Henri de Vence was a French count who spoke the seductive language of love to un-attached middle-aged ladies on board the QE2. He made a beeline for Rita Sullivan but she easily brushed away his attentions, instead setting up Mavis Wilton, saying that she was the famous carpet heiress who had led a tragic life and had invented an imaginary existence for herself where she is a happily married woman with a husband named Derek working in a little northern newsagent.
Henri courted Mavis who, within limits, fell for his charms and enjoyed living out her fantasy of a chaste shipboard romance, complete with an expertly executed tango on the dancefloor. Mavis worried that her devotion to Derek was breaking Henri's heart and on the final night the two had a Now, Voyager moment when Mavis smoked a rare cigarette lit by Henri and repeated the famous line, "Don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."
No one was more surprised than Rita when the ship docked back at Southampton and she was witness to "Henri" saying goodbye to entertainments manager Alec Gilroy in a broad Black Country accent. Alec revealed that Henri was actually Sid Clegg, a man who was on his staff to provide precisely the sort of encounter that Mavis had enjoyed. Rita asked Alec to make sure that her friend never found out.