Arthur & George (2015): Season 1, Episode 1 - Episode #1.1 - full transcript

In 1906 Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, mourning the death of his wife, is suffering from writer's block caused by his depression. Then his secretary Woodie shows him a letter from George Edalji, a young Parsee solicitor recently released from prison for crimes of which he claims innocence, maiming livestock and sending poison pen letters, asking Sir Arthur help him clear his name. Arthur meets him and, noticing he is very short-sighted, instantly believes him to be innocent. Against the advice of the judge who sentenced George Arthur travels to Great Wyrley, scene of the crimes and meets George's family. He learns that they have suffered past persecution and George's vicar father Sharpurji received hate mail. Whilst dining with them Arthur is aware of an eaves dropper and gives pursuit, coming across a bizarre shrine.

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Are we looking for some maniac with a knife?

A knife would've gone deeper,
opened up the guts.

So far, none of the animals
were actually killed in the attack.

You mean not at the time.

They either bled to death
or were in such a state they had to be put down.

- So it's not a knife?
- Something that cuts easily but shallowly.

Could be a tool from the leather trade.
Or a farm instrument of some kind.

Eight rippings since New Year's -
and always when the moon's out.

- Sergeant?
- Oh.

This note was left on the steps
of Wyrley Police Station this morning, sir.



Dispatch all the constables
at your disposal to St Joan's.

- I'll inform the Chief Constable.
- We're off to the school, lads.

"I am finished practising now.

I am ready for the sweet roses of St Joan's...
to slice their stems and burst their buds."

Good God.

Girls, inside.

Hannah? Hannah!

Quickly.

We must act, Inspector.

We must act or the good people
of Staffordshire will not forgive us.

- I need to see your son.
- He's at work.

Why?

Another horse
has been found mutilated and killed.

You suspect my son?



Let's just say it would help
to exclude him from our investigation.

My brother is a solicitor.

- Your implication is as preposterous...
- Maud.

"I am finished practising now.

I am ready for the sweet roses of St Joan's

to slice their stems and burst their buds.

But are they ready for me?"

Will the prisoner rise?

George Edalji, you've been found guilty of some
of the most depraved and bizarre crimes

I've ever encountered,

namely the systematic mutilation
and killing of untold livestock

in and around the parish
of Great Wyrley, Staffordshire.

It's no small mercy
that you were apprehended when you were

as your letter states your intention...

to graduate from defenceless animals
to defenceless children.

Jimmy, go and fetch.

Go and fetch, Jimmy. Good boy.

Come on, give me the ball. Come on.

It's going to rain.

- Quickly, come in.
- I'm coming.

And who won today?

- I did.
- I don't believe a word of it.

- Edna, why don't you let me take that upstairs?
- Yes, sir.

We're received another
one of those dreadful pictures, Woodie.

- Dispose of it as you see fit.
- Yes, Sir Arthur.

Hmm... Oh.

I was remembering
our honeymoon this morning.

- Oh, Vienna.
- Mm.

You were wonderfully decent about that.

Decent?

Me trotting off to the Krankenhaus every day.

You said it was important.
"The only place to study ophthalmology."

Still.

I didn't mind, Arthur.

Really.

No... no, you didn't.

Oh... bless you.

She said yes to everything I proposed.

If we were to pack up in an instant
and go to Austria, she said yes.

If we bought a new house, she said yes.

If I went to London for a few days, or
South Africa for a month, she always said yes.

That was her nature.

That was her love.

Oh, Mam.

You read beautifully, Connie.

Arthur.

Arthur. You have my deepest condolences.

Thank you, Willie.

Good shot.

Thank you, Edna.

- Kingsley?
- Coming.

- Father?
- Yes, Mary.

When Mother was dying,
she said you would remarry.

Did she, by God?

Well, not exactly.

What she said was
I was not to be shocked if you were to remarry,

because that's what she would want for you.

Do you have any particular candidate in mind?

Father.

Wee Jimmy's proving to be quite a useful fielder.

- Mm-hm.
- Aren't you, lad?

Yes, very good.

But if she did suspect, why would she tell Mary?

To prepare her, I suppose.
But... I'm not sure she did suspect.

But what if she did, right from the start?

Understood every mean little lie I told her?

Imagined me downstairs
on the adulterer's telephone?

Oh, you were not an adulterer, Arthur.

No, not in deed.

You were not an adulterer.

I can never be sure.

I'll never know what she truly believed.

I can't make it right.

Hmm.

Miss Leckie, thank you so much for coming.

I'm so sorry.

- Sir Arthur?
- Woodie, you can open everything.

Discard or answer as you wish.

You long since learned
to reproduce my signature.

- No, Sir Arthur, I would never be so bold as to...
- Then please be so bold.

You be Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

- The name's owner has no desire to be himself.
- I'm sad to hear that.

You have visitors, Sir Arthur.
Miss Leckie and her brother.

I know.

Oh, don't worry about pouring it in.
We'll manage.

- Of course, sir.
- Thank you.

I rather think I might take a stroll in the garden.

Very good, Malcolm.

- Thank you for your kind letter of condolence.
- Of course.

It was kind of you.

Of course I would have come.

- I didn't think, all things considered...
- No.

That's what I thought.

Perhaps we might join Malcolm in the garden?

I fear I wasn't much of a host.

Well, perhaps it's too soon
for that particular guest.

Dr Watson and Mr Holmes
might have more luck raising your spirits.

- They've declined the invitation.
- Huh.

How ungrateful of them.

They don't want to fraternise
with an adulterer either.

Oh, Arthur.

You need to sink your teeth into something.

If not a book then some other pursuit.

That was my intention.

Anyway, it's been very nice talking to you ladies.

May I introduce Miss Jean Leckie.
Miss Leckie, Arthur Conan Doyle.

Delighted to make your acquaintance,
Miss Leckie.

Thank you. May I ask you a question?

When am I going to write
another Sherlock Holmes story?

How do I come up with such ideas?
Did he really die at the Reichenbach Falls?

And if he didn't,
should he not now settle down and marry?

That's four questions.

- Which one was yours?
- None of them.

I have never read your stories.

Although Stephen, our footman,
says they're quite engaging.

God bless Stephen the footman.

Have you seen the exhibition of the photographs
of Dr Nansen's voyage to the North?

No, but I was at the Albert Hall when he gave
a lecture to the Royal Geographical Society.

- So was I.
- No.

You know, when I read Nansen's account
of crossing Norway on skis,

- I recklessly acquired a pair myself.
- Oh.

I skied from dawn till dusk on the high slopes
of Davos with the Branger brothers.

Goodness. I should like to learn to ski.

I have excellent balance
and I have ridden since I was three.

Well, forgive me,
I think it's highly unlikely that women,

I mean, society women,
not female Swiss peasants, will ever learn to ski.

Unlikely? Why?

Because of the physical strength required
and the dangers attended.

I'm quite strong.

And I imagine I have better balance than you,
given your size.

My size?

It must be an advantage
to have a lower centre of gravity.

And being much less heavy
I should not do so much damage were I to fall.

Oh, one day perhaps I will teach you to ski.

Yes, I'll hold you to that.

- Morning, Ralph.
- Morning, Mr Wood.

I have a package for you today, sir.

- Thank you.
- There you are. You have a good day, sir.

Thank you, Ralph. Thank you.

- Morning, Sir Arthur.
- Morning.

Something there might interest you.

A Parsi Indian? A Parsi clergyman?

- Yes.
- In rural Staffordshire?

- It's remarkable.
- And quite possibly incendiary.

Reading between the lines, I infer
that race prejudice rather than hard evidence

is what drove the police to the vicar's son.

If I'm right, this is shabby, Woodie.
As shabby as shabby can be.

Please arrange a meeting
with Edalji Junior as soon as possible.

- What of the publisher's deadline?
- To hell with it. This is far more important.

This is a chance to right a wrong, Woodie.
How splendid would that be?

Er... very... splendid, sir.

- What?
- Nothing, Sir Arthur.

I'm just thoroughly pleased
to see you so... enlivened.

Oh. I've been a sulk and a bore
the last few weeks, haven't I?

You've been mourning Lady Doyle.

You know, my wife used to say,

"The sum of the world's tears is always equal,
but if the chance arises to mop one up..."

- Is it not too late?
- Too late?

For Mr er... Edalji. He was found guilty,
served a sentence of three years.

That's why there's not a moment to waste.
He's already waited too long. Giddy-up.

Hmm, thank you.

Sir.

Myopia, do you suppose?
Perhaps a touch of astigmatism?

Mr Edalji?

Arthur Conan Doyle.
And this is my secretary, Alfred Wood.

How do you do, Sir Arthur, Mr Wood?

Is that how I should address you? Sir Arthur?

That or just Doyle.

- I'd prefer Sir Arthur.
- Very good.

Let's find somewhere more private.

- Peter.
- Doyle.

Er, yes, this should suffice. Take a seat.

- In your letter, Mr Adalji...
- It's pronounced "Aydl-ji", actually.

- If you don't mind?
- I apologise.

So, like most writers,

I have a sentimental attachment to the concept
of a beginning, a middle and an end.

You wish me to recount
my plight from the start.

Um... I understand that five years
before the rippings,

your family was subject
to a campaign of abusive letters?

But before the letters there was a key.

- A key?
- Yes.

I arrived home from work one evening

to find that a key had been
rather deliberately placed on our doorstep.

Did you pass anyone on your way home
from the station?

No.

Are you intending to go for your walk tonight?

I am, Father.

If you feel... anxious in any way...

...come straight home.

Yes, Father.

The key didn't belong to us,
so naturally my father handed it in to the police.

The following evening
I returned home from work.

I was training to be a solicitor at that time.

And to find someone waiting for me.

George. Sergeant Upton's here to see you.

Sergeant Upton? For me?

So you're the young fella that found the key?

Yes. It was on the doorstep.

Is there a reward?

Now why would you be wondering
about a reward? You of all people?

Have you found out where it's from?

- Name?
- Well, you know my name.

Name, I said.

George.

- Yes, go on.
- Ernest.

Yes, go on.

You know my surname.
It's the same as my father's and my mother's.

Go on, I said, you uppish little fella.

Edalji.

Oh, yes.

Now you better spell that out for me.

As it turned out, the key was from a school
six miles away in Cannock.

So despite the fact it was your father
that alerted the police,

- you were treated with suspicion?
- Yes.

A suspicion borne of prejudice, no doubt?

Well, I cannot say that.

- No?
- No.

No, I do not believe that race prejudice
had anything to do with my case.

I must say,
I find that rather a surprising answer.

My answer reflects my experience.

What was the next significant event
after the key?

A month or so later,
we were left something in the back garden.

Father.

In the garden.

A milk churn.

- What is it?
- I can't see.

"Before the year's end, your son
will be in the graveyard or disgraced for life."

They mean me.

George, you'll be late for work.

Father?

Have you noticed anyone loitering
around the vicarage?

No, Father.

Your mother and I
received other anonymous letters.

- What do these letters say?
- They say wicked things, George.

- About who?
- About all of us.

It was then I learned that my father
had borne the weight of this vitriol for months.

He'd kept the letters locked away
to shield my sister and I from their venom.

Also, despite the good ministry of my father
to the community of Great Wyrley...

...we were hounded in other ways.

Shapurji?

George... escort your mother and sister
back to the house.

Good evening.

What's the matter, Agnes?

My sister. My sister is dead.
I must go and collect her body.

- She's just received a telegram.
- Let me read it.

Your sister's not dead, Agnes.

- This is a vile prank.
- How do you know, Reverend?

It's says your sister lies in
a public house in Wolverhampton.

Now... why would her body
be placed in a public house?

And much less,
in a town a hundred miles from her home?

Father?

Let's go inside.

And what of the horse mutilations, George?

Do you mind me asking,
is there anyone you suspect of the crime?

- Which one?
- All of them.

To be perfectly honest, Sir Arthur,

I've been more concerned with proving
my innocence than anyone else's guilt.

Understandably,
but there's an inevitable connection.

Do you suspect anyone or not?

No. No-one.

You had no enemies in Great Wyrley?

Evidentially I did. Unseen ones.

It seems the judicial system has failed me,
Sir Arthur,

and that's why I wrote, appealing for your help.

I don't mean to be rude, George,

but I notice when you walk you put
more weight on the right foot than the left.

I limp, but the boot corrects it to a large degree.

I'd suggest a slipped capital femoral epiphysis.

But that's a condition associated with obesity,
and you're slim, George.

So I'd have to say
that was caused by an injury, yes?

A man in Pentonville Prison
pushed me down the stairs.

- Why?
- I don't believe he ever offered a reason.

Mr Edalji, those letters,
I would greatly like to see them.

My father has them still at the vicarage.
I can arrange to have them sent to you.

I rather think it's time
we paid a visit to the scene of the crime.

The crimes.

And I think perhaps
it's better that we do so unaccompanied.

Of course.

Thank you, Sir Arthur. Mr Wood.

- Remarkable fellow.
- Mmm.

I think rather more sure of himself than he looks.
One might almost say impudent.

One might. I wouldn't.

"It's pronounced "Aydl-ji", actually.
If you don't mind?"

His name is important to him.

If it wasn't, he wouldn't be seeking to clear it
so long after his release.

Whoa, girl.

Temple.

The same rather odd detail
came up twice during his account.

You mean the fact
that he shares a bedroom with his father?

- A locked bedroom.
- Hm.

Almost as if the Reverend didn't trust him.

Woodie, if you are going to assist me,
then an open mind is a pre-requisite.

- Yes, of course, but...
- But what?

Surely an open mind also means that
we don't accept every word he says as gospel.

After all, he was found guilty by a judge and jury.

- You heard evidence that we are ignorant of.
- Precisely.

Well, that is why you are going
to pay a visit to a Mr Higgins of Temple Bar.

Higgins is a clerk
known for his fast and sure hand,

and for a price he'll hand copy the court records
of the longest, most involved trials.

And as I commissioned him a week ago,

I've no doubt his work is done
and the balance due.

One thing, Woodie. In the interests of keeping a
certain consulting detective out of proceedings...

You commissioned the transcript
under a false name?

An alias, Woodie. An alias.

Come in.

- Ah, Mr Higgins.
- No, not Mr Higgins.

Oh. Well, I was expecting a transcript from him.

- The transcript has not been completed.
- Ah.

But the blame for that lies not with Mr Higgins.

Rather it lies with you, Mr Wood,
and your employer... Mr Bray.

Surely the transcript
is a matter for public record?

And he will have his transcript.
The question is, why does he want it?

Er... who precisely... is asking that question?

The Honourable Hugh Atkins.

The trial judge?

So the Crown's contention, if you can credit it,
is that he wrote the poisonous letters himself.

- They must have entered a motive?
- To attract attention.

I ask you, you've never met a shyer lad.

- Extraordinary.
- Ah, it's unbelievable.

- It... does seem unlikely.
- Unlikely?

Answer me this.
How can a man with eyesight so poor

he must hold his newspaper
six inches from his face -

a scholar, a solicitor, with no knowledge
of the land, with no familiarity of livestock -

how can this man steal into a field
in the dead of night

and rip open a horse's belly
without being trampled to death in the process?

Jean... your eyes.

- Oh, I'm sorry.
- No, no.

- It's an affecting story.
- It is, and...

I feel wretched for saying this
after all I've heard of poor Mr Edalji, but...

- But?
- They are not tears of sadness.

Ah. Woodie observed that I am enlivened.

Woodie is no fool where you're concerned.

I wish that I was coming with you.

That's extraordinary.

On the way over here, I imagined
driving up to Staffordshire with you by my side.

- Mm.
- Like a man and a wife.

Like a man and his wife.

You've waited a long time, Jean, I know.

And now I must wait a little longer.

I understand. I do.

It's so wonderful to see you.

- Ah, Woodie, you've found me.
- Yes, rather, I did.

- Hello, Woodie.
- Miss Leckie.

Goodbye, my dear.

- Have you acquired the transcript?
- No, Sir Arthur. I acquired an invitation.

Thank you.

Oh, and The Adventures too, if you don't mind.

You're too kind.

And what of Moriarty? He's still with us, isn't he?

Somehow he managed to escape death's
clammy hand at the Reichenbach Falls?

No? Of course, no.

You cannot divulge.

What a chilling creation.

"He sits motionless,
like a spider at the centre of his web,

but that web has a thousand radiations,

and he knows well
every quiver of each of them."

Wonderful.

Your interest in my books is gratifying,

but it's not the reason I had to come to Highgate
to collect a transcript.

Not the sole reason, no.

Nor the primary one,
which I'm sure is to deter me.

To provide some context.

- To warn me off?
- To counsel pause for thought.

Had Edalji not been caught,

I've no doubt he would have made good
his threat to the girls of St Joan's.

Supposition based upon an assumption.

I contend he did not write the letter
in which the threat was contained.

Then you disregard the evidence
of Dr Stephen Wallace,

a renowned handwriting specialist.

Renowned experts are two a penny.

And a Sister at St Joan's who saw Edalji
lurking in the grounds of the school.

- I was not aware of any such testimony.
- It was withdrawn at the 11th hour.

Because she did not wish to perjure herself.

Because she was silenced
by members of Edalji's gang.

His gang? Does George Edalji strike you
as the sort of man who'd run with a gang?

No. But then neither does Professor Moriarty.

- He's a fiction.
- As is Sherlock Holmes.

Yet it strikes me that if you pursue
your interest in the Edalji case,

you'll be judged by his high standards,
and judged harshly.

Why does my interest alarm you so?

But if you fall short, as you are bound to do...

...you'll taint not only yourself
but the world's favourite consulting detective.

As the author of his every word and deed,
I would say that's my risk to run. May I?

My man Shaw listened to the entire
conversation that you had at your club,

and you were shockingly oblivious.

I had no grounds to imagine
I'd be so rudely spied upon.

Sherlock Holmes would have discerned
the eavesdropper in an instant,

and in the next his name,
political persuasion and place of birth

all from the dust on his shoe leather.

Pause for thought, Sir Arthur.

Pause for thought.

Read all about it!

Assassination attempt
on the Spanish King and Queen.

Spanish royalty! Assassination attempt.
Read all about it.

- Porter!
- Yes, sir.

Woodie, as this is our first foray to Great Wyrley,

I'm keen to visit a theatrical costumier
and equip myself with a false beard.

Do you think that's absolutely necessary?

I'm just trying to deflect attention - pre-emptively.

Yes...
I wonder if it might draw more rather than less?

- Attention, I mean.
- Ah, well, yes, perhaps it might.

Yes, I'm sure a turned-up collar
and a muffler and a raised newspaper

will get us to Wyrley unscathed.

Honestly, Woodie, you know how
to thump the joy out of a thing.

I'm only imagining the society page of The Post.

"What is Sherlock Holmes up to
in a Midlands costumier?"

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Oxford! This is Oxford!

Mind the doors!

I can't feel my thumbs.

All aboard!

Test me, Woodie.

- On what subject, Sir Arthur?
- The village of Great Wyrley, of course.

Oh, er...

Well, how many public houses does it boast?

Er, there are three retailers of beer in the village.

Henry Badger, and Mrs Jane Corbett,
and Thomas Yates.

Presiding over The Bull, The Stag,
and The Bottle And Glass respectively.

The Post Office is held by James Henry,
the blacksmith is William Brookes.

The station is presided over
by Albert Ernest Merriman,

who has evidently inherited his station master's
cap from his father, Samuel Merriman.

The station lies a quarter of a mile
to the northwest,

on the Walsall, Cannock and Rugeley branch
of the London and North Western Railway.

The parish of Great Wyrley contains a number
of well-built residencies and farmhouses.

Its soil is a light loam...

- Merriman.
- Sir.

- Good evening, gentlemen.
- Good evening.

- Do you think he recognised me?
- I highly doubt it.

I fear that mufflers and collars
will not be sufficient.

What's our business here?
What's our pretence?

- Do we need one?
- Yes. Certainly we do.

We must, um... I have it.

We'll say we're emissaries
from The Church Commission.

And what's our business in Great Wyrley?

To inspect the crumbling masonry of St Mark's.

What crumbling masonry?

- What?
- What crumbling masonry?

Woodie.

Honestly.

"My dearest Shapurji,
I have great pleasure in informing you

that it is our intention
to review the persecution of the vicar.

However, if we find your grievances
to be unsubstantiated or, worse, self-inflicted,

you and your wretched family
will be taken forthwith...

...to a certain lunatic asylum not 50 miles'
distance from your thrice cursed home."

What a competent hand.

- Is that a different hand?
- Or made to look so.

And your son was accused
of writing all of these letters?

That he disguised his handwriting.

"Revenge on you and Brookes
is all my heart desires."

- What?
- I have sent a letter in his name

to The Chronicle
that he cannot pay his wife's debts.

I am ever yours, Satan.

God, Satan."

Poisonous.

And is Brookes the blacksmith in the village?

- That's correct.
- And he received threatening letters too?

Yes. But fewer in number.

- And did you compare?
- No.

Well, why not? You both had a common foe.

Mr Brookes was not inclined
to pay the matter much heed.

On the occasion of Maud's confirmation.

- The upstairs window.
- Oh, yes.

See?

The spite, the gall...

To enter our home.

Where is this room?

Maud's. That was the same day
her favourite doll disappeared from her bed.

We had no explanation
until that was developed.

What George really wants
is to return to his work as a solicitor.

Of course. And so he shall.

It's almost worse for him now
than... when he was in prison.

Well, now he's in a state of limbo.

The Incorporated Law Society cannot re-admit
him until the "taint" is washed from his name.

Rest assured, I'll make a tremendous noise.
I will stir things up.

There'll be a few people sleeping less well
in their beds when I've finished with them.

I'm sure you will, Sir Arthur,
and I thank you for it.

What I'm saying is rather different.

George is determined to overthrow this injustice,
but... that is all he wants.

He does not wish for the limelight.

He does not want to become an advocate
for a particular cause.

He... wishes to return to work.

He wishes for an ordinary life.

- He wishes to get married.
- Maud...

How can he?

Since when?

- Charlotte, do you know anything about this?
- Don't be alarmed.

I mean, he wants to get married in general.

Hm. Married in general.

You think that will be possible, Sir Arthur?

I myself have only been married in particular.

That's the system I understand,
and the only one I'd recommend, too.

Mrs Edalji, were I still a betting man,
I'd wager that you were the pianist in this house.

- Oh, I was once.
- Nonsense. You still are.

Play to us, I beg you.
Something strident and stirring.

Play to us now. Please.

Strident and stirring, Mrs Edalji.

Sir Arthur?

There's an uninvited guest
listening at the far window. Don't look.

Which, judging by the faint draught,
is open an inch or two.

- Are you certain?
- I'm quite certain.

Having fallen prey to one eavesdropper
this week, my antennae are keenly attuned.

Bravo. Play on, Mrs Edalji. Play on.

That window opens onto the back garden,
correct?

Correct.

If this mat represents the house...

...this knife the back wall, and here the front gate.

- How's the back garden accessed?
- There's another gate.

Where? Show me.

- There.
- Right. And that's the only other exit?

- Yes.
- Right. Two exits, one front, one back.

Two of us, Woodie. He will not escape.

Why don't you go
and stand in front of the window?

What if he's armed?

Fight fire with fire.

- Good. You take the back.
- Right.

Stop there! Now! Stop!

You're trapped!

- Woodie!
- I'm fine. That way. That way!

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