IMDb > "Shades of Darkness" The Lady's Maid's Bell (1983)

"Shades of Darkness" The Lady's Maid's Bell (1983)

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Ken Taylor (screenplay)
Edith Wharton (story)
View company contact information for The Lady's Maid's Bell on IMDbPro.
Original Air Date:
27 May 1983 (Season 1, Episode 1)
Miss Hartley is pleased to have found employment with Mrs Brymton as a lady's maid. She is somewhat concerned at having been hired sight unseen... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Atmospheric ghost story that quietly scares See more (2 total) »


 (Episode Cast) (in credits order)

Joanna David ... Miss Hartley
June Brown ... Emma Saxon
Norma West ... Mrs. Brympton
Ian Collier ... Mr. Brympton
Charlotte Mitchell ... Mrs. Blinder
Roger Llewellyn ... Mr. Ranford
Harry Littlewood ... Mr. Wace
Diane Whitley ... Agnes
Clive Duncan ... Bob Burling
Malcolm Raeburn ... Ted Roberts
Bernard Atha ... Pharmacist
Alick Hayes ... Vicar

Episode Crew
Directed by
John Glenister 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Ken Taylor  screenplay
Edith Wharton  story

Produced by
Michael Cox .... executive producer
June Wyndham-Davies .... producer
Original Music by
Paul Reade 
Cinematography by
Mike Popley (lighting cameraman)
Film Editing by
Alan Ringland 
Casting by
Malcolm Drury 
Production Design by
Tim Farmer 
Costume Design by
John Fraser 
Makeup Department
Julie Jackson .... makeup artist
Production Management
Roy Jackson .... production manager
Sound Department
Harry Brookes .... sound recordist
John Whitworth .... film dubbing
Camera and Electrical Department
Tony Coldwell .... camera operator
Other crew
Helen Emerson .... production assistant

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

UK:60 min


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10 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
Atmospheric ghost story that quietly scares, 6 August 2005
Author: Marta from United States

Based on one of Edith Wharton's best-known ghost stories, "The Lady's Maid's Bell" was shown originally on PBS' Mystery! series in 1984, under the Shades of Darkness series name (which is still owned by Granada Television), this neglected gem and the 6 other shows in the series have not been shown since, which is truly a shame. They are excellent adaptations of high quality ghost stories and deserve to be shown again. Granada finally released the series on DVD in 2010.

The year is 1902. Miss Hartley, a lady's maid recently recovered from a bout of typhoid and desperate for a job, is accepted as maid at a remote country estate. The lady of the house, Mrs. Brympton, had rheumatic fever as a child and is in delicate health. Her husband is gone during the week and only comes home on weekends. Miss Hartley begins to hear vague rumors about the prior lady's maid, who died after 20 years service, being like a sister to Mrs. Brympton, and that they were inseparable; Mrs. Brympton has sealed and locked the maid's room and no one can enter it, so Miss Hartley is given the room next to it. Miss Hartley glimpses a woman standing in front of this locked door, however, whom she thinks is the housekeeper. When she finds out there is no housekeeper, no one will answer her questions as to who this woman was. She's also told that they don't use the bell in her room; someone will come to get her if Mrs. Brympton wants her. This is perplexing, since there is a bell in her room and it still works. She begins to piece the story together, and also has to fight off the advances of Mr. Brympton, a stocky, florid man with a walrus mustache who seems to terrify his wife. By the time she thinks she knows what is going on, she's terrified of the closed room and begins to see why her mistress is growing more nervous by the day.

Edith Wharton supposedly wrote this based on a dream she had while she recovered from the typhoid, and it seems to have a fevered aura to it. Wharton could write marvelous ghost stories, and this is as good as any she did. The adaptation is a superior one that mixes in a little levity and then hits you with a scare. Joanna David is wonderful as Miss Hartley, and Ian Collier fits the slimy character of the husband perfectly. It's my personal favorite among the episodes in the Shades of Darkness series.

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