January

Sunday 2nd January, 2022

Mysteries over, life can go back to normal for some.

Characters: Christopher, Alice, Martha, Roy, Kirsty, Mike, Susan
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John

Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Christopher is telling Martha about the lights at Lower Loxley as Alice arrives; he is looking forward to the Lower Loxley extravaganza, and reminiscing about Susan's entry as a King in the Nativity. They show Martha the animal-shaped lights, and Chris makes elephant noises to amuse her.

Roy has got stuck in his 'second soldier' costume, and Kirsty is releasing him, painfully. She has no idea how they got through the show, and Mike comes in and congratulates them although he is not meant to be in the cast-only area. Kirsty congratulates him in return, on his work on the Cross, and he asks Roy to come and say goodbye to Vicky, Bethany and Abbie in the car. As they go out Roy reminds him to come to the Olivers on Thursday evening.

Chris has brought hot chocolate for Alice and hot milk for Martha, but Martha is asleep; Chris reminds Alice about carving their initials in a heart on the tree they hid behind when they sneaked into Lower Loxley together years ago. He can't find the initials, but he gives her a kiss, which startles her because she wasn't expecting it. He is hurt and sorry, but he had thought it would be all right as she is so much better now. He tries to persuade her to come back to him and their daughter as a family.

Mike offers Susan a sausage roll: the last one, as she points out rather tartly. She wants to mention his having got Neil drunk and kept him out late, and Mike turns her wrath by congratulating her on her being important in the dairy, and then by being admiring of her and Neil's new social position. She is boastful about Neil's job and the importance of the people he associates with. Mike then congratulates her on her performance in the play as second torturer, and she is cozened into allowing him to have the sausage roll.

A rather panicked Alice is is explaining to Chris that they are not like other families: she is an alcoholic and will never be normal. She loved being married to him, it was all she wanted, but she wrecked it and has to take responsibility for that. She can only worry about herself for now, just her. Chris wants to know where that leaves him, and why it is always about her and never him.

As they pack up the last of the costumes, Roy tells Kirsty that Mike has fixed the shower tray at Willow Farm so that it no longer leaks and then, when Kirsty and Susan don't want to go for a drink with the rest of the cast, calls them lightweights and runs away pretending to be frightened of Susan the torturer. Susan congratulates Kirsty on the show, and says they can all get back to life as they know it. Yes, says Kirsty gloomily.

Chris has been badly upset by Alice not wanting him to touch her, and she explains she can only concentrate on not drinking, which is taking everything she's got; he reminds her that they have a daughter. He doesn't want her help putting Martha to bed, and goes into the Nest. As the door closes on his sobs, Alice is yet again left saying, "I'm so, so sorry."

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 3rd January, 2022

Two full houses, and another in contention.

Characters: Mike, Roy, Tom, Tony, Pat, Josh
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John

Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Mike has cooked pancakes for breakfast; Roy will be having a lazy Bank Holiday, but Mike will be over at the Bungalow, and later he'll fix a carpet for Roy. He now reckons that the job at the Bungalow may take longer than he originally thought, so he hopes Roy isn't going to throw him out too quickly.

Tom is apologising for breaking the giant mug Tony favoured: the Bridge Farm dishwasher is smaller than the one he is used to. He and Natasha will be taking Pat in to Underwoods as soon as Natasha is ready. Before Tom goes to find her he offers to replace the mug while they are there, but Pat assures him that with his and Natasha's mugs as well as Pat and Tony's, the cupboard is full. When Tom has gone off Natasha-seeking, Tony is inclined to grumble about the takeover of his life; one of his vests has been washed pink, too. Pat doesn't think either Tony's mug or Tony's vest matters.

Josh has brought some 'muted flint' colour paint for one of the rooms at the Bungalow, and red for the paintwork; he is determined that it is his turn to get a place of his own, since Pip already has one. Mike didn't know it had been decided who would be moving in, but is quite happy to use the paint Josh has provided.

At Underwoods, Tom is helping Pat to choose a getup for her birthday present while Natasha is off being sick; it has been suggested they might go to a shop Pat likes, but it's right across town and Natasha doesn't dare end up too far from a loo. They have found a coat Pat loves, but also need a skirt and a blouse for her, and it is taking her a while to choose.

Josh is telling Mike about his egg business, and Mike is being admiring. Apparently Betty always said you can't go wrong with hens. Mike likes the paint, but, as Josh has discovered by painting a door, the red is definitely bold. Josh can't wait to get out of Brookfield: Ben is being a bore about his nursing exams, and Josh wants some privacy. He offers Mike a pint at The Bull in the evening, and Gran has given him twenty quid to buy Mike's dinner. Roy rings Mike to find out how he is getting on, and offers to make chicken jalfrezi for their tea, which Mike accepts; when Josh asks if he'd rather eat at The Bull another night, Mike says he'll eat Wayne's rabbit pie at The Bull first, then go back to Willow Cottage for a later meal with Roy.

Pat runs a characteristically grumpy Tony to earth sweeping out the packhouse rather than coming in to watch a film Natasha has decreed they will all enjoy together; he has already seen it with Pat, and describes it as too mushy for him. Pat claims not to have seen it before. After the film Pat will have a bath run for her by Natasha, with scented candles; Tony avers that he can run his own baths. Pat has had a wonderful morning, though she hates to think how expensive it must have been. They both look forward to the arrival of the baby; Tony agrees with her that they are lucky to have grandchildren, and grandchildren nearby at that. Pat implores him to come to the film, but he really wants to play with his trains. She says it is their chance to bond with Natasha, and Tony finally agrees. They won't be able all to sit down together and watch films when the baby arrives.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 4th January, 2022

Susan is affronted and Alice is taken aback to be taken at her word.

Characters: Susan, Tony, Alice, Lilian, Chris, Adam, Lorraine
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John

Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Clarrie has a migraine, so Susan is alone in the dairy. She has rung Tony for help; a potential new buyer from a health food chain has rescheduled and is arriving in twenty-five minutes, Helen has been delayed, and Susan can do a tour and explanations for her but they will look understaffed and unprofessional with one worker all alone there. Tony can't come: he and Johnny are mending a fence and he is covered in mud. But he will sort out someone.

Amy has started a dog-walking service, which Alice is recommending to Lilian; they are in the tack-room, having just come in from a ride together. Then Chris arrives shouting for Alice, and saying he needs a word. Lilian tactfully tries to make herself scarce, but he wants her to stay. He explains that when Alice said their marriage was over, he found it hard to deal with, and he has been checking about divorce on the internet and discovered they will have to live apart for two years before they can apply for one. They might as well get on with it and get the misery over. The only way to do that in less than two years is for one of them to cite unreasonable behaviour in the other. He wants her to say he has been unreasonable: it's the easiest thing.

Tony has sent Adam to pretend to be a dairy worker, and Susan tells him he can't do anything to help with the yoghurt because he isn't trained, so he'll just have to do some washing up. Adam promises to keep quiet, just as Lorraine arrives. She takes the blame for having to come early, and asks Susan to introduce her to the other worker.

Alice says she can't do it, because Chris has done nothing wrong and she can't say he is unreasonable when he hasn't been. He says it doesn't matter, and he doesn't see the point in waiting. It's what she wants, and he would like her to get on with it: he doesn't care what she says about him, she can think of something, or ask a solicitor. She refuses, and he says that in that case he has no choice; he will have to divorce her, citing her behaviour. He can't take the uncertainty any more; he needs to sort it out now, and he can't see any other way. He thanks Lilian for being there, and leaves. Lilian tries to comfort the unhappy Alice, who suddenly decides she is OK and is sorry Lilian had to hear all that. It was her decision, and it's not Chris's fault: he needs to get on with his life without her.

Lorraine asks Susan whether they can do special flavours exclusive to her company, and Susan says they can but prices are Helen's department; Lorraine expresses herself as very impressed with what she has seen. She thinks they have covered all her questions, then remembers that she hasn't asked about HAZOP controls, which Susan doesn't understand; Adam steps in and translates, and Susan then explains their safety protocols. Lorraine for some reason assumes this means Adam is the teacher, not Susan, and congratulates him on what a good training he has obviously given Susan. Susan is insulted at having been thought to be a novice but somehow manages not to be rude, and when Adam tries to talk her down after Lorraine has left she crossly sends him back to the washing-up.

Lilian has rung Alice to ask how she is, because she is worried about her having rushed off the way she did. She invites her to the Dower House, or to go shopping with her, but Alice just wants a ride together, next week. Lilian is sure she can be free any time for her. After they finish the conversation, Alice puts forward the goods she wants to buy, then adds two bottles of vodka – large ones – to her purchases.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 5th January, 2022

Amy is there for Alice, and Tom and Natasha are everywhere at Bridge Farm

Characters: Amy, Alice, Tony, Pat
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John

Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Early in the morning, Amy finds Alice in the playground, having only seen a text message from last night when she woke up. Alice has been there all night, and claims she needs to stay in the playground, so Amy sits beside her to warm her. She wants to know what has happened, and Alice says she needs her help. Amy asks what's in the bag, and looks in it, discovering the vodka. She thanks Alice for showing her and says that was really honest, and now Alice isn't on her own any more. She tries to discover how much drink Alice has had, and takes the bag and finds the bottles are full. This is a relief to Amy. She tells Alice that's a really good thing, in fact it's amazing. Alice says she bought the bottles intending to drink them, but her buddy talked with her all night. She badly wants to open a bottle and drink, and feel normal again. Amy doesn't see it; after Alice had one of her 'big nights' in Nottingham, she was always really low afterwards, not normal at all. And Alice hasn't had a drink this time, so that's not what she wants. What did Lisa say to do with the bottles? Now it's the two of them together, what do they do next?

Pat has finished milking the goats and Tony offers her some coffee that Natasha has made for them, from her special extra-roast beans. They both think it is revolting, but there is no way they can make themselves the sort they like in front of Natasha. Pat is gasping for a proper coffee, and the kitchen will be occupied by Natasha and Tom until at least eight.

Alice asks Amy to get rid of the vodka for her, and Amy pours it away. Alice thanks her repeatedly, in tears.

Tony has gone to get coffee from Fallon, who was happy to replace the undrinkable brew with cappuccinos with extra sprinkles. Pat says she couldn't find her moisturiser that morning; Natasha has filled the bathroom with her creams and lotions. It's worse than Jack and Henry's bath-toys, Tony says gloomily; he reckons Hazel has a lot to answer for, throwing Tom and Natasha out.

Amy is trying to get Alice to explain what made her buy the vodka, and Alice tells her Chris asked her for a divorce, which Amy points out was what Alice had been talking about herself. Alice says he tried to take the blame, and that she felt humiliated that he couldn't say she was the villain, that he couldn't risk her getting stressed and having a relapse. Amy says that she nearly did but she stopped herself: that's a massive milestone. The strategies from rehab did work. Alice, who seems dazed, says that her feet just took her to the off-licence, and she felt calm and as if everything was going to be OK. Amy points out that she rang Lisa instead of pouring herself a big drink. That was brilliant. Now they need to think how to stop her from being stressed. Alice talks of Ruairi never being able to forgive her, and Amy says she probably ought to let that go for now. She can always talk to Amy, to which Alice agrees. Amy thanks her, then tells her there is one more thing they need to do. She leads Alice to the bin, where she smashes one of the bottles and tells Alice to break the other because it's not her. Alice does as she is told, and Amy tells her that's the real Alice, my friend Alice: she's still there. Alice is determined that this is new start and she is going to make it work.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 6th January, 2022

Awards and fancies.

Characters: Alan, Roy, Lynda, Kirsty, Amy, Alice, Jennifer
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John

Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Alan is the MC for the Oliver Awards, and Roy and Lynda joke about Kirsty not being particularly interested in the whole occasion. Kirsty in turn mentions that Mike has mended absolutely everything that needed it at Willow Farm.

A dog yaps and we learn that Amy is out dog-walking; Alice makes fun of her about it, which Amy thinks is a positive sign. Amy has always loved dogs, apparently. Jennifer comes by on her way to The Lodge and wonders whether Alice likes the idea of a late supper, a Thai stir-fry. She says that she thinks Alice looks peaky, but Amy deflects her by claiming to be more peaky herself, and Jennifer leaves to take a delayed present to Peggy. When she is gone Amy says Alice is in fact looking a bit better than yesterday.

Lily Pargetter has won the award for the most cleverly disguised use of thermal underwear. The audience (as represented by Roy, Lynda and Kirsty) is discussing the awards and suggesting which might have gone to different people. Alan reads out a gushing section of a letter from the Bishop: apparently he was impressed, and raises his mitre to the cast and the writer. The best stealing of a scene award goes to Susan for the entry on the flatbed truck. It's her second 'gong'.

Alice is agonising about how close she came to disaster on Tuesday night: she nearly opened one of the bottles, though as Amy points out, she stopped herself. Even worse, she'll have tests like that for the rest of her life, waiting to jump out and grab her. Amy distracts her by talking about how she is enjoying what she is doing, and Alice thinks it is doing her good; she herself could use something to do. She has way too much time on her hands.

Lynda, Kirsty and Roy are still talking together in the awards audience; apparently Mike has offered to re-varnish the outdoor benches at The Bull, and will be staying a few days more. Lynda is called up to present one last award: for calmness and being the most long-suffering producer ever. Kirsty doesn't want to go up to receive it, but manages to do so after a pause and gets a bundle of fulsome praise from Lynda; she protests, but the audience back Lynda up. Lynda demands a few words, and Kirsty obliges. In spite of some people, they know who they are, she has had an absolute blast and can confidently say that thanks to them all, and particularly Judas, or perhaps Roy, she is now pretty-much ready for anything. She proposes a toast 'to Ambridge'.

Alice wants a quick word outside Willow Cottage, and Jennifer at once says that she knew something was wrong. Alice says that every day is difficult, but what's wrong is that she hasn't got a focus at the moment. Jennifer protests that surely Martha is her focus, but Alice says she has hour and hours on her own without anything to think about except how she mustn't have a drink. Amy was talking about how the dog-walking has helped her mentally, and Alice realised she needs something like that, to distract her from herself and give her a purpose. Otherwise she just sits there thinking 'what's the point of me?' Jennifer immediately says that's rubbish, but Alice is not to be deflected. Since Jennifer has also heard from Lilian about Christopher wanting a divorce, she certainly wants to help Alice in any way: that must all have been very upsetting. Alice says it might do her good to get back to work: doing nothing is even more stressful. Jennifer initially doesn't think that is a good idea or that it would be good for her, but Alice begs for some part-time hours at Home Farm. Jennifer will discuss it with Brian; Alice says that she really thinks it could be what she needs to get her life back on track.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 9th January, 2022

Brian leans on Stella, and 'spoiling Pat day' is spoiled.

Characters: Tom, Pat, Tony, Brian, Alice, Stella
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson

Director: Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Tom insists on pouring Pat's breakfast tea because it's Pat's 'official' birthday – there won't be time to celebrate her real one tomorrow. Tony comes in from doing the farming and he too is offered breakfast, from a huge and somewhat stodgy spread including pancakes and croissants. When Tom has gone to fetch Pat's present she tells Tony quietly that all she really fancies is a bowl of muesli.

Brian wants to have a word with Stella next week about possibly employing Alice, but since Stella has come in to the office for a couple of hours Alice wants to talk to her today. She just wants to be offered whatever needs doing; Brian is a lot less certain about the plan. At the mention of My Buddy Lisa thinking it a good idea, Brian caves in. Alice insists she wants to talk to Stella herself, before Brian does.

Tom has bought Pat a flatpack bathroom cabinet and is making it in the hall, to Pat's minor despair; Tony convinces her that she should leave him to it. Pat says peevishly to Tony that it isn't a present for her; it's for Tom and Natasha's benefit, and they are making her feel like a guest in her own home. Tony doesn't want to make a fuss about that today, with Helen and the boys and Lee and Peggy all expected for a lunchtime party.

Alice is offering to do anything that is needed on the farm, and Stella is trying hard to be tactful, but is not allowed to get a word in until she finally points out that she has no work she can offer to Alice: they simply don't need any help. Alice assumes it's because of the drinking, and says that she hasn't had a drink for five months, but Stella asserts that has nothing to do with it and remains firm.

Tom has fixed the cabinet to the wall, and says that it is for Pat, while his and Natasha's things remain out on the surfaces: he has even put Pat's and Tony's things into it. Pat finally loses patience with him and demands that Tom and Natasha's stuff should be packed away while hers remains where she wants it to be, telling Tom that she and Tony are fed up with being tided away in their own home; he and Natasha are killing her with kindness. Before they can get seriously involved in an argument, there is a crash and a squawk from the hall and Tom rushes off to see if Natasha is all right.

Stella explains to Brian that she really has no work for Alice, and he says apologetically that he does understand that he and Alice put her in an impossible position. Almost tearfully, he says that he just doesn't know what to do, and Stella, concerned, asks him to explain. He says that people find it hard to give Alice a second chance. He did himself. But at some point she has to be allowed to rebuild her life. They have all been upset by her husband saying he wants a divorce, even though it's what Alice has previously said she wanted, but she didn't hit the bottle because of it. He didn't want to disappoint her over the job on the farm. Stella does understand why he thought it might help her. Brian turns on the agony even more, but admits Alice was stoic when she got home. He doesn't help his case by saying that they all have to be vigilant and it is still one day at a time, but neither of them seems to notice the inference that this is not ideal in an employee. Stella rethinks, although she doesn't want it to be assumed she will find a job at any time for anyone who happens to be a family member; Alice can do one or two mornings a week without pay. Brian is very relieved.

Pat is blaming herself because Natasha has gone to lie down after falling over the tools Tom left all over the hall when he went upstairs to hang the cabinet; Pat now has to sort out the cooking, and doesn't know when Natasha started the various bits of it. Tony tells her to stop blaming herself, leave the cooking to him, and go to play with the boys, who have made a banner for her. Then Tom appears and says that when Natasha fell against the hall stand she hit her lower stomach; she is in no pain, but he is not prepared to risk it and is taking her to hospital. He's sorry to spoil Pat's day.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 10th January, 2022

Tom and Natasha find out, and Mike is found out.

Characters: Roy, Mike, Phoebe, Natasha, Tom, Pat, Tony
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson

Director: Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Roy offers Mike soup for lunch, but he wants to finish the bungalow before sprucing up The Bull's furniture tomorrow, and he'll be out to supper for a biriani with friends. Roy is a bit suspicious but Mike manages to make his escape as Phoebe distracts Roy. Roy asks whether she has noticed anything strange about Mike, but she thinks he is just enjoying catching up with Ambridge mates. She reckons Mike and Vicky are as besotted as ever and everything is fine, and wants to go upstairs to get on with some work.

Natasha wants Tom to stop pacing, and orders him to come and sit down. She was sent home from A&E and told to go to the ante-natal unit for a precautionary scan, though the doctor said that at nine weeks the baby would be protected by the pelvis. She turns down a drink of water from the cooler, but says that what would help is if Tom held her hand. He apologises and listens while she talks about this not being how she expected her first scan to be.

Roy has found out from Susan that she thinks Mike is in training for a marathon; she got it from Vicky while she was there for the mysteries. Roy is incredulous: Dad? A marathon? Susan was amazed they didn't know. Roy wonders whether Mike just didn't want them to know. Phoebe, who is trying to work, suggests ringing him to find out.

Pat has tried to ring Tom and failed; it goes to voicemail. Tony tries to comfort her by suggesting she should look at her unopened birthday cards, but she opens a card from Hazel advertising a virtual cheese-tasting. Tony is less than impressed; when he met her earlier outside the shop she asked him how Tom and Natasha are settling in, when them being there at all is entirely her fault. She's not right in the head. Pat fails to respond by getting annoyed: she can only think about Kirsty's miscarriage and how badly Tom took it. Tony says Tom and Natasha are together, and whatever happens the couple will get through it together.

Roy has just spoken to Vicky: Mike is doing 'couch to 5k' on doctor's orders, because the Wellman health check she took him to discovered that he is pre-diabetic. Phoebe doesn't reckon that's too bad, and at least he's had a warning, but Roy is worried; Mike has been lying to Vicky about food and exercise, and claimed to her that Roy begged him to help around the village.

Pat is worrying, and ringing Tom at intervals: she hopes that he will have put his phone on, but instead the pair arrive back at Bridge Farm. Tom tells his worried parents that everything's fine and both are doing very well. Pat tells Natasha how relieved she is, but Tom says he wasn't talking about Natasha when he said 'both': they're having twins. Natasha shows Pat the scan. Tom is boastfully delighted; Natasha claims to be terrified; Pat and Tony are full of congratulations.

Mike gets back to Willow Farm and offers Roy mince pies, Jill's finest. Roy forbids him from eating the mince pies or going out with the lads; he is furious. Mike is angry in return, and then when Roy treats him to a sermon about diabetes says he is not prepared to be spoken to like a child. It's his choice, and he'll do what he damn' well pleases.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 11th January, 2022

The past has a nasty habit of catching up.

Characters: Josh, Pip, Mike, Alice, Ed, Stella
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson

Director: Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Pip is washing down the parlour and not listening as Josh tells her that the county archaeologist Terry wants a geophysical survey of the site he plans for the trees, and this will delay his application for the grant. Pip tells him cheerfully that it sounds as if he's scuppered, then, and starts the washer again. He explains that waiting for the council to get round to it may delay the tree-planting for a year, and since it will benefit the entire farm if the trees mean they get grant, he wants David and Ruth to pay for a survey instead of the council one. Pip is scathing and unpleasant because the trees were for his benefit, and would be a win-win for everyone, but he now wants help with what is going to be expensive. Mike turns up with the paint left over from the bungalow, where he has finished, and denies the marathon rumour; Pip notices the colour of the paint.

Alice is trying to make conversation with Ed, who is loading some fence-posts onto his truck and is monosyllabic at her; she asks after the family, and Christmas, but he is really not interested and tells her he needs to crack on. Then she says that she wants to clear the air now they will be working together at Home Farm, and he is incredulous.

At the bungalow, Josh is praising the paintwork while Pip is being objectionable about the colours. She becomes shrill and unpleasant, blaming Mike for having done as Josh asked him, and a row starts between her and Josh with Mike caught in the middle. Then Mike says that Josh told him that he would be moving in, and the fat hits the fire. Pip furiously drags in Rosie having to live cooped up in a shoebox of a room, and Mike starts to say he will leave. The row gets nastier, until an exasperated Mike calls them to order, asking whether they can they can hear themselves. Do they have any idea how lucky they are? He doesn't just mean having entire houses to squabble over; they are young, and healthy, and they have the best of their lives in front of them. Pip tries to break in, and he loudly over-rides her, telling her he's not finished. Are they going to carry on like this when they are forty, or fifty, or sixty? It is more than stupid to be bickering with family. Life is too short for this sort of thing, and they need to wake up before they waste any more of it.

Ed has come to have a word with Stella, catching her as she leaves the office to go and meet the agronomist over at Brook Bank. He has something tricky to say: he bumped into Alice, and he knows it's not his business who works for the farm, but he needs to put something on record for his protection. The word startles Stella, who repeats it. Just so that everything's straight, from the start, says Ed. He tells her that Alice accused him of coming on to her, when she was drunk and trying to cause trouble. Stella is surprised and worried, and asks to be told exactly what happened.

Josh is being conciliatory to Pip, and tells her that mum and dad won't pay for the survey. It has started to seem to him like a lot of hassle: Mike was right, life's too short. By this means he gets Pip onto his side, and she starts to make arguments in favour of his scheme for the trees. He leaves it, and tells her that he has been mulling over something even bigger than the trees, and will want her advice when he has thought it over a bit more. In return for this concession to her brains, she tells him she quite likes the grey paint, and might even leave it when she moves in.

Ed has told Stella about being fired by Brian because of a mistake Alice made when she was drunk, though he was re-instated after she had owned up, and about Alice assuming he was making a pass when he said he was there for her which he did because he wanted to help her, what with her being his sister-in-law. Stella listens carefully, and Ed lets on about Alice having the feud with Emma and that he thinks the pass business was just to get at his wife and Alice didn't really believe it herself. He doesn't want to cause trouble for Alice, only he can't afford to get fired and he doesn't want to be put into a false position, especially given the way men get accused of all sorts these days. He leaves when Alice appears, planning to familiarise herself with any changes since she was last working there; Stella tells her that is a good idea, and is friendly but distant, offering her tea and biscuits in the office but saying she has to leave for an appointment. When Alice has gone inside, Stella rings Brian and tells him they have a problem.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 12th January, 2022

Eavesdroppers hear no good of themselves.

Characters: Peggy, Hazel, Tony, Alice, Brian, Amy
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson

Director: Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Peggy has served cottage pie for lunch, and Hazel isn't eating it though she says it's very nice. Peggy is surprised her appetite is still up and down, and suggests that at least she can always pop downstairs into the shop to get whatever she fancies to eat, but Hazel replies that she plans in future to get her groceries on line with more friendly service. She complains about Jim's refusal to take her shopping upstairs on the grounds that he couldn't leave the shop, though she bullied him into carrying it for her anyway. Peggy points out that he is older than her, but she says the others are as bad and it all goes back to the flood. She has trouble with the stairs, which leave her breathless, and Peggy sensibly suggests that she needs to look for somewhere more suitable, an idea Hazel rejects because she hasn't the energy. Tony comes in to invite Peggy somewhere and is rather obviously put out that Hazel is there.

Alice tells Brian he doesn't need to walk down to the village with her: she isn't going to be sold alcohol by anyone in Ambridge. It has been broken to her that she is not wanted at the farm, and she is clearly bitter about it. Brian takes the blame for everything, saying that he set her up for a fall, and suggests she might be better off working with new people, or working from home. Then they meet Amy, walking a dog called Joby, and Alice tells Brian to go home. Amy's not going to lead her astray.

Tony is trying to be polite about Hazel's birthday present for Pat, and being a trifle too fulsome, then becomes a little brusque. Peggy reminds him that he said he was pressed for time, Hazel offers him coffee, and he says he really must go. When Hazel has been sent to make coffee for Peggy, Peggy tells Tony that Hazel is feeling low, which Tony doesn't care about; he wanted to invite her to Pat's birthday tea tomorrow evening, and Peggy asks him to invite Hazel too because she is terribly lonely.

Alice is talking with Amy, and accusing Ed of dobbing her in, though she didn't hear what he said; Amy says that's mean of him since he's surely had his own problems with addictions, but Alice manages to elide what she knows he will actually have been saying when she arrived. Anyhow it's not just Ed: Brian and Stella made the decision. But what chance does she ever have of finding a job if even her own family think she's too big a risk? She wants Martha to be proud of her. She can't move away: if she were living alone she wouldn't be able to keep off alcohol. Joby starts to growl because Sabrina Thwaite is looking at them; Alice assumes it is at her specifically, though Amy says it's probably the dog. In order to find out what is on Sabrina's mind, Amy hands the lead to Alice and goes over, asking what Sabrina wants and whether she can help.

Tony tells Peggy that he won't invite Hazel, and the cheese-tasting present was insulting. Peggy says that he claimed Pat liked it, and he says angrily that he was just trying to be polite. He points out that Hazel is a dreadful person, not just for throwing out Tom and Natasha, but also in her treatment of Peggy on previous occasions, to which Peggy has to agree; why is Peggy defending her now, he wants to know. Well, because like it or not, she's family, says Peggy. She keeps on at him, reiterating Hazel being feeble and lonely and saying they wouldn't have to be there for long. After initially pointing out that Pat has had one celebration ruined already and Tom will go through the roof, Tony starts to waver, saying that he will have to talk to everyone else and see what they say, but then Hazel appears from the kitchen where she has clearly been listening, and announces that he needn't bother: she wouldn't want to come to the poxy party anyway.

Alice and Amy are laughing over Sabrina's hasty retreat, and Amy in their triumph is sure that Alice will manage to live down her reputation. Alice is her home girl, and the rest of them can go to hell.

Peggy is trying to placate Hazel, who angrily puts on the sob-stuff about being unwelcome, then irrelevantly blames Peggy for using Jack's money for the rewilding. She moved to live in Ambridge with an open heart, hoping to put the past behind them, but no, Peggy has to cling onto it. She has had enough. She doesn't need to be with people who are so petty and mean-spirited, and the same goes for everyone else in the foul, nasty village.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 13th January, 2022

Hazel and Mike both make valedictory announcements.

Characters: Mike, Roy, Phoebe, Peggy, Hazel, Tom
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson

Director: Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Mike is being defensive about his eating, saying that it is olive oil spread not butter in the sandwich he is making, but Roy wants to go on a bit about him being (hushed tones) pre-diabetic: apparently they caught it early and he has time to do something about it. Among other things designed to get Mike into line, Roy says he will be forty-four soon but he still needs his dad around, and as Mike concedes the point he adds that Bethany needs him even more. He doesn't want Mike to bury his head in the sand. Betty having died young of a heart attack is also thrown into the mix. As Mike is about to reply, Phoebe interrupts them, and when she asks whether Mike is ready to go round the rewilding with her Mike answers that he just needs to finish making his sandwich. Roy has a quick snit: 'Fine. Enjoy it,' he says, 'I need to get back to work.' Mike sighs, understandably.

Peggy is for some reason apologising to Hazel for Hazel having eavesdropped, but all Hazel is prepared to do is be unpleasant about what she overheard; Peggy is upset because Hazel was rude about Ambridge, but admits to a lot of it being her fault, and not just recently; Jack would have hated the way they have butted heads over the years. When Peggy has finished, Hazel says that while she believes her apology, it is too little too late and she is leaving. She has realised that nostalgia is a very dangerous thing: it makes you forget, in her case what a parochial, self-satisfied, two-bit place Ambridge really is. She is going to let the flat immediately and instructed her letting agent yesterday: somebody else can have the dubious pleasure of living there.

Funny how some things come full circle, muses Mike: he has spent years working the woods, and now Phoebe is doing the same. She asks whether he misses it, and he tells her that Ambridge has been a massive part of his life, and for a long time he thought he'd never leave, even after Betty died. But then Vicky came along, and Bethany, and gave him a new chapter of his life that he never expected to have. That's why his diagnosis was such a shock. Phoebe points out that being diabetic isn't a death sentence, and in any case he has a chance to avoid it. Mike admits he can't keep on burying his head in the sand. He's been given this new chapter and wants it to last as long as possible. Phoebe changes the subject and says she was just thinking about what a powerful hold Ambridge can have. Mike agrees that it is beautiful, but it's behind him. It's time to stop wallowing in the past.

Tom and Peggy are chatting, with Tom triumphantly telling her that he has tracked down a double buggy which would be twelve hundred pounds new, for a mere five hundred quid second hand. He also has to find somewhere for him and Natasha to live: he doesn't think that sharing with Mum and Dad is going to work out long term because they need their own space, and there has already been a clash. Peggy has something to tell him about Hazel, who has decided to leave Ambridge and re-let the flat. Tom abruptly leaves the Prosecco, and Peggy, and rushes off.

Roy wants to know what Mike's suitcase is doing at the bottom of the stairs: he didn't mean what he said that morning to drive Mike into leaving straight away, he just wanted to make him realise they only want what's best for him. Mike admits Roy is right about putting his health first; he has just never liked being told what to do. It's Bethany's ninth birthday on Sunday, and he wants to be there helping her to blow out her candles and for the next ten or twenty birthdays after that. Roy gives him a hug and congratulates him with the words 'well done', and Mike says he needed someone to be tough with him. In any case, he can't keep on doing all the DIY round the village: he has his own improvement project back home, though he refuses to say what it is.

Tom is trying to persuade Hazel to allow him and Natasha just to move back in and throwing his father under a bus by saying that whatever Tony may have said, Tom has said nothing against her: it's so unfair! She refuses to let him have the flat back and tells him to leave; as a last resort he tells her about the twins and begs her to let them move back in, at least for a while; she says that she really wishes she could, but she has already let the flat to someone else.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 16th January, 2022

It's not New Year, but it seems to be a time for resolutions.

Characters: Jim, Jazzer, Fallon, Harrison, Tracy
Credited scriptwriter: Nick Warburton

Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Jim stops Jazzer from leaving the house because he wants his rent. Jazzer hasn't got it, and Jim is somewhat accusing because Jim's accounts are in a mess: he has three account books, for property, domestic and miscellaneous, and they must balance at the end of each month. When Jazzer doesn't pay the rent, they don't. He is also unhappy that Jazzer seems to him to have lapsed into his old careless ways.

Fallon is recounting to Harrison about Tom knowing the flat has been taken, but not by whom. Harrison is not listening: he's thinking, and Fallon wonders what about: it's not work, is it? she asks anxiously. It turns out that he is brooding on the Mysteries, and his baptism as a baby, about which he knows nothing because he was a baby and can't remember anything about it. Fallon brilliantly suggests asking his parents, who were presumably there and might even have photographs.

Jazzer tells Tracy that Jim got ratty with him about the rent non-payment, because he can't pay: he's real-hard-up skint, and can't even do anything special for her on Valentine's Day. Tracy says he spent too much on presents at Christmas, and he's been too generous, and his present list has gone up by five now he is buying for her family as well as Jim and Alistair, let alone him buying her a new oven which he couldn't afford. She tells him that his finances are all backside about, and offers to lend him a hand with his accounts, but he doesn't have any of those. That's what she does, writes things in a notebook, which Jazzer says is like Jim except that Jim has three. She offers to give Jazzer one of the notebooks she keeps in reserve, but it has a cute bee and flowers on it and he's embarrassed by it.

Harrison has rung Fallon using a voice which really alarms her, but all he wants to tell her is that his mother has told him they didn't have him baptised because he got mumps and it was cancelled, and then they never got round to re-arranging it. Fallon is inclined to make light of it, but he now has it on his conscience that he lied about being baptised when he agreed to be a godfather for his brother's child Wolf. He feels as if he isn't who he thought he was.

Jazzer explains to Jim that he is taking steps about the rent, and shows him the account book, which is blank apart from the bee on the cover, in boots, which boggles Jim slightly; that there are no entries, Jazzer explains, and means he hasn't spent a thing, which shows he is making an effort. Jim isn't entirely impressed. He's still short of the rent.

Harrison agrees with Fallon that his not having been baptised was a long time ago and he can't be held responsible, but he's still thinking about not being baptised except by Roy in the Mysteries. He's not exactly worried, or he doesn't think so, but he feels as if he's lost something and doesn't know what. He's realised that he doesn't always know what the point of things is. Fallon says he can't change the past: he wasn't baptised and that's that. He wonders whether perhaps he could be done now. Fallon laughs about the idea of him in a christening gown, which offends him: it's important to him, is it all just a joke to her?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 17th January, 2022

Fallon and Phoebe are uneasy, and Kenton is ebullient.

Characters: Kenton, Jolene, Alice, Phoebe, Fallon, Lily
Credited scriptwriter: Nick Warburton

Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Kenton has collected the glasses before breakfast, and he's been thinking about Valentine's Day; they have to come up with something to bring in the punters. Jolene suggests live music, and they agree on Bull stalwart Scoby, if she's free; Jolene will ring her.

Alice is shovelling muck at the stables until she rings Phoebe, who (coincidentally, and they both go on about it) is sorting out the composting toilets. She has called just for a chat, and Phoebe asks how she is. Alice admits she's just heard from Chris, who wants to see her on Wednesday, about the divorce; not the happiest thing to be doing. Phoebe suggests going for a coffee some time; Alice bids for a night out on Friday but Phoebe claims she has something else on then, so they settle on tomorrow, and Phoebe says she will sort out somewhere to go. Alice is very grateful.

Fallon has come to see Jolene, and Kenton can't resist telling her about Scoby, making her guess who it is. She is underwhelmed, though she says Scoby is ok; Kenton protests at that, and Fallon points out that Scoby has done her act many times before, so the best Fallon can honestly say is she'll be ok. She tells them that a lot of people would agree with her. Kenton is sure they can come up with something else, and Jolene sends him to put out the menus while she asks Fallon what's wrong.

Phoebe has rung Lily, who instantly takes the opportunity to complain about her job being dull. She is disenchanted with it and goes on rather, making it impossible for Phoebe to get a word in. Eventually Phoebe is able to break in and ask for advice about the night out; she's having doubts because of the possibility that it may involve drink. She doesn't feel capable of stopping Alice from drinking if she wants to. Lily suggests that she could come too; she could do with a break. Phoebe is relieved, and they try to think of somewhere that doesn't serve drink. Lily thinks she knows a place; she'll get back Phoebe about it.

Fallon has confided in Jolene about the non-baptism, and that she is worried about Harrison possibly becoming obsessed. Jolene doesn't think he'll do that, but Fallon worries that he might start going round the village delivering leaflets, now he's started looking for God. Also, Fallon doesn't believe any of it, and he might come to think they don't belong together. Her mother suggests she just ignores it, but Fallon is afraid that might make him think she doesn't care.

Kenton is making a list, and trying to interest Fallon, who has to go; she doesn't want him to take her word for it about the entertainment. He wants to put on a unique night out that will cause a buzz round the village. Fallon suggests a Dragons' Den type approach, asking the customers what they'd like, and giving a free ticket to the one whose idea is chosen. Kenton reckons she is a genius; they can hope for the best Valentine's Day ever.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 18th January, 2022

Ideas or plans, and the lack of them.

Characters: Alice, Phoebe, Lily, Kenton, Jolene, Leonard, Tracy, Jazzer
Credited scriptwriter: Nick Warburton

Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Alice, Phoebe and Lily are bowling, and Alice is winning. They talk about their problems, envisioning them as pins they can knock over. Phoebe is finding rewilding not much of a challenge: boring, in fact. Lily says that her problem is Freddie, but Alice forbids it on the grounds that she likes him, so Lily plumps for her job being boring. Alice says that her problem is the lane not the pins and she can never get rid of it, and then says she wasn't hired by Home Farm and she doesn't blame them: who'd hire her?

Kenton has spread the word on Facebook, with a time for people to bring them ideas, but nobody has turned up in the Ploughman's. Just as Kenton and Jolene are about to give up Leonard comes in with an idea for Valentine's, adapted from a game he learned in Filey, though he's slightly shy about it and thinks it might sound a bit weird. It's a living board-game, a very simple one, he tells them.

Tracy wants to know why Jazzer has thrown away his receipt from the shop, instead of writing it in his book, but he doesn't have the book on him. In fact, he has lost it. He has bought another one, and has noted every item he has spent into it except this recent purchase; when Tracy asks to see, the only thing noted is the price of the notebook itself. Tracy offers to ask Jim not to hassle him about the rent, but Jazzer says it is his bad and he has to deal with it himself.

Phoebe is stressed about having asked Alice what her problem is, and she and Lily are worried that Alice has been gone, presumably in the loo, for a long time. Just as they are about to go and look for her she reappears saying she didn't realise the place had a new bar – no not that sort of bar! It's a fizzy tea bar. They decide to try it out.

Leonard is explaining his game, and Jolene is enthusiastic, but Kenton wants more explanation, which Leonard gives him but still manages not to explain it so Kenton understands it. Essentially, people in the game throw dice, then move the number of tables they have thrown, as it might be from table three to table six if they threw a three. When Leonard's explanation of the rules starts to confuse Kenton, he rejects the game.

Tracy tells Jazzer about the Bull looking for ideas, and Jazzer perks up at the possibility of getting a free ticket for the night. He reckons that he and Tracy are a good team and have plenty of ideas.

Alice has enjoyed the evening out, the elven sparkle tea with bubbles and lychee, the bowling, and also getting away for a while with nobody watching her or talking about her. The other two reassure her that people may be looking at her, but that's because they want her to succeed; they are on her side. Then the three discuss what their long-term plans are, and Alice says engineering. Lily is not in kitchens for the long haul: she has a plan to enrol in a course in rural estate management at Felpersham. Phoebe has a feeling of déjà vu: she was asked the same question at a tutorial group meeting before Christmas, and had to admit to them she had no plans: nothing at all.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 19th January, 2022

It's a day of disappointments all round.

Characters: Tracy, Jazzer, Tom, Chris, Kenton, Jolene
Credited scriptwriter: Nick Warburton

Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Tracy and Jazzer are at The Bull ready to give their pitch for the Valentine's Day extravaganza; quite a lot of ideas have been provided now, but they are confident of winning. They have one more rehearsal of their presentation.

Chris and Martha will be moving to the flat over the shop, and Tom has come round to ask him how he got in ahead of Tom. Chris is clear that he has arranged to have the flat and he and Martha are moving in; Martha grizzles and Chris is very short with Tom about his fictitious 'understanding' with Hazel that he would get first refusal if it came back on the market.

Kenton and Jolene are giving Tracy and Jazzer a hard time because of Tracy having been a double agent over The B@Ambridge renaming, and they are hostile from the start. However, the couple go on to give an excellent presentation for their game involving forfeits and favours to be passed round in envelopes, which Kenton judges as 'not bad' while Jolene is definitely on board.

Later in the day Chris is apologising to Tom, because he does feel bad, but Tom claims he is glad for him having got the flat and didn't mean to pressure him. Chris explains that he is moving because he feels awkward living in an Aldridge property and says he was ratty because Martha was having a bad day and he couldn't find their wedding album, which he wanted to pack. He's having a bit of a juggling act at work; how is Tom's going? Tom takes the opportunity to tell Chris in confidence that he and Natasha are expecting twins. Chris offers him a celebratory coffee.

Tracy and Jazzer have been working on ideas for favours and forfeits for their game. Various suggestions cause Kenton and Jolene to get lovey-dovey, but Jazzer and Tracy start to have a loud squabble over some ideas of Tracy's until Kenton forcefully tells them to pack it in. Unfortunately their quarrel convinces Kenton the game will cause strife and is not a good idea after all, and he tells them to go.

Tom has asked Chris about being a dad, and Chris tells him about the rush of love he gets when Martha recognises him; it helps one when things are difficult. Chris says that Martha has her own ideas, and that's wonderful even if it doesn't seem that way at the time. He tells Tom it will be better for him not just because of two babies but also because Tom will have Natasha and not have to contend with the difficulties Chris and Alice had; Chris is filling in divorce papers, and the end of Alice and him is no fun. He can't help thinking that Martha will never have the two of them as a family. Tom advises him not to let it linger as Tom did with Kirsty: a clean break is the best thing.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 20th January, 2022

Another clean break, and a wrenched leg.

Characters: Jim, Kenton, Jolene, Chris, Alice, Harrison
Credited scriptwriter: Nick Warburton

Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Jim is explaining an idea for Valentine's Day to Kenton and Jolene; he is advocating a dancing game: Mirror Image, in which one of a pair makes dance moves and the other tries to copy them. (cf. Mirror Dance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. Chris) Another version can be done in a chair without moving your feet; Kenton and Jolene agree to try it.

Chris has been making a list of things to put in the forms for the divorce and wants Alice to see them before he sends them in, so that he can avoid putting down things she will hate. She agrees to have a look. He has mentioned her kissing Harrison, nearly dropping Martha, throwing a brick through the shop window; she says he hasn't mentioned it, but she destroyed things too, like their wedding album. Chris is shocked, and questions her, but she doesn't know why she did that: spite, maybe, or to get back at him. They are both unhappy only to be seeing each other to talk about unhappiness; she starts suggesting that they might meet as friends and talk about ordinary things but he says no, he has to think about Martha and himself, and he doesn't think that would help him.

Jim applauds Kenton and Jolene's performance, and suggests they should try the full dance. Kenton doesn't want to, but Jolene goads him into it and then does some high kicks, and when Kenton tries to copy her he strains his leg. In a temper, he then rejects Jim's idea altogether.

Alice is trying to avoid Harrison, who confronts her about it and tells her he has missed her, then asks how things are. She says they have been worse, much worse. After a little friendly chat, she tells Harrison she wants to ask him a favour: could he check on Chris for her? She saw him this afternoon and he looked tired. Could Harrison keep an eye on him? Harrison is happy to do that: after all, he says, last year Chris asked him to keep an eye on Alice.

Kenton has retreated upstairs, and Jolene has come up to see how he is doing. She tells him that Jim is very disappointed that his idea has ben rejected, and then suggests a slowed down version, smoochy, like a last dance. She talks him into it, then after getting him into what is clearly a sexy movement, asks him how the leg is. He seems unsure what she is talking about.

Harrison has turned up at The Nest and offers to help Chris pack, or just sit and chat with him. Chris admits that he has just been sitting, himself. He's found a bit of a torn photo from the wedding album, and tells Harrison Alice did it: she told him about it this afternoon, and it's all they have left of their wedding: no Chris, no Alice, just a bit of sky with stars in it. He asks Harrison to talk about something else, anything, and Harrison tells him about the Bull competition, and then about never having been baptised because his christening was interrupted; like Martha's, says Chris, and they both think perhaps Martha ought to be baptised as well as Harrison, who is determined to set things right and move on. Chris then talks about moving on, and leaving the Nest: a clean break. He is about to throw away the fragment of photo, but Harrison tells him to keep it: he might be glad he did, one day.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 23rd January, 2022

Brookfield is flooded on Pip's watch again.

Characters: David, Ruth, Pip, Josh, Iris, Elizabeth
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir

Director: Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

David and Ruth are driving through what Ruth says is rain and David maintains is sleet to a party at Vince Casey's house. David, who is hankering to turn back using the weather as an excuse, says he would rather be sitting in front of the TV; Ruth is looking forward to it and thinks they may get some insight into the real Vince Casey. Ben has got out of it on the grounds that he starts a placement tomorrow and doesn't want to turn up hung over.

Pip is calling for Josh, because Ruth hasn't even started to clear out the barn, after she promised she'd do it while Pip took Rosie out for the day; it's needed in the morning for the cows to be moved into it. Josh sensibly tells her about all his own work that he has still to do before stopping work for the day, but Pip is determined to rope him in to do the job for her, and says she can't do it now because she has to bath Rosie. Josh loses it: just because his business happens to be based at Brookfield, that doesn't mean he should be on call all the time for chores. He then gets a text from a chef on the other side of Borchester claiming he's failed to deliver an egg order which he thought was not expected to start until next week, and ignores all Pip's further complaints in order to ring up and try to sort it out.

'Casey Casa' is being shown off by Vince's mother Iris, and Ruth and David are full of admiration. Elizabeth turns up and greets them, and the three complain competitively about their children bickering; Iris praises all five of their offspring as well brought up. Elizabeth drags David off to dance.

Pip is trying to clear a drain in the yard to keep the water out of the Herefords' shed; Josh is too busy getting the egg order sorted out for delivery first thing in the morning to offer to help her. Pip accuses him of not caring about the farm, only his business.

David and Ruth have been dancing, and Ruth proposes a swap: the Casey house for Brookfield and all the children. She challenges David: who will take over the farm when they retire? Pip is his first suggestion; when Ruth says she might easily get distracted, it's happened before, he goes on to Josh. Neither of them thinks it will fall to Ben; they'd get good odds if they bet on him.

Pip calls Josh over to inspect the water in the yard, which is now even deeper; she has decided that the blockage in the drain is too far down for her to reach. Josh really doesn't think they can do anything about it in the dark. He points out that he can't do it in the morning either, because of his delivery; Pip is exasperated and snorts at him.

Ruth and David are on the way home, with David saying it turns out he's a party animal after all and suggesting they ought to have a do of their own in the barn. Then Ruth screams and the car hits a deer. After a pause David starts shouting to Ruth, who doesn't answer.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 24th January, 2022

Can Brookfield cope?

Characters: Ben, Ruth, David, Josh, Pip, Jill, Leonard
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir

Director: Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

It's four in the morning, and Ben is sympathising with his parents, who have been sent home from the hospital after their car-crash. David is cold and pale, and Ruth bursts into tears; Ben tells David to sit down by the Aga, but his knee hurts to bend and he'd rather stand. Apparently the reason Ruth's face is so bruised is that she got the full force of the airbag, which felt like being punched. They hit a deer full on, and the car ended up in the ditch. Both their sons insist they should go to bed, where Ben has already put hot-water-bottles; Josh has painkillers for them from the hospital, but leaves it to Ben to administer these.

In the morning, Pip is about to take her parents toast; Jill is feeling somewhat disgruntled because she hadn't been woken in the middle of the night and wasn't there to keep Ben company while he waited for them. Ruth has been complimentary about Ben's nursing skill. Jill tells Pip that she and Leonard will get Rosie ready and take her to nursery.

Josh has sent a text to tell Ruth he has spoken to the insurance company about the car; David is glad there is no milking to be done, or lambing either. Ruth has managed to sleep a bit, and David apologises for having drunk some champagne and then done this to her; she points out it was one small glass at the very beginning of the evening, and he didn't finish it, but he still feels bad because their children don't drink at all if they are going to drive. He feels that he ought to get up and do something, but Ruth says the kids were right to tell them that for today, they just have to rest. She and David talk about Ben and his big day as he starts his first placement, and their other children who are probably still squabbling. They have taken some more painkillers, and hope to sleep a bit.

In the car on their way home Leonard is talking to Jill about Rosie, but Jill is preoccupied with not having been thought any use; Leonard consoles her for David having snapped at her about her solicitous attitude. Ruth has turned down her home cooking and asked for beans on toast, and she's feeling somewhat mortified.

Josh has got back from delivering the eggs and asks Pip what needs to be done; she has a list of things as long as her arm and he knows she can't run the farm on her own. She asks him to check on the sheep at Home Farm, which he can do on his way to another delivery. Pip is stressed about the cows; Josh is more worried about their parents. He promises he will try to come in and help with the barn in the afternoon, and Pip sends him in to get some breakfast.

Leonard is cooking; he might only be the clearer-upper when Jill is baking, but breakfasts have always been his thing, and bacon, black pudding, eggs and mushrooms are in the pan. Josh is worried about how they'll run the farm when they are two workers short. He tells Leonard how difficult the hens are, and explains he can't help as much with the farm as he'd like to, but Leonard, serving up a feast for him, tells him to relax and take a breather now; he thinks Pip and Josh have 'got this', as people say nowadays.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 25th January, 2022

Pip allocates jobs, and Jill is rubbed up the wrong way.

Characters: Ruth, David, Beth, Pip, Josh, Leonard, Iris, Jill
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir

Director: Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

Ruth is trying to micromanage the farm by looking at it out of a window, and will only be able to relax when she sees the cows have come in; Josh has left a tractor parked in a way which means she can't see properly. David is relaxed already, almost asleep, but he's roused to stop her when she starts to catastrophise. He suggests she ought to trust their children, and they should leave them to it and do their own job, which for the time being is to watch rubbish telly and sit by the fire.

Beth has rung Pip; she didn't want to ring David and Ruth in case they were sleeping, but her Nan has been very distressed to hear of their accident and would like to drop by in the early evening and give them a present.

Pip has summoned Josh by text because she wants him to fetch her daughter from nursery, and produces all sorts of excuses not to do it herself. Josh doesn't think he'd be very good at picking up Rosie, but agrees to do as he's told apart from drawing the line at asking if Rosie has done a poo today.

Leonard is talking with David about Rosie when Iris Casey arrives with some flowers and chocolates to cheer Ruth up; unfortunately Ruth is asleep upstairs. Iris says, rather unconvincingly, that she ought to leave, but David presses her to stay, and she feels that five minutes by the fire sounds nice. David introduces her to Leonard but not to Jill, who after a pause introduces herself, and Iris talks to Leonard and not Jill; when he mentions having been to Singapore she's full of exclamation and asks if he's also been to Japan, then speaks of her bonsai and shows him a photo; Jill says she'd prefer an oak you can climb or put a swing in or picnic under. Iris and Leonard proceed to talk bonsai, and Jill offers to go and make tea.

Josh asks Pip how her list for tomorrow is looking; he tells her he has kind of got his admin sorted, and he needs to talk to the garage about the car, which may be a write-off. Pip can't resist sniping at him about Ben having a harder job than his, but they are able to be reasonably civil about Rosie.

In the kitchen, Beth is trying to be friendly with Jill, whom she has realised is a bit annoyed; Jill says she's not annoyed, but she isn't a bonsai fan, unlike Iris or Leonard. Beth explains that her Nan does tend to take over a bit, but sees that Jill is really upset, and accepts her apology for having been a bit rude. She advises against throwing a flapjack at Iris though: she's heard about Jill's aim.

Iris and Leonard are laughing together in a confidential way, excluding Jill and David from their tête-a-tête, and when she says she must go Leonard offers to help her find Beth; she says that if he wants a better look at her bonsais, he's welcome to come over to her place any time.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 26th January, 2022

Some Archer siblings compete, others co-operate.

Characters: David, Ruth, Leonard, Pip, Josh, Alistair, Elizabeth, Shula, Kenton
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir

Director: Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy
Howe

David is telling Ruth about Iris's behaviour with Leonard, when Leonard arrives to see whether Jill wants to go out for a ride in the car; she hasn't been answering his texts. She is visiting Peggy, but David offers coffee, having just made a pot. Ruth remembers that Iris has left her jacket and she must ask one of the children to take it to Vince at the market, so Leonard offers to take it to her. Ruth tells him that would be a bad idea, and why: Jill was put out that he had never mentioned his bonsai enthusiasm to her. Leonard realises he has upset Jill, and is disconcerted and embarrassed.

Pip and Josh are bringing the cows into the barn, and one slips and goes down. When they get her up, Pip says that she is all out of shape, and she is limping; Josh rings Alistair with his phone on speaker so Pip can talk to him as well.

Elizabeth has found a game in the attic and wants David and Shula to play it with her and Kenton. The crash has reminded Shula of Mark's death, but before she can elaborate on this theme Kenton swiftly asks for biscuits, then says he wishes he could have some time off, like David, and sit in front of the fire with his feet up.

Alistair tells the anxious siblings in the barn that the good news is, he doesn't think anything is broken; the cow's hip is dislocated. Unfortunately she may have trouble calving, and he fears the sedative he's given her may cause her to abort anyway. At this point the sedative takes effect and she goes down onto her belly; then they need to push her onto her side. Josh is put to hold her head, and Pip and Alistair shift her over. When Josh moves her leg, they can hear bone grate. Alistair says he'll do what he can to save both cow and calf, but he can't make any promises.

David is reading out the rules of the game, last played at Christmas when the twins were six, or perhaps seven. Nostalgia about games they played as children starts to take over, but Kenton nips it in the bud: nostalgia ought not to be all they meet up for. Shula distributes coloured plasticine, and then the conversation is turned by Elizabeth, who must have overheard David and Ruth's conversation at Vince's party, to which of Pip or Josh is to take over the farm. Kenton suggests that they both could, but David is sceptical: he reckons they're only not squabbling at the moment so as not to stress out their injured parents.

Alistair is giving instructions to Josh, who is using a calving aid to extend the cow's leg; Alistair relocates her hip, and when the leg is moved, it seems normal. The sedative may take a while to wear off, but the leg is fine.

The four senior Archer siblings are laughing over their game, which involves making plasticine models; the women win, because Kenton has made what he says is a horse but which looks like a trombone, or maybe an oil-can, and David can't guess what it is meant to be.

Alistair explains they must shift the cow back onto her belly, because she might get bloat on her side, and after they've done that they prop her up with a bale. He wants them to keep her on her own, because she'll be in pain for a few days, and to keep an eye on her. If she doesn't start to calve too soon, all may yet be well. Josh suggests he should be given a stiff drink, and they can all go in and tell mum and dad the news.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti


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