Season 1, Episode 8



(humming)  Oh dear!  There he is!  Let's see let me just light these candles.


Oh! (calling out, very sweetly) Well I’m comin’! Just hold your horses for one more little minute!


Well, good evening Jack.


For heaven's sake, Sally, I just about gave up and walked back to the car, you took so long.  What in the world is going on-- did you forget I was coming over?


Why no, Jack, don't be silly.


Well are you going to invite me in, or do we conduct this little meeting of yours out here on the landing?


Oh!  Oh do come in.



Sally what's happened to your lights?  You didn't forget to pay the light bill did you?


Why Jack, don't you recognize a candle lit supper when you see one?

The title of this episode has a double meaning. There is a spy storyline in the show, involving an agent who is indeed working undercover, and scene 1 of this episode introduces this storyline. However “undercover” also refers to a clandestine romantic relationship, which is the subject of this post.

Dramatic tension often arises when characters are at cross-purposes, sometimes without realizing it until a sudden reveal. This happens in life, too, though hopefully without the “drama.”

One storyline involves Sally O’Mally, whose restaurant is the heart of Milford-Haven. Her salt-of-the-earth quality means most folks in town value her. But there are others who don’t trust her. She does have a habit of eaves-dropping and knowing everyone’s business.

Underneath it all, she’s kind-hearted and vulnerable. She’s now on the verge of discovering she’s been taken advantage of by a romantic partner. But before he reveals his cold heart, she has news for him she is convinced will fulfill his dreams, just as it does hers. So she has a nasty surprise in store, when he reacts in just the opposite way from what she expects.

Sally O’Mally is portrayed by my talented sister, Linda Purl. By the time we were working together in my radio drama, she was a well-known television actress and her career was going well. However, I couldn’t help but notice she had much more range than most of her TV roles were offering at that point, and I wanted to create something that would allow her to show a strength and feistiness I knew she had. I also wanted to create a character whose life had never been easy, but who figured out how to prevail against all odds.

Two other elements factored into the creation of this character. One was roots. Our mother grew up on a farm in a small, mountain community in West Virginia. The plain-speaking, intuitive, capable, strong women of our family formed the foundation of both “Sally” and of her mother “Glenda,” played by the actress Marshelline Patton, AKA Marshie Purl, AKA Mom.

The other element was technical. My sister and I are fourth-generation thespians, which may account for our skill with accents. Or perhaps we can do accents well because we grew up in Tokyo and attended an international school where we were exposed to many languages, and where the study of two foreign languages was part of our curriculum. I wrote a southern accent for Sally, which Linda handled beautifully. Interestingly, it wasn’t long after this that the playwright Jane Anderson wrote a part for her that also called for core strength and a southern accent. Linda and her co-star Stephanie Zimbalist created the roles in the hit play The Baby Dance, which was inspired by their own interests and suggestions.

Meanwhile, back in Milford-Haven, the true-to-soap-opera plot included two romantic entanglements for Sally. One was with Jack Sawyer who, although gruff and tough, is also virile and dynamic. By day, Sally feeds him in her restaurant; by night, they’ve been carrying on a clandestine affair. Sally is ready for a serious relationship, and thinks she has it with Jack. But just when she has the world’s best reason to settle down with him, her first love reappears. Yup, that’s soap opera. Or that’s life. Or . . . that’s both. Though Linda portrayed Sally in all versions of the radio drama, Jack Sawyer was portrayed by Jim Buckley in the Central Coast show. And for the BBC production, the role was taken over by Lloyd Battista. Interestingly, Lloyd’s extreme versatility as an actor made it possible for him to portray both these romantic interests! But our audiences never knew.

As you listen to Episode 8 of Milford-Haven, you might enjoy reflecting on the critical moments when we make big decisions in life. Are they carefully considered? Are they impulsive? Perhaps they’re a little of both. Download the episode or subscribe to Season 1, tune in to your favorite device, and join us in . . . Milford-Haven!