The War in Words | Season 44 Episode 7

James… Mikey Day

Margaret… Claire Foy

Hemry… Kenan Thompson

[Intro playing]

Narrator: This is a PBS world war I centennial special. The war in words: letters from the trenches.

[Cut to old photographs of Private James and his wife Margaret] The letters of Private James merchant of the king rifles to his wife, Margaret.

[Cut to James writing a letter]

James: My darling Margaret, this war is hell. We in our trench, the Germans in theirs, dying by the thousands, and for what? [Cut to Margaret reading the letter] The only thoughts that calm my mind are ones of you, [Cut to the letter] my love. You adoring husband, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] James, sounds dreadful. Love, Margaret.

[Cut to James looking at the letter and looking confused. He starts replying to that letter]

James: My dearest Margaret. I was mad with excitement to receive your letter, though I found it lacking in substance. In future letters, please elaborate. As I long to read your words. Yours faithfully, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] James, will do. Love Margaret.

James: [Cut to James angry] Margaret, my dear, it seems that prose is not your forte. Perhaps you could send me a photograph of yourself instead? Your loving husband, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] James, enclosed is a photograph of me. Please enjoy it privately, you naughty boy: Hee-Hee, love, Margaret.

James: [Cut to James with a photograph in his left hand] Margaret, no! This is a photograph of you as a child. [Cut to an old photograph of a child] And the suggestion that I should enjoy it is extremely disturbing. Please send a current photograph of yourself instead. Your husband, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] James, as requested, here is a photograph I’ve taken this afternoon. Please send back the other one if you can pry it away from your army friends that is, hee-hee. Love, Margaret.

James: [Cut to James]Again, my love, nobody finds your childhood photo arousing. And as for this current photograph, [Cut to an old photograph of Margaret and a stranger] who is this gentleman you are with? He looks to have made himself very comfortable in our home and why is he wearing my hat? [Cut to James] Perhaps you would like to give him my pocket watch as well. Answers, Please, your husband, James.

Henry: [Cut to Henry] Dear James, Henry here, I cannot thank you enough for the pocket watch. I love it. You and your wife are so kind, which is why I don’t believe a word of what the newspaper are saying. There’s no way she could have committed that crime. Can you write me at 149 Cherry Street, Brighton, UK. Henry.

James: [Cut to James] But that’s my house! [Starts writing again] Dearest Margaret, I am positively starved for context. Henry’s led me to believe you’re in trouble with the law. Of what crime are you accused? And who is Henry? And why is he living in our home? Confused in France, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] James, Henry is the man in the photograph.

James: [Cut to James] Yes, I know, but who is he?

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret] Anyway, love, wish me luck. My trial is today. Love, Margaret. P.S. how is World War I going?

James: [Cut to James] The war is bad, Margaret. And why would you call it World War I? This is cryptic. Do you think there will be a second World War? And also still needed, details about your legal troubles, i.e., how did the trial go? Also, everything Henry! Out letters have become like the causes of this war, deeply confused, your beleaguered husband, James.

Margaret: [Cut to Margaret. She is wearing a military uniform] My dearest James, forgive my silence. I will explain everything when I see you in France. That’s right; I have joined the army as a gunnery maid. I will be serving under captain Wilhelm in the Blitz division. Love, Margaret.[Margaret wears a helmet]

James: [Cut to James] Oh, my god, she’s joined the German army!

[Playing outro]

Narrator: Stay tuned for more of “The War in words: Letters from the trenchies.