The children are all trying to make it up to their father (Leonard Teale) after the dinner disaster, but unfortunately Bunty (Mark Shields-Brown) and Baby (Tania Falla) just make it worse. It’s all too much for Esther (Elizabeth Alexander) who breaks down in tears as she tries to protect the children from their father’s wrath.
This is really Esther’s scene, and Elizabeth Alexander does a great job of conveying the distress of the character here. It is difficult today to understand that a young girl could be in Esther’s position. At the age of 20, Esther is already a wife and mother of a three year old, and stepmother of six other children, some not much younger than her. And despite her responsibilities, Esther clearly has no real power in her relationship with her older husband, she must obey him and he always has the final word
Also of note is the stern and often aggressive attitude of Captain Woolcot towards his children. Leonard Teale works hard to convey Captain Woolcot’s severe attitude towards, and treatment of his children. It’s worth noting that it is one thing that script writer Eleanor Witcombe said she had to tone down from the original novel. In the original, he was actually much more violent towards the children, behaviour which was acceptable 100 years ago but not now. The performances of the two children are excellent here, as they are throughout the whole series.