Quacks (2017–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - The Lady's Abscess - full transcript

Caroline is entranced by Charles Dickens and gains an invitation to dinner with him, accompanied by William. He is impressed by her interest in social reform but his drug-induced lechery ...

This is wrong.

Steady on!

Oh, frig, I've been buzzed.

I always get pickpocketed
at the hangings.

Every time.

People were so desperate
to get to the body

they trampled over each other.

People were injured.
They attacked the hangman himself.


Well, he's the hangman on Tuesdays,
he's a good chap.

Clearly, these public
executions have a very deleterious

effect on the crowd.

Yes, well done. Right, down the hatch.

And have some of this if you want,
I will be.

What's that good for?

if you drink enough of it.

I'll have a sip.

Hello, doctors.

If you have a moment,

I wanted to talk to you
about my wife's torpid liver.

Let's test your theory, William -

does regular attendance at hangings
damage a man's brain?

Mr Hubble,
do you enjoy public executions?

I absolutely love them.

My dad used to take me when I was young.

You never forget your first
hanging as a child, do you?

'Ere, you must be that famous surgeon,
Mr Lessing.


Caroline, what are you doing here?

I must be hallucinating.

Oh, I've just had the most amazing day.

I went to hear Charles Dickens
reading from The Old Curiosity Shop

and talking about his new book,
Dombey And Son.

He read for seven and a half hours.

He has such energy and humanity and wit.

He's not a self-obsessed bore at all.

Do you enjoy his books?


Really? You like reading about pale,

consumptive children wandering
around in graveyards, do you?

Oh, John! He's our greatest and most
important polemical storyteller.

I tried reading The Pickwick Papers,
it was longer than sorrow.

I lost the will to live by page 80.

Yeah, well, that was his first book.

It was light and satirical.

He's become so much
more substantial since then.

His depiction of Mr Quilp,
the malevolent,

lust-filled dwarf
filled my mind for weeks.

Have you read Curiosity Shop?

It's my absolute favourite of his.

Now, look,
the truly exciting news is that I talked

to his publisher, Mr Bradbury,
after the reading and I told him about

the paper that I've written
about the excessively long hours

that children work and he invited
me to have dinner with him

and Mr Dickens to discuss it

at Charles Dickens' house!

So would you like to escort me?

I can't. When is it?

Saturday evening. Yes, I can't.

William, will you escort her?

I'm not sure I'm the right
person for that sort of event,

but perhaps John...

Yes, I'd love to escort you.
You haven't read the books.

No, of course not,
but I'd like to try and get him to read

my drug diary.
I think it will be right up his alley.

No, you have to be a fan of his
if you're going to come for dinner.

So will you escort me, please, William?

if your husband has no desire to attend,

then I'd be delighted

to escort you. I'd be very
interested to meet the mighty boss.

Will you ask him from me what
he's got against dwarfs?

You can see after only three
days the skin is already

beginning to heal across the wound.

Well done, Mr Harris. I think you'll
find you'll be back selling fish

sooner than you imagine.

Sorry, can I help you?

Sad to say that if you
want to be one of the nurses

attending my operations,
there's an unhappily long waiting list.

I have an observation to make.

I watched this amputation on Monday
and I think you made a severe

mistake not cutting the dead flesh
away from around the incision.

I beg your pardon. And you should be
cleaning your instruments after use.

I'm sorry, who are you?

My name is Florence Nightingale.

Dr Hendrick,

please can we have this
annoying nurse removed?

I'm not a nurse, I'm a volunteer.

Ah, you've met Miss Nightingale.
Isn't she wonderful?

No. She's had some very exciting
new ideas for the hospital.

She thinks the nurses should be sober.

She wants to clean the sheets more
often, get rid of some of the rats.

And the surgeons must clean
their instruments.

I'm sorry, but I am not going to be
told how to proceed by some

volunteer who knows as much about
surgery as I do about German opera.

Which, to be clear, is nothing.

God has sent me here.

I've prayed about making
improvements to this hospital

and 83% of my prayers come true.

Sorry...you keep count of how
many of your prayers come true?

Well, I keep a list of Jews I meet.

Patients won't know what
an experienced surgeon I am

unless they can see the blood on my
coat and instruments, will they?

Oh, that's a fair point.

Father wondered if you'd like
to visit us over the summer

at the villa near Verona.

Oh, how delightful.

Er, when was he suggesting?

I'll say you're keen and find out.

Florence's father is
Mr William Nightingale.

Great friend of Lord Palmerston's.
I see.

Do let me know his reply,
Miss Nightingale,

and let's clean up those instruments,
shall we, Lessing?

We've got to get rid of her.

Why is she so appalling?

She doesn't know what she's doing.

She's already insisted that Hendrick
get rid of two young surgeons

simply because all their patients
died of gangrene.

Good men I'm talking about.

Oh, she does look awful.

Look at her opening windows!

All she does is endlessly open windows.

She's letting in some fresh air.

But look at the way she's doing it,
all proprietorial

and sanctimonious
and pleased with herself.

Thank you. Yeah.

Mind you, I bet she's filthy in bed.

It's always the uptight, religious ones.

Once they unclench.

Let's get her locked up.

Can you certify that she's got
a brain disorder? Or hysteria?

She isn't mad or hysterical.

Yes, she is,
she told me that she has visions.

God told her to come here.

I'm not doing that.

You want patients to try ether on,
let's ask her.

Give her too much,
tragic accident in the name of progress.

I don't really want to kill nurses.

She's coming this way.

Good morning to you, Mr Lessing.

Yes. Who are your two friends here?

He's an alienist, he's a dentist.

Neither of them clean their instruments

or their bottoms.

Then they should start to.

I gather Dr Hendrick
has asked for you and I

to visit Lady Neilson-Toy
with him this afternoon.

Hendrick's patron?

YOU and me?!

She has got a lovely smile.

Agh! No. Get off!

Good try, little man, but you'll
have to be a good deal quicker

than that with me.
Sorry, Mister! Don't hurt me.

I've never tried it before.

It's only cos I'm desperate hungry.

I've got some bread,
some cheese and...oh.

A Swiss liqueur. Thanks.

What's your name?

Don't know, Mister.
Mother didn't want to give me a name

until I was six in case I died
before then. I see.

But you're older than six now,
aren't you?

What's your favourite name?

Winkle, like in the book by that man.

Let's maybe call you Oliver for now.

Little Ollie.

We are you from, Ollie?
I was born in Deptford.

I never knew my father.

Mother used to collect
horse dung for a living

before she became a tart.

Ah. Right.

What is it you do in here, Mister?

It's a wondrous room.

Don't touch that!

I'm a dentist. That's my dentist chair.

These are the drugs I try and give
people to help with the pain.

Have you got a bad tooth? Hurts
like a kick in the whiffle. Does it?

Well, let's have a look then, shall we?

How much do you weigh, Ollie?

I don't know. Right.

I'm going to weigh you.

Then I would like you to inhale
a bit of this for me

before I pull your tooth out.
How's that?

Thanks, Mister. Didn't feel a thing.

Well, that is the power of ether.

Astonishing. You's astonishing.
Well, thank you.

here's a coin for your tooth as well.

Child's tooth's worth a pretty penny,
I can tell you.

And how long has this discomfort
down below been with you, madam?

Oh, several weeks now.

We should examine her.

Oh, no, I don't want that.

Rest assured, my lady,
there's no need for an examination.

I can diagnose perfectly well
simply through conversation.

I suspect you have a large haemorrhoid.

Perhaps the size of a Christmas walnut.

If we book a time,
Mr Lessing, my surgeon,

may be able to attend to the problem.

You feel it may require surgery?!

Well... It may.
If I could examine, I'd be certain.

Be quiet.

I am Sir Christopher Wren,
you are my builder.

I fully understand your desire to avoid

examination by a man.

Especially this man.

What a beautiful brooch you have here.
A diamond tiger. Oh, yes.

A birthday present
from the maharaja of Dungarpur.

It is my favourite possession.
It's beautiful. Mmm.

I've travelled widely in Europe
but I'd love to hear about India.

And perhaps while you enlighten me,
if the men leave the room,

you might permit me to have
a very brief look at you.

She has a large, red,
weeping abscess on her left

buttock it that, in my opinion,
needs removal.

As I thought.

Spent a lot of time looking at buttocks,
have you?

Let us fix a time for this surgery.

Hello, Ollie.

I got something for you -
children's teeth for you to sell.

Thank you, Ollie.
Where did you get these?

Will you pay me for them?

Yes, but where did you...?

Maybe it's best I don't know.

This isn't a human tooth,
this is a cat's tooth.

Is it? Have you been pulling
teeth out of dead cats?

The rest are children's.


What's that you're making?
It's a new device for inhaling ether.

Can I work for you? Please?

I'll do whatever you want -

be helpful, steal things for you.

Very well.
I like you, you thieving little oik,

and I could do with a second.

Here, there's this new nostril just
come on sale, Mr Squire's extract.

If you want to be a dentist,
you have to be a chemist as well.

Shall we try and work out what's in it?

Thanks, Mister.

What for?

Offering me a life.

I'm sure Mr Dickens will be
fascinated by your paper

on children's long work hours.

If he reads it. I hope we'll be able
to impress him together.

I'm sure you will be able to.

And I shall do my very best.

Do you know his works well?

What man in London hasn't read
all of Dickens?

Those are lovely gloves you have,

Oh. Thank you.

I wear them on my hands, so...

They are lovely.

Oh. Oh, please excuse me.

Ah, we are here, I believe.

The great man will be down shortly.

Such an honour to be here, Mr Bradbury.

The honour is mine.

Dear friends, forgive me.

I've been sending money
to my charity for fallen women.

You must be the delightful Mrs Lessing.

Thank you so much for all your
many letters of support

and enthusiasm for my work and for
my causes, I cherish every one.

You're most welcome, Mr Dickens.

This is my friend, Mr William Agar.

Sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit, sit.

Forgive my appearance.

I've been writing all morning
in a state of pity and terror,

summoning the emotions
needed for a new scene.

I've been crying,

but writing through my tears.

I've been crying and writing.

I have days like that.

But without the writing, obviously.

I so enjoyed your reading
of Curiosity Shop on Tuesday.

It's my favourite of your novels.

Dear lady. The proportions of
light and shade and comedy

and pathos are so beautifully judged.

I don't think I've been more
moved by anything in my life than

the death of Little Nell
at the end of Curiosity Shop.

And no barrister or physician
ever worked harder at a book.

Thank you, all.
I try to write not with the pen but...

with blood...

and dynamite.

Which of my characters
is YOUR favourite?

I love...

the character of Pickwick
in The Pickwick Papers.

He is wonderful, isn't he?

Who else?

I like very much...

Dombey in Dombey And Sons.

Oh, but he hasn't appeared yet.

He's who I'm currently writing.


what I mean is I love the sound of it.

Cannot wait cannot wait -

for that one.

Which of my other
characters do you enjoy?

I do so love to hear readers'
reactions to my creations.

I love...

There's so many to choose from!


Mr Chuffwinkle.

Sorry, I mean...Mr Chuffsniff?

Do you mean Mr Chuffey or Mr Winkle?

Both of them.

I think he means the Pecksniffs.
Yes, him.

Them. Yes.


Which? Which?

Which? Which of the Pecksniffs?


all of them.

But which of the Pecksniffs...

is your favourite?

The one...

who's a dwarf.

Dickens, Mrs Lessing
has written a wonderful paper

objecting to the long hours
many children have to work.

Oh, well,
that's a subject very close my heart,

the exploitation of our children...

is wrong. Yes, and I think
extremely harmful to our society.

Now, our chimney sweep, who's only six,

had to work 14 hours a day last week.

Yes, and often it's without lunch.

Are you aware of the Nine-Hour Movement,
sir, that seeks to limit

the number of hours a child can
work to nine hours a day?

Well, I'm a founder member of
the Ten-Hour Movement.

Ah, well, this is one hour better,

so may be worth your consideration.

I myself am determined to
campaign against public executions.

I believe they are damaging to the
public's minds and cause frenzy.

Her idea is interesting.

You must send me your paper.

Well...I have it here with me.

Oh, wonderful.

After dinner.

Yes. Thank you.

Now, I wonder if you might
tell us a little about your day.

I'd love to learn what a typical
day involves for a great man

such as yourself. Dear lady.

Well, yesterday I was in fine spirits.

I awoke at 4am at my
lodgings in Broadstairs.

I'd written 5,000 words by breakfast.

After a brief sit-down
with one of my maids,

I walked into London,

that took four hours,
and I arrived in Southwark

for a five-course lunch,
which began with some oyster patties.

Mr Lessing, a message from Kensington.

Lady Neilson-Toy has taken
a severe turn for the worst.

In the evening, I seek out the quaint

and the queer

on my antinomian nights...

Oh...when I'm accompanied by
a few young men, journalists

and young writers seeking pleasure
in the company of the inimitable.

Who's the inimitable?

Is he a street magician?

Oh, you're the inimitable.

Yes, of course.

Oh, you're here.

She's deteriorated. She has a high
fever. Her pulse is very rapid.


I think you need to operate now.

I concur.

What can I do for you?

Open the window.

And jump out of it.

I'll turn her for you.

Has that helped you?

Yes, thank you.

Miss Nightingale, do you see that?

At the window.

I see an angel.

Do you see it too?

No. What's that?

She tells me how I can be saved. Yes.

I must deliver this woman to salvation.

I am the sword of the Lord.

There's nothing there
and I think you know that.

Are you saying that people
don't have visions?

I thought you did.

Yes, I make them up.

It can be very hard to make your way
in this world as a woman

but people do tend to listen to God.

It seems to me you're a very
intelligent young woman,

Miss Nightingale.

Would you like to assist me in this?

Stupid people have been writing
to The Examiner suggesting that the

death of Little Nell at the end
of Curiosity Shop is sentimental.


Well, of course it's sentimental.

How could the death of a perfect,

virginal girl be anything other
than full of deep sentiment?

Half the funerals in this city are
for children under ten, Bradbury.

It's not a sentiment, it's fact.

Innocent little virgin girls die.

They die. They die.

They die! Innocence always dies.

Shall we have the creamed
pineapple pudding...

Mmm...now perhaps?

I feel the urge to go out,
to walk, to take some drugs.

Do you like taking drugs, Mrs Lessing?

Yes. Yes, I went to a terrific
ether frolic last week.

William has a friend who always
has a great many new drugs.

Oh, excellent.
Well, let us repair to his.

I'm not sure he'll be in.

Oh, yes, he will be. Come on, William.

Yes, he will be.

Let us go pig.

No, Ollie!


Ollie, you foolish boy.

What? Can we come in?

We want to try some of your
chemicals for fun.

This isn't a great time.
Oh, just let us in, John.

We want to take some ether
and nitrous oxide

and hash and coca and cigars.

We've got Charles Dickens with us.

Er, one moment.

Very good. Hello. Yes, come on in.

Ah. Who'd like to take what?

How's that working, Mr Dickens?

If you're in the mood,
I might read you some of my drug diary.

It's quite...I think it's good.

It's short.

Hurry up, Dickens. I'd like a go.

In a minute, Bradbury.

You know, more than anything in
the world, I want to be a doctor.

A physician or a surgeon.

That's a wonderful notion.

But how?

Wonderful but impossible.

You don't know what it's like,
William, to have society

forbid you from pursuing the
one thing that you really want.

I do.

Mrs Lessing, let us discuss your paper.

Did you bring it with you?

Step in here with me,
where there is more light.

Go and charm the unendurable.

Mrs Lessing.

Yes, here I come.

This is a cupboard.


You wish to discuss
poor children with me.

Yes... But...touch my beard first.

You don't have one.

There's a voluptuary quality to you,
Mrs Lessing,

that I find entirely irresistible.

Thank you.
You're like Venus entering a bar.

Touch my beard.

No, Mr Dickens.

Touch my crinkle, feel it. Go on.

I wish to boss you...

Get off, you beast.

But I'm the inimitable.

Get off, you nasty tosspot.


Little Nelly?

You haunt me still.

Ah, no!

Bradbury, we must leave this place.

Yes, get out,

you smug, self-aggrandising,
pretentious, molesting turd pipe.

Do you know what, I promise you,

the first thing I'll do with your
Dombey And Son when it comes out

is use it to wipe my notch.

Hear, hear, me too!

I will not be spoken to...


Ollie! Well done, you've come round.

John, what's going on?

This child's near dead.

Yes, that's my new assistant.

I keep him in the cupboard.

Oh, look at this, he's stolen your idea.

What a bastard!

Oh, Lady Neilson-Toy, what a
delightful honour. I see you're up.

My prescription worked. Yes, it did.

But I wish to
complain in a most vigorous

manner about the behaviour
of your surgeon.

My precious tiger brooch has been
taken from my bedside.


And you think I have taken it?

The brooch was there before surgery
but gone afterwards.

That is a very serious accusation
to make to a professional man.

Miss Nightingale,

we are accused of stealing
Lady Neilson-Toy's tiger brooch.

No, you are. What's the matter?

Why don't you search both our bags?
If that will reassure you.

I do not suspect Miss Nightingale.

A woman of such stainless reputation
would never perform a theft.

I'm willing to have my bag searched

if it will set aside doubts.

Well, yes, of course, me too.

No. Erm, try the side pockets.

In order to certify
Miss Nightingale's innocence.

What is that doing there?

A good attempt, madame.

I think it is all too clear
what has happened here.

No, it has been planted there.

But who on earth would do that?

And I know only too well how badly
the nurses are paid here.

I'm a volunteer.
But we can all recall you expressing

your admiration for the brooch,
Miss Nightingale.

Dr Hendrick, I insist that this
woman is removed from this hospital

immediately or I will press charges
and remove my patronage.

Miss Nightingale...

you must leave here. This might be
a dirty stain on your reputation.

However, if you allow me

to holiday in your family's villa
from the second week of August,

starting from Monday the 8th,
shall we say, for three weeks,

I assure you no-one
will ever hear of your thievery.


Your friend your husband -

is the most appalling man I've ever met.