Father Brown (2013–…): Season 5, Episode 10 - The Alchemist's Secret - full transcript

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DISTORTED VOICE: My sources told me
you were an exceptional architect.

I can see they are correct.

You honour me.

And what of the builders?

They have been dealt with.

Why do you wear that foreign garb?

Because I am many things.

Physician. Traveller.

Alchemist? That's what they say.

What is in the box?

My greatest achievement.

Something that will one day save
this fragile kingdom from itself.

Your secrets are safe here.
I hope...


The King thanks you for your






I know you're there.
Show yourself.

Well, who is it?

Well... I..I don't know. I mean,

they've been following
me for several days.

Have you ruffled anyone's
feathers lately?

Well, I did have had some rather
radical ideas about the

impact of the Romans on the local
textile industry.

It-it caused a terrible stir.

That's a no, then.

Now, there you go.

Most kind.

There is one possibility.


Oh, it may be nothing,

but I think it all started after I
came into possession of this.

What is it?

It's the secret diary of the
university's architect.

Which would make it over
300 years old.

Why would someone be bothering you
over a silly old book?

This is no mere historical document.

The diary claims that someone in the
King's inner circle discovered

the secret of alchemy - the method
of turning base metals into gold.

Oh, by magic!

Or science.

Nowadays, we'd probably call him
a chemist, not an alchemist.

It also claims the secret is
hidden at the university.

Super! Does it say where?

Not explicitly.

You look very tired, Professor.

Feeling like
a marked man is wearing me down.

I don't sleep,
I'm not eating properly.

How can we help?



Principal, Professor Ambrose asks if
he can borrow the Magister's Key.

Really? Why?

He thought it may be the one
referred to in the diary.

An intriguing hypothesis.

Very well.

Good luck.

Thank you, sir.

They'll have this place destroyed!


They should be in the
philosophy department,

yet here they are
in pre-16th century theology.

Excuse me, I wondered if I might
have a word with Professor Ambrose?

Come right in.

Professor, I tried to get hold
of the Principal.

Oh, why?

You asked me to speak to him.

Oh, yes. Of course.

He's in a meeting all morning,
but I'll keep trying.

Is this to do with the diary?

You know about that?

We-we can trust these people.
Tell them what's been happening.

The diary claims that the location
of the Alchemist's secret was

hidden in a riddle given to the
King's closest advisors.

Could they not just have
drawn a map?

Oh, no, no, no!

This was a time when men of
intellect were required to

prove their worth.
Well, what's the riddle?

"The Key to the Lock to the Door."

The Principal holds an old key as
part of his ceremonial items.

It dates back to the
17th century,

when the university was built.

Good idea. We-we should get hold of

I'll try, Professor.
A pleasure to meet you all.


Ladies, have you seen the sights of
this magnificent university?

The great hall, the library,
the gardens?

Oh, how wearisome. Can't we just go
and help "Cheekbones" instead?

No, no. Father Brown is quite right.

We should see all the sights
while we're here.


How long have you been
having problems with your memory?

He's losing his mind, isn't he?

Father Brown or Ambrose?
Either way, the answer is yes.

Oh, that poor man.

Somebody's forced this.


There was a fuss the other day,
I was scheduled to give a lecture

and I...

I completely forgot.

It's a cruel trick of nature,

this brain which made my career,
deserting me in my twilight years.

I think this business with the diary
has been playing havoc with

my nerves.

Who found it?

Timothy Hargreaves.

The boy who was here earlier.

He wanted me to confirm that it
was... That it was authentic.

Does anyone else know about it?

Just the Principal.

We're keeping quiet until the
official announcement.

The person who
has been following you...


Do you think you might be
imagining it?

I know what I saw!

Once again - we didn't do anything.

I can repeat it in French if it
will get the message across.

Oh, just doing a spot of spring
cleaning, were you?

Not really my department.
What's going on here?

I discovered these intruders
trying to break into the

trophy cabinet.

We are not intruders,
we are friends of Professor Ambrose.

This porter of yours
has got the wrong end of the stick.

I caught them red-handed.

let us not descend into squabbling.

Penelope Windermere, The Countess of
Montague's niece. How do you do?

Malcolm Pendle, Principal.

We were just admiring this
marvellous hall and we

noticed someone had broken the lock.

There's nothing of any
real value here.

We just dug out whatever cups and
medals we could find,

to celebrate 100 years of the
university athletic team.

Anything been taken?

One of the old medals has gone.

I am fed up with these
student pranks.

I believe this is a police matter.

We're not calling the police for the
sake of a piece of old tin!

Obviously these ladies had nothing
whatever to do with what happened here.

And as friends of Professor Ambrose,
we must extend them every courtesy.

If you insist.

I do.

Now, if you'll excuse me, ladies,
I have business to attend to.

The professors may think there's
a golden aura around you but I

see you for what you are.

We could have made a great team.

Just think,
with my looks and your hostility,

just think how successful our
children would be.

That's the problem with
pretty boys -

their charms only last till they
get what they want.

What on earth goes on inside
that head of yours?

"The Key to the Lock to the Door."

Key. Lock. Door.

Door, lock, key?

Professor, do you have any milk?



Hello, Timothy?
Is Professor Ambrose with you?


Have you got the diary?

It-it-it's gone.

Professor, are you all right?

I'm very well, thank you very much.
And yourself?

Is this chap bothering you?

I stopped him going in the water.

Where has Father Brown got to?


Professor Ambrose thinks he may have
lost something. An old diary.

Oh, yes?

It's valuable.

Well, WE haven't seen it.

let's get you back to your rooms.

Thank you.
That's it.

Look after him.

Requiescat in pace.



What's happened? Is..is that

Is... Is he...?


I wonder if you'll be on the scene
as quickly when I drop dead, Padre?

Have some respect.

Please, Father, into the corridor.

What ARE you doing here?

I was looking for a friend of mine.

And you are?

I'm just passing. I'll be off.
I don't think so.


Victoria Nicholson.

Thank goodness you're here. My
secretary told me what's happened.

Oh, my...

It's quite a little party we're

I'm Malcolm Pendle, Principal
of the university.

Please, tell me anything that
I can do to help.

Do you have a spare room we can use?

Can't have everyone standing
around out here.

Biology labs are just
around the corner.

I have a seminar to get to.
You'll have to miss it.

No. I had to fight hard to get here.

I'm not going to start
missing classes.

I'll inform your tutors,

make sure they fill you in on
whatever you miss.

So, you found the body, Padre?

Yes, I did.
He couldn't have been there long.

He came to see Professor Ambrose
about an hour ago.

That must have been soon after
he left my office.

He wanted to borrow the
Magister's Key.

The what?

It's a ceremonial item,

something that gets handed down when
somebody new assumes my post.

But he told us that
he couldn't find you.

Are you sure he had this key?

Oh, absolutely.

Well, he hasn't got it now.
His pockets are empty.

This way.

Will this do?

Yes. We need to take statements.


What is that doing here?!

Professor Griffin believes in
a hands-on approach

to teaching biology.

Looks like you've made a friend.

Just stay in here and keep out
of my way, Padre.

Do you need me?

If not, I should telephone and offer
my sympathies to the boy's parents.


The sergeant will be through to
take your statements.

I didn't see anything.

Were you close to Timothy?

Not really. We had some history
classes together.

Did he ever mention an old diary?


I'm afraid this area is out of
bounds, sir.

I heard what happened.

I've been porter at this university
for over three decades.

I know what goes on here
better than anybody.

Is that so?

Then, can you think of anyone who
might have done this?

He's moved them again.
While I was out.

Oh, look.

What have you got there?

There you are, thank goodness.

And what's HE doing here?

The boy we met earlier, Timothy

He's been murdered. Oh!

is that yours?

Ah, no, no.

I believe this belongs to the...
to the Principal.

The last time anyone saw that key,
Hargreaves had it.

So how did it get here?

He found it. I saw just him.

Maybe that's what
he wants you to think.

I gather he's been prone to sudden
mood shifts recently.

Only this morning, he was seen
wandering around the college,

lost and confused.

Oh, yes, and who told you that?

I think we can guess.

It all paints
a pretty vivid picture.

Professor Ambrose means
no harm to anyone.

I just go where the
evidence leads me.

Timothy Hargreaves had
a cut on his cheek.

Have you considered how he got it?

In the struggle.

In a struggle, Timothy would have
easily overpowered him.

Oh, what's happening?

Hilary Ambrose, I am arresting you
for the murder of

Timothy Hargreaves.

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

but whatever you say may be written
down and given in evidence.

We need to find out who framed him.

Are you sure that's what happened?

I mean, the Professor hasn't been
himself lately.

Professor Ambrose is my friend.

Oh, there was that girl having some
kind of disagreement with Timothy.

She slapped him into tomorrow.

Dark hair?

About five foot five?

You've met her?

Whoever planted the key in Ambrose's
room knew the significance of

the riddle.

We need to find out how many people
know about the diary.

Well, that porter swine for one.

He asked if we'd seen it.

Where is it now?
Do the police have it?


I may have accidentally borrowed it.

Professor Ambrose left it when
he disappeared.

That's awfully sly of you,
Father. I do approve.

Mrs McCarthy,
will you talk to the porter?

Find out what he knows about it.

I'll give him a piece of my mind.

How could he tell the Inspector that
Ambrose was losing the plot?

The main thing is to find out
what he knows.

We'll meet back here.


May I have a word?

Father Brown, do.

The police told
me about Professor Ambrose.

Please let me know if there's
anything that I can do to help.

I don't think he's responsible
for what happened.

Well, I know it must be hard
to accept,

but the police seemed quite

Timothy lied to Ambrose,
pretending he didn't have the key.

Hargreaves was a talented
undergraduate but not without ego.

Perhaps he was hoping to solve the
riddle for himself.

Has anyone ever tried to see
where the key fits?

My wife took an interest
a few years ago.

Tried the key in every lock in the
university, but without success.

Would it be possible to
speak with her?

She passed away.
18 months ago.

I'm very sorry.

Struck down by her own failing
body before her time.

Such a... Such a pointless waste.

When things like that happen, God...

With respect, I think it's too late
for God to help her now.

That's rather magnificent.

It's the original plan for the

Now, if you'll excuse me,
I have a lot to sort out.

Yes, of course.

Thank you.

Now, the boy had the key,

then he died and somehow it
ended up in your room.

Just explain that to me.

I don't know.

The porter said he saw you wandering
around in a daze this morning.

What can you tell me about that?

Oh... I can't remember!

I'll be honest - if you don't give
me something to work with,

then I can't help you.

Did I hurt that poor boy?

As things stand...
I have to say it looks that way.

How shall I live with myself?

Perhaps confessing would help
ease the burden?



He's here!


The shadow was...

Well, perhaps he could wait outside
while we finish up?

Hurry, before he comes back.

I was right!

Oh, but of course.

We couldn't even find that porter,
but you managed to solve the

murder and crack a 300-year-old
mystery while we were gone?

No, no,
but I think I understand the riddle.

"The Key to the Lock to the Door",
refers to three separate puzzles.

The key, the lock and the door.

But if the killer was trying to
solve it, then why leave the

Magister's Key in Ambrose's room?

Wouldn't they need it?

Not if they knew what they were
looking for.


The key!

The architect who drew this
also helped to design the riddle.

The symbols over the buildings are
referred to in the key with

one exception...

The library.

I don't know how...

..trying to solve an ancient riddle
is going to help Ambrose.

If the real killer is attempting to
do the same,

then that will lead us to him.

Or her.

Is that the girl you saw
talking to Timothy?

I'll see you in a moment.

Miss Nicholson...

..may I have a word?

I have a lecture to get to.

My friends say they saw you with
Timothy, just before he died.

Apparently you were rather
upset with him.

Yes, I was angry with him.

We had a brief,
misguided fling that ended badly.

This place, Thorndike...

How do you know about it?

I don't know what you mean.

It's mentioned in this diary that
you said you knew nothing about.

When did Timothy let you read it?

Look, he wasn't the one who
found it. I did.



I was going through the university
land deeds for my history project.

I showed Timothy,
and he stole it from me.

I know there was no love lost
between you and Timothy,

but I believe that Professor Ambrose
is being framed for his death.

And in order to help him, I need to
understand what is in that diary.

And that is my ONLY interest in it.




"In Thorndike the Alchemist's
magic has been proven.

"The King's enemies will bend
their knee before him."

This is a reproduction
of a map from 1603.

The village of Thorndike is here,

a few miles from where
the university is now.

But this one,
nearly 100 years later...

It's gone.

Where did it go?

I don't know.

What have you found?

Absolutely nothing.


The architect wanted
his riddle to be solved...

..but a book in a public place is
liable to go missing.

Perhaps he factored that
into his design.

And what's that supposed to mean?

Maybe we're looking for
something more permanent.

Yes, and maybe we're just looking
in the wrong place.

Those marks look recent.


Why the long face?

This may sound strange...

Coming from you?

Mrs McCarthy, don't make any sudden
moves and move slowly towards me.


He's magnificent!

Is that thing poisonous?

I'm not sure.

How will we get past?

Perhaps we should feed it something.

That's a good idea.

If we had a mouse...

Oh, yes, of course, I'll go to
the mouse dispenser, shall I?

Or, um, we could distract it and
then get behind it and pick it up

by the neck.

It's all neck!

The bit behind the head.
I don't know what it's called.

And how exactly are we
going to do that?

Where do you want him?

Buiochas le Dia.

He reminds me of this splendid
specimen we found while on

safari in Kenya.

I used to call him Hugh.

Do we have to return him?

There's that porter.

I'll catch you up.

Are you looking for this?

How did you get that?

How did you find out about
the existence of the diary?

Ambrose has been asking questions
around the university.

I realised then that he was trying
to solve

the Alchemist's riddle again.


When Ambrose came to this
university, 30-odd years ago,

he found the riddle in some old
correspondence with the royal court.

He never told me.

He'd probably forgotten.

I don't know what he did with
those letters, but when Timothy

gave him that diary, well, he
started that search all over again.

I tried to take it from him, but
he wouldn't let it out of his sight.

He thought you were a phantom!

When Ambrose first tried to solve
the riddle, well,

he became obsessed.

Then what happened?

One day, he just stopped searching.

But he had a look in his eyes that
I haven't seen since the trenches.

Absolute, helpless fear.

And I don't want him to
rediscover why.

You told the police he'd been
behaving erratically.

It's the truth.

But what you said could
have him hanged.

I like Ambrose,

but if he's responsible, then
Timothy's family deserve justice.

Now, give me the diary...

..and I will destroy it.

I can't. Because the information in
this could save my friend.

Make it quick.

A few Hail Marys,
then I want you out of here.



Hello, my friend. How are you?

Please tell me the truth.

Did I kill him?


Would you swear that on the Bible?


He's followed me here.


The Alchemist,
with his beaked mask

and his-his... magic.

We found a carving in
the library of Janus's head.

One side facing towards the future,
one side facing towards the past.

Yes, Janus, the God of transitions.

He acts as a barrier between
this place and the next.

Isn't he also the God of Doors?

One of his faces was on the medal,
it was all bathed in moonlight.

That was the King's copy.

I threw it in the lake.
A long time ago.


Oh, no. Oh, please.

Help! Help!



Out, Padre. You're upsetting him.

He shouldn't be left alone.


I had to tell him all I knew.
He's my friend.

No! No!

What did Professor Ambrose know
about the carving in the library?

He said he saw one of
the faces on a medal.

Well, there was a medal stolen from
the display case in the Great Hall.

Professor Ambrose said he'd thrown
it into the lake a long time ago.

Yet the display case wasn't broken
into until this morning.

Well, can't sit around here
all day drinking tea.

Hooray for that!
What are we going to do?

I'm going to shake the tree and see
what falls out.

You wanted to see me, Principal.

Actually, that was me.

I'm glad you could join us,
thank you.

Make yourself at home.


Not now, girl.
This isn't a good moment.

And I asked Victoria if she could
join us as well.

Do come in.

What's going on?

As far as I know, you are the only
members of the university who

know about the existence of
the diary.

What of it?

Ever since it showed up,
a kind of madness has descended.

I propose that we work together to
solve the puzzle.

And then whoever killed Timothy will
have no reason to harm anyone else.

Are you saying one of us
murdered him?

I think we should all just forget we
ever heard this cursed riddle.

I don't think that's very likely.

Sorry if I'm being naive,

but how do you fit into this?

I have some crucial information
the rest of you don't.

Something Ambrose told me.

But to use it I need the medal that
was stolen from the Great Hall.

Ambrose told me that
he got rid of the King's medal.

But I think there was another medal
that showed Janus's other head.

I think that belonged to
the Alchemist.

Thank you.

What do the medals do?

On the medal Ambrose threw into the
lake, Janus was looking at the moon.

In this one,
he's looking at the sun.

What's he doing?

It marks the journey from
night to day.

Now what?

It's at the wrong angle to
tell the time now.

But now it's telling us
something else.

Where's it pointing?

The Great Hall.

Over there.

Here! There's... There's a catch.


Nothing good will come of this.

It's too late, Crawford.




Here, use my matches.


This way.

Looks like something's been burnt.
Most probably paper.

Something's wrong.

That lantern's too modern.

Open the box.


Listen to the priest.

Give it here.

Haven't you done enough damage?

What do you mean?

I think you found the carving in
the library this morning.

You knew that I was on
the right trail.

But when you remembered where you'd
seen Janus's face before

it was too late.

The medal had gone.

Ambrose was always very open about
his investigation

so he would have told you
anything he'd found,

and you reasoned Timothy must
have taken it.

But I had the medal.


You killed Timothy Hargreaves
because you mistakenly thought

he was the only other person who
knew about the medal.

Is this true?

I didn't want to hurt him.

'I waited in his room till
he came back.'

What are you doing?

Shut the door.

'I lost my temper.'

Where is it? What?

The medal.

I don't know what you're
talking about.

I won't ask again. The medal!

You hit me.

Don't test my patience!

I'll make sure people know about
this. Father will tell everyone.

Give it to me!

You're finished. I'll have your job.
Take everything you....

I swear I didn't mean to do it.

But the next thing you did was
quite deliberate.

You planted the key in
Professor Ambrose's room.

I panicked.

I knew that anyone investigating
would discover Ambrose's interest

in the riddle, so it would be easy
to lay the blame at his feet.

But I thought because of his
condition, no-one would try

to prosecute him.

You took advantage of an ill man.

I've done wrong. I know that.

But I mean to make up for it.

That's convenient,
now you've been found out.

What's done is done.

Think of all the good I could do
with what we've found here.

Um... Principal, there is no gold.


Professor Ambrose has already
been here.

This is his lantern.

He discovered
the secret 30 years ago.

He burnt these papers.

Because he didn't want anyone to
know what they contained.

The idiot!

Why didn't he take the box?

Because he feared that what it
contained was too dangerous

to be removed.

No. He's wrong.

I beg you, Principal, I beg you,
do not go any further.

Professor Ambrose talked about
a man in a beaked mask.

Like a plague doctor?

Yes, exactly.

I think the Alchemist worked out how
to use a plague as a weapon.

And that was his secret.

That's where the village of
Thorndike went!

It disappears from maps
cos there was no-one left alive.

It's where he tested it.



Keep away.

What if the box contains
the last remaining samples of

the Alchemist's experiment?

It would kill the four of us
at the very least.

I have to know the truth.

But you're better than that.

It's too late to save me.

God will forgive you.

But I won't.

Is this what your wife
would have wanted?

That our loved ones suffer
the same pain that you did.

I thought I could have done
so much good with it.

This secret must remain buried.
Are we all agreed?

Yes. I promise.

What do we do with him?

We cannot explain anything to
the police without telling them

what we found.

I know what I have to do,
but I'm a coward.

How will you live with yourself?

I'm afraid of what they'll do to me.

Can you return to your former life
after what's happened?

You have already taken
the first step.

The hardest part is behind you.


Professor, we're letting you go.
We need this cell.

Which of these books are essential
for you to take with you?

I'd start with those and then...

there's my Divinity section.

And the diary, of course.

Hilary, it's gone.

Oh, that's such a shame.

So, what will you do in
your retirement?

I'll try and keep out of trouble.

And my brother has a project he
wants my opinion on.

Oh, what is it?

Something of
a mystery at his local church.

I'm not sure you should get
involved with that.

Don't be ridiculous, I can't wait!

There's a missing priest, a stolen
crucifix from the Middle Ages,

and a trail leading from the altar.

I think I shall enjoy