The Jewel in the Crown – tape 2436

More from ITV’s landmark drama, first on this tape is episode 3: Questions of Loyalty. Daphne is pregnant, and going through with the pregnancy. She believes the baby is Kumar’s.

But she doesn’t survive the birth.

RIP Daphne Manners

Her Aunt Ethel is looking after the baby, and in the boat next door, Geraldine James (Sarah Layton) is relaxing with her mother, who’s getting annoyed at the baby crying.

Geraldine James

This is a classic drama set in India, so Peggy Ashcroft is a statutory obligation. She plays a character called Barbie.

Peggy Ashcroft

There’s a lot of flashback in this programme, and it’s a bit confusing.

Kumar’s case is still being discussed, and we learn that Merrick has been dismissed, because of problems with the evidence in the case. So he joins the army. His bunkmate is Nicholas Farrell as Teddy Bingham, who sounds like a character from Jeeves and Wooster.

Nicholas Farrell

He spots a broken lady’s bicycle in front of the barracks, with a strange symbol written in dirt. He tells Merrick, who obviously thinks of Daphne’s bicycle, a key piece of evidence in the case against Kumar, and one which many people thought was manufactured.

Teddy is Sarah Layton’s sister’s fiancee, by the way, so there’s a connection to Geraldine James.

The episode ends with the news that Miss Crane, a schoolteacher we met last episode, who had been attacked in her car (and who owned a copy of the eponymous painting of The Jewel in the Crown) had killed herself by burning herself alive in a shed, and the episode ends over a shot of the burning shed. This is grim stuff.

Still no sign of Charles Dance.

Next, it’s episode 4: Incidents at a Wedding. “Pankot 1943” reads the caption. Well thank goodness it’s after the events of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, otherwise the place would be swarming with heart-ripping Thuggee cultists.

But that’s not to say there aren’t crises. Teddy’s best man has fallen ill, so his hastily arranged wedding to Susan Layton is in jeopardy, until he realises he can ask Ronald Merrick to be his best man. Just the kind of dour, humourless automaton you’d want as your best man. I bet they spend the stag night drinking lemonade and listening to Souza records.

The wedding is bringing out the big guns of the acting world, with Rosemary Leach as a friend of the Laytons.

Rosemary Leach

Merrick is, at least, a ruthlessly efficient best man, arranging everything to the last detail.

At Pankot, we meet another acting great, Eric Porter, playing Blofeld lookalike Dimitri Bronowsky.

Eric Porter

And Saeed Jaffrey is the Nawab of Mirat.

Saeed Jaffrey

He’s invited to the wedding, but stopped at the door because, of course, he’s Indian. And when he’s presented to the bride’s mother, she appears to be stoned – there’s some kind of breach of protocol with his greeting. Either I’m missing something, or the programme doesn’t feel like explaining it.

On the way to the wedding, someone throws a stone at the limo carrying Merrick and Teddy. At the wedding, Bronowsky talks to Merrick about what happened in Mayapore with Daphne, and about the Indian agitator Pandit Baba, who Merrick was trying to get evidence about when he arrested Kumar.

We’re missing episode 5 here – either I missed recording it, or it’s on another tape. There are a couple more in my database.

To catch you up, we see Kumar again, in prison, questioned while Daphne’s aunt watches. Peggy Ashcroft (Barbie) gets a bit overcome at a wedding reception, as she’s still upset about her friend self-immolating. And Susan Layton gets the bad news that husband Teddy has been killed, not good news for a newly pregnant wife. But still no Charles Dance.

The next episode on this tape is episode 6: Ordeal by Fire. Barbie (Peggy Ashcroft) is still having bad dreams about Miss Crane who burned herself to death.

Sarah receives a letter telling her that Teddy was with Merrick when he died, and Merrick ‘rendered much assistance’. I bet he didn’t. But he did get injured. I think he was jealous of Eric Porter’s Blofeld impression, and decided he’d go for Phantom of the Opera.

Captain Merrick is there inside my mind

Sarah kindly lets him take a drag on her cigarette. So thoughtful and health conscious.

Merrick was indeed heroic in his own retelling of what happened.

Heroic rescue

Teddy was killed because he believed in the inherent goodness of the Indian soldiers, apparently. This event solidifies Merrick’s racist worldview.

Number of Charles Dance sightings to date: 0

Finally on this tape, episode 7: Daughters of the Regiment. Sarah is chatted up by Jimmy Clarke, an officer who’s almost as slimy as Merrick. “You’re not really plain. Quite pretty really.” Quite dreadful, and after all this he pretty much bullies her into sleeping with him, by belittling her and telling her that she should experience ‘joy’. Ghastly.

Creepy Jimmy Clarke

Sarah and Susan’s aunt Mabel dies, sitting in her sun chair next to Susan. Poor Susan, she’s not having much luck.

Barbie rushes back, and finds the household in rather a panic. They’re casting suspicion on their Indian manservant over teh death, and Susan has started her labour. Barbie can’t understand why they’re so suspicious of the Indians.

She’s very upset at Mabel’s death, and insists to Mrs Layton (Judy Parfitt) that Mabel should be buried next to her husband. Mildred’s disdain for Barbie is revealed by this confrontation, “You have the soul of a parlour maid.” So naturally, it’s all about class. None of this has really been made clear by the narrative, unless I missed an important conversation. Peggy Ashcroft gets to do some Bafta Nomination Scene acting.

Peggy Ashcroft Bafta Scene

The episode ends on a curiously flat note, with Sarah Layton arriving by train in Ranpur.

After this last episode, recording continues very briefly with the start of A Rage In Harlem.

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