The race is on downstairs -- who will marry first upstairs -- Captain James or his father, Richard?



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Episode complete credited cast:
Valerie White ...
Mrs. Forrest
Leonard Trolley ...


Unbeknownst to Richard Bellamy his son James has been secretly seeing Hazel Forrest in her free hours and has asked her to marry him. She doesn't accept him right away but does resign her position as Richard's secretary. When Richard hears of it, he lashes out at James questioning his judgment but the younger Bellamy stands his ground. Hazel turns him down but it's clear that she has a secret which she will not reveal to James. James assumes his father has interfered in his life and it is left to Hazel's kindly father, Arthur Forrest, to tell James of the perceived impediment preventing Hazel from marrying. As for Richard, he is clearly being pursued by his old family friend, Lady Prudence Fairfax, who thinks he should remarry. Written by garykmcd

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Release Date:

24 November 1974 (USA)  »

Filming Locations:

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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This episode takes place during the autumn of 1912. See more »


Lady Prudence: [to James] For the moment, I'm afraid, in the middle-class bastions of suburban propriety, a divorce in the family is little better than having an uncle hanged for murder. One just doesn't speak of it.
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What Are We Gonig To Do with Uncle Arthur
Composed by Alexander Faris (1971)
Lyrics by Alfred Shaughnessy
Instrumental version heardas closing theme
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User Reviews

As perfect as perfect is (SPOILER ALERT)
7 November 2015 | by (New York City) – See all my reviews

Let me say, at the outset, that I adore this series, particularly Season 3, for myriad reasons. However, this episode is an absolute gem, in my view.

First, the preceding three episodes lead up to "A Family Secret" superbly. It should come as no surprise that James is in love with Hazel and wants to marry her. Many are put off by Hazel's asking James to 'declare his intentions,' but the proposal scene is beautifully acted and impeccably penned - down to the background music at the restaurant, which lends great authenticity to this sequence.

One does feel, in my opinion, very sorry for Richard Bellamy in this episode. First, Lady Prudence is pulling out all the stops to fire him up and reel him in for marriage. But Richard won't have it - in a very moving scene, with nary a word spoken, we see how Richard is mourning his late wife. Then Miss Forrest abruptly resigns her post as Richard's secretary, to his amazement and bewilderment. When he discovers that James has fallen in love with Hazel, he is thrown yet again and disapproves most vehemently. Ultimately, he must accept that there will be a new master and mistress of the house and that things won't be quite the same. David Langton is outstanding in this episode.

One of the loveliest scenes, in the entire series, in my opinion is between James and Mrs. Bridges. He ventures downstairs to canvass opinion about Miss Forrest and how the staff would feel if she were to become the mistress of the house. It's outstanding, and Angela Baddeley shines. Leonard Trolley, as Hazel's father, is incandescent when he arrives at Eaton Place to have a talk with James about Hazel's past. British character acting at its apogee.

I can't say enough about Meg Wynn Owen. Whenever she's on the screen, I can not take my eyes off of her. In Hazel Forrest Bellamy, we have the happy marriage of a beautifully drawn character, played by a supreme talent superbly directed. She's at her very best in "A Family Secret." Seldom have I encountered a character, in any medium, as compelling and memorable as Hazel.

I have always felt that this episode doesn't get the recognition nor the credit it so richly deserves. It's 50 minutes of the British drama at its very best. Irrespective of what becomes of James and Hazel and their marriage, it is here, in this episode, that I choose to remember them.

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