No.13: A Ghost Story


No.13: A Ghost Story

Dramatisation based on an MR James short story. Oxbridge academic Anderson settles into a hotel in a small cathedral city to research its ecclesiastical history.


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Transcript


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Anderson, you say?

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Professor Anderson.

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Oh yes, here it is.

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I've put you on the top floor.

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Nice views of the cathedral up there.

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You stayed here before, sir?

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I haven't had that pleasure.

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Oh! One of the oldest buildings in the town, is this.

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I can tell you a bit of the history...

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Yes, well, perhaps once I've settled in.

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Right.

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Well... Best take you up, then.

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No, no. I'm sorry, this is no good!

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Too many steps.

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Weak knees, I'm afraid.

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Perhaps one on a lower floor?

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This one to your liking, sir?

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No, not unless there's a desk hiding somewhere.

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You won't get the same views.

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I'm not interested in views. I simply require somewhere to sleep and work.

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What about this one? Number 12.

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You see, now?

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This is perfect.

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-Will you be taking supper tonight, Mr Anderson?

-I suppose so.

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I dare say it's the safest prospect.

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Sir. Could I ask if you wouldn't mind...

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settling the bill for your stay in advance?

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Really!

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I don't know, it's...most unusual.

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I understand, sir.

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But you see, the problem is, from time to time,

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we've had guests disappear without paying.

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Surely not respectable guests?

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Oh, I'm afraid so, sir.

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There was a Mr Entwistle.

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College man, like yourself. Seemed nice enough, then...

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Boof! Gone one night without settling his bill.

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Well, I'm sure I don't intend to disappear.

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Much obliged, sir.

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-This is quite a hoard.

-Yes.

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Some of these manuscripts date from the eighth century.

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Things were in rather a jumble.

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A Cambridge man helped us for a short while.

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But we are gradually imposing some order.

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Making discoveries, it seems.

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Well, that's for you to judge.

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So, where exactly did these turn up?

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They were found hidden in a hole in the wall, would you believe?

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Extraordinary.

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Anything significant?

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Hm-mm. No. Usual stuff.

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Objections to the prayer book, painted glass, popish ornaments...

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Although the complaints against the Bishop Walgrave seem a little, um...

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-Unusual.

-Really?

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Oh, yes.

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They get quite worked up about his house.

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"Curious lights... Unnatural cries...

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"A stranger who comes and goes in the night-time."

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I'm surprised I've never come across any record of him.

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He does seem a rather unpopular bishop.

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OMINOUS UNLOCKING

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Nicholas Francken.

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CREAKING

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I'm afraid I have to close up for the night.

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Ah, you must be my neighbour.

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-Going down to dinner?

-Yes.

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-Not many guests!

-I really have no idea.

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Edward Jenkins.

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It can be a bit dull this time of year.

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I expect we'll all be dining together.

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Marvellous.

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< NOISY SLURPING

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Mmm...

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HE SLURPS NOISILY

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Here on business, then?

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-A scholarly matter.

-Cambridge man.

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My firm does a lot of work with your lot. Colleges, dons.

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Dare say you've heard of us.

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-I doubt it. I'm from Oxford.

-Ah!

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The cathedral archivist turned up some Cromwellian era documents.

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I'm authenticating them.

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-Roundheads, eh?

-I'm considered to be rather an authority...

-I'm sure.

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If you ask me those Puritans were a grim lot. Dressed all in black.

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Telling everyone what they can and can't do.

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I'd sooner have been a Cavalier, me.

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Far more fun.

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Well... That's that, then.

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Fancy a cigar in the lounge?

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Not for me.

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Thank you!

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Goodnight.

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'Nicholas Francken.'

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MAN LAUGHS

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WOMAN LAUGHS

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LAUGHTER CONTINUES

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Jenkins...

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SILENCE

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BIRDS SING AND CHATTER

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-Good morning.

-Morning.

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You're missing 13!

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Never mind.

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Still interested in the Bishop?

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Yes...

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Do you think he's mentioned anywhere else in the archive?

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You never know.

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And how about...

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Nicholas Francken?

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You don't recognise the name?

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Can't say I do. Who is he?

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I'm not sure...yet.

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Another mystery.

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I must say, you're a superstitious lot round here.

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I thought things may have improved since Cromwell's day.

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What makes you say that?

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My hotel doesn't list a room number 13, for one.

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Ah, yes.

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Yours won't be the only establishment

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not to have an unlucky number 13.

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Remarkable.

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So, if you could point me in the direction of the diocese records,

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I'll see if I can track down your much maligned Bishop, and his house of ill repute.

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-Ha!

-Found something?

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In the most surprising of places.

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The record of the 1647 witch trials,

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testimony of an Ann Mundy.

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Aside from confessing to the drowning of children and the suckling of a giant rat,

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she claims to have been taken to a local house to go before the Devil's emissary.

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"A foreign man", she calls him.

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"Where he did conjure evil spirits and bade me make covenant with the Devil".

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Amazing what these poor wretches would say under torture.

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Yes, I agree. The house in question...

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belonged to the Bishop.

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Extraordinary.

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I've been looking to see if she puts a name to this "Devil's emissary".

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A WOMAN'S LAUGHTER ECHOES

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Thank you!

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Hello!

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-Anyway, it was one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life!

-Really?

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HE WHISPERS What?

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-WHISPERS:

-As I as telling you before I never had occasion to go back there again,

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-but, since she's still there, y'know, married to that old bore...

-Oh, dear.

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Those really are remarkable stones.

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-What are they?

-Sapphires.

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Ah! Yes. Quite so.

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OWL HOOTS

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UNEARTHLY VOICE SHOUTS

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SILENCE

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WOMAN'S LAUGHTER ECHOES IN ROOM

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UNEARTHLY VOICE BREATHES

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WOMAN'S LAUGHTER

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SILENCE

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HIS BLOWS ECHO BACK

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UNEARTHLY VOICE HISSES

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CLAWING AND SCRABBLING

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LAUGHTER ECHOES ROUND ROOM

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MULTIPLE VOICES WHISPER AND CHATTER

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MAN HUMS TO HIMSELF

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KNOCK ON DOOR

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No... Come in.

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I want to have a word with you.

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What have you done with my portmanteau?

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My case.

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The large square piece of luggage you carried up. Hmm?

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I... I didn't see you bring it back in.

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Oh, I'm terribly sorry, I... I thought it was a different room.

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Wait! You didn't think it was...

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Hmm.

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Good morning.

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-Mr Harrington!

-I was on my way to see you.

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Good.

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Because I think we need to talk about what exactly WAS sealed up in that wall.

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The parchment signed by Nicholas Francken...

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The one I found and put back.

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The one that went missing the very next day.

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I really have no idea what you're talking about.

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It would be a shame if I had to go to the dean.

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I was talking to the dean last night.

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He's a little concerned about where your inquiries are heading.

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I'm sure you are a serious scholar, Mr Anderson,

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no axe to grind against the Church.

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But we do think it wise to know exactly what's in our archive,

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before we open it to prying eyes.

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Are you telling me to stay away?

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For the time being.

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For heaven's sake, man!

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This is ludicrous! I'm an historian.

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I'm not trying to prove the Bishop really was in league with a fiend.

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-Surely you don't believe that?

-What I believe, is not the point.

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This is largely a rural community, Mr Anderson.

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As you know, superstition is rife.

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Half of our flock still swear by the Black Shuck and Jack O'Lantern.

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The last thing they need, is the rumour of a witch house in the town.

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You mean... the Bishop's house still exists?

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Go back to your dreaming spires, Professor.

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Leave the Church to deal with its own nightmares.

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'The Bishop's house...still exists?

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'"Where he did conjure evil spirits and bade me make covenant with the Devil."

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'Amazing what these poor wretches will say under torture.

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'This is largely a rural community, Mr Anderson.

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'Half of our flock still swear by the Black Shuck and Jack O'Lantern.'

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Be wanting some supper?

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No, no. I'm... I'm not hungry.

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It's quiet tonight.

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No Miss Goddard and her mother?

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Checked out this afternoon.

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What about Jenkins... the lawyer fellow?

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Feeling "unwell".

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-Can I get you a drink, sir?

-No, no, no. I'm fine.

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You know, what I'd like, is to hear some of your local history.

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You offered to tell me when I first arrived.

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Erm...

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Well, I am rather busy, sir.

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I am very, very interested.

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Well, I... I really only know a few bits and pieces.

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Like... Hmm...

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There was a house on this site mentioned in the Domesday Book.

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Was there? That's fascinating.

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Oh, yes. It was in the hands of the Walgrave family for generations.

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Changed hands a number of times in the last two hundred years or so.

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Let me see, there was...

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Wait a minute, Walgrave family?

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That's not Bishop Walgrave, is it?

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Yes, that's right!

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The parliament men threw him in the Tower then they stormed this place,

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looking for some foreigner who he'd been harbouring.

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Er...

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Francken, that was his name.

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And the story goes, he vanished into thin air when they fired at him.

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Look, why don't you call up to my room, once you've finished your accounts?

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I can make a few notes, then.

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BANGING AND SCRAPING

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Oh...

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The porter!

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CHILD'S LAUGHTER ECHOES IN ROOM

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WOMAN SPEAKS INDISTINCTLY

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MULTIPLE VOICES MURMUR

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< 'I confess to the sin of witchcraft, murder and drowning of several children...'

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SILENCE

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VOICES RESUME

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< 'Under the demon's spell that I did suckle a giant rat unto mine breast, for to give succour...

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< 'It was he, Nicholas Francken, who bade the Devil rise!'

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PIERCING WHISTLING TONE

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'It was he, Nicholas Francken, who bade the Devil rise!'

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SILENCE

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DOOR CREAKS

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I've brought us a little nightcap.

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Anything the matter?

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-D'you think it's funny, do you?

-Mr Anderson?

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Playing tricks on outsiders?

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Scaring them half to death with your idiot shadows?

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I thought you wanted to know about the hotel.

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The only thing I want to know about is room 13!

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Mr Anderson, please!

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I've seen it.

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I know it's there.

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I just don't know how you do it.

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You're overtired.

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Perhaps a good night's sleep, eh?

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Well, that would be a fine thing.

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Oh, it's the staff, isn't it?

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I suppose they found out about my work,

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about Nicholas Francken.

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You know they creep in here to rearrange my things?

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Oh, I don't think so, sir.

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All right, you tell me where my portmanteau's gone?

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It's not the first time.

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It's that porter.

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He's a surly fellow.

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Is he the one in number 13?

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Mr Anderson!

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For the last time, there is no number 13!

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GHOSTLY LAUGHTER ECHOES There!

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You... You heard it!

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Sometimes, it's like there's hundreds of them in there.

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It must be Mr Jenkins, drunk again.

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-No, mad, more like.

-Gentlemen...

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Please. This noise.

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Drink, by all means, but...

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Let me sleep!

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ECHOING: Let me sleep!

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GHOSTLY LAUGHTER

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LOW DEMONIC BABBLING

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I see it. But I can still hardly believe it.

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Mr Gunton...

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Fetch your man to break it down.

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I noticed this room before, but I always put it down to the brandy.

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I get a bit carried away, sometimes.

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I'm not surprised. It's the only way to get any sleep here.

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I thought I was seeing things...

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Or that someone was playing an elaborate practical joke.

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Maybe they are.

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Then they've found the perfect pair to make asses of.

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FIZZING AND CRACKLING

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DISCORDANT FREQUENCIES

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GHOSTLY LAUGHTER No! No!

0:35:510:35:54

No! No! Help me!

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MOCKING LAUGHTER

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Help me!

0:36:040:36:06

-What's happened?

-The thing in 13...

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It tried to snatch him.

0:36:200:36:21

Thomas!

0:36:250:36:27

No!

0:36:270:36:28

You'll let it out!

0:36:290:36:30

GHOSTLY VOICE EXHALES

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SILENCE

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The door!

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CLOCK CHIMES

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BIRDS SING

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-Jenkins!

-Mmm?

0:37:170:37:19

Your foot.

0:37:190:37:20

My apologies.

0:37:220:37:23

Ugh... What time is it?

0:37:250:37:28

I've slept the sleep of the dead.

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You were quite alive.

0:37:310:37:33

-I could tell by your snoring.

-Ha-ha.

0:37:330:37:35

You know, this was the room the landlord originally offered me.

0:37:380:37:42

Imagine if you'd taken it.

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All the excitement you would have missed.

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WOOD CREAKS AND SPLINTERS

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They must be taking up the floorboards.

0:37:570:37:59

Gunton's determined to find a trace of number 13.

0:37:590:38:03

Don't look so glum. It might be good for business having a ghost room.

0:38:030:38:08

What is it?

0:38:080:38:10

What have you found?

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"G Entwistle."

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The Cambridge man.

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The one I thought had gone without paying.

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Subtitles by Heather Middleton Red Bee Media Ltd

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E-mail [email protected]

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Dramatisation based on an MR James short story and in the tradition of the BBC's ghost stories for Christmas. Oxbridge academic Anderson settles into The Golden Lion Hotel in a small cathedral city to research its ecclesiastical history, when the subject of his research begins to disturb his slumber.


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