REVIEW: The Sunday Night Play – ‘Loyalties’

  • Broadcast: Sunday, 29th April, 1962 

Character: Ferdinand de Levis

LOYALTIESCaptain Ronald Dancy, D.S.O.[1] (Keith Michell), has just retired from military service and is now at a loose end, with no idea what to do with himself. Having become familiar to a life of discipline and combat, he entertains himself with his love of horses and women, but nothing can replace the brutal excitement he craves.

Currently penniless, Dancy marries Mabel (Jennifer Wright) – a well-to-do woman who has long admired him, and who has a temperament that he’s always desired in a woman. Nevertheless, the former Captain is still forced to sell his most prized horse to his friend, Ferdinand De Levis (PETER WYNGARDE), as he can no longer afford to keep the Mare. Despite his penniless state, Darcy nonetheless managed to retain membership of some of the most exclusive gentleman’s clubs in London, and with them the friends who’d request the company of himself and his new wife at weekend gatherings at some of the most exclusive addresses in the country.

On one such occasion at Meldon Court – the home of his old chum, Charles Winsor (Jack Watling), Dancy is furious to learn that De Levis has sold on the horse for a hefty profit on the £1,000 he’d received. Later that same evening, amidst the male banter and revelry, Dancy’s bitterness inspires him to make a £10.00 wager with De Levis that he can leap atop a four-foot high bookcase in a single bound. Ferdinand accepts, and Dancy subsequently wins the bet. De Levis, however, is condescending – saying that a real gentleman would never indulge in such infertile parlour games – and least not for such a trifling amount of money. This insult irritates Dancy still further.

Around 12 that night, Winsor and his wife are wakened by De Levis, who informs them that the money he’d accepted for the sale of the horse has been taken from his room, and demands that the matter is immediately explored. Winsor and his friend, General Canynge (Felix Alymer) are, together, horrified at the assertion that someone at the Manor could be responsible for such a crime, and yet neither is keen to point a finger at either the staff or guests. De Levis’, nevertheless, insists that the police are summoned.

Immediately, the visitors begin close ranks against De Levis – asserting that he’s handled the situation indelicately. He, in turn, construes that their stance is born more from bigotry than out of any other concern, given that he’s a Jew. Dancy, meanwhile, does little to dissuade Ferdinand’s supposition by taunting De Levis about his race.

 When Inspector Dede (Michael Collins) and a Constable (Max Latimer) arrive to begin their investigation, a number of theories are put forward concerning who the perpetrator might be, but when De Levis asserts that Dancy is the thief, and that he can provide poof to support the claim, he’s told in no uncertain terms by the other guests to keep the allegation to himself.

De Levis reluctantly agrees to remain silent, but only until he can deliver the necessary evidence, but when he realises that he’s been expelled from the clique, he openly points the finger at Dancy.

Over the course of the next couple of days, the disagreement between De Levis and Dancy is pored over by the group of friends – all of whom are reluctant to believe that the Captain could be responsible for such a dishonourable act. That’s until Dancy is ultimately unmasked when the notes taken from De Levis’ room are discovered and traced back to him.

Although De Levis is finally vindicated, before the group will give Darcy up, they devise a plan for the Captain to disappear before he’s arrested. Yet, conversely, the play ends in tragedy when Darcy choses to hang himself to avoid the disgrace of being taken into custody.

[1]: Distinguished Service Medal

© Copyright The Hellfire Club: The OFFICIAL PETER WYNGARDE Appreciation Society:


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