The Night Watch

Synopsis: In post-war London, Viv Pearce is dating Reggie and runs a dating bureau with Helen Giniver, who lives with her older lover, authoress Julia Standing. Viv's younger brother Duncan, a gay man made to feel ashamed of his orientation, has been in prison and is sought out by his ex-cell-mate, Robert Fraser, who served time as a conscientious objector and is now concerned for the young man's welfare. Viv encounters Kay Langrish, a wealthy, reclusive, butch lesbian and for both women this evokes memories of the period three years earlier (1944) when Kay was an heroic ambulance driver in a happy, loving relationship with Helen -- before Kay introduced her to her ex-lover Julia. At that time, Viv and Reggie are forced to procure the services of a dentist moonlighting as an abortionist. About to die from blood loss, and having been abandoned by Reggie, Kay saves her from prosecution by claiming she was a married woman who had miscarried. Three years before that (1941) Kay and Julia are still an
Genre: Drama, Romance, War
Director(s): Richard Laxton
Production: British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)
  1 win.
89 min

If you go to the cinema

mid way through a film,

you watch the second

half first, don't you?

So you see how the characters

end up in the story.

'In spite of shortages

and rationing...'

What happened to turn them

into the people they became...

it's like a riddle

you have to solve...

Get your paper!



Try to keep an open

mind, Mr Bryant.

No. How about this one?

New in last week.

Enjoys dressmaking, walking and...

No-one in spectacles.


I haven't got time for this.

You know the type I want.

If and when you get

one suitable call me.

It's like he thinks

finding the perfect woman

is his reward for doing

his bit in the war.

What about our Forest Hill lady?

He's after someone younger.

I had one this morning.

EX-RAF, married the

girl next door...

came home to a peroxide blonde

chasing anything in trousers.

War changes people.

Not always for the better.

Our two o'clock will be along.

Better see if we've

got anyone suitable.

Forever Amber is on at the Odeon.

We should go one evening.

I'll bring my brother, he

could do with a night out.

You can bring your chap.

About time I got to meet him.

Sounds like fun.


Don't they drive you mad?

Thought we'd treat ourselves to

tea in the parlour this time.

Fish paste all right, dear?


You don't belong in this...

museum, Duncan.

You belong at home

with Dad and me.

It's not like you owe him anything,

is it? It's just not healthy.

Do you think if we keep having

this conversation, it'll

come out the way you want?

Can you not even visit?

Come home for Sunday lunch once in

a... I can't go back to that house!

You bloody know why.


Mats and cosy, Duncan.

Cat... or cottage?

The cat, why not?

Let's see now...

Thank you for the

gift of food, oh Lord,

and we will keep in mind

that lust and covetness

are powerless in the face of

your forgiveness. Amen. Amen.

Shall I be mother?



'Guest house in Jostlyn Street.

Six people trapped inside...

Stop it!

'Section 58 call

out deal with it!'

Run Rabbit, Run Rabbit,

run, run, run...

'Is she worth that much?'


Our legs are all mixed up. You

can't tell which belongs to who.

Can I see?

You look so glamorous.

You're biased.

Do you think it's wrong,

being so happy when there's been

so much suffering in the world?

All the more reason

not to squander it.

Do you think I do squander it?

I think you feel you've

forfeited the right to be happy,

to atone for past sins.

How about present sins? Stop!

Behave! Not until you say it.

You know I'll make

you eventually.

I concede! I love you.

You better.

Hello, Duncan.


They said at the front desk

I'd find you back here.

You haven't changed one iota.

Not one bit!

How did you know where to...

I phoned the parole

office, at the scrubs.

Chatted up the secretary,

she said to try here.

She said you got

out just after me.

Six months after.

I never thought you'd

come looking for me.

I wanted to see how

you were getting on.

I'd better let you get on.

Give me your number,

we can meet.

I'm not on the phone.

Here's my number.

Call me, we can have a drink...

Or drop round if you'd prefer.

Don't leave it too long, OK?

Hello, gorgeous.

You know it's coming up

for six years for us?

You're my life raft, Viv.

Only you keeps me afloat.

If you hadn't forgiven me.

If you'd walked out of my life.

I'd have no life.

My love.

My precious girl.

We can't, not here.

My dearest love,

let me in, please.

Say you'll never leave me.

Promise you'll never leave?

Say it again, my love.

You'll never leave me.

Say it!

All the best, love.

Thank you.


They say romance is dead.

It's for Dad.

I sometimes think he loves the

Royal Family more than his own.

Prezzie for you.

Peaches for a peach.

Oi! Watch it, Mr!

Miss, I should say.

Stop the car!

Stop! What? What is it?

I know her! I'm sure I do!


'Where's the fighting Spits that

kept us going through the war?

'Everywhere people are

asking how long they

must go on lacking

the basic things...'

and they don't only mean

the food on their table

'and the clothes on their backs,

but decent housing and jobs.

'It's not just our fighting

spirit that's shrunken up...'


Glory be.


Better late than never.

Two years late.

I swore if you ignored

my last letter

it'd be the last one I'd send.

Tardy b*tch.

So spill, what's been

going on with you?

I got left some money, my aunt in

Holland Park with the antique shop,

so, I'm what you call

a lady of leisure.

Until the well runs dry anyway.

You didn't fancy running

the shop yourself?

What one earth do you do

with yourself all day?

Walk mostly.

Walk where? Anywhere.


Did you hear it?

Interview on the Home

Service on her latest book.

Look at us!

You were the bravest

person I knew.

No, I think it's easy

to be brave in war time.

I thought I was better than

this, Nancy. Stronger than this.

But everything always

goes back to that night.

Most people you pass

on the street have

lost a heck of a

lot more than me.

They've lost a child or...

They're getting on with

their lives, aren't they?

Listen to me.

Going on about loss

to you of all people.

I'm not fit company

for anyone but myself.

Don't you dare run

out on me now.

You're human, Kay...

join the bloody club.

Do you ever...

think about it?

The scrubs, our life there?


Living death more like.

How was it for you...

after you got out?

I sort of lost my bearings.

I had to get away,

so I did a stint up north

for a refugee charity.

Salving my conscience

you might say.

Jews mostly, from

all over Europe.

God, what those people

have been through.

They told me terrible things.

They told me

wonderful things too.

The unexpected

goodness of people.

Their courage and...

I started writing

down their stories.

Selling them to the newspapers.

I struck lucky, The West London

Gazette took me on a reporter.

Nothing earth shattering.

Anyway, it's you I

want to hear about.

How's that sister

of yours doing?

I remember her from

the prison visits.

Viv, isn't it?

She works in Soho now,

one of those...

introduction agencies.

Still living at home

with she and your dad?

No, I'm in... digs

just round the corner.

Off Wood Lane.

So close to the Scrubs?!

Half the reason I

left London was to get

away from the stench

of that BLOODY place.

You should do the same Duncan.

Make a fresh start somewhere.

Nothing to keep you

here, is there?

Ah, so there is someone

to keep you here?

You'll have to ask me

back so I can meet them.

I'll worm it out

of you eventually.

Coaxing information out of

people is my stock in trade now.

I never take no for an answer.

Top up?





'How about this one?'

26 years old, ex-commando,

awarded the Victoria Cross.

Is that a glass eye?

How thrilling!


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Paula Milne

Paula Milne is a British screenwriter. Her works include The Politician's Wife, The Virgin Queen, Chandler & Co, Die Kinder, Second Sight, Driving Ambition, Small Island and Endgame. Her first single drama was A Sudden Wrench, after working on titles such as Coronation Street and Juliet Bravo. She also devised the BBC medical drama Angels. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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