Shades of Darkness (1983–1986)
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The Lady's Maid's Bell 

2:01 | Trailer
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, but on her arrival at Brymton Hall she finds... See full summary »


John Glenister


Ken Taylor (screenplay), Edith Wharton (story)



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


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, but on her arrival at Brymton Hall she finds both her employer and the other servants in the house to be quite amenable. Mr. Brympton on the other hand is rude and nasty to his wife, but fortunately is frequently away and Mrs Brymton has formed a close friendship with a neighbor, Mr. Ranford. Miss Hartley is shaken however when she sees someone in the house who should not be there. Just who is this person and what is she trying to tell her? Written by garykmcd

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Drama | Horror


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Clothes and hairstyles in this period drama were used as inspiration for the "Quaker Oats" breakfast cereal in the early 80s See more »

User Reviews

Atmospheric ghost story that quietly scares
6 August 2005 | by MartaSee all my reviews

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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Release Date:

27 May 1983 (UK) See more »

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Production Co:

Granada Television See more »
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