Getting the balance right of what The Captain does and doesn’t say was key to the episode. “It wasn’t just a personal choice of his to go ‘I’m going to remain in the closet’,” explains Rickard. “There wasn’t an option there to explore the things that either of them felt. That couldn’t be done back then – there are so many stories which have come out since the War about the dangers of doing that.
“We wanted to tell his personal story but also try to ensure that there was a level at which you understood why they couldn’t be open, that even in this moment where he’s finally telling the other ghosts his story, he never comes out and says it overtly because that would be too much for him as a character from that time.
“He says enough for them to know, and enough for him to feel unburdened but it’s in the fact that they’re using their first names which militarily they would never have done, and in the literal passing of the baton”.
The baton is a bonus reveal when fans learned that The Captain’s military stick wasn’t a memento of his career, but of Havers. As James suffers a fatal heart attack during a VE day celebration at Button House, Anthony rushes to his side and the stick passes from one to the other as they share a moment of tragic understanding.
“From really early on, we had the idea that anything you’re holding [when you die] stays with you. So it wasn’t just your clothes you were wearing, we had the stuff with Thomas’ letter reappearing in his pocket and so on. And the assumption being that it was something The Captain couldn’t put down, it felt so nice to be able to say it was something he didn’t want to put down.”
“Good Old James”
Rickard lists “Carpe Diem”, co-written with Ben Willbond, among his series five highlights. He’s pleased with the end result, praises Willbond’s performance, and loved being on set to see Button House dressed for the 1940s. He’s particularly pleased that a checklist of moments they wanted to land with the audience all managed to be included. “Normally something’s fallen by the wayside just because of the way TV’s made, it’s always imperfect or it’s slightly rushed, but it feels like it’s all there.”