Andrew Steele

Ladies of Letters

Ladies of Letters is a radio show running for eleven series which featured Patricia Routledge as Vera Small, and Prunella Scales as Irene Spencer. The widowed pair converse initially by letter, and then progress to email, and spend their time trying to outdo and one-up each other all while attempting to maintain an air of respectability.

The first series was named Ladies of Letters, though the entire show is also commonly known by the same name.

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1. Ladies of Letters

Episode 1

Irene Spencer and Vera Small strike up their letter-based friendship after meeting at a wedding. Irene apologises for mistaking her for a family member of the groom, and hopes that anything confidential she discussed while under the influence of alcohol will not be divulged. Vera however still manages to upset Irene by jokingly advising her to stay away from the sherry, however her short stint in hospital after falling downstairs by being distracted by Irene's return letter has the pair talking.

Episode 2

Vera is hoping her daughter Karen will come for Christmas as she brags about her pickling and jamming, however she initially does not hear from her. Irene meanwhile has been seeing a gentleman named Bill, so hasn't seen much time to write letters. The pair try to arrange a visit to each other, and end up having lunch together, along with Bill who seemingly takes to Vera. As Christmas approaches, Karen is having a trial separation from her partner which leaves her in a bad mood over the festive period.

Episode 3

Vera apologises for her and Bill ending up in bed together some time back, and blames a mistake on the hotel which results in Irene storming out. Irene however reports that Bill booked the honeymoon suite, and has married a woman half his age, and had a child with her. The pair attempt to arrange a few days meeting, and Vera says that her daughter Karen has split up with her partner who is coming up to visit her mother. The pair however have a small falling out when Vera hands out the prizes at a rugby club awards instead of Irene, who had been nominated for the role.

Episode 4

Irene is upset when her daughter Lesley and her partner move for work elsewhere, leaving her to sell their house. She resorts to asking Vera to come over and help. Vera however has been looking after Karen who has been taken into hospital, and is revealed to be pregnant. Irene instead ends up paying a visit to Vera and Karen, and resorts to also writing letters to Karen, before Karen heads over to stay with Irene who questions whether Vera treats her son Howard better than her daughter. The two also plan on booking a holiday together, but struggle to agree on a destination.

Episode 5

Irene has been in an accident, and has forgotten large parts of her life including Lesley and Vera, though she is still writing letters to her. The pair reminisce over the war, and their sex lives which aids Irene's return to health so much she is able to fight off a mugger. However, she ends up getting arrested for her part in a protest and tries to get Vera to help. Vera meanwhile has her own problems when she is raided by customs, and arrested, accused of being a drug runner. Both find themselves in the same prison.

Episode 6

Irene has been released after managing to get an insanity declaration, and has moved into Vera's old house for a while. She is also keeping Vera up-to-date on both their families, with Lesley having been left by husband Keith. Vera soon gets a release herself, and sets about looking after her family. Irene has good luck by winning a raffle and invites Vera on a holiday, who is planning on cashing in her life insurance due to defaulting on a number of other payments as the bank threatens to repossess her house.

2. Ladies of More Letters

Episode 1

Irene makes the first move in talking to Vera after their disastrous holiday and in which they vowed not to talk to each other again, in informing her that Bill has died of a heart attack. Vera meanwhile is staying with her son Howard, and she agrees to stay with Irene after the service. While staying with Irene, Vera has a fall which requires her to contact Howard and arrange for her to be collected, however some confusion leads to Irene being stuck with her for longer than she had wanted.

Episode 2

With Vera now returned home, Irene hopes she is doing better and has been going through their old letters, and has noticed they always fall out when they meet in person. Suggesting they stick to letter writing, Vera agrees letting her know she is staying with a friend after deciding on a break from her son Howard. She eventually moves to a stay at a caravan park, where Irene continues to write and continues to argue about the events where Bill, Irene and Vera end up in bed together while Vera responds with the threat of sending round a goon named Damon.

Episode 3

Irene takes Vera's previous response badly and decides to stop mailing her, though Vera relents and soon apologises for her threatening letter. Irene takes a trip to Australia to see her daughter Lesley and her granddaughter, and makes deliberate mention of still being on good terms with Vera's daughter Karen. As the new Millenium approaches, Vera questions what Irene has planned and says that she has made up with Karen. Irene meanwhile has her birthday, and meets a new gentleman.

Episode 4

Vera apologises for missing Irene's birthday, and sends her a tarot card reading result from a neighbour at the trailer park. She also reports on an event at Anthony's she attended, and sees Karen and her granddaughter, Sabrina, again for the first time in a year. Karen comes to stay with Vera in the caravan, but relations are still strained, though she dumps Sabrina on her mother and heads off to St. Tropez with Damon. Irene meanwhile reports on a possum that is living in the house with them.

Episode 5

Irene has been out with Vincent again, and informs Vera that Karen is pregnant by Damon, much to Vera's dismay and distress. Irene also contacts Anthony to ask whether he can take his mother back in. Vera also has to find money to purchase Sabrina for a computer for school. Irene meanwhile is looking after her granddaughter full time, believing her daughter to be busy at work. Her creative letter writing when contacting Anthony brings Vera a number of problems.

Episode 6

Irene has taken to writing poems, and sends one to Vera as a way of apologising. Vera has a social worker due round to check up on her and Sabrina, and she also hears from Lesley who is sending her mother back to England after a breakdown and stay in a "wellness clinic". Vera responds with some advice from her psychic neighbour Jasmine. Lesley updates Vera on the latest situation which involves Irene going missing, after Karen and Damon turn up to collect her, before they go into hiding in the outback.

Episode 7

Vera queries Lesley whether she has heard from Irene, and informs her that she has custody of Sabrina with Karen away. She finally hears from Irene who says that they'll be flying home in a couple of weeks, as they are currently staying at Lesley's having managed to escape from Damon who decided to take Irene's medication. Lesley and Karen hit it off together by smoking cannabis which is what landed Irene in her bother. Vera also lets them know that social services may be looking to rehouse them.

Episode 8

Irene informs Vera that her new grandchild has arrived and questions whether the child is actually Damon's as they haven't been together long enough, and there is little resemblence. Vera, back at the trailer park, has been dealing with Jasmin's kids after she took a trip to Amsterdam for a few days, and returned to find her caravan ransacked. Irene also has news that Damon has met a tragic fate near to the location where they escaped to in the outback, after he was shot by a hunter.

Episode 9

Vera has moved into a flat provided by the council after some help from social services. Irene reports that Karen has named her child, though is at a lost by some of the chosen middle names. Vera wonders how long it will be before her daughter is in another relationship, and says that her and Sabrina have been spending some time with the neighbours. Irene meanwhile continues to write poems, and has written one about her longing for England, and Vera suggests a return for a holiday. Irene also discovers that Lesley has been having an affair with her boss, and is pregnant by him.

Episode 10

St. John has left Howard's farm and now in Australia with Karen, having learned he is the father of Nelson, leaving Howard and Anthony at a loss during breeding season. Irene also reveals that Karen and St. John intend to get married, though she describes this with barbed comments before returning to England. Vera moves into the granny flat with Karen and St. John who have also returned, where she describes her daughter has changed and sets about helping prepare the wedding, though has to compete with Irene who is also doing the planning.

3. Ladies of Letters.com

Episode 1

Vera recalls the events of Karen's wedding when she got locked in the bathroom and left behind, which resulted in a falling out with Irene. She is also heading off on a trip to India, though Irene questions the wisdom of taking a trip due to Vera's pickiness over toilet facilities. Vera is also wondering about Karen's choice of getting pregnant again so soon. In India, Vera ends up in a pickle when the tour bus is impounded, leaving her to take a six hundred plus mile journey to her resort that she can't afford to pay for and requires money to be wired over.

Episode 2

Vera and Irene take to using email to communicate, and Vera updates them on her latest news, though she does contemplate whether Irene has taken to stealing her identity now that she is living with Karen and St. John, even if temporary. Irene brags about her typing skills have been a personal assistant, and updates on her trip to Sabrina's school as part of "Bring a granny" day. Relations soon sour again as Vera returns home, before a policeman arrives at Irene's door.

Episode 3

Karen informs Irene on the latest goings on and pleads with her to smooth the situation with Vera over. She lets them know that a neighbour has informed her that a man has been snooping around and stolen things out of her bin. Vera also takes to responding who is giving a talk at a geographical society as well as busy working on her cookery book. Irene however manages to make it to her talk despite the late "invite" which leaves Vera angered at the disturbance her late arrival causes which she puts down to deliberate sabotage.

Episode 4

Irene has returned to Australia to help with Lesley's latest birth which is upcoming. Karen also takes to writing a letter to Lesley and updates her on own pregnancy which she says is to be her last. Querying the situation with the man who has been following Irene, Vera responds that she is also experiencing a similar sounding man also following her, and that he looks familiar. While climbing down a ladder, Karen slips which sends her into an apparent early labour while son Howard and Anthony are attempting to have a surrogate child.

Episode 5

Irene lets Vera know that Lesley gave birth on the kitchen floor rather than at her Caesarean section that was booked, and has been named Sarah-Jane. Vera responds that Karen still hasn't given birth, and updates them that Howard and Anthony's attempts at a surrogate aren't going to plan. Irene contemplates buying a computer when she returns home. Vera returns from a walk with a concussion after falling into a pit destined to be a swimming pool in the garden, and is rescued by the man who has been following them, though he disappears when Vera passes out again.

Episode 6

Irene is left in charge of her granddaughters as Lesley and Brian have gone away, due to their relationship being in trouble. Vera also has news that Howard and Anthony's surrogate is now pregnant, and she will also be again appearing on television as filming has started again. On hearing the news of the surrogate, Irene does some moralising about artificial insemination, as well as her daughter's current situation which leaves Vera with a rather curt response. Howard also sends her a letter with some of his thoughts on what she wrote.

Episode 7

After sending her apology, Irene has still not received a reply, but Vera eventually relents and responds. Irene has also heard from a neighbour that the man who was following her has been seen snooping around her house, though Vera still hasn't managed to get a response from the police officer who was investigating. Lesley is also engaged to be married to Brian, and Karen has given birth to a girl somewhat prematurely. With a date for the wedding set, it is quickly called off again leaving Irene in despair.

Episode 8

Vera is looking forward to the trip for the wedding after not receiving the email about the wedding being off, and only finds out after booking her flight. Still planning to head there however, Irene responds that she is due to return to England. However, she has also found from neighbour Beryl that her house has been ransacked. Back home, Irene has bought a laptop and Karen has run off with a nurse leaving St. John to look after the children. This leaves Lesley delighted to get rid of Vera, and books a flight immediately, though her leaving may just be a ruse.

Episode 9

Irene wonders whether anyone has heard from Karen yet as Vera arrives back home. She herself arrived home to find everything in order after some cleaners turned up and sorted out the mess, despite not knowing who organised them. Vera responds that everything at home has been in turmoil though new baby Milly is doing well. Karen contacts Leslie and lets her know where she is staying when she discovers St. John was having an affair, and has run off to teach him a lesson. Irene also questions Vera as to what will happen to her if Karen doesn't go back. Irene also finds out the man is known as C. Thoroughgood.

Episode 10

Vera has been struggling to get a hold of Irene with her phone being constantly off the hook. Howard and Anthony find out that their surrogate mother was actually impregnated by St. John, and Vera questions who Christopher is. Irene responds that he is her long-lost son from her teenage years who wanted to meet her before the trip to Australia, and intercepted some burglars at Irene's and also arranged the subsequent cleanup. With the bombshell news, Leslie marriage is back on, Karen and St. John have a reunion and Vera's television airing on Dales TV goes exceedingly well.

4. Ladies of Letters Log On

Episode 1

Vera and Karen have been visiting, and Irene informs Vera that she has left a number of items behind. Vera also lets her know that her television show will be called Dales Diaries, and is due to air soon with her on hosting duties. Irene, ignoring the reference to the television show, has some excitement coming as her relationship with Christopher is going well. Irene also hears from Anthony and Howard whose surrogate is due to give birth soon, and they have repaired relations with St. John. Irene writes a poem for the unborn baby explaining its parentage situation.

Episode 2

Irene brags about her time with son Christopher who takes her to meet a famous television chef in his Porsche. She does however hint at a previous conversation about becoming a co-presenter. Vera backtracks on the offer, but invites her along with Christopher to be interviewed. Vera finds that Christopher is actually a used car dealer which explains Irene's venturing out in expensive cars. Vera ends up in the bad books at the lack of an offer for co-presenting the television show, so she arranges for an invitation to be sent which she accepts.

Episode 3

In a frantic email, Vera tells Irene not to come as there is a kerfuffle about her appointment and the producer not being consulted. However, she misses the email and heads there anyway though manages to talk the producer around, which means Irene will be staying with Vera. However, the situation lasts one day when the two fall out yet again, which results in Vera being frightened by Irene when she is cooking, and Irene ending up with a gash which St. John has to bandage up. Irene ends up staying with Howard and Anthony.

Episode 4

The first show is due to be aired live, and the two attempt to organise their outfits via handwritten notes as they are not talking. Vera is having a restless night and emails Howard and Anthony with various complaints about Irene, and is hoping they will turn up at the broadcast. Irene gives a poem to Vera in an attempt to calm the situation which Vera takes as an apology. On television, the pair continue their communication with everyone via notes but somehow they still manage to return a good show which receives a glowing review.

Episode 5

Irene informs Christopher of the goings on at the first television airing and the after party which she has just left, and looks forward to his upcoming visit. Vera has also taken to emailing after the party, though is somewhat worse for wear and sends it accidentally to Irene rather than Howard. The following day, she apologises and tries to mend their relationship. Heading over to the farm to see Irene who has left with Christopher to head to Prague. Vera is left to handle milking the sheep while Natasha is feeling unwell, though it later proves to be that she is going into labour and delivers a baby girl.

Episode 6

Irene misses a rehearsal due to her trip in Europe, and Vera arrives to find mayhem when some of the staff go on strike. Irene meanwhile has to travel back home in a Skoda after Christopher "swaps" his Ferrari, though gets stuck in the Netherlands waiting for a ferry. Natasha is also having a bad time with things not going well at Howard and Anthony's, and with no Irene, Vera invites Jasmin onto the television show. Irene also updates them with Christopher now taking her through Germany in an Alfa Romeo that he "swaps".

Episode 7

Irene has been released from police custory, while Christopher is left behind as being investigated as part of a car theft ring. She however fails to believe that she was a dupe, and takes to using the television programme about his "false" arrest. Vera however believes he is guilty and finds out about Irene's television plans from Jasmin as to which she is rather unhappy. Karen meanwhile has taken the birth of her niece badly, and Vera has had to ask St. John for a loan due to the television company having no budget left. Despite Irene claiming to then pay the money back to the producer, it goes missing.

Episode 8

Anthony discovers that a friend-of-a-friend knows Christopher as a previous criminal and lets Vera know, as they are struggling to get rid of Natasha who has changed her mind about giving up the baby. Irene meanwhile has moved into an expensive hotel which has blown the television show budget again. Karen turns up at Irene's and claims she has left St. John again, who says he is in love with Natasha. Irene hears from Christopher's solicitor and discovers that she is in fact not related to him, and he is actually called Clifford Thompson. However, her real son soon contacts her.

Episode 9

Irene takes to contacting the real Christopher who is in prison, and Vera suggests heading out to visit him would be the best solution. The situation between Howard, Anthony, Natasha, Karen and St. John is still a mess, and Sabrina has also been arrested for trying to rob a corner shop. The producer reveals that the budget situation means that the last show may be upon them, though Vera's family appearing on the show and airing their grievances leads to Natasha's partner Wayne angrily turning up. Irene ends up in hospital in the melee, though the drama boosts the ratings and rescues the show.

Episode 10

Irene receives a compassionate visit from Christopher who she begins to bond with, discovering that he has been jailed for accounting fraud. Karen has also run off again, last being seen with Wayne, leaving Vera looking after the children again. Sabrina later turns up at Irene's having hitch-hiked and decides she wants to live with her due to the turmoil back at home, though Vera is having to deal with the police as they believe Sabrina has been heading a credit card scam from school. Karen also turns up at Irene's having been dumped by Wayne, who eventually leaves with Natasha giving up rights to Howard and Anthony's child.

5. Ladies of Letters Make Mincemeat

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6. Ladies of Letters Spring Clean

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7. Ladies of Letters Go Global

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8. Ladies of Letters Say No

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9. Ladies of Letters Go Green

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10. Ladies of Letters Credit Crunch

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11. Ladies of Letters Go Crackers

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