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Downton Abbey Series 1 Episode 1 Morse Code

The very beginning of Downton Abbey's first ever episode begins with a close up of a Morse code key being used to send a telegram that will announce the critical news of two deaths. If you're like me you instantly wondered what was being keyed.

Here's what I hear:
dah                   T 
dah dah dah           O

di dah di dit         L
dah dah dah           O
di dah dit            R
dah di dah dit        C

dah dah dit           G
di dah dit?           R
So, it appears that the message begins: "TO LORC GR". I assume that is meant to be "TO LORD GRANTHAM" and that the C is actually D and has been incorrectly transcribed.

Here's the audio as an MP3: Downton Abbey Series 1 Episode 1 Morse Code (first part).

Then over loud music it continues:
dah dit               N
dah dah dit           G
dit                   E
di dah dit            R

di dah di dit         L
di dit                I
di di dit             S
dah                   T

di dah                A
di dah                A
di dah                A

di dah dah dah        J
di dah                A
I think that's a fragment of "NGER LIST AAA JA". Since AAA is a full stop and this telegram is referring to the sinking of the RMS Titanic where Patrick and James Crawley were on the passenger list (as we later learn in the episode) it's likely that this is a fragment of "PASSENGER LIST. JAMES".

Here's the audio as an MP3: Downton Abbey Series 1 Episode 1 Morse Code (over music).

Anyone else hear something different?

PS It's pleasing that the producers must have gone to the trouble of composing the complete telegram and the recording its transmission using Morse code just for that small segment at the beginning of the first episode.

PPS A little Google search reveals that it was G3YXZ [PDF] who was recruited to send the CW and he notes that for television reasons the key was adjusted to increase the gap size thus making sending more difficult (hence, no doubt, the mistake with C and D).


Ruben Berenguel said…
You always surprise me with these little tidbits :)

Melpomene said…
Great detective work! :D
Cool, thanks! We tried and got stumped~
Cool, thanks! We tried and got stumped~
Ann M. said…
You made life too easy for us! Thank you for answering a completely geeky question.
Interesting to know what happenef to that same key?
Unknown said…
I've been a ham for 50 years and the opening message confused me. Thanks for clarifying this.
Unknown said…
I've been a ham for 50 years and could not figure this out. Thank you
Steve K said…
I heard (pausing the dvd & replaying many times):

.-.-.- is a period.
I'm not sure why it's not LORD...
Unknown said…
I've just begun watching Downton Abbey again and I also heard TO LORY GR. Perhaps, like the passenger list and name were fragments, the "Y" in LORY stands for LADY. Thus the message is to LOR[d and Lad]Y GR. 73! K5ALO
Anonymous said…
If you listen very closely, the sixth character was actually the letter Y (dah dit dah dah), not C (dah dit dah dit). As such, I heard, "TO LORY GR." Glad that others heard it, as well. It appears that either the key operator mis-sent the character or that LORY was possibly someone's first name (?). Thanks for posting this--I had trouble pulling-out the code from the loud music section. Now I know. Ha.
zzbored said…
I hear all the same but forgive me if im wrong, i hear
- t
--- o
.-.. l
--- o
.-. r
-.-- y
--. g
.-. r

I cant hear the C, Im Getting a Y
Maybe i should brush up on my PARIS

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