Inside No. 9 (2014) s09e05 Episode Script

The Curse of the Ninth

This programme contains scenes
which some viewers may find
disturbing from the start
Leave me alone!
Oh, hello. Jonah Quigley.
I've come to tune your piano.
Where's your dog?
Oh, I don't have a dog.
The last fella had a dog.
Oh, well, perhaps he was unsighted.
Many of my colleagues are.
They have a heightened sense
of hearing,
which makes them ideal
for the position.
Relieved himself all up
and down my lady's curtains, he did.
Oh, you mean the dog! Ha!
Well, I can assure you
I won't be doing that.
Follow me.
Oh, my goodness.
A Bechstein, if I'm not mistaken.
They have one of these in
Buckingham Palace, so I'm told.
One of the sweetest-sounding
instruments in all of Europe.
May I?
She hasn't been
fingered in a number of years.
I do hope you'll be able
to tighten the strings.
Devonshire, go and fetch
a glass of gooseberry juice
- for Mr?
- Quigley.
Mr Quigley. How quaint.
Or would you prefer
something stronger?
I've just popped open
a rather perky bottle of poo.
No, thank you. Water is fine for me.
No ice or lemon.
Don't flatter yourself.
I'll just, um
You will have noticed
that the Bechstein has seen
better days.
I really ought to have it replaced
but it's of sentimental value.
Ah. Do you play at all?
I'm afraid not.
I haven't the patience.
The instrument belonged
to my late husband.
After he passed,
it rather went to seed.
As did I.
Well, I am very sorry to hear that.
About your husband passing, I mean.
Not about your going to seed.
Which of course you haven't.
Still most becoming.
- A fan of Burnham, was he?
- I'm sorry?
Your husband,
a fan of Nathaniel Burnham?
I couldn't help but notice your bust.
On the desk.
And the sheet music.
His 5th Symphony was incredible.
If you like that sort of thing.
I was a keen student of his.
The way he blends so many
different styles and moods.
Brooding and violent one minute,
romantic the next.
I studied Burnham's symphonies
at the Guildhall.
Did you really?
Yes. I, uh
I had aspirations to compose
myself at one point, but got in the way.
Inspiration failed to strike.
So now I do this.
Satisfying in its own way.
Glass of water, no ice or lemon.
Thank you.
Will there be anything else,
Mrs Burnham?
No, that's fine for now.
Thank you, Devonshire.
Mrs Burnham?
Nathaniel composed his 5th
at that very piano, Mr Quigley.
And you're quite right.
He could be romantic
and brooding and, yes
when the muse deserted him.
Which is why I wish
to preserve his legacy.
After all,
there's many a good tune can be
played on an old piano.
Mrs Burnham?
Oh, sorry. I didn't realise
you had company.
Not at all.
This is Dickie Van Aas.
A dear friend of mine who was
also Nathaniel's lawyer.
He takes care
of all my business affairs.
Of course.
A pleasure to meet you, sir.
How do you do?
Won't you join us?
Oh, well, I don't want to intrude.
Thank you, Somerset.
Ah, of course. Sorry.
The thing is, Mrs Burnham,
I have just found
this piece of manuscript paper
jammed between the C2 and the D2.
I wondered
whether it might have been
written by Mr Burnham.
Only, it looks to be part
of a symphony,
and it isn't anything I recognised.
It's his, all right.
What a sharp-eyed fellow you are.
Does that give me leave to hope
that there may be
an unperformed piece?
This could be a major discovery.
That will be all, Devonshire.
Thank you.
Are you familiar, Mr Quigley,
with the Curse of the Ninth?
Vaguely, yes. Isn't it
a sort of superstition?
It's a misguided belief
that a composer is going to die
after writing their ninth symphony.
Mahler started it.
It's all poppycock.
It isn't poppycock, Lillian.
Ever since Ludwig,
it's been a decisive landmark.
Beethoven, Dvorak,
Schubert, Bruckner.
After the ninth, they all went
from composing to decomposing.
To embark upon symphony number
nine is considered a folly,
Mr Quigley.
A challenge to fate.
Poor old Mahler,
well, he was possessed by the idea.
He tried to dodge the curse,
refusing to number
his ninth symphony,
passing it off as a song cycle.
- Das Lied Von Der Erde.
- Exactly.
But Death was not to be cheated.
By the time he composed this,
his true ninth,
his daughter had died,
his wife had begun an affair,
and his health had started to fail.
He didn't live long enough
to hear it performed.
But Burnham
..your husband,
he only ever composed
eight symphonies. Correct?
Technically, yes.
He'd been very much affected
by what had happened to Mahler.
Two months after attending
the funeral in Vienna,
Nathaniel announced
he was going to start composing
his next symphony
in Gustav's honour.
It would be his ninth.
He never found it easy
to begin any new work, but
..this was
It was torture.
To begin with, we dismissed it
as nothing more than writer's block,
but I believe he'd been gripped
by the fear of the curse.
The thought of actually
finishing the symphony
came to terrify him.
Then one night
Leave me alone!
We reported it
as a heart attack, of course,
but, um,
it seems he'd driven himself
completely mad.
I am so sorry.
He brought it upon himself.
And sothe work remained
This is incredible. I never
heard mention of it before.
I'm sure that
the Burnham Society would
Nathaniel made it clear to me
that, should he die
before the ninth was complete,
he wanted it buried with him.
So that's what we did.
It's out there,
six feet under.
Sad, really deprive the world
of such genius.
But we had to respect his wishes.
A private burial it was.
Just my ladyship, Mr Van Aas
and a couple of other witnesses.
All very cloak-and-dagger.
What are you getting at, Kent?
Sorry. Devonshire.
Just that he deserved better.
Well, fortunately for us,
his music lives on.
Yes. Most of it.
Oh, well, to have another
Burnham gifted to the world couldn't put a price
on such a thing.
Here is the key
to the tradesman's entrance.
I'm giving it to you now
so that you can make your own
way out, via the garden.
Ah, thank you.
I don't want you disturbing
Mrs Burnham.
She usually retires early
on a weekday. Nine o'clock,
I should imagine.
She'll be asleep by then.
No, I won't disturb her.
I'm finished now, in fact.
Mr Quigley?
Do be careful when leaving
that you don't trip over
the gardener's spade,
which you will find located
in his shed
near the pear tree.
Well, I shan't trip up over it
if it's tucked away
in the shed, shall I?
Here is the key the shed.
Yes, but why would I?
- Oh.
- Mm.
Oh, but No,
I don't think that I could
Nine o'clock.
We working people have to make
our own opportunities,
don't we?
- Yes.
- Mm.
Yes. I suppose we do.
Just to let you know
I've turned down your bed
and put your cocoa
on the dressing table.
Bring it down here,
will you, Devonshire?
I'm determined to finish this sky.
It's almost nine o'clock, ma'am.
The picture's not complete
until the last piece goes in.
Most gratifying.
Glorious to see all the little
I'll tidy this away for you, ma'am.
Very well.
Goodnight, Devonshire.
Night, ma'am.
Forgive me
You found it, then?
Here, let me help you.
You're, uh You're going to
have to fill all that back in.
Yes, I'm aware of that!
I think it's better if we don't
see each other for a while.
I've got several people interested.
Interested in what?
In buying this, of course.
Like you said, it's priceless.
We just need to find
the highest bidder.
I didn't say it was priceless.
I said you couldn't put
a price ON it.
This is a work of art. It's not
a piece of merchandise!
What did you think
we were going to do with it?
Well, I want to study it,
to hear it played. I could be
the first person to conduct it.
You need your head examining.
Who is going to let you conduct
Why not me?
I was one of his greatest admirers.
I've studied his music for years!
You remember your place, Mr Quigley.
You are staff, just like me.
You're just a paid-by-the-hour
lowlife piano-tuner!
This is our ticket out of here.
I am not like you.
Don't you dare say that.
This music isis a miracle.
It's a gift
we can give back to the world.
I'm not using it
to line my own pockets!
Well, I am!
Come back, Derbyshire, please!
My name is Devonshire!
Ah, Mr Quigley.
How nice to see you again.
Do come in.
We've been trying
to get hold of you all week.
Your employer said something
about a leave of absence.
I've not been in the best of
health since I was last here.
Oh, dear. I am sorry to hear that.
I apologise
for having to admit you myself,
but I'm afraid Devonshire
has rather disappeared.
Yes. It's quite a mystery.
Took off in the middle of the night
without a by-your-leave.
All of her things left
in her room. Most perplexing.
Well, perhaps she's just
Gone to ground?
Yes, that's what we thought.
Come through.
You remember Dickie, don't you?
Yes, of course. Hello.
What, uh, seems to be the problem?
Something seems a little off.
A trifle flat, maybe.
See what you think.
What do you want me to play?
How about this piece of
Nathaniel's unfinished symphony
that you unearthed?
Oh, but I'm not very good
at sight reading.
Nonsense. As a student
of my late husband's work,
it's surely of some interest?
Mr Quigley, is everything all right?
Perhaps he'd like a glass of water?
Of course.
Devon Oh. I forgot.
She's not here.
And she's not coming back, is she?
You know!
Sit down.
We knew that Devonshire was greedy.
We hoped she might encourage you
to dig up the manuscript,
but we didn't expect you to kill
Still, gives us more leverage,
I suppose.
What do you mean, leverage?
I've been auditing the accounts,
and it appears that Lillian's
been living beyond her means.
To put it bluntly, she's broke.
She needs a lot of money quickly,
and the unexpected discovery
of her late husband's
final work could be
just the ticket, as they say.
I'll give it back to you.
I wanted to return it anyway.
I think it's that
- that's been making me ill.
- Perhaps.
That and the guilt of murdering
a defenceless young woman.
The point is, Mr Quigley,
the symphony remains unfinished.
And who better to complete it
than my husband's
greatest admirer? Water.
No lemon, no ice.
No, you don't understand.
I can't complete it!
I'm not up to it!
Well, you said yourself
you dabbled with composing.
You have the allegro sonata
from the first movement,
the andante, the scherzo.
It should be possible
to complete the work.
But what about the curse?
Surely whoever completes the ninth
will bring it upon themselves.
The curse is a nonsense,
as I've told you before.
It's simply a state of mind.
You can choose not to succumb to it.
I'm already in its grip.
I can feel a darkness
following me wherever I go,
Death's hand on my shoulder.
Better than a policeman's hand
on your shoulder.
Take all the time you wish.
You can work here,
have access to Nathaniel's archives,
all of his notes.
I just need you to finish
the symphony.
And then you'll be free.
Splendid. That's settled, then.
We look forward to hearing it.
What's the problem?
I don't know where to begin.
It's not the beginning, boy,
it's the end.
It's the final movement, remember?
Have you studied what's gone before?
Yes, of course I have.
Then build upon it.
A modified sonata form.
A false recapitulation?
But we must first consider
the melody. What do you have?
The second subject in the strings.
A sequence resolved
with a plagal cadence.
Where's the risk?
The final movement mustn't be timid.
Fragmentation, inversion,
imitation within the woodwinds.
Use the diminished seventh to
imply the secondary dominant.
..a return to the drone
of the brass as before,
as in the exposition.
Yes, this is it.
I can hear it!
It's satisfying, isn't it?
Can I ask you a question?
Of course.
Why are you helping me?
It amuses me.
I want to see how far you get
before it grips you.
You mean the curse?
Of course.
No, that's your torment, not mine.
I can already see
the black shadow of doubt
enveloping your every choice.
Why bother?
You'll never reach the heights
of Beethoven or Mahler.
Or indeed me.
But you never try.
"Inspiration failed to strike."
Piano-tuning is
"satisfying in its own way".
It takes an act of courage
to create anything,
and you, my boy,
are a coward!
I'm not listening to this.
What you're talking about
is self-doubt.
It's not the same thing.
Whoever completes my ninth symphony
will end up the same as me.
Food for the Conqueror Worm.
People die all the time.
I've been assured by your wife
that the curse isn't real!
Then, why didn't she
complete it herself?
Thank you for your advice but, um I need you to be quiet.
Mr Quigley?
You gave me rather a shock.
I've brought you some breakfast.
Busy night, I see.
It's finished.
Glad to hear it.
I don' t believe in writer's block.
Never did.
Nathaniel just got trapped.
As he reached the summit
of his career,
the oxygen of creativity
grew thinner.
He became convinced it was
only ever going to be downhill.
You've been at great pains
to tell me.
Several times.
Can't say it was easy,
but after the initial block,
it began to flow. Here!
Don't forget the page I found
in the piano.
Thank you.
The picture isn't complete
until the last piece goes in.
Of course.
Congratulations, Mrs Burnham.
You just finished
your husband's ninth symphony.
It's just as well you don't
believe in all that poppycock
about a curse.
In the absence of Devonshire,
you can see yourself out,
Mr Quigley.
Nice doing business with you.
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