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QUICKSILVER PILOT: MAKING MONEY

a TV Series by

Blaise Hesselgren

Agent: Steven Russell, Collective Talent


Steven@collectivetalent.co.uk
Tel: 07734 212845
EXT. LONDON STREET / TOWER HILL / TOWER OF LONDON - DAY

A dirty, clipped silver coin lies on a rough wooden table


in front of three upturned tankards. The shell game.

A hand lifts a tankard, covering over the shilling.

SHARP (O.S.)
Where's the cole? Where'll it go?

The SHARP'S hands dart over the table, swapping, sliding,


slipping, gliding the tankards around each other until
they - STOP.

A new, callused hand appears; TAPS the central tankard.

SHARP (O.S.) (CONT'D)


Penny for a peek.

A penny clunks on the table.

With a flourish the Sharp lifts up the middle tankard -

NOTHING.

The Sharp SNATCHES up the penny -

LABOURER
It was there. I saw it!

SHARP
You saw wrong. Who's for another?

CRASH - The LABOURER SWEEPS the table clear with his arm -
tankards go flying - NOTHING underneath any of them!

LABOURER
You thieving -

As the Labourer LAUNCHES himself at the Sharp, one of the


tankards BOUNCES into the busy street -

Into the path of an approaching coach -

- and is CRUSHED under the spinning wheels.

We join the mess of street urchins chasing the coach as it


clatters across Great Tower Hill and pulls to a stop.

The Driver flicks his whip, scattering the boys before


dismounting and opening the coach door for -

ISAAC NEWTON, 53, possibly the greatest mind in history,


sharp-eyed and precise, his hawk-like face creases in
calculation as he looks up at -
2.

INSERT: THE TOWER OF LONDON, MONDAY 30th APRIL 1696

- his new home.

Behind a massive grey gatehouse, the turrets, walls and


parapets of the Tower recedes into the distance, muffling
the CLANGS of metalwork escaping through the gate.

Newton descends, taking in his new home as the Driver


unloads his bags.

DRIVER
Mr Newton, sir.

The Driver's waiting expectantly. Newton fishes out a coin


and flicks it to the Driver -

- who catches it smoothly, swiftly examining it.

DRIVER (CONT'D)
Old issue, sir. You got the new
issue, seeing how you work here
now?

Newton takes the coin back, biting it to test it's value.

It's good.

He returns it to the driver.

NEWTON
This is legal tender until Friday.

DRIVER
And come Friday you think you'll
have enough new coin for all of
England? Huh. Good luck to you.

NEWTON
Luck is for fools. I have solved
the motions of the heavenly bodies;
the mechanisms of the monetary
system provoke little challenge.

Newton turns back to the Tower of London -

EXT. NEWGATE PRISON, LONDON - DAY

A brick wall. A locked gate bars entrance to a black tunnel.

An ornate carriage passes the gate and rumbles to a stop.

CHRISTOPHER ELLIS, 30's, big, broken nose, eyes that have


survived a hundred bar fights emerges from the coach.
3.

He walks to the gate and pulls the bell cord.

MR SPARROW, a fat, sweaty dough ball of a man appears behind


the gate, emerging from a room next to the tunnel.

Ellis hands a piece of paper through the bars.

ELLIS
William Chaloner.

Sparrow glances at the paper, then calls into the room.

SPARROW
Bill, your carriage awaits.

WILLIAM CHALONER, forties, handsome, cocksure and charming,


struts out. Claps his hand on Sparrow's shoulder.

CHALONER
You see? Never doubt me, Mr Sparrow.

SPARROW
I don't doubt you'll pay me, Bill.

Chaloner smiles at Ellis, who stares back, unflinching.

CHALONER
Mr Ellis, Sparrow here requires a
release fee of three shillings. I
do not have the requisite
remuneration.

After a moment of Chaloner's innocent stare Ellis grunts


and hands over the money. Sparrow tests it, opens the gate.

SPARROW
I'll keep your room for you, Bill.

CHALONER
No need, Mr Sparrow. Pleasant though
it is, I shall not return.

Sparrow chuckles as Chaloner exits the tunnel.

SPARROW
That's what you said last time.

INT. CARRIAGE - MOMENTS LATER

Chaloner leans forward, eyes drinking in the streets of


London - the beggars, whores, thieving children and
desperate men.
4.

CHALONER
And whom should I thank for saving
me from Newgate's sweet embrace?

They pass St Paul's Cathedral - or what will become St


Paul's. The walls rise high, though there's no dome - yet.

A group of men - builders, from their clothes - crowd around


a figure on St Paul's steps.

This is CHRISTOPHER WREN, 60's, as stubborn and solid as


the stone from which he builds his churches.

Driving past, Ellis and Chaloner catch some of his speech -

WREN
...in the absence of the new coin
I can offer food and chits...

Chaloner chuckles as they leave him behind.

CHALONER
It's as bad as they say, then?

Ellis ignores his comment. Instead -

ELLIS
Lord Chief Justice John Holt has
read your deposition and requires
your presence before the Coining
Commission at the King's Bench.

Chaloner sinks back, a satisfied smirk on his lips.

EXT. TOWER GATE, TOWER OF LONDON - DAY

A man emerges from the Tower Gate, shadowed by a porter.

This is HOPTON HAYNES, Newton's new aide. His spectacles


and ink stained hands announce his occupation - clerk -
one in perfect harmony with his bearing.

Newton barely notices them - he's busy checking his bags.

HAYNES
Mr Newton, sir?

Newton straightens to see Haynes, hand extended. He frowns -

HAYNES (CONT'D)
It's an honour to meet you, sir.
5.

INT. LECTURE HALL, CAMBRIDGE - DAY (FLASHBACK)

Haynes's face transforms into the angelic vision of NICHOLAS


FATIO DE DUILLIER, a similar - but improved - version of
Haynes, near perfect in bearing, grace and beauty.

The room is empty, and Nicholas glides down a staircase,


approaching Newton at the lectern. He extends his hand -

HAYNES (PRE-LAP)
I am Hopton Haynes, your clerk.

EXT. TOWER OF LONDON - DAY (PRESENT)

HAYNES
Welcome to the Royal Mint, sir.

Newton shakes off the memory, ignoring Haynes's outstretched


hand and instead waving him and the porter to his bags.

EXT. WESTMINSTER HALL - DAY

The ornate carriage pulls up. Ellis and Chaloner exit.

Ellis, pulling Chaloner in his wake, uses his bulk to cut


through the lawyers, clerks, petitioners and pamphlet
sellers all seeking entry to the heart of Government.

EXT. MINT STREET, THE TOWER OF LONDON - DAY

Haynes leads Newton through Tower Gate, pointing above.

HAYNES
Your office is above the gatehouse
(he turns the corner)
- and this is Mint Street.

PANDEMONIUM. A CACOPHONY of CLANGS, BANGS, SHOUTS and YELLS


drives out any possibility of rational thought.

Newton FREEZES, unable to process the chaos. Men dart about


on obscure missions, metal workers hammer, bend, melt and
meld metal while porters drag, roll and heave bags, carts
and wagons of silver, gold, copper and coin between the
various Mint buildings on the left of the street.

On the other side the sheer inner walls of the Tower only
serve to reflect the sound back onto Mint Street, doubling
the constant clamour of the industrial scale metalworking.

Haynes, oblivious to Newton's state, has continued up Mint


Street and is now a few yards ahead.
6.

HAYNES (CONT'D)
I've sent for Mr Neale, the Master
of the Mint, to show -

Haynes, finally realising he's alone, stops. He turns back


to see Newton transfixed, torn between awe and terror.

HAYNES (CONT'D)
Mr Newton?

Beyond Haynes a man exits a Mint building. This is THOMAS


NEALE, MASTER OF THE MINT, 60's, rotund and pompous, his
nose pickled as red as the wine he loves.

In tow is his clerk, THOMAS HALL, whose stooped shoulders


speak volumes to Neale's management technique.

Neale's face creases in thought as he sees Haynes rushing


back to the petrified Newton's side -

HAYNES (CONT'D)
Mr Newton, sir? Are you well?

But Newton is staring into the distance, hand patting his


pockets, looking for something that's not there -

Neale, interest piqued, approaches.

HAYNES (CONT'D)
Are you alright, sir?

Newton shakes himself back to reality.

NEWTON
Harumph..Yes..Yes...I am fine.

HAYNES
You must be tired from your journey -

NEALE
Haynes.

Haynes stops as he recognizes the voice. Turns.

HAYNES
Mr Neale, I think Mr Newton needs -

Newton interrupts, pale but calm. Neale observes curiously.

NEWTON
I am well. We shall proceed.

But at his side, Newton's trembling hand belies his words.


7.

INT. WESTMINSTER HALL - DAY

A hand - steady as a house - rests on a bible -

CHALONER
So help me God.

Chaloner stands before the King's Bench, a court bounded


by wooden planks in a corner of Westminster Hall.

Opposite him sit three Lords Justices of Appeal, headed by


the LORD CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN HOLT.

HOLT
Mr Chaloner, you say you were
unjustly gaoled for coining. Have
you proof?

CHALONER
Last January I gave evidence against
a Mr Abbot, naming him a coiner
and uncovering the coining press
at his house. However, once in
gaol he accused me of the same,
and I was shown to Newgate. All
lies, to quash his own his sentence.

HOLT
So Mr Abbot perjured himself?

CHALONER
To save his life? Of course. But
he offered no evidence. I have
committed no crime, yet I have
been censured as a coiner on the
word of a criminal.

Holt turns to Ellis.

HOLT
Mr Ellis, did you investigate Mr
Abbot's accusations?

ELLIS
I did, My Lord. The word is that -

HOLT
I need evidence, Mr Ellis, not
words. Do you have any?

Ellis shakes his head - no.

HOLT (CONT'D)
Mr Chaloner, the charges against
you are dropped. You may go.
8.

CHALONER
My Lord, I have further information
for the Commission.

Holt glances along the judges' bench to his fellow justices.


They nod assent.

INT. / EXT. TOWER OF LONDON, MOVING - DAY

Neale, Newton, Haynes and Hall stand behind the Tower


parapets -

CHALONER (V.O.)
We are in crisis. Our trade has
stalled, our people are idle and -

- looking out over the great sweep of the river Thames.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- our soldiers are unpaid, putting
the war with France at risk.

Hundreds of boats - including naval ships - lie idle.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


What little coin we have left -

But one - a barge - approaches and enters the Tower Dock


beneath them - coins glinting in the morning sun.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- is worthless.

A bell rings; Mint men assemble at the Tower Dock.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


And so our future depends on -

They argue as they jockey for position to unload the barge.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- an ill run and ill equipped Mint.

A fight breaks out; Neale sees it but looks away.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


My Lords, if you do not act, the
Great Recoinage will fail.

Newton moves to stop the fight; Neale blocks his way.

THE SMELTING ROOM

Men scramble to their feet as Neale leads his group in.


9.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


The Mint has no credible oversight,

Two more men appear, with a box of coins. They put it down.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- the men are knaves and laggards -

One lights a kiln; the others sit about, watching.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- who are tasked with producing -

Newton turns to remonstrate with Neale, but Neale moves on -

THE PUNCHING ROOM

One machine is in use; Two men pull a lever, STAMPING out


PLANCHETS - blank metal discs - from a metal sheet.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- fifty thousand new coins a week.

- Neale proudly shows Newton a small box of planchets.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


At present, they do not come close.

Newton frowns, but takes a planchet and follows Neale into -

THE PRESSING ROOM

Neale pauses and turns back, scowling as he sees Newton -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


Some say Mr Neale is of suspect
character -

- bouncing the planchet in his hand, estimating it's weight -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- that he debases the new coin -

Newton examines the planchet, bites it, studying it closely.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- embezzling the gold for himself.

Newton glances at Haynes - Hayes nods slightly as if


confirming Newton's suspicions.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


Others report that a coiner -

Newton spots a table covered with DYES.


10.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


last week entered the Mint -

He goes over, picks one up, examining it -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- and bought two coining dyes -

Newton goes to a press, in which he places dye and planchet -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- of the new issue -

- then nods to the press operators and -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


For his own criminal use!

THUMP

- it SLAMS down, imprinting the dye design on the planchet.

Newton takes out the new coin, holding it up to the light.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


Waste, corruption and coining.

The light reflects onto an ornate metal banded wooden box


in the corner. This is the PYX.

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


In normal times, any one of those
would ruin the Royal Mint. Now?

Neale watches anxiously as Newton walks over to the Pyx -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


We stand on the edge of a cataclysm.
My Lords, you need a man who can
save the Great Recoinage, a man
with experience, intellect -

Newton stops at the Pyx, holding his new coin over it.

He looks over at Neale -

CHALONER (V.O.) (CONT'D)


- and the courage to act. I am he.

CLUNK! - Newton drops the coin into the box.

Neale narrows his eyes.

That's it - he's had enough.


11.

NEALE
LADS! DOWN TOOLS!

SILENCE as the machines stop and the men down tools.

Neale advances slowly on Newton, footsteps echoing around


the quiet room.

Newton looks around uneasily as the workers encircle them.

NEALE (CONT'D)
Men, this is Mr Isaac Newton, the
new Warden of the Mint. Mr Newton,
a few words if you please.

Neale takes Newton's arm, urging him forwards.

Newton looks down at the hand on his arm -

INT. LECTURE ROOM - DAY (FLASHBACK)

A different hand now rests on Newton's arm.

Newton's gaze slides up the arm into the soulful eyes of


Nicholas Fatio de Duillier, who gazes adoringly back -

INT. PRESSING ROOM - DAY (PRESENT)

- Newton STARTS as Nicholas's face morphs into Neale.

Newton shrugs off Neale's hand with a shiver of revulsion -


then looks up and realises ALL EYES ARE ON HIM -

Silence.

One man - SCOTCH ROBIN, scarred cheek - watches closely as


Newton fumbles in his pocket for something. It's empty.

Newton pats his other pockets, panicking. Still nothing.

He looks up into the staring, curious eyes of the workers -

NEWTON
Hurumph. Where's..? My bags...

Newton lurches through the astonished Mint workers and out


of the room, leaving an awkward silence behind him.

Neale raises an eyebrow at Haynes. That's the great Newton?


Really?

INT. MINT OFFICE - DAY

Newton BARGES into the office, the door RICOCHETING shut.


12.

The desks are covered with books and scrolls; shelves of


bureaucracy threaten to collapse under their own weight.

Newton leans on a desk, head down, gripping it tightly -

NEWTON
No, out of my head, damn it - Argh!

He raises a hand - it's shaking violently.

Newton DIVES for his bags, opening a chest to reveal enough


instrumentation to equip an alchemists' laboratory.

Bottles glint with odd liquids; weights, measures, a wooden


telescope, vials and flasks; a miniature crossbow.

Quickly, Newton grabs a flask and a bottle of oil. He pours


the oil into the flask, then reaches back to the chest for
a bottle filled with a METALLIC SILVERY LIQUID.

Opening the bottle he puts a glass tube into the silver


liquid, covering the hole at the top with his finger.

Then - very carefully despite his distress - he removes


the tube, bringing a speck of the liquid with it. He puts
the tube into the oil-filled flask and removes his finger.

Removing the tube, he seals the flask, SHAKING it


vigorously. Then he opens it, raises it to his lips and -

TAKES A SIP -

He swallows, grimacing, swiftly replacing the cap before -

He DOUBLES over, RETCHING and falling to the floor.

Behind him the label on the bottle of metallic silvery


liquid reads: QUICKSILVER.

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