Skip to main content

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).

Comments

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

Ruben
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):
TO LORY GR
NGER LIST. JA

.-.-.- 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

Popular posts from this blog

How to write a successful blog post

First, a quick clarification of 'successful'. In this instance, I mean a blog post that receives a large number of page views. For my, little blog the most successful post ever got almost 57,000 page views. Not a lot by some other standards, but I was pretty happy about it. Looking at the top 10 blog posts (by page views) on my site, I've tried to distill some wisdom about what made them successful. Your blog posting mileage may vary. 1. Avoid using the passive voice The Microsoft Word grammar checker has probably been telling you this for years, but the passive voice excludes the people involved in your blog post. And that includes you, the author, and the reader. By using personal pronouns like I, you and we, you will include the reader in your blog post. When I first started this blog I avoid using "I" because I thought I was being narcissistic. But we all like to read about other people, people help anchor a story in reality. Without people your bl

Your last name contains invalid characters

My last name is "Graham-Cumming". But here's a typical form response when I enter it: Does the web site have any idea how rude it is to claim that my last name contains invalid characters? Clearly not. What they actually meant is: our web site will not accept that hyphen in your last name. But do they say that? No, of course not. They decide to shove in my face the claim that there's something wrong with my name. There's nothing wrong with my name, just as there's nothing wrong with someone whose first name is Jean-Marie, or someone whose last name is O'Reilly. What is wrong is that way this is being handled. If the system can't cope with non-letters and spaces it needs to say that. How about the following error message: Our system is unable to process last names that contain non-letters, please replace them with spaces. Don't blame me for having a last name that your system doesn't like, whose fault is that? Saying "Your

The Elevator Button Problem

User interface design is hard. It's hard because people perceive apparently simple things very differently. For example, take a look at this interface to an elevator: From flickr Now imagine the following situation. You are on the third floor of this building and you wish to go to the tenth. The elevator is on the fifth floor and there's an indicator that tells you where it is. Which button do you press? Most people probably say: "press up" since they want to go up. Not long ago I watched someone do the opposite and questioned them about their behavior. They said: "well the elevator is on the fifth floor and I am on the third, so I want it to come down to me". Much can be learnt about the design of user interfaces by considering this, apparently, simple interface. If you think about the elevator button problem you'll find that something so simple has hidden depths. How do people learn about elevator calling? What's the right amount of