Masterpiece Theatre: Lord Mountbatten - The Last Viceroy (1986–…): Season 1, Episode 1 - Episode #1.1 - full transcript

Arthur, welcome to Calcutta.

Very good of you to meet me sir.
Not at all old chap.

Quite hot already isn't it?
Nothing like it'll be later on.

Back home, we keep
reading about riots, sir.

Yes, damn shame this
Hindu and Moslem business.

I'm afraid you've come
out at a very bad time.

However, I'll get you home,
give you a good English breakfast.

Mother sent out two
pots of strawberry jam

Oh! splendid, that's the best
news I've heard for a long time.

The Indian Civil Service
has been my life,

could have been
yours too, but...

England seems
determined to pull out soon.

What are they doing here?
Nowhere else to go,

They're the homeless ones.
So many.

You see it all over Calcutta,
thousands without work or homes.

The city's grown
enormously in recent years

Can't something
be done for them?

It's appalling.

Yes, I know
what you're thinking

I used to feel the same
myself at one time till I...

I realised they're used to it.

That damned fatalism
of theirs I suppose.

Anyway, they just accept it

Allah hu akbar!

Allah hu akbar!

Allah hu akbar!

I suppose Mountbatten is the
right man for the Viceroy's job?

Not only the right man,
he's the only one

Many people in England are
worried by his film star profile...

...his dash, the playboy image.

Surely his success as supreme
commander would have settled all that.

In any case, the important thing
is the reaction to him in India

People there
know him, respect him,

...the victorious leader...
...a member of the royal family.

The man who accepted the
Japanese surrender at Singapore

Yes and...
...for all he's an aristocrat,

he does have
the common touch.

Come in.

Lord Mountbatten, sir

Thank you for coming
so promptly, Lord Louis

I'm afraid things
are reaching a crisis.

The London conference?
Never a doubt...nothing's settled

Jinnah, Nehru and the others
are aware that we intend to...

...replace Wavell. They simply
won't consult with him anymore.

We've had reports of renewed
violence, and it's spreading.

To check it, a new initiative
must come from London now.

Well, Prime Minister,
I've been giving it some thought,

and it seems to me, you have
the ideal man out there already,

the commander in chief of the
Indian army, General Auchinleck.

He'll have his work cut out
holding the forces together.

What we need is not
a general, but someone

who is also a diplomat,
who can get people to talk...

Talking is no good,
there's been enough talking.

Something must be done
in order to defuse the situation.

Such as?
Such as...

setting a definite
date for independence.

If I go out there on some
kind of open-ended thing...

...we could be
messing around forever.

We thought in about 2 years.
That's far too long.

It has to be something more like

next June, 1948, by the latest.

Next June! By the time
that could be announced...

that will leave only,
15 months!

Well, I don't want to be out
there twiddling my thumbs.

(Cripps) But the situation is ...
(Attlee) Just a minute!

Does that mean that if the
government agrees to the time limit

of June 1948, you accept?

Well, there's still
one last thing...

Is the Secretary of State
for India above the Viceroy?

Of course he is. The Secretary
speaks for the Cabinet.

I can't have that. I can't have the
cabinet sitting on top of me all the time

Anything else would be equivalent of
giving you full plenipotentiary powers!

No one has been
given those this century!

Well, that's that!

Unless I have full powers,
to make decisions...

...which are mine, and
mine alone, on the spot...

I can't accept.

(Buckingham Palace)

Lord Mountbatten, sir.

(King George VI)
Good to see you Dickie

I've had a meeting with
the Prime Minister but...

It's incredible, but he wants me
to take over as Viceroy, and...

Yes, he told me last
week he was planning to.

Sit down Dickie.

I think it's a splendid idea.

But Bertie, the Viceroy
is your representative... all intents and purposes,
he is you!

But whoever is appointed this time,
his express purpose will be

to liquidate the Indian Empire
and bring the days

of the British Raj to an end.

But the problems there
are so deep rooted

They're almost
beyond imagination.

Look how bad it will be for
you and the family if I fail.

Ah, but on the other hand,
look how good if you succeed.

We must accept
the inevitable Dickie.

I can't help a
deep sadness that the...

...end of the Empire should
be coming in my time...

...but we can't fight history.

The brightest
jewel in the crown.

I very much
regret that the...

war prevented me
from traveling to India.

And now,
it will be given away...

without my ever
having seen it.

So, you want me to accept.
I sincerely hope you will.

Because I believe you are
the only one who can do it.

And I hope that,
somehow you will be able to

arrange that not all our
links with India are severed.

(Edwina Mountbatten)
You're very silent.

Attlee's asked me to be
the next Viceroy of India.

No one's to know.

Well obviously.
What did you say?

That I couldn't give him
an answer straight away...

not till I've talked it over with Bertie.
(Edwina) And did you?

Bertie's all for it.
He says they need me ... and instinct is just
to turn it down flat.

I mean, with all the political
and religious quarrels

the situation is such a mess
that the job is almost impossible.

What can be done?
I don't know.

Do you think
I should take it?

I need your advice
Edwina, because

there's no-one else
I can talk it over with.

I'd go to Winston,
but he just explodes

at any suggestion
of giving up India.

Well, he still believes in the
empire, so it's understandable.

So, what am I to do?

I mean, it concerns you
just as much as me.

If I'm Viceroy,
you're Vicereine.

Well, you can't ask
me advice on this.

You know how much
I love India.

I just have to think of it,
and I can't wait to be there.

and I'd be less than honest if
I didn't admit these last two months

have been a bit
of a let down.

After the war,
all the excitement.

Yes, old England is a bit
drab after Ceylon and Burma.

Yes, isn't it just.
As for being Viceroy, well...'re the obvious choice.
It's a great honour...

but you'd be
risking everything.

I know ... and I don't want to
go down as a resounding flop.

So what do you think?

Well, I haven't
really taken it in yet.

But don't ask me to
advise you not to accept

the greatest
challenge of your career.

(Broadlands, Hampshire, England)

(Princess Victoria)
Dickie, how could you?
You know what people will say.

You accepted simply
for the glitter.

To sit on a gilded throne
pretending to be a king.

Oh, I doubt that, mama.

The government has
got itself into a corner

with this offer
of independence

and they can't
get out of it.

They don't want to,
and if I can help with...

They know that it's
bound to end in disaster.

He may be more successful than...
Edwina! ... please... don't understand.

I'm sorry for him.
All his life he's been driven.

He is obsessed with
following his father's career

...step by step.

Like this cruiser squadron.

You're father commanded it,
so you want it.

And then to be
Admiral of the Fleet, but now...

the politicians are
going to sacrifice you

just as they sacrificed
and ruined your father.

No one could...

have been more loyal,
more dedicated than he was.

but because the
family was German

and those vicious spy rumours
started, they sacrificed him.

You know...
you've spent your whole life...

...trying to wipe out
that stain on his memory.

and now you're going
to throw it all away.

You're going to become
another scapegoat just like...

Do you think
I'm bound to fail?

Fail ... you Dickie?

You wouldn't have accepted
the job if you didn't think

you had at least a
chance of succeeding.

Attlee put the
odds at 6 to 4.

Personally, I see them
as nearer 1000 to 1.

...still... I'm damned well
going to have a go.

What we have done... the most significant
act in our history.

Never, have we...

in the whole history
of the Muslim League...

...done anything except by...

...constitutional methods.

But now...

...we are obliged...

...we are forced
into this position.

This day,
we have to bid...

...goodbye to
constitutional methods.


...we have forged a pistol...

...and are in a
position to use it...

If the Congress wants war...

...then we accept that offer.

We shall have India...

... divided ...

... or ...

...we shall have India ...

... destroyed!

Pakistan zindabad! ...
Pakistan zindabad!

(India House, London)
I hate this bloody place.

You'd think we were
back in the 19th century.

Typical of British thinking
about India, Pug.

OK. For those of you
who do not know each other...

let me just run
through the basic team.

First, my two right hand men...

General Lord Ismay,
who'll be our chief of staff...

and Sir Eric Mieville,
great expert on Indian affairs.

Then my wartime aides...

Captain Ronald Brockman,
Royal Navy...

Commander George Nichols,
Royal Navy...

and Lieutenant Colonel
Vernon Erskine-Crum.

Scots Guards.

Let us not forget
the Scots Guards.

And last, but by no means least
... Alan Campbell-Johnson.

Alan will be in charge
of public relations,

publicity, press liaison,
and so forth.

(Sir Eric Mieville)
There's never been
a press spokesman appointed

to the Viceregal staff before sir.

That's right.
This is the first time

because I want the ordinary
Indian, as well as his leaders

to know why I've come
and what I'm doing.

Now, I think that's
everyone, except Peter.

I believe you all
know my senior ADC

Lieutenant Commander
Peter Howes.

Right ... now ... gentlemen.

None of this is
going to be easy.

So to let you know what you're
up against, I've had extracts

of recent newsreels
linked together to show

some of the rioting in
the Punjab, in Calcutta, and Bombay

Peter, if you'd
draw the blinds.

Good to see the
chief back in action.

The worst riot in India's
strife-torn history is sparked off...

as Muslims battle Hindus over
Britain's plans for independence.

There are plenty of onlookers,
and all ringside seats are taken.

Whilst the Indian
leaders plead for reason...

following Jinnah's
direct day of action...

Star film highlights the
continuing mob violence

looting of shops,
and consequent loss of life.

Government troops are fighting
a desperate rear-guard action

to keep the communal
rioting under control.

With building after
building raked by fire...

thousands are being
made homeless, and city life

has been brought
to a standstill.

In the ravaged towns,
troops find

the mangled remains
of religious violence.

The death toll cannot
be given, but already,

hundreds are dead,
thousands wounded

and the city is threatened with
outbreaks of typhoid and cholera.

This is holy war, where men, women
and children are being slaughtered

in the most savage
outbursts of religious frenzy.

(Winston Churchill)
It's all changed, Pug.

Nothing's the way I thought
it would be, afterwards.

(Lord Ismay)
Well, at least we
survived the war, sir.

Will we survive
this socialist government?

Everything we fought
for is being destroyed.

And now this shameful
abandonment of the empire.

Part of an historical process.
Bound to come.

When the time was right.

When India had proved able
to govern herself democratically.

You know as well as I do, this
so-called interim government is a farce.

Well isn't that rather
a reflection on us

that after 200 years
of rule in India...

we can't leave her in a
fit state to take care of herself?

You're not going to get any
honours out of this, you know Pug.

That's not why I'm going
Then why?

Because I'm proud
of our record there.

I'd hate to see it spoiled
by the way we leave her.

Besides, if Dickie is prepared to
go on the field for the last chucka

twelve goals down...
I want to be there with him.

I'm sorry you are having
anything to do with it.

Lord Louis hopes that
you would understand.

That you'll send him some
word of encouragement.

Encouragement! For someone
who I never intend to speak to again?

You can tell him from me, that
I consider by accepting this post

he is betraying
his family...his country...

...his king ...
...and the empire.

What I have to say will be said
to the nation in its proper place...

...the House of Commons.

As for the new Viceroy

is he to make new efforts
to restore the situation?

Or is it merely
Operation Scuttle on which

he and other distinguished
officers have been dispatched?

Many have defended
Britain against her foes.

None, can defend
her against herself.

But at least, let us
not add by shameful flight

by a premature
and hurried scuttle...

at least let's not add to the
pangs of sorrow so many of us feel,

the taint and
smear of shame.

Ok Ronnie.
(Brockman) Thank you sir.

Nearly there Peter.

We'll be landing at
Delhi in half an hour.

Kill Mizzen.
Don't you dare.

You're a beast. You might
have given us a little longer.

There it is.

What on earth
do you want that for?

I couldn't think
where else to put it.

Just so long as you don't walk off
the plane with that box under your arm.

No ... Elizabeth will.

He's a twit.

Guard, attention!

George Abell sir.
Private secretary to Lord Wavell.

Of course, I believe you'll be
staying on for the continuity.

Yes sir.

I expect I shall have to
rely on you a great deal.

This is my wife, Lady Mountbatten,
and my daughter Pamela.

Would you like
to step this way sir.

Mr Nehru of the Congress
party, Your Excellency.

Yes indeed. You're repaying the
compliment of Singapore, Mr Nehru?

The least I could do,
Your Excellency. It is a pleasure

to welcome you to India...
... and you, Lady Mountbatten.

Liaquat Ali Khan,
deputy leader of the Muslim League

May I add my welcome, Your Excellency,
and that of my leader, Mr Jinnah

Thank you very much.
I look forward to meeting him.

Welcome to India, Your Excellency.
It's a pleasure to be here.

Welcome to India, Your Excellency.
Thank you.

Good morning, Ronnie, Alan.

(Campbell-Johnson) Morning sir.
(Brockman) Early start sir.

Yes. I've just got this
report from Bengal.

In the 3 days following
Jinnah's Muslim day of action

6000 people were
killed in Calcutta alone...

and a further
20,000 seriously injured.

(Campbell-Johnson) Appalling!
And it's still going on.

I want daily summaries from the
military commanders of all provinces

and immediate notification
of any new incidents.

I'll pass it on sir.

I want a review of the
public health situation,

rail transport,
and food distribution.

Yes sir.

There's been a good response from
the Indian leaders to your invitation

to talk, sir.
Nehru's accepted already.

Good. I think I can
communicate with him.

You'll want press coverage?

Well, I certainly don't
want it kept quiet.

Would you see these are typed and
sent off right away, please Ronnie?

(Brockman) Right sir.

These are the press arrangements
for the swearing-in ceremony.

Quite a few raised eyebrows though,
ceremony's never been filmed before.

Dinosaur thinking. There's going
to be a record of it this time.

I'm not only the new Viceroy...
with any luck, I'll be the last.

Just between us Alan,
as this ceremony comes closer

I confess I feel ...
not exactly nervous...

...rather more aware...
...more tightly strung.

I'm glad I'll have
Edwina with me.

Oh! Have you
seen the headline in

today's 'Dawn' the
Muslim League paper?

Lord and Lady Louis arrive.
It's a nice picture.

But it's not you! It's Ronnie
Brockman and Elizabeth Ward

That's right.
Well, perhaps after tomorrow

they'll know who
the Mountbattens are.

Well. Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

If you'll excuse me,
I think I'll take a bath.

I think I can
manage by myself.

Right, you can go now.
You may go. Thank you.

Thank you.

No, you may go.
Thank you. My chicken.



Edwina. Are you in there?

Good grief ... you all right?
Couldn't be better.

What do you think of our new home?
Fairly modest, wouldn't you say?

Be it ever so humble,
there's no place like home.

I thought you might like to
see this ... Wavell left it for me.

Operation ... Madhouse.

It's an apt description.

The endless negotiations
nearly exhausted him.

Finally, he lost patience...
and this is what's left.

So, what is it?

A plan for the British
evacuation of India.

City by city,
province by province

women and children first,
then civilians, and finally.

the last remaining army units
leaving the country to chaos.

But he would never
have gone through with it.

Not unless he
was forced to.

What are you
going to do with it?

Shove it in the back of the safe
and hope it'll never be needed.

That was delicious.
Actually, it was the dogs.

Edwina. I'd like your help
to get this place reorganised.

It all seems frightfully formal.

Pomp and circumstance.
All these servants.

Have to cut down
on that a touch.

We're gonna have much more of
that, I'm afraid. I'm bringing back

all the pre-war
splendour and ceremonies.

Now careful, Dickie.

Your enemies already say,
that's why you took the job.

Well, let them. I want the
people of India to know that...

they have a real Viceroy,
who speaks for the king...

the government,
and the British nation.

When we go out, we'll
go with all the flags flying...

bands, chicken legs,

You're a clever
old thing, aren't you?

No Viceroy, ever had
a more beautiful consort

I was just thinking...
do you remember

old Lady Reading when we were
engaged, saying you were a fool

to marry someone without
much of a career ahead of him.

Is my hair alright?

I, Louis Francis Albert
Victor Nicholas Mountbatten

I, Louis Francis Albert
Victor Nicholas Mountbatten

Swear that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance...

to His Majesty,
King George VI, Emperor of India

his heirs and successors.

Swear that I will be faithful
and bear true allegiance...

to His Majesty,
King George VI, Emperor of India

his heirs and successors.

according to the law,
so help me God.

Although, I believe it is not usual
I should like to say a few words you
... and to India.

This is not a normal Viceroyalty
on which I am embarking.

His Majesty's government
is determined...

to transfer power
by June 1948.

This means that a
solution must be reached...

within the next few months.

In the meantime,
every one of us...

must do what he can to
avoid any word or action,

which might lead
to further bitterness...

...or add to the toll...
...of innocent victims.

I am under no illusion as
to the difficulty of my task.

I shall need the greatest goodwill
of the greatest possible number,

and I am asking India, today,
for that goodwill.

Thank you. Yes.
I felt it went pretty well myself.

When you started your speech you
could have heard a popadom drop.

Well, it certainly
got the ball rolling.

I'm seeing Nehru this afternoon.
What's his background, Sir Eric?

Kashmiri Brahmin family.

His father, a very
distinguished barrister...

sent him to England to
complete his education.

Spent seven years at
Harrow and Cambridge...

then at the Inns of Court,
studying law.

He came back here a
thoroughly Anglicized young lawyer,

and apparently went through a painful
process of trying to be an Indian again.

You see, the
British sahib here...

didn't accept him like
his friends in London.

Then he came under
the influence of Gandhi...

and joined the
Congress Party.

He soon became one of its
leaders, and the authorities,

as was their wont...
kept sending him to jail...

which naturally
increased his popularity.

But he doesn't seem
to bear us a grudge.

He's shrewd...
balanced ... charming.

And underneath it all
...hard as nails.

Mr Nehru, Your Excellency.

How nice to see
you, Mr Nehru.

I was delighted by the
invitation, Your Excellencies,

especially on such
a historic day.

Oh please, no more
standing on ceremony...

we had enough of it this morning.
Do please sit down.

Thank you.

It seemed to go
very well, this morning.

May I compliment Your Excellency
on your unexpected speech.

I felt it was needed.
It was very effective.

It also sounded as if you had the
authority to make your own decisions.

Have you by any chance been
granted plenipotentiary powers?

What if I have?

But in that case,
you will succeed.

You're very gracious.

At a difficult time like this,
I am surprised...

that Mr Gandhi is not
here, in the capital.

He considers his crusade to stop
bloodshed in the Bihar villages

... more urgent.

But in any case...
wherever Mahatma Gandhi is...

...that is the capital of India.

We want you Muslims
out of this village.

What right have you to
choose for us where to live.

Go and live
with your own kind.

This is our village,
we have always lived here.

We are telling you,
to get out.

My children ... please enough!

When you shout, you
only hear your own voice.

We are afraid, Gandhiji.

Hindus have been attacked
in the villages round us.

Their houses burnt down.

And now, you wish to drive
out your Muslim neighbours?

We must protect ourselves.

Don't you see, that by turning against
them just because they are Muslim

you are committing the
same crime, the same evil.

Hindus and Muslims have
lived together in peace...

in our villages for centuries.

This hatred is not natural.

It is caused by politics,
not by religion.

These Hindus will
never learn, Gandhiji.

They live and die in superstition
worshiping their cows,

which go about the place
trampling and eating the new crops.

So you feel free
and beat the cow.

No, I never did.

I just pushed her
out of the field.

The cow is not
only the giver of life...

of milk, and fuel for
heat made from her dung.

She is a symbol
of abundance...

and of non-violence...
...a symbol of India.

My children... I do not expect
you to agree on everything...

only to agree to settle your
differences without violence.

Stay with us Bapu
... teach us.

Pray with us Bapu.

I'm sorry my children, I cannot.

I have many more miles
to cover before nightfall.

But, I will take a meal with you...
if you agree to eat together.

Good ... and I will teach
you a prayer to God...

which all of you may
say when there is need.

Hai, Rama,
King of the Universe...

who makes the sinner pure...

who is both Ishvar and Allah...

who gives his blessing to all.

I told you so. I thought I might
find you lot near the drinks.

Ah! Thank you.

(V.P. Menon)
A very significant occasion,
Your Excellency.

First party at Viceroy's
House to which

a real cross-section of
Indians have been invited.

I must admit, it seems
to have gone splendidly.

You have Indian friends,
surely George.

Yes, of course, and we always
invite them, but that's in private.

Here at Viceroy's house,
it's been customary only to...

invite officials of
the highest rank.

If we'd done this sort
of thing years ago...

maybe we wouldn't be
in the mess we are now.

At last, I feel I've
made some friendly contact.

How did the English
ladies in India bare ???...

Not all were totally isolated,
Your Excellency...

though most would seem
to prefer it that way.

They don't know
what they're missing.

I was enjoying it so much,
I'm sorry it's over.

Same here, darling,
just getting in the mood.

Why don't we
go out somewhere.

Well, didn't you say Nehru was
giving an at home tonight, V.P.?

Why don't we drop by?
Would you like that?

Very much.
No I'm

It is out of the question,
Your Excellency.

It's a matter of protocol you see.
It has to be an official invitation...

arrangements, security check.
Oh no, none of that.

I thought we'd just jump
in the car and drive over.

But, it's just not done.
Well, so let's do it.

Hello. We heard you
were giving a party.

We hope you don't
mind our dropping by.

Not at all.
It is a delightful surprise.

May I introduce my sister,
Nan Vijayalakshmi

How do you do.

And my daughter, Indira.

We welcome you, Your Excellencies.
How do you do.

What a pleasure.

You were at Oxford, weren't you?
Yes I was.

During the war,
in the air raids of London...

she went fire fighting
at Piccadilly Circus.

Ah well, that
makes two of us.

Good for you. Let me
introduce my daughter Pamela,

and this is Miss Ward,
and Mr Campbell-Johnson.

Your Excellency,
many of my friends...

will be longing to meet you.
Please excuse me.

May I present
Maulana Abul Kalam Azad...

until recently president
of the Congress Party.

Ah yes, Lord Wavell spoke
very highly of you Mr Azad.

I'd love to have a talk soon.
It will be an honour sir.

Now forgive me, but what was it
Mr Nehru called you ... Nan...?

In the family, but my
first name is Swarup.

No ... something else.
Ah yes. Vijayalakshmi ... you see

when a Kashmiri woman gets
married she gets a new first name.

So now, I'm
Vijayalakshmi Pandit.

Vijayalakshmi Pandit.
Very good.

I hope we can have
another talk, quite soon.

Your Excellency, I am
prepared to discuss anything,

...but please understand...
I will only discuss independence

in terms of all India...
...a united India.

Well, the division of the country
has formed no part of my talks

with His Majesty's government.
I can assure you of that.

I'm relieved to hear it.

But, it is true that the growing
violence is of equal importance.

It is criminal of the Moslem League
to stir up religious hatred

for political purposes.

And, when I say the League...
I mean of course Jinnah.

Without him it is nothing.

I gather you find it difficult to work
together in the interim government.

He refused to join it.
Instead, he manipulates

the League members
in it, to sabotage it.

It may seem to him, the only way
he's going to achieve anything,

since he's already outvoted
in the cabinet by 2 to 1.

Perhaps we should
join the ladies.

I'm very glad
you can see this.

It is a special dance
from North India ... a Kathak.

Those Muslims.

They've done it.