7th Aug 1914 · 5th Jan 1915 Podcast Storyline

The Vicar and the Sunday School Teacher

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Vicar Ralph has a noble wife but is besotted with Isabel Graham

  1. 7th August 1914

    Scene 1 of 5

    1. A death in the post office

      Isabel sees a postman collapse and consoles him as he dies: Ralph suggests tea to calm her nerves.

    2. Tea, sympathy and bereavement

      Isabel tells Ralph the dead postman reminded her of a fiance lost in the Boer War, and that she fears the same for her brother Freddie

    3. Discord at the Vicarage

      The intimacy between Ralph and Isabel grows as he hints his wife Dorothea is not entirely happy in her role

    4. The wayward Macknades

      Ralph offers to talk to Alice Macknade's landlord after her husband drank away the rent money, and to take their son Jimmy on the Sunday School outing

    5. The vicar and his wife

      Dorothea praises her husband Ralph for comforting Isabel after the postman's death

  2. 8th August 1914

    Scene 1 of 2

    1. The Sunday School Picnic

      Florrie has forbidden Sam from having cake at the picnic. Adam expects double helpings. But Ralph and young Jessie have other ideas.

    2. A discovery, an accident, a disappearance

      Sulking up a tree, Adam spies Ralph and Isabel kissing, falls and breaks his leg. The picnic ends but Sam and Jimmy are missing

  3. 20th August 1914

    Scene 1 of 3

    1. Isabel and Ralph steal a moment

      As they approach the boats, Ralph and Isabel blame themselves for the boys' disappearance

    2. "Je m'apelle Isabel"

      Isabel and Ralph's attempts to cajole the refugees ashore fall on deaf ears; one of them suffers a coughing fit and takes fright

    3. A refugee panics

      Having been bumped into the sea by a panicked Belgian, Ralph hears the man was arrested; his overture to Isabel is rebuffed

  4. 22nd August 1914

    Scene 1 of 1

    1. An eclipse draws the crowds

      Jessie shirks her charitable duties to talk to Adam, whose stiff upper lip is weakening: truths about Victor, Kitty, Ralph and Isabel threaten to emerge

  5. 25th August 1914

    Scene 1 of 2

    1. Does Dorothea suspect?

      Isabel and Dorothea help the refugees but Dorothea has begun to notice Ralph's reliance on the other woman

    2. The lovers are torn

      Isabel is trying to avoid Ralph, which he thinks will only raise suspicions: both are haunted by the missing boys

  6. 28th August 1914

    Scene 1 of 2

    1. Weeping over a sermon

      The distressed Ralph tries to write a sermon the refugees will understand. Dorothea says she and Isabel are becoming friends

    2. Dorothea triumphant

      Over luncheon, Ralph learns about the new residents and the new hierarchy at the vicarage

  7. 2nd September 1914

    Scene 1 of 3

    1. Between two women

      As Dorothea's work with the refugees expands to include a newspaper, she pushes Ralph towards Isabel

    2. Ralph upbraids Adam

      Ralph finds Adam and Jessie spying on the refugee 'Laces', and explodes when Adam asks about him kissing Isabel

    3. An awkward lunch

      As much as Isabel tries, she and Ralph are powerless to resist the attraction between them over a fraught lunch

  8. 5th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 1

    1. Fighting over Isabel

      In a heated conversation with Dorothea, Sylvia discovers the identity of Victor's beloved Kitty

  9. 8th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 8

    1. The Vicar Calls

      Ralph blunders into the Graham house - Isabel seems unable to stop him

    2. Reactions to tragedy

      Gabriel and Isabel are paralysed by grief while Sylvia seems to think it her duty to soldier on

    3. Isabel fears she is cursed

      Isabel is shattered - 'undone' - by the news, and her secret intimacy with Ralph shadows all their dealings

    4. The household is rocked

      Grief in all its manifestations: Ralph is practical, Sylvia indomitable, Isabel numb, Esme coarse

    5. A house divided

      Prostrated by sorrow, councillor Graham is unable to respond to his wife's wishes

    6. Maids compare notes

      Esme vents her class hatred to the more forgiving Kitty: Isabel catches the end of her waspish diatribe

    7. Isabel flees

      Isabel cannot bear to stay in the house any longer.

    8. An encounter with a soldier

      Her emotions in disarray, Isabel kisses a soldier who thinks she is a prostitute: the revelation brings Freddie's death home to her


  10. 12th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 1

    1. Ralph reaches out to Alice

      Alice is cheered by the offer of a marrow: it's something Joe can eat with his rotten teeth

  11. 15th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 1

    1. Sylvia inflamed again

      Outraged by Jack's lack of decorum, it looks like Sylvia is incubating a new patriotic scheme

  12. 17th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 1

    1. Gabriel goes to pieces

      Wracked by grief, Gabriel forgets things, mislays papers, even fails to recognise his own daughter

  13. 18th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 7

    1. A tryst in the church

      Dorothea interrupts Ralph and Isabel's kiss with the news Mathieu is deathly ill: Isabel again feels cursed

    2. An emergency baptism

      Baptism seems miraculously to break Mathieu's fever - will this also break the curse?

    3. Off for a jaunt

      The couple's infidelity - even if only notional - is underscored when Dorothea sends Kitty with a picnic for them

    4. Time alone

      Ralph and Isabel may be approaching a watershed moment

    5. Field of dreams

      Isabel confesses about kissing the soldier: Ralph reveals his marriage is unconsummated and can be annulled

    6. A difficult conversation

      Ralph skirts the idea of separation, but Dorothea misunderstands, and suggests they adopt Mathieu/Matthew

    7. Another difficult conversation

      Ralph and Isabel reach an understanding: they love each other but will keep their affair secret

  14. 24th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 3

    1. An official dinner with the Belgians

      Hilary and Dorothea are concerned by Gabriel's absence, and Isabel is again peeved by her mother's high-handedness

    2. Sylvia's speech interrupted

      Sylvia apparently reacts with embarrassment rather than concern at her husband's eccentric interruption

    3. Sylvia is stricken

      It's true - Sylvia is "mortified" rather than concerned by her husband's erratic behaviour

  15. 25th September 1914

    Scene 1 of 3

    1. Suffrage in the Vicarage?

      Dorothea and Marieke clash again proprietorially over Mathieu/Matthew, and discuss equality with Ralph

    2. The argument continues

      Ralph's attitude to suffrage hints at the deeper problems in his marriage: Sylvia remains imperious and implacable

    3. A challenge to the patriarchy

      Dorothea and Ralph bicker gently about the evening, and she warns him the suffragettes have already affected her

  16. 1st October 1914

    Scene 1 of 4

    1. Women at odds

      Dorothea and Isabel show they have more in common than Ralph when faced with Sylvia's incurable, old-fashioned attitudes

    2. Sylvia spring cleans

      Once again we see Sylvia's lack of tact and the way she and Isabel manifest grief very differently

    3. Isabel thinks Dorothea suspects

      Isabel's emotions tug her in different directions - fear that Dorothea suspects, a yearning to go to war, longing for Ralph

    4. The family that plays together...

      Remembering Freddie brings the remaining Grahams together and levels their conflicting emotions

  17. 2nd October 1914

    Scene 1 of 4

    1. The love affair exposed

      We understand the complexity of Dorothea's anguish when Ralph finally admits his feelings for Isabel to her - then Isabel interrupts

    2. Kitty and Victor's wedding

      Victor leaves for the front tomorrow, Dorothea is angry with Ralph, Florrie hopes the Grahams will accept Kitty

    3. A sudden scream

      Adam has climbed the bell tower

    4. A chat in the belfry

      Adam is not suicidal but convinced he started the war: he tells Ralph the story of the ten-bob note: Ralph apologises to Adam for lying about Isabel

  18. 1st December 1914

    Scene 1 of 2

    1. A funeral

      Dorothea appears, insisting she has a right to attend Freddie's funeral.

    2. Freddie laid to rest

      Only when the rest of the family has left Freddie's grave can Silvia speak freely to her dead son of her love for him

  19. 3rd December 1914

    Scene 1 of 4

    1. Discord in the vicarage

      Dorothea no longer trusts Ralph: Ralph is impatient with Dorothea: they skirt the main reason for their argument

    2. A meeting about billeting

      The crowd turns nasty, accusing councillors of profiteering: Dorothea suggest they billet soldiers at the vicarage; Isabel asks Ralph for a driving lesson in her new car

    3. Dorothea's offer

      Dorothea reveals she and Ralph speak Hindi - might they have Indian soldiers billeted on them?

    4. An argument

      Dorothea has given Ralph permission to see Isabel Graham as long as no one sees them, and he does not tell Isabel that she knows about their affair

  20. 8th December 1914

    Scene 1 of 5

    1. A dispute over a bucket

      A soldier's attempt to 'requisition' some petrol is interrupted by Isabel and her eccentric attempts to drive

    2. The soldiers arrive

      The vicarage's new soldier inhabitants are an Indian private with impeccable English and a flirtatious Welshman

    3. Monk's bicycle returned

      We learn that Monk was prevented from signing up, and that the con man soldier was freed on Ivor's orders

    4. More upset in the vicarage

      Ralph seems jealous of Dorothea speaking Hindi to Ramesh: their third soldier-guest is the conman, George

    5. The lantern lecture

      Dorothea brings the soldiers to the lecture - Ralph doesn't want to leave her alone with them - where they meet Isabel and Jessie

  21. 11th December 1914

    Scene 1 of 6

    1. The collarless vicar

      It looks as if Ralph and Isabel are planning a tryst under cover of him giving her a driving lesson

    2. The driving lesson

      On the way to their hotel tryst, Ralph presents Isabel with a ring for appearances' sake

    3. On the brink

      Ralph poses as "common" while signing them into the hotel, but Isabel is propositioned in reception

    4. The mood destroyed

      Upset by the soldier propositioning her, Isabel asks to go home

    5. Motoring home

      Even Ralph's offer to give her the wheel cannot cheer the inconsolable Isabel

    6. Another insinuation

      After being mistaken for a prostitute, once again, on her aborted tryst with Ralph, Isabel returns home where Toby jokes that, because unmarried, she might be a lesbian

  22. 16th December 1914

    Scene 1 of 5

    1. Uproar at the Vicarage

      George smashes Dorothea's statue of Kali and proves a boorish presence, heightening tensions: Ralph has become stand-in chaplain at the Manor House hospital

    2. Ralph visits the hospital

      A nurse prepares Ralph for his first face-to-face encounter with amputees and men with frostbite


    3. The weeping soldier

      Ralph, attempting conversation with a soldier wracked with sobs, finds Isabel visiting the hospital

    4. Two casualties

      Ralph talks to the comatose Hardinge and is accosted by Douglas, who lost both legs to a Howitzer but endures, thanks to a female ambulance driver

    5. Ralph lays down the law

      Chastened by his experiences at the hospital, Ralph throws George out of the house when he molests Marieke

  23. 25th December 1914

    Scene 1 of 6

    1. Christmas in the vicarage

      Symbolically, Ralph has glued together Dorothea's statue of Kali, that George McNamee broke

    2. Tea at the vicarage

      The real subject of Dorothea and Marieke's strife is Mathieu

    3. Awkwardness over the tea things

      Amid attempts at Christmas cheer there are tensions - racial, sexual, and between soldiers and civilians

    4. Fisticuffs in the vicarage?

      As Ramesh and Barry square off to fight, Ralph suggests an alternative

    5. An inspired idea

      In echo of a famous wartime story, Ralph suggests a Christmas game of football for men, women, children, refugees and Folkestonians

    6. A pregnant moment

      The warmth of the football match seems to have rekindled memories in Dorothea and Ralph of their original attraction

  24. 26th December 1914

    Scene 1 of 3

    1. Civility prevails

      After the service, Ralph approaches Isabel

    2. A dreadful conversation

      Ralph reveals that he and Dorothea consummated their marriage on Christmas night: Isabel's response is angry but dignified

    3. Isabel at the Priory Hospital

      Talking to Nurse Betts, Isabel decides to become an ambulance driver in Belgium


  25. 5th January 1915

    Scene 1 of 2

    1. A brittle encounter

      A coded exchange between the rivals for Ralph's affections almost turns nasty; Sylvia comes round to Isabel's ambulance-driving plan

    2. A lovers' parting

      Isabel thinks that driving an ambulance may be less risky than her affair with Ralph and all its secrets and lies

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