“Come Buttercup, Come Daisy, Come…” was broadcast on 8th November 1965.
Cast; Henry Wilkes – Milo O’Shea; Monica Wilkes – Christine Hargreaves; Anne Lovejoy – Patsy Rowlands; Dr Chambers – Desmond Jordan; Norman – Eric Thompson; Det Sergeant Crouch – Bernard Kay; Det Constable Fraser – Alan Haywood.
Script: Mike Watts
Director: Paddy Russell
An original script by Mike Watts, this is a domestic story which takes place mainly in a house and garden. The first scene introduces us to the jovial Mr Wilkes whom we find in his garden talking to his large plants which surround him like pets. He is telling them about a new arrival – a plant sent to him by his friend Mr Pringle – whom he names “Josie” and puts into a bed between “George” and “Francis”.
His wife Monica suffers from what used to be called “nerves”. She is angry at not going away on holiday, and tells Henry that the doctor will be calling around in the evening. Henry sets off to work at his fishmonger. When he arrives he gets very angry when he discovers his assistant Miss Lovejoy putting out parsley between the fish and tells her off. He says;
Man, animals, even fish are preying on the vegetable world. We have got to do everything we can to stop it. Look at its delicate formation. She how curly and crinkly and soft it is. ..a thing of living beauty. Now it’s all brown and dead and decayed.
Back at home Henry feeds the plants, talking to them as he does so, and they respond, moving and making sounds. When Dr Chambers calls Monica tells him that she is afraid of the garden, It dominates the whole house. She says that it started when Henry responded to an advert in a newspaper and began receiving plants in the post. Then disturbing things started to happen: the fish disappeared from the pond and the greenhouse was smashed to pieces one night. Henry, she says, has become obsessed with the plants, feeding them rabbits and cockels and injecting them with chemicals.
Those flowers are wrong, Doctor. They don’t belong in this country yet they survive the climate. They live all through the winter and never die. He talks to them, he has names for them, and sometimes I think they talk to him.
Henry assuages Monica by promising that they will go on holiday but his obsession grows. He steals a drug from his friend, the chemist Norman, and injects one of the plants. Monica’s dog on whom she dotes gets into garden and vanishes (snapped up as a juicy morsel by one of the plants we presume). Monica collapses in shock and the doctor is summoned again. Speaking to Henry in the garden he realises what disturbed him on his earlier visit, There are no birds.
No birds every come here, explains Henry. The flowers won’t let them. They’ve got minds of their own. They think. You might say I’ve educated them.
Having set the scene, the last ten minutes of the story are quite dark with loss and tragedy and a revelation about the mysterious Mr Pringle.
This is really a horror story rather than a science fiction story. The acting is perfectly fine, especially from Milo O’Shea and Christine Hargreaves, and the director achieves a real sense of claustropobia. Having said that any story involving sentient unfriendly plants struggles to escape from the shadow of The Day of the Triffids which I write about in a previous post.
Where Else Have I Seen Them?
Christine Hargreaves (1939-1984) (who was from Salford) appeared in many televison plays from the 1960s to the 1980s. Her most celebrated role was as Pauline, a single mother fighting the benefit system, in “The Spongers” by Jim Allen, broadcast in 1978 in the Play for Today series. Like much of Allen’s work it is not available on DVD.
Bernard Kay (1928-2014) appeared in four Doctor Who serials: “The Dalek Invasion of Earth (1964),” “The Crusades (1965),” “The Faceless Ones (1967)” and “Colony in Space (1971)”.
Paddy Russell (1928-2017) was one of the first women directors at the BBC. She began as an actress and was then the first female floor manager to work at the BBC. Her credits as a director were extensive. She directed four Doctor Who serials: “The Massacre of St Bartholomew’s Eve” (1966). “Invasion of the Dinosaurs” (1974), “Pyramids of Mars” (1975), and “Horror of Fang Rock” (1977). She also directed the supernatural thriller “The Omega Factor” (1980).
Eric Thompson (1929-1982) wrote and performing the English narration for The Magic Roundabout, which he adapted from the original French.