Father Brown (2013–…): Season 2, Episode 4 - The Shadow of the Scaffold - full transcript

Violet Fernsley is due to hang for killing her violent husband Ivan but Father Brown believes in her innocence. The Fernsley family close ranks but the priest is puzzled by the fact that Polish farm-hand Piotr Symanski disappeared around the time of the murder and also seems to have been slain. Ivan's brothers' squabbling over possession of his farm seems to incriminate one or both whilst Sullivan is suspicious of the fact that prison warder Charlie Denham is Violet's lover. Father Brown naturally deduces that the real murderer is the least likely suspect.

I have been...angry...


I have given in to self-pity.

Do you have any mortal sins
to confess?

I have...

..loved...outside of marriage.

Violet, many people return
to the fold when they face death.

But they cannot find true salvation

if they hide
their selves from God.

If you killed your husband,
don't you want to confess?

Tell his family where the body
is and clear your conscience?



From the Lord Chief Justice?

They turned it down?

Appeal unsuccessful.


You know now that death is certain.


..so that God can forgive your sin.

I can't admit
what I didn't do, Father.

I'm not guilty, I am innocent.

Help me, please!

We have to take you in now.
You can't do this!

Charlie! Charlie!



You can't do this! I'm pregnant!

The lab will have
to run a pregnancy test.

It'll take a few days
to show a response...

So she has three days' reprieve?

If it comes back positive
the death sentence will be commuted.

And if it's negative?
We go through all this again.

14 weeks since she was arrested -
why hasn't she mentioned it before?

Father, save me.
How can I help?

You have to prove me innocent.

You have to give me
something to go on.

Peter. He's the key. Find Peter!
Get moving.


Archie! Wilfred!

Ma, I don't think you should get up.

I can't just lie here.
Not till I know it's done.

Come on, help me.


Oi, ready? On my count -
one, two, three.

They say the eyes pop out -
is that true?

I'm going to go see the body.

If I could've watched her dangle,
I would've.

For heaven's sake, Ma!
Can't we get on with our lives?

Before your brother's
murderer gets her due?

My Ivan looked after me for years.
I'm looking after you now.

Why haven't they telephoned?

They said they'd telephone
when it was done.






I know why you're here, Father.
I suggest you stop now.

Just picking up
something for supper.

There's no law against that,
is there?

And it's mere happenstance
that it's from Fernsley's?

His sausages are the talk
of the town.

Pork and hop.
Isn't your mouth watering?

I see you're as susceptible
to a charming countenance

as the rest of mankind.

I don't... We have the right woman,
irrespective of what Violet may say.

I guarantee it.

Guarantee is a strong word.
They never even found a body!

Just because you weren't around
to meddle during the investigation...

"Meddle"? If only you went
on retreat more often.

I can just about put up with your
pottering before a case is solved,

but once a murderer's
been found guilty,

it's wasting police time
to rake it up again.

How could I not?

She's a lost sheep from my flock
- defenceless, pregnant.

You don't believe it?
I've seen the medical reports.

She lost a baby at eight months gone
after Ivan hit her.

Her system never recovered.

It's highly unlikely
she can have children.

I knew he was violent, but...

The point is Violet's lied.

And if she'd lie about her pregnancy,

why wouldn't
she lie about the killing?

Now then, Father, isn't it time
you were on your way?

Right you are.


I know about six Peters,
like everybody else in Kembleford.

But none of them had anything
to do with Ivan's murder.

Still here, Father?

You've inherited the tenancy
of the pig farm

now your brother's gone,
haven't you?

That supposed to be a motive?

I'm doing better with the shop
than the farm ever did.

Give it five years, I'll have
branches in Broadway and Toddington.

A man of ambition.

Of course, if anyone knows
how to make a body vanish,

it's a butcher.

They got the right woman
when they sent Violet down.

And that pregnancy's cobblers.
She'll get what's coming to her.

Meantime, I'd stay away from us,

if you know what's good for you.


So? I didn't...

I didn't know how you'd feel.

If you'd even want a baby with me.

So it's true?
I think so.

I can't be sure.
Was this what it was all about, then?

Getting pregnant to escape
the gallows? No!

I never believed they'd actually...

I thought the appeal would succeed.

I thought we'd live
the rest of our lives together.

And the baby?
Are you sure it's...

If you're going to ask if
it's yours, you can leave now.

Why didn't you tell me, Vi?
I told you, I wasn't sure.

It was bad enough me hoping,

I couldn't put you through that,
too. If you even wanted my baby.

How could I not want our baby?

I know it's not much...

Violet Fernsley.

Will you marry me?


Come here often? Mm-hmm.

Lady Felicia's comforting
Mrs Fernsley.

She takes care of her tenant farms
by reading her book to them

once a week at least.
Very generous.

Well, you haven't read her book.

Lady Felicia's many things,
but...a writer?

Generous of Mrs Fernsley, I mean.

Well, I'm here to see the lady of
the house as well, so I'll wait.

Both of Ethel's younger sons live
out here too, don't they? Mm-hmm.

Seen anyone else? Nope.

You snooping, Father?

You're friends with Officer Denham,
aren't you?

I wouldn't say friend, exactly. Go
to the dogs together now and again.

So you knew about him and Violet.
What? No. I didn't know nothing.

Calm down, Sid. I won't tell anyone.
Scout's honour?

You have my word of honour,
as man of God.

Did they meet in prison?

Or could they have
known each other before?

You don't really think Charlie's got
anything to do with this, do you?

I'm keeping an open mind.


After all, Ivan might not
even be dead.

He must've got himself
a transfusion, then.

Do you have any idea
how much blood they found?

There are other possible killers.

Like who?

Did I scare you?
That's gamekeeping, you see.

My stock-in-trade -
stillness and silence.

One of your catches?

The fox got this one.
Along with three of my hens.

He kills for fun, just rips their
throats out.

I'll get my revenge.

Enjoy your job, do you?
No law against that, is there?

Lonely work.
These beauties keep me company.

This "Piotr",
does he still work here?

We did have a labourer called Peter,

Polish, I think.
Bit of a soft spot for Violet.

Course, Ivan didn't like that,
so...think he left.

Sausage roll? Our own produce.


They say pig tastes
most like people.


"Long pig", that's what the
cannibal tribes call human meat.

Gone down the wrong way.
Perhaps some water?


Still think Violet murdered him?

"Gerald's guttural scream
cut the air like a cheese-knife."


We'll pick up chapter ten on Friday,
how does that sound?

Friday it is.

Oh, Father, so good of you
to come comfort Ethel...

But I must warn you, she's tired.

We've had a very emotional session.
So I heard.

She's very good
at making suggestions.

Better than you are, anyway.
When are you going to give me notes?

I'm no literary critic.

I hope you are here
just to comfort her.

Ivan's death was almost too
much for Ethel.

Dragging it all up won't help.


Father! Oh, I didn't know.

Archie! Archie, I need your help.

Mrs Fernsley.
Don't concern yourself.

Archie's already been very

That'll be the first time.

You'll have seen
he's not quite right.

Poor Ivan dropped him on his head
when he was small.

Forgive me,
I'm loath to ask questions...

..in this time of trail for you, but
a woman's life hangs in the balance.

And I can't let it lie
unless I find some answers.

Do your worst, Father.
We have nothing to hide.

You had a labourer called Piotr.
Perhaps you knew him as Peter.

When did he leave?
Three months ago. Maybe four.

Around the same time of Ivan's

About that time, yes.

Casual labourers are just that
- here one day, gone the next.

You're wasting your time, Father.

That woman killed my son.

What makes you so sure?

Like I told the police,

the evening Ivan disappeared,

I heard them arguing
and then it suddenly went quiet.

The next day, I was in the kitchen

and I saw Violet washing
at the water trough in the yard.

Is that unusual? There was blood
on her hands, her dress.

The water was red with it.

Blood that may have
come from slaughtering a chicken,

skinning a rabbit.
She said she'd been bitten by a sow.

There we are.

They examined her
when they arrested her.

If she had been bitten,
it didn't break the skin.

Where do you think she hid the body?

In the river? The marsh?
Any number of places on a farm.

You dig all you want, Father.

You'll only find out
what I already know.

My son is dead
and that woman killed him.


I'm here to make a complaint.


Could you please open this door?
I want to make a complaint!

That mutton you sold Father Brown
yesterday - dry as a bone.

I can't legislate
for the cooking process.

I'll have you know I learnt my
culinary skills at my mother's knee,

and she was the finest cook
in County Cork. That will explain it.

I want compensation
- some nice, fresh meat,

none of that offal
you're pummelling at.

These are Gloucester's
finest pig's stomachs

and are used for Gloucestershire's
finest sausages.

And what is that?

It's a ring.
On a finger, is it?

Oh, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

Is that what she did with
poor Ivan's body? Don't count on it.

I once cut open a cow's stomach

and found a key that'd
been missing for three years.

This could belong to anyone.

We'll let the inspector
be the judge of that.

The jewellers have confirmed
that it's Ivan Fernsley's.

So now we know how
she disposed of the corpse.

All this proves is that Ivan
Fernsley is dead...

or missing a finger.

Anyone could have put
that body in the pigpen.

The pregnancy test comes back
tomorrow, Father.

You'll have to do better
than vague allegations

if you truly hope
to stall this execution.

Piotr Symanski, the casual labourer

who worked at the farm
at the time of Ivan's death.

He disappeared.

So he took a new job,
found himself a nice English rose

and quietly left his old life behind.
And left no trace.

Isn't that suspicious?

Archie Fernsley says Piotr had
a run-in with Ivan about his wife.

Doesn't that make him
an alternative suspect?

Father, Piotr came up
in the original investigation.

He left the farm six
weeks before Ivan was killed.

Charlie. Any news on the test?

The Father's here to give you
Holy Communion.

I'm sorry, I didn't...

Honestly, it doesn't matter
that he knows.

Father will keep our secret.

And when I'm out, he'll marry us!
Won't you, Father?

One thing at a time.

Well, I'm glad, you know.

I've been wanting to offer my help
with your...digging.

Anything I can do
to clear Violet's name.

I'll think about that.

I'll leave you to it.

I've pulled all sorts
of strings to get in here.

Please tell me
you've found something, Father.

Only Ivan's finger bone
in a pig's stomach.

It does not look good for you.

Don't you believe me?

Time is running out!

Then why send me on a wild goose
chase about Peter, Piotr?

He left the farm before Ivan died.

I didn't mean
he could be a suspect!

I thought he could've been a victim.

What? He was kind,
he saw how Ivan treated me.

He said he could help me get away.

He found someone to take me in.

The plan was to drive me over there
when Ivan was in bed

but the night he'd planned
to do it...he was gone.

So two men have disappeared
without trace from the farm,

within weeks of each other?

We have wasted two whole days.

If you are right we are looking
for someone who has killed twice.

Two deaths, now?

Yes, and the pregnancy test
comes back today.

Well, if it wasn't her
we'll soon find out who it was.

Archie Fernsley's not clever enough
to have hidden all trace.

I'm not convinced it's Archie
we're after. Hey, isn't that...

Charlie, yes.
What's he doing here?

Mrs Fernsley?


What you doing?
As we're here, might as well.


Well, come on then.

Well, lookee here.

Looks like Wilf took Ivan
to court over the inheritance.

And lost.

So much for Wilf
not being interested

in running the family farm.

Maybe you were right
about it not being Archie.

What's going on?

Ah, Archie.
We were hoping we'd catch you.

Are you searching our house?
Put that stuff down.

Hey, Archie, look, look,
there's no need to...

Hey, hey!

Take a breath.

All right, you're not listening!

Look what you've done!

Archie, I'm sorry.
We didn't mean to...


The rings and watches
that you've put on your animals,

where did you find them?

Just bits of old rubbish.
Finders keepers.

This belongs to Peter.
So? I was cleaning the slurry tank.

They were all in there.
Pigs will eat anything.

This is engraved.

It isn't something
you'd throw away or leave behind.

Archie, did you find anything else
in the slurry tank?


This "treasure"...

Father, it's teeth...

This belonged to Piotr Symanski,
as did this.

But this is someone else's
wedding ring.

Am I supposed to read
something into these?

And look at all these teeth.
Ivan wasn't the only victim.

Whoever killed him
has killed before,

more than once.

Does that sound like Violet to you?
I see.

Yesterday Piotr was the murderer.
Today he's now the victim.

What will he be tomorrow, I wonder?
This is no time for levity.

OK, if Piotr
and Violet are out of the picture,

who's your current potential


What are you doing?

Was it you? What?

That flue's been stuffed with rags.

If the stove's belching out fumes
into the hut, it will take, what,

20 minutes, less,
till they're out cold?


You kill them yourself?

Or do you let the pigs do the rest?

You think I'm a murderer?

I'm your brother!

I know that better than anyone.

You think I've forgot
what you used to do?

I found that litter of collie pups
when you finished with them.

Why do you want to put this on me?

I should never have given you
an alibi for Ivan's disappearance.

That goes both ways.

You're the one who hated him.

You're the one who lost out
on the farm.

Why would I kill my own brother?

I don't know.

Why would you kill your own dogs?

I didn't do it!

Yeah, we'll let the police
be the judge of that!

They both have alibis?

They were wildfowling that evening.

Together? Yes!

So Archie and Wilf provided
each other with alibis?

Don't you see, Inspector...

No, don't YOU see?!

Even if I accept that
these trinkets prove that

other murders were committed,
it's only putting

Violet in the picture there, too.

You're making things worse
for her, Father, not better.

Now, I'd like you to leave.
I have genuine police work to do!


Hey! Hey!

Aargh! Aargh!

Sir, Ethel Fernsley,
reporting screams.

'I heard him crying out.'

Please, help. I can't move,
I'm trapped here!

Mrs Fernsley, do you know how...

Mrs Fernsley?


You can collect me in an hour.





Thank the Lord you're here.

Do you want to tell me
what happened? Mm!

Weren't you just saying you thought
Wilfred might be the killer?

Time to strike him
off your suspect list.

Wilf is dead?


Lady Felicia,
I don't have a WPC at my disposal.

Thank you, I'll be quite
all right without one.

No, I mean, would you mind
attempting to comfort Mrs Fernsley?

Thank you.



Another murder.

Another corpse disposed of
in the same way as Ivan's.

How many more people have to die
before you will listen to me?

I presume you believe this proves
it's the same killer

and Violet's innocent?

It is a possibility.

Another is that it's just a copycat.

A third is that there is a second
killer who's working with Violet.

That prison officer.

Who is he, her beau?

He was here earlier, sniffing about.

Bullying Ma and saying
it was me or Wilf that killed Ivan.

What officer is this?

What's happening out there?

What have they said?

They're doing everything they can.

That's what they said about Ivan.

Someone's out to get us!

Don't worry. The police are
going to get whoever did this.

I can't just lie here. Get someone.

I have to get up!

Oh... Sid! Sid!

Pregnancy test results
just came through.


The whole thing was
a delaying tactic,

while her boyfriend tried
to concoct new "evidence".

Wilfred Fernsley probably caught him
at it and that's why he had to die.


She's played you
like a fiddle, Father.

But in under an hour she'll hang.

Guv, Charlie Denham's been spotted.

Just down the road.


And, in due course, I fully expect
her lover to follow her.

Maybe you're right. Maybe Charlie
was in on it with Violet.


Go home, Father.

That's how they died.

What does that look like?

A dress.

Ethel's dress.

Well, it could be. You can
ask her yourself.

She's in the kitchen...


She's in there, trust me.

I had to push her in there myself.

Good morning.

What's he doing?

Ethel, your evidence about Violet.

Take it back.


An innocent woman is about to hang.

Your evidence about
the water trough, take it back.

She's not innocent!


Well, from where I'm sitting,
which is the level at which you sit,

there is no way that you could see
the water trough across the yard.

I don't understand.

You're lying, take it back.

There was blood on her hands.

I swear it!

Then, in that case,

the only possible
explanation is that you...

..can stand unaided.

Pfff! And people say I'M daft!

I wanted to ask you who would
have access to your old clothes,

who could've stuffed the flue
and poisoned the workers.

But, of course,
the most obvious answer...

is you.

What? Father!

This is poppycock!

And if you stuffed the flue

and asphyxiated the workers,

then you

killed your son Wilf

before he could take the evidence
to Inspector Sullivan.

Ma, tell him, that's ridiculous!

Well, we'll see
how ridiculous it is

when I ask the Inspector

to compare the fingerprints
in the van with yours.

The ones on the steering wheel.



Archie, you stay with
Lady Felicia, here.

Sid, come with me.


There she is!



Go on, go on!

Well, we can't just
stay clinging here

waiting for someone
to save our bacon.

Violet hasn't got time for this.

All right, here goes nothing.

Explain to me, Father,

in case I should fall to my death.

If Ethel could walk,
why would she pretend

for so many years that she can't?

Some people fake chronic illness.


It's a psychological condition.

It's an illness itself.

They crave attention from
doctors, hospitals, their family.

But why would you kill your own son?

And that Piotr?

Because they were
threatening her facade.


Piotr was helping Violet
to escape from her marriage,

which meant Ethel would've
lost her household slave.

And Wilf was going to
the police with evidence

that the workers had been killed.

And what about the workers?
Why kill them?

They saw her out of bed.
They would have told her sons.



Come on, piggies!

Come on! It's not going to work.

What you doing?

Argh... Err...




I hate pigs!

Take a statement from Mrs Fernsley.

But be gentle, she's in shock.

I'll be questioning Officer Denham.


You have to find Ethel Fernsley.
She's the killer..

If this is a stunt...

You have to find her now.
You have to stop the execution.

I'm leaving now, Father.
No more diversions!

If Ethel's the murderer,
then I'm the next pope!

Stay where you are!

No! Get off me!

You brute! She did it!

She killed my Ivan!

Ethel Fernsley, I'm arresting you
on suspicion of murder.

You are not obliged to say anything,
unless you wish to do so.

Get off me!

Get your filthy hands off me!

If you ever need me...


You dirty lie...
Don't you touch me, you pig!

I hope you rot in hell!

Thank you.

Well. It would be ungracious of me
not to offer my congratulations.

I imagine you'll be celebrating.

Well, I'm pleased that Violet
and Charlie will be released.

But Ethel is facing
a death sentence.

So, nothing to celebrate there.

Even for a self-confessed
mass murderer?

Has she admitted everything?
She's admitted enough.

We only needed one to send her down.

So, which ones hasn't
she confessed to?



I told you
you were going to marry us.

We're here to set the date.
The sooner the better.

Well, I'll get Mrs McCarthy
to consult the parish diary.

Violet, before you marry,
you should make your confession.

Actually, I've been meaning to.

Are you free now?

Now is as good a time as any.

I'll leave you alone.

This marriage.

Is it what you really want?

Of course.

You're not doing it out of gratitude
or guilt, you do truly love him?

More than anything.

Only you still seem to carry
a shadow with you.

I'm finally happy, Father.

Trouble is,

I don't deserve it.

God has given me happiness.

Is it wrong to enjoy it?

Pray, Father, give your blessing,
for I have sinned.

It's been three days
since my last confession.

Go on, my child.

I have...

..made false representation.

You have lied?

To you, Father.

I have broken a commandment.

Tell me.

I killed my husband, Father.

I know.

But it needed to be said,

for God's ears, not mine.

How did you know?

Ethel's evidence against you.

She'd refused to back down,
even when it proved that

she wasn't handicapped.

And then, when I found out that

Ivan's death was the only one

she didn't confess to.

Why didn't you hand me in?

Facing death did not convince you
to seek peace with God.

But looking forward to a life of...

perhaps undeserved happiness

has brought you closer to him.

I did a terrible thing.

But Ivan was a terrible man.

I didn't deserve to die for it.

I know how savagely he beat you.

When I said I was innocent,
Father, I meant it.

And Charlie?

Does he know the truth?


If you think that Charlie
wouldn't marry you

if he knew what you'd done...

..how can you marry him
while keeping him in the dark?

Father, God has given me back
my life back for a reason.

I agree.

Father, I love him.

You have to marry us, please!

Of course I'll marry you!

I'll do whatever you think
is the right thing.

Father Brown, do the honours!


See, I caught him in the end, Father.
Hunted him down.

I don't know what to say.

I do.

It's you, can't you see?

Cunning, wily.

More wily than my mother, anyhow.

There's not a lot of people
who can say that.

Thank you, Father.

Tell him to take
that thing with him!

I'm not going to look
a gift fox in the mouth.

Was that...

Oh! That's actually
a good likeness.

I must dash.
I'm just dropping this by.

Would you? Oh... Thank you.

A first edition of
my published novella.

Well, I'm flattered.

I shall look forward to reading

the investigations
of Reverend Green.

I got the telephone call
just after Ethel's story

appeared in the paper.

My blow to the head in
the pursuit of justice

was the icing on the cake.

They offered me a publishing deal.

Only cost £100!

Would it be very unchristian of me

to mention that they are
supposed to pay her?

Oh! Now, Father,
if I'm not mistaken,

there's somewhere you need to be.

Would you?


Shouldn't you be...dressed,
or something?

Come inside.


I don't understand.

I'm sorry. She's not coming.

But she has to, she promised.

She loves me. I know.

Charlie, she must have her reasons.

Where is she? I'll talk her round.

Get your things on,
you're going to marry us.

Maybe later than we thought,
but you will.

That might be difficult.


Where is she?

Violet has asked me to tell you...

..that God has given her her life
back for a reason.