Oh Doctor Beeching! (1995–1997): Season 1, Episode 1 - All Change - full transcript

It's the early 1960s and steam trains are giving way to diesel. Cecil Parkin arrives to take up his post as the new station master at the rural station of Hatley. He is pleased to find that the buffet manageress is May, an old flame of his, although she is now married to Jack, the porter. There is far worse news, however, when Cecil reads that the new transport minister, Beeching, intends to close down rural stations like Hatley as being uneconomical.

(Train whistle)

Ethel! Ethel!

Hello? What's going off?

It's time you were opening
the booking office.

– Sorry. I'll be there in a minute.
– Where's that boy of yours, Wilfred?

Is he not there? I put his breakfast
on the table 20 minutes ago.

Two rashers and a fried egg!


He won't want his breakfast.
If he does, he'll never keep it down.

It was quarter to three in the morning
when he came home.

Then he couldn't find the right house.

He chucked gravel at my window.

I see. Thought
your luck had changed, did you?

It was the same last Wednesday,
half past two in the morning.

Oh no, it wasn't, it was half past 12!

Well, he'd had a skinful. His shoes
were still in my garden the next morning.

That Harry Lambert's to blame.
He leads him astray.

He's not the only one
he leads astray, is he, Vera?

– I heard that!
– Morning, Harry!

Morning, Harry!

There's a queue
outside your booking office.

– Oh, 'eck!
– Ohh!

Er, sorry I'm late. I'll only be a minute.

– What's happened to Ethel today?
– She's having trouble with Wilfred.

So you're still the acting stationmaster?

Aye, but the new man arrives today.

– How's your wife?
– She's fine.

– She's in t'buffet hotting up t'urn.
– I saw her in Buston on Saturday.

Buston? Saturday?
Who was she with? Was it a man?

Excuse me. Are you going
to open this booking office?

The 7:59 is due in four minutes.

Not till I get my new signal cloth it isn't.

I am not touching them levers
with this thing any more.

Harry, don't fuss.
Ethel'll give you one when she gets here.

Oh, will she?

I asked her for one last night.

She'd locked up the signing book.

You know how fussy she is
when it comes to procedure.

Excuse me, sir.
This man, did he have fair, curly hair?

I don't know. He had his hat on.

Excuse me, the 7:59
is now due in three minutes.

He's sorry he's late. Aren't you, Wilfred?

– Tell Mr Skinner you're sorry.
– I'm sorry I'm late, Mr Skinner.

Get cracking on them brasses
in t'gents' whatsit.

– Have you got an aspirin?
– You don't need one to clean brasses.

Get on with it! Oh, and Ethel,
give Harry a signal cloth, for God's sake.

I can't just give it to him!
He's got to sign for it.

– Well, give him the book, then!
– (Train whistle)

Ah... Excuse me. I believe the 7:59
is now waiting to come into the station.

Well, it's gonna have to wait, then, innit?
It'll not move till I get back in my box.

Here's your cloth
and here's the book. Sign.

Why don't you use a pair of gloves
to pull the little lever?

Because I use a cloth.

Ah! He's woke up at last. Now...

Now come on. Pay attention.

Now, when you start off,
don't be heavy– handed. No.

You've just got to sort of... urge it.

Just give it a gentle touch.

(Steam hissing, engine clanking)


Watch the line!

Tickets, please.
Tickets, please. Thank you.

Tickets, please, tickets, please.
Thank you, madam.

Have a nice day.

Don't be American.

Hatley! Hatley!

Change here for Buston and Wenstead.

He's done it again.

You've overshot again, Ralph.

You've got to use judgment!

– Shall I back her up?
– No, leave it.

Here. Give me that.


– Sorry, Mr Skinner.
– I should think so an' all.

All my best passengers
have been inconvenienced.

It's Ralph. He just hasn't got the touch.

He doesn't learn.
He'll never make a driver.

Well, why do you let him do it?

Superintendent Scott
says he's got to be instructed.

And so, instructed he's going to be.

But I'm a bundle of nerves
every time he touches that regulator.

– The doctor's got me on pills for it.
– You'd better be off. You're behind time.

Right away! (Blows whistle)

(Train whistle)

No! Leave it alone. I'll do it!

(Steam hissing)

Ralph! You've still got the brake on!

Get off! Get off!

– (Clattering)
– Take it easy, Arnold!

– Cooee!
– Hello, Ethel!

Hello, Percy. Oh, hang on a minute.

Er, here. There's a couple of pounds
of plums for Mrs Potter.

– She's been in bed for a week.
– These ought to get her moving!

Are you going to the dance on Saturday?

– Well, I might. Are you?
– Well, I might.

Well, I might see you, then!

Yes, you might! Ta– ra!


Quick, give us a cup of tea, May.

– It's been one of them mornings.
– Oh dear.

– Is it Wilfred again?
– Yes, but it's not his fault.

That Harry Lambert leads him astray.

– That boy needs a father.
– I know. It's getting too much for me.

He's grown so big,
he's too high for me to hit.

I expect it's the foreign blood in him.

What do you mean, foreign blood?

With a name like Schumann, your husband
must have been foreign. German?

– He was an American!
– Oh, American.

Well, they come in all sorts, don't they?
Swedes. Eyeties.

Red Indians.

He was not a Red Indian!

Oh, he was lovely.
You'd have took to him, May.

– Oh, he was ever so handsome.
– Was he?

Young Wilfred's took after you,
then, I suppose?

– Did the Yanks give you a widow's pension?
– Still being decided.

What, after 17 years?

It was right at the end of the war.

His unit was in an ammunition dump,

destroying German shells
and them sort of things.

There was big explosion
and he went missing.

You'd think they'd've
put the bits together by now.

Give us a cup of tea, please, May, love.

I've been talking to Mr Fairfax,
he was on the 7:59 this morning.

– Oh, yeah?
– Yeah. He, er...

said he saw you in Buston on Saturday.

– Oh, yeah?
– Yeah. He, er...

said you were talking to a man,
with a man's hat on.

Oh. Then it must have been a man.

The market's full of them on a Saturday.

– Who was it, then?
– I don't know! I talked to a lot of men.

Here you are. Put your own sugar in.

Jack! Come here. I want a word.


Here. Why do you always
cross– question her so?

– Don't you trust her?
– Of course I trust her.

I just want to know where she's been,
what she's been up to and why, that's all.

What are you worried about? She loves you.

Does she? Do you really think so?

Well, she married you.

What's that got to do with it?
She was only a kid then.

– And what a looker.
– Well, she's a lovely– looking woman now.

She's still got a lot going for her.
All the men try to chat her up.

If you were me, wouldn't you be jealous?

The trouble with you is, you're paranormal.

Paranormal? What's that mean?

Well, I'm not quite sure,
but it sort of means you're insecure.

Now, Jack, you could be doing
much better for yourself.

When Mr Arnwell retired, why didn't
you apply for the stationmaster's job?

That sort of life's not for me.
I don't like responsibility.

– I don't like bossing people about.
– You boss my Wilfred about.

He needs bossing about.

– Can I have my dinner money, Mum?
– Ask your father.

– Dad? Can I have my dinner money?
– I heard.

Hey. You're not cycling to college
dressed like that, are you?

Don't be so old– fashioned.
She looks lovely.

– Everybody wears 'em.
– But you can see her essentials.

– Talk to her, May.
– Oh, let her alone.

How will she get a job
as a secretary dressed like that?

With no effort at all!

Don't be cheeky to your father.
It's asking for trouble.

Don't be such an old fusspot.

– Dressed like that, she's asking for it.
– Give over.

I wore short skirts when I was her age.

People said I was asking for it.

Didn't get it, though.


You got him.

The Americans came over, didn't they?

A man on the phone wants an appointment.

All right, I'm coming.

Oh, erm... What time's the 9:10 due?

– 9:10.
– Oh, of course.

Wilfred. Here.

Hey. That was a lovely cup of tea, May.
Give us a kiss.

Oh, give over. It's not even dinner time.

– Go and blow your whistle or something.
– All right, I'm going.

– And Jack...
– What?

Get your hair cut.
It's over your collar at the back.

I'll get Harry to do it this morning.

Hatley booking office.

Oh, hello, Mr Shawcross.
Do you want a haircut?

Yes, just a minute.
I'll get the haircutting book.

Ooh, no, that's the betting book.

Oh, here we are. Yes. it hardly seems
a month since you had the last one.

Yes, it does grow faster in the summer.

Let's hope it doesn't
fall out in the autumn.

Ah, yes. Oh, here we are. How would
half past one on Thursday suit you?

I'd better just see if it's all right with Harry.
Can you hold on?

– Morning, Harry.
– Hello, Jack.

Take a seat, I'll be with you in a minute.

Here you are. It's the best I can do
under the circumstances.

There's another stray hair or two
I'd like to bring across the top.

You'll have to grow it another half– inch first.

– (Telephone)
– Answer that for me, will you, Jack?

That'll be half a crown.

Hatley box. Oh, hello, Ethel.

Yeah. Harry, Ethel says, can you do
Mr Shawcross, 1:30 on Thursday?

She knows I've got the 1:30 goods
to Wenstead on a Thursday.

– Ask him to make it 1:45.
– Make it 1:45.

– Put it in the book.
– Put it in the book. Ta– ra.

May says I need a trim. She wants me
to impress that new stationmaster.

– Oh, yeah? What's his name?
– Cecil Parkin.

Never heard of him.

Don't forget your tomatoes.

Something for the weekend?

Oh, no. Not you, no.

Tomatoes, eight pence a pound?
You must be making a fortune.

– Have you seen the price of fertilizer?
– Don't tell me you paid for it.

Don't get nothing for nothing
from that coal man.

– He stands by the horse with a bucket.
– Here she comes.

– Morning, Jack.
– Morning, Vera.

Morning, Harry.
How much are your Bramleys?

– It's up there.
– One and a penny a pound?

– It's daylight robbery.
– You don't have to buy 'em.

Give us a pound. I love a bit of
stewed apple, don't you, Jack?

– I'm passionate about it.
– Harry.

I brought you a drop
of soup for your dinner.

It's lovely. Smell.

I hate soup. There's
nothing in it. It's all thin.

This isn't. It's all thick,
with little bits floating on t'top.

I hate little bits. They
get stuck in me teeth.

Oh, it's lovely. I made it with
a bit of oxtail left over from last night.

I don't fancy oxtail. I
know where it's been.

You don't look after
yourself, Harry Lambert.

I'll leave it on the side
in case you change your mind.


My late husband used to love my soup.
He was an engine driver.

We know, Vera. You've told us before.

When we was courting, he used to whistle
every time he passed my cottage.

Six times a day, he used to whistle me.

That's a lot of whistles.

Thanks. I was turning out
my drawers last night,

and I come across this photograph of him
that I hadn't seen for years.

– He don't look very well, does he?
– Well, he'd been ill a long time.

Why's his eyes closed?

Cos he was in his coffin.

In his coffin? What's he doing in there?

He was dead.

– That explains it.
– Harry, Mr Leatherhead's downstairs.

– He's got a puncture.
– Tell him to leave his bike there

and I'll mend it when I get a minute.

He wants it doing now.
He's got to go to work.

Well, that's his problem.
I'm rushed off me feet this morning.

– It's a good job we don't get many trains.
– All right, I'll tell him.

You'll have to watch your step
with the new stationmaster.

Yeah. I've seen 'em come
and I've seen 'em go.

He don't bother me.

He starts pokin' his nose round here,
he'll get the stiff end of my tongue.

Oh, Harry. You are bold.

– I do admire a man with guts.
– (Bell dings)


There's his train!

– He can move when he wants to.
– Oh, he's a very elegant man.

He reminds me sometimes of Fred Astaire.

Or was it Buster Keaton?

Don't stand there gawping!
Help me clear up this stuff.

– Vera, sweep up that hair, will you?
– What about my haircut?

I'll be in touch.

Oh. Oh, Wilfred, love.

– How's your head?
– It's still throbbing, Mam.

Here, take a couple of aspirins.

Oi. This is no time for eating sweets.
Put your porter's hat on.

– And look at your hands!
– He hasn't had time to wash 'em.

You've rushed him off his feet all day.

All day? It's only ten o'clock now.
Be off with you.

Oh, when the new stationmaster arrives,
shall we all stand in line to greet him?

There's only you here.
You can't have a line with one person.

Get in the booking office!

– Right. Are you listening to me, Ralph?
– Yeah!

When I give the word, you apply the brake!

Are you ready?


Oh, yes!

Hatley! Hatley!
Change here for Buston and Wenstead!

Sorry, Mr Skinner. it was Ralph again.

Good morning, Mr Parkin.

– My name...
– I know who you are. You're Mr Skinner.

– Yes. Welcome to Hatley...
– Just a minute, please.

– Who's driving this train?
– (Steam hisses)

That were Ralph. He's undergoing tuition.

How many times have I told you not
to touch that valve? You're not qualified.

– Right away?
– Yes, get rid of it.

– Right away!
– (Blows whistle, steam hisses)

Sorry, sir. That were me that time.

Percy! Did Mrs Potter get the plums?

She said thank you.
Oh, and she said you had a kind heart.

– You have, too.
– Oh, thanks ever so.

– Well, I might see you Saturday, then.
– Might.

– You, boy. Who are you?
– Wilfred Schumann.

– Why are your hands in your pockets?
– They're all mucky.

He's been sweeping up. I've told him
to smarten himself up. Smarten yourself up!

I can see some things
around here need attending to.

– That's right, Mr Parkin.
– Wilfred, was it?

Harry, you know that man
you gave a haircut to this morning?

You know, the bald one.

Well, his wife rang up to complain.

She said it was too short!

His hair was too short!

This is the waiting room
and this is where people wait.

I can't talk any more. I've got to go.

This is the booking office
and the clerk, Mrs Schumann.

– H– How do you do?
– Another Schumann?

– Wilfred's my little boy.
– She's my mum.

Yes, this is very much a family concern.

My wife Mrs Skinner runs the buffet.

I see. Well, I'll meet her later.

Perhaps you'd like to show me my office?

– What office?
– The stationmaster's office, of course.

Oh, they never use it.
They mostly stop in here with us.

Well, I shall use it. I trust you have
no objection to me looking at it?

No. None at all.

– It's locked. Give me the key.
– I haven't got it.

There's not been one since I've been here.

– Look in the key drawer.
– Wilfred, the keys.


Booking office!

– "G.U."
– That'll be the gents' whatsit.

– "F.O."
– And what is that?

You've got me there!

Er... Freight office.

Here's another. "Smo."


Stationmaster's office.

I'll take it.


I told you it hadn't been
used for a long time.

Hey. That'll come in handy
for my geraniums.

Oh. Oh, this is disgraceful.

A tidy office denotes a tidy mind.

I shudder to think what sort of stationmaster
you've had here in the past.

Look at these windows! They're filthy.

– Well, we clean them on the outside.
– Let's get some air in here.

Er... Er...

Ooh! Look at the terrible mess.

Someone ought to clear this up.

You'll be Mr Parkin, I suppose,
the new stationmaster.

I'm Harry Lambert, the signalman.

I know. I noticed a lot of tomato plants
around your signal box.

Yeah, they grow wild. I can't control them.

They're eight pence a pound.

Yeah, in the shops!

– I think you'd better get back to your box.
– Yes, Mr Parkin.

Ready for your inspection any time,
day or night.

We'll soon get this place tidied up,
won't we, Mr Skinner?

– Yeah.
– We'll soon get this place tidied up.

– Oh, Mr Parkin, there's a letter for you.
– There can't be.

– It's addressed to the stationmaster.
– Give it to me, please.


Oh, er, would you read it for me,
Mrs Schumann? I haven't got my glasses.

Oh. It's dated September 1939.

"Regulation for conveyance
of explosives by rail during hostilities

"to be displayed on the notice board."

– Shall I put it up?
– Shut up.

– Have you got my dinner ready, love?
– Where've you been?

That new stationmaster's been
making notes and poking his nose in.

You'll never guess
what he's just made me do.

Put clean water in the fire buckets!
He thinks dirty water won't put a fire out.

Here you are.
I've been keeping it warm for an hour.

– I'm afraid the gravy's a bit set.
– (Muffled) I'm not fussy. Give us a kiss.

Not with your mouth full of mashed potato!

– (Parkin) ls anybody out here serving?
– 'Ey up. That's his nibs.

Don't tell him I'm here.

– That clock's five minutes fast.
– Can I help you, sir?

Oh, yes. Am I too late for something to...


– Cecil.
– As I live and breathe, May Blanchflower!

No. May Skinner.

Skinner? You mean you're married to that...

He was good to me, Cecil.
He was there when I needed him.

When other people let me down.

I couldn't help it! I was called up, May.

Just a minute.

– (Muffled) Has he gone?
– No! He wants a ham sandwich.

Give him one of them curly ones.

I do not do curly sandwiches.

I'll shut the door.

I have to be very careful.

My husband is a very jealous man.

– He's a very lucky man.
– You had your chance.

– I asked you to marry me, May.
– When?

At Morecambe, at the fairground,
on the roundabout.

I never heard you.

Must have been the organ. it was very loud.

Mum, have you got the front door key?

– What are you doing back here?
– They've cancelled this afternoon's classes.

Ta– ra. Oh, can I borrow your rollers?

Yes. Put them back when you've finished.

Righty– ho. Bye. Bye.

– Is that your daughter?
– it is.

– How old is she?
– Just 18.

She was born in the February.

– But, May, we were...
– Yes, Cecil, we were.

– And is she...
– What do you think?

You'd better have a brandy.

Yes, I think I could do with one.

Bottoms up.

May, please.

– (Knock at door)
– Come!

They're just coming, Mr Parkin.

– I told them all to be here at six.
– Thank you.

Well, you've met everyone now.


Mrs Skinner's nice, isn't she?


She's very pretty, isn't she?

Mind you, she's much younger than him.

Between you and me, he had to marry her.

Mind you, she's very fond of him
and he's very good to her.

It's sort of Beauty and the Beast, really.

Not that Mr Skinner's a beast. He's lovely.
But he does have a lot to put up with.

She puts herself about a bit,
if you know what I mean.

– (Knock at door)
– Come in.

Do you want us now, Mr Parkin?

The 6:15 is due in at 6:15.

It can be on time.

– Yes, come in, Mr Lambert. Hurry them up.
– Yes, Mr Parkin.

Mr Parkin says come in, everybody.

– Look lively, Wilfred! Come on.
– Come on.

Good evening, everybody.
I'll be as brief as possible.

I'm sorry about that steam, sir,
it can come up with a rush.


Mr Parkin does not want
to know about technicalities.

I have been here for eight hours and I am
far from happy at what has been revealed.

I expect you are, Mr Parkin.

We knew you were coming but we didn't
want to put on a special show.

You just tell us what you want,
and it'll be done in a trice.

In a thrice!

The standard of cleanliness
at this station leaves a lot to be desired.

– Not your buffet, of course, Mrs Skinner.
– Thank you, Mr Parkin.

Who is responsible for the clocks?

– I am, Mr Parkin. Monday's winding day.
– Could you get them to agree?

The passengers rely on them.
We must not let them down.

No. It's very important not
to let anybody down, isn't it, Mr Parkin?

Yes, of course. Now, look.
I'm not going to beat about the bush.

When I arrived here I was appalled
at the state of this station.

It's just not up to the right standard.

Now, I have worked for 16 years
to reach my position

and when I got off that train this morning
I had achieved my goal.

Stationmaster. And I am determined
to make this station the pride of the line.

– Hear, hear!
– I'm sorry to interrupt

but the evening paper's just arrived.

– Who are you?
– I'm Vera. I live in Railway Cottages.

That's right. She lives next door to me.

I'm sorry. This is Vera Plumtree.
Her late husband was an engine driver.

A very well– respected engine driver,
Mr Parkin.

Very gentle on the brakes.

Well, this is a private meeting.
If you'll please wait outside.

– But it's this headline!
– What headline?

What are you talking about?

"Beeching Axes Railways.

"67,000 jobs to go.

"2,000 stations to close."

– How many?
– 2,000 stations.

2,000 stations?

That's 2,000 signal boxes.

– 67,000 jobs?
– 2,000 stations. I wonder if we're on the list.

I tell you what, Mr Skinner. You needn't have
changed the water in them fire buckets.

Get out! Come on.

♪ Oh, Doctor Beeching,
what have you done?

♪ There once were lots of trains to catch
but soon there will be none

♪ I'll have to buy a bike
cos I can't afford a car

♪ Oh, Doctor Beeching,
what a naughty man you are

♪ Oh, Doctor Beeching,
what have you done?

♪ There once were lots of trains to catch
but soon there will be none

♪ I'll have to buy a bike
cos I can't afford a car

♪ Oh, Doctor Beeching,
what a naughty man you are ♪

(Train whistle)