briefly with the start of White Men Can’t Jump. One of Stanley Kubrick’s favourite films, apparently.

The tape ends shortly into the film.

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3 comments

  1. “Souza marches” – surely Sousa, unless we’ve gotten John Philip Sousa’s surname wrong all these years.

  2. Jewel in the Crown: The Day of the Scorpion/White Men Can’t Jump – 20/07/1997.

    Dazed and Confused followed by Sexual Life of the Belgians formed a Moviedrome double-bill on BBC2 at the same time. (Well, almost).

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