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Magic Casements

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S1n07

Lady Marjorie (Rachel Gurney) is enchanted by Captain Charles Hammond (David Kernan).

Magic Casements is the seventh episode of the First Series of the UK Period drama, Upstairs, Downstairs. The episode was written by John Hawkesworth and directed by Joan Kemp-Welch. The episode focused on the possible derailing and eventual survival of the Bellamy marriage.

The episode was also notable as it was the first episode filmed in color after the settlement of the technician's strike that paralyzed London Weekend Television and its other Independent Broadcasting Authority (now known as ITV) subsidiaries (the first six episodes of the first season were filmed in black and white).

Plot

When Richard Bellamy is unable to go with his wife to an opera because he has to attend a political meeting, adding to the friction which has already developed between them over Richard's political stance (he was intent on abstaining from voting on an education bill), he asks Charles Hammond, a friend of his son James, who is fanatical about opera, to go instead.

They greatly enjoy the opera, and each other's company. They meet again a few days later in a bookshop, and Charles asks her to read him "Ode To A Nightingale" by Keats. They go to his house, where she reads and plays the piano for him. Charles admits that he loves her, and she admits that she cares for him as well.

They begin to have an affair, which the servants get wind of, in spite of Lady Marjorie's attempts to hide it- she burns the note that comes with the bouquet of roses which Charles sends her. Hudson, the butler, scolds the servants for nosing into business that does not concern them, which shows just how disparate life is between the upstairs world and the downstairs world of the house. What goes for those who live upstairs doesn't necessarily mean the same thing for those who live downstairs.

They discover a boxful of letters. We see Charles and Marjorie in bed together, and dancing to a gramophone together. Charles wants to make the affair public, and badgers Marjorie to divorce Richard.

Marjorie insists that the affair be kept secret a while longer. James and Charles plan to attend a regatta. Hudson sees news of a regatta accident in the papers, and goes to tell Marjorie. She bursts into tears, and Hudson and Richard assume that she is worried about James.

Charles comes to tell Marjorie that he is alright, but Richard walks in on them as they are embracing- they break apart just in time, and Richard assumes that Charles is there on James' behalf.

But James returns and reveals that he was unable to attend the regatta after all, because he had to stand in court in place of a friend, who "got the collywobbles" at the last minute. Richard is angry with James for not informing Marjorie, but James insists that he phoned her at lunch.

Richard begins to piece together what has happened. That Marjorie is having an affair with their son's friend. Rather than losing his temper with his wife, as well he could have done and would have had the right to do so, he tells her that he has changed his political stance, as it is a question of loyalty.

A delighted Marjorie realizes he is right, and she must also be loyal- she sends a note to Charles, asking her to meet him at the opera, and there, she ends the affair, bidding him a tearful farewell. He gives her a pendant, and she dissolves into sobbing after he has left.

Richard, to help soothe his depressed wife, sends her to visit her family home at Southwold, where the roses are at their most beautiful. Assuredly, nothing was ever said about the affair ever again. However, tragically, Captain Hammond, who returned to action, was killed in battle.

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