The Curse of Carterford: Episode 1 plot summary

[posted 8:00 am, 16 February 2015]

Episode 1

Sarah and Gemma appear in a flash in a quiet country lane. They start walking when suddenly a Victorian carriage with bolting horses and no driver thunders towards them. Sarah uses her telepathic powers to calm the horses down and ask them what happened. Sarah and Gemma get into the carriage, and the horses take them to a ruined chapel deep in the woods. In the crypt, Sarah and Gemma discover two dead women who look exactly like them, along with several items of luggage. Sarah notices that the women have been stabbed with a spear. Gemma finds a letter, which reveals that the women were private detectives, and that they had been summoned to Carterford Hall by Sir Charles Carterfforde bart to help him with an unspecified mystery. They were to tell no-one of the real reason for their visit. Sarah and Gemma change into the dead women’s clothes and the carriage takes them to Carterford Hall.

Sir Charles (Robert Swann) introduces Sarah and Gemma to his brother Rev. Cornelius Carterfforde (Michael Sheard), who appears jovial but very shifty and soon leaves. Sir Charles takes Sarah and Gemma into his study to tell them that one of his servants died of fright, and that his last words were “the red face”. Since then, several servants have left, and the remaining ones are very anxious. Sarah tells Sir Charles the obvious fact that because he is a bachelor, Cornelius will inherit the estate if he dies. Sir Charles is incredulous, insisting that his brother is a man of God who is not interested in material gain. He had turned down a valuable living to work as a missionary in Africa for several years, and only took over at Carterford out of familial loyalty when the previous incumbent died of a heart attack. (For the benefit of anyone who really needs to be told the rest of the story, it should also be pointed out that Nip is a dog and Fluff is a cat.) Meanwhile at the vicarage, Cornelius opens the coal cellar and tells an unseen person that they have failed.

Sarah, Gemma and the whole family, all very smartly dressed, sit down to dinner. Sir Charles’s sister, Cordelia (Caroline John), says that she is writing a book about the family history, and that they have been cursed ever since one of their ancestors changed sides during the civil war. Cornelius insists that this is superstitious nonsense, and that there are no curses in true religion. After dinner, Gemma is walking on the terrace when a hand clamps a handkerchief over her face and she passes out. Sarah is concerned when Gemma doesn’t come back and sets off to look for her, telling Sir Charles to lock himself in his room and keep his revolver handy. Gemma comes round tied to a tree in the woods. An African (Jules Walters) in a grotesque red mask appears and starts to perform the (unrealistic and racist) ritual that will end with Gemma’s sacrifice.

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