JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugustSeptemberOctoberNovemberDecember

Sunday 1st January, 2023

Elizabeth can't make her mind up, and the most convoluted proposal ever is made.

Characters: Tracy, Jazzer, Kenton, Elizabeth, Chelsea, Brad
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Midnight strikes at The Bull, and neither Tracy nor Jazzer does any proposing; Kenton for some reason gets onto a public address system to thank his customers for being there and to encourage them to link arms in Auld Lang Syne. The place goes silent while Jazzer and Tracy chat, then Tracy hails Elizabeth and offers her arm in the dance.

Later Kenton and Elizabeth are catching up about what David has had to say about his troubles. She doesn't have Vince with her, and didn't want him to be; she isn't sure why she hasn't given them both a clean break, except that he has given her a hand-made bowl he painted himself and that has reminded her how sweet and thoughtful he can be. On the other hand David and Ruth are effectively shunning her, David outright hates Vince, and she doesn't really seem to understand why, although she claims to; Kenton doesn't tell her, just suggests that she either dump Vince or make it clear to him that that any olive-branch held out to her has to be extended to David and Ruth as well.

Outside, watching the fireworks, Brad and Chelsea discuss her not wanting to go elsewhere to be with her mates, but instead to stay in Ambridge with her family; Chelsea suddenly announces that they have ruined Mum and Jazzer's lives by sticking their oars in. She saw Tracy and Jazzer dancing; Tracy was doing something like a cross between the Highland Fling and a Charleston and Jazzer was clearly adoring her in spite of it. As Brad mourns not having had another salmon thingy, Tracy appears and says hello to her beautiful brilliant New Year's bunnies, which makes Chelsea say bunnies are at Easter and Brad say that actually it's the Chinese Year of the Rabbit so New Year's Bunnies could be a thing. Tracy is having none of that, and declares it to be the Year of the Horrobins. [Please, no. Just no. Chris]

As Elizabeth commiserates with Kenton for having her and David each chewing his ear off in one weekend, and he says that's his job, to pull pints and listen to people's problems, Jazzer comes over and asks after Vince. He is told that Neil and Susan won the hamper in the raffle, and then that it's nice Brad and Chelsea have come out with him and Tracy to The Bull: Elizabeth's children are in Felpersham and understandably did not want to be in The Bull seeing in the New Year with her. Jazzer goes off again to try to find Tracy and give her a glass of punch, and Kenton asks what Freddie and Lily think about the whole business with Vince; they haven't said a lot but Elizabeth knows they weren't impressed with his behaviour. She is wearing the brooch Nigel gave her just before he died twelve years ago and can't help comparing Nigel and Vince: they are like chalk and cheese. When did everything get so complicated? She can't keep avoiding Vince! She is advised by Kenton the Universal Agony Uncle to find time to sit down with Vince and thrash things out. For now, though. she needs get down to some serious celebrating. He drags her off to dance.

As they go into the bar the microphone is grabbed by Chelsea, who says she wants to make an announcement. She, and Brad, made a mistake, and now they're going to unmake it. She is hopelessly embarrassed and stumbling on about Tracy and her boyfriend, so Brad takes over and marks time about the couple deserving all the best in life until Chelsea has gathered her wits a bit, then Chelsea asks Jazzer if he will do the honours of marrying 'our Mum', and Brad asks Tracy if she'll make an honest man of Jazzer. Tracy and Jazzer haver and stammer for so long that Kenton demands to know if he ought to open the champagne or not. Then the couple propose to each other, and each says yes, to the sound of loud cheers from the rest of the cast.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 2nd January, 2023

Susan's nose it out of joint, and Stella's too.

Characters: Brian, Stella, Ruth, Susan, Tracy
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Out and about at Home Farm, Brian wishes Stella a Happy New Year and asks about New Year at The Bull; she tells him about the proposal, which surprises him a little. She invites him to walk with her to the trailer and asks him if he'll have time to go through her report for the BL Board with her; he says he will pop over to the office in the afternoon, to which she agrees. She mentions robots surveying where they should be using chemicals, with which Brian is completely in agreement: Justin is in favour of cutting costs. Then she mentions the Tech conference, the Farm Technology Show in Manchester, to which she is going for two days next week; Brian thinks that isn't a good idea straight after Christmas and he'd appreciate it if she ran things like that by him first. She is surprised to learn he thinks she shouldn't be going. In any case, she is the farm manager and he hired her to make these decisions. He thinks that her attention should be on the farm; she tells him that these shows are essential, as he must know, to which he replies that he has said what he thinks, and reiterates that he would appreciate it if next time, she'd run it past him first.

Susan was babysitting Martha at New Year so that Alice and Chris could go on separate nights out; Ruth tells her about the proposal, which is news to her. Tracy then comes into the shop, and Susan is short with her about not having been told Tracy's news, even in a text; Tracy says that was because she wanted to tell her in person, and then that Chelsea was the one who did the proposing: that both of them had been planning to propose but it got into a muddle so Chelsea dived in. Susan is offended all over again that she was not told about Tracy's plan. Ruth is happy to talk about the news, but Susan is not. Tracy would like to show her more photos, but Susan snubs her by simply telling Ruth that will be eight pounds thirty please; Ruth, also snubbed, leaves, whereupon Susan pours cold water on Tracy by saying it was just as well Will wasn't there: New Year's Day is Will's wedding anniversary and the whole thing might have been seen as being in very poor taste.

The Brookfield cowshed is the scene of Ruth congratulating Stella on her dancing at The Bull. Stella has come ostensibly to return the old moisture meter she had borrowed but in fact to pick Ruth's brain about Brian Aldridge, whom she describes as having been irritable, indeed totally unreasonable; Ruth proceeds to bad-mouth him and tell Stella she is in the right to have stood her ground., and say that working with Brian must be a nightmare. She pulls back from talking about how Brian treated Adam, however, and tells Stella her advice would be to leave it to work itself out. Stella is not sure that was the answer she was looking for.

Presumably at Ambridge View, a fair walk from the village if Susan had happened not to be in, Tracy turns off the vacuum cleaner Susan is using: she wants five minutes with Susan, because they need to talk. She is upset because of Susan's attitude in the shop about the first good thing that has happened to Tracy and Jazzer for ages, and says Ruth didn't know where to look. Susan continues to be dismissive and unpleasant, suggesting that they had not thought it through before going in for the fun of a public display. Tracy points out they have been living together and are not starry-eyed teenagers, and lists the many things they have been through since they have been together; they love each other. Tracy wants Susan to be at least a bit happy for her, but Susan is grudging, wanting to know why she had to hear it from Ruth.

Brian is given the bum's rush when he comes to do what Stella had asked to and have a look at the report for BL: she hasn't got time for him. In spite of claiming she has to be somewhere else, she then reads him a lecture on her being the manager and tries to have that talk to him about his attitude being unreasonable and unprofessional, but as she is getting into her stride Jennifer rings him: he says he is sorry but he has to take this, Stella says 'What, now?' and he says 'Now' and leaves her in mid-complaint as he goes to do an errand for his wife before the shop closes.

Tracy has ended up apologising to Susan because Susan was not at The Bull, and offering her half the mini-bottle of Prosecco she has brought with her, but Susan just says she didn't expect her to come over and if she's honest, it's not really a good time. Tracy, who is now clearly starting to get fed up with her grudging sister, says that she gets it: somehow, Susan has managed to make it all about her. Talk about taking the shine off their lovely news. She'll see herself out.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 3rd January, 2023

Pip wants more out of life, Ben is happy with what he has, and Tracy is still miffed.

Characters: Pip, Lottie, Ben, Neil, Susan, Tracy
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The meeting between Pip and her primary school chum Lottie, who is playing a new year's resolutions game with her and claiming to have resolved to do a comedy stand-up gig come summer. Ben arrives to chauffeur them to The Queen's Head in Borchester, and assures Pip he'll been fine doing the milking; Lottie wants to know how come Pip ended up with Ben for a brother while she ended up with the world's two most selfish idiots. Pip claims he's just showing off because Lottie is there.

Booking an extra day of holiday was a smart move, according to Neil, who is sitting by the fire with his feet up, but Susan is now feeling excessively guilty over not having sounded pleased and happy for Tracy; it's her own fault Tracy isn't answering her texts. When Neil says she and Tracy are always falling out, Susan tells him that she thinks that this time it's her fault; she was taken by surprise and didn't sound pleased or look happy for Tracy, because she wasn't: she felt left out. Neil scoffs at the idea and suggests she should just say she's sorry, explain what she just told him and then tell Tracy that she is over that now and she's happy for them both. Susan is silent, and he asks if there's something else: she admits she 'might have implied it was rushed' and asked whether Tracy had really thought about what she was letting herself in for, which didn't go down too well. She then says she's seen Tracy's heart broken before and she can't help worrying: she doesn't understand it but it's how she feels, unsettled. Neil argues against her, and she says it's just since Mum died, but she has always felt it was her job to look out for Tracy [really? She seemed to have nothing to do with her whatever during all the years Tracy was not living in Ambridge. Chris]; he suggests going and offering Tracy a big heart-felt apology, and says that he will drive her to The Bull so she can buy Tracy a drink during her break. Susan has a brainwave: they can take her the Underwoods hamper they won in the pub raffle as a peace-offering.

It seems that Pip's new year resolution is to eat a burger without getting ketchup, mayonnaise or relish on her top; Lottie points out that she has already failed to do that. When Lottie refuses to let her get away with something so minor, she produces a long list, which Lottie makes fun of; when pinned down she says she resolves to be more than just a list of jobs that go round in her head. She bets Lottie has meetings in power suits at her job, which is with an insurance broker. Pip thinks that totally glamorous, while she gets to put on her wellies every morning and see exactly no-one unless you count her family, which she doesn't. Lottie contrasts writing a spread-sheet with helping a cow give birth, and Pip produces a story about relocating the dislocated hip of a pregnant cow, with the lives of cow and calf depending on her getting it right; Lottie encourages her to have another pint.

Tracy doesn't want Susan's hamper, and she is not interested in Susan trying to buy her or treat her like a charity case. She wants to know why Susan behaved as she did, then when Susan's attempt at explanation is not coherent says that her break is nearly over and she will see Susan around, and goes away.

Children explaining to their parents about things their parents taught them in the first place is the new topic of conversation between Pip and Lottie; they get on to the names girl-children have for such bodily parts as the vagina and the vulva; Lottie and Madison use the 'proper' words, whereas Pip and Toby settled on noo-noo, which Lottie finds hilarious. Back on the new year resolutions, Pip should make more time for herself, and Lottie wants them to have more meals together, and Pip suggests she and Madison could come and test out the B&B: they could be their guinea-pigs. [As opposed to Leonard staying there some weeks ago, on 24th October, 2022. Chris]

Susan has hung about at The Bull and is trying without success to make her peace with Tracy; Neil coming over to try to help, doesn't. Tracy is still very put out indeed: she says bluntly that after the year she's had, she doesn't have the energy to micro manage Susan's reaction to what was frankly brilliant news. She stomps off, and Susan turns down Neil's offer to go after her: it's no use, she's really had enough of Susan.

The meal she and Lottie enjoyed together, burger, beer, chips and dessert, has left Pip too full to want any food, and Ben has fetched Rosie. Pip says how good it was to go out for a bit and talk properly with someone, and Ben says that Lottie seems nice. Then before he forgets he gives Pip Rosie's report card on her project (as made by Ben); it got three smiley faces and a star. She didn't want to share the glory with him, but she does want him to have the badge, which he will wear with pride. He reminds Pip that tomorrow Elena is planning a family call to talk to Ben's whole family without Ben present, which Pip feels he might find rather strange but he feels will be easier for them, since they can ask questions without worrying about his reactions. Elena has been brilliant, and he has really enjoyed today, just doing normal useful stuff again; Pip tells him her resolution is to do less of that, and have more fun. Ben responds laughingly that in that case he knows where to go if he wants relief from Brookfield drudgery: Rickyard Cottage, the party house.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 4th January, 2023

Ben is under discussion and Vince extends an olive branch.

Characters: Ruth, David, Pip, Vince, Elizabeth, Elena
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The heating at Brookfield was turned on by Ruth, but David turned it off and opened a window because he thought it was stuffy. Ruth is busy sniping at David about this and other unrelated topics; Pip calls them to order and David thanks her for her intervention. Pip then praises Ben for doing the milking and collecting Rosie so that she and Lottie could squeeze in another pint, and Ruth immediately attacks her for happily getting drunk while her brother ran about after her: he's supposed to be taking it easy he's supposed to be resting. Ruth is clearly very much on edge, and she attacks Pip for asking Ben to do favours for her. When David tries to intervene she attacks him and forbids him to tell her to calm down. Ruth wants them to 'get their story straight' and the other two see no need for any such thing. Pip leaves, after an attempt at a joke which goes down like a lead balloon with Ruth.

A strong effort to butter up Elizabeth isn't getting Vince far. He knows that Elizabeth being busy was not the reason she wouldn't see him at Christmas or New Year. He talks wistfully of the morning she fetched him from the airport, before his bad behaviour round Ambridge later that day and that week; she tells him that it's hard to believe the Vince charging round Ambridge in a rage is the same Vince who makes her laugh at stupid jokes or is willing to sit with his ten-year-old daughter painting a pot for her. She loves the bowl he gave her for Christmas, which is probably the reason she is there and thinking about how on earth they can make this work. She is not prepared to commit herself to giving it another try, though.

Josh has backed out of the call with Elena, who wants to get started, and David has said that Jill is not to be there. Elena tells them that the idea is to keep them in the loop about what Ben's been going through and what his recover could look like, but first they should mention anything that is an immediate concern for them. As soon as David mentions Ben giving up his nursing course as an example of what might be of concern to them, Ruth jumps on him , even though Elena agrees with him that it is a legitimate concern; she attacks him about what she tells him is his version of helping Ben, and David defends himself as well as he can until elena suggests pausing for a moment and Pip tells her parents to listen to themselves and what they sound like. When Ruth has come to order a bit, and might be thinking about Ben rather than attacking David, Elena asks how Ruth she; she says worried, with no idea what is good for Ben and what isn't; Elena reads a section from a booklet to them over the computer. [She didn't say it was, but that was how it sounded. Chris] Ruth feels better as a result. Elena then returns to David's questions about Ben and his course.

Making small-talk, Vince tells Elizabeth that he is pleased that he is taking both Beth and Shelley out for a carvery on Sunday, but then goes back to how he is still interested in trying to make things up to Elizabeth; he doesn't want to lose her. Does he get another chance? She says that she too would like to go back to how it was. He promises not to be the man who attacked Ben, but she manages to see that all he has said is about her, nothing about the wrong he has done her family: even if she forgives him, she has to deal with the fact that her brother is furious with him, and she is stuck in the middle and can't handle it. She needs him to make peace with David and Ruth. Vince goes to ring Ruth and invite them out for a meal.

Ruth is busily blaming 'us' for not having done enough for Ben before they knew he was in mental trouble, and wants to know how they can stop it from happening again. She is worried that they couldn't stop it happening the first time and would be powerless to stop it from happening again. How do they know he hasn't gone back to a really dark place? It terrifies her. Elena reassures her that they will be much more aware of the early warning signs, and she will take some time during the session to go over his symptoms with them. avid thanks her, then wants to know what they should do if Ben has a relapse, another hallucinating incident: who do they contact, A&E, the doctor, the mental health team? Elena says they should just message the team. Ruth has seen stuff on the internet about triggers and wants to know whether working at the farm might be bad for Ben; Pip recounts what he did yesterday and that Ruth was worried it was too much for him, and Elena says that was fine. David asks about the medication and whether he will ever be able to come off the pills, and Elena says he will need them for at least a year, and the team can discuss them with him then; Ruth asks whether she should police him taking them or not and David seems to feel that while he was glad for them to check in the beginning, it is beginning to irritate him now, and Pip says he's a grown-up and they ought to trust him, with which Elena agrees. She reiterates that the family has already come a long way together, and should slowly be able to return to normal in the end.

In the kitchen later Ruth asks Pip how milking went and apologises to her for snapping in the morning; from what Elena said, Ben is probably relieved that Pip and Josh are treating him normally. David comes in and he and Ruth agree it went well and it was good; he also apologises for having been a bit off this morning, though to whom is not clear. He asks if there is any tea when he has finished the last of the outside work, and Ruth offers wine. Pip has a nice little congratulation to her about Ruth and Dad being nice to each other: Elena's a miracle worker. Ruth says there's just one dark cloud looming: she has had a voicemail from Vince Casey inviting her and David out for a meal on Friday. Good luck breaking that to Dad, says Pip.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 5th January, 2023

Brian and Stella are in cahoots, while Tracy is gradually placated.

Characters: Jazzer, Neil, Tracy, Brian, Stella, Susan
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A meal at Ambridge View has been proposed by Susan, and Neil has roped Jazzer in to help him persuade Tracy to come; he tells Jazzer that it is to be a hotpot. Jazzer is more concerned about the icy atmosphere than the food, but is open to bribery from Neil in the form of a pint and is still regretful about Tracy having refused the hamper, especially when Neil lists some of the things that were in it. However, when the idea is put to Tracy she refuses it point-blank even though Jazzer is clearly keen.

At Home Farm Brian is talking to Stella about the Secret Service having recently shown an interest in farming; James Bond noticing how critical farming is, says Brian, to which a preoccupied Stella only replies, 'About time.' She is a great deal more concerned with the report she has to give this afternoon to the BL board. They discuss the report, and such matters as nitrogen inputs and maize yield for the unit at Berrow. Brian suggests that they could make a move, and she mentions she plans to drop in information about new research into planting multispecies over-winter crops; it's all new thinking they need to embrace. There will be so many presentations and Q&As on all of this at the Farm Tech show, to give her more ammunition for the end-of-year meeting in April. When Brian asks if she is still planning on heading up to Manchester despite his misgivings, she replies brusquely, 'Yes, Brian. I am.'

Before the meal starts Neil is making a real effort at conversation about such things as the children being able to be out on their bikes every day in the mild weather; he offers Jazzer and Tracy drinks and both opt for the red wine that's already open. Susan is apparently changing her top upstairs, Jazzer is hungry, and Tracy is not at all happy to be there. Just after Neil has gone out to fetch their drinks and Tracy has begun to speak wistfully about a badly-cooked omelette at her own kitchen table as less likely to give her indigestion than having to thank Susan for a meal, with Jazzer reassuring her that if it's too bad they can leave straight after eating, Susan bustles in and starts to chatter nervously. Jazzer compliments her on her top, which she says was a Christmas present from Alice, and the two start to converse in a stilted if civil way; as Susan seems about to try to speak to her directly, Tracy gets up and goes out to the loo.

Nerves were to be expected among the Board members, but Stella wasn't expecting that level of anxiety, bordering on paranoia; Martyn was difficult, but nonetheless she made a good job of her presentation. Brian tells her it was entertaining to watch her getting them all dancing to her tune, and his hat is off to her. Stella once more returns to her theme tune of innovation being vital to survival, and mentions that Annabelle was vocal about the need for it; Stella almost thought she was going to offer to come to the Farm Tech show with her. Brian takes the opportunity to say he is sorry if she felt that he was unsupportive of her decision to go. Stella lets him know that she is not happy with his attitude, and points out that he questioned her authority as farm manager: she's not prepared to spend her time trying to second-guess how he will react to her decisions. He says he is sorry she felt like that, and she says that's OK as long as it is clear going forward that her decisions are respected. Of course, says Brian, obviously, and offers her another drink before they head home: she can tell him all about what she is looking forward to seeing at the Farm Tech show. She is suspicious this may be a joke.

At the uncomfortable meal Neil and Jazzer are talking about work, Jazzer with his mouth full, and Tracy and Susan are being silent until Susan suddenly interrupts and tells Neil that's enough of the Berrow talk. She then embarks on what Tracy calls making a big speech, apologising and saying she even made a hash of apologising, probably because at the time she wasn't properly sorry; it took her some time to work out what she was feeling and why, and then she had to realise that none of it is about her. She goes on to say that good news is precious, especially at the moment when everything is so tough, and she truly can't think of any better news than her sister marrying the fellow who makes her happy (to which Jazzer adds a hearty 'Ay, agreed!') and how lucky Jazzer is, because Tracy is the most loyal, loving, heard-working and funny person Susan has ever met, and she is privileged to call her sister. She's very glad that she will soon be able to call Jazzer her brother-in-law and hopes she'll be a worthy sister-in-law and if she ever gets anything so wrong again they are to give her a sharp nudge and tell her to jog on. The emotional moment is then dissipated in offering Jazzer another helping of hotpot, which he greedily accepts.

After the meal Susan and Tracy have gone out for a walk in the rain and talking about sledging on Lakey Hill riding on a fertiliser bag together in their childhoods [Susan being twelve years Tracy's senior. Chris]. They have left Neil and Jazzer clearing up, and Susan thanks Tracy for coming: Tracy thanks Susan for the lovely evening. They discuss plans for the wedding, starting with Tracy suggesting a completely absurd hen do of a week at Magaluf but agreeing that a jug of Pimms at The Bull will do for her, thought Susan says they can do better than that, and then going on more realistically to Jazzer's (as yet unknown) best man, and Tracy's wedding dress; she says she would be happy to get married in a bin bag with everyone she loves around her, to which Susan replies, 'Bin bag it is then.' Susan tells her that she really does think she and Jazzer make a brilliant couple, and they're going to be very happy together.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 6th January, 2023

Pip has misunderstood, and Elizabeth wants apology to Vince.

Characters: Vince, Elizabeth, David, Ruth, Lottie, Pip
Credited scriptwriter: Sarah Hehir
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

When Vince turns up to collect Elizabeth at five thirty, she is not yet ready to go out and offers him a glass of wine, but he declines; he is going to drive, and he wants a clear head for the business in hand. So she asks him to pour her one whilst she finishes getting dressed; they have plenty of time to be in Waterley Cross for seven thirty. He is wearing his lucky tie because he needs all the luck he can get, and hopes that after today having a meal out with Elizabeth's family won't be a cause of concern. Elizabeth advises him that neither the place or the food will be the deal-breaker for David: how genuinely sorry he is will be what matters. Vince tries to reassure her.

Heavy rain and the possible state of the roads as a result is what is on David's mind; Ruth says Susan had heard of the restaurant they are going to and the food is meant to be really good. David grunts about that, then wonders whether that's Vince's idea of atonement: one fancy meal to make up for everything he's done; if he had his way David would not be going. Ruth points out that at least they will have a good meal, and once the land sale is finalised they won't have the loan hanging over them and can pay Vince back. Just as they are about to leave, Lottie comes in looking for Pip, and Ruth is delighted to see her. David remembers that Pip told them she had turned up again, and Ruth says she will give Pip a ring to let her know Lottie and Maddy are there. Ruth was not aware that Lottie and Maddy are going to be staying for the night in the B&B: Pip had not told them. Lottie is embarrassed. For some reason, instead of making Pip deal with her own mess Ruth tells Lottie that they are about to go out and now is really not a good time. Lottie says that she must have misunderstood Pip, and she will go. Pip immediately appears, David takes Ruth away so they won't be late, and Pip clearly was not expecting Lottie: she didn't see Lottie's text arranging to come, and is left explaining she meant some time soon, not right now, and they are not set up yet. Lottie apologises and blames the misunderstanding on Rosie having told Maddy it was to be today. Pip says Rosie would love to see Maddy, and they should stay for a bit. Give her a few minutes: she's got an idea.

Vince is struggling to make conversation with David, and David clearly wishes he were not there: he is grudging in reply, until Ruth and Elizabeth come back from chatting with Brian, Jennifer and Kate, who are there to celebrate Jennifer's birthday. Vince tries to propose a toast to Family, but David says he'd rather drink to decent milk prices, and Vince changes the toast. Ruth drinks to a long and happy life; she has to prompt David to respond, and he says 'Cheers' in a despondent voice worthy of Tony at his gloomiest. Silence follows until Vince says he'll have to take the bull by the horns: if he doesn't he's not sure about a long life, but it's definitely going to be a long night.

Apparently Lottie has never been able to get Maddy to eat eggs, but tonight she and Rosie between them ate half a dozen, scrambled. The inducement was Josh allowing them to hunt for the eggs in the chicken ark, using torches. They are now bouncing on the beds upstairs; Pip and Lottie chat about children and bed-bouncing, then Lottie asks how Pip is doing with her New Year resolution to have fun, and Pip says good; she has started looking up ideas for what to do on 17th February, her birthday. She wondered about dirt-track racing and asks if Lottie would like to come along; Lottie doesn't know what it is. When it has been explained, Lottie says she is game, and asks about the kids; Pip says no, but she thought of asking Esmé, another mum from school, and Stella, and maybe Rex. Lottie says it is something grown-up to look forward to. Then Lottie notices the time, nearly seven-thirty, and says she had better make a move; she offers to have Rosie for a sleep-over, which after a half-hearted caveat or two Pip accepts. Lottie then invites Pip to come over for breakfast pancakes once she has finished milking.

Now that Vince has apologised and made the first move, Elizabeth seems to expect David and Ruth to apologise, though for what is entirely unclear; as Ruth says, they have nothing to apologise for. David asks whether that is Vince's script: get them to agree mutual acceptance of guilt and then he will pay for this stupidly expensive meal in this stuck-up restaurant and walk away looking like the good guy, to get his claws stuck in David's sister again? Ruth tells him that's enough and apologises to Vince, and Elizabeth tells Vince she's sorry she encouraged him to do this. Vince suggests everyone taking a minute, and Elizabeth says she is sick of thinking about how she could make everything OK again, and not knowing where her loyalties lie. She thought getting together to talk things through was worth a try; Ruth says she's sorry, but she really doesn't see how a meal was going to make up for Vince's outrageous bullying of Ben. Elizabeth is now obliged to point out Vince having had the grace to say he was sorry, and says she assumed David and Ruth having accepted the invitation meant they had some intention of making things better. Ruth wonders if she told Vince what Ben's been going through, and Elizabeth is silent. Ruth then explains to Vince that obviously Elizabeth wouldn't trust him for one second with something so sensitive, after his shouting about Ben and Chelsea in the pub; Vince says he's apologised for that and he doesn't know exactly what's been going on with Ben – but he never wished him any harm. Ruth is exasperated and says 'Yes you did!', going on to assert that Vince wanted to break Ben and that's exactly what he did. Vince admits he was angry, and says Ruth would be too if she saw her daughter being treated badly, but Ruth is having none of it: she just thinks he isn't sorry at all. Elizabeth wants her to calm down, but David has had enough; they'll pay the bill on the way out. Elizabeth is left appealing to 'David' with no answer forthcoming.

As Elizabeth and Vince go out to the car he apologises to her for mentioning Beth, but she says he would have had to be a saint not to react to some of the things they were saying. He says that it's true she didn't tell him about Ben, and wants to know whether Ruth was right about Elizabeth not trusting him; she prevaricates and says it's not really something you explain in a text. Vince wants to know where this leaves 'Us'. Since he has done everything she told him to, Elizabeth has now decided where her loyalties do lie: can they just go home?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 8th January, 2023

Jim chickens out and Kate faces the unexpected.

Characters: Jim, Jazzer, Kate, Rex, Kirsty
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The memory of how Jazzer was when they first met leaves Jim incredulous about the news Jazzer has brought him; he used to be a tearaway, now he is a pillar of the community. They are sure Tracy will let Jazzer know if he becomes boring, but will also keep him on the straight and narrow. Jazzer has come round to talk with Jim, and first he wants to thank him for everything, but most of all for his friendship. Jim says there is no need: the friendship is entirely reciprocal. Jazzer has something else, though: he would like Jim to be his best man. This does surprise Jim, but also flatters him: he agrees immediately, saying that he would be deeply honoured.

Hammering on the roof is not compatible with Kate's cold weather class and she wants to know how much longer Rex will be doing it; he is aware that she wants quiet but points out that she wouldn't want water dripping on everyone. She responds that rain is actually very good for building up immunity and resilience, explaining about the release of compounds by trees which are good for the body; this surprises Rex, whose response to all the following woo about ions and antibodies is 'If you say so'. She asserts that she is not making it up: it is actual science. [These theories were reported on in The Guardian last October, which explains their appearance in The Archers now. Chris] He tells her he is not arguing, though she doesn't think he sounds convinced. He says that is because he is concentrating on the roof, and she carries on about the weather being a blessing in disguise, though she does concede that water dripping on her students would be horrible. She does however want to know where Kirsty is; Rex says she is around somewhere, and Kate then wants to know why, when the cabin is only four months old, Rex is having to repair it already. He will be calling the company that built it to come and do the rest of the repairs, and Kate says it does look lovely, and having a proper floor for her classes is great. He asks for some hot chai, but Kate refuses to make him some on the grounds that it is for her class, not him. When Kirsty then comes up and congratulates him on the roof repairs he disclaims, saying it's just a bit of plywood, and then in response to her saying she was held up by two ramblers complaining about the weather says she ought to have told them that it is good for them, regurgitating Kate's earlier lecture to him; Kate is not amused. Kirsty says she then ran into David, who looked really miserable, and Kate is able to tell her about the dinner on Friday, which because she was eating in the same restaurant she was able to observe. She thinks there must have been a row, because David and Ruth walked out half-way through without David even finishing his meal; she didn't overhear what it was about. At this point Rex comes down, having finished the temporary mend, and Kirsty offers to ring the builders first thing tomorrow and get them to come and do a proper job, while Rex turns down Kate's suggestion that he can join her class if he wants.

Jim has come to see Jazzer and back out of being his best man: he wouldn't be able to organise a stag night or give a funny speech. He has assumed Jazzer will want a stripper, and wouldn't know how to book one, which makes Jazzer laugh heartily. Jazzer than says he has got it all wrong, and Jim assumes Jazzer doesn't want him to be best man after all.

The cold weather class was ill-attended and Kate says it was a disaster; Kirsty and Rex try to help her put a good face on it, and when Kate asks what she is going to do about the gallon of chai she made up for the class, Rex eagerly says that if it's hot he will take it. Kirsty suggests that they get out of the weather, drink chai, and work out how to do it better next time; Kate doesn't think there is going to be a next time, but Kirsty thinks that is defeatist and Rex wants chai, now: he's really cold.

Attempts to reassure Jim are getting nowhere: he says he isn't a 'bloke' bloke who could organise a stag night. Jazzer gives him some tea and tries to reassure him that he has no desire to go to Magaluf, even if he or his friends would be able to afford it. Jim explains that he has a horrible feeling that he will be a let-down, and that he is the wrong person for the job. Jazzer can see that he is getting stressed, and says he can find somebody else; Jim is relieved, but wants to make it clear how amazed and thrilled he was to be asked.

Rex says the chai is fantastic, and Kate is glad at least it's not going to waste. She asks whether they ever found out who was stealing from the log-pile, and how the logs came to be returned, and Rex says no; when Kate asks about the wild-life camera, he claims that unluckily, it ran out of battery, then asks for a top-up to his chai. Kirsty asks him why he is dressed like the Michelin Man, and he explains that he's freezing; Kate suggests he may be coming down with something, and Kirsty says he should be doing Kate's cold weather class and building up his immunity. Kate's phone beeps as she is saying she doesn't think anyone should be doing that class. She hopes it will be Jakob from a vet's conference he has gone to in Belgium, and indeed it is, but the news is not what Kate hoped for: his brother will be coming to stay at his place, arriving on Tuesday, and Jakob won't be there. The brother needs somewhere to stay, for an indefinite period, and Kate realises she will have to look after him even though she has never even met him. His name is Erik, and when Kirsty says 'Erik the Viking' Kate says she is never to say that to him, but she does have to meet him, everyone has to meet him, because Kate can't do this on her own. Jakob has never made Erik sound all that nice, and since Jakob is her life-partner she trusts him, even though as Rex points out, Jakob can be a bit hard on people; what if he is right and Erik is as bad as he says? What if he's worse? What if he's truly awful?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 9th January, 2023

Jim lands Susan right in it, and Adam does the same to Pat.

Characters: Jim, Susan, Adam, Pat, Joy
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Having backed out of being Jazzer's best man, Jim is explaining to Susan that he felt terrible about it and now wonders whether he ought to do it after all; she tells him that she can't advise him, because she has made a belated New Year Resolution not to express her opinion too strongly on other people's life decisions. She then gets a text telling her that Maureen can't come for her afternoon shift because she has done her back in; Jim at once says he can cover for her, but Susan goes on to tell him that she is blaming the shop for her back. Apparently when they did a shift together last week Jim asked Maureen to clean the stock-room; Susan says he will have to cover all Maureen's shifts until someone else can take over as a volunteer. She is somewhat judgemental in her blame of Jim for having caused Maureen to leave, but responds to his mild reminder about not expressing her opinion too strongly explains that she only meant about personal decisions but is still allowed to express her opinions.

Erik turning up is being explained to Pat by Adam, who says that according to Jakob Erik is complete nightmare, so Kate is dreading his arrival. Pat makes sure Adam is OK to do the veg boxes until Tom gets back from his holiday with Natasha's parents, which they discuss briefly. Pat bemoans the lack of colour in the veg boxes at this time of year, though once the poly-tunnels get going again they look a lot more cheerful, and Adam tells her that he's had an idea about getting the customers involved in the farm and the growing; Pat says they already have Open Farm Sunday, but Adam thinks they could do more: for instance creating, not a tourist attraction exactly, but a place people could come and visit on a regular basis – like an edible forest.

The advertisement for the position as a shop volunteer which Jim has written is being decried by Susan as being an essay, when all it needs to say is 'Help wanted, enquire within'; he says they have to let people know what they are getting into, whereas she feels there is time enough for that face to face when they have come forward. He objects that they might feel awkward about not committing themselves after they have come in, and Susan responds that the team has to commit too: they aren't going to take the first person who wanders in off the street. They agree on that, with Susan adding that whoever it is, they can't be the kind of person who thinks they know it all, or someone who wants to takeover, or someone who talks too much, or someone who judges someone else for buying a multi-pack of Wotsits that they're obviously going to eat by themselves in one sitting ... Jim grunts after each example, possibly in agreement. Before she has finished her catalogue of undesirable characteristics in a shop assistant, Joy comes in and says she wants to volunteer; Susan tries to put her off, saying they've has a lot of interest, but Jim won't allow it and expresses courteous interest in Joy's long-winded exposition of her suitability.

Pictures of a forest trail he and Ian have visited are being shown to Pat by Adam: he is suggesting a sort of trail for people to look round the farm and see how the food is grown. Pat understands that it's a sort of trail and Adam agrees that's it: you welcome people onto the farm, and they get to see how all the growing is done, though obviously you control where they can go. People find open gardens popular, muses Pat, and Adam suggests calling it a forest garden [when it is neither. Chris]. He is clearly copying an idea somebody else has had, and Pat asks how long that has been established; he doesn't know, but thinks that if they were to start planting this January... Pat jumps in and suggests they could have something up and running by May, and he concurs. She adds that perhaps they could link up with the wetlands [that's the succession ponds, I think. Chris]: the pools and lakes are teaming with wildlife in the Spring. They could signpost the trails and explain what the wetlands are for: people are getting very interested in alternative approaches. Adam thinks that would be great, and Pat enthuses it's a fantastic idea.

Joy is giving her history of life in retail, the men's department in a large Newcastle department store between 1987 and 1981, to Jim's interest and Susan's increasing distaste; as Joy goes on and on Susan continues to make it more and more clear that she isn't keen on her joining the shop team, while Jim eggs Joy on and she is oblivious to Susan's unenthusiasm. Jim eventually suggests that Joy might put it all in a cv, though Susan says she shouldn't go to any trouble; Joy leaps on the idea and finally leaves the shop to go and write up her cv, promising to bring it in later in the day. Once she's gone Susan says she can't listen to her all day long, and Jim agrees she talks quite a lot; Susan asserts she puts her on edge, and her talk of yellow y-fronts is more than Susan can bear. She's not prepared to take the risk Joy might talk about them all the time; they'll have to find someone else.

It has occurred to Adam to worry about what Tom may make of his idea, though Pat initially says he'll love it: will he feel like Adam is taking over? Although that hadn't occurred to Pat; now he's said it she simply doesn't know how Tom may feel: his reactions are unpredictable. She thinks he should be incredibly grateful for the fantastic suggestion, though she warns Adam that when he introduces the idea, Tom may be a bit of a wally about it, and offers her apologies in advance if he is. Adam laughs and agrees to run it past him; Pat reiterates that she thinks it's a great idea; surely Tom will see that straight away?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 10th January, 2023

Erik arrives, and Jim is talked round.

Characters: Kate, Erik, Jim, Alistair, Jazzer
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Erik looks very like Jakob, about which Kate exclaims repeatedly as she is making him welcome and showing him round Jakob's house. She also offers to show him round the village tomorrow. At the umpteenth 'I can't believe how alike you are!' from Kate, Erik claims to be younger and better looking than his brother, then says he's joking. He doesn't mind her not having bought food in for him; he tells her she is a brilliant landlord for doing as much as she has, and after being somewhat taken aback she explains that she and Jakob are life-partners. Erik first says that he didn't know Jakob had a partner, then, as she expresses great indignation about this, remembers that he did know but says that he and Jakob hardly ever speak, maybe twice a year, and she hasn't been mentioned so he'd forgotten her. He does now remember that Jakob sounded really excited when he first met Kate, and points out that Jakob doesn't often sound excited. Kate remains unsure whether to believe him.

The arrival of Jakob's brother may have excited Alistair but it is not high on Jim's list of priorities: as well as finding the perfect best man for Jazzer, he has to find a perfect new volunteer for the shop. Alistair suggests to him that this is madness: he is the perfect best man himself because he is the best man Jazzer wants, and if Susan doesn't like Joy she can be the one to find a new volunteer. Jim doesn't really accept this because Maureen leaving has been presented to him by Susan as having been his fault, so Alistair then recommends making two lists of possible people, one list for each job. Jim tells him he is wonderful.

The present which Erik has brought with him for Jakob, a smart speaker, would make Kate very happy, but she accidentally lets slip that while she wanted one, Jakob didn't because he thinks Big Tech are using them to spy on people. Erik is unsure quite how to react to these revelations, and while he is floundering Kate reveals that she is still annoyed with Jakob for not mentioning her; Erik changes the subject to the local pub Jakob has told him does excellent food, and perhaps going there for tonight's supper. Kate volunteers to go to supper with him, and also tells him that Jakob's partner Alistair can't wait to meet him, so she could ask him to come too. Erik thinks that sounds brilliant.

Jim is making his lists, and has put Alice on the list for the shop because Susan must be over that business with the brick now, all water under the bridge. Alistair puts forward Ed for the best man gig, claiming he is not sure that Jim didn't leave Ed off the list because he subconsciously wants the job himself, which Jim disputes was his reason. Then Jazzer rings the doorbell, and Alistair lets him in and escapes to the pub.

When Kate asks what Jakob was like as a kid, Erik reveals that everything was colour-coded, with yellow Lego in a box with a yellow label, red in one with a red label; as Alistair starts to laugh Erik adds that Jakob's room was very neat, with books in alphabetical order, and he always did his homework early. He was the worst brother Erik could have had; Erik loved him, of course, but he heard 'why can't you be more like your brother' over and over; tales out of school seem to be Erik's forté, though he then claims to have been kidding well, sort of. Kate lets on that Jakob thinks Erik was the favourite, because he was the fun one, which appears to be news to Erik, who goes on to tell his audience that Jakob was perhaps a bit staid: he had a paper round as soon as he was old enough, and then a Saturday job helping out at a vets' surgery: he clearly knew what he wanted, whereas Erik had no idea. Kate tells Alistair that Erik is now a conference and events stage manager, and tells everyone what to do, with jobs all over the world, very glamorous. Pausing only to make a joke out of this version of his life, Erik goes to the bar to get another round, and the slightly stunned Alistair and Kate agree that he's lovely, not what they were expecting: Jakob made him sound like a nightmare. Alistair points out that Erik is spontaneous, chatty, good with people, and incredibly sociable: that is Jakob's nightmare.

Jim's list of potential best men is being presented to Jazzer, who doesn't sound enthusiastic about Neil, Alistair or Ed, no matter that Jim has waxed lyrical about how much they like Jazzer and how good they would be at the job; he loves them all but he doesn't want any of them. He asks Jim please to listen to him: he isn't interested in drinking games or hilarious speeches, and there's only one person he wants as his best man: Jim, who is the best man he knows. This silences Jim. Jazzer goes on to say that he understands Jim doesn't like the pressure of the whole shebang, so he has had an idea: Ed and Jim could share the rôle, to which Jim agrees. When Jazzer asks if they're on, then, Jim replies that if Ed is willing, then yes, and when Jazzer further asks if this is happening, Jim replies that apparently it is, and it is going to be the best day of Jazzer's life.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 11th January, 2023

Kate explains, Lilian is obtuse, and Jim and Susan are in a hole.

Characters: Kate, Alan, Jim, Susan, Lilian, Justin
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As he sits in the tea-room minding his own paperwork and having a working lunch Alan is accosted by Kate, who is meeting Lilian there; he is initially apprehensive, but after alarming him by telling him that a large number of her family has written to the Bishop over Alan's decision about the window, she good-humouredly informs him that the Bishop has made it clear that it is Alan's decision not his, and she seems not to be too upset about it. After saying 'fair play to you, Alan', she jokes that they fought the church and the church won, which Alan seems not to find all that amusing. She doesn't want to make his lunch get cold, but she just wanted to let him know there are no hard feelings. He thanks her, and she leaves him to it.

The shop bell rings and Jim comes in with two bits of news for Susan, the good and the great. She asks to hear the great first, and he tells her that he and Ed will be sharing the position of best man for Jazzer; Susan is delighted for them all and thinks it's a wonderful solution. The good news is that he has found someone for the shop, though there is a chance Susan won't like him any better than she liked Joy: it's Justin Elliott, who is apparently very keen to 'give back to the community'. Susan absolutely is not only not keen, she is incredulous and says that isn't good news at all. Joy talks too much and she wouldn't trust Justin as far as she could throw him. Jim points out that nobody's perfect.

Having met her at the tea-room, Lilian is telling Kate that Justin is being secretive about his appointment that afternoon, almost cloak and dagger, and she has no idea what he is up to. Kate suggests that he may be planning a romantic surprise for her, which leads Lilian to talk about the (non romantic) hotel weekend with Jennifer, who wouldn't let her pay for half of it; Kate says that was because it is a Christmas present, and Brian and Jennifer have given expensive presents to everyone. Lilian muses that she and Jennifer should spend more time together, then asks if Jakob's brother has arrived, and Kate says he is absolutely lovely and she doesn't know why Jakob said he was a nightmare. She can see that they are very different people, Erik being made for action, quite messy, doesn't stop talking, goes from project to project without blinking... Lilian saying that he sounds a bit like Kate offends Kate mightily for all that she has been singing his praises. She finds it necessary to inform Lilian that Jakob doesn't think she's a nightmare; he's madly in love with her and she is madly in love with him. She is missing him and thinks this vet conference has gone on for long enough.

Jim and Susan are doing their best to put Justin off the idea of volunteering. The two enumerate every possible disadvantage to working in the shop, and Justin offers ways to deal with every one of them.

Lilian is shocked to see Alan sitting in his corner and wants to know if he was there all along: Kate could have told her, she might have said anything about him! She tells Kate that she is still completely furious with him, but Kate tells her there is no point. Kate asks if Lilian has any paracetamol: she has a headache, having got absolutely plastered in the Bull last night with Erik insisting on following up several beers with tequila shots, which she contrasts with Jakob probably insisting they should go home after a half of shandy. Lilian is revealing that the whole village fancies Jakob, to Kate's disgust, when Alan comes over to ask whether Jakob will be back to in time play the organ on the Sunday after next; Lilian is thoroughly unwelcoming but Kate is all sweetness, and after Alan has left Lilian wants to know why Kate was so conciliating. Kate explains to the seething Lilian that she and Peggy have decided on a new plan, to kill Alan with kindness so that he has to give them what they want. Lilian promises to lay on the charm good and thick, and finally locates the paracetamol, which she gives to Kate.

Not in the least dismayed by any effort of Susan's and Jim's to point out every possible down-side to working in the shop, Justin says that it all sounds rather fun and that nothing either of them has said has put him off: when can he start? Susan says she will be in touch, he leaves saying he will see them soon, and Susan tells Jim that it's all his fault and he will have to be the one to train Justin up. Jim is disinclined to accept complete responsibility, but she bulldozes through his protests and tells him he has lost them Maureen and found them someone they don't want. Jim tries to argue that he might not be as bad as she thinks, but eventually has to admit Justin might be more trouble than he is worth.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 12th January, 2023

Tom likes Adam's idea, and Kirsty likes Erik.

Characters: Tom, Adam, Kate, Kirsty, Erik
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Wales was wonderful and Tom is enthusing to Adam about even having been able to have a whole evening out with his wife while his mother-in-law babysat for them [nobody in Ambridge except Natasha and Tom ever looks after the Star Twins, right? Chris]; Adam sympathises about how tired Tom is, and they discuss whether it is better to have twins and get all the work over in one go; Tom is very clear that two children is enough and they are never going to do it again. Tom wants to know if everything went OK without him; he suspects that something must have gone wrong in his absence, something broken, his dog lost... When Adam says Tom doesn't have a dog he laughs and says it's a hypothetical dog, or maybe a metaphorical dog, and Adam promises he has broken nothing and lost neither.

The winter yoga class is being run again; Kate is despondent about the possibility it might be a greater success in the finer weather, but Kirsty is more upbeat. Kirsty mentions that she has heard from Jim that Alan says the idea for the church window has been given up; Kate is affronted that she heard this via the grapevine. Kirsty thinks it had all got rather divisive and it's a good thing they gave it up, but Kate tells her it was entirely because Alan has been completely awful about it, and not to be bought with Peggy's money; then Kirsty backpeddles frantically, saying she thought they had given up because they'd had a rethink, to which Kate replies they gave up because they clearly didn't have Alan's support. Kate's phone pings but she can't at first find it; when she does, she has a message from Noluthando, whose boyfriend of two years broke up with her on her birthday a week ago; Kate hates being so far away from her daughter. She bemoans the fact that she can't call her immediately because she has to set up for the class; Kirsty encourages her to do it, and she'll hold the fort if anyone arrives. Kate has no sooner left to ring Noluthando than Erik arrives, having come to a last-minute decision about coming along. Kirsty recognises him because he looks so like Jakob, and when he asks who she is introduces herself as Kirsty. Erik says he is kind of disappointed that she hasn't heard anything about him after the drunken night at the pub, then suggests that she might join the class; she hadn't though of doing that, but it sounds a good plan.

The idea for Bridge Farm that Adam had in Tom's absence has come to his mind, and Tom, who is not in the least surprised it exists, and says he knew Adam was acting shifty, tells him to spit it out: he tells Tom that he thinks they should grow an edible forest garden.

There was a very good turn-out for the class, and Erik and Kirsty are both pleased on Kate's account; Kirsty admits she gave it a big push on the publicity but hadn't told Kate in advance in case it hadn't worked, and Erik says he was talking to some people in the class who was there on Sunday and had come again, bringing four others with them, so clearly it is doing well by word of mouth too; in fact Kate thinks there might have been too many there, because she ran out of chai. Erik says the chai when they finished was a lovely touch, and with her doubts settled, Kate says she will be happy to do it again. Erik offers to help her pack up her stuff.

Faced with what might be said to amount to a hard sell, Tom expresses suspicion of what Adam is up to; when he hears that Adam has got drawings with him ready to show his point, he knows that Adam has planned this all carefully in advance. Adam launches into his exposition: it will only require half an acre as linear herbaceous borders, only instead of flowers, they would be planted with food, rhubarb, artichokes, onions, chives and so on, also berry bushes and espalier apple and plum trees. The more Adam enthuses, the more Tom shows a rather dour and doubting face, so that Adam says anxiously that he doesn't like it; then he suddenly says that Adam had him at 'edible forest garden' and it is amazing, he loves it, but he couldn't resist winding him up a bit. Adam is relieved, but pretends to hit him anyway.

Once Kate has driven off with all her stuff, Erik and Kirsty talk together about themselves, which includes Kirsty's plan to go swimming in the Am tomorrow; she invites him to join her at two o'clock, which will allow plenty of time for a swim before dark. He is not entirely keen on the idea, it being January and all, and wonders why she is doing it, to which she replies that it is more fun than just going to the pub. When he adds that he thinks it might be a bit dangerous because of not being acclimatised to the temperature, she says if he doesn't want to swim they could just go to the pub; she is surprised when he then says that he will come swimming. Out of the blue and for no immediately apparent reason Kirsty asks him if he is single; when he says he is, she replies that so is she, or she wouldn't have asked him out. He says that now he knows, he still wants to go, more so in fact. He'll see her tomorrow.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 13th January, 2023

Justin gets the position, and Kirsty gets her coat.

Characters: Justin, Lilian, Kirsty, Erik, Susan, Jim
Credited scriptwriter: Katie Hims
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

It seems that Justin has been told by Susan that his shift at the shop today is only a trial run, but he is confident he is a shoo-in; Lilian thinks him working in the village shop is bizarre, and that others will also see it as something for which he must have an ulterior motive. He says he hasn't time to convince her that his heart is pure, fun though that might be. She warns him that he ought not to assume that working in the shop will be undemanding: apparently some of their customers can tricky so-and-soes. Justin is sure he will manage: he will charm them all, every single one of them. Lilian cackles and wishes him good luck with that.

On the banks of the Am, Kirsty says that she thinks Erik looks terrified, and he retorts that he is not terrified, he just can't believe she is making him swim in a river in January; she denies making him do anything and then starts instructing him on how to go about river-swimming in January safely: go in up to your knees at first, see how that feels, control your breathing, then put some water on the back of your neck and that way you give your body some warning. [This has been a Public Service Announcement. Chris.] Erik decides to ignore her advice and just chuck himself in; with some alarm, she exclaims that rushing straight in is the opposite of what you're supposed to do, it's dangerous. He ignores her and dives in with a mighty splash.

The campaign by Susan and Jim to make Justin back out of working in the shop continues with comments about the till sticking, and then a warning to him in confidence about some tricky customers. Justin assumes that means shop-lifters, but Susan says it's no such thing, just that there are some very demanding types out there, the Hilary Noakes and the Cecil Jacksons of the world, impossible to please, bringing things back, complaining, wanting to exchange things: they are a nightmare. Jim goes away do some sorting in the stock-room, leaving Susan to look after Justin. He asks her whether they get a lot of shoplifting, which she says they don't. Then his first real live customer arrives: it's Lilian, who just wants to peruse. [sic]

It seems that Erik has survived and is breathing just fine, though Kirsty says she would not have wanted to have to say 'Jakob, I broke your brother.' He apologises for having frightened her, and when he asks how long they will swim for Kirsty says they can stay in for one minute per degree of temperature, which means about ten minutes and they've been swimming for five; when he says he can do this, she rejoins that it is not an endurance test. Erik then says that his hands have gone numb, and Kirsty orders him to get out at once; he tells her he can stay in as long as she can, whereupon she announces she is getting out now.

In the shop, Lilian is demanding a refund on a tin of tomato soup with a dent in it, though Justin offers to exchange it for an undented one, and on some chocolate biscuits about which she has changed her mind; when Justin points out that he is very fond of those biscuits she informs him that is why she has decided not to have them after all: he is too fond of them. Irritated, Justin asks Susan to do the refund, but she first gossips with Lilian about her impending hotel break with Jennifer, then says she has to show Justin how to do it himself: otherwise, how is he going to learn? When Lilian mimics Susan's 'how are you going to learn?' Justin warns her not to push it.

Erik has lit a fire to prove that he is not completely useless, and says the swim was amazing. All her health and safety advice having been ignored has ruffled Kirsty a little; when he asks her why she is single, she says he doesn't want to know and that she doesn't want to tell him but asks him why he is: he says he just can't make it last. A relationship. He just can't make a relationship last. He's had a fair few girlfriends, in fact, and when Kirsty asks what goes wrong he says he doesn't know: obviously it's never his fault, he jokes, he's a dream in a relationship. If you say so, responds Kirsty dryly, then adds that his job can't help, always off to the next exotic place. He denies that all his work is in places that are exotic, but yes, she's right, it doesn't help.

After Justin has finished his shift and gone, Susan and Jim discuss him and agree he did well enough except for not being able to deal with Lilian,. In the end, faced with a choice between him and Joy, Susan decides she would rather offer it to Justin. Jim demurs that she said she wouldn't trust him as far as she could throw him, and she agrees that she doesn't, but beggars can't be choosers. Jim wishes they knew why Justin was so keen to work in the shop, and Susan suggests that perhaps if they give him the job they can find out: if he is up to no good, they will be able to keep tabs on him.

It's beginning to get dark and Kirsty and Erik have been drinking hot chocolate and eating cake beside a fire Erik has built. When he suggests going to the pub, Kirsty invites him back to hers and tells him that her housemate is away for the weekend if that makes any difference. They won't be interrupted, she says suggestively. Erik wants to know whether he is reading this right, and Kirsty says she really hopes so; they flirt a bit about his popularity with the ladies, and Kirsty says that it is refreshing to be with someone who doesn't know her entire past history. Erik decides that he would love to come back to hers.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 15th January, 2023

Brad is being harassed, Rex is beset by leaks, and Erik is making himself at home.

Characters: Chelsea, Brad, Tracy, Rex, Kate, Kirsty
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Minor bickering is going on between Chelsea and an unresponsive Brad, who is staring at his phone: she wants to talk about Jim being Jazzer's best man, and although Brad replies to her every remark is clearly more interested in whatever is on the phone. Chelsea is immediately suspicious: has he got a girl? She bets he has a girl. Who is she, someone from college? Just tell her the name, she'll get it out of him eventually. When he says it is Paige, no, not the stuck up one at college from Loxley Barratt, a girl from the maths course he went on last month, Chelsea at once bellows for Tracy, telling her to come here quick, Brad's found himself a girlfriend!

After the yoga participants have left Rex begs for some chai from Kate. She had a good crowd for the class and Rex is glad of that; the company who put up the shelter were very apologetic about the leak and it has been fixed. Kate relays to him the troubles of Noluthando, unable to afford her rent solo after being ditched and needing to find somewhere else to live; she once more bemoans being so far away from her daughter and unable to support her properly. When Rex declines to join the next yoga class because it's too cold, Kate first lectures him about layering, then says that actually he already knows about that going by all the jumpers he is wearing and wants to know why he has so much on all the time. He tells her he has had no heating in the boat for a week and there is a leak over his bed; she is horrified, and offers him a bed at The Rookery [Jakob rents what used to be Kate's cottage, and Kate's cottage was never called The Rookery. It was one of The Rookeries, and then it was The Hobbit. Chris] with Erik. When he is unsure about this on the grounds that it is Jakob's house, not hers or Erik's, she informs him that Jakob won't be back until next Monday so it will be fine. Rex is still dubious about the idea and feels it is intrusive, wondering whether they ought to ask Jakob, but Kate is determined they don't need to do that, and says she will give him a lift there at once.

Tracy wants Chelsea to stop badgering Brad, but is obviously full of curiosity herself about this girl. After saying he will say nothing more, having made the mistake of saying anything to Chelsea in the first place, Brad refuses to reveal much to either of the prurient females he lives with; all he really lets slip is that he met Paige because they were partnered together for a maths game. Chelsea accuses him of sneaking around with this girl behind their backs for weeks and wants to know why they haven't met her, and he tells them she lives in Reading and he hasn't seen her since the course; they have just been messaging. Tracy points out to her that he is taking it slowly, and Chelsea thinks he is taking it too slowly.

The meeting of Rex with Erik goes well, mostly because of Erik's hail-fellow-well-met attitude and readiness to throw open his brother's home to Rex; Kate is rather put out by his having moved the furniture around and filled the place with junk-food nibbles, to which he replies it was a bit of a show-house ('that's how Jakob likes it,' puts in Kate) and he wanted it to look a bit more lived-in. When Kate is still clearly unhappy about the mess, Rex promises to sort it before Jakob gets home. As Kate is about to leave Kirsty emerges from somewhere in the cottage, and Erik claims she has been showing him round the sights, saying that the trip up Lakey Hill was memorable [Yes, ha ha, clever scriptie. Scriptie biscuit. Chris]. Kate seems genuinely pleased that they are having fun, and says she had better be off, though Rex wants her to stay. Erik immediately asks who is for a glass of wine.

Understandably, Brad is not interested in advice from Chelsea about his love-life, pointing out that hers hasn't been so wonderful and then, when Tracy objects, apologising; Tracy is in favour of Brad being allowed to take things at his own pace with Paige, Chelsea is determined that if he doesn't 'shift up a gear' he may lose his opportunity. Tracy feels that he should be allowed to know what he wants for himself: Paige might be shy, and perhaps she's not ready for an official date. Chelsea reckons that if he doesn't push things forward it might fizzle out. After some argument between Tracy and Chelsea, during which Brad remarks that he is actually there, Tracy says he should do what works for him, Brad says he will, and Chelsea that she just hope it works for Paige as well.

Tours at the rewilding are being arranged between Kirsty and Rex, and when they have decided who will do which over the next week Erik suggests opening some more of Jakob's wine; Kirsty refuses any more and goes home, saying that she won't be coming back later. After she has gone Rex suggests perhaps they could have some white wine next, so it won't make a stain if it is spilt on the cream carpet. He also wants a cloth to clean the coffee table, which Erik forbids him to do on the grounds that Rex is a guest and has only just got there. As he goes to rifle through the wine rack in the kitchen, it becomes clear that Erik is determined to treat Jakob's property as his own; Rex is uncomfortable about this and doesn't want him to open a 'very nice bottle of Malbec' that he finds, on the grounds that Jakob might have been saving it for a special occasion, though Erik has said he'll replace anything they drink. He replies breezily to the suggestion that they ought to make a note of the labels by saying that he'll surprise Jakob, which Rex clearly thinks is not a good plan. Just as Rex suggests perhaps some bowls for the nibbles, and some coasters, might be an idea there is a crash of breaking glass from the kitchen: Erik has dropped the bottle. Rex is upset, but Erik's cheery response is 'At least it's not on the carpet.'

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 16th January, 2023

Brad has a success, and Tony comes clean.

Characters: Leonard, Tony, Chelsea, Brad, Lilian
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The guitar returns! Leonard brings it to Tony in his railway shed, where Tony is fixing a derailing problem in the layout. Leonard has mended the guitar, with some on-line guidance, and chuckles happily about it being as good as new, almost; Tony agrees that you can hardly see the mend. [Good grief. Chris] Now, says Leonard, Tony can book himself some lessons. After hearing him enthuse about following Tony's progress with keen interest, Tony gently explains to him that the whole thing was a misunderstanding, caused by the letter in a bottle and Lilian thinking that he had an unfulfilled ambition as a musician; he really isn't interested in learning the guitar. Leonard is crushed, and Tony realises he'll have to tell Lilian.

At the Horrobin residence Brad has been hogging the bathroom, which Chelsea has been waiting to use it before setting off for college; he tells her that he messaged Paige last night and she has agreed to meet him tonight, which Chelsea realises explains him being so worried about how he looks. She has a quick gloat about having been right that he ought to ask Paige out, and makes Brad admit that she was. He is getting the train after college to go and meet Paige in Oxford for a pizza. Chelsea thinks it sounds perfect.

The mended guitar has been taken for Lilian to see and admire Leonard's craftsmanship, and Tony tells her that giving him the guitar for Christmas was a lovely idea. She senses a 'but', and he explains that he has no memory of ever having wanted a guitar, nor of writing the letter, and doesn't really want it now. Lilian is stricken: she was so pleased when she thought she was helping to make up for all the times he got presents he didn't want, such as a chess set instead of a toy car. He tells her that although he doesn't want it himself he has had a thought about the guitar: that it might be better handed on to someone else. The idea that he proposes to get rid of it slightly upsets Lilian until he finishes by saying that if she doesn't mind, perhaps he could give it to Mungo, so it stays in her family.

What he is to wear is on Brad's mind, and he consults with Chelsea; she asks what he is more comfortable in, and he says he isn't comfortable at all. She tells him he is worrying too much, and should go dressed as he was on the maths course. Paige obviously liked what she saw when he wasn't even thinking about it; he should just be himself. That's who she is expecting to see.

The idea of giving the guitar to Mungo has reduced Lilian to happy tears; she thinks it will give him a link to his Great-Uncle Tony. Lilian offers them tea, but fearing that he may be late to pick Jill up, Leonard looks at the carriage clock on the mantel, which Tony recognises as the clock that used to be Jack Archer's. It shows a time he can hardly believe, but he is reassured by Lilian that it stopped a week ago. Justin claims to be too busy to take it to a mender, what with volunteering at the shop, and she is going to have to do it herself. Leonard at once offers to have a look at it for her, though she does suggest clock-mending is a specialist job and he might not be able to: Leonard and Tony are sure that she won't lose anything if he can't. Tony offers the use of specialist screwdrivers, and the two men promise to do their very best.

Brad has got back from Oxford having almost missed his train home, and Chelsea has invaded his room, where he has taken refuge rather than going in to where Tracy and Jazzer are watching telly downstairs. Chelsea wants him to tell her how it want, and he says he is surprised because he had a really good time and he didn't think he'd be able to. He was proper nervous on the train there worrying about whether Paige would turn up, but in the end she got to the pizza place before him even though he was early. He then starts to dissect the evening and says he ended up having a lot of fun. Paige is really great, good to talk to. Chelsea is worried in case they spent the whole time talking about maths, but he reassures her that they talked about themselves and their families as well. And Paige liked his outfit, and she looked amazing. Chelsea promises to keep quiet this time about what he has told her, and is just really glad it all went well; Brad decides to text Paige to check she got home OK, which Chelsea says is a nice touch, seeming to mean it rather than mocking him. It sounds like he and Paige had an amazing time. Brad says that honestly, he can't wait to see her again.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 17th January, 2023

Justin is a snake-oil merchant and Brad is distressed.

Characters: Justin, Jim, Chelsea, Brad, Rex
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As Alan leaves the village shop Justin emerges from the back of the shop and announces he is done in the stock-room; Jim is dubious, but apparently the empty boxes are broken down and put to be recycled, and the only mouse that had been caught in one of the mousetraps has been disposed of in the rubbish. Justin now wants to man the till; he is keen to serve the public, but Jim is not very keen to let him, saying that customer service is a fine art requiring a delicate touch. Justin assures Jim that he knows what he is doing, and explains to him the difference between up-selling and cross-selling; he is sure they could do with shifting more stock, and Jim ends up defending the poor takings over recent months, but also suggests that some people do just want a packet of mints and a chat and don't care for the hard sell. Under pressure, he agrees that when the next person comes in Justin can demonstrate his alleged skills.

On the bus back from college Brad has been silent and obviously depressed; Chelsea worms out of him that he hasn't heard anything from Paige, in spite of his having sent her two messages, one last night and one at lunch-time. She's read them but hasn't replied, and he is afraid he's said something wrong and put her off somehow; he wants Chelsea to read his messages and check there is nothing in them that might have upset Paige: she is to be honest and tell him if anything he has written might have put her off, anything that comes across as a bit weird. Chelsea reads them and assures him nothing is wrong with them and there is probably a really simple explanation for the silence. Then a message comes in; it's from Paige.

Before he comes to the counter, Jim wants to give Justin a word of warning about the way Rex shops, with a list and definite idea what he wants,. When he comes over to the till all he has is floor-cleaner. Justin asks whether he needs it for the boat, and he explains that he is staying at the Rookery [or not; Kate thought in December that it is The Hobbit. Chris] with Jakob's brother Erik, and tells them what has happened there: the red wine Erik has broken on the kitchen floor has stained the grout between the tiles pink. Justin suggests that as well as the powerful cleaner he has already bought, it might be an idea to buy some baking soda (or bicarb) and white vinegar, to increase his chances of success; also bleach, and a top quality scouring pad, and some rubber gloves. They have all these things.

Brad is sitting alone in the dark and freezing cold on the village green, and Chelsea is worried about him. Eventually he tells her that Paige isn't interested, and he know this because she has accidentally sent him a message intended for one of her friends. Chelsea is not convinced how bad it is until he shows it to her: it says, 'Met up with the lad from the maths course. He's sweet and everything but dot dot dot It's definitely not going anywhere. Don;t know how to tell him though.' Brad is distraught, and Chelsea tries to comfort him, saying that Paige doesn't even know him and it's not his fault. He says miserably that he really liked her, and Chelsea hugs him.

The hard sell from Justin continues, culminating in a pricey bottle of white wine (Chenin Blanc) to drink instead of red. The total bill is £32.97, a lot more than Rex was expecting when he came in for one item. When he has left, Jim thanks goodness that Justin never went into politics because if he had they would all be done for, then admits that the shop might benefit from Justin's salesmanship. He nearly quadrupled Rex's weekly spend. If even a handful of customers spent an extra five pounds a week, says Jim, the shop's future would be in no doubt.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 18th January, 2023

Brian is being browbeaten, Erik bamboozled and Lee bluffed.

Characters: Helen, Lee, Brian,Stella, Justin, Jim, Erik
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At their house in the Beechwood development, Helen and Lee are discussing what sort of day each has had, with Lee offering to think about dinner once Helen has claimed exhaustion. Mabel has left a jumper under the bed in the spare room at Bridge Farm, which Pat has posted to her, and we discover that his daughters stayed at Bridge Farm for the whole of Christmas week and had a wonderful time; Anisha agreeing to them being there for such a long stay surprised Lee. He hopes to have them more often; he'd love to spend more time with them. Helen suggests asking their mother if they might all go on holiday together, his children and hers, at Easter. Lee decides to ring his ex-wife about the idea as soon as she is home from work.

Farm tech is apparently 'racing ahead' and the tech show has inspired Stella; Brian is very happy for her but advises her not to get carried away. He is not particularly impressed about the new disc drill she is enthusing over, nor at all sure that it will really save them money. He understands the salespeople have persuaded her, but before she can get into the full swing of her spiel or make him read the brochure he cuts her off because he has to answer his phone to Jennifer.

The art of conning the customer is being imparted to Jim by the medium of role-play: he is to remember that people may come in with a definite idea of what they want, but Justin feels it is his and Jim's job to widen their horizons. Then a customer does come in: it is Erik Hakansson, instantly recognisable to Jim by his family resemblance to his brother. He is looking for a nice bottle of red wine, and Jim puts him off the idea, which horrifies Justin; he should be thinking of the profits! Jim says he is thinking of poor Rex, then proceeds to enthuse to Erik about the Chenin Blanc.

After finishing his call Brian comes back, and Stella berates him for interrupting her important sales-pitch to talk to his wife. Nothing urgent, then, says Stella; he suggests that it was important to him. She tells him sharply that she was trying to talk to him about something important to all of them, to which he replies that he thinks he has heard all he needs to; she fails to take the hint and continues with what amounts to a sales pitch until he first asks whether they have her on commission, then insists on being told the actual cost of her chosen new drill, 150K over two years, and comments that she does like trying to spend his money. She tells him sharply she is his farm manager and they need this drill, to which he responds that he's sorry, it's a no from him.

The phone call with Alisha is going very wrong; Lee is yelling at her, and she hangs up on him. Helen implores him to talk to her, and discovers that the reason for his fury is that the children's mother is taking Mabel and Evie to California. Helen assumes this is for a holiday over Easter, so she suggests they can all go away together in the summer instead, but no: Alisha has been offered a permanent tech position in San Francisco and is moving there to live, taking the girls with her.

Three bottles of wine instead of one have been selected by Erik, and Jim then says he thinks that Kirsty might appreciate some chocolates as a token of his appreciation for her showing him round the area; Justin is clearly surprised when Erik buys boxes of both soft centres and truffles at Jim's urging, then escapes before he can be sold anything more Once he is safely outside the shop door and out of earshot, Justin gloats that Jim has cracked it and they will make a formidable team.

Helen is trying to talk Lee down from his rage, and his conviction that Alisha always tries to undermine him. The reason she allowed him a whole week with his daughters was that she spent Christmas in California sorting out somewhere for them to live. Whether he likes it or not, she is doing this. Helen points out that Alisha can't just take his children out of the country and emigrate without his consent. He is still completely furious, and determines that he will refuse his permission: there is no way he is going to allow his children to be taken away.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 19th January, 2023

Erik is insouciant, Pat and Helen are concerned, Lee is inconsolable but determined.

Characters: Rex, Erik, Pat, Lee, Helen
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The wine-stained grout in The Hobbit's kitchen has been weighing on Rex's mind; he is still trying to eradicate that pink stain. Erik finds him there on his knees and walks into some rather bitter comments about it; he says they have done their best, and Rex asks 'we?' He left the cleaning stuff out hoping Erik would take a turn, but Erik sees no point in even trying and talks about his busy day seeing an old buddy in Felpersham for lunch and having Kirsty over to dinner. This really doesn't calm Rex down much. Erik tells him that he needs to relax, and if Jakob happens to notice, Rex should just say it was Erik; this is also no help. Finally Erik says ruefully that he really didn't mean to upset Rex, and Rex admits that it isn't entirely about Erik: it's just that Erik reminds him of Toby, which means he is behaving as if Erik were him; stupid, he knows.

The horrible shock that Lee must have had is getting lots of sympathy from Pat, who wonders whether he has spoken with Alisha again. Lee thinks there is nothing to discuss, though Helen agrees with Pat that there is a lot to talk through. When Pat can see he is not going to accept it, he asks why he should when they are his daughters too. He is definitely going to fight it with everything he's got, and to that end has today started to look for legal advice. After he goes up to read Jack a bedtime story, Helen tells Pat it's the first she's heard about him getting legal advice, and feels he is desperate to get control of the situation. She is worried about how he is approaching it all, and can't see things ending well.

As well as being told he reminds Rex of Toby, Erik has been treated to a description of Toby as neglectful and lazy. He and Rex used to share a place and the wine stain feels very familiar. Nothing has ever really got properly resolved between them, just builds up. Erik says he gets it, and that in some ways Rex reminds him of Jakob, and Jakob drives him mad with his fussiness. Rex speaks of someone being just thoughtless, never malicious just with his mind elsewhere, and as the older brother feeling the need to apologise for him. Erik says that he and Jakob are very different and his visiting while Jakob is away is perfect for Jakob, because he doesn't have to deal with him. Erik then asks where Toby is, and when Rex says he moved away from the village last year and he misses him, thinks that he and Toby would have got on. After saying he'll come to see Jakob, perhaps, and that he and Rex should meet up in The Bull some time, Erik wants a loan of Rex's Marigolds: it's his turn to tackle the stain.

The question of it being a fantastic opportunity for Alisha and her girls has not apparently occurred to Lee, as far as Helen can tell, or perhaps he doesn't want to think about it; Lee just wants to put a stop to it. Helen wants to be as supportive as she can but she knows how ugly things can get. Lee just isn't seeing the bigger picture right now: he's too wrapped up in his anger. Pat thinks she is right, and can see how difficult it is for her. She offers to have a word with him, but Helen feels she must talk to him herself. Pat advises her to tread carefully.

Table salt as an abrasive has been tried by Erik to no particular effect; Rex now seems relaxed about the stain, and thanks him for trying. He's had a call to tell him that Serendipity has been fixed, and he is going back there soon, so Erik and Kirsty can have the place to themselves for supper. They agree they will miss seeing each other, and that they can always meet at The Bull. When Rex mentions that Erik has hit it off with Kirsty, who is clearly into him, Erik makes it clear that it is casual, nothing serious, and he is certain Kirsty feels the same as he does. Rex now has yet another thing to worry about.

The television is switched off so that Helen can tell Lee what to think I mean sorry tell him that she doesn't think Alisha is being vindictive; she thinks Anisha has reasons other than that for wanting to move somewhere that offers opportunities for the girls as well as for her. Helen says she's not trying to hurt him, she's just trying to stop things from getting out of control to keep things amicable between all of them. She doesn't want to upset him, but he clearly is upset, even tearful. He explains she has told him nothing he doesn't already know: he can see why they would want to go to California, at their age so would he have done, but he can't bear to let them go; he wouldn't be able to cope if he couldn't see his girls. He has to fight this move, he can't let them leave; she'll stand by him through it, won't she? When she murmurs 'yes' he asks her to promise, and she replies that of course she will.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 20th January, 2023

Daughters absent and present, and fathers whose place is in the wrong.

Characters: Kirsty, Kate, Adam, Lee, Tony, Stella, Brian, Helen
Credited scriptwriter: Daniel Thurman
Director:
Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

While Kirsty was leading a guided walk Kate turned up to talk to her about Erik, who has left a note and the key to the Rookery [Hobbit dammit. Chris] on her doormat. She is deeply apologetic about the way he has left Kirsty flat.

Outside the Bridge Farm shop Adam encounters Lee, who has been buying Bridge Farm Yoghurt as a bribe for a patient at The Laurels who doesn't like doing her physiotherapy. While they are talking Tony comes up and says he will be checking the Anguses shortly but first has to help Johnny service the milking unit; Adam promptly volunteers to help Johnny. Adam tells them he has just had a call from Jennifer, who is having a high old time in Stratford with Lilian, then goes off to find Johnny. Tony asks Lee how he is, to be told 'not too bad'; Tony says he and Pat will do whatever they can to support him and sympathises with his not wanting to lose his daughters, suggesting that they might not want to go and leave him and all their friends behind. Lee thinks that's a good point and says he would have them there in a heartbeat, though Alisha would object; Tony says persuasively that it would have to be the girls' choice. He adds that he thinks they might be dreading the move – but Lee would have to ask them. Lee eagerly says that he will.

The tine drill has suffered stone damage and Brian finds Stella examining it. She takes the opportunity to tell him that she has had an email to tell her that the deal to spread the payments on a new drill over three years will only be on the table till the end of the month. Brian is unimpressed; 'talk about every trick in the book', he says. She wants them to rush into the purchase; she is more than ever convinced that they need the new drill, though what new evidence she has is unclear: she says she has been reading about it. They will be in a better position regarding the new BL contract if they have it, she says, again without any evidential basis. Brian says she has said enough, and he has certainly heard enough, then asks whether she has been speaking with Justin, which she emphatically denies; she did see him in the audience at the conference, though.

Kirsty is reassuring Kate that she really didn't have to worry; she was with Erik when he got the call asking him to come early to his next job, and knew all about his departure. They had a nice fling together and then said goodbye. It was exactly what she needed, a bit of fun. Kate is somewhat taken aback and says she thought that Kirsty might be developing feelings for him, when that was all she wanted; Kirsty confirms that Erik isn't really relationship material, or not for her anyway: too unreliable. Kate got the dependable brother, who will be back on Monday and Kate can't wait to see him.

The idea of the girls coming to live with Lee and Helen has been put to Helen, who clearly doesn't want to say no but wants to say yes even less; she temporises by talking about whether Alisha would allow it, and whether the girls would want it, while Lee enthuses about it being a solution to the whole problem. Lee tells her Tony suggested that the girls have a right to a say, which doesn't please Helen much: she says there is a lot to figure out. Lee just feels that it would mean he didn't have to fight; Helen points out they would have to consider Henry and Jack in all this. Lee enthuses that they all have such a good relationship, and anyway he isn't asking for a final decision; he just means, in theory, so he can sound things out with the girls. Helen feels that it's a big decision; he says it could work. Would she at least give it some thought? She agrees that of course she will.

Stella is insisting that Brian must back her about the drill, and he is pointing out that it would be a massive outlay in uncertain times; while she claims to appreciate that, she insists that it makes environmental and economic sense for Home Farm and for the BL contract. To keep that, they will have to demonstrate they are buying new kit. She continues to quote a sales brochure; Brian continues unconvinced. She spins a line abut her reasons for having gone into farming and her passion for farming in the right way; Brian tells her that he has heard her and he will consider it, but that's as much as he is promising.

Helen dismisses Tony back to the Anguses, having torn a strip off him for planting the idea of custody in Lee's head; he apologises and says he didn't mean to interfere, but she isn't letting him off that easy: it's a pretty big thing just to drop into the conversation, she tells him crossly. When he asks what if Mabel and Edie do want to stay, she comes back with, 'Exactly. What then?' She clearly does not in the least want Lee's daughters living with them, and Tony having seen them happily together for a week doesn't make her feel he was entitled to think they would be happy together for longer than that. Tony sighs and agrees. They'd have to move house, she explains to him, and she just is not sure it's what she wants. Tony ruefully admits that he can see that now. She goes on to say that it really frightens her, and it's not something she ever saw happening: she didn't think she'd be in charge of two teenage girls on top of everything else. The unfortunate Tony, who is now aware just how badly he has blundered, sympathises for all he is worth and says that he does understand, but Helen carries on to point out that she has been there with Greg's daughter and really doesn't think she could do again. Tony saying 'then don't' merely makes her get more upset about how she is to tell this to Lee, and go into a fugue about how supportive Lee has been to her and the boys, and how the boys get on well with Lee's daughters so she is the only obstacle. Tony tries unsuccessfully to talk her out of this deliberate [yet phoney. Chris] self-blame; it remains all about her and how she feels, and Tony is yet again left apologising and grovelling about her situation, which is somehow his fault.

Erik did say in his note that he had left The Rookery [Hobbit. Chris] spotless, but Kate didn't believe him and so has roped Adam in to help clean the place; when they find it clean after all, Adam suggests that perhaps Rex had a hand in that, out of gratitude for being rescued from the freezing narrowboat. Kate says he sent her some flowers, and a lovely note, which really helped cheer her up: when Adam makes sympathetic noises, she says she is really worried about Noluthando, but expects to feel better when Jakob gets back next week. Seeing a bit of Erik really made her appreciate Jakob, but she still wishes she were able to be with her daughter. Adam suggest they could call her together; they are family, after all.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 22nd January, 2023

Brian is late, and so, it turns out, is Jennifer.

Characters: Adam, Alice, Kate, Brian, Justin, Lilian
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Adam is buttering carrots for the family supper, having made roast potatoes to Jennifer's recipe, with Alice watching him while Martha and Xander play in the next room. They are waiting for Kate and Brian, and Jennifer has sent a picture of her and Lilian sipping champagne in Stratford. Kate arrives on time, which surprises them, and has good news: Jakob has bought her tickets to Durban to visit her children. This time next week, she'll be there.

Brian is talking with Justin, whom he has interrupted while he is eating, about cereal futures and the volatile economy; he wants to know what Justin is planning for Damara, since it would be interesting to know what other farms are doing: investing in more equipment, for instance. Justin instantly realises that he has something specific on his mind.

The fact that Jakob has gone on from his conference in Belgium to visit a friend in France is being exclaimed over by Alice, but Kate is sanguine about it. Adam comes in to turn down the temperature of the Yorkshire pudding [at this point stout party suddenly collapsed. Chris] and they go on talking about Kate flying out to Durban on Saturday, with Adam wondering about cover for Spiritual Home and worrying about over-cooking the mushroom Wellington he is making for Kate. Kate continues miserising over Noluthando, whom she just wants to cuddle and comfort about her relationship break-up and thanks to Jakob will be seeing soon. Adam starts to express concern about Brian possibly causing supper to be over-cooked and Alice offers to ring and hurry him up.

Meanwhile Brian is still chatting with Justin and failing to turn down a slice of cheese with quince jelly; he has now told Justin about Stella insisting on getting the new drill, and Justin seems to be in favour of doing so, because in the long term they need low-till to protect the soil, and the disc drill Stella wants will chime perfectly with that aim. Now the machinery is available to make low-till practical on a larger scale, it is a good idea. Brian is still worried about affording it, and how big an improvement it is on the one they already have. Justin tells him about the feeling of the BL board, which since he is a member of that board Brian doesn't know, and that if Home Farm had the most up to date equipment they would be better placed to keep their contract. Brian says 'I see' in an enlightened tone, and Justin offers him a glass of wine to go with his cheese and crackers, then hears a mobile buzzing and asks whether it is his or Brian's. It is Brian's, with a call from Alice which he just misses, and than Justin's goes as well: it's Lilian.

At Honeysuckle Cottage Adam has decided to serve supper in spite of Brian's absence, asking Kate to drain the [buttered! Chris] carrots, while Kate looks forward to it being summer in Durban and taking Noluthando to the sacred caves of the Basotho to shed themselves of the past [sic] and begin their relationship anew. As she enthuses, Adam's phone rings, and when he answers it, his cheerful comments to Brian about just plating up are silenced by what he hears; he says 'Warwick' and 'don't worry, we'll find you' and that they will have to work out what to do with Xander and Martha but they will be straight there. While the others immediately wonder whether Brian had has another attack, Adam rings off and then tells them that no, it's Mum: she's collapsed. They're rushing her to hospital now.

At the hospital Lilian is being hysterical to Justin about Jennifer having just been on the floor and Lilian being able to do nothing for her, while he tries to be a calm and steady shoulder for her as she asks him whether Jennifer knew she was in the ambulance with her. He says the doctors know what they are doing and Jennifer is getting the best possible care. Then the rest of the family arrive and ask how mum is; Brian is talking with the doctors now, Adam is parking the car, and Lilian says it is something to do with pressure on Jennifer's heart and her lungs filling with fluid and that she wasn't with her when she collapsed and they had to come and find her. Justin says they must all try to be positive, just as Brian comes in; both his daughters ask how Jennifer is and what the doctors have said, and his silence tells them that it is bad news even before he says that the doctors said they did everything they could and Lilian wails 'dear Lord!' Brian, seeming dazed, says it was her heart: it wasn't strong enough. Alice and Kate repeat 'mum' several times and Brian tells them he is so sorry: his Jenny is gone.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 23rd January, 2023

The news is spreading, but not as far as London.

Characters: Adam, Brian, Lilian, Alice, Tony, Stella, Chris
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A phone is sounding, and Adam asks Brian whether he would like to him to answer the phone: it's Stella but she rings off before he can get to it. Adam says that he feels Brian sitting alone in his bedroom is not the best idea, and Tony is downstairs; when the doorbell rings he says it will be Lilian, and goes to answer it, saying he will see Brian downstairs.

Lilian has arrived with Jennifer's case, which Alice takes, and is greeted in the living-room by Tony; they are both still struggling to believe it. Peggy is staying at Bridge Farm in Helen's old room, which Lilian is glad of; she says it wouldn't be fair on Kate for Peggy to stay at The Lodge. The siblings embrace, and Lilian thanks him for breaking the news to Peggy last night, which she could not have done; he tells her that Pat and Johnny went with him. Lilian is concerned that Peggy has lost all her spirit, and says that it is every parent's nightmare to have a child die. Tony agrees, without mentioning that he does actually know about that. Alice comes in and thanks Lilian for collecting Jennifer's case, and Tony is shocked when he learns that Justin took her back to the hotel to collect her and Jennifer's things; one of them could have done it, and it must have been very distressing for her. She tells him that she needed to do it: she couldn't bear the thought of Jennifer's belongings sitting there waiting for some stranger to pack them up. It was good to have something to do. Adam comes in and Lilian asks him for a hug; Alice asks sharply if Dad is coming down, and Adam is not sure: he didn't even come down for the video call with Debbie, and when Lilian asks whether he has spoken to Ruairi she finds they have not yet managed to get in touch with him. Alice has been calling and calling and has left voice-mails asking him to ring back, but nothing. Lilian asks whether they could try anyone else, uni friends perhaps, but Alice doesn't know any of them and hasn't got their contact details; Adam makes excuses for him, saying he is very preoccupied with his life in London. Tony suggests that if Brian isn't coming down, perhaps Tony should go up to him instead, and Adam agrees that would be great and offers to bring a cup of tea. Alice goes to collect Martha and take her to bed, repeatedly assuring Lilian that she will be fine on her own with her child and won't be having a drink.

Upstairs Tony has gone into Brian's room and is sharply told not to sit where Jenny sits. He immediately puts his foot in it again by mentioning not being able to get in touch with Ruairi, but Brian just says they should let him enjoy his life a little longer: he's the lucky one because as far as he's concerned Jenny's still alive. Then he breaks down, and Tony reminisces about Jennifer, saying that he can't imagine how it is for Brian but they are all there for him, which causes Brian to leave the room abruptly. Tony anxiously but unavailingly pursues him.

Meanwhile downstairs Lilian is telling Adam about the weekend at the spa hotel with Jennifer and what they did there; Adam is somewhat dampening but says it's nice to know she was happy. Lilian agrees that she was, and there just wasn't any sign, at least, she doesn't think there was, though Jennifer was tired when they got back in for tea. If she'd had any idea! Adam rather wearily says that he knows, but Lilian goes on asserting that she didn't know anything was wrong. She is interrupted by Tony, in the hall, trying and failing to stop Brian from going out. Adam goes to find out what is wrong and is told that Brian is in a state and that it is Tony's fault; when Tony says he'd best go after him Adam stops him and says that he will go.

Brian encounters Stella, who demands an answer from him about the drill; he declines to speak to her and gets in his car and drives off. Stella asks Adam what's going on.

Alice is glad to be with Martha; Chris tells her he and his family will do everything they can for her, and stumblingly expresses his grief for someone who even if she was no longer his mother-in-law was still Martha's granny, and how he is going to miss her. Alice manages not to cry, then explains to him that she is all right and is not going to turn to drink. He asks after Brian, and Alice says he isn't really speaking to anyone; then she says she is really worried about Ruairi, who still doesn't know.

With good reason, Stella is appalled she banged on abut the new drill to Brian in the circumstances; Adam reassures her that it's not her fault no-one had told her what had happened, and apologises for that. She reassures him that he doesn't need to explain, they must all still be reeling, then asks when it happened; Adam tells her, and she likens it to the same thing having happened with her dad, who also died from heart failure with no warning. Adam says she will understand then that they could all just do with a little space. He suggests that it is probably best not to try to contact Brian for a while: she'll just have to handle things on the farm, which she says she will do. He thanks her and as she calls after him to tell Brian not to worry, shuts the door; she announces 'I'll take care of the farm' to empty air.

Explaining to Chris about the absence of news from Ruairi is making Alice angry; he didn't come for Jennifer's birthday, just sent a card, which hurt her somewhat though she pretended otherwise, and though he sends Mum the odd text now and then, for the rest of them it's as if he's decided to ghost the whole family and Alice doesn't think anyone's heard from him for months. Chris suggests that in that case it's no wonder he hasn't been getting back to her, and she says that they need to let him know; she can't tell him what it's about, that's not the sort of thing you can put in a message. It's going to crush him when he finds out. Chris asks if she's got an address for him, and when she says she's sure she could find it says he will drive her there so that she doesn't have to go on her own. She thanks him: that would be amazing. No problem, says Chris, and then suggests they can leave Martha with his parents, get a bite to eat and drive down tonight.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 24th January, 2023

Kate talks about Kate, and Alice stumbles on Ruairi's secret.

Characters: Chris, Alice, Ruairi, Kate, Jakob, Julianne
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Apartment 36, Somewhere Posh In London, has been located and Alice is sure they have the right address. She rings the entryphone repeatedly and Chris wonders if perhaps Ruairi's not in: if he's clubbing he might be out for hours. As they are about to go and wait in the car Ruairi picks up and wants to know what Alice is doing there. He is suspicious and wants to know how she knew he was there; she tells him that Jennifer had his address. He doesn't want to let them in, and when she says there is something she needs to tell him merely tells her to go on, then, but she insists she needs to do it face to face. He buzzes her in and says seventh floor; Chris offers to wait in the car, but Alice is unsure she can do this on her own.

At Willow Cottage Kate is offering Jakob some hot chocolate, with oat milk that Jennifer got for her, while Brian is asleep upstairs. She is grateful to him for staying for a while to be with her; she is finding being there very strange and keeps expecting her mother to walk in and tell her she's put fresh sheets on Ruairi's bed for her. He asks how Noluthando and Sipho took it. She won't be going to Durban after all, but says it was lovely of him to arrange it. Jakob is taken by a picture of a dreadlocked Kate at a road protest in Kent, which Jennifer had framed; he says Jennifer must have approved of what Kate was doing, and Kate tells him that Jennifer definitely didn't approve at the time, because Kate had just dumped her GCSEs and walked out without telling anyone where she was going.

Ruairi sounds world-weary about what Alice has to tell him, but after Alice has made him sit down and tells him in simple words that it's bad news, it's about Mum and she's died, his cool pose is shattered and he reacts with denial, saying no repeatedly and that she can't be. Alice tells him it's why she has been trying so hard to reach him, and he reacts with anger, culminating in telling her not to touch him and pushing her away, which causes Chris to tell him to sit back down. Ruairi wants to know who he is to tell him what to do since he is no longer part of the family, and tells him to get out; Chris remains calm and replies that Ruairi needs to take a step back, but Ruairi has become intent on getting them out: it's his place, they have said what they had to and they can now go. The shouting rouses Julianne, who comes in and asks what on earth is going on.

School photos have come out and Kate explains that she got expelled a few months after it was taken. She hadn't told him she had been expelled, but then he hadn't told her about his brother; it turns out that he noticed the red wine stain in the grouting and she says she and Rex hoped he'd forgive Erik, which makes Jakob ask what Rex has to do with anything and when told he stayed there for a few nights because of an emergency, to say that explains it then; when he got back the place was almost up to his standards. He then apologise for what this implies about Kate and tidiness. Kate remains subdued and doesn't make a fuss about that, before telling him that there won't be any more photos of her in the next album, because she kind of stopped appearing in family photos. Jakob is sure there must be a few, but she says no, not really, because she was off taking drugs, staying out late, or joyriding with her boyfriend, which shocks Jakob. She says she looks back and thinks what she put Mum through, and he tries to comfort her. She says she spent all that time being angry and trying so hard not to be like Mum, and the truth is that Jennifer never stopped being there for her; through tears she says maybe they were more alike than she thought.

Tea has been made by Julianne, and she gives it to Alice and Chris; she offers alcohol, which they refuse, and when she asks Ruairi what they have he sulkily replies that they said they didn't want anything. She and Alice talk about the situation, and when she tries to include Ruairi he is inarticulate and monosyllabic, so she asks about the family and is glad they have siblings living nearby. Ruairi tries to get her to go back to bed, but she is more concerned about Alice and Chris than her own lack of sleep, and then when they say they have to get back because they have a child to look after, suggests that Ruairi could go back with them. He doesn't at all want to, but she tells him firmly that she can find someone else to go with her to the Barbican and she can't expect him to in his state of mind, and sends him off to pack a bag.

Kate is now doing a lot of self-examination about her adolescent behaviour, which Jakob tries to explain as everyone rebelling against their parents but Kate is convinced now was her trying to wake Mum up, to remind her that she wasn't always a WI middle class housewife, but a single mother and author of a published novel – which is more than Kate has ever achieved. One time, Jennifer even admitted to having had a Che Guevara poster on her wall; Jakob expresses surprise. When Jakob asks 'So what happened?' Kate replies that Dad did, and that may have been why she was so angry. He thinks she could be onto something, and it backs up his hypothesis about why Jennifer hung the photo of Kate at the protest: she admired her for standing up for what she believed in. Maybe she wished she could have been more like Kate. Kate starts to sob, saying that she can still feel her mother always there supporting her; she just wishes she had said thank you, and now she never will.

As they wait for the lift it's clear Ruairi now can't wait to get away, but Julianne calls him back and when he goes, Chris asks whether he is a provincial hick or is this really weird: did they even know Ruairi was seeing someone, and did Alice see how old Julianne was? She just wants to get out of there; she's fine, but they just need to get back to Ambridge. Ruairi comes back, and as the lift arrives makes them promise never to say anything about Julianne; Alice swears on her life, and Chris says they are not there to spy on him. They have a long drive ahead of them; let's get him home.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 25th January, 2023

Everyone is falling apart and falling out.

Characters: Pat, Tony, Lilian, Kate, Adam, Alice, Brian, Ruairi
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Pat has made some soup for Tony to have in a flask; he is out with his railway, and Peggy is about to go home. Tony reckons Mum will need more support from now on, but it's Lilian about whom Pat is worried: she's very jittery and just burst into tears when they were talking about nothing in particular in the kitchen. Tony points out that they have all heard her crying and it would be strange if she hadn't, but Pat thinks that actually being there makes it worse. Tony points out she is still in shock, but Pat says Lilian is convinced she could have done something, which Tony exclaims is ridiculous: there's nothing anyone could have done. Pat has decided that Tony needs to say something to Lilian: it's not fair to keep her in the dark; he protests, but as they are arguing the point Lilian comes out say she has left Peggy listening to the radio and will be off now, though she will come back later in the evening. Pat says 'Tony' in a minatory voice, and he asks Lilian to wait a bit: he's hardly seen her.

It seems that Susan has brought round a vegetable chilli, which Kate plans to heat up; Adam is well up to his usual level of enthusiasm for that idea. They have run out of vases and the Eagletons' beautiful bouquet has had to be stuck in a measuring jug. Alice arrives and asks if Adam and Kate are both OK, to which they reply in a more (Kate) or less (Adam) affirmative way. Ruairi is in his room upstairs refusing to come down and claiming he has uni work to do; Kate suggests he ought to ask for compassionate leave, but Alice thinks it may be his way of coping. Kate wants to know how he reacted when Alice broke the news, and Alice tells her he was upset, which Kate seems dubious about. Kate continues to probe, and Alice seems prepared to answer, saying she didn't meet any of his friends . Then Adam makes a distressed noise and says he has found Mum's medical notes under some cards: Kate says they must have been given to Brian at the hospital. When they look at them, they find that not only is the cause of death given as pulmonary oedema, there is a further reference to an underlying condition, which puzzles Alice: Mum didn't have any conditions. At that moment Brian walks into his children's silence, wanting to get to the sink, and Kate asks him what 'aortic stenosis' is.

The guilt Lilian has been feeling about having gone off to the spa instead of staying with Jennifer is all coming out, and Tony is struggling to bring it into perspective and telling her she can't blame herself for doing what they were there to do, relax and enjoy themselves. Lilian says Tony is not listening to her and becomes hysterical about what Jennifer did for them as children, then says she wasn't there for her and if she had been she might have noticed or realised something was wrong. Tony knows that calling for help sooner wouldn't have made any difference and firmly says she must just take his word for it: there was nothing she could have done. Aghast, Lilian wants to know what he means.

While Brian points out none of them is a medical expert, Alice is consulting Dr Google and finds out that aortic stenosis is a chronic disease of the aortic valve [which I bet none of them could find on an unlabelled chart of the heart. Chris] and reading out details from a medical site. Brian tells her to put her phone away, and when she doesn't says 'yes, yes', which leads to Kate asking him if he knew Jennifer was ill. He says that she doesn't understand: it wasn't his choice. This leads to outcry from Alice and Kate, while Adam tries to calm them and says they should just let Brian speak. When he does, he tells them their mother didn't want them to know. She didn't think she was going to die, not yet anyway. Adam says that he must have noticed something was wrong, to which Brian replies 'Of course.' He explains that he made her go to the doctor because she had been getting breathless and her ankles were swollen, and that's when he found out. It was before Christmas, early November he thinks. Kate and Alice are outraged, and Adam again calms things, asking whether there was any treatment; Alice says indignantly that it says here they can replace the valve, and Brian says that he begged and begged her to have the operation, but there was a problem with her arteries which meant that while for most people it would be absolutely fine, for Jenny the only option was open heart surgery and she just didn't want to put herself through it. Alice is indignant: is he saying that Jennifer refused to have the operation which could have saved her life? Brian says they told her she might have years, months at least, and she just didn't think it would be so soon; he adds that he wanted her to tell them all, and Adam demands to know why she didn't want them to know.

Meanwhile, Tony is catching the same indignation from Lilian: why did Jennifer see fit to tell him and why didn't she tell everyone? He says it's his fault: maybe she started with him because she thought he wouldn't get too emotional, but when she saw how upset he was she just couldn't bear to go through that with the whole family. She made him promise to keep it to himself. Lilian is furious that he didn't decide they should be told anyway: she clearly wasn't in her right mind, did he not think that she might need the love and support of the rest of them? She was Lilian's sister too and Lilian deserved to know. At this point Pat intervenes, thus revealing that she knew as well and making Lilian even angrier; she is now not prepared to listen to any argument and just wants to leave. She needs to be on her own.

Because Brian says that Jenny felt they had all been through enough this past few years, Kate exclaims that was because of Alice, and Alice is horrified to be blamed; voices are raised again, though Adam yet again speaks in the voice of reason, and Brian points out there has also been his health and the trouble with the farm, which Adam at once takes personally as an accusation against him; this time Kate is the one who says they ought to stop being quite so sensitive and get back to Mum, which leads Adam to point out the heartache Brian caused Jennifer by letting chemicals leak into the Am, and Kate forcing them to sell their own home, and there is another round of blame-casting to which Brian calls a halt by shouting 'Oh, stop it! Stop it all of you!" He explains that all he was saying was that things were on a more even keel, with Alice clean, Adam settled at Bridge Farm and Kate with Jakob, and Jennifer didn't want to spoil it. And she was right, wasn't she: now look at them! These last few months have been awful, but she was spot on; no wonder she wanted to keep it a secret. Then Ruairi suddenly intervenes, saying Jenny always was amazing at keeping up a facade: how long has he been there, asks Alice; long enough to hear them all tearing strips off each other, he replies, then suggests they can knock themselves out, and leaves. Alice rushes after him in spite of Kate saying that she should leave it.

When she catches up with him he tells her that it's kind of typical for their family: lies, deceit. After all, he's living proof. You've got to hand it to Jenny: she's had the last laugh. When Alice comes back with the suggestion that he is right, they ought to have less secrets, so if he wants to talk about Julianne... he says nice try, but Jenny was the only thing that held the so-called family together, and now there's not much hope for them: they've already started to fall apart.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 26th January, 2023

David is supportive, Ruth gives advice and Stella seizes an opportunity

Characters: Ruth, Stella, Adam, Brian, Ruairi, David
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Gentle and reasonable voice in play, Ruth is advising Stella and agreeing that she really does need an answer now about the new drill. Stella wants at least to know who is in charge; she could just keep things ticking over, but the way prices are rising, next year a hundred and fifty thousand pounds for it might seem like a bargain. Ruth suggests talking to Adam, or perhaps Debbie, but Stella isn't sure how much say they have; all the decision making has been between her and Brian. Ruth tells her that everyone's voice counted when she was representing Ruairi, but Stella is right: if she will be running the farm single-handedly, she needs to know where she stands.

Soft and tactful voice to the fore, Adam wakes Brian to talk about the funeral service and ask whether Jennifer made any plans. When Brian says no, exasperation overtakes tact as Adam castigates Brian for their having had 'all these months' to plan it and not having done so. Brian, exasperated, says it wasn't an easy thing to talk about, and Ruairi comes in looking for his phone at that point. Adam stomps off to book an appointment to register the death, saying he thinks it best if he does it from home, and Brian asks Ruairi please to wait, then explains to him that although he knows they would have liked to be told, Jenny was scared, not of dying but of seeing what it would do to them all, particularly to Ruairi. Ruairi assures him it's OK, it's not like he's been around; he didn't even come back at Christmas. Brian says that if he had known he would have done, but it's all right: Jenny understood. Ruairi doubts it, but Brian says of course she did: she loved seeing how he'd thrown himself into university life and taken advantage of all the opportunities there; she was incredibly proud. Ruairi starts to cry and asks if he actually thinks so, that Jenny was proud of him? As Brian is about to reassure him the phone rings and Brian feels he has to go and answer it.

Jennifer having been diagnosed with a heart condition back in November had been shared with David by Pat, which astounds Ruth; Pat wanted to warn them before they saw Peggy, who didn't know. When Ruth asks who did know, he says just Brian and Tony and Pat. Both Ruth and David seem indignant that her family did a good job keeping it a secret, when all the two of them were worrying about was Brian's angina; David is even more worried about him now and thinking maybe he should drop by Willow Cottage, to which Ruth agrees though she warns him that Stella says Brian looks completely crushed. David finds this unsurprising and wonders where he will be without Jennifer; meanwhile he needs to go and buy some fence posts; life goes on, eh, says Ruth. Just as David is about to leave Ruth sees Ruairi at the top of the lane. [What lane would that be, looking from the yard at Brookfield? Chris]

The hard sell for the drill is now being pitched by Stella to Adam, who assumes that Brian has agreed to it and says that she should put in the order; he feels none of them is anywhere near coming back to the farm yet. What they need is the peace of mind of knowing it's all being looked after; she is employed by the partnership to manage Home Farm, so she doesn't need to wait to make big decisions. Take the reins; they'll all be grateful.

Ruairi is being made a cup of tea by Ruth, who asks how things are at home, and when he says not great says at least they're all together, and she was so pleased when she heard he was back amongst his family, which is where he belongs. Ruairi seems less sure of this, and she decides to pump him, then asks him if it's about Jennifer being ill, which came as a shock to them as well; Ruairi says he is staying out of it, while Adam, Alice and Kate are all using it to get one up on each other: who hurt Jenny the most, who's to blame. Ruth's shocked 'Really?' is covered by him saying he's not getting involved. They all want to be the one that mattered most. When Ruth tells him that he mattered, he says that he hurt Jennifer just by being born; let's face it, he's not even related to Adam and Debbie, and only half-related to Kate and Alice; as far as all of them are concerned, he'd already lost his mum. Ruth is outraged on his behalf even if, as he says, none of them has actually said that; she makes matters worse by telling him that he can feel the loss of Jennifer, which leads him to ask what right he has to be upset when all he ever did was cause her pain? Ruth tells him that's nonsense and that Jennifer loved him just as much as any of the family, and she chose to take him in. When Ruth tells him he has as much right to grieve as anyone, he flabbergasts her by saying that he's not grieving: he doesn't deserve to. As soon as the funeral is done, he's going straight back to uni; he only came home because of Dad. He doesn't belong here.

David catches up with Brian, who is out for a walk and says it's like being in some awful pressure cooker back at the cottage; he needed to get out for a while. David talks about the rooks, and Brian says this is where he asked Jenny to marry him, on January the first nineteen seventy-six. He tells David all about that, while David makes the right responses, and they laugh together, then David says being married to a farmer suited Jennifer very well. Brian remembers when he first arrived, and Jenny helped him with a house warming party after he had Home Farmhouse done up, and how she loved the house and shone there, then breaks down: he lost her home, after everything, and made her spend her last years stuck in a cramped little cottage. David comforts him as best he can, while he says the children all blame each other but that is what broke her. David is firm that what mattered to Jennifer wasn't the house: it was Brian, and the family; Brian is not comforted, saying she deserved so much more. How will he ever manage without her? David agrees that it's going to be hard, but Brian is strong; he's got them, he's got his friends, but all Brian says is no, no, no. Jenny was his one saving grace, and without her he is nothing. He can't imagine how he is going to go on.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 27th January, 2023

Privacy is breached and a toast is raised.

Characters: Kate, Alice, Jolene, David, Neil, Tony, Brian, Adam
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Jeremy Howe
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Kate comes in to where Alice has been crying over unpacking mum's case from the hotel. The clothes still smell of her and Alice can't bear it: why didn't she tell them? How can she just be gone? Kate has been thinking about it and says perhaps they just need to accept this is what Jennifer wanted; she'd obviously thought a lot about how it was, about her condition.... Alice cannot accept this possibility and denies it, asking angrily whether Kate really thinks this is how her mother wanted to go, not being able to say goodbye properly? Kate has to admit that is not what she thinks; she was just saying it was a decision Jennifer made for herself and they should respect that. Alice's reply to that is an emphatic 'No!' followed by a claim that Jennifer didn't do it for herself, she did it for them, because she knew they'd crumble, saw how Tony reacted and spared them that for as long as she could – so if it is Alice's fault it's Kate's fault as well, it's all their faults. Ruairi's got it right: as always, Mum was sacrificing herself to hold the family together. She doesn't let Kate utter a full sentence in her eagerness to say that they all let Mum down and now they can't ever put it right.

At The Bull, David and Neil are having a pint of Shire's each with David worrying about Brian and fearing that nothing he said was any good to him; Jolene intervenes with her view that he may not have thought so at the time but Brian will remember it and be comforted. She recalls how she felt when Sid died: at first nothing helped, and she couldn't take anything in; everything went on round her and she wasn't a part of it. Perhaps just knowing there are people out there who care about him will help Brian. David still wishes there were more he could do, and Neil chimes in asking 'Who says there isn't?' When David wants to know what he means, Neil asks if David plans to be there for a while.

In the Willow Cottage garden Tony is beating his breast to Brian about having got so emotional and caused Jennifer not to want to tell anyone else; Brian impatiently tells him he reacted the way any decent brother would, and it meant a lot to Jenny, which surprises Tony. Brian explains that she loved Tony, and what Tony and Brian did was love her back by keeping her secret as she asked, and they shouldn't feel guilty about it. Then Neil comes in through the gate to tell Brian he has plenty of friends to support him, to hug him as a mate and tell him Jennifer was a wonderful woman, and then to invite him for a drink down The Bull.

Sitting in the garden is apparently not acceptable to Kate, who tells Adam she can't believe Brian is doing it; Adam wearily says it's better than Brian being in the house 'getting in the way'. Adam is going to the funeral directors tomorrow, and Kate says she will go with him. He assumes Mum wanted a traditional church funeral, and Kate starts to try to plan in more detail, but Adam just wants to get the ball rolling, and snaps at her again. He and Kate then have a small row about him being unable to find a form she has put into a file where she is putting all the death-relevant bumph; she claims she told him she was doing so. Alice arrives to break up what shows every sign of becoming yet another fight between Aldridge siblings, whereupon Adam and Kate both decide it is time they went home; Alice asks them to wait for a moment and look at something she has found. It's a journal Jennifer kept. As she starts to say 'Listen to this' Adam breaks in to ask whether she is sure they ought to be opening it, if it is private, but is shouted down by Kate, and Alice starts to read aloud Jennifer's thoughts on making sense of the imminence of her own death.

Taking Brian to the pub may be a good idea, though Brian has his doubts; Tony and Neil are persuading him to stay for one drink as he has agreed when David comes over to express delight he has made it and Jolene welcomes him effusively and asks what she can get him.

Alice is now delving into Jennifer's impressions of Brian when she met him, and that she married him because he saw her and not all her baggage. She starts to cry, and Adam takes over reading Jennifer's recollections in the private journal he doubted they ought to open, still about Brian. Alice is surprised and says she never heard Jennifer talk about Dad like that before, and Kate says 'me neither'; Alice wonderingly says 'She really did love him, didn't she?' Adam continues with his reading of his mother's musings, which are now about the lessons this life has taught her, in an emotional voice until he too breaks down and says 'sorry'. Alice takes over and reads about one of Jennifer's favourite poems being Browning's Rabbi Ben Ezra, whose first verse is quoted; light dawns on Adam, who exclaims that is why she didn't tell them she was ill: it wasn't because she was putting herself last. Alice chimes in and says Jennifer was putting the good things first, and Kate says they should try to remember that instead of bickering, and Adam agrees, saying Jennifer didn't want them to be afraid, and they can forgive her for that – can't they?

A photograph taken on New Year's Day 1953, which was found in a drawer upstairs at The Bull and then put up behind the bar, is being shown to Brian: Tony is in it as a toddler, Jennifer just shy of her eighth birthday and Lilian aged six, with their parents, Jack Archer and Peggy, all grouped outside the pub. Jolene wants Brian to have it as a sort of tribute to Jennifer: she did grow up there, after all. Neil wants to buy Brian another whisky, but he refuses it; he's about ready to head home, if they don't mind. He thanks Neil for twisting his arm to get him there, and is about to leave when Jolene proposes a toast: 'to your Jenny'; 'To one of Ambridge's most remarkable and beloved residents, Jennifer Aldridge!' after which everyone starts to clap.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 29th January, 2023

Two men want to mulch, one man wants to wallow.

Characters: Ruairi, Alice, Pat, Adam, Tony, Lilian
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Ruairi has walked into the master bedroom at Willow Cottage and caught Alice with Jennifer's diary, and is outraged about the family having read it, especially since Brian doesn't want them to. Alice says that Brian said he didn't want to read it but said nothing about them not doing so, and tries argue that it's like the tape from Siobhán which he was happy to hear, but he says that was different: it was meant for him. Alice is sure Mum intended them to read her journal and tries to tell him what is in it, or get him to read the bit about his arrival, then starts to read that to him, but he says forcefully that he doesn't want to hear it.

At Bridge Farm Pat and Tony have offered to let Adam stay off work for as long as he needs; he politely declines their offer and says he would rather be working, mulching the edible forest garden beds; Tony, who is also clearly craving distraction, wants to help with planting the dwarf apple trees and the fruit bushes. Adam is going off to visit Brian, and when Pat asks how Brian is says very withdrawn: he sits staring at the TV without watching it. Tony says it was good they got him down the pub on Friday, and Adam agrees. Pat wants to know when the funeral is, but Adam doesn't know yet: they will probably wait until Noluthando and Sipho are able to get to it. Pat and Tony offer that if there is anything they can do, or anything he needs, he is just to say the word, for which he thanks them. As he is about to leave Lilian comes up on her way to visit Peggy and asks him to stay for a bit, but he explains he wants to get to Brian's and makes his escape,with Lilian saying he is to see he takes care. Pat suggests that since it is chilly, they should go inside.

The boot is now on the other foot: Alice has caught Ruairi reading Jennifer's journal. She tells him how he is allowed to feel, as she so often tries to do, and wants to know which bit he is reading; as she tries to take it from him to look where it is open, he tells her to get off him and stop pretending she knows how he feels when she doesn't, then throws himself out of the room in a despairing way, colliding with Adam in the doorway. Adam wonders if he should go after him, but Alice has worked out which page he was looking at and reads the section about Ruairi's arrival to Adam, and how his becoming real was what helped Jennifer to start forgiving Brian.

In the Bridge Farm kitchen Pat is trying to insist that Tony must be honest with Lilian and tell her how he felt about having to keep Jennifer's heart condition secret; they have to clear the air. Lilian comes in to put some cups ready to wash up, and Pat tells her that she is not to go yet because Tony would like to talk to her. Her response is unreceptive, and his explanation that he was miserable about being made to keep Jennifer's secret, and he told Pat only because she would be able to keep it to herself, goes down with Lilian like a lead balloon and gives her yet more reason to be hurt and offended that he didn't trust her – though from what she says it becomes clear she would have done exactly what Jennifer didn't want and tried to bully her into having the operation she had decided against. She is not prepared to accept any explanation from either of them, and has another rant about her situation and her unhappiness with it, and her anger that they have managed to get Mum on their side: all she knows is that none of them were there. Tony ends up telling her that he was Jennifer's brother, and that he is grieving too, but she is unable to see anything past the end of her own nose for the time being. He had months and months to come to terms with it, says Lilian [or at least eight weeks, from mid-November to the third week of January. Chris] and he is not to dare to claim to be worse off than she is. Pat tries to get her to stop attacking her brother and fails.

There is to be no peace for Ruairi as Alice insists on coming into his room to talk about what she has read in the journal about him and knows he has also read. He is very unhappy because he read it as saying she would have preferred it if he had never existed, and though Alice tries to impose her interpretation of it all on him and tell him what he should concentrate on, all he can talk about is his neglect of Jennifer and his guilt about not having told her things, and staying away from her even over Christmas when there were so many things he needed to say; Alice points out that she feels the same even though she was in Ambridge all the time and with Jennifer. She suggests inviting Julianne to Ambridge and clearly doesn't believe that it was his flat and Julianne was just staying over; he tries to distract her by suggesting one of them should answer the doorbell when it rings, but she says that Brian or Adam can do it and ploughs ahead. Eventually he becomes infuriated by her prying into his his private life and says it is his business, and she is to keep her nose out.

The doorbell that rang was Lilian, who is now bent on talking at Adam about her feelings, which Pat and Tony, Peggy, and Justin don't understand: that's why she has come to him. He does his best with her outpouring, which assumes that he, Kate and Alice feel the same as she does about having deserved to be told Jennifer was unwell, until he says he felt that way too but now they have come to terms with that having been Jennifer's decision. Lilian is badly taken aback, and he says he thinks they all ought to come to terms with the fact that this is the way Mum wanted it. She refuses to accept that, and tells him that since it is clearly only her who feels this way, she'll be all right on her own. As Adam sighs resignedly, she walks off down the path.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 30th January, 2023

The one-woman pity party continues, with added G&T.

Characters: Justin, Lilian, Susan, Lee, Lynda, Pat
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At a quarter to nine Justin wakes Lilian to tell her he is off to do his shift at the shop; he then suggests various ideas for things they could do when he gets back, but she is too angry about her grievance against Pat and Tony to be interested even in shopping at Underwoods, and is then unpleasant to him for trying to distract her from it.

When Justin arrives at the shop Susan is bemoaning to Lee the lack of information given to Peggy about Jennifer's condition, but he immediately springs into action to sell Lee the double-sized packet of batteries, sixteen instead of eight for only a fiver more. Lee agrees, and Justin takes over the till to ring it through. As soon as Lee is gone Susan asks him about Lilian, but he distracts her by suggesting the display is not as optimised as it could be.

After eleven, Lilian (in her robe, which presumably means dressing gown) has opened the door to Lynda, who turns down the offer of a G&T and is sorry to have got her out of bed. Lynda is planning to post a tribute to Jennifer on the village website but didn't want to do so without running it past one of the family; also she has some points of information she would like checking. She reads it out to Lilian; it is sententious and clearly intolerable to Lilian who, to Lynda's dismay, bursts out crying.

Lee has sought out Pat, who is feeding her goats, in order to ask her about Valentine's [sic]: he's booked a table at the Mexican [sic]in town and would like Pat to mind the boys for them, as she immediately guesses. She agrees and he starts to leave, but she stops him: she has been meaning to ask, what's the situation with Mabel and Edie? Helen has said they might be having them at half term. Lee joyfully says that they are, but when she asks about the move to the States says that will be going ahead unless they have other ideas. She denies trying to grill him, but says that with everything else that's been going on they haven't had a chance to talk. Has he got time for a cuppa?

The idea for the new display is now being deprecated by Justin as not original; he says supermarkets have been doing it for ages, to which Susan responds that this isn't a supermarket, it's a village shop. He has moved the cleaning things and bin-bags to a corner and replaced them near the front of the shop with locally-made fudge and luxury biscuits. She is resistant to his notions about impulse buys, on the grounds that she has been managing the shop for years and her customers know where to find things. He suggests that they see how it goes, and if after a couple of weeks it has proved unpopular he'll put everything back. She remains doubtful but allows it, so he finishes putting out the artisan chocolates while she enquires after Lilian and sympathises about her having taken it hard. She says plonkingly that having family round you is what you need at times like these, which gives Justin an idea.

Over tea, Lee explains his plans for half term and how he proposes to show his daughters that boring old Borsetshire isn't so bad, to counteract their mother having got them all excited about California. He lists attractions he intends to take them to, and when Pat seems slightly dubious about the upheaval that two more people in the family would cause, especially to Henry, tells her that he has of course consulted Helen. He does know there are reasons to be specially careful, and in any case they might still want to go with their mum, but he does realise that whether they go or stay he can't do it without Helen by his side

All Lilian's past traumas, including the death of her first husband Nick (Lester Nicholson) when she was twenty-two, are being poured into Lynda's sympathetic ears, with emphasis on how Jenny was always there for her. Lynda understandingly says that Lilian could always lean on her, and Lilian miserably agrees and wants to know why Jennifer couldn't lean on her about the problem with her heart, but told Tony instead. Maybe they weren't as close as she thought. Lynda asks whether Lilian really needs another gin and tonic, and Lilian agrees that perhaps she doesn't; Lynda goes on to suggest that sometimes it's the people we are closest to that it's hardest to be honest with: after the fire she couldn't bear to tell Robert how she genuinely felt. Sharing it with him was too painful, as though it would make it more real. When Lilian protests that she did it in the end, Lynda asks who is to say that Jennifer wouldn't have done the same? She just thought she had more time. At this critical moment Justin gets home and Lynda gets ready to leave, and Lilian tells her the tribute is beautiful and thanks her for going to so much effort [sic]. Justin then comes in, saying they will both want to hear that he has just been on the phone to James and suggested they come up for the weekend; Lilian gasps, and he adds that since Mungo has a teacher training day on Friday they will be there on Thursday evening. Lynda is pleased, but Lilian is horrified and angry: what was he thinking? Does he think she is in any fit state to host guests? When he protests they aren't guests, they're her family, she says he should have asked her first, and she doesn't want to see them when she's barely coping herself; she rushes away telling him he is not to touch her and he is heartless. Justin apologises to Lynda, who says she quite understands, and asks her what he is to do? He's invited them now; he can't tell them not to come.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 31st January, 2023

Plates go by the board, a board goes on the floor, and Ruairi goes back to London.

Characters: Ruairi, Alice, Chelsea, Freddie, Brian
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

In what he fondly thinks is privacy, Ruairi is on the phone to Julianne, telling her he will be back in London by Friday, a week being about all he can take of Ambridge. Then Alice walks in, saying sorry, she came up to say lunch is ready. He asks if Julianne minds him calling her back later, and turns to Alice, who first says she didn't mean to interrupt and then asks if it was Julianne, which produces an exasperated noise from Ruairi. She says she was only asking, and he's definitely going back to London then? When he says yes, tomorrow, she starts to argue about it, saying she thought he was working online, asking him at least to stay till the weekend and start back on Monday, and refusing to accept that he wants to go. He asks what use his staying around is when they're not going to start playing Happy Families, and she leaps on that to say none of them is happy and wrong-foot him by asking what's so wrong about wanting them to be a family? She says that if she had somewhere to run away to she'd probably want to too, and that she is worried about Ruairi. It's only been a week; is he sure he's ready? He says he'll be back for the funeral: now they know it's a month away, he might as well get on with his life. This shocks Alice, but he says if lunch is ready they're only wasting time up there.

As Freddie starts to clear a table, Chelsea comes to stop him saying she was going to do it; he says he just thought he'd lend a hand and she says, 'Well, don't!' on the grounds that he will do her out of a job; when he asks if she can do an extra shift on Friday she says yes, Trent already asked her. She wants to know if she's in trouble or something, and he says no; his hovering is making her nervous. Eventually in an attempt to help her with some plates he causes her to drop them.

At lunch, Alice is making conversation about Lilian, and James and his family's visit not thrilling her; Ruairi grunts when expected but otherwise has nothing to say. She appeals to a completely abstracted Brian to say how old Mungo is now, and he manages to reply to her but says her mother was the one who was good at remembering people's birthdays. Alice says it's a shame Ruairi won't see them. Then she wants to make him join her and Brian in an activity, though he says he is going to see Ben that afternoon, and tells Brian that Ruairi will be going back to London tomorrow. She suggests a board-game, which Ruairi starts to refuse until Brian says it's a good idea and suggests Cluedo, to Ruairi's bemusement. When he asks if Brian really means it, Brian says he has hardly seen him and Alice says that's settled, then.

Custard has gone all over Chelsea's shirt, which she is cleaning. Freddie is glad it was no worse, and apologises, saying from now on he'll keep out of her way. It's just there isn't much for him to do: he's been shadowing Trent since last summer and there's only so much you can learn about being a catering manager. And there isn't anything he can teach Chelsea. She takes that amiss until he explains it was straight, she's great at her job, and he just feels a spare part. Chelsea tries to cheer him up by talking about his DJ-ing. She encourages him to do something else if he's bored with The Orangery: go and run the gift shop or something. He's a Pargetter; what's stopping him?

While Alice makes some coffee Ruairi sets up the Cluedo board and Brian reminisces about Cluedo games past; when Brian starts to talk about Jenny, Ruairi interrupts to talk about the present game. Brian tries to tell him that Jenny loved him, and Ruairi disputes it, saying that she taught herself to, and getting angry with Brian, saying he's made a story about Jenny to tell himself or he wouldn't be able to stand his own guilt. Brian remains patient until, when he says you can tell which on the notes are Jenny's, Ruairi says he didn't deserve her, neither of them did, they are both just selfish, when he tells him he has had enough of this now and then tries to continue to talk about the game; Ruairi knocks it to the floor and says they both ought to be ashamed, not grateful, then rushes out.

At Lower Loxley Hall, Freddie explains to Chelsea that the reason he isn't being more assertive is that Mum doesn't trust him, and you can hardly blame her: with his record he's just lucky to have somewhere to work. Chelsea casts scorn on that: he did a bit of dealing and has been clean for four years, and Elizabeth will have to let him do more eventually: he's like Prince Charles was, the heir apparent, and he's going to be running the whole place one day. He should go and tell her he's ready for more responsibility; Chelsea points out everything he has already done, but he still thinks it's no good: Mum is used to running things on her own, and doesn't want him. Chelsea indignantly tells him that if it's what he wants, he's going to have to step up, set his sights on what he wants and not let anything get in his way.

Once again Alice invades Ruairi's room, wanting to know what's going on, and finds him packing to leave. She tells him he can't, and as she pleads with him Brian too comes in asking what's going on. Ruairi asks him to get out of his way, and Brian says he is sorry for whatever it was he said, and Ruairi asks what was it he said? To make him leave? Brian doesn't know, and Ruairi says, 'Exactly. And that's the problem.' Alice puts in her oar again, and Brian tries to talk him out of it, but Ruairi is certain: he has always been the family dirty secret, and that is why he has to go. As Alice asks him not to leave like this, he says that at least in London, he doesn't have to pretend to be something he's not; in London, no-one cares at all. He slams the door behind him, and Brian groans.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 1st February, 2023

Brian will not be moved, but Tom's apple trees need to be.

Characters: Adam, Tony, Tom, Harrison, Brian, Natasha
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Mulching the beds has made Tony out of breath, and Adam offers to finish on his own; Tony says he thinks they ought to put in some herbs, which they can make ten pounds a kilo from. He reckons they could pick four or five kilos from the beds every fortnight, which Adam thinks a good plan. Tom comes up, ostensibly because he has come to check the garlic and, when Adam's phone rings and Adam goes away to answer it, asks whether Pat and Tony can babysit the twins on Valentine's day, since he and Natasha have hardly had a night out together since Nova and Seren were born. Tony says he's sure they can, abstractedly because he can hear Adam sounding worried. Adam rings off saying he can be there in five minutes, and when Tony asks if everything is all right, says no, not really: someone's reported Brian to the police. Tony and Tom exclaim in horror and Adam says he isn't sure what the matter is, something to do with Home Farm house, but Harrison thinks it would be a good idea for a member of the family to be there. Tom offers to go with him, but he says he hopes it will turn out not to be too serious and makes his escape, with Tony asking him to let them know what's happened. When he is out of earshot Tony and Tom agree that doesn't sound too good, and Tony says he hopes Brian is OK.

When Adam gets to Home Farm he is greeted by Harrison, who thanks him for getting there so quickly; he explains that Mrs Gill was upset because Brian was sitting in the front garden staring at the house and not moving, and she was in the house by herself and her alarm was understandable. Mr Gill is on his way home, but in the meantime Harrison asks Adam if he can talk to Brian and explain he needs to leave: he has tried but Brian simply blanked him. Adam is concerned that Brian might be arrested, but Harrison says unless he gets violent or abusive it's a civil matter, then asks how Brian has been coping: has he shown any signs of instability since losing Jennifer? Adam says no, except that they are all still reeling, but then manages to mention that Brian and Ruairi had a row yesterday: he wasn't there, but it sounded pretty nasty [according to Alice, presumably. Chris]. He will stay and talk with Mr. Gill; Adam says he will do his best, and Harrison wishes him good luck, then suggests he can take his time: the best outcome is for Brian to leave of his own accord.

The bench on which Brian is sitting is apparently new; when Adam has sat down next to him he comments on that, then starts to talk about the changes he can see in the garden, trying to get Brian to talk to him; he asks if Brian does know he's trespassing, to which Brian replies irritably that of course he knows, and Adam doesn't have to talk to him as if he were an imbecile: he hasn't lost his mind. He just wanted to see the house. Adam says that now he has, it's probably time to leave; when Brian says he's not going anywhere, Adam allows his usual exasperated way of saying 'Brian' to escape, to which Brian asks crossly what they are going to do, drag him away kicking and screaming? Have Harrison throw him into back of a police van? In a patronising voice and as if talking to a mental defective Adam says no, of course not, but it is the Gills' property now, so they have no right to be there. Brian instantly responds by saying, 'Right, off you go then, but I'm sitting here on this bench, and I'm not moving until I decide it's time to leave. Is that clear?' He then tells Adam that he and Jenny lived in that house for over forty years, and he needs to be sure it's the way he remembered it. He's staying right there.

Tony has brought out the raspberry and redcurrant bushes for Tom, who has been hard at work planting the first espalier apple trees and levelling the training wires for them with a spirit level; Tony breaks it to him that he has put them in the wrong place, in the middle of the bed instead of at the back. Tom is aghast, and Tony says the basic rule of farming is always stop and think before doing anything. It will be easy enough to move them. Tom is then rung by Natasha, who wants to know where he is; Tony goes off to make them a brew, and Natasha says he sounds more cheerful, which Tom attributes to it always helping to have something to do. Natasha then asks whether Tom has been into the Bridge Fresh emails recently and, when he says he hasn't since first thing, tells him they've had an approach from a modelling agency, a woman called Nell Jensen, who saw the family photos he put up and just had to get in touch. Tom assumes she wants Natasha to be a model, but no; when he asks who then, she says she'll come over and they can have a chat about it.

Brian is reminiscing, and Adam allows him to do so and just agrees with the things he says, until he gets on to some self-blame: maybe Ruairi was right, maybe he was just selfish and didn't see how much pain Jenny was in when he brought Ruairi home just because he didn't want to see; then Adam disagrees with him about it and insists that Ruairi doesn't know what he's saying and they knew what they were getting into. Nobody hid how they felt, as Adam knows because he was there. He tells Brian about a passage from Jennifer's journal on the subject of all the aggro she got when she had Adam, but wouldn't have done a single thing differently. This somehow proves that Brian isn't selfish and Ruairi is just grieving. Mum chose to raise Ruairi, and Brian chose to be Adam's step-dad, for which Adam will always be grateful.

Tom is over the moon about the agency wanting Seren and Nova, but Natasha isn't sure and points out the flaws, such as their having to pay for a professional portfolio of pictures, and the agency perhaps spinning them a line about the amount of work they may get; as is usual when Tom has an enthusiasm, he is not really amenable to reason and insists they will get plenty of work because they are so adorable. Natasha says they ought not to get carried away when they haven't even spoken to this woman yet, and when Tom is certain that they ought to, agrees that they will give her a call. Tony comes in at this point, but Natasha manages to cut Tom off after him exclaiming to Tony that he won't believe it, as a result of which Tom lamely says he has planted the gooseberries in the wrong place as well.

Adam is now in the lead on reminiscences about the family and garden, when Harrison comes over and says the Gills have said Brian can stay there as long as he likes; now Harrison has explained the situation to them they are really very sympathetic. Brian promptly decides he has been there for long enough; it's all just memories now, and Jenny's not there. It's time to go home.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 2nd February, 2023

A bit of pampering works wonders, and Pat is persuaded against her better judgement.

Characters: Lilian, Lynda, Chelsea, Natasha, Tom, Pat
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Lilian has gone to visit Lynda at what is clearly an inconvenient time; she talks over her hostess about her own need to vent to someone about Justin and the arrival in three hours of James and his family, not letting Lynda get a word in edgeways until Chelsea comes into the room in search of a towel and Lynda reveals that she is about to have her hair cut.

Natasha is of the opinion that Brian is lucky he got away without them taking further action [for what Harrison was clear was not a police matter. Chris] but Tom has been told by Adam that the Gills were kind and understanding. Natasha has not been doing Summer Orchard work on her afternoon off but researching into child modelling, and proceeds to outline (and then ignore) the drawbacks. She has discovered the cost of a top-notch photographer for the portfolio pictures: eight hundred pounds. Tom is decidedly taken aback.

The hair-cut is underway and Lynda is explaining that she feels Mungo is undisciplined: apparently he tried to run over the neighbours' cat in his electric toy car, Chelsea says her mum would have had a fit if she'd tried that. Lynda tries to get comment from Lilian and fails. Chelsea fetches the mirror and Lynda likes the result of her labours; Chelsea offers various other things she could do and Lilian, who is not really interested, says she thinks it is fine as it is. When Chelsea says she'll pick up her stuff and get out of their way, Lynda asks if she is in a rush to get away.

Use of the credit card to pay for the photoshoot is now being argued, with Natasha saying it would be an investment and Tom showing less and less enthusiasm for the idea. He isn't even sure Seren and Nova will get the bookings to pay eight hundred pounds back: it seems a big outlay with no guaranteed return. Since Natasha has spoken to the photographer, who has a free slot on Monday, his protests have little chance; she just wants to know if he can get cover, since they both ought to be there. Before he has committed himself, Pat comes in to tell them she has just sent them copies of a photo she has taken of the twins, which she describes as fabulous. She says they are so photogenic, and Natasha seizes the opportunity to tell her that she and Tom were just saying something similar.

As well as the extra shift she has been offered at The Orangery, a chance to earn some more has come Chelsea's way: Lynda is talking Lilian into having a hair-cut, and since she missed the one she had booked on Monday, she eventually agrees to a little spruce-up. Lynda says she hasn't been to anyone else since the first time Chelsea did her hair. Lilian agrees to have her hair freshened, and as Chelsea gets going starts to talk to her quite cheerfully. An anecdote from Chelsea about a mannequin head being yanked off the table by too enthusiastic hair brushing reminds her of a time that Jenny lost a valuable earring which got caught in a hairbrush by a girl at Fabrice's salon and pulled right off; they couldn't find it anywhere and after ten minutes they gave up and sat back down, whereupon it was found caught in Jenny's hair. Lilian laughs, then is reminded of Jennifer and starts to cry instead; the others sympathise as she says Jenny wasn't just her sister, she was her friend too.

The idea of a photoshoot is a surprise to Pat, who readily agrees that she and Tony can cover for Tom and assumes it will be just a family portrait, in Borchester; when she is told the photographer is in Birmingham and is given the details about Seren and Nova having been head-hunted by a modelling agency she is rather less enthusiastic. Tom says he knows what she is going to say, and they have checked it out: it's all totally legit. She remains dubious, and asks whether it is really what they want the twins to be doing; her comment about it not being just about the money is drowned out by the enthusiastic Tom talking about how fantastic it would be for Seren and Nova to have something to start out with in life, what Natasha has dubbed a nest-egg. Pat reluctantly agrees Tony can cover for Tom on the farm if that is really what Tom wants.

Paying for Lilian's haircut has become Lynda's treat, and Chelsea has done a really good job; she is pleased with the extra money, which Lynda says she deserves. As she makes her way out Lilian thanks her, then when she is gone thanks Lynda too: not just for paying, but for talking her into it. She does feel more like herself. Lynda says it's no more than Lilian did for her during her recovery. She knows a haircut is not going to make everything better, or heal any wounds, but it can make it easier to face the world. Lilian gets a message on her phone: James and family are almost in Ambridge, and will be there in half an hour. She'd better get home. Lynda enjoins her not to worry: they are there to support her, everything will be fine.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 3rd February, 2023

Mungo is a handful and Ruairi is a drunken idiot.

Characters: Julianne, Ruairi, Lilian, Justin, Tony, Pat, Adam
Credited scriptwriter: Tim Stimpson
Director: Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Ruairi has kept Julianne waiting in a cab outside his flat for fifteen minutes and she is not happy about it. He makes excuses, and she tears him off a strip, pointing out that he was the one who wanted to come to this drinks party and she needs him to have his head together and to be witty and convivial there. He tells her that he would rather be with her than with his so-called family, and apologises for having kept her waiting: he was making himself look good for her, which she admits he has done. Just as they have started to be on a more friendly footing his phone rings: it's Alice, and he turns the phone to silent, saying that all that matters to him now is Julianne.

To Justin's surprise, Lilian has come into his study to hide the guitar that she gave to Tony behind his filing cabinet: Mungo has been rushing about the house with it, not even trying to play it, and anyway it is too big for him. Ruby is cowering in the utility room, and when Justin asks what James and Leonie are doing Lilian tells him that Leonie has been having a nap for the past hour and James has gone out 'for a breath of country air' and is probably in The Bull. She says she told Justin this would happen: they have been abandoned. So much for the support of her family! Justin saves what he was working on and tells her to go and have a lie-down while he looks after Mungo.

Using the twins in advertising seems exploitative to Tony, and he and Pat are definitely upset about the whole thing, but they accept that they can't change Tom and Natasha's minds; Pat just hopes they know what they are doing. Adam comes over to tell them the last of the apple trees has been planted, and they congratulate him on the forest garden; he says Tony has been responsible for it too, and Tom, and Johnny has planted some bushes, which has all helped since Adam keeps getting dragged away. Given this incredibly obvious opening, Pat asks how Brian is; Adam tells her that he hasn't been trespassing again if that's what she wants to know, and when she asks whether perhaps he might need some help if he is struggling says he doesn't think so: going to the old house is out of his system now. Not that they're not keeping an eye on him, especially now Ruairi is back in London. Pat reminds him that he is grieving too, so hard when he's having to deal with someone else's grief as well.

The party has proved too much for Ruairi, who is being hustled out of it by Julianne. He is clearly drunk, and has embarrassing Julianne by the way he was coming on to a man whom she tells him is a hedge fund CFO. She doesn't want him there any more and wants to know if he can get back to his apartment alone. He is drunkenly hurt and wants to know if she thinks any of it matters; it's just a big game, none of it's serious. She tells him to get himself in a taxi and go home.

Supervising Mungo has reduced Justin to a wheezing wreck; the Romans versus Barbarians game they have been playing was a bit robust for him but he was having fun, and and assures the censorious Lilian that they will clear up the mess they have made. She can't help smiling: his hair looks like he's been mauled by a hedge. In fact she seems in a better mood; she has been chatting with James, and it has been really nice, a little wander down memory lane. They thought of going out somewhere tomorrow. She admits he was right to invite James and Leonie: it is good to see them. As Mungo seems about to emerge from the lavatory Justin says he is happy to stay with Mungo and give her more time with James. She wishes him the best of luck.

It's starting to get dark, and the inhabitants of Bridge Farm are congratulating themselves and Adam on the interactive nature of the edible garden [you eat bits of it, it eats bits of you? Chris]; he goes to take the tools back to the yard. Tony is a bit abstracted and when asked by Pat, says he is thinking about Lilian and wondering which will happen first: fruit on these bushes or Lilian forgiving him? Pat is sympathetic but is sure Lilian will come round, in time. All they can do is carry on. Tony agrees, then says he has been meaning to check: Tom has asked them to babysit on Valentine's day. This catches Pat on the wrong foot because she has promised Lee they will look after Jack and Henry. She suggests he can go to Tom's and she to Helen's, and he has a counter-suggestion: all the kids could come to Bridge Farm. One way or another they'll manage. Tony says that he doesn't mind having to do things for their children: it keeps him looking to the future and he wouldn't have it any other way.

When Julianne lets herself into Ruairi's flat he is on the balcony, thinking, and she comes to find him. She asks if he is better now and he replies that he is fine; he didn't get the message she sent him because his phone is still on silent. She has to tell him that she thinks it isn't working any more: this thing they have together needs to be mutually beneficial, and she thinks it would be best if they called it a day. He protests and apologises, and promises he won't have too much champagne again, but she is unimpressed: he promised that it wouldn't happen this time. He says he is begging her: what's going to happen to him if she kicks him out of the flat with nowhere to go? He pleads for one more chance. She tells him that if she were to give him one more chance, emphasis on 'if', she needs him to take a break at least until after the funeral: she'll keep paying his allowance. His response is attempted seduction, but she's not interested: he is to get his head straight, which is the only way she is prepared to keep this arrangement going.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 5th February, 2023

Kate craves change, while Ruairi finds it unwelcome (and gets none out of Julianne).

Characters: Kate, Jakob, Ruairi, Julianne, Kirsty, Alice
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At the rewilding project Kate is busily counting her chickens for Jakob's benefit: they are hoping for dormice, and even nightingales. The latter impresses Jakob. She loves being at the rewilding, and even working for Kirsty. Jakob asks how she's feeling, and she accepts that he thinks she is sounding upbeat; in fact she is feeling strong: her grief is giving her new energy. She has been thinking about everything she has achieved in life, particularly her amazing children. She has a quick riff on the road protest and how she was fearless, and how the picture of 'the young me' is how she really is: she thinks that is when she had the most impact on the world. At this point Jakob, who is on call, gets silently summoned to the other side of Edgeley and she says she will go and find Kirsty and hope to plant more lime saplings.

Ruairi has turned up uninvited at Julianne's flat, and she is giving him the brush-off: she told him to take a month off, and doesn't know why he is there. He offers to fix her a drink, to which she agrees, but she tells him he has to go once he has. Ruairi talks about the dinner with Bill Nightwell that she is going to and whether she will manage to persuade Bill to make a deal; she tells him that is for her to worry about. Alice tries to ring him and he ignores it, and tries to make himself important to Julianne by telling her information about Bill that she seems not to have known: he and his wife plan to retire soon to somewhere near Ambridge. He wants to go with her and get chatting to Bill and his wife, but Julianne tells him she doesn't want him there. After his behaviour last week she can't risk it. She is not interested in his continued attempts to persuade her, and tells him to make himself scarce while she calls a cab. He is not required: she has booked someone else from the agency, a nice young chap called Alex or perhaps Alexis. Ruairi is shocked. [The listener is not. Gus/Chris.]

It's amazing that the the whole area will soon be brimming with wildlife, according to Kate, and Kirsty agrees that's the plan, then tells her that she's had enquiries about the cold-weather yoga classes, which of course are on hold. Kate says she wants them to use biodegradable tree-guards, but Kirsty says the plastic ones are more effective at the rewilding: they need maximum protection with the longhorns. Rather than argue the point, Kirsty says she is heading home, thanking Kate for her help and asking her to let her know when she can tell people the yoga classes are starting again. Kate thinks they should cancel the whole thing: she's just not feeling it, not just the yoga: everything. It's nonsense, really. She wants to know what use any of the things she offers is: Kirsty wonders whether she is all right, but Kate says she is just having a little self-reassessment.

Julianne is sorry if she has upset Ruairi, and he is having a tearful scene with, or possibly at, her, saying that he didn't think she would do this. She tells him they had agreed he would not be available for a month, and he says that he is available, and here; she is adamant that he is not invited at this time but she will ring him in a month: she will not take him to this event. Also, he is grieving and she is no good at dealing with that sort of thing. He exclaims that it's not fair, when she has said how good they are together, and starts to list things he knows about her such as her favourite vineyards, and she asks brusquely whether that isn't what she is paying for. He says he isn't doing it because she is paying him but because he cares about her, in fact he is starting to fall in love with her. She loses patience at that, and tells him he has to leave now. As she opens the door to show him out, he still protests that he is trying to tell her something; she comes back to tell him it is not something she wants to hear; when he says he just wants her to listen she tells him that is what his family is for: she is his employer, and it is simply not appropriate. This has run its course and it is time to call it a day. As he stammers, she says she regrets it has to be in these circumstances, but he has given her no choice. She will pay him for the month, while he makes other arrangements. Now she repeats, will he please leave her apartment.

As Kirsty gets home to Willow Farm Alice comes out of Willow Cottage, and Kirsty asks after Brian, to be told he is up and down. She is glad she caught Alice: she had a strange conversation with Kate earlier, and was told Kate wants to cancel the cold-weather yoga. Has she said anything to Alice? Kirsty doesn't want to cancel it, and won't do anything yet. Alice says she'll have a word tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Jakob is arguing that more participants at the yoga classes makes it more profitable and therefore worth doing, but Kate thinks they have become a distraction. She has to make some big changes in her life if she is going to achieve as much with her life as she did when she was younger. Everything that's happened recently is a monumental wake-up call for her.

Alice has just calmed Martha down for sleep and shut the door on her when Ruairi rings her and says nothing in reply to her first few sentences. He then claims to be fine but clearly isn't, and brokenly tells her he is outside Julianne's building and she never wants to see him again. Alice expresses her sorrow, saying that's awful. He doesn't know what to do, and she tells him to come home: if he is upset this is where he needs to be, and they all really want him. He says he doesn't know anything any more, and she tells him what she is saying is important: he needs to come home.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 6th February, 2023

Elizabeth blocks Freddie and Ruairi shocks Alice.

Characters: Freddie, Elizabeth, Alice, Ruairi
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

When Freddie tries to have a word with Elizabeth she is too busy leaving a message for David to speak to him initially, and then explains she needs to clear the air between David and Vince after having forced them to have the disastrous meal together, but David is (very sensibly) being too busy to talk with her. She's tried going round unannounced, but he sees her car and goes away to work on his farm rather than be talked at. Freddie suggests she ought to give it time, but she thinks it has been long enough [over a month since Vince drove David and Ruth into walking out of the restaurant meal on 6th January, and three since he attacked Ben in The Bull. Chris] and she misses David. She then asks Freddie whether everything is set for their guest chef event on Thursday night; he replies that Trent and he have everything planned. She then says she has five minutes before meeting the volunteers: did he want to speak to her? He launches into his having thought about getting management experience and wanting to learn about every aspect of the business: he now knows all about the catering side, and when Elizabeth says he may do, when the full six months is up, points out it is up now, a fact of which she seems to have been unaware. She doubts him, and then when he says he wants to move on to something new, something that would be a challenge to master, she agrees and suggests shadowing Veronica in the shop for a bit. He rejects that suggestion because he wants some solid management experience. She claims that is tricky, then says he will have to leave it with her because she is going to be late for her meeting with the volunteers.

Alice has come to wake Ruairi with a cup of tea and offers to come back at lunch-time. He didn't want to go back to Willow Cottage, and she tells him he is welcome to her sofa for as long as he wants. She proceeds to quiz him about it being over with Julianne: did he say she threw him out? He explains he upset her and made her late when she was going out, and Alice is indignant: he is grieving, he's allowed to be needy. He explains Julianne has an important deal in the balance and he thought he could help, but he has screwed it all up. Alice asks if she knew he was trying to help, and he says of course, but now he'll have to find somewhere else to live, as he can't afford the flat now. Alice is surprised: he can't be broke, Dad gives him plenty and he has a student loan. He starts to enumerate ways he will save money, explaining that Julianne will no longer pay for his gym membership and new clothes, and Alice demands to know what he means. He tries to shut up, rather too late, and under Alice's questioning lets out the arrangement he had, which Alice says is not normal; he tries to explain, and makes matters worse. She says he will have to explain to her.

When Elizabeth emerges from the meeting Freddie doubts that she has solved the morale problem among the volunteers; they look ready to throttle each other. Cliff, who is himself not good with visitors, tells the others how to handle them, and there have been customer complaints about him, two last week alone. Elizabeth suggests that if Freddie wants a challenge, someone needs to lay down the law asap; Freddie doubts Cliff will listen to him, but Elizabeth is not prepared to drop her idea and says that if he does well with this, she will try and think how he can get more management experience. He jumps on this, suggesting he could shadow Glen, but she is definitely not prepared to commit herself to that.

Ruairi continues explaining and Alice continues to be shocked; an agency? For escorts? Ruairi says, for sugar babies, which shocks her again: he signed up for this? And being paid isn't part of being together, which was what she and Chris assumed they were when Julianne came out of Ruairi's bedroom. She skates round saying what she obviously thinks, and in the end Ruairi says Ben was more direct and told him he was prostituting himself. Except he didn't understand: Ruairi was in charge. Well, until Julianne dumped him. Alice, with rare (in her) understanding of realities, says Julianne didn't dump him: she dispensed with his services. She gets angry, and when he says he has made great contacts who will be useful to him when he graduates, asks if she can hear himself. That's his body, and he should have some respect for himself! [Pot, meet kettle. Chris] She decides she can't cope and walks out, with him trying to tell her she's got it all wrong as the door shuts behind her.

It seems that Cliff was too hard a nut for Freddie to crack and he may need to try again, as he tells Elizabeth when he goes to see her. He suggested that the visitors would spend more in The Orangery if they were left in peace there, but Cliff disagreed, maintaining that the longer they were in there the more they would spend, so logically, if he delayed their leaving ... She is not to worry though, because Cliff is not back on the rota until Thursday. Freddie suggests he might listen more if it came for her, but she says he agreed to take it on and she has every faith he'll manage it.

Ruairi has brought Alice a cup of coffee; she was outside for ages. She wants him to say he understands how sordid the whole thing is (to which he says 'maybe') and how harmful, with which he disagrees. He says he is sorry he was so upset last night, but Alice says he doesn't need to be sorry, he needs to open his eyes: Julianne is using him, exploiting him and, when he says that's not how it feels, tells him that he is financially dependent on her: how can that be healthy? Ruairi points out that it's over now so she doesn't need to worry, and she says she needs to know he's not going to do this kind of thing again; he takes the wind out of her sails by calmly saying obviously not. She tells him he is a bright, capable, caring young man bursting with potential; he responds that potential doesn't pay the bills. She starts to tell him he has to give notice on the flat and see if any of his mates has a room going spare; he says he would if he had any. He explains he isn't close to anyone at uni; she assumes that now he is no longer with Julianne he can make some friends, but he explains that he already tried, last year, but they all dropped away and he lost touch until in the end he was basically alone. This earns him a pep talk about deserving better than That Woman: he needs to meet someone and have an equal relationship, though when he says that's what he wants, Alice tells him she knows it isn't easy but he needs to make good decisions. He says he will try, and ends up apologising to her for being so needy, whereat she says he can be as needy as he likes as far as she is concerned. Whatever happens, she's there for him, just like Mum was.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 7th February, 2023

Freddie plays peace-maker, Susan is confounded and Kate is nostalgic for the non-existent.

Characters: Jakob, Kate, Stella, Joy, Freddie, Susan, David
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Whilst he and Kate are looking for an injured deer Jakob suggests that they might invite Alice, Adam and Ian to dinner some time, and Brian if he feels up to it. Kate thinks it might be useful so they can discuss the funeral arrangements; Jakob adds 'and Ruairi now he's back', and Kate remarks that he is keeping a low profile at The Nest and Kate wouldn't let her visit him. Then they encounter Stella, who hasn't seen an injured deer – or perhaps a dog or a sheep, since the only evidence they have it exists at all is a client of Kate's with appalling eyesight who thought she saw something. Jakob is not pleased that Kate didn't mention that detail; Stella says she's been there for fifteen minutes waiting for Ed and has seen nothing. Ed is bringing saplings to plant for tree-canopy, and Kate promptly volunteers to help rather than go back to the surgery with Jakob, which also doesn't please him. Stella doesn't much want her help, but Kate is determined.

Freddie has been buttonholed by Joy at the shop as he waits to buy some Garibaldi biscuits, Elizabeth's favourites which Joy also likes. Susan has vanished and nobody is serving, and Freddie is in a hurry to try to catch David, who is chatting with Lynda on the green but clearly wants to get away. He has the right change but can't go without Susan taking it, so Joy offers to sort it out for him. He leaves just as Susan gets back, and Susan is put out and snooty, telling Joy that they do like to scan items for their records; it doesn't occur to her to scan another packet. She says is flat out in the shop. Joy congratulates her on having chosen Justin over her, since he's transformed the displays and also ordered the Garibaldis; Susan informs her that she orders the stock, and they always have Garibaldis when they're available. When Joy says she and Freddie had never seen them, Susan tells her Justin had moved them. Joy wants to know which naughty volunteer has let Susan down, and the answer is Justin, who has a lot less time to offer than they had expected. Joy actively doesn't offer to volunteer, and Susan is forced to ask her if she would still be interested, and also to say please, before she agrees that she would be. At that point she offers to do her trial shift right now, by which Susan is pleased.

Kate's help is being said to have been welcome, though Stella wants to get rid of her now Ed has arrived. Kate is reluctant to leave, talking first about bio-degradable tree-guards, which Stella has discarded already as an idea, then suggesting wild rose for hedge-gaps because that's a native species. Stella counters by saying they will have hazel and hornbeam arriving too. Alice starts talking about dragging Alice up to Oakbank field when Alice was little [when Alice was four, Kate was fifteen. Chris]; Stella is clearly not much interested, but is polite. Kate tells her she thinks her roots will always be firmly planted in Home Farm land.

At The Bull Freddie has bought David a pint of Shires for the first time ever, having rescued him from Lynda; Jolene wants to talk to him about Valentine's night, so he was coming to the pub anyway. David asks after the DJ-ing and then The Orangery, which Freddie says is going really well, but then admits tha his attempts to sort out the volunteer, Colin, aren't going well: Lily overheard him calling Freddie 'the naughty twin' to another volunteer, and the other said that he's now known as the Pointless Prince. David can't help laughing, and apologises; Freddie says Lily thought it was hilarious. But the point is Colin won't like Freddie telling him off. David offers no help, so Freddie asks after Brookfield and gets told that lambing and calving are both about to start; David then wants to know what he has done to earn a pint. Freddie tells him about the guest chef night on Thursday, which has a table for two going spare; not for David and Ruth, but for David and Elizabeth. For some mad reason she misses David. Cheeky, says David, but is not displeased and agrees to Thursday at seven thirty, so Freddie can tell Elizabeth he'll be there; Freddie says she doesn't yet know, because he wanted it to be a surprise.

In the shop David and Joy are getting on well until Susan comes over and tells her not to hold up customers, apologising to David and saying it's Joy's training shift; she sends Joy to stack the tins of fruit, and takes over holding David up by talking at him. David tells her he was asking Joy for advice about his new suit for Jennifer's funeral, and she gave him a few tips. He adds he has got a lot of time for Joy, as it happens. He then leaves, and Susan tells Joy that it seems they've had a crossed wire, and she shouldn't have been so quick to judge. Joy asks if she's passed her training shift and will be put on the rota, and to her delight Susan says yes.

Kate is extolling her day at Home Farm, while Jakob has notes to write up; she says she felt more at home than she ever is at Spiritual Home [which, in case anyone other than Kate has forgotten, is in the middle of Home Farm land. Chris] and she felt that all her new energy was being put to good use. Jakob warns her that people say you should hold back on any big changes while you're grieving, but she thinks it can also be a moment to see the truth of things. What she is starting to realise is that sometimes, you should just go back to where you started.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 8th February, 2023

Kate is very Kate, Adam is truly Adam and Ian does Ian really well.

Characters: Ian, Adam, Stella, Kate, Jakob, Alice
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Ian is concerned about Lilian having upset Tony and Pat, though Adam says she is now keeping her distance. They have to tell Xander soon that Jennifer is dead: he's bound to ask where she is eventually, and Ian doesn't want to lie to him. They can't decide how to tell him. Ian has asked advice from the nursery he attends, who suggest 'gone back to Nature' or 'to Mother Earth', since his parents don't believe in traditional things like heaven.

At the Home Farm office an unexpected Kate has turned up and wants a chat, and Stella says that she has time for one if it's quick. The importance of Home Farm land to Kate is mentioned by her again, and she has decided that it is family land that deserves to be nurtured and protected as responsibly as humanly possible. Stella agrees with her. Kate admits her uselessness to the farm up to date, and failure to support Adam when he made his contribution with the no-till; now she feels she should do her bit. Stella asks how, and Kate says she will guide Home Farm towards net zero by 2040. She has a net-zero vision for Home Farm, and has done some research on the internet. Of course she knew most of it from her days as an environmental activist, did Stella know about that? Stella has in fact heard of the NFU's net zero goal, having been at the Oxford Conference at which it was announced, so Kate is obliged to return to her grievance about the plastic tree-guards rather than lecture her about that. She tells Stella that going forward, she should see Kate as the conscience of the farm; Stella suggests gently that she doesn't need anyone supervising what she is already supervising herself. Kate steamrollers on about hedgerows and native species, and Stella points out that she knew that. When told that Kate will be behind her all the way, Stella suggests that what would help, going forward: they need to know where there are gaps in the hedgerows that need filling, so if Kate would survey that it would be great; and it would help the climate, too, obviously. Kate, who exclaims she knew Stella would see it her way, thanks her and tells her to consider it done.

In spite of saying he'd get home as soon as he could Adam is late and arrives home apologising. He reports that he twins behaved for the photoshoot and then screamed all the way home, and Tom and Natasha were frazzled; when Ian suggests he and Adam can now join Xander in the lounge Adam is not sure telling him now is a good idea. He is having trouble processing it himself, let alone telling Xander: if he can't take it in, how's Xander going to cope? Ian feels that it must be done by them before someone else tells him; Adam worries that he might break down when they tell him and that would make it worse. Ian says Xander needs to understand why people are behaving the way they are, Grandpa parking himself in the Gills' garden for example, and Adam agrees though he says again that he is hoping Brian has got that out of his system. As Ian continues his argument Adam's phone sounds: it's Stella, and Adam is keen to take it; Ian goes to be with Xander. When Adam answers, Stella tells him that Kate has been there, and when Adam, somewhat surprised, asks why, Stella says she thinks it was to pull rank, though she thinks she has managed to head her off at the path [no, really, that's what she said. Chris]. Adam explodes in exasperation that that is all they need.

In her general round of interference Kate is now butting in to Jakob's examination of a horse at The Stables, and then says they'll keep an eye on the horse in chorus with him. Alice says 'two vets for the price of one!', to which Jakob replies acerbically that only one of them is qualified. He suggests Kate could wait in the car and he won't be long, but no, she wants to talk to him and to Alice. Alice is sorry she wasn't at lunch with Kate on Monday, but she had to sort out some things for Ruairi, who has not yet spoken to Brian; he is struggling himself. Jakob mentions the idea of everyone coming to dinner some time this week, but Kate isn't sure she has time for that now: she's busy at Home Farm. Alice understandably cuts off laughter and asks, 'Doing what?'; Kate tells her that she is guiding them towards net zero, and Stella has asked her to check on the hedges for her first task. Jakob says there are miles of hedges and she hasn't got time: she has Spiritual Home to run. To Alice's incredulity, Kate's response it to say that she'll get rid of it: she'll sell it. Jakob protests that she can't do that, at which point Adam arrives, angry that Kate is not answering her phone. She says she doesn't know where it is, and anyway phones aren't her main concern at the moment. Adam forbiddingly informs her that Stella rang him, which makes her exclaim delightedly that Stella has told him about her hedgerow project, but he goes on to tell her that Stella said Kate had turned up unannounced and tried to tell her how to do her job. Alice is shocked, Kate denies she did anything of the sort, and Adam wants to know what she is playing at. Adam says Stella is an experienced farm manager, but when Kate questions her having said Kate tried to tell her how to do her job has to admit that it was not in so many words, but it was what she meant. Kate instantly asks how he knows what she meant: he wasn't there. He says he knows Kate, so he can imagine it perfectly. Jakob suggests they all calm down, Kate claims to be perfectly calm and then accuses Adam of having left Brian in the lurch ('that's not what happened' interpolates Alice), and Adam says he is not getting into this now but she is not to bother Stella again. As he leaves Kate tells him to stick to Bridge Farm, which is his thing now. Jakob tries to suggest she can't just get rid of Spiritual Home, which is important to her, but she says nothing is more important that building nature back into the countryside, and goes to wait in the car.

After Kate has left, Alice says she can't believe it and Jakob says Kate has been like this for some days, and though he has tried to persuade her to slow down and not make big decisions yet, she's just not hearing him at all. He asks Alice to try to make her see sense.

It seems that even after his set-to with Kate, Adam has done really well with Xander, at least in Ian's opinion. Adam just hopes Xander understood most of it: he took it all in so calmly, and asked if Grandpa's OK. Adam just felt dazed, and really doesn't know if he feels OK himself; he has totally mishandled Kate and will have to text her later and apologise, which Ian thinks is a plan: they're all stressed and upset, and these things happen. They plan to send a rice-paper boat down the Am for Granny, with a drawing from Xander, and Adam says that he honestly thinks that might help him too.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 9th February, 2023

It's the end of the road for Ruairi; is it a dead end for Freddie?

Characters: Julianne, Ruairi, Alice, Elizabeth, Freddie, David
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Julianne has rung Ruairi because she wants his help with Bill Nightwell, whom she failed to sign up on Sunday because he was in a difficult mood; she is now in the Reedles Hotel in Felpersham for an event at which he will be present. Ruairi suggests she can book someone a lot better than him, but she thinks Bill and his wife might expect him to be there, since it is in Felpersham. She'll pay his usual bonus if he can be there by seven and he asks 'Only the usual?' and she says OK, a larger sum; when he says he was being sarcastic she tells him that she wasn't. She really does want them to be OK: he asks whether she means it, and says that's what he always wanted. As Alice comes in he asks Julianne whether they can talk everything through, and she says 'Absolutely' and offers to send a taxi for him, to which he agrees as Alice apologises for having butted in while he was on the phone.

Alice is full of news about Martha being asleep, and Ian having rung with worries about Adam, but wants to know if was talking to Ben again. He says it was Julianne, and Alice is outraged. He says Julianne needs his help with an important deal and is paying him a huge bonus, and Alice is not to have a go, because he has made up his mind. She doesn't let it go at that, and starts to tell him that he agreed Julianne only makes him unhappy; he tells her it's a few hours at the Reedles Hotel and it's enough money to fund his apartment for longer, and that would make him extremely happy, so... Alice continues to argue that Julianne has made him dependent, and once the money runs out it won't be her ringing him, it will be him ringing her. Ruairi tells her he has to go and get ready, because Julianne is sending a cab, and not to worry: he knows what he's doing. Alice is left to say that he obviously, clearly does not.

The contents of the fridge are not inspiring Elizabeth, who can't think what to cook tonight; Freddie tells her that as it happens, she doesn't have to because there is a table with her name on it for the guest chef extravaganza. She says he and Lily can have the table, because she just wants to slump in front of the telly, but he insists the table is for her. She speaks wistfully of fish finger sandwiches, and Freddie points out she has never had one before coming clean: she is dining with a very special guest tonight. When she asks who, he says it's a surprise, and she tells him she's not in the mood, so he has to tell her it's David. This does surprise her, and she wonders how he managed that: it's brilliant! He has more good news: Cliffgate is resolved. She is surprised again, and wants to know how: Freddie says they agreed after several conversations that if visitors want to know more about the house they should simply come again, which means of course that they pay again. Even Diane was impressed, and Elizabeth clearly is – and says so. Then she tells him it is timely, because she has come up with the perfect starter position for him; the only rôle on offer, temporary volunteer coordinator. When Freddie protests that no-one does that now, she says she and Glen do, between them, but they are far too busy to herd cats. She leaves him to think about it while she gets changed for her special dinner with her stubborn brother.

Julianne is delighted that Ruairi has got there on time, and says he looks extremely well. Bill has arrived, but before they go in she wants to apologise for being insensitive last week; she's aware he's grieving and she should have been more sympathetic. She suggests that they need their wits about them with Bill and should hold back on the booze; he tells her that's no problem.

At The Orangery David and Elizabeth seem to be getting on well, and he apologises for not returning her calls; he knows she wants him to make up with Vince, but she says she doesn't, actually; he says good, because he doesn't think he can. She isn't worried about Vince; she is worried about the two of them. She won't have him coming between them, they're family and that trumps everything. David is dubious: Vince is her partner, so it won't be that easy, but they can agree to stay out of each other's way or at least be civil; Elizabeth is relieved and says that's all she needs. Elizabeth muses that they have always been a close family, but she didn't realise how close until Shula left, to which David responds that he misses her too. Elizabeth describes Shula as 'the glue between us all', to which David responds 'more of a UN peacekeeper'. But when Elizabeth says they'll have to do their own peace-keeping, David isn't sure: he reckons Freddie has picked up some of her negotiating tactics, since he's why they are sitting there. David assures Elizabeth that he has a lot of respect for her and her kids, and Vince won't change that.

The deal has gone well: Bill is completely on board and the other directors will fall in line, Julianne announces triumphantly. Ruairi is glad about that, but when she thanks him for not drinking mentions that she has been knocking them back: she's allowed but he's not? No, she says with finality. She then tells him that's it for the evening, job done, and she had better order him a cab; he asks whether he has misunderstood, because he thought she was saying she would give him another chance, and she wonders whatever gave him that idea? She's sorry, but he's far too involved; he practically told her that he loved her, on Sunday, and though he is sweet she's not girlfriend material: sorry. She could put in a word for him with a pal of hers who is doing PR for a big fashion house, and she thinks they could have a lot of fun if he doesn't fall for herat which critical moment Alice arrives because he isn't answering his phone, and tells him he looks terrible, snubbing Julianne at the same time. He says Alice was right and he shouldn't have come.

David and Elizabeth are laughing together, until David says he has to leave to get up early in the morning, and invites her and the kids to come over for lunch one Sunday: Mum would love to see them. As he leaves he encounters Freddie and thanks him for being Shula, which completely baffles him; Elizabeth thanks Freddie and invites him to join her whilst she finishes her coffee. He tells her he has decided to accept her job offer, which will help him hone his skills; when she asks him what skills he will need, he replies diplomacy, endurance, other skills pertinent to herding cats. Elizabeth tells him that his first task is to recruit more volunteers. He asks how, and she says he'll have no trouble: he got David out for a meal, didn't he?

Alice has taken it on herself to start a row with Julianne, telling her that Ruairi is a wreck; Julianne points out that is nothing to do with her, and he is paid to do a job and that's it. She's exploiting him, says Alice with indignation, and when Julianne asks Ruairi whether he does feel exploited, he replies that he feels humiliated by her having just offered him to her mate; as Alice exclaims indignantly, Julianne tells him that she was prepared to recommend him, but not any more. Alice accuses her of grooming him, and Julianne suggests that she should tread very carefully with that kind of language. Alice says she has made a vulnerable young man dependent on her, and Julianne points out that actually, he wanted to be dependent on her and that is why she had to sack him. She adds that if he is vulnerable that's not her fault: she didn't raise him, did she? Alice and her dysfunctional family can claim all the credit for that. She tells both of them not to contact her again, or she will get her lawyers involved. Alice tries to get the last word by saying with increasing volume that she should get her conscience involved, and her humanity, if she has any, but Julianne has clearly gone out of earshot of even her shouting. Ruairi can't believe Alice came, and says that it was wishful thinking to suppose Julianne cared for him. Alice is glad that he sees that now, and tells him 'come on: let's get you home.'

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 10th February, 2023

Adam gets maudlin, Ben gets away and Ruairi gets drunk.

Characters: Adam, Ian, Ruairi, Alice, Paul
Credited scriptwriter: Liz John
Director: Rosemary Watts
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Adam has come home early, having told Tony they were going to take Xander to the Am. Alice loves the idea of paper boats and is bringing Martha to join them. Xander has done a picture of himself standing on the Am, and has managed a few words: Granny loves roses. There is also a giant red rose,which Xander apparently said was because it was like Granny's heart, full of roses. Adam chokes up briefly, then when asked if he is all right tells Ian that he feels as if he were not in the room but somewhere above, looking down on everyone else grieving. He thinks it's not normal. Ian tells him about having felt safe silently watching Jennifer cooking after his Aunt Beryl died, and that this shows that one person who would never tell you how to grieve was Jennifer herself. Adam agrees; that's what he's lost; there's a gaping hole where Jennifer used to be. As he loses it, he manages to say he is going to check on Xander and leaves the room in spite of Ian's protests.

Ruairi has been for a hack and he thanks Alice for the idea. She asks if he is feeling a little better this morning, and he tells her he is a hundred per cent fine. Alice plans to take Martha down to the Am a little later, and she has drawn a picture, though Alice is not sure how the boat thing works and is afraid it might be too big. Ruairi is meeting Ben in The Bull, and doesn't want to talk to Brian, whom Alice says is worried about him. She asks if Ruairi is all right for money, and he tells her Julianne transferred a load of money into his account this morning, which annoys Alice until Ruairi adds it had the reference 'final payment'. When asked if he is OK about that, Ruairi replies that he doesn't know: he knows she wasn't good for him... Alice interrupts to agree with him about that, and when he says he was in a bubble triumphantly tells him that it is well and truly burst now. He seems uncertain and she suggests that if he tries to think more positively about himself and his future that will help. Yet again she tells him the whole family loves him and, when he says he knows that, disputes that he does know it but tells him he doesn't need the likes of Julianne to tell him who he is: that's for him to decide [or rather, her. Chris.] He says that he has no clue who he is, but he'll let her get on, and leaves to have a shower and get to the pub.

The boating party has met at Honeysuckle Cottage and is considering the sayings of Martha, who according to her mother wants to give lots of hugs to Xander. Ian says he'll love that, and then that on second thoughts he will go and check up on them. Adam takes the opportunity to tell Alice that he messed up on Wednesday and Kate is now ghosting him: has Jakob got her to think again about selling Spiritual Home? Alice says that Kate is not hearing Jakob at all; Alice has tried telling her she ought not to be making important decisions, but that's a work in progress: she'll keep trying. Adam is glad Stella distracted Kate with the hedgerows survey, but sorry he has landed Alice with extra work, especially when she has Ruairi staying. Alice says she thinks he's had a tough time in London, which surprises Adam because he is always saying that he's having great fun. They agree it's time to head for the Am.

Clearly no longer sober, Ruairi thanks Paul for staying after Ben has left to take Bess for a walk; Paul has an afternoon off. He tells Ruairi that he is sorry about Jennifer, then turns to tales of Hilda, about whose antics he and Jennifer had a sneaky giggle. He can't imagine how awful it must be, losing your mum when you're little and then Jennifer too; Ruairi responds that it's not great, but thanks. Paul asks how things are otherwise, and asks after the London situation and JW, who was texting him all the time; Ruairi says there is no 'London situation' now. When Paul asks whether that's good or bad Ruairi says definitely good: he had been missing out on having fun and being a student. Paul says he can help with that: he's meeting some mates in Borchester later, and Ruairi says he would love that: he's in desperate need of a proper night out.

The boat-launching has gone well, and as Ian says, the funeral won't mean much to the children: this just seemed like a better way to say goodbye. Alice says that Adam seems a bit quiet, and Ian says that he still seems to be numb and doesn't think he is grieving properly; Alice didn't know there was a right way to grieve. Ian says Adam knows there isn't, you can't can't control grief, and asks if Alice is OK: is she coping? She says just about, in spite of her kid and Ruairi on her plate now, and The Stables. She asks how the pizza business is getting on and Ian is happy to tell her about it, but Alice notices Adam is sitting on the riverbank and thinks it might be a bit cold for that; Ian says he'll go and see if he's all right, and leaves Alice to watch the kids.

Adam is crying, because he has finally realised that Jennifer is really gone; Ian is sympathetic and holds him. Adam says Jennifer was everything, and talks about what she meant to him and how she never once stopped loving him: how can he manage without her, how can he get through this? It's not actually bearable. Ian assures him that he will get through it, and he'll be with him all the way. Jennifer was special, and though Adam won't feel like it just now they should be celebrating her life. Adam reveals that for a moment, he wanted to wade in and catch the boat, which makes Ian talk about them all getting wet going in to save him, and they both laugh. Ian suggests that he and Xander should come to the gig tomorrow; he has a helper (called Billy) so Adam could wander around. Adam would love that.

After what he calls a top night out, Ruairi tells Paul that he loves his friends; everyone kept buying him pints and he lost count. Paul says he told people about Jennifer, and Ruairi changes the subject to thinking he's left his keys in the cottage; Paul says Alice won't mind being got up to let him in, but Ruairi suggests they could go back to Paul's. Paul points out that it's a nice offer, but he's already said no. Ruairi tries to persuade him, but Paul is firm; when Ruairi tries to grab him Paul says 'sorry, you obviously need a friend but I said no.' Their wrestling on the doorstep brings Alice to the door asking if everything is OK, which makes Ruairi moan 'Oh no'; Paul explains Ruairi has over-indulged, and Ruairi suddenly has to be sick and makes a run for the lavatory. Alice asks Paul if it was a good night, apart from this bit, and Paul tells her it was, sort of: Ruairi has taken their mum's passing really hard. Alice says he has a lot of other stuff going on; Paul says at least he is safely home, and the taxi hoots. Alice stops Paul from leaving by asking him if there is any chance he could keep an eye on Ruairi, and Paul agrees to try though he isn't sure... Alice interrupts to say she is worried that he's not really coping. Paul agrees that he was pretty wild tonight, but he has a lovely big family who are all there for him, and Alice says well, actually, it's just her, at the moment; Paul thinks that's tricky for her, because he's not that easy to help at the moment and then the taxi hoots again repeatedly and he has to go, saying 'Don't worry, he'll be fine" as he does so. Alice heaves a deep sigh and says, 'I really hope so.'

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 12th February, 2023

Noluthando may be welcome but interference is not.

Characters: Brian, Alice, Roy, Kirsty, Kate, Jakob, Noluthando,
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A walk by Arkwright Lake birdwatching is doing Brian and Alice good; Brian spots a heron. He mentions he is unhappy that he hasn't seen Ruairi since their altercation; Alice makes excuses for Ruairi, but Brian has texted him a few times and got no answer, and wants to know if he's all right. Alice says she thinks so, and he's not avoiding Brian, he's just got a lot on. They've talked a lot, and he can stay at Alice's place for as long as he likes; she thinks London is a bit frantic for him just now. It's easier for him to get his head down and study while he's at hers. Brian thinks he'd be better off staying with him, but Alice says he's got all his stuff at The Nest. When Brian suggests him calling there on the way back and taking Ruairi to The Bull for a pint, Alice promptly says he is out for the afternoon with Ben. Everyone is struggling, but when Brian asks if Ruairi is she first says no, and then yes, but no more than anyone else. So long as she thinks he's OK then: but she could tell him to reply to Brian's texts. She says she will. Then she wants to talk about the funeral, though he doesn't want to and says 'not now' quite clearly. She says they have to do it some time: the church is booked, and Kate has spoken to the funeral directors again yesterday and discovered they need them to come in this week. Brian asks why, and she tells him that they want to know if they are having a charity donation page, and they've given her a whole list of things they want a decision on: flowers, notices, order of service... Brian interrupts to say that is what they pay them a small fortune to arrange, but Alice points out the funeral director can't choose the readings or hymns. Brian is clearly not going to talk about this, and reverts to the heron. She pesters him to tell her a day that is convenient this week, and he says he doesn't know but will have a think about it. She gives vent to a long-suffering sigh and says 'OK'.

At Willow Farmhouse Roy is wondering whether Phoebe will mind if he throws her old posters out; Kirsty says he shouldn't do anything without checking. They are getting rid of all the furniture and making themselves an office with two desks, filing cabinets and a sofa-bed. Roy remarks that their garden doesn't look too bad, but Brian and Jennifer's side of the fence is a mess; they wonder how Brian is doing, and Kirsty has the sensitivity to remember how she felt after her late miscarriage, how she didn't want a fuss even though she didn't know what she did want. Then Roy did something she'll never forget: he quietly cleaned up, with no fuss, because she didn't feel up to it. Roy wonders if they could do something like that for Brian [not apparently seeing any difference between cleaning up in his own damn' house and trampling over someone else's property. Chris.]

Since she is not enjoying running the place any more, Spiritual Home is now full of negative energy, according to Kate. Jakob is sending an email or text and fails to make a suitably sympathetic response, ignoring her when she asks what time it is. She goes on about feeling trapped, and he says that though of course he'll support her whatever she decides, it's a terrible time to make big changes. Kate instantly suggests it's the perfect time and starts a riff on mortality and not wasting the life she has left on this earth. She's a farmer's daughter ["Only when it suits you, dear." Chris' OH] and has always had a visceral connection to the land and now sees that her energy should be channelled into Home Farm Net Zero. Jakob says he is asking her to wait a little before making decisions, say till after the funeral, especially when it comes to telling her dad. She complains that is so frustrating, when all she wants to do is shut the door and move on. Jakob suggests she put her energy into getting everything in order, and then if she still feels the same in a few weeks she can put the business up for sale as a going concern. Kate reluctantly agrees the accounts could do with a bit of attention, and the client list needs updating. When she tries to leave, to go and organise the flowers, Jakob wants her to stay a bit longer, telling her she could do it online. She smells a rat when the doorbell rings and he asks her to get it, and goes off very crossly to do so. It is Noluthando. Cue much squeaking from Kate.

The Willow Cottage garden is having a makeover without Brian's consent, for which Alice thanks Roy and Kirsty; she has left Brian at The Bull having a pint of Shires, and he should be back in about an hour. Kirsty notes he didn't seem to want to go out, but Alice is sure she knew better than he could what he wanted and says he quite enjoyed the lake once they were there. Alice would stay to help with the clear-up but she's had a text from Kate summoning her to Jakob's cottage, where there is a surprise for her.

She arrives while Noluthando is telling her mother how they all felt when Kate rang and told them about Jennifer: they didn't believe it, and then Noluthando spent all night telling Sipho stories about Grandma. They even laughed about things together; Alice says she and Kate were the same, one minute crying and the next laughing about funny things they remembered. Noluthando felt she was so far away from them all; but now she is here, and Alice can't believe Kate managed to keep it a secret. Only because she had no idea, says Jakob as he arrives with tea and Kate-approved biscuits. Jakob and Noluthando cooked the surprise up between them, and had to tell a lot of lies, which Kate says was worth it. Alice claims Brian will be over the moon to see her and says she will be a breath of fresh air for him. Kate expresses gratitude to the wonderful man, Jakob, who says he didn't do anything really, and says no-one needs to know that when Noluthando says he paid for her ticket.

Kirsty and Roy are congratulating themselves on Brian's garden looking a lot better when Brian gets back from The Bull sooner than expected. He wants to know what they are doing there, and when Roy explains they thought the garden could do with a bit of a spruce after Saturday's storm and they would help him out a bit, and Alice thought he wouldn't mind he wants to know why they would ask Alice; she doesn't live there, he does. Kirsty apologises: he is absolutely right, and they should have texted him first. He is outraged that Alice is making decisions on his behalf; Roy says they didn't want to bother him and it was easier to text one of the family, but he can see that was a mistake. Yes, it was, Brian tells him, since Brian is more than capable of making his own decisions, and of clearing up his own garden. Roy protests that they didn't mean to make him feel ... um like ... they just thought ... You didn't think, says Brian. When Kirsty tells Roy to pass her the compost bag, and they will just fill it and be off, Brian explodes: he said leave it! He doesn't need their help!

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 13th February, 2023

David is surprised about a charging station; Justin is astonished to find that Ruairi charged.

Characters: Ruth, David, Noluthando, Ruairi, Kate, Justin
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At Brookfield Ruth reports having got the calving pens ready, and remarks on the post; David tells her it is mostly birthday cards for Pip, and she enquires whether there is a present from them; when David finds it she says that was cutting it a bit fine [Pip's birthday being on 17th February. Chris], then goes on to extol the new, draught-free winter housing for the cows. David opens a letter from the council: the buyers for the land they are selling have put in a request for a change of use – for an electric vehicle charging station. They decide not to worry about it tonight: they deserve a couple of hours to switch off.

Noluthando is trying to get Ruairi to come the The Bull tomorrow, and he says he isn't in the mood for Valentines but he will think about it. She wants to make the most of her time in Ambridge, and Kate cuts in to say that because of her stupid job she's missed out on spending the day with her daughter, and grumbles about everything at Spiritual Home taking longer than she thought; she mentions staffing, accounts, loan repayments, forward projections, and on and on. Noluthando says she was fine, and Kate invites Ruairi to eat with them at The Lodge; he thanks her for the offer but says he just wants an early night. Noluthando protests: how often do they get a chance to hang out? Before he has to reply Justin comes over and greets Noluthando, then says he is glad he bumped into Ruairi; Noluthando sees Natasha with the baby [how does she know her? Why just the one baby? Chris.] and she and Kate rush off to meet them, leaving Justin asking Ruairi whether he is coming to the finance event in Birmingham tonight; he has seen Julianne Wright on the guest list. He is surprised when Ruairi says he won't be there: he had assumed he would be her plus one. Ruairi says he is having dinner with Kate and Noluthando; Justin says he had better get on the road, and leaves.

David has summoned Ruth to the barn by text, and it is dark until he switches on some heart-shaped fairy lights with a cry of 'Surprise!' He has arranged a Valentine's Brookfield Barn Picnic, complete with slushy playlist, which Ruth thinks very romantic. He has got a Bridge Farm hamper and a bottle of bubbly: he thought that this year, above all others, they could do with a bit of romance. She has only got him a card, and hasn't even written it yet; he produces an amber necklace for her and puts it on for her, then apologises for the arguments he caused and times he made it harder for her instead of easier. She says she's sorry too, but blames on desperation and exhaustion her forgetting he was on her side. They agree to remember they are a team, but they are still going to be busy with the calving and the B&B and Ben starting at The Laurels in a fortnight. They open the champagne.

At the Birmingham do Justin hails Julianne and congratulates her on the deal with Bill which was announced last week; when he tries to find out whether Bill has signed on the dotted line yet she turns the subject and gives him no answer, then mentions his working at the village shop [and how did she know that? Chris], which he describes as 'helping the local community and proud to do so'. She thinks they should drink to that: will he join them in a glass of champagne? Her plus one, Giles, is getting another bottle. Justin asks who Giles is, and is told he is doing a post-doc in business and law and Justin should have a chat with him. His hat's off to her: she always has a handsome young man in tow. Where did they meet? At a networking event, she says, but she is keen to hear more about his retail prowess. Justin however is not attending; he tells her he has seen Ruairi Donovan in Ambridge and assumed he would be her plus one. She points out that Ruairi has had a bereavement, which surely Justin knows about. He instantly becomes hushed and appropriate, and accepts Julianne's condolences on the loss of his partner's sister. When he tries to inquire further about Giles, Julianne says he is on his way with the champagne, finally.

Noluthando and Ruairi are talking about the pain of losing a partner, which Ruairi likens to a punch in the stomach, and Kate chimes in to say that a break-up isn't something you can rationalise: it's felt in the gut, the heart, the soul. Noluthando seizes on this, and then Ruairi asks if it is getting any better: she says, a bit, but she still thinks about him, a lot, all the time. Kate assures her that's normal because he was a huge part of her life; the key is not to beat herself up about thinking about him ('Be kind to yourself,' interpolates Ruairi) and get really good at finding distractions. Ruairi suggests another slice of pizza, and just remember to never fall in love again. Kate says no, definitely fall in love again, just take your time and watch out for red flags; find someone who makes you feel good, not just someone you love. Noluthando says she found Jakob in the end, and Kate boasts that he quietly cherishes her, which makes her daughter coo, and adds that he is very honest when he thinks she is jumping into something feet first. He totally gets it that she wants something different, but he's helped her slow down this week. Ruairi asks what the something different is, and she has a quick riff about the environmental issues around farming and them being real, vital work. Since her mother died Spiritual Home feels frivolous, and she wants to get involved in the family business in a real, meaningful way. Ruairi is glad if this means he won't have to join one of her frozen yoga classes, which Noluthando corrects to 'cold yoga', and Kate says she isn't planning to announce it to Dad just yet but she's really excited about Home Farm and the road to Net Zero.

The Birmingham do continues, and Justin has made his way back to Julianne after having had a good chat with Giles, whom he describes as 'impressive'. He mentioned an internship. She denies being his mentor, but says she is paying on the generosity of older colleagues who helped her towards early success. When he asks if Giles is her new project, she wants to know why he is so fascinated by Giles, and he says he isn't fascinated, he's just trying to work it out. She laughs at him and says she will help him out: how often does he see a man with a woman on his arm half his age and think nothing of it? He laughs and says half the time, and she replies 'Exactly.' These events often require a plus one, so why shouldn't she turn up with a bit of eye-candy? Justin is taken aback and says he thought she and Ruairi Donovan were ... Lovers, she asks him, and when he says yes tells him that she never had him down as a gossip. He says he isn't, he is just curious as to where she finds all these eligible bachelors, or the time. He really isn't getting this, is he, Julianne mocks him: why does it bother him so much who she chooses to surround herself with? He says that it doesn't, but he had the impression.... She and Ruairi were so often together.... She explains that what she had with Ruairi was purely a business arrangement and he is shocked at the idea she was paying him: does she mean Ruairi was a pro... an escort? Bingo, says Julianne.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 14th February, 2023

In which very little happens, at length and to music.

Characters: Freddie, Noluthando, Alice, Ruairi, Paul
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As Freddie sets up, Noluthando tells him he is an enigma for being a DJ by night and Lord of the Manor by day, shepherding old folks round his stately home. Freddie points out not all are old and their official name is volunteer guides, which Noluthando says she will try to remember. She is full of pre-judgement about the Young Farmers, which Freddie finds silly; they're a good crowd and the dance floor is never empty. She wants to see if a broken-hearted young teacher can match them. Freddie promises that with him controlling the decks loneliness and heartbreak will be blown away; even if they both have proper jobs now they are still young.

Surprisingly, Alice mentions she has seen Brian and that he misses Ruairi, which Ruairi says is not his problem. Alice agrees that it's hers: she has to make excuses for why Ruairi hasn't been round to see him. Ruairi sees her point but says Brian knows why he won't visit him; Alice tells Ruairi that it is because he is grieving that he is angry with Brian. Ruairi offers to go and fetch some logs for the fire; Alice asks whether he is sure he doesn't want to go to the Young Farmers' party at The Bull, to which idea he gives a studied embittered laugh and says yes. Watching TV with his saddo big sister? she asks. It's exactly where he wants to be, he tells her. She won't let it go and says he could do with seeing some friends and blowing off some steam; he is firm in refusal: he needs some time to unscramble his brain. She refuses to allow this and tells him to get changed: she is taking him to The Bull herself and they are going to have a good time. They don't have to stay long; if after an hour either wants to leave, they leave together. He agrees, and thanks her.

Paul has turned up at The Bull and almost barges into Freddie; when Noluthando introduces herself he realises that she is Kate's daughter, and having explained that he works with Jakob, relates his amusement at Jakob stressing over keeping her visit a secret from Kate. Noluthando thanks him for his condolences over Jennifer and says Ambridge feels all wrong without her. Paul knows Ruairi is really struggling with it, and she's surprised he's friends with Ruairi; Freddie explains they went to the Hunt Ball together, which makes her say oh-ooh in a knowing way and express real pleasure at meeting him, just as Ruairi comes in and Freddie greets him. Alice is getting them drinks, and Freddie is about to start his set with Noluthando's help. Paul tells Ruairi it's good to see him, and says they are still friends, aren't they, then when Freddie starts some music, drags him onto the dance floor.

A good time is being had by all, including Alice, who explains to Paul that Chris Carter is Martha's dad and her ex-husband; this leads Paul to say she is a fully paid up member of the lonely hearts club then, to which she laughingly agrees. He insists on getting a round in and is surprised Alice wants elderflower cordial; when she says she doesn't drink these days, he asks what it all looks like through sober eyes, to which she replies 'interesting' and Ruairi translates that as 'messy'. He goes to buy the drinks, and Alice informs Ruairi that Paul is really nice; Ruairi says he's fun, and that seeing him isn't awkward, then asks if she's OK or if she wants to go. She says no, she's fine and it's good to see him smiling again. She says being there has given her a bit of perspective that life is not all about breaking through Brian's reluctance to make decisions about the funeral; Ruairi is scathing about dad being selfish and uncommunicative, why isn't he surprised. He then offers again to leave if she wants, and she asks what the time is: it's eight forty-five, and she is surprised because she thought it was much later. 'Time flies when you're having fun,' says Ruairi [thus showing either that he is drunk and confused about the phrase's meaning, or that he is being deeply ironic. Chris.]

Noluthando has gone outside to take a voice-message, but reassures Freddie it was from Sipho not her ex. Sipho is apparently missing everyone [huh? Who in Ambridge apart from Jennifer and Phoebe has he met? Jennifer is dead and Phoebe isn't there. Chris.] and Freddie says it will be good to see him. They have ten minutes to go before the next set: Freddie plans to get people fired up, and then cool things down for the slow dances at the end. Noluthando won't be taking part in those, but says Freddie could if he plays his cards right: Paul's friend Nina has been looking at him all night, and her body language has been very obvious. He ought to go over and get her number. He says he's all right, thanks, and she has misread the body language. Noluthando claims Paul told her Nina was asking after him, wanting to know if she and Freddie were a thing, which makes Freddie laugh disbelievingly. Freddie suggests they should put her off by pretending they are together, to which Noluthando says Nina is just his type: into music, into him. Why doesn't he take a risk for once? He realises she isn't going to give up, and resignedly agrees to do as she tells him.

Downstairs at The Bull Ruairi is now looking for Max, Paul's mate, but Alice can't remember which one he is of the many Paul has introduced her to. He asks if she is going to go up for Freddie's next set, and she mentions how surprised she is that it's only nine-thirty; he has noticed she keeps telling him what time it is, and asks again whether she wants to go. After a bit of discussion she admits that she has been in bed by ten most nights this week and she is trying not to let things get her down, what with dad, Lilian and Tony, work, Martha, you name it. Ruairi says that he'll bet this is the last place she wants to be and says he will get their coats, but she says no, he must stay: she's fine going back by herself. He says firmly that they made a pact. He's had a blast, but now he wants to be with his big sis and able to talk to her without having to shout over the music. She allows him to persuade her, and they leave.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 15th February, 2023

Noluthando is prurient, Justin is prying, and Will talks a bit of sense to Brian.

Characters: Freddie, Noluthando, Ruairi, Will, Brian, Justin
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The aftermath of the event at The Bull is being discussed by Freddie and Noluthando, with reference to possible hangovers and to Ruairi, who is expected. When he arrives and explains to an over-interested Noluthando that he went off early not with Max as she had hoped, but with Alice because she was tired and wanted to get home, the spotlight is turned on Freddie with a demand to know whether he has heard from Nina. Ruairi pricks up his ears at the name Nina, and Noluthando explains that Freddie got her number. When Freddie claims they have exchanged a few messages Noluthando wants exactly what each of them said, but he tells her he has to go because he can't keep the volunteers waiting and declines to answer any further question, saying some people have got work to do. She shouts after him that she'll get it out of him later, and Ruairi wishes her good luck with that: Freddie is a Man of Mystery about romance. Then Ruairi gets a message from Justin wanting to know if he is free to meet for a coffee. Noluthando of course demands to know why, but Ruairi has no idea: he didn't even know Justin had his number.

After stopping for help outside Willow Cottage, Will is filling his car's radiator with water, and plans to add coolant when he gets to the petrol station. When he comments on the gardening Brian repudiates it: the mess is none of his doing, that was Roy and Kirsty. Will asks if he has any plans for the day; Brian tells him there are always things to do, and Jenny would say 'Best to keep busy'. Will asks him, if he's not busy, for one more favour: the maps on his phone are playing up... Brian says he'd offer to lend him his phone but Stella might want to get in touch, and Will says it's a bit of a cheek, but how about if he borrowed Brian and his phone? His round should only take an hour or so, and he wouldn't ask if he didn't have to. Brian decides to agree, and goes to fetch his coat.

Having been abandoned at the tea-room by Ruairi, Noluthando has got a lift from Kate to Lower Loxley Hall in order to find and pester Freddie about his messages from Nina. She wants to see what the last message from Nina was, and he says no, then admits that Nina didn't message him, because he never got round to asking for her number. Noluthando inquires whether when he made out he'd been talking to her it was macho posturing to impress Ruairi, but he says he just didn't really fancy her. And then he thought Noluthando would be disappointed in him and it just seemed easier to make up a story. Is that weird? She says no, which relieves him, then apologises: she thinks it's her fault and she got a bit pushy. Next time he should just tell her to stop if she starts getting a cupid complex again. He says he will.

It seems that Justin wanted to have a chat with Ruairi about Bill: he's interested in Julianne Wright's recent acquisition and wonders if Ruairi knows anything about it. He is hoping for some inside info. Ruairi asks if that's the only reason Justin wanted to see him, and Justin says it is his understanding that the deal isn't legally binding yet; Ruairi tells him that he wouldn't know and asks why Justin doesn't ask her. Justin tells him not to be naive, and Ruairi says he had nothing to do with Julianne's business dealings, which leads Justin to comment that his loyalty is admirable and that Julianne must have really made it worth his while. When Ruairi wants to know what he means by that, he says that he didn't want to bring up the 'special business arrangement', and Ruairi, as if he were the naive he has just been told not to be, indignantly asks whether Julianne told him.

Brian is doing a good job of giving Will directions to Hazlehurst: stay on the B1985 all the way. He is sure Will knows that anyway, and doesn't need sat nav, nor him. Will says it'll be five years next week, which makes no sense to Brian until Will adds 'since Nic died', then talks about the things that have happened, stuff she's missed, feeling on his own even when there were people around him; he hasn't always coped that well, with which Brian agrees. But the anniversary reminds him he's survived, and what he's managed to get through. Brian can't believe it's been five years, and Will muses that it's still hard to wake up every day without her. Brian tells him that what he can't stand is walking into the house: even when Jenny was out it felt lived in, and now... Will knows, and is not going to pretend it gets easier, but it does get more bearable. Eventually. There will be times, when Brian gets past the darkest point, when he realises that he's felt happy for a bit, and that's good

Stalling hard, Ruairi is protesting that he really does want to help Justin, but it wasn't like he was at any of the meetings; Justin at once suggests that he understands that: Julianne didn't trust Ruairi with actual information. Ruairi says he did meet Bill, once or twice: he grew up near Ambridge and knows some of the same people as Brian. Justin asserts he is not interested in Bill's childhood and wants to know if that was really all they talked about. Ruairi first says yeah, then no, actually: when he told Bill dad had retired, sort of, he said he was hoping to retire soon, which Justin says he could find out from anyone. Ruairi digs into memory and reveals that he knows Julianne said she liked him, rated him and said it was a good job he was still chair of the board; when Justin asks if he knows why, Ruairi says because not everyone there voted for Julianne's bid, which Justin does find interesting. She was annoyed that some of them weren't happy with her getting the contract; one in particular thought she wasn't offering enough, and Ruairi thinks he might be able to remember his name; Justin says eagerly that this is exactly the kind of information that might be useful. Ruairi gently enquires about the 'business arrangement' with Julianne, and Justin asks 'what business arrangement?' All already forgotten.

As they drive around Borsetshire Brian tells Will that he knows people are trying to be nice, but after the first lot of clichés... 'Sorry for your loss,' says Will understandingly: he knows how Brian must feel, and offers 'I'm sure she's looking down on you'. Brian just switches off; he can't stand it, nor the look on their faces, which Will also knows. He suggests though that the ones who avoid you are worst, or don't avoid you but pretend nothing's changed. He says he's been there, the one making a hash of it or not saying anything, because it's all too embarrassing. When Brian asks whether he thinks death is embarrassing he says no, not death, but grief is: it's too big. Brian grunts agreement, and Will goes on to say there's no reason to grief; sometimes it's not there, then next week it hits you in the chest unexpectedly. Brian asks slightly desperately what he is to do: what did Will do? Tried to survive a day at a time, Will tells him, and do what caused least harm for him, for the kids. Brian cuts him off and says no, he can't take that on: his children don't leave him alone, they're always wanting to talk or eat or walk; he dreads Adam's big serious face at the door, and Alice constantly ringing him and rushing him to do things. Will suggests he has to find his own way through it, and he doesn't have to behave in some way just because people expect it of him. Nobody knows what he's feeling! No, agrees Brian. But, Will says, when Nic died he shut down, and in the end he had to ask for help; there's no shame in that.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 16th February, 2023

Alice reaches breaking point; Ruairi has had enough; Brian holds out an olive branch.

Characters: Alice, Brian, Roy, Kirsty, Ruairi
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Alice is chatting with Brian, which goes well while she is listening to his account of going out on Will's round in the morning yesterday, but falters when she mentions the funeral and becomes difficult when Brian asks if she has seen Ruairi today and says there is no room for him at The Nest. Brian feels it has gone on long enough and he should be back at the cottage with Brian. Alice temporises and says she doesn't think that's a good idea: Ruairi needs space; but she will talk to him. She thinks the garden is a mess and he ought to let Roy and Kirsty finish clearing it up: they must hate looking out on it as it is. This causes him first to say it would have been fine if they had left it alone in the first place, and then grunt when she asserts they were just trying to be kind. So she asks if he's had a chance to look at 'that brochure', and he asks what time she said she was picking up Martha. He clearly is not prepared to discuss arrangements for the funeral, objecting first to 'brochure', which sounds as if they are choosing a holiday, and then 'casket': what's wrong with 'coffin'? She asks if he likes any of them better than others? No. Should the rest of them decide then? No. When she asks what he is eating tonight he says not to worry about him, he can look after himself, and she finally goes off to fetch Martha.

Outside Willow House Roy and Kirsty are trying to get Phoebe's old dressing-table into the boot of the car to take to a charity shop. Roy has heard Jim and Justin talking about the charging station on the Brookfield land, and is surprised when Kirsty, unlike Jim, is in favour of it: you can't campaign for a greener future and then block the infrastructure to support it, she says cheerfully. As they are about to start lifting the dressing-table, Brian comes out and rather to their surprise offers to help, in a pleasant way.

At five in the evening Alice has brought Martha home and found Ruairi on the sofa with a partly-dressed Max; when she comes down from settling Martha in her room she is very angry indeed and launches into Ruairi about how unacceptable his behaviour is. She doesn't accept his apologies, and furiously says she can't believe he thought this was OK, shrilly enumerating all the things wrong with it including the fact that this is Martha's home. Ruairi grovels and says he didn't think, but she is not placated. Then she finds some Rizlas and is furious that they were smoking in her house, which Ruairi denies, saying they they were rolling up indoors, but smoking outside. Alice doesn't find this acceptable: 'Just skinning u-u-up, how considerate!" she says sarcastically. This is basic, she tells him: you stay somewhere, you behave. Why doesn't he know that? She shouldn't have to tell him this: he's her brother! Ruairi says lamely that the last thing he wanted was to make things more difficult for her, and she responds tartly, 'Well, you have.' She then launches into an account of how ill-done-by she is: she's been working all day, she's knackered, she feels caught between a rock and a hard place with everyone, she still has to make Martha's dinner; small wonder she has a splitting headache. Ruairi tries to make amends by offering to get water and a paracetamol, but her only reply to his attempted peace-making attempt is that she can't deal with this. She's spent the last two weeks looking out for him, looking after him, worrying whether he's OK; when he says he knows and asks what he can do to make this better she snaps, 'You're a grown-up. Act like one!' He could start by going to see Dad: she is sick of making excuses for him and just wants to come home with her daughter, shut the door and not have to deal with any of this. She is at her wits' end.

The car is loaded, and Roy and Kirsty thank Brian for his help. He asks whether they need anything else while he's there, and Roy is just saying that there is nothing when Kirsty, with a bit more ability to see an opportunity for bridge-building when one is presented, suggests that they do have to get everything downstairs; the penny finally drops after she has talked at Roy for a bit, and he agrees that if Brian could help with that it would be brilliant. Kirsty suggests they could get started at once, but Brian stops her and asks whether they'd mind if they shift the pile of rubbish in his garden first: it's quite an eyesore. When Roy says it's getting dark, and he could do it in the morning before work, Kirsty points out that with the spotlights on they'll be able to see well enough, and Brian comments that he thinks once that's done the garden will look OK again, almost up to Jenny's standards; he thanks them for having got started on it.

Ruairi is packing to go, and a less fraught Alice tries to persuade him to stay until the following morning, or to see Brian before he leaves. He can't face that right now, but he will sort it. She doesn't get what this was all about; she thought he was feeling better, and when he says he was feeling almost all right she mutters she'd take that. He affirms that he will be back for the funeral, and she has another burst of complaint about Brian refusing to talk about it; when she mentions it he changes the subject. Ruairi declares that Kate said the same thing, and Alice grumbles that Kate and Adam both do, but Kate has Noluthando there and spends more time working at Spiritual Home than she did when it was her grand passion. Ruairi agrees that Kate is all over the place, and Alice proposes that if he does plan to speak to Brian again it would be handy to do it sooner rather than later: maybe he might have more success about the funeral brochure. Ruairi doubts it. She starts breathing heavily and saying that she hates all this, and now they're fighting, which leads him to try to take all the blame, and say that at least she won't have to worry about him on top of everything else. She tells him that just because he isn't there doesn't mean she won't worry, and her worry is that it's all about Julianne. She makes him promise not to see her in London, which he willingly does: he is going to get his head down and get on with his course-work. The subject of Max is then raised: when Ruairi says he doesn't know why he did it, there's nothing there, she enquires why he invited him round if he doesn't even like him? Ruairi pertinently asks whether she never brought anyone home that she didn't care if she never saw again, and finishes his packing. She begs him to look after himself, they agree they will miss each other, and he shuts the door and is gone. After a very short burst of hyperventilation Alice rings Lisa and leaves a message saying that she needs to see her, she needs help, she's not coping and she wants a drink.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 17th February, 2023

Alice is having a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and passes it on to Brian.

Characters: Noluthando, Brian, Alice, Lisa
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Jenny Stephens
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Brian has been showing Noluthando pictures of his wedding to Jennifer, and Alice, speaking as to a small child, says that's such a lovely idea. Noluthando, not going along with this, makes a joke about his hat being Dickensian, and also says that Jennifer looked modern and stylish; they joke together until Alice congratulates him on having done the garden, again as though telling a small child a drawing is lovely, assuming that he did it himself. He says that it was with Roy and Kirsty after she left; she snidely says 'so you apologised', to which he ripostes 'for what?' He asks whether Noluthando is ready to go: they are off to look at Arkwright Hall. Alice has to meet Lilian at The Stables; Noluthando saw her at Bridge Farm last night, but not talking to Tony. When Alice asks whether Kate has seen Alan about the flowers, Brian points out she said she was in a rush to leave, and she says she is; after seeing Lilian she has a meeting in Borchester; she just dropped in to let him know 'Roorih' went back to London last night, but he'll be back for the funeral. She will also be speaking to the funeral directors, so if he's had any thoughts...? He says he hasn't had time, and right now he needs to get his boots on. She warns him she will ring him about it later, and when he seems not to be attending says 'Dad!' sharply, but finally goes and leaves him in peace with Noluthando.

In a Borchester café Alice is greeted by Lisa, who has come to meet her and says she was sorry to hear about her mum's death; she is immediately subjected to a complaint about Alice's troubles with Brian, followed by a bout of tears, and makes it clear she has not been impressed by Alice ignoring her for so many weeks. Alice makes an excuse about everything having been impossibly difficult, but Lisa doesn't accept that: when it's hard, that's when it is most important to keep up with calls. Alice says she is sorry, but Lisa has no idea how Brian has been behaving, making everything difficult, and she misses her mother, all the time. Lisa is matter-of-fact as she says of course she does, but Alice goes on to say that yesterday her brother made things worse, and her sister is more interested in selling her business than helping arrange things, and she sometimes wants to tell her she really couldn't care less. Lisa interrupts her in mid-flow and says Alice knows what she's going to say, what she has to say, doesn't she? Alice doesn't, so Lisa reminds her that although she has an awful lot on her plate, it's really important not to get caught in a cycle of self-pity. Alice is shocked and says that's unfair, when her family is falling apart around her and they all want her to make it better somehow, and go to work, and be a mum, and she can't do it! Firmly, Lisa says she isn't denying it is tough for her, and she'd be struggling too, but her job is to help Alice stay sober. Alice can't believe it and says 'My mum's dead' in a pathetic voice; Lisa says she knows that, and Alice hasn't been ringing her, which astounds Alice. Lisa asks what Alice has done in the past few weeks that will help keep her sober, and it becomes clear that Alice has not been doing the things that have been recommended: she has skimped on her daily gratitude list, for instance, and Lisa at once says that it is while she is in a state that she most needs to do it. She has to make it a priority. Alice says she knows, that's why she is there, and Lisa points out that she's not her friend and not a shoulder to cry on: Alice has friends for that, and Lisa is there only to help her navigate her way through this without a drink. It may sound callous, but that is the point of her. She's glad Alice rang, because she seems to have loads of excuses to wallow in misery, or go into self-destruct, to have a drink. Alice denies having said she was looking for an excuse to have a drink, and Lisa is unimpressed: alcoholics will drink if they snap a shoelace, and she will go back to it not because her mum died or her dad is being difficult, but because she stopped working at staying sober, When asked if she has been to meetings Alice admits she hasn't, and Lisa asks her how important being sober is to her, getting the answer 'It's everything.' When Alice says she hasn't had time to go to a meeting, Lisa recounts a story about her own experience of not being comforted when her ex turned up at a meeting and caused drama, but instead encouraged by her buddy to help someone else. Her buddy was right, and she did as she'd been told and didn't backslide. She knows what has been working for Alice, and she knows Alice has stopped when she most needs it: helping someone else is the reason Lisa is there at all, and still sober. Alice says 'yeah', and gets a pep-talk about keeping the seductive addiction at bay.

Out in the grounds of Arkwright Hall Noluthando asks about Brian's quiet wedding, and helps him talk about his having loved Jennifer and missing her all the time, then talks about how different her broken affair was from his lifetime one, and Brian is the first person to ask if she misses her ex; she doesn't really: she misses how he was, not how he is now. They agree she is well rid of him, but she says it still hurts; Brian, calling on Will's wisdom, says it will start to hurt less, eventually. She has so much to look forward to, and her mother says her teaching is going well; she says she likes it and loves the kids. Their peaceful agreement is interrupted when a message arrives with a beep on Brian's phone, and he explodes: it's Kate, making two messages from Alice, three from Kate and two from Adam, and all he wanted was to go out for a walk and for a few hours not have people hassling him about things like coffins and flowers. Is that too much to ask?

Alice has agreed that she has to put staying sober first, and Lisa directs her to go to meetings, about which Alice instantly cavils: that's easier said than done, with excuses about working and not having had Martha so much when this started. Lisa is unimpressed: she's talking about one meeting a week, possibly two. Alice continues to argue about how difficult it would be, and Lisa point out that she has just said that staying sober comes first; she needs to stop making excuses and make it work. Alice says that because she hasn't had a drink, she thought she'd be okay stepping back a bit while everything else is so full-on, and Lisa says maybe she will, and this way isn't the only way, there's no law saying she has to listen to Lisa, but she does have to be honest with herself. Is her way working? Alice has to admit it isn't, and Lisa says she needs to put staying sober back at the centre of things. She should phone Lisa even when she doesn't like what she has to say.

Back at Willow Cottage Brain and Noluthando are getting on well together chatting about Ambridge and their afternoon when Alice comes in and ignores Noluthando's attempt to involve her in what they were talking about, choosing instead to hassle Brian about what sort of coffin they are going to have for Jennifer. Brian has quite suddenly had enough. When she tells him which coffin they all like and asks his opinion, he tells her he doesn't like any of them, and when Alice says obviously they'd all prefer not to need one at all commands her to say that to the undertakers: tell them he doesn't want a coffin, or flowers, not memorial booklets or readings or hymns. Noluthando tries to intervene, and Alice says it's fine, she gets it, the pressure is horrible and they can just organise it without involving him, and he tells her sharply to stop and listen. He doesn't want them to organise it. She interrupts him to assert that they have to, and Noluthando insists she must to let him speak. He tells them he misses Jenny every minute, but he doesn't have to do this. They can tell the others there won't be a funeral, and when Alice says that she can't, they have to have a funeral, for Mum, he denies that and says that no, Alice, he doesn't have to do anything.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 19th February, 2023

Emotional blackmail, intrusive bullying, and failure to pass on information: just another Ambridge day.

Characters: Susan, Alice, Tony, Helen, Brian, Lee
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Susan has gone round to see Alice, and found her hanging up some washing in the house. Alice apologises for the mess, and Susan's saying that she wondered whether she could be of any help with the funeral opens the floodgates; she bursts into tears and tells Susan, who didn't mean to upset her, that it's kind of her to offer but at the moment they're not sure there's going to be a funeral.

Tony has gone round to see Helen and Lee, and tells them Pat would happily have fed Lee's children and Helen's children at Bridge Farm, as well as Noluthando (who is visiting Peggy), but Helen says their dinner is almost ready. The various children seem to want to help with planting the broad beans in the polytunnel, and are getting on well together; Lee thinks they are being ominously quiet while laying the table in the other room and goes to check on them, leaving Helen to worry to Tony about Lee needing quality time with his girls before they go. His concern is that she might be doing too much, and he offers that he and Pat could do more, but she says that isn't it; Lee has taken the week off to be there. She and the girls have spent some time together when Lee went to football with Jack and Henry, and she has discovered they are very excited about going to California, but they won't say it in front of Lee; Lee is letting himself imagine life with them in Ambridge, because they enjoy it there. Tony tries to blame himself, but Helen impatiently tells him they are past all that; it's Lee she is worried about now.

Having got from Susan the sympathy she didn't get from Lisa, Alice tells her all about what's wrong, and how Dad refuses to talk to her and make decisions, and she's just not coping; he isn't speaking to her now. She talks herself into a right old taking, again, with Susan speaking softly and kindly in the gaps, and ends up by saying that sometimes she just wants to hide under the table with a bottle of vodka and wait for it all to be over. She then says she doesn't want to burden the family with it but she needs to go to meetings regularly: she used to, but how can she find time right now when she's firefighting at every turn and nobody is communicating. Mum would have snapped Brian out of it. She then produces Jennifer's recipe book and talks about that instead and how she plans to repair it so none of the loose pages gets lost, and Susan talks about wonderful cooking by Jennifer and how she was unable to imitate it when Jennifer shared her recipe for chocolate hazelnut mousse, until Alice has calmed down and show Susan things in the book. Then she starts to cry again because it's so unfair she'll never see Jennifer again, and Susan falls back into the comforter rôle and assures her she will get through this.

The conversation over the cooking is still going on, with Helen telling Tony again that Lee thinks everything is going well but she is afraid about how he will feel when he discovers his daughters still want to go away: he'll come crashing down. She doesn't know what she's going to do; she supposes she could find a way of broaching the subject, but Tony asks whether that doesn't risk making her look like the bad guy, only saying it for an easy life. She replies that she can't just sit back and do nothing, and he begs her to think carefully: it's not an easy situation. She agrees to that.

When Brian answers the door he is understandably short with Susan, who tells him she has just come from Alice's and has been told he says there's going to be no funeral for Jennifer: why would he say a thing like that? He tells her that it is a family matter, and she interrupts him to tell him that's why she's there. She appreciates what he's going through, they all do – Brian interrupts her to say 'Good. Then you'll kindly leave me alone, please' but she carries on and tells him he cannot shut himself away and pretend this isn't happening. She tells him he has to speak to his children and make decisions with them, and as he tries again to interrupt her flow she tells him that Alice is beside herself with worry and feeling she is trying to keep all the plates spinning on her own, to which Brian says she isn't on her own and, more sharply, that she's wrong; and forgive him, but he doesn't have to do anything because Susan says so. Who the devil is she to come into his home and tell him what to do? In a lowered and dramatic voice, Susan tells him Alice is thinking about drinking again. She hasn't, and God willing she won't, but please, don't put her in that position! She doesn't want to burden anyone with it, but as he said, it's a family matter and he is Alice's family. No matter what he's going through, she has to deal with the addiction as well as the loss and that can't be easy. Susan will see herself out. Aghast, Brian asks her what he is supposed to do, and Susan tells him to be Alice's father: that's all she needs right now.

The children are all on Lee and Helen's bed watching a film, with Mabel not doing washing-up duty as she is meant to, but Helen tells Lee to leave them to it, and he suggests maybe the two of them could snuggle up and watch something on the telly; Helen thinks that sounds nice. Lee says that it felt at dinner as if the girls had always been there, and they get on well with Helen: she makes them feel comfortable. She manages not to tell him that she thinks this won't last, and sends him off to pick something for them to watch while she puts the left-overs in the fridge. He goes to do as he is told.

Brian has gone over to The Nest, where Alice is surprised to see him. She wants to know what he is doing there, and he says he is checking in on her, as they all seem to do with him every hour on the hour. She invites him in because it's freezing, and he says it's crisp, but that jumper would see her through an arctic winter; she tells him Mum got it for her for Christmas. Brian tells her he has been looking at coffins, (she says 'OK'), and he thinks her mother would want something decent, but not over the top (she says 'Agreed') so he's marked a few in the brochure. Perhaps she could get together with Kate in the morning and work out some of the arrangements. For the funeral? asks Alice in disbelief. Yes, he tells her. Then he tells her that he owes her an apology; they're all going through ... whatever they're going through, coping however they can, but saying what he said about not having a funeral ... 'It's OK, Dad,' says Alice, but he disagrees. No no no, it isn't; if Jenny could see him now ... 'She'd know you were doing your best,' says Alice, but he tells her Jenny would say his best wasn't good enough, and it hasn't been, but he promises he'll be there for any decisions they need to make together, and whatever she, and Kate, and Adam organise for the funeral, he's confident it will be the perfect goodbye.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 20th February, 2023

David and Ruth get nervous, Alice gets validation and her very own recipe book, and Lee gets backed into a corner.

Characters: Lilian, Alice, Helen, Lee, Ruth, David, Susan
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At The Stables Lilian and Alice are competing in sympathy for each other about being tired and needing distraction, until Alice gets a message from Susan offering to have Martha tonight, and says she has to talk with Dad and Kate about the funeral arrangements, which causes Lilian to grumble about Brian having said there would be no funeral and how she nearly went round to give him an earful; she is surprised when Alice says he apologised for what he had said, and then wishes people could be as forthcoming with apologies to her. Alice asks her about travel arrangements to the funeral: they need to know how many cars to book and who is travelling with whom [to St Stephen's and then the graveyard there; why do they need to hire a fleet of cars for that, when they live in the village and all have cars anyway? Chris]. Lilian agrees to go and speak to Peggy about it, then urges Alice to take Susan up on her offer, but Alice is not sure she should: she made a stupid mistake last night.

At the farm shop Helen is surprised to see Lee, who is having a problem about pancake wars at home, which is to be English versus American with Pat and Tony as the judges. Mabel wants to know, does Helen have buttermilk? She doesn't. He is team England, and she wishes him good luck but says that when it comes to food and kids, Americans win every time.

The cows are being brought in for calving at Brookfield, where David and Ruth are strawing down and discussing Ben and the B&B, which as Ruth says is just one room, thankfully. David reckons they need to cushion him from any hiccoughs and keep building his confidence: he's done the food hygiene and safety course, and it's pretty basic, what they're offering. Ruth splutters with laughter and suggests that should be their ad: 'come and stay at Brookfield B&B, it's pretty basic.' She's sure he will make a success of it, though he's starting at The Laurels next week too, and it's literally a bed, and some breakfast: what can go wrong? David isn't sure: Ben has talked to Jill about when she ran a B&B at Brookfield, but that was years ago and he wishes there were someone they could ask, and get some up-to-date advice before they launch the business. Ruth doubts there are many who would give them that free.

There has been a broken glass disaster at the shop and Susan has to clear it all up before serving Lilian, then finds that Lilian is there not to buy but to talk. She's worried about Alice, for whose being worn out Susan is sympathetic. Lilian tells her Alice is concerned she may have over-shared yesterday, and wishes she hadn't admitted to Susan she was so close to having a drink. When Susan texted her she was afraid her offer to look after Martha might mean that Susan thought Alice wasn't up to it. Susan grasps the problem immediately, and when Lilian offers, if that's not the case, to tell Alice so, Susan asks her to let Susan sort this.

The idea of asking Lynda for advice has occurred to David, though Ruth is unsure she will give away her secrets to them; David says he will remind her about her having the use of their barn for her Christmas production. He's sure she owes them one or two favours by now. Ruth continues to be unsure about it, but David reckons it's worth a try; he'll call her as soon as he gets the chance.

True to her word, Susan has gone to see Alice, who offers her a cup of tea; she refuses it, and gets straight to what she is there for. She tells Alice what Lilian said, and that she thought she'd come and see her. Alice admits she said some things that perhaps she should not have done, but the thing is, she always feels the urge to drink; the point is, she hasn't and she wouldn't. She tells Susan all about not being able to find the time to call her buddy or go to meetings, and having so much to process; she called her last week and they have a strategy in place. There's no room for self-pity, and she starts to list the things she must make the time for no matter what. Susan finally manages to say more than the word 'Alice', and explains she was only thinking Alice needed some proper rest; she's sorry if her message worried Alice. Alice asks if that is true, and when reassured that it makes sense to Susan that she wants to hide away from it all, and the thing that makes her a very good mother and a strong person is that she hasn't given in to it, starts to cry, saying that she really hasn't. But it's been so hard! Susan comforts her, assuring her it's not going to happen because she is so much stronger than that. Alice says she feels lucky to have Susan there, and Susan replies they are all lucky to have each other: if death teaches us anything it's to value those we love while we have them, She is then reminded to give Alice something she has brought for her: a recipe book of her very own to put all of Jennifer's recipes in, and write down her own. Alice finds it beautiful, especially the butterflies added by Poppy and Keira to make it special, and thanks her.

The ominous opening, 'Lee, we need to talk', alarms Lee. Helen tells him that his daughters are excited about going to California, and haven't told him so because they didn't want to hurt him. They have talked to her about their plans for being there. Lee concludes that she doesn't want them to stay, which she instantly denies, saying it's not about her. She admits she had reservations, but she is loving having them there for the week; it isn't about what she wants or what he wants, it's about them understanding what the girls want. She thinks they want San Francisco, which makes him upset about having always been shut out, asking what sort of dad it makes him if they move to the States? Twice a year is not enough; the age they're at, he and they are really connecting: is he supposed to just give that up? When Helen says 'No' he responds bitterly that he has no choice, there's nothing he could do, and she drops her bombshell: there is, because he could go with them. It's a very real option, and he'd have no trouble finding work. Despairingly, he asks 'But what about us?' and gets no reply.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 21st February, 2023

Kirsty is hoist by her own petard; Helen, inevitably, is not.

Characters: Kirsty, Roy, Brian, Tony, Helen, Lee
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Kirsty has phoned Roy to complain that Brian has come round bringing a frozen shepherd's pie as a thank-you for having him over the other night, and volunteered to help her with the decorating; he's gone home to put on some overalls and she wants Roy to come home and get rid of him. Roy thinks it's nice he's being helpful, but she doesn't want him: she just wanted a little peace with her paintbrush and she doesn't want to have to tiptoe round Brian. Roy says she ought to show a little sympathy, but she says she has, on several occasions. [Since they started talking to him at all, which was on Thursday? And when he has been over to dine with them once? Chris.] Roy needs to get home as soon as possible and help. When he asks how he is to help, she doesn't know, and then the doorbell rings and she goes and is sweet as pie [non-shepherd's, we presume. Gus] to Brian.

What Helen has said to Lee astounds Tony, who can't think why she told him he should go to California. She says she didn't want to be the one standing between him and his daughters, and tries to talk about the broad beans, but Tony isn't to be deflected. He tells her that suggesting Lee could go sounds as if she wanted him to go, and she says that she does if that's what he wants. She can't pretend Lee's only choice is to watch his girls go: she sees how much he's hurting and the only thing stopping him is them being a couple. When Tony asks what if he decides to go, she admits she doesn't know. Tony asks what happens to her and the boys if he goes: do they go too? She can't see how. So that would be the end of her and Lee? persists Tony. She wishes it were simpler, but she can't stand in the way if he wants to be with his girls, and if he stayed, their life together would be pretend. Tony says that's very noble, but also risky: it could cost her happiness. She says it's Lee's happiness she's thinking of, and since last night she doesn't even know if he's talking to her. That'll make judging the pancake competition fun, opines Tony gloomily, and Helen makes him even more cheerful by asking if he's had a chance to speak to Lilian yet; one problem at a time, he groans.

When Roy gets home at last, Brian is asleep in an armchair, and has been for just over an hour; Roy wonders if he can't sleep in his own house, in his own chair. Kirsty grumbles on: he tried to help paint but was no use, so she convinced him he should come down and take a break and after a cup of tea and two digestives, he fell asleep. Maybe Roy should wake him. They are both fed up because he is spoiling their plans for their dull evening; Roy suggests going to the pub and leaving a note in case he wakes up, but Kirsty won't hear of it. Anyway, Roy is starving, and remembers that Brian brought a shepherd's pie; Kirsty goes to put it in the oven.

Tony has been sought out by Lee, who has found himself unneeded for the pancakes; he is not terribly happy when he thinks that his girls may have confided in Tony about wanting to go to San Francisco, but Tony explains Helen has talked with him about it. Lee is sure she is looking for a way out, literally asking him to leave, but Tony makes it clear that she isn't: she is pointing out that Lee has an option and could stay closer to them no matter the cost to her and the boys. Lee is miserable because when he asked her 'What about us?' she didn't answer; Tony points out it's not her decision to make, and she doesn't want to make it more difficult for him. Lee says despairingly that the thought it was about him and the girls, and now it's about him and Helen as well; maybe he's not good at judging this kind of thing! Why did she tell him going was an option? Tony asks what he'd tell her if she faced the same situation with Jack and Henry; what she said, she suggested because she loves him and knows how much he loves his girls. Lee asks what he's supposed to do, and Tony evades the question by telling him he can be a good parent at a distance as well as in the same house. Lee is worried that they will think he doesn't love them, which Tony pooh-poohs, telling him they know he does, and he is a good father to them and to Henry and Jack.

The radio is on, and Brian wakes apologetic saying that narrator always sends him to sleep; Roy says it happens to the best of us and Kirsty suggests he must be tired and need an early night. He is preparing to go home, telling them not to forget the shepherd's pie, when Roy outrages Kirsty by inviting him to stay and eat it; he says he couldn't possibly impose, Roy presses him, and after token resistance he goes to get changed, offering to bring a decent bottle of wine back with him. After he is gone Kirsty expresses exasperation and Roy is cross with her: Brian did bring the pie over, after all. She feels that their house is being taken over; it isn't that her heart doesn't go out to Brian, but she doesn't find him congenial because he holds views that she doesn't about her job, and once he's had a couple of drinks he doesn't know when to stop. She's so tired of having to smile politely and wait for him to wind down. She doesn't know which is worse: when he's out like a light on the sofa, or when he's railroading the conversation. Roy suggests she could ring him and ask him not to come after all, but though they start to have row about that, it fades into laughter and she just tells him he is doing all the clearing up.

Lee and Helen are out for a walk, and apologise to each other; Lee takes the blame for not having talked to her about what she said last night, and having spoken to Tony knows that he was wrong to think she wanted him to leave the country. Tony cleared things up for him, for instance by asking what he'd say if the positions were reversed, and so he has spoken to Alisha, and will speak to Mabel and Evie tonight. He's come to a decision: if Helen can be courageous enough to support him leaving to be with his daughters, he ought to be man enough to let his girls be happy, to let them go. The delighted Helen asks, does that mean he's staying? He says yes: this way he can be a good dad to his daughters and to his sons as well. Helen tells him she has been trying to think how to tell the boys he would be moving far away and couldn't find the words; good, says Lee, because he's not.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 22nd February, 2023

Tony is flattened, David taken aback, Roy discomfited and Lilian advised.

Characters: Tony, Lilian, David, Lynda, Adil, Roy
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As Lilian stalks out of Bridge Farm Tony tries to get her to listen to him, or talk to him at all; she says she has talked to Peggy about transport, and when he says the she, Mum, Pat and he can travel together she says that the way things are at the moment she would rather go in a separate car, and Peggy agrees that Lilian should go with Leonie and James while Peggy, Pat and Tony go together. He thinks this is a silly arrangement [and all cars seat six in comfort? Chris] and foolishly suggests that Jennifer would have wanted them to show a united front just for one day, giving Lilian the opportunity to ask him not to tell her what Jenny would have wanted. She then informs him that Jenny would not have wanted anyone to upset Mum on the way to the funeral, slams her car door and drives away.

At Nightingale Farm David has come to ask Lynda for her help, and interrupted only by Adil reminding her he is expecting a parcel in the afternoon and being reminded to collect his packed lunch (which worries David: are packed lunches expected at a B&B?) she gives him a great deal of good advice, after making it clear to him that Ambridge Hall is a high-end establishment and he really can't compare Brookfield to them. She praises their having tea making facilities in the room and is doubtful about the shared bathroom, but what David really wants is advice about last-minute snags, or issues they may not have thought of. She laughs and tells him she can't tell what would be required or best suited to Brookfield without seeing it for herself. She proposes to come over and cast a final eye over everything, particularly when she hears that it is for Ben's benefit. When he cavils, saying they'll probably be with the cows, she asks if he wants Ben to make a success of it, and when David says 'Yes', tells him she will see him later.

Adil and Roy are discussing the reconstruction of Grey Gables, and Roy apologises for being late and not meeting the architect when she arrived; she has gone out into the grounds to inspect things. Adil too was not there, having been delayed by a call from his sister: it is doing his head in. When Roy says 'you too' he wants to know who has been bugging Roy, and gets a long rant about Brian – coming round too often, having to be handled carefully – then offers a simple solution: stop inviting him. Roy can't, because it's the right thing to do; not if you don't mean it, says Adil bluntly. When Roy continues to complain, Adil says that doesn't sound too bad, and once things settle Brian will get back to his new normal. Roy's continuing whinging gradually seems to exasperate Adil, who wants to know why, after spending ages moaning about the guy, Roy would accept a dinner invitation from him, and when Roy is about to say "because it's the right thing to do' tells him that the right thing to do has to come with the right intention, otherwise it's hypocrisy. Fortunately for Roy, whom this reduces to silence, Adil's phone rings and they are called out to the architect.

A minor disaster and soil everywhere is going on at Bridge Farm when Lee arrives to talk to Tony and ask if he has spoken to Helen; Tony says she seems happy. Lee has decided to look on the bright side about California, and thanks Tony for his sound reasoning and help. Tony says he is very welcome; if only everyone was open to sound reasoning! Lee realises this is about Lilian, whom Tony describes as 'stubborn as a mule.'

Lynda makes good on her promise, or threat, to have a look at Brookfield, startling David by having let herself in. She is not impressed by his ideas, nor by the smell in the kitchen. She feels they need to put a television in the room, and makes various other comments which are not acceptable to David; after his second minor disagreement with her diktats she treats him to the Full Snell Snyff and tells him he clearly has no idea what it is like to have a real live guest staying at his B&B. She cannot in all good conscience allow him to go ahead in the world of B&Bs without a trial run of his place; she will stay there in rôle as a guest, tomorrow night. He says she really shouldn't bother; she tells him to learn not to look a gift horse in the mouth and hands him a list of matters he is to address before she arrives. He sighs wearily.

At lunch Roy offers Adil a share of his food, and apologises for going on about Brian. Adil's reply is that if Roy wants to feel sorry for Brian, he should feel sorry for him, and if he wants to moan then moan, but doing both is crazy. He is complaining about being taken at his word. How does Roy think Brian would feel if he could hear him now? Roy is abashed and apologetic, and Adil says that he lost someone close a few years ago: it's bad enough you're going through hell, the last thing you need is people being insincere and offering fake support.

Lilian is booking in Lee's daughters for 'taster sessions' at The Stables, and when she suggests that they will be able to have more riding if they come back for a longer visit he tells her they are moving abroad with their mum, so he wants to make the most of his time with them before they do. We never know what tomorrow brings, so we might as well make the most of today, he says sententiously, then moves instantly to telling Lilian that he was so sad to hear about her sister, but for the life of him he can't see why she would want to make more distance between her and her brother at a time like this. She starts to cut him off politely but he talks on, telling her that Tony is hurting because of the rift, and she tells him more kindly than perhaps he deserves that it's not always that easy; he tells her that it is if you let it be, and while he's sorry and it's not his place, we should make the most of the present while we can. If a sudden loss doesn't teach us that, then what does it teach us?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 23rd February, 2023

Lynda is deliberately difficult, while Roy and Kirsty try to make things easy.

Characters: David, Ben, Lynda, Kirsty, Brian, Roy, Alice
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The first official B&B guest at Brookfield, a Ms Innis Pectre-Goole, is expected, and Ben is trying to make sure everything is just right, and feels they should sort out their on-line bookings, but David thinks that after calving is over would be the time to do that. Ben wants him to wash up his cup and mentions that Lynda is not charging them for her time; David is flabbergasted by the idea they would pay her for a free breakfast and a night in a clean bed and then pinches one of the 'guest' biscuits. Ben is concerned that it must all go really well because she's a perfectionist or, as David puts it, fussy. As Lynda knocks on the door David says 'all rise' in an affected voice, and Ben tells him to behave himself.

Supper at Willow Cottage is starting with canapés made by Alice and Noluthando, who came over to make sure Brian did Jenny proud. Kirsty is full of praise, and Roy offers to put the wine they brought with them into the fridge. When he is gone Brian encourages Kirsty to help herself to a drink, and Alice rings up Brian to check up on him and apologise for not being there to help. She has to talk with Auntie Lilian, who hasn't thawed yet: this does not surprise Brian. Alice says she will come and help clear up, and rings off. When he comes back into the room he apologises again for falling asleep at them, and they both tell him it was fine. When he goes out to check the cooking they have a low-voiced and conscience stricken conversation about Adil having lost someone and Roy asks her to keep it between her and him, then says the takeaway from the conversation was Brian; Roy feels terrible now for complaining, and they agree that from now on he is welcome to settle in their armchair and listen to wildlife documentaries all he wants.

Lynda is being as picky as might have been expected: she has come down to tell Ben the complimentary soaps in her room are scented and won't suit her skin. When he offers a cup of freshly-made tea she refuses it because she doesn't drink caffeine after six o'clock, and at that unfortunate moment David comes in out of the rain and lets Bess in, which starts Lynda fake-sneezing and claiming an allergy to dogs: having dogs in the house was not mentioned in 'the details'. David points out that it's a farm and, as Ben takes Bess away to the living room, that Lynda has a dog herself. The fiction that Lynda Snell and Innis Pectre-Goole are not the same person is then upheld by Lynda, who is indignant in her persona as an unknown guest that there was no warning about the dog: she lectures David about allergic reactions and then goes back upstairs, asking for her soaps to be put in the bathroom as she leaves the room fake-sneezing. [Which sounds exactly like the allergy-sneezing she has always claimed is real. Chris]

Supper has been delayed by the Beef Wellington not having cooked yet because Brian had it on too low; the veg is all ready, the beef is not. Kirsty has turned up the oven and the guests go on saying all is well; Brian is not convinced it is, and feels he has let Jenny down. When the pinger starts going off Roy insists on getting the beef out of the oven, and Kirsty explains it was his turn to cook; they take it in turns. When he brings the beef in Brian lets slip that this is a Beef Wellington of Jenny's from the freezer; Roy is impressed.

As David is washing himself down in the kitchen after a difficult delivery Lynda comes down again and is outraged; when she complains he points out that the family bathroom is to be kept nice for 'Innis' and anyway, what is she doing there? He thought 'Innis' had gone up for the night. When Ben comes anxiously to ask what is going on she explains she merely came down to see if they had some herbal teas and found his father half-naked and washing himself in the kitchen sink. Ben seems accusatory too; David asks what he's supposed to do when he has been practically banned from every other space in the house and his clothes are covered in afterbirth – 'too much information', says Lynda. Ben is concerned: is everything OK? As he and David discuss the cow and calf Lynda asks David at least to put on a shirt; this isn't an episode of Poldark. When David protests to Lynda, Ben and Lynda chorus 'Innis!' at him and he loses his cool and explains impatiently that he has been up since ... forever ... and doesn't expect much sleep tonight either, he is catching his breath in his own kitchen, and the dining room for guests is over there if Lynda is offended by his long-johns. Ben offers to put his clothes, and the tea-towel he has been using to rub himself down, in the laundry and then come down to help. David says no, he'd better stay with 'Innis' (who makes a snide comment about being able to look him in the face now he is almost dressed), but asks if he could fill a couple of flasks for him and Ruth and bring them out before he goes to bed. As he leaves, he plonks a packet down on the table and says, 'There. It's camomile. It's supposed to be relaxing,' and stomps out, leaving Lynda outraged in his wake. Ben asks Innis to fill out the breakfast request form, and she says it will take more than breakfast to wipe out the image of his father.

Brian is now offering Apple Strudel and Black Forest Gateau for pudding: both shop-bought, for which he apologises, but Roy and Kirsty continue to be easy to please. He is too busy talking about the architect at Grey Gables to notice they are not eating, and when Alice comes in she points out first that Brian still has his apron on and then that plates and forks would make it easier to eat pudding. Alice goes to fetch what is needed and Roy goes to the loo, and when left alone with Kirsty Brian apologises for not even being able to serve pudding, and contrasts himself unfavourably with perfectionist Jenny; Kirsty says that Jennifer loved looking after him and without him would have had no-one to spoil, and denigrates her and Roy's cooking. Brian says it's been lovely having the two of them over, and she says it has been a pleasure being there. She asks him to remember that Jennifer chose the life she had because she loved him; Brian says he misses her terribly, and Kirsty says she knows: if his Jenny could see him now, she'd be really proud of him.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 24th February, 2023

Innis gives a verdict, Lynda gives advice, and Tony and Lilian are gluily reconciled.

Characters: Ben, Lynda, Lilian, Tony,
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Breakfast is served, with Innis refusing coffee but accepting tea; she asks about the various ingredients and Ben tells her the eggs are from his brother's hens and the sourdough bread cooked by his grandmother. She asks him to order a taxi to take her to Borchester for half an hour's time, and he goes to do that.

Lilian has been summoned by Peggy, but goes first to Tony's railway shed to ask if he knows what it is about. [Why, when she's not talking to him? Chris] Being very short with her, he says he doesn't know, then that possibly it is because Peggy is not happy about Lilian travelling in a separate car from them. Lilian is annoyed, saying it's a short car journey, not the end of the world, and he points out that perhaps when you are burying your child it can seem to last forever. He offers to suggest to Peggy that the kids want to travel with Lilian and Peggy, and he and Pat will go in a different car. She changes the subject and asks if the clock she can see is Dad's carriage clock, expressing surprise that it is working; he says yes. She says that it hasn't worked for years [see synopsis for Monday 16th January, 2023. According to Lilian that day it had stopped during the previous week. Chris] and he makes little of having mended it, then says he was trying to give it to her when she was in such a rush last time she was over. She mentions that she had a favour to ask: she has found a projector in the attic [which attic, for any sake? The Bull? The Dower House? Argh? Chris] and wanted to use it to look at a box of slides that was with it, but can't seem to get it working. Could he have a look at it? He is non-committal, and she says if he can get it working they can see if there are any images of Jenny they'd like for the funeral. He says he'll have a look now, and she goes to speak with Peggy.

The taxi should arrive soon, and Ben asks Innis if there is anything else he can help her with, and she asks him to bring down her bags because she has an inflamed knee, and to cancel the taxi since she can now have a lift with a friend; the driver possibly getting 'a bit narky' is not her problem.

The projector was simply jamming from age and dust in the works, and Tony has got it working. They fix some curtain-linings to a rail on the wall, though Lilian falls off a stepladder insisting on doing that rather than letting Tony do it; this makes them both laugh and end up in perfect accord. They agree that he will hang the 'screen' while she sorts out the slides.

Ben comes back to find Lynda petting Bess, which upsets him because the dog is not supposed to go near Innis and shouldn't be in the room with her, but Lynda laughs and says she is pleased to report that 'Eenis' has left the room; he is now in the company of his friend and compadre [sic. And we were. Chris and Gus.] Lynda Snell. He asks how they did; she asks how he thought it went. He thought the room went down well, and the breakfast, and she agrees and tells him what was less good: she was unsure about the shared bathroom, and the 'Poldark incident', although she sympathises with 'poor David' having to wash at the sink to keep the bathroom nice for her, was not something anyone should be expected to have happen. Ben however showed much patience with Eenis; he says it wasn't a walk in the park, and she tells him that was by design, a deliberate trial by fire: once you've dealt with a worst-case scenario everything else should indeed be a walk in the park. She advises him that while he address the customer's peculiarities very well, it was perhaps too well: for instance the soap would really not be his problem, and he could have directed her to the village shop for some. She suggests that his USP should be the action-packed, uber-reality of farming life. She believes there are plenty of potential guests out there who would be interested in such a place. And she believes that with a few tweaks here and there, Ben will be a very recommendable host of a very recommendable B&B. He's going to make a success of this, she can feel it in her bones.

Tony and Lilian are having a wonderful time looking through the slides and talking about times past, exclaiming over the scenes they are projecting, until memory of how Jenny always managed to cheer her up, or as Tony puts it, snap her out of a frump [and why that word, Naylah Ahmed alone knows. Chris] is suddenly too much for Lilian, and she has to go out 'to message Justin and tell him where she is'. After a little while Tony follows her and finds her in tears. When he asks if she's OK she says 'no, really not' and he says he isn't either; she pours out her sorrows about Jennifer and not being able to get her death and what she saw out of her head; he is really sorry she had to deal with that alone, and he understands why she is angry, but if she'd been there when Jenny told him she didn't want to burden Lilian until she had to... They just never expected it would be so soon; his voice cracks at that, and Lilian starts to cry in earnest again and wails that she still can't believe she's gone, and Tony tells her he can't either. If there was anyone who could bang their heads together when they were fighting it was her, says Tony miserably; Lilian sobs that Jenny was always the glue, she kept them together. Tony summons up determination and says it is now up to them: if she will forgive him, they can be the glue that keeps them all together, for Jennifer's sake. Lilian says there is nothing to forgive and she's been such a fool; Tony says she hasn't, she just misses her big sister. She says that she loves him, and he says he loves her and always will.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 26th February, 2023

In which both Freddie and the script fail to generate much interest.

Characters: Freddie, Lily, Noluthando, Cliff (no actor credited), Harrison, Alan, Neil
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Superintended by his big sister, Freddie is putting up some photographs of Lower Loxley Hall when Noluthando arrives and asks what is going on. He explains it's for the volunteer recruitment day, about which he told her last week; Lily quite unnecessarily informs him that not everyone is as interested as he is in that. Noluthando had been hoping just to hang out, and Lily is instantly sympathetic with her about things getting a bit fraught in Ambridge, and says they can hang out some other day; when does she go home? A week on Friday; that was a much compassionate leave as she could get. She is going home to flat-hunt, not staying on with her dad and Sipho. Lily suggests it might be a bit less stressed after the funeral, and Freddie asks if she's seen much of Brian, which gives her the chance to say that everyone's pretty worried about him and Alice is going to take special care of him at the funeral. She changes the subject back to the drop-in volunteer day, which will be run by Freddie, and of course Lily, and Cliff and Diane, the two longest-serving volunteers. Freddie plans to see how suited the people coming might be to various different rôles, not just as tour guides. At this point Cliff arrives, and while he goes to hang his coat is explained to Noluthando as 'self-appointed chief tour guide'; Lily says they especially want more tour guides, and in an undertone Freddie adds they are not after more guides like Cliff. It's clear Freddie is not keen on Cliff, so naturally Lily defends him. Freddie however is looking for younger blood: most of the guides are pretty ancient so no wonder younger people stay away from the house in droves. Families visit the rare breeds and the treetop walk, but not the house, which he feels ought to be the core of the enterprise. On the far side of the room Cliff gets out his flask, and Lily patronisingly says that she has been trying to explain to Freddie that older people are more likely to have spare time in which to volunteer; when she mentions them needing an interest in history, Freddie suggests that since Noluthando is a history teacher she might help, saying that mum made him head of volunteering (which Lily immediately disputes, saying "temporary volunteer coordinator") and though rather taken aback, Noluthando agrees to do it.

Harrison is doing his best to demonstrate his new-found Christianity to Alan by talking about giving things up for Lent more mindfully than he used to, and Alan plays along with his resolutions now being for others rather than just himself. He has given up being a slave to work so that he can do more for other people; Alan says he does very important work, then reminds him he has offered to rehang the curtain in the Lady Chapel. As Harrison is talking about wanting to do more for the village, Neil comes over to ask if he can ring on Friday, to which Harrison immediately agrees since he is planning to be at the funeral anyway. Harrison apologises for having missed a lot of ringing recently but explains his resolution to do more for the community; Neil suggests he might volunteer at Lower Loxley, but he isn't really interested. Alan offers him coffee and conversation if he isn't going to go after Neil, though no biscuits because it's Lent.

Neil is being grilled by Freddie, Lily and Noluthando, though not it seems by Cliff, who is clearly too bashful to open his mouth in such exalted company. He lists his qualifications, and is patronised by Lily for a bit, then quizzed by Noluthando about what he means by 'heritage' and how he pursues his interest in it. As they start to get involved in discussion of John Tregorran and Jennifer's book about Ambridge, both Freddie and Lily interrupt, with Lily talking over Freddie suggesting they don't want to waste Neil's time in order to ask what other experience he could bring to the rôle, leading to a brief résumé of his whole life. Since he has no more questions, Lily tells him they will be in touch about the next stage, and he leaves. Freddie is not sure about getting in touch, but Lily puts him right about that: Freddie would be mad not to, Neil is a lovely man and good with people, and would take the job seriously. Freddie still thinks they need volunteers below bus-pass age; they aren't going to attract more people with clones of Diane and Cliff. Lily tells him in her most supercilious way that beggars can't be choosers, and she would like to remind him that they have been there for two hours and had interest from precisely one person.

Harrison and Alan discuss Alan's nerves about taking the funeral; sometimes he'd just like to be in the congregation, when it's a friend being buried. He fears making a mistake. There is also the tension between him and the Aldridges over the window; Harrison has heard about that and is sympathetic, but he hates to think what Kate's reaction would be if he messed anything up. Funerals are a day families never forget; he really has to get this one right.

At the end of the volunteer-drive, Noluthando is trying to cheer Freddie up; only a handful of people showed up, whereas he had expected to be picking out the cream of a large crop. Lily points out that Leah Button seemed keen to help in the office, and he has Neil and Oliver as well. Freddie says Oliver is even older than Cliff: where's his fresh blood? Noluthando suggests he could try a different approach: maybe a social media campaign? Lily sardonically suggests handing out flyers in nightclubs or doing a stunt on TikTok, and when he says she is being silly, tell him he could just accept that's the way things are. Freddie, outraged, says that if he is to prove himself to Mum he can't just recruit a couple more wrinklies.

After he has hung the curtains Harrison has a further chat with Alan about having personal feelings at the same time as having a job to do; he knows about that as a police officer, and the best thing he can do when that happens is simply to do his job. Friday is going to be a big occasion, but if they felt awkward the Aldridges wouldn't have asked Alan to do the service, and he thinks he can relax about it. Alan says he'll try to remember that; at the end of the day, it's not about him: it's about Jennifer, and the people she's left behind.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 27th February, 2023

Neither Ben nor Kate appears to be up to the task in hand.

Characters: Lee, Ben, Kate, Alan, William Padry (a patient at The Laurels)
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Not long after arriving at The Laurels Ben is hailed by Lee, to whom he explains that he's been shadowing Farida but is about to start work on his own. His experience on the nursing course is helping him, and Lee reckons he ought to find it all straightforward. Lee is putting up a poster about his seated exercise class, and Ben offers to try to help him get support for it.

As the representative of the whole family, Kate has come to see Alan; they've all agreed on the points he asked about. She just going to start talking about them when he interrupts her to mention the friction over what Kate calls 'Gran's window', which has been playing [sic] on his mind. He wants to put it behind them, and Kate affirms that they should put it behind them completely: it seems trivial now. He is relieved to hear it. She expresses herself as ready to go into the details, and he asks to start with the music: what have they decided on?

A tentative knock on a door is answered with grumbling, and Ben comes in to be greeted by a patient who thinks he looks as if he is from the local infant school and is thoroughly impatient with him, demanding his breakfast; Ben intends to get him out of bed first. Just as he's about to start doing so, Lee knocks and comes in: he has a therapy session booked with the patient, William, who says not on an empty stomach. Lee is a little disconcerted to learn that William has not yet had breakfast, but when William says he is dying of hunger Lee comes back sharply with the comment that he can afford to lose a bit of weight, and says he can come back later. After he's gone William describes him as torturer in chief.

It seems that Phoebe will read the poem, and then Kate comes to the Eulogy: everyone thought it would be nice if one of Jennifer's children did it, Alice and Ruairi didn't feel strong enough, and Adam thought Kate would do it well. She thought Debbie would be better, but Debbie just wants to go with the flow, so it is to be Kate. She's done things like it before, in a pagan setting, and Alan says he's sure there will be similarities, but Kate feels that this is much closer to home and she is really struggling with it. She asks Alan if he will hear her read it out, and tell her honestly what he thinks of it.

Tea to go with his breakfast has now arrived for William, who is not noticeably grateful and point-blank declines to ask Lee about his seated exercise class. He just wants to be left alone. As Ben is about to leave William discovers his tea has no sugar in it and is angry about that too.

Reading out her clichéd words about Jennifer is proving too much for Kate, who breaks down and starts to sob. As she apologises Alan tells her it's all right, gives her a tissue and suggests she might take a break. Kate says she doesn't think there is much point in going on trying: she tried to read it to Jakob last night and did exactly the same thing. Alan offers to help her with it by taking over if she falters, but while she is grateful for the offer she doesn't want to spoil the flow of the service. She really wanted to do this for Mum, but Alan assures her that not being able to doesn't mean she's failed Jennifer or loves her any less; quite the opposite, in fact. She decides she has to be honest and see if someone else could take it on; Alan suggests she could work with them on the wording. Kate comes to the realisation that it doesn't have to be one of the children, but she'd like it to be one of the family. Alan advises her to go easy on herself at this difficult time full of emotions. She tells him it's all shaken her up and made her think about her own life; she tells him about her plans to be more involved in running Home Farm, and to step away from Spiritual Home, in fact to shut it down. Alan suggests not rushing into that: it's generally good advice not to make big decisions soon after a bereavement. Kate however replies that the more she thinks about it, the more she feels it is right: everything has its allotted span, and she thinks the universe is saying this is the end for Spiritual Home.

It's lunch-time at The Laurels, and Ben offers Lee help arranging the chairs for his class. He hasn't managed to drum up support for the session, and he's had a tough morning because it's all so full-on; this is the first time he's stopped. He apologises for messing up Lee's appointment with the impatient patient, and Lee laughs it off: it was no trouble, he saw him later. Ben agrees that Mr Padry was giving him a hard time, and Lee says that he takes a bit of time to warm up, that's all: his bark is worse than his bite. He is one of the people who doesn't appreciate communal living and just misses his independence, and takes it out on the staff sometimes. Ben says ruefully that he didn't make things any easier, and Lee tells him it will get better, a bit better anyway, though the staff have been rushed off their feet the whole time he has been coming to The Laurels; he's sure Ben will get a lot out of his time there, but he's not going to lie: Ben is going to have his work cut out.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 28th February, 2023

Rapprochement at The Laurels and recruitment at Lower Loxley.

Characters: Freddie, Brad, Chelsea, Josh, Ben, Sykesy
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

When Brad arrives at Lower Loxley Hall ready for work, he is greeted effusively by Freddie, and it becomes clear that this is a one-man recruitment drive. Brad is really not interested in becoming a tour guide, but when Chelsea arrives her ears prick up and she insists, in the face of Freddie not being at all enthusiastic about the idea, on volunteering herself in Brad's place.

To the accompaniment of a lot of cackling chickens, Josh is spraying his van ready to do deliveries, and Ben tells him he's already started work properly at The Laurels. He gives Josh the rundown on what the job consists of and what the residents are like, including those who are quiet and glad of what you're doing and those who are not; he gives a brief description of the trouble he had yesterday. Josh says props to him for doing a job Josh definitely couldn't, and Ben explains the worst bit is the phone: everyone has one, and when someone wants a member of staff, they ring all the staff at once and have to be answered immediately in case it's life and death rather than just wanting a cup of tea. All you see is where it is and you don't know what it is until you answer. Josh is concerned that Ben is all right doing all this, but Ben says he'll get used to it, and Josh changes the subject to Ben's twenty-first birthday on the fifteenth of March. Josh wants to push the boat out, but all Ben wants is a quiet celebration at home. He had a big party for his eighteenth and now doesn't want another. Josh insists that he'll get him a drink and a special present anyway.

Chelsea is accusing Freddie of indeterminate prejudice against her, while Freddie tries to explain he just didn't think being a tour guide would be her sort of thing. Every argument he puts up she shoots down, in particular him assuming she wouldn't get on with the older members of the tour groups; she points out she gets on well with Jim Lloyd, and you don't get much more historic than him. She is very enthusiastic about it, and in the end Freddie has to capitulate when she accuses him of thinking she's thick and common and insists that he is to put her name down: she'll do it.

The same awkward patient is waiting for Ben, who catches it again initially but this time stands up to him, explaining what he has been doing and ending by saying that everyone has to start somewhere, with which the resident has to agree, telling him that what he is saying is 'don't be such a grumpy old git'. Ben wouldn't put it exactly like that, but the patient is determined to extend an olive branch: he gave Ben a hard time about the exercise class and he knows Ben didn't mean any harm, but he did hard manual work all his life and now he just wants to sit and watch telly. As Ben is asking what it was that he did, Ben's phone rings and interrupts, but someone else answers first. Ben asks his question, and they then bond over the patient having been a farm worker and knowing that Brookfield was Phil Archer's farm, and Ben knowing his nephew Terry at Paradise Farm in Edgeley, who is in the Hassett Hills collective and who tops up the council funding to pay for The Laurels. He's looked after his uncle Sykesy, which is what he prefers to be called: he can't stand being called 'William', never could. Ben calls him Sykesy, and is about to help him back to bed for an afternoon nap when the phone goes off again, this time with someone incomprehensible at the other end; he is sharply told to get there and not worry about Sykesy, who will kip in his chair if needs be.

Still hanging about outside Lower Loxley Hall, Chelsea has waylaid Josh as he is making an egg delivery, asking him whether he doesn't think she'd be a great tour guide. He has no particular opinion, but if Freddie thinks she'd be OK... Chelsea asserts that Freddie practically begged her to sign up, and Josh says he's sure she could do whatever she sets her mind on. She has started to explain how she will alter the uniform to suit herself, when Brad comes out and says he is really surprised she wants to do that tour guide stuff, and Josh agrees that he doesn't see why she'd want to do an unpaid job. Chelsea had not realised it was unpaid, and first doesn't believe it isn't paid and then doesn't believe anyone would do it for nothing. The other two assure her that the reason Freddie's new job title has 'volunteer' in it is because it is about volunteers. She didn't know that; she thought it would be some kind of promotion. She thinks the tour guides are a sad bunch of losers doing that just for fun but when Josh suggests she'll be telling Freddie she won't be available after all, she tells him 'No way' after she practically threw herself at him to get him to say yes – 'I thought you said he begged you!' objects Josh. He obviously thought she wasn't capable, says Chelsea crossly; well, she's going to prove him wrong.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 1st March, 2023

Susan is hard to shake, Lilian has had an idea and Helen makes a suggestion

Characters: Susan, Tony, Lilian, Lee, Helen
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

St David's Day has been very different this year because Pat has been making food for the funeral buffet instead of decorating the shop, and Susan has been doing the same; it's a terrible time for everyone, but it's nice to have something to focus on, says Susan. Neil has applied to become a guide at Lower Loxley, she adds inconsequentially; Tony says the livestock are a godsend to him, because they always have to be tended no matter how you feel. When John died they pretty-much saved his sanity. We have heard a car driving up; now its door slams, followed by the clack of high heels as Lilian arrives and asks for a word with Tony about the funeral, so Tony tries to get rid of Susan, and eventually manages to do so since she is on an errand for Pat. Lilian tells Tony it's the tribute to Jenny: now Kate has decided she can't do it, they need to work out who will. Tony is clear: Lilian would be the right person, and after a bit of hesitating she agrees to try if the others are OK with it.

On her way from checking on Jack and Henry for Pat, Susan runs into Lee, who has come to collect Helen's sons and take them with him to make tea; Helen has gone to Ludlow for a meeting with a potential customer so he is in charge tonight. Susan takes advantage of having met him to bend his ear about how awful the electric car charging development is; Lee is non-committal. Susan can't see why they have to have it 'slap in the middle of Ambridge' [which Hollowtree isn't. Chris]. She offers to give Lee a copy of the leaflet Jim has done on the subject, but before she can, Tony comes in and starts to talk with Lee abut Ben at The Laurels, and since this isn't about Susan's concerns she asks Lee when his girls leave for America; Tony gently suggests they mustn't keep her from the dairy, where Clarrie will be missing her with Helen away for the afternoon. She reluctantly takes herself off, leaving Tony and Lee to talk about his feelings about the girls being so far away. As Tony is saying comfortingly that no matter how far away they may be they will always be Lee's daughters, no-one can take that away, Helen comes in unexpectedly early after a successful meeting; she didn't go round other shops in Ludlow, but came home to support Tony. Lee tells her that actually, Tony has been supporting him.

A knock on the door interrupts Tony going through some more old photos he's found; Lilian has come to talk about how on earth she is to encapsulate Jenny in a short tribute. She's been trying to make a start on it for hours and is completely stuck: there's so much to say about her! They talk about Jennifer, with reference to several points in her life at which she showed strength and independence, and then Tony asks whether a gin and tonic would help, and Lilian says she's never known a time when a gin and tonic didn't help, so he goes to get one for her and a pint for him, suggesting she could have a look at the photos while he's fetching them.

Not prepared to let Lee escape her, Susan has taken him a leaflet and is now at Greenacre sounding off to him again about the horror of thirty charging points on a two-acre site, plus extra parking; Helen tries to tone it all down and Susan sensing the complete lack of interest from both of them, eventually goes away. Helen then tells Lee about an idea she has had to try to cheer him up: she has been looking at flights to San Francisco, and thinks they should all four of them go over there later in the year, which would give him something to look forward to. Lee protests that they can't afford it, but Helen is sure they could save up over the next few months: would he like to go and see Mabel and Evie in America? When he says, 'Of course, but' she interrupts to tell him it's going to happen, even if she has to cash in an ISA or something. Lee is bowled over, tell her she is amazing, and adds that he loves her so much.

Tony and Lilian are having a laugh over the holiday at Polperro that is shown in the snaps Tony unearthed from the back of a drawer, and remembering Jenny there; Helen comes in looking for a folder she left in the house earlier and wants to know what they were laughing about, and Lilian tells her they've been looking at holiday snaps and it has helped them to work out what to say about Jenny: they have decided to focus on her as their sister, which is their unique perspective, after all, as Lilian says. Helen says that's lovely, Lilian explains she feels much happier now she has a theme to work around, and Helen says she is so pleased; then Lilian adds that she's just had an idea for a tweak to the proceedings: she thinks Jenny would whole-heartedly approve.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 2nd March, 2023

Chelsea says her piece, and Brian saves the day.

Characters: Chelsea, Neil, Susan, Alice, Freddie, Noluthando, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Before the interviews for the guides' jobs at Lower Loxley Hall Chelsea is seeking suggestions from Neil about her presentation; he does his best for her in spite of her having dismissed the subject of his, and anything he suggests for hers, as 'boring', until they are interrupted by Susan bringing Alice into the kitchen, whereupon they move to the lounge to leave Susan and Alice to talk in peace. Susan wants to give Alice the food she has prepared for the wake at The Bull; she was surprised it is to be there, thinking Brian would have wanted somewhere posher like the Golf Club or Lower Loxley, but Alice reminds her that Jennifer grew up there. Also, people can just walk there from the church. [To which almost everyone could just walk as well; what were all the cars for again? Chris] Susan asks how Alice is getting on, after her wobble last week, and Alice thanks her for her support and says Lisa and Chris have both been wonderful too. The move on to what Susan has made to be a the centrepiece of the funeral baked meats: unfortunately when Susan tries to turn out the avocado and asparagus terrine she has made from a recipe of Jennifer's, as a tribute, it collapses. Alice, seeking for something to say in consolation, suggests perhaps they could put it in bowls and treat it as a dip; Susan says it's a disaster.

In his talk at Lower Loxley Hall Neil is doing well, if being slightly predictable, about the regiment Colonel Edwin Pargetter got up from the county in 1745; Freddie is impressed, but wonders whether they were involved in any fighting, which Neil tells him they weren't because Charles Edward Stuart's army turned back at Derby. Freddie and Noluthando ask him to wait outside while they confer, telling him to help himself to tea or coffee. When he's left, Freddie admits Noluthando and Lily were right about selecting him, and Noluthando says he'll be a safe pair of hands, as will Oliver. As expected, both were better than Fleur [Button. Chris].

Outside the room, Neil is instructing Chelsea about the proposed charging station and why it's a bad plan; the retail park that is going to be there as well will be competition for all the Ambridge shops, and the tea-room too. Chelsea hadn't considered that when she thought there might be some new jobs going. When Noluthando calls Chelsea in, she asks Neil to go in with her, and Noluthando doesn't see any problem with that; Freddie too thinks it's all right. Chelsea has chosen to talk about Gerald Pargetter's wooing, winning and wedding of Julia.

Susan has insisted on going to apologise to Brian in person for her having failed to make the terrine she has been told he likes [Gus and I cannot believe anyone would actually like this! Chris]; Brian makes the right noises about it not being the end of the world, and Susan persists in going on about how important it was and how she has let them down; she offers to go and buy something to replace it, if Brian will tell her what he'd like. Alice tries to reassure her, and says they won't go short of food because so many people are bringing some, which doesn't help Susan's amour propre much; then Brian has an idea for a solution.

The talk by Chelsea has been a great success; Neil congratulates her, and Freddie and Noluthando are impressed. Freddie questions a few of the statements she has made, but she is able to give evidence for them, citing having asked Elizabeth and having seen photographs. Freddie becomes enthusiastic and starts to plan Neil and Chelsea as a double act, saying they can move on to the next stage of the training, but Chelsea puts him right: it's awesome that he liked what she did, but she doesn't want to be a guide. The place is boring, and she isn't going to do all that work for no pay. She just wanted to prove she could do it.

Brian is rooting through what Susan says is a very well-stocked freezer, and finds a big lamb, leek and prune pie; 'eat hot or cold', says the label. He knows it's not the same thing that Susan was cooking, which she tells him is all right as long as there's a centre-piece: that's what's important. When Alice asks who brought him that, he tells her that her mother made it. He would really like it to be part of the buffet, and Alice and Susan concur; Susan accepts Alice's suggestion that she could make her terrine into a dip. Then Alice starts to laugh, and when asked, says it's quite funny when you look at it: who else but Mum could be so organised that she's contributing to her own funeral tea?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 3rd March, 2023

It's a funeral. Without a single punch-up. Tsk.

Characters: Neil, Alan, Kate, Lilian, Tony, Alice, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Keri Davies
Director:
Peter Leslie Wild
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Outside the church Alan and Neil are doing some last minute preparation, and Neil thanks Alan for allowing flowers in the church even though it is Lent; Pam Fletcher has done a lovely arrangement. When Kate approaches Alan asks how Peggy is, and is told she is settled in her usual pew at the front, but is quite frail. Lilian then arrives with Tony and they say hello and that they are worried about Brian, who has clearly been dreading the day. They have changed the plan and are going to do a tribute together. Kate is very grateful they took it on. Lilian hopes that with Tony's help she will be OK, and Alan tells her he can always step in. Kate notices that Lilian is wearing the perfume Jennifer always wore; Lilian says she thought it would keep her close to her sister.

Alice is trying to get Brian's attention to tell him the car is there, but he is not yet ready; could it go and collect Phoebe and Noluthando and Sipho first? They are already in the car and waiting for him. His problem is that he can't decide on a tie; he'd like to wear the brightly coloured one Jennifer got him for Christmas, but feels that it might seem disrespectful and perhaps he ought to wear a black one. Jennifer would know: she'd put him right in an instant. He misses her so much.

When he has been safely delivered at the church Alice brokenly tells Lilian all about how he was in such a weird state and she didn't know what to do, and Lilian comforts her with the usual immortal words 'come here, darling', and points out that they are all here for Brian so it doesn't all have to fall on Alice, who must look after herself too. Alan then comes up and says that he can't see Brian, and Lilian tells him she thinks Brian is round the side of the church by the other door; Alan goes to find him and when he does, tells him the hearse will be there any minute. Brian asks if the tie is all right, and Alan reassures him it doesn't matter: everyone there will be there because they loved Jennifer and love him, they're on his side and know how hard today will be, so any choice he makes to help him through it is the right choice. Brian knows that Jenny would tell him to stop fussing and get on with it, and does so.

After the end of a very strange and rather unpleasant hymn Alan starts the funeral service, and is followed by Tony and Lilian reminiscing in counterpoint about their big sister, during which both Tony and Lilian almost but not quite break down.

Before they go out to commit Jennifer's body to the ground, they sing a final hymn: Jerusalem, because for decades Jennifer was a staunch member of Ambridge Women's Institute and because it is a celebration of the green and pleasant land which she loved so much.

Lilian thanks Neil for the peal or whatever it was ('just a method,' says Neil deprecatingly) and he in turn congratulates her and Tony on their tribute. Tony wondered if Roger, Jennifer's first husband, would turn up; Lilian says he isn't in great health and it's a long way from Fife, but Debbie is going to visit him while she's here. Neil is planning a planter on the green in Jennifer's memory, which Tony thinks is a lovely idea; Lilian fails to react because she is wondering where Ruairi is. She couldn't look at either him or Brian in church because it would have destroyed her.

Brian tells Kate that he is doing better than he had feared; he was really worried about the bit at the grave ('the committal,' she reminds him) because it is just so final, but Alan made it rather beautiful. Kate says it was beautiful, and he repeats that it was, it was; and having all of them around him made him feel really supported, which pleases Kate. He feels that her mother would have approved. Than he wonders if Debbie is OK, not having had a chance to have a proper conversation with her since she came over from Hungary, and Kate says she is dealing with it in her own way. He asks what it is that he hears about her giving up Spiritual Home, which startles her; she wants to know how he knows about that, and he says that he is her father and it is his job to know everything. She admits it is likely, and he says he is surprised; he's watched her today and she has a real talent for the touchy-feely stuff. She says he never used to care about that, and he tells her that when life throws things at you it can make you re-think what's important, so she explains that is what's happened to her and is the reason she is thinking of selling up. He suggests she should think about it carefully; not only is it something she's good at, she has made it into a successful business, which latter she thinks is really lovely of him. Too much emotion leads him to suggest they go and get a piece of the pie before it all goes, and she reminds him that it is lamb, so not for her.

There was a wreath of herbs on the coffin, at Adam's suggestion: rosemary [that's for remembrance. Chris], thyme, sage, all the herbs she used; Alice thinks it was a lovely touch, just right, and Brian agrees you could say that about the whole day. Not what any of them wanted, but it was perfect, they agree. Alice wants to stay at Willow Cottage and make him some tea, but he tells her to get off home, or to the wake if she wants; when she says she thought she might stay the night he tells her that is very thoughtful of her, but this is how things are going to be from now on, and he may as well get used to it. She argues and thinks of more and more things to say, but he finally manages to get rid of her and closes the door behind him. Once safely alone in his own house he tells Jenny that he wore his lovely coloured tie in the end, the one she gave him: she always had impeccable taste. She'd have loved today, with all her family around her, all her friends. He couldn't bear the thought of having to say goodbye, but he doesn't, does he: she's there with him, in his heart, and she always will be.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 5th March, 2023

Ben feels guilty, and Adam is offended. Nothing new, then.

Characters: Bess, Ben, Josh, Ian, Brian, Adam
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Bess is keen on heading over to Heydon Wood, and Ben and Josh go along with the idea. They are walking off the food at the wake, and Ben did his first late shift last night. Josh is still determined to make a fuss about Ben's twenty-first birthday; Ben doesn't care about it, especially nothing expensive when he knows how dire the egg business is at the moment; Josh admits he's losing money, what with the price of feed and the avian flu, but is hanging on and hoping for some better economic weather. Josh asks when Ben plans to move back to The Stables, and discovers he isn't ready and would rather stay at Brookfield. If that's the case, Josh reckons he should probably start looking for a new housemate, which leads to Ben realising he has been stiffing Josh for his rent all this time and hadn't realised what he was doing.

At Willow Cottage Brian is sorting Jennifer's possessions when Ian comes in to see him and bring him some beef stew and dumplings for lunch. Some of her things haven't been unpacked from boxes since they left Home Farm, and he can't see any point in hanging on to them. Ian suggests that people usually say wait a year before disposing of things, but Brian is not waiting a year. He doesn't need it. Ian suggests that others might: Adam, Kate... Brian says they are welcome to take whatever they want so long as they do that soon. Adam arrives at this moment, and though Ian would like to have a word with him before he sees the mess, he is too late; Adam walks in, and is momentarily silenced to see his mother's clothes all over the room. Brian says he wants to get it sorted by the Friday collection for the WI bring and buy, and Adam finds his tongue to ask what Brian is actually keeping. Ian tries to get him to come away, but too late: Adam is now full of anger that Brian doesn't recall Jennifer wearing various things he picks up, and in an menacing and unpleasant voice asks whether Brian doesn't think it's a little soon, and when Brian says the sooner it's done the better they will all feel, tells him ominously that is pretty far from how he feels.

Ben is having a melt-down about having been stupid and selfish while Josh tries hard to calm him down. He's caused enough trouble already, says Ben, and goes on to take the blame for the charging station and the feeling against his parents in the village; Josh tries to stop him and to argue against him, saying that their parents can cope and all Josh has to do is find a new housemate and it will all be good. Ben is ominously silent when Josh addresses him.

Speaking in a furious undervoice to Ian, Adam is now refusing to believe that Brian intended to tell anyone before getting rid of the clothing for which Jennifer no longer has any use and nor does Brian; Ian is trying to calm him down when Brian gets back from finding some bags for him to pack with whatever he wants of Jennifer's things. Then Ian finds the hat Jennifer wore to their wedding and Adam is outraged that Brian was happy to throw it out, and though Ian tries to distract him insists that Brian should have talked to 'us' (clearly meaning 'me') before deciding to get rid of Mum's things, which it will be awful for him going through now. Brian point out that he is the one living there, and Ian manages to deflect Adam slightly by saying there's clearly been some miscommunication ('that's one way of putting it' mutters Adam) and suggesting that they take it all off Brian's hands, since Brian has kept the few things he does want, and take it to their place for everyone to go through and choose what they want. Brian is relieved, if they are sure, and Adam says they can take it with them now.

A suggestion to go back to the house is not acceptable to a heavily-breathing Ben, who just wants to stay where he is with Bess. Josh asks about the techniques he has been given by the support worker for times like this, then runs him through the ones he remembers are mean to help ground him (five things he can see, four that he can hear, three that he can touch, and it is very obvious that Bess is the first for each of these) until Ben has calmed down enough to thank him and say he will help him to find a housemate but not try to take full responsibility. They are even able to laugh together.

Carrying heavy boxes of clothes into Honeysuckle Cottage has tired Adam and Ian and they decide to bring in the rest later. [I need to think about this. There was so much it was filling the living-room at Willow Cottage and was going to fill the living-room at Honeysuckle Cottage, and yet it all fitted into one journey in one car. Having just taken about five large-estate-car loads of a dead woman's clothes to a charity shop during the clearance of her house, I find it hard to make these two things fit together. Chris.] Ian apologises for having caused all the mess, though Xander will love climbing on all the boxes; Adam says he will go through every thing as soon as he can but in a more delicate way than Brian was doing. Ian offers to help him. Adam then says it was quite a shock, and Ian is sympathetic, though he can see Brian's point of view and does say so. He says that Brian was not doing it to upset Adam, to which Adam responds that Ian heard him, totally convinced he wasn't doing anything wrong; Ian points out the obvious truth that as far as Brian is concerned, he's not. Adam is concerned that Jennifer would have hated to see her clothes all over the floor like that, and in spite of Ian trying to indicate to him that Brian was just being practical, says it took all his strength not to lose it with Brian; Ian advises him to try not to take it too personally. Everyone takes grief at a different pace, and this is just Brian's way of trying to handle it. The two then start to process their own inability to believe that Jennifer is dead, and talk about the funeral almost cheerfully, until Adam says he misses her and seeing the clothes she will never wear again hurts a lot; he isn't planning to keep it all, he just needs to be the one who throws it away. He then sees something labelled, in Jennifer's handwriting, 'For the children'. [Brian, of course, didn't notice this box when sorting; he just proposed to throw it away. Yeahright. Chris.]

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 6th March, 2023

Honeysuckle Cottage is full of squabbling siblings, while the wrong sibling is foisted on Josh.

Characters: Ben, Lily, Alice, Adam, Kate, Josh
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The shop bell rings and Ben and Lily meet in the doorway. She complains that Freddie is driving her mad and has a prolonged grumble about him, to which Ben makes vaguely sympathetic noises before suggesting that perhaps Freddie could move into The Stables, since he has lived there before. Lily thinks it sounds like a great idea, and says she will let him know there is a room available.

Her siblings are convincing Kate that giving Spiritual Home another five years is the right and sensible decision. She's not sure about Brian's motives for being kind to her about the venture, and perhaps he just wants to keep her occupied so she can't interfere at Home Farm, but Alice and Adam are quick to say they are sure that isn't his motivation. Adam says he thinks Brian was just being honest with her when he praised her, since he certainly isn't mincing his words at the moment, and in spite of Brian being so blunt with him he is feeling better now. They agree that it is what Dad's like, but Adam adds that he is clearly not thinking straight; Kate disagrees and says he may be thinking too straight and that's the problem. He just wants to tidy everything away and move on from it all. Adam then produces the box marked 'For the Children', which is full of toys from their childhoods, and baby clothes. It's a bit of a jumble, which is why Adam thought they could go through it together and claim what's theirs. [What about Debbie and Ruairi? Chris]

Lily has turned up at The Stables looking for Josh, and tells him to forget Freddie: she wants to move in. They go inside, where Josh offers her beer, which she accepts, and makes it clear he isn't sure about her idea, though he says he is just weighing it up. She gives him the sob-story about having missed out on being a student because of having been with Russ; Josh explains that it isn't really student living, since Aunty Shula wants the house looking after. She says that they could still have parties and games nights, about which Josh, who works twelve-hour days, is less than enthusiastic. She has the money to pay the rent up front, she boasts: kitchen sales didn't pay too badly when you hit your targets, which she always did. She can move in at the end of the week. He tells her he plans to let out the third room as well, and she thinks that is great: the more the merrier. However, when he says he thinks he should offer Freddie first refusal she is horrified and begs him not to let Freddie move in. Josh wants someone quickly, and she promises to find someone before Freddie even knows there's a room available.

With a certain inevitability, the three Aldridge siblings are arguing about the contents of the box and disagreeing about what was whose.

Ben is collecting the last of his stuff from The Stables, which Josh says wasn't necessary, but Ben also wanted to tell him something to do with the Facebook group opposing the electric charging station. He's been reading the comments, and ... Josh instantly breaks in to tell him not to do that; he is to promise not to go down that rabbit-hole. He has to look after himself and block out all this rubbish. If it would make him feel better, Josh volunteers to join the group and keep an eye on it, to which Ben gratefully agrees. Josh says they had some fun times there [in the period between 18th September when they moved in and 25th September when Ben was told Chelsea was pregnant and become No Fun At All, presumably. Or before 27th September when Ben told Beth and both of them fell apart. Chris] and then asks Ben not to mention the room to Freddie because Lily made him promise not to: she doesn't want Freddie moving in. She is determined to make this a fresh start; what, by moving a couple of miles down the road? Ben scoffs, but he agrees to stay schtum and listens to all Lily's decisions about a film night every week and one day a week shared takeaways, commenting that only Lily could be so prescriptive about fun; when he hears she will be moving in on Sunday he tells Josh to enjoy his last week of freedom.

Adam has provided pizzas made by Ian and the squabbling continues right up until Alice notices a list in Jennifer's handwriting – of exactly what is there and what belonged to which of her children. They agree that Mum was always the best at resolving arguments, and it seems that she still has the knack; Adam says they had better go through the list, then, and Alice says firmly that Mum's word is final, with which the others concur. There's only one problem, she adds: when they've finished, who's going to be the one to keep Mum's list? They all start to laugh.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 7th March, 2023

Elizabeth fails to be suitably upset, while Tony is dutifully enthused.

Characters: Lily, Josh, Elizabeth, Helen, Tony
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

On the phone to Josh, Lily is arguing for her choice of house-mate, Courtney, with whom Josh does not at all want to share. She's the only person Lily has found, and when Josh asks how about his mate Dom Lily rejects him and they are back to square one. Lily is moving in whatever, and wants to take some measurements; Josh will be back at six, and she proposes to say she is going to The Bull with him and Ben, which surprises Josh. Hasn't she told her mum she's moving out? She admits she hasn't, nor Freddie. She knows she should but she has to break it to them gently. Then Elizabeth comes in wanting help with something and Lily hastily rings off. Elizabeth is not deceived by her very lame explanation that it was nobody, and nothing, and Lily eventually tells her she is planning to move out.

Helen has come seeking Tony, who has just been on the phone to Jim, who is going on about the electric charging station; Helen knows all about it, since she's had it all from Susan. She admits she is concerned about the size and scale, and more traffic in the area, while Tony is worried about the retail units and what might go into them. They have both looked at the relevant websites, and discuss pros and cons for the scheme based on them. Helen however would rather discuss her plans for the dairy; Tony reckons Adam has encouraged them to open up to the public, and thinks they should tell him so and give him a bit of a boost, since he seems to be rather down about sorting Jennifer's clothes.

Lily is producing lots of excuses and sounding very plausible, only to discover that Shula had already told Elizabeth of her plans, having heard them from Josh. Somewhat to Lily's dismay, Elizabeth is fine about it, though she would rather have heard about it from Lily first: she might have been able to help. Lily has been wondering if she would ever move on from Russ, and Noluthando having moved on so soon after her break-up spurred her on to be the same. She finally admits that being with Russ compromised things for her. Of course Lily knows this will always be her home, pledges Elizabeth; Lily further admits she had imagined a future for her and Russ at Lower Loxley, and now she needs a different future. She needs to find something new; Elizabeth really hopes what she has found is what she is looking for. Elizabeth then assumes she has not told Freddie her plans, and when she is reluctant to do so makes her promise to tell him while Elizabeth is away on a course until Friday lunch-time.

The idea Helen has had is an observation window into the dairy and cheese room such as many dairies now have, and restaurants have had into their kitchens for years; it will make the dairy much more accessible and won't impact production, she says, and gets no argument against it from Tony. She has already told Pat and Tom, who seem to love it, though Tom suggested a shelter for the public in case it's raining; Tony enthuses about giving that a rustic corrugated roof with oak beams for a farmyard feel. Helen praises the idea as shabby farmyard agricultural chic, at which both laugh. The family is all on board; and what's more, Lilian has found Helen a builder who can start work as soon as they like because a job he had has fallen through, and reckons he might be able to finish the window in a couple of days. He is coming over tomorrow morning to have a look round. He is keen to get on, and comes highly recommended by Lilian. Tony sounds a note of caution about needing to warn Susan and Clarrie, since the dairy will have to be closed while the work is going on, but Helen isn't worried: she'll see what the timetable is first.

Lily is measuring up and Josh apologises for Elizabeth having been told by Shula: was she OK? Lily reckons she was, and also reckons her chest of drawers ought to fit; now all they have to do is find a third person to complement the household. Josh really feels they ought to ask Freddie: he thinks it could work, but Lily is absolutely set against the idea. Rather than Freddie, she will allow Josh to offer it to Dominic, but Josh informs her it's too late: Dom has found somewhere else. She begs for more time to find someone, and Josh issues an ultimatum: if she can't find anyone by the end of the week, he's asking Freddie. She says that won't be necessary: one thing's for sure, she's not made this decision to have Freddie follow her there.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 8th March, 2023

Sometimes blandishment works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it won't do at all.

Characters: Kate, Noluthando, Freddie, Clarrie, Susan, Helen, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Kate is still havering about Spiritual Home, this time at Noluthando, telling her that she is not sure Brian's praise was sincere; Noluthando is more willing to talk about the flat-share she is trying to organise in RSA with another woman whose relationship has ended. Freddie comes over to make sure their meal was all right, and to ask Noluthando if she is ready to be the guinea-pig for his revamped tour. Kate declines to join them, so they go off together. Freddie explains they have offered roles to Neil and Oliver, and tells her he hopes to follow Noluthando's suggestion and recruit students doing vocational qualifications at Felpersham University. He planned to ask Lily to help with that, but he doesn't know where she is: she has been leaving him alone, which seems to be a relief to him. He leads off on his tour.

At the dairy what is clearly a long-standing discussion abut the charging points is going on; Susan is opposed, Carrie tells her that Eddie and Oliver are all for it, and the argument rumbles on, with Susan being secretive about what Jim plans and telling Clarrie her doubts for what is clearly not the first time and how she feels 'the Bridge Farm lot' are not taking it seriously enough, until Helen arrives and she shuts up. When Helen tells them about the planned observation window they don't react with the complete enthusiasm she expected.

Brian has turned up at Spiritual Home's office and seems reluctant to tell Kate why he is there, saying that he didn't want to bother her; it seems he felt that a treatment might be called for, to help him relax. She asks how he has been sleeping, and whether he has any aches or pains, and when he answers 'badly' and tells her he has a neck-ache brought on by dozing off in his armchair, tells him she has been having deep tissue massages and she recommends them as an alleviation for stress hormones. [Seriously: check with your GP before you have these. They are not always suitable and in some cases can be harmful. Chris.] She definitely thinks they could help him: she'll see if Shona can fit him in today.

Susan and Clarrie are voicing their concerns about their privacy, their dislike of the idea of being watched like zoo animals, and their objections to not having been consulted at all, and Helen only manages to talk Susan into being less hostile to the window by flattery about her having been a public figure because of her broadcasting experience. Clarrie remains opposed to being gawped at through the glass, but Susan comes up with the suggestion of an intercom so they could answer people's questions and becomes quite keen on being in charge of that aspect of things, since Clarrie doesn't in the least want to do it. Helen praises her for the great idea, and asks Clarrie whether that makes her feel more comfortable: 'Not particularly,' replies Clarrie, deadpan.

Freddie's tour involves the fact of the house having been mostly built in 1702 and the coincidental death of William III in that year and accession of Queen Anne [though it's clear to the meanest intellect that these were totally unconnected to ower Loxley Hall. Chris], and then going up to the galleried landing, where they will look at the art collection.

The deep tissue massage was wonderful, according to Brian, who wants to know how much he owes Kate; 'my treat', she tells him. He insists he will pay from now on, which pleases and flatters her since it implies he will be coming back; yes, Shona recommended a course of treatment. Kate wishes he had told her sooner so they could have got it sorted out for him more quickly, and is really touched that he came to her and thought they could help. She tells him that in spite of their chat last week she was still questioning whether she really had a future at Spiritual Home, or it had a future with her. She'd sort of come up with a plan, deciding to stick with the business for five years and see how it goes, which Brian applauds as sounding eminently sensible. He talks up the place as her calling, and she mutters gloomily about having planned on only coasting, but when he exclaims in alarm about the idea that she might still give it up, she says no, not at all: she wants to be more proactive. She wants to take a leaf out of his book, and really make Spiritual Home flourish, which he thinks is an excellent idea.

At the end of the tour Noluthando has a question, or rather more of a comment: she praises the content and his having really kept her interest. He points out that she was on her phone towards the end, and asks anxiously whether everything is all right, and she tells him she was worried about one of the paintings, the huge one on the landing of the ship's officer, which she wanted to do some research on. Freddie asks anxiously if he got some information wrong, and she says no, it's more about what he might have left out.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 9th March, 2023

The painting may possibly be of a slaver, and Adam is ambushed by an old love-letter

Characters: Ian, Susan, Freddie, Noluthando, Adam
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Ian has come into the village shop to buy £4.98-worth of last-minute items for catering an office party in Borchester, and Susan asks how he and Adam are doing. When he says he would rather be at home helping Adam sort out Jennifer's clothes, and how difficult that is proving to be even though Kate, Alice and Lilian have each taken a few things and Debbie and Ruairi have put in some requests, Susan tells him how difficult it was clearing out her mother's things, and how her brother Clive 'helped' by helping himself to anything valuable he could find. As Ian is about to leave, she volunteers herself to come over after work and help with the sorting: Ian leaps on the idea.

Freddie has tried to take the painting down, but it is permanently fixed, and Elizabeth has told him to wait until she is back, so in the meantime he has put a sheet over it. Noluthando asks whether that won't just draw more attention to it, but he thinks not, if the area is closed to the public. [Difficult, that, since it was said to be on the staircase up to the area with the main painting collection in it. Chris] He couldn't leave it as it was after what she said. He will get professionals to remove it as soon as possible. Noluthando says she didn't mean to panic him, and that the ship in the picture only might be a slave-ship; they know it's the portrait of an East India Company officer (not a member of the family, Freddie adds firmly) and they know the East India Company was involved in the trafficking of slaves, but all she is saying is that since the picture features a ship in the background and navigational equipment, it could be making reference to ... Freddie cuts her off; the connotations are enough. She claims she just wanted him to be aware, and he says he is grateful to her for pointing it out. She doesn't know what more use she can be, and he explains he just wanted her to see that he is doing something about it. He's heard her concerns, and he's acted – as decisively as he can. She wants to know, then what? What's he going to do with it once it's down? When he says get rid of it before anyone else notices, she points out that they hadn't until now, and he should think about how many people have walked past this painting without questioning those features in it. Including him, she adds.

Having joined the Great Clothes Sorting Event at Honeysuckle Cottage, Susan is telling Adam about Clarrie disliking the observation window. He does sympathise somewhat with Clarrie, though he thinks the intercom idea is great; Susan tells him it has all come from him and his edible forest and he has proven quite the inspiration, for which he thanks her. Breathing deeply with exertion, he says he really appreciates her help, and she is understanding about the daunting nature of his self-imposed duty; now they have a system: to stay, to go, and to be decided. When asked if he has any idea where to send the donations Adam says bitterly that Brian has already decided they are to go to the bring-and-buy in Darrington, and Susan says his mum would approve of it being the W.I. Susan admires the clothes and the accessories, including a silk scarf like the sunset, which Adam decides is to be donated. Then Adam checks the pockets of a smart 1960s coat and finds an old love-letter, which he proceeds to read out to Susan under the impression it is from Brian [who is not entitled to the least privacy. Chris] Except that when he gets to the end of it, he sees the signature is Paddy, not Brian. It's from his father.

Merely getting rid of the painting will not solve the issue, as Noluthando is determinedly pointing out, though Freddie thinks it is better than nothing. She wants him to know that it just brushes things under the carpet, and saves people from having to consider the truth about his history [even though it is not a picture of a Pargetter at all. Chris]. It's a complicated subject, she informs him, and when he asks her for some guidance about what to do tells him she is not the authority and he should speak to his mum and Lily. When he objects that would just be having it decided by a bunch of white people she says she can't speak for the entire black community but she thinks he can get some independent advice. And she doesn't think much of the dust-sheet either, but Freddie says that a little sign under paintings doesn't feel enough to him when he sees it in other places: 'we're sorry it's racist, not our fault'. He really thinks it is best if he has the painting removed. She tells him it is his call, and he explains he is trying to promote Lower Loxley, not embroil the place in controversy. She informs him that since it is an English stately home, she can't imagine its connections to controversy begin and end with one painting. No, she hasn't seen anything specific, but she bets you'd only have to scratch the surface.

Having finally got Xander settled, Ian wants to know what he can help Adam with. Adam hasn't started dinner as he was supposed to, just read and re-read Paddy's letter; perhaps Ian should take it away. Instead, Ian reads bits of it to him; Adam is finding it weird that his mother might have been in love with this man, his birth father, and they've never even met. He wonders whether Jennifer felt the same as Paddy: she kept the letter, he must have meant something to her. But he has never seen her wear that coat. She probably read the letter, rolled her eyes and stuffed it in her pocket. He has no idea what went on between them, and now he never will. Ian assures him that it's fine to wonder, but Adam tries hard to convince himself he has all he needs: Ian, and Xander; why would he care about something like this, something so remote? Ian continues to reassure him: he's just processing stuff, and he has something written by his da... Adam decides it isn't significant, and in spite of Ian's argument puts the letter in the bin. It's all in the past, and he'd rather let it stay there.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 10th March, 2023

The past looms large for several people.

Characters: Lily, Freddie, Susan, Elizabeth, Adam
Credited scriptwriter:
Daniel Thurman
Director:
Julie Beckett
Editor: Jeremy Howe

While Freddie is going through the art collection catalogue Lily insist on telling him she is moving to The Stables, and explains that the reason she didn't want to tell him is that Josh wants to ask if he is interested in the third bedroom there. He's going to call about it today, and she is begging Freddie not to take it, and tells him she needs space – to which Freddie inquires whether Lower Loxley is not big enough for her? He is delighted she is leaving and makes no secret of it: while he is frantic over here, she can switch off at The Stables. She denies that it will be like that, and he says it already is. She immediately starts to snipe at him about his panicking reaction to the business with the painting, then patronisingly tells him they will do something as soon as mum gets back. She then reverts to what he is going to tell Josh, to which he enquires why he would want to move back to The Stables, when he only lived there before because he had to. She is flatteringly delighted. He points out to her that this is his home, and right now his priority is to protect its reputation.

Elizabeth is back, and meets Susan as she comes out of the Farm Shop from stocking up after her absence; she is planning a special meal to mark the occasion of Lily moving to The Stables. Susan commiserates about losing Lily but offers Neil being a tour guide as a consolation, then says there's a lot of hidden talent about: who would have thought Justin would be any good behind the counter of the shop? Adam then comes over and Elizabeth asks how he is before telling him what a beautiful service it was, a real testament to a remarkable woman. She then says she had better be going and sends her love to the family, leaving Adam and Susan together; Adam asks Susan whether she would like to come for some lunch as a thank you for helping yesterday and for being so sensitive about that letter from Paddy. He is feeling a bit thrown; it's all he's been thinking about, really. Susan suggests they talk it through over a coffee and cake.

Having got back to Lower Loxley Elizabeth is being unimpressed by Freddie's solution to the painting, and Lily finds it necessary to say for the record that she wasn't consulted. Freddie is stung into remarking that she was too busy plotting her move to The Stables; she ripostes that he could have asked her, since she will be covering this sort of thing on her course. [Not that at this point she knows any more about it than he does. Chris.] Elizabeth is angry because when he called her she told Freddie what to do (nothing) and he has ignored her instructions. He argues that all she said was to replace the text panel, at which Lily chips in that sounds sensible to her, and Freddie ignores her and goes on to say that is not enough. Elizabeth tells him that's the protocol and there is a template document he should have used while they were assessing the details. Freddie says he has seen it, and a vaguely worded text panel isn't sufficient. Lily asks why the dust-sheet was even necessary when he had closed the space to the public, and tells him he has totally over-reacted. He says he took action, and she tells him it was knee-jerk action. He then tells her that they need to go back and look at the entire art collection, at which point Elizabeth tells him they have already conducted an audit; he feels that the current problem shows that it clearly wasn't thorough enough. Elizabeth tells him that a lot of work was carried out, and he points out that Noluthando spotted the problem after a simple internet search. Elizabeth's solution is to draft a new text panel, brief the guides as soon as it's in place, and re-open the area. Freddie is outraged: he really thinks they should take it down. Elizabeth tells him that you can't just erase the past, and he responds that they have a duty of care towards their visitors; she comes straight back with the statement that they also have a duty of care towards history.

Susan and Adam are discussing the letter, and the fact that Adam took it out of the bin. He has been thinking about not knowing either of his fathers before Brian, though Roger a bit more than Paddy, and all his life he's been fine with that because he had Brian. Susan suggests Brian is more his father than either of them, to which Adam agrees but says it's strange to think he has three father-figures and only knows one of them; not a good strike rate. He hasn't told Brian about it because he feels he is disloyal, a bit to Brian but mostly to Mum. There are a lot of things he didn't ask, and Susan points out that you can't ask everything! He agrees he can't ask Mum, but what about Paddy? What would he ask him, if he could?

Having fallen back on telling Freddie that lots of places have similar policies, Elizabeth is unappreciative of him suggesting that maybe they are wrong, and tells him that this is what they decided. He is scathing: 'what, to retain and explain?' Lily says it's surely better than his preference and then makes a wise-guy comment about 'stash or trash', causing him to say that he happens to take this seriously. Elizabeth claims that she does too, and he ends up fighting his corner about it being taken down, against both his sister and his mother telling him in relays that he is wrong. He is more concerned about causing distress than educating their visitors; Elizabeth denies they will be causing distress. He says he doesn't want to offend people; she tells him none of them do. Lily then puts in her oar and, with Elizabeth's encouragement in the face of Freddie not wanting to hear her, suggests that with the right text panel a blank space could be quite powerful. Then they could auction the painting and make a donation to an appropriate charity from the proceeds. [NB: not donate the proceeds; donate from them. Chris] Freddie admits it's not a bad idea, and she thanks him ever so sweetly. He could probably go along with it. Elizabeth objects that they can't just sell a painting: they are answerable to the Trustees. Freddie would have to make his case and wait for them to make a decision; he says he will do that. She says she can't stop him, but in the meantime they will do as she says.

Adam is now talking about tracking Paddy down, this not being the first time he has thought of it. He talked himself out of it before, at about the time they found out about Brian's affair with Siobhán, and he squashed the idea: Mum had enough to cope with. Susan goes on being sympathetic. Now his mother is dead, Adam muses, that's one less person to be hurt; when Susan asks what about Brian, Adam says he is sure he'd understand. Anyway, Brian is doing what he feels is right for himself; maybe this is something Adam needs to do. Susan thinks it's natural to want to know who you are, then equivocates like anything rather than commit herself to any actual advice. Adam doesn't know where he would even start: all he has is Paddy's name. He's realised this is something he can't move past, not really: there are things he wants to know. When Susan asks what if the outcome isn't what he wants, he says that at least he'll have tried. It's like something has been triggered in him, there's only one man who can answer his questions, and he is going to find his father.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 12th March, 2023

Plus ça change for Clarrie, and all change for Brian.

Characters: Clarrie, Eddie, Brian, Alice, Susan, Joy
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As usual, Eddie has not found time to do an essential household repair and Clarrie is having to deal with the consequences, in this case the flooding of the bathroom cabinet caused by a leaking tap. [How? If a tap needs a washer replaced, it just drips maddeningly into the basin. Chris] Eddie is busy shaving because he thinks it makes him look younger, and is then going to be far too busy with all sorts of other things which will take him out of the house: he'll get round to it. And how about the trenches to plant potatoes? He'll do those too. When she asks him when, he suggests she ought to be in church. When she mentions her unhappiness about the observation window his reaction is to say, 'here we go,' in a dismissive way, and he declines to fix the leak before he comes down, on the specious pretext that it is his birthday next week. Clarrie goes away in understandable exasperation.

Brian has worked out that his children are trying to keep him busy, though he doesn't really mind; today it is Alice taking him for a walk to get some fresh air, and Adam has invited him to the Cheltenham Festival on Tuesday. Alice asks whether he thinks Adam is OK, and he replies as much as any of them are. She asks if Brian is sleeping OK, and he says yes; when Alice says that Kate told her he had a massage he says she had no business to, which Alice pooh-poohs. They post the 'thank you' letters Brian has had to write [presumably replying to letters of condolence, which is not a thing. Chris.] Then Alice suddenly takes off after someone she has just seen, with Brian calling after her.

It was Joy, and when Alice catches up with her she can't think of anything to say.

The bee in Jim's bonnet about the charging station and his determination not to let it happen without a fight has caused Susan to ring Clarrie and talk about it at her yet again, and Clarrie is clearly not interested, though she thinks she might follow Jim's example and have a word with Helen about the wretched observation window. Susan was under the impression she had acquiesced about that and isn't pleased to learn she hadn't, and tells Clarrie she is over-thinking it, which causes Clarrie to say she hasn't got time for either the window or Susan and Jim's shenanigans, not today. She's up to her eyeballs with chores, not to mention all the stuff she has to remind Eddie to do before tomorrow. Susan has the grace to say she is sorry that Clarrie is feeling under the cosh [sic. Chris] and get off the line, but feels obliged to excuse doing so by saying she has left her phone-charger at the shop and has to go and fetch it before someone nabs it.

Because Alice is too embarrassed to do so, Brian has gone to explain to Joy; Joy is grateful to him for coming to talk to her, because she thought she had done something wrong. He explains that she is wearing a scarf just like one of Jennifer's, and for a moment Alice thought she had seen her mother. [Brian and Alice were posting letters in the pillar-box outside the post-office and shop, Joy was on her way to open the shop, and Alice saw her and ran up behind her. This was all stated on air, and makes nonsense of what happened. Chris.] Joy is very sympathetic, and also feels terrible because she thinks it might actually be Jennifer's scarf: she bought it with several other things at the W.I. bring-and-buy last week in Hollerton. [Not in Darrington, to which the donation was to be made. Chris] Brian tells her that it did indeed belong to Jennifer, but reassures her that it is good to see it being enjoyed by someone else, and Jenny would be so pleased. Alice is, it just took her by surprise. He assures Joy that it couldn't have gone to a better person and it suits her. Susan arrives at that point looking for her phone charger and Brian makes his escape; Joy tells Susan all about it, and Susan recognises the scarf she had previously admired, and which she dropped off at the bring and buy for Brian. [Not for Adam, who had taken charge of Jennifer's clothes? Chris] Joy is still feeling bad for Alice, though Susan says they gave it away and must have known someone else would wear it; Joy sensibly points out that sometimes it's only when you see someone else wearing something that you realise you didn't really want to give it away.

Eddie is now saying he'll do 'it' (unspecified) when he gets back from delivering the hay-bales, and has done the sheep with Edward. Clarrie wants to know about the trenches for the taters, which need to be in the ground by the end of the month, and mentions that she can't get much done in the garden until he has dug it. Eddie says he has remembered he now has to do yet another chore for someone other than his wife, and might be back later than he expected, then distracts Clarrie by asking whether Susan said anything bout the window, getting the result he wanted: Clarrie says that apparently she's over-thinking things, and this gives him the opportunity to leave, with Clarrie asking him as he scarpers at least to put the mug in the sink! She asks if he has fixed the leak and he says he can't be late; he told her, it needs the right new washer. Then he leaves as she tries to make sure he will at least remember to get a washer while he is out.

Alice has let herself in to Willow Cottage, and claims not to have meant to startle Brian [in which case maybe she ought to knock, or ring the bell, before walking in? Chris]. She needed to sit down where she and Mum used to sit. She's in a bit of a state and Brian calms her down, offering a cup of tea and telling her she is not pathetic. He tells her that every day is a step forward in this new existence without Jenny, and for what it's worth, Joy really didn't think badly of her, and once she knew the scarf had been her mother's totally understood how she might be feeling. She even offered not to wear it. He is clear: all the things he sent away, the things that used to be Jenny's, are all just things, objects; they were hers, but much as it hurts to say it out loud, they're not hers any more. He knows they all think he was too hasty in passing on her things, he knows Adam felt that way; Alice is clear that they all had the chance to keep anything they wanted, and perhaps if she had the choice again she'd keep all of it. Brian tells her that he spent all those years with Jenny and he doesn't feel an attachment to these things; he starts to tell her his version of how he bought the scarf and she tells him the version of the story that Jennifer told her; he tells her that he has the memory of doing something nice in the sunshine, and Alice has the memory of Jennifer sharing the story with her, and that's what's precious, so much more than the scarf. It's the memories that count. None of the stuff. Alice percipiently remarks that it can't be easy for him being there all the time with it all around him, and he agrees, telling her that is why he's decided to move out. The tenancy agreement is up and he has decided not to renew it. He's leaving Willow Cottage.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 13th March, 2023

Paul regrets having to leave Ambridge, and Clarrie simply resents change.

Characters: Alistair, Paul, Josh, Clarrie, Susan, Helen
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Lambing is in full swing, and Alistair and Paul have been called in to help a ewe who has been in trouble for a while. Josh appears to be the only Archer present, and he and Paul do a bit of chatting as they work, Josh cleaning and warming the lamb and Paul doing blood tests. Paul says it's his first lamb at Brookfield, and as he gets ready to pack the van Josh notices his long face, and is told Paul's placement is coming to an end on Friday. Josh can hardly believe it: already? Paul will miss working on the farms, and doesn't suppose there will be much farming in his next placement from Lovell James; Alistair points out he is a recently qualified vet nurse and needs to get varied experience, then goes off to find David. After he's gone Paul lyricises about being close to the land, and the gorgeous horses in Ambridge; it's a bit sad, but he'll miss being there.

Clarrie is griping about Eddie having been too busy helping Ned to help her, and Susan is every sort of sympathetic, though not sympathetic enough to stop her from telling Clarrie that Eddie spent yesterday afternoon, when he said he'd been helping Ned, out for a drink with Neil; Eddie called him up and invited him for a pint. Just as Clarrie is about to explode, Helen arrives to tell them the window is going to be done tomorrow: it should be finished by Thursday. Clarrie hates the whole idea, not to mention doing a full day's work before packing everything up and covering all the equipment. She says it will be overtime for them no matter how Helen looks at it, and grumbles about having to tell Eddie she will be late; Susan explains to Helen that Clarrie is under pressure at home, and Clarrie explains yet again that she does not like the idea of the window. It's clear she has not warmed to the idea of someone looking over her shoulder all day, and all Helen's and Susan's blandishments don't appear to change her view of the matter.

Josh has brought coffee to Paul, who is glad he will be getting a good reference, and Josh tells him he's obviously good at his job. Paul says again that he loves the farm stuff, then changes the subject to Josh's problems finding someone to be the last person in the house-share; he approves of Lily and commiserates about Ben not moving back, though he can understand Ben wanting to be where he is helping with the B&B. Paul encountered him earlier with someone looking around, whom Josh explains as one of the guests whose son is interested in farming. Paul starts trying to talk himself into wanting to leave and get new experiences, but reverts to how he has really enjoyed being in Ambridge and isn't sure he wants to go back to city life; opportunistic Josh promptly offers him the last room at The Stables. Paul initially thinks if he were staying in Ambridge it would be perfect, but he has no idea where Lovell James will send him next, and his only means of transport is his bicycle. He'd better go and find Alistair.

As he drives Paul back to the surgery Alistair tells him that he'll be an asset wherever he goes, and if it were not that they want Denise back because she is so much a part of the practice, he and Jakob would be trying hard to keep him on if he wanted. Paul is touched and says it's good of him to say that. Alistair goes on to say that on Friday, he and Jakob were thinking of taking Paul out for a meal at a restaurant of his choice. Paul is delighted at the idea of a leaving do, and Alistair says that they'd like to give him a decent send-off; it looks as if they'll be able to get off early, because the last appointment is just past three. Paul then says that he's had such a good time, and has learned so much from them, he'd like to arrange Friday's do: a send off from them and a thank-you from him. Alistair laughs and agrees.

The still-disgruntled Clarrie points out that when Helen mentioned all hands to the pump she meant theirs, since she hasn't yet shown up. Susan persists in trying to cheer her up and Clarrie persists in her ill-humour, and Helen then breezes in and suggests that Clarrie can go home at her usual time if she wants, but Clarrie is determined to be miserable and says she has told Eddie now, and anyway she isn't sure she wants to go home. Susan blames herself for having told her about Neil and Eddie, which Helen jumps on asking what about them, and Susan is about to tell her when Clarrie chimes in and explains for herself that Eddie doesn't seem to care what needs doing at home at the minute; he doesn't care two hoots about her, and now he's lying to her. Helen says 'Oh, dear,' and Clarrie further explains that whenever he starts slipping up on home jobs she knows he's up to something and he'll get himself in trouble. Despairingly, she says she's got Eddie on one side and this window on the other, whereupon Helen, to cheer her up, says they are having new uniforms and logos, bright new whites and logos that pop. Susan is greatly excited; Clarrie is not. Helen, still unremittingly cheerful, points out that they'll get two days off, and because it's such short notice they'll be paid for them; Clarrie utters a somewhat disgruntled 'Coo' and Susan wonders what she and Clarrie are going to do with themselves.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 14th March, 2023

In which a good time is had by all.

Characters: Brian, Adam, Susan, Clarrie
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

At Cheltenham racetrack Brian and Adam are enjoying themselves and chatting quite amicably about all sorts of things; Adam says he was up late doing research on the internet, and when Brian asks if that was to do with his Edible Forest Garden says it was something else but then rather than saying more about what it was talks about his enjoyment of the positive attitude at Bridge Farm, and though Brian asks 'Unlike us, you mean?' it's clear he has taken Adam's pleasure in his new employment well. He thanks Adam for inviting him along and pretty-much apologises for having upset him last week, saying he's sure Adam would have had more fun with Ian or with his sisters while Brian looked after Xander.

That Clarrie is trying to fix the leak herself means Eddie has left it for another day, but Susan is opposed to her doing it: Clarrie tells her that she doesn't want to get Oliver involved, and Eddie is going to be late back, but Susan has plans for the day off that Eddie doesn't know they have. There is a craft fair at Westbury, and it turns out Clarrie went there once, years ago, and enjoyed it greatly. As further inducement Susan tells her a local knitting group is knitting a scarf to wrap around the entire church, and anyone can join in. Clarrie argues that she can't leave all this, and if she isn't there Eddie won't get on with any of the other jobs he ought to be doing. Susan tells her to leave a list, and after a little more argument she agrees to go.

The race before Adam and Brian are going to have lunch is exhilarating, and Brian has won something on it; he has also been approached by Lavinia, who clearly didn't know what to say so he doesn't know why she bothered instead of waving from a distance and avoiding him the way most people do. Adam is a bit shocked and asks if that is a common reaction, and Brian tells him that yes, it is. He hopes Adam never has to experience it: when your other half has died, so many people would rather walk on hot coals than have a conversation with you! Not close friends, of course, he adds hastily, but the rest: he doesn't blame them, he'd probably do the same except Jennifer would make him go over and speak to them. Adam says that Alice tells him Brian plans to move, and Brian expects to be asked if that's really a good idea, but Adam feels it's Brian's business where he lives, though Alice wasn't so sure. Brian tells him that he is looking into a few options but they are not to worry: he'll be fine. Then he tells Adam he is a good son, and he's sorry he's never been the father Adam needed but he is proud of him, and Adam reciprocates by telling Brian that when he thinks of his dad that's Brian. He is clearly about to tell Brian about looking for Paddy, but Brian keeps on talking, saying that no matter how inadequate he has been he's always loved Adam. Adam instantly disputes that he has been inadequate, saying that they have never been the conventional father-son duo but they've muddled along. Brian then tells Adam to come on because it's The Arkle next.

Susan and Clarrie are having a wonderful time, and Clarrie is looking at wool with which to make a Kermit the Frog when she gets a text from Eddie asking whether she prefers sage green or crisp white, which leads to her thinking he's gone off his rocker. She doesn't bother to reply. Susan then gets a message from Neil saying he might be a bit late getting home, but she doesn't think it likely Eddie has roped him into anything. As they go off to have home-made pie for lunch before their turn knitting for the scarf Clarrie shows Susan the massage-bead seat-cover she has got for Eddie's van because he has complained of trouble with his back, and she has a leaflet for a festival in Faircastle tomorrow afternoon. Clarrie is glad Susan made her come out; she's having such a good time! And what's more, says Susan, they're getting paid.

It is now the Champion Hurdle and Adam and Brian wish each other luck with their bets: may the best horse win! Brian says if his comes anywhere it is drinks on him tonight, and Adam says he'll see if Ian can meet them at The Bull with Xander. And if he doesn't win the drinks will still be on him, Brian adds. Adam chooses this moment to tell Brian he has found Paddy's letter while he was sorting through Mum's things, and has decided to try and find him and connect with him, if he can. Brian manages to say 'right', and then the race starts and he can shout about that a bit rather than answer any further.

When they get back to Grange Farm the to-do list is still sitting on the table and Clarrie blames herself for being stupid enough to think she might enjoy a day out and His Lordship might actually pull his finger out and do what she asks. Susan tries to cheer her up, but she says she was going to bake his birthday cake this evening but now she isn't going to bother. As soon as Susan finishes in the post office tomorrow they are going to do it again: what time does that festival start in Faircastle?

Three hundred smackers is not bad at all in Brian's estimation, and when Adam congratulates him on always having luck with the horses he argues that it's not luck, he has a nose for it. Adam says he remembers Brian saying that the first time he and Mum brought Adam to Cheltenham, and that he has still never really won anything. Brian asks if he has got hold of Ian, but Adam wants to apologise if he has upset Brian and explain that Paddy is nothing to do with his thinking of Brian as Dad, it just feels like something he has to do. Brian is very understanding and says he was just taken by surprise: he was a bit taken aback that Jenny had kept the letter. Adam can see that, but says it was in the pocket of an old coat and didn't have a pink ribbon round it, and Brian says he's glad Adam felt able to tell him about it and asks if he's found anything. Adam says no, but it's early days and he'll let Brian know if he does. Brian is clear that it makes sense: anyone would want to find out where they came from, who they came from and it's not as if their family wasn't complicated. Adam was worried that the timing might be bad for Brian, but Brian is firm that he understands and whatever happens he will be there. Adam thanks him, and nearly calls him 'Dad', settling at the last moment for 'Brian' instead. Brian tells him not to worry: they don't have to turn into the Waltons to prove anything

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 15th March, 2023

Clarrie is surprised, the listener is not, and history is comprehensively rewritten.

Characters: Eddie, Neil, Susan, Clarrie, Sykesy, Ben, Jill
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A conspiracy between Eddie and Neil continues, with each thanking the other and saying he couldn't have done what he has without the other helping, until Eddie says they have a lot to do before Clarrie gets home from work and Neil tells him that Clarrie can't be at work: when he was at Bridge Farm to borrow a truck, he saw that the dairy was closed, and neither she not Susan was working in the shop. The two men puzzle over this, with Neil wondering why Susan didn't tell him the dairy was closed. Eddie, aghast, asks where their wives are, and Neil tries to call Susan and ask her.

At the festival Susan decides to ignore Neil's call and let the phone ring out. Clarrie is worried in case he has worked out they are bunking off work again; Susan points out that they are doing no such thing, they are bunking off home, and anyway how would Neil know where they are going? What happened to the trouper who was waxing lyrical about not being taken for granted yesterday? Clarrie is feeling bad about leaving Eddie with a shop-bought cake; Susan says he's lucky to have a cake at all. Clarrie feels she should have stayed home and figured out what Eddie is up to, though he didn't come home with a bunch of flowers like Susan predicted, and Susan admits that Neil didn't say much either. Clarrie abruptly decides that she doesn't have time for them: let's see what's what here and just forget about them. Just as she and Susan are about to go in to the main tent she cries out in alarm: she has seen Derek, Ned's son. Typical, snarls Clarrie: the one time she decides to go awol, Eddie's dodgy friend's son's here. Susan is determined to go on in, and bets he won't even notice them.

Sykesy asks Ben whether he fancies himself as a bit of a Florence Nightingale, and Ben asks whether he wants him to stay or not. He is interested in Sykesy having told him the other day that he knew Brookfield when he was a kid, and Sykesy informs Ben that his family farm had a prisoner of war camp on it back during the War, which astonishes Ben [and is the most egregious reinvention of history yet: Phil worked at Brookfield throughout the war, and never once mentioned this. Nor did anyone else in the programme. Chris]. It was fourteen acres, called Quartershot POW camp, and some of the POWs were working on the farm for Ben's great-grandparents. It had been commandeered so Dan Archer had no choice, and was the talk of the town for a few weeks when an Italian prisoner of war escaped. Sykesy's big brother used to knock about with the evacuees who helped the Italian escape. Ben's phone rings and he puts it onto silent, but that's all Sykesy remembers about the Great Escape, so he tries to get Sykesy to go with him for tea and cake in the dining hall, saying that it's his birthday and Sykesy has to share a bit of cake with him. His brother and cousin want him to go out with them later, but he doesn't much want to. Sykesy is finally persuaded to go down for one slice of cake and one cup of tea, after which he doesn't want to see Ben until he is being told tomorrow about what they got up to.

Slabs were put down yesterday with Oliver's help, and Eddie is sure he and Neil will be done in no time. Eddie then gets a message from Ned which includes a picture of Clarrie, dancing in a tent at the Faircastle Fiddler Fest; Eddie can't think how come she's there at all, and Neil has no idea but thinks it looks as if she's having a good time. Eddie decides it's just an old picture and Ned is winding him up; they need to get the wood off the truck.

The cherry bakewell won't kill you, according to Sykesy, and he accepts a cup of tea just as Jill comes over and asks if there is any for her. She has brought Ben a birthday cake to share with his 'friends', and recognises Sykesy by that name. He is unsurprised, since he has worked farms round these parts all his life, and she remembers that he worked at Brookfield sometimes [though never during The Archers radio programme, before which Jill was not there either. Chris]. She decides to wait to have her tea until Christine comes down, and when Ben asks her about the POW camp at Brookfield corroborates all the story Sykesy has told about it, though it was before her time, of course. They did catch the escaped Italian in the end, she tells them, before going on to say she has some candles somewhere and Ben has to cut his cake, thus very much embarrassing her grandson.

When Clarrie gets home she is unexpectedly greeted by an oily Eddie, who tells her he has mended the leak upstairs and proposes to dig the trenches for the potatoes tomorrow, before asking her all about her day at work in so much detail that she immediately realises that he knows she wasn't in work. He wants to know since when she has liked fiddle music, and when she says it was lovely and really got them all going he speaks of having photographic evidence from Ned. Why didn't she tell him? Because he lied to her. He is most indignant and asks when he lied; she tells him when he spent the afternoon drinking with Neil after telling her he was helping Ned, to which he has no easy reply. She tells him exactly what he has been doing wrong, ignoring her and then lying about where he has been, so yes, she went to do something for her, and she doesn't care what he what he says. What he has actually said is 'good'; which he expands on, saying it's about time she had some fun instead of doing nothing but work for all of them. And the last couple of days he fell behind with his jobs because he was doing something else, and he'll show her what it was.

The excuse Susan gives for not having told Neil what was going on was that she got carried away seeing Clarrie suffering. But a site that Neil has shown her is perfect; he says he knew she thought it was time for an upgrade from the pergola, so he is going to build her a summer house there. She says the pergola couldn't have gone to a better home.

Meanwhile, Eddie is showing Clarrie the sage green pergola for her to put a chair in and put her feet up; he explains he got it from Neil and the two of them sorted it out. She says she was sure he was up to something and he replies that he was, in a way; when she wants to know why he did it for her when it's his birthday not hers, he tells her it's because she is always working away to make everyone else's day special: who's to say he can't treat his wife to something special on his birthday? She says, 'Happy birthday, Eddie,' and he thanks her. but tells her she is his best birthday present and kisses her.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 16th March, 2023

Nobody cares about the window, and Brian doesn't care for well-meaning interference.

Characters: Adam, Alice, Susan, Neil, Jakob
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Adam and Alice are discussing Brian: whether he is serious about moving out of Willow Cottage, and where he is going to go. Alice says that Mum did everything for him and she doubts he is going to start learning to take care for himself overnight, with which Adam agrees, and she speculates that maybe he is hoping one of them will ask him to come and stay. They decide that since it can't be Kate, or Debbie, or Ruairi, it is up to them to arrange his future, since he is never going to leave Home Farm, is he. Could either of them fit him in, with all his stuff? It won't be forever, just until he finds his feet. Alice points out that since Brian likes to have a drink in the evening she can't really do it, so Adam says he will ask Ian. Alice needs to catch Jakob before he goes out on his rounds, so they part.

At Ambridge View Susan is rejoicing in the beautiful sunny morning, and Neil is eating salmon and eggs. He's pleased she is happy about the summer-house. She tells him Clarrie called her about how lovely the pergola is, and Susan feels it couldn't have gone to a better home; she bets that was Neil's idea, but he says no, it was all Eddie. She asks about Lower Loxley and Neil says they will let him know when they want him. Susan then shows him the new uniform Helen has got for the dairy workers, which she thinks is rather too tight; Neil likes it, and also says she used to complain the old ones made her feel like she was wearing men's overalls. Clarrie isn't happy about it either, but Helen just said she didn't want them to look as if they were drowning in their white coats. Susan is afraid this window is going to give her and Clarrie more than they bargained for.

Examination of the horse and a description of its symptoms has led to Jakob taking some 'bloods' to send away, and he and Alice discuss Alice having insisted that Adam must take Brian; Jakob has read something about a child benefiting from having a grandparent as part of its household, which catches Alice's attention when he tells her it's been studied in various cultures across the world and, where a parent may be busy and miss something, a grandparent is another set of eyes and ears looking out for the young person. Alice had not thought about it like that. She then asks about Paul, and hears Jakob's reservations about Friday's leaving do: he is worried Paul is going to expect Jakob and Alistair to perform an Abba number with him, in full bling. Alice says he sounds like the life and soul, and Jakob responds gloomily that is exactly what's worrying him.

Susan has put on the new uniform, and Neil does like it, though he thinks the cartoon calf logo is a deer. When Susan asks if he thinks it looks OK, he says that with a lovely figure like hers of course it does. He has to go.

After her conversation with Jakob, Alice now rings Adam to say that she wants Dad to be with her and Martha. Adam is suspicious of the sudden change of heart, so she claims to have been doing some ree-search and quotes Jakob's earlier summary of the benefits for children of resident grandparents [see the Grundys, also Josh, Ben and Pip; oh, hang on a minute... Chris]; when she says she thinks it would be good for Martha, Adam instantly retorts that it would be equally good for Xander, and they could make the downstairs office nice for Brian. Alice thought Adam would be relieved, but suggests that they will speak to Brian and see who he wants to live with. If Adam comes to hers after work, she'll call Dad over and they can put it to him.

Neil gets back to Ambridge view hungry for his supper, and asks how work was: it seems Susan and Clarrie had hard work cleaning and sterilising everything and putting it back again, though others did help them a bit. He then asks how the window went, it turns out that nobody looked through it at all apart from Fallon and Emma waving to them. Neil notices that Susan has the petition clipboard with her, and she reminds him that he has not yet signed it; as he asks where she wants him to sign, she asks him whether he knows if that Fred from Stoners Farm who used to do magic tricks for kids' parties still has his top hat. Neil is rather disconcerted and asks why she wants one; apparently it is Jim who wants one. Neil asks if Susan really wants to get involved but she is absolute that she does: they have to get objections in early or they will all be railroaded into having the charging station whether they want it or not; Neil protests that when Jim is onto something he's like a dog with a bone, and Susan replies, 'As am I.' She says they want to preserve their village, not see it turn into a roadside service-station on the way to somewhere else.

Adam has turned up late, having been waylaid at Bridge Farm, but it doesn't matter, because Brian is not coming; when Alice rang him to say she or Adam would have him until he found his feet he laughed at her and said he knows exactly where his feet are. He doesn't want to live with either of them, and Alice is afraid he thought they were being really condescending. Apparently he's seeing somewhere tomorrow, and if it's a goer he'll let them know. When Adam asks whether he said where it is, Alice says no: Adam's guess is as good as hers.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 17th March, 2023

Brian is moving on but Paul is staying put.

Characters: Paul, Jakob, Alistair, Usha, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Naylah Ahmed
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Paul's chosen leaving do is an escape room, with clues to look for which Jakob is good at solving. Alistair getting a message on his phone irritates Paul, who says that they agreed to no calls until they get out; Alistair doesn't answer it.

Outside Blossom Hill Cottage, Usha runs to greet with Brian and hopes he wasn't waiting long; she had trouble finding the spare keys. She had someone in to cut the grass and tidy the garden, so she was searching for them manically [no, I don't see why someone mowing the grass would need the keys, but that was what she said. Chris]. She tells Brian how sorry she was about Jennifer's death, and what a good funeral it was. Brian says that Alan did a splendid job, and Brian couldn't have got through it without him. Usha understands about him leaving Willow Cottage, and invites him in to have a look around.

There is another room and a different lot of visual clues to work out, including a mirrored wall. Paul's phone buzzes, which irritates Jakob; Paul says his mother must have forgotten where they were going to be, and Jakob tells him crossly to put his phone on airline mode, as Jakob has done. As Jakob works out the clues, Paul reminds them that time is ticking.

Blossom Hill Cottage is unfurnished, which suits Brian because they have plenty of things in storage [still in that barn, or have they been moved to somewhere dry and free of rodents? Chris] though he suspects he won't need much more than they have at the cottage. Usha assures him it has been redecorated more than once since Helen was there, but Brian is not concerned about that: it hadn't even crossed his mind. More to the point as far as he is concerned is that it was in Blossom Hill Cottage, when Peggy was living in it, that he realised he had to have Jenny in his life. It was Boxing Day, 1975, he spent the evening with the family, and it just felt so right. Usha is enchanted to think that he knew then. The proposal took him ages: nearly a week! New Year's Day 1976. Usha exclaims in delight that he really did know. They were married a couple of months later [or to put it a little differently, on the 29th of May, 1976. Chris]. He tells Usha that Jenny knew as well, then reconsiders and says maybe that's just what he chooses to think. Usha is sure that's not so, but Brian says that's what we do, isn't it: edit our memories as we go along. Usha assures him, as someone who had to battle for her man, that the timing speaks for itself; Jennifer knew. She wants to be sure Brian will be happy, since it is further out than Willow Cottage [all of a hundred and fifty yards further. Chris], but Brian regards that as a selling point: the kids all want to check in on him constantly. Usha asserts that is only because they care, but Brian feels there is a fine line between caring for someone and feeling burdened. Usha asks how they are doing and Brian says coping, each in their own way: Ruairi is hiding in London, Debbie is leaving for Hungary soon, Adam is working on his latest project, and Kate of course has decided to completely reinvent herself, which they are hoping won't last much longer. Alice probably has the biggest burden. Usha points out that they are all strong and will get through it; as Brian says, it's just whatever one can do to cope, and hopefully time takes care of the rest. Brian tells her about being summoned to Alice's yesterday to choose which of her or Adam he wanted to live with; he felt like she was the parent and he was her child, and he wasn't having it. He knows they mean well but he can't help thinking that they all expect he won't be able to iron his own clothes or cook himself a meal, but he'll not sit about in anyone's living room being a useless burden. Usha says there is plenty of fire in him yet, and he thanks her but would like her just to explain that to his children.

A phone starts to ring as the intrepid trio solve the last room, the highest level, and Jakob wants to know if there is a prize. Paul disillusions him; no, they didn't do well enough to get a prize, which in any case would only be a team photo on a board. He didn't have Jakob down as a prize kind of guy, but Jakob says he was waiting for someone to run up with a trophy or something. Alistair is behind him and back on the phone, which reminds Paul he must ring his mum: he'll be outside when they're ready. Alistair comes back to Jakob and when Jakob says drinks and dinner for the soon to be departed are on them, Alistair says he was just speaking to Doug at head office, and it turns out Paul's not actually leaving. They are sending Denise to a practice in the East Midlands that needs cover. Jakob supposes Paul will be pleased, and as he asks whether Alistair will be, Paul comes back in to tell them he just spoke to mum and ... 'You're not leaving,' interrupts Jakob happily. Denise was as surprised as they are, but is chuffed that head office thought she could help a 'should we, shouldn't we keep it open' practice. Paul says he knows they were looking forward to having her back, but they'll have to put up with him for a little longer. Jakob tells him that yes, they were looking forward to seeing Denise again, but equally, they were sorry to see him go, and when he says his leaving do is a bit defunct now, Alistair says it is now a 'we're glad you're not leaving' do; then he remembers about The Stables having a spare room which Paul had been thinking about, and suggests that now he will be remaining in Ambridge he ought to see if it is still up for grabs. Paul tells him he is on it, and Alistair is simply the best. They other two look forward to at least six more months of high-octane veterinary nursing with Paul.

The inspection of Blossom Hill Cottage has got down to details like a slightly sticking back door, and Usha asks if Brian is going to take it. He says he is, please, and Usha tells him she can send him the standard contract, and is absolutely sure she doesn't need references; when would he like to move in. He says, ideally, A.S.A.P., and she tells him he will have to let the utilities know he is taking over, and she will see if she can get him in as quickly as possible. Does he want to hang onto the keys for today, and do any measuring he needs to? He wants to stay and do that, and to sort out some other stuff, and she tells him she hopes he'll be very happy there. She lets herself out, and Brian gives a sigh, then says, 'Home sweet home.'

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 19th March, 2023

Justin demonstrates stupidity as well as contemptibility, and Debbie butters up Adam.

Characters: David, Adam, Justin, Jim, Debbie
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

That Brian has decided to move to Blossom Hill Cottage comes as news to David; Adam tells him it has taken them all by surprise. He seems very eager: he is already packing up the house. When David clearly has no more to say on the subject Adam asks how calving and lambing are going, and David says exhausting; he is off to the shop for snacks to eat during tonight, after which he will go to The Bull for a Mothers' Day lunch. Then he realises what he has just said and apologises to Adam for mentioning mothers. Adam says he is not to be daft, and he doesn't need to tiptoe round them; David hastens to get away, and Adam calls after him that he ought to get an energy drink too. Adam's phone rings, and Adam tells the person on the other end that the spare room is ready for them and asks their ETA; whoever it is is already in Ambridge.

At the shop Justin makes a joke about the amount of chocolate David is buying, asking whether they need to restock; Jim, overhearing from the stockroom, asks whether Justin mentioned a shelf that needs re-stocking, then if he can interest David in a newspaper. David politely declines to buy one, and Jim points out an article about electric car charging points no longer getting government grants. While Justin tries to shut him up, Jim continues to dig at David; David is not interested, nor prepared to join Jim's campaign against the chargers at Hollowtree, and reiterates that when they sold the land, they were explicitly told it was for a horse to be kept there. He will sign a petition if Jim likes, but he hasn't the time or the energy to get further involved, and he doesn't want to start throwing allegations around. Jim says they need a story like a farmer having been lied to, something that's going to cause a stir. After David rushes away, with Jim calling after him that it's not good enough to stay silent and they have a duty to their fellow citizens to take a stand, Justin remonstrates: the shop needs customers, so could they please try not to scare them away?

The office at Honeysuckle Cottage is cramped as a bedroom, but Debbie (for it is she) says it is fine. It's only until Friday. She and Adam hug as if they had not been at each other's throats as a rule for years, and Debbie apologises for having rushed away straight after the funeral; Adam is understanding about her not having felt able to face being in Ambridge. He then asks after Roger, who apparently sends his love and regrets for not having been at the funeral: it's a long way and covid affected him badly. She suggests that Adam ought to get in touch, but though he is glad for Debbie that she and Roger get on, it's not the same for him. And speaking of stepfathers... She wants to know what is going on with Brian: she couldn't believe it when Kate told her about the move. Adam tells her they all feel the same; she says that even in the little time she was there she could feel her mother around at Willow Cottage and Adam says perhaps that's the point, then graciously allows as how Brian seems very positive compared to how he's been. She asks about how he is doing, and he says OK, and talks about how the edible forest garden is coming on well. They could go and see it if she wants, and he'll ring to see whether Ian wants to bring Xander along too.

Jim is now voicing his gripe against Brookfield, who ought in his opinion to have shown greater vigilance. Justin defends them, saying it's not David's responsibility; Jim makes it clear that his objection is not to charging stations but to the inappropriate location. He also objects to the anonymous nature of the company behind it. Why are they hiding? Justin equivocates, saying that it's not unusual for businesses to use consultancies in such developments. In any case, what does Jim propose to do? Jim quotes Eldridge Cleaver saying that you either have to be part of the solution or you are going to be part of the problem. And? asks Justin slightly impatiently. He'd say that makes Brookfield part of the problem, says Jim triumphantly.

Debbie thinks Adam's work is spectacular and is very flattering about what he is doing [what does she want, I wonder? Chris] but says it is just a shame he couldn't do it at Home Farm. The ever-positive Adam says that Stella is now arguing for the same things he has tried to advocate: low input, high quality; Debbie says he was ahead of the curve. Debbie says Stella and Brian seem to get on well [something she presumably knows by osmosis, since up to this point she has only been in Ambridge for the funeral. Chris] and Adam says he is just grateful the farm's got her. Adam has a quick jab about her running the place single-handed and Brian not having been into the office since Mum died; Debbie says it feels strange for nobody in the family to be actively involved any more, to which Adam responds they are happier for it, or at least he is, how about her? She protests that she is too, and loves her life in Hungary, but mentioning Mum being gone reduces her to tears, about which she apologises. She hadn't really taken in how important it is to know where you come from, and maybe that was why it was good to see Roger and feel she still has foundations; she suggests they should get to the tea-room and meet Ian and Xander. Rather than do so at once, Adam wants to tell her he has started looking for his Dad, though he doesn't even know if he's still alive; like she says, something about losing Mum. She feels it's a huge decision but it's important: even if she and Adam don't think so, deep down fathers are part of who their children are.

Justin has caught David away from his table at The Bull, and warns him he may have a bit of trouble on his hands with Jim, something more than the digs he's been having ever since the planning application came out. Justin isn't exactly sure what, but Jim's upset David won't join his crusade and although Justin understands about being busy, he just thought David ought to know: forewarned is forearmed, as they say. David thanks him for the heads-up and goes back to his meal, and Justin, in the pub where there are presumably more customers than David, then rings somebody called Asif and in a hoarse semi-whisper apologises for bothering him on a Sunday, tells him about Jim's objections, warns him they may have a formidable adversary on their hands, reminds him that he is keeping Damara's name out of it, tells him he will keep his ear to the ground and let him know if he gleans anything more concrete, and says it's amazing what you can learn in the village shop.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 20th March, 2023

Maybe Clarrie and Susan should ask David for some hay-bales?

Characters: David, Ruth, Ben, Clarrie, Susan, Jim
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

There is tragedy at Brookfield: a terrier has savaged one of the lambs, which is in a bad way. Alistair must be called, though David will do his best to clean the poor animal up with antiseptic soap, and Ruth will have to leave him to it; she has to get back to the house for today's B&B guests, since Ben is at The Laurels visiting Sykesy. That irritates David as well: they had a deal, the B&B is Ben's responsibility. At that moment Ben shouts to them; he wants them to come and see outside, at the top of the lane outside the farm entrance. [Brookfield farmyard opens directly onto a public thoroughfare going up from Ambridge to the other farms beyond Brookfield. The top of that lane is at the other side of Bridge Farm, out of sight round a corner. Chris] There's Jim and Neville and Nathan Booth, and a couple from Grange Spinney; Jim is wearing a green top hat with 'stop Brookfield car-park' on it. They are protesting against the EV charging station. Ruth is aghast and David exasperated.

The observation window is far larger than either Clarrie or Susan had expected and Clarrie feels like a fish in an aquarium, though Susan is trying to be more positive. It's here now, and Clarrie saw how excited Helen was about it. Clarrie is upset because Helen has asked them not to talk, and she is not at all sure that the people outside will only hear them when they turn the microphone on. They agree to have a practice at answering questions about the cheese-making process; Susan goes outside to be a member of the public.

Jim is on the phone directing someone how to get to the protest when the furious David arrives and tells him they have nothing to do with the charging station and suggests he should go and protest where it it going to be built, while Ben tries to calm him down. David wants to know how they are 'colluding with concreting countryside' as Neville's placard puts it, and Jim says by refusing to lend his voice to the campaign. That doesn't have to remain the case of course, but David is scornful of the idea that he is going to be persuaded by the sort of behaviour in which Jim and his friends are indulging. He loses his temper with Jim and tells him to clear off, who retorts that they are on the public highway and it's not his land. Ben tries to get David to come away, but David says he is going to call the police, while Jim talks about peaceful protest and says that calling the police won't make a jot of difference.

The practice at the dairy is going as well as could be, that is, badly. Clarrie gets flustered and can't remember things, eventually saying that it is no use and she can't do it.

The police are no help, and Ruth asks David what they are going to do and is told nothing, unless the protesters break the law. At the moment they are being careful to confine themselves to a bit of the verge, and not go onto Brookfield land. She asks him what about the B&B guests, who may arrive at any minute, and what they are going to think, and finally pushes him into losing his temper with her as well, and savagely asking her what she expects him to do about it. He has called the police, who aren't going to be able to help just as they aren't going to be able to help about who let their dog loose on Brookfield land and savaged a lamb. As he is snarling at her Ben arrives and tells him that Jim says they will go, but only after the photographer from the Echo has been. Ruth is horrified that Jim has called the papers, and Ben says he's basically after publicity for the campaign. He says let them have their picture, and hopefully they'll be gone before the guests arrive. David finds the idea of them dragging the Brookfield name through the mud intolerable, and rushes away growling 'not on your Nellie they're not!'

The workers have swapped places and Susan is being the dairy-worker to Clarrie's member of the public; she also forgets things. [We do learn that they use rennet in Borsetshire Blue, which means it is not suitable for vegetarians. Chris] She also doesn't much like it when Clarrie asks awkward questions, and decides it's silly because they are pretending and it makes her self-conscious; she won't forget things when they do it for real. Clarrie reckons that will be worse, and Susan implores her not to say that: she knows what she is talking about, she'll be absolutely fine.

Ruth is imploring Jim to move away from the entrance for the sake of their guests, who want a peaceful visit; Ben is being the voice of reason and saying they can still wait for the photographer; Jim is unmoved and points out that they care more about their guests than about the people who actually live in the village. There won't be much peace when there's car after car driving through the village, he says; Ben can't resist pointing out that electric cars are very quiet. As Ruth continues to argue with Jim, Ben notices something: it's David, driving a forklift from which he unloads bales to block the view of the farmhouse, or possibly of the protesters. Jim thinks it is outrageous, and Ruth points out the bales are on their land and they can put them where they like. So they think it is fine to stifle lawful democratic dissent, asks Jim awfully; if that's the game they want to play, they haven't heard the last of this. He can promise them that.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 21st March, 2023

Misunderstandings – two; hilarious consequences – nil.

Characters: Debbie, Brian, Joy, Justin, Paul, Harrison
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Although she doesn't want them herself, Debbie is upset that Brian, who has no use for them, is planning to get rid of Jennifer's old cookery books; he reminds her that he needs to de-clutter. She wonders what he will be taking to Blossom Hill, and starts to discuss various things he might want from what is in storage in the barn. She seems inclined to plan his furnishing for him, but when she starts to tell him that a chair she remembers would go well in the cottage and he tells her he quite fancies getting one of those reclining electric armchairs that Jennifer didn't like, it shuts her up. After he says he needs to think about what will suit him now rather than haul about things that were meant for somewhere else, it seems he can do nothing right, and saying she doesn't need to bring him some parcel tape later on makes her ask suspiciously whether he plans to be out. He says no, whereupon she invites him to dine with with her at Kate's place; she clearly takes it amiss when he says he doesn't want to and will be fine on his own.

It's a change of shift at the shop: Justin has arrived to do his stint, and Joy pauses before leaving to give him the gossip about Jim claiming that David drove down the lane [what lane? Where from? Chris] with a hoofing great pile of bales, straight at him and his fellow-protesters, who were so shaken that they gave up and went home; Joy doesn't entirely believe it, because she reckons if that had really happened the police would have got involved. She goes to get her coat from the stockroom, having mentioned that Harrison came in to drum up support for his committee to do with 'May's big event', which Justin assumes is the Coronation. While they are still talking Debbie comes in, looking for the parcel tape Brian told her not to bother getting, and when Joy hears who it is she flees rather than be introduced to her, because she is wearing the scarf that used to be Jennifer's and remembers Alice's reaction to it. Debbie asks who she was.

Harrison has missed Alistair at the surgery, which Paul is locking up; when questioned, he tells Paul there has been an outbreak of dog-attacks on livestock and he wanted to ask Alistair to remind his clients about keeping their dogs on leads. Paul for some reason seems to think Harrison is gay, and starts to flirt with him.

It seems that Joy, in her anxiety, has brought everything she got at the bring and buy sale over to Willow Cottage so that Brian can identify anything that was Jennifer's; he seems not to recognise any of it, initially, which is a relief to her, but then he does recognise a brooch, which she immediately tries to give back to him. He tells her that it is hers now, she has paid for it, but she is determined: she wouldn't feel like wearing it. He mustn't worry about the money, it was for charity anyway. She starts to pack up the things she has brought with her and get ready to go, but Brian offers her a cup of tea, or coffee, saying he was making himself one, and she accepts. They chat for a while about the bring and buy and Joy's pleasure in second hand clothing, giving something a second life. She likes wearing something which would have cost ten times as much new, especially if someone compliments her on it : one or two people have remarked on the brooch. She knows the gems aren't real, but it's so beautiful; Brian immediately repeats that she should keep it and enjoy it. He would much rather someone got pleasure from it. Put it on, he says: I want to see you wearing it. She acquiesces, but has trouble doing so: she remarks that it has quite a tricky catch, which Brian tells her Jennifer always said as well as he offers to help her with it. At which critical moment, as he is pinning it to Joy's blouse, Debbie walks in [everyone walks in on Brian without bothering to knock; one day someone will catch him having a wank. Chris] and demands 'what's going on?'

Harrison either is or is determined to seem to be unaware of Paul's interest, and talks to him as if all his innuendo were entirely ordinary conversation; when he turns down the offer of a drink, though, saying he has to get home to his missus, Paul is quite cast down. They agree that it was nice to talk, and Harrison says he will see Paul around, then remembers his meeting on Thursday and invites Paul along, saying it might be right up his street. Paul asks whether it is am-dram and Harrison tells him not exactly, it is musical, but agrees there will be lots of sparkle and amazing glamorous outfits when Paul asks, then reveals that it is to be a Eurovision Song Contest. They agree that the love Eurovision and never miss it, and Paul asks wistfully whether Harrison is sure he has a missus.

There being a wrong end of the stick available, Debbie has grasped it firmly and is berating her father and accusing him of having refused to eat out with her because Joy was coming over; no wonder Joy behaved strangely round her at the shop! This part of her tirade completely bewilders Brian, who has no idea what she is talking about. She asks whether this is a new thing, or has it been going on for a while? She refuses to accept that he and Joy might just have been talking, and tells him she has seen it all before. Brian can't believe this sort of thing would even cross her mind: he is grieving for her mother and hasn't the slightest interest in Joy, or any other woman. At this critical moment Joy comes back in, clearly having heard that a row is going on, and says that if this is about Jennifer's brooch, she will give it back – which naturally Debbie assumes to mean that Brian is giving away her mother's jewellery. When he says she doesn't understand, she says coldly that she thinks she does. He really doesn't change, does he? Don't touch her! Poor mum, she sobs; what did she ever do to deserve this? Thank God she doesn't know.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 22nd March, 2023

Debbie says the unforgivable, while George manipulates his grandmothers.

Characters: George, Susan, Adam, Debbie, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

George is going on about not being allowed to have a party at Grange Farm for his eighteenth birthday and asks Susan whether she'd mind him having it at Ambridge View; unfortunately she is not really attending to him because she is swotting up about cheese-making. Realising that he needs to butter her up a bit, George offers to ask her some questions.

When Adam gets in from work he goes to find Debbie, who is in her room. He asks about her day; she has been to see Gran, and Alice, but when Adam asks whether she has spoken to Brian she says she hasn't. He's exasperated: he told her, there's no way anything is going on between Joy and Brian. She's not been in Ambridge; she's not seen Brian these last few weeks, walking around in a daze. She interrupts his arguments to tell him in a defensive way that she knows she was wrong and jumped to the wrong conclusion, but that doesn't make it easy, walking onto the cottage and seeing them together. She thought she'd dealt with all those old feelings; obviously not. Adam tells her it's not just her: Mum's death has raked up stuff for all of them. Whatever he may have put her through, Mum was the love of Brain's life and Adam is not sure he will ever get over it, certainly not in a few weeks. She made a mistake and over-reacted; he'll understand. She just needs to tell him she's sorry, that's all.

After discovering that Susan has the bare bones of cheesemaking down pat, George starts to try the sort of questions that might be asked by people looking in through the observation window, with a slightly lubricious emphasis on how making cheese feels and what it smells of. After a while Susan is pleased enough with him to want him to keep going, and when he says he has to get home to asks Emma and Ed about his party she offers to have a word with them herself.

At Willow Cottage Brian invites Debbie in but is clearly still ruffled about her vicious attack on him and Joy; he tells her she will be relieved to know he is on his own today and that she can check the cottage if she likes: he hasn't got any fancy-women hidden upstairs. She stumbles through the form of an apology while he listens in perhaps a slightly forbidding silence: she didn't mean to, she was upset, being back in Ambridge has brought up a lot of memories, she got the wrong end of the stick... Brian tells her she got more than the wrong end: has she any idea how embarrassing that was? She replies that of course she does, and Brian points out it was not just embarrassing for him, but also for Joy, who was only there because she felt awkward about what had happened with Alice, to which Debbie replies she didn't know about that. Brian agrees that no, she didn't; she just started flinging around preposterous allegations. She says all right, she is sorry, and when he repeats 'sorry' on a note of incredulity she says look, she messed up and she doesn't know what more he wants her to say. Then she adds 'you can hardly blame me', and Brian becomes angry, especially when she says it looked as if he was keen to erase all trace of Mum. From there things can only go downhill, with him saying he doesn't need books to remember her mother and her talking about his track record and accusing him of having affairs with women in addition to Siobhán, of whom she mentions Caroline and Mandy Beesborough before saying those are only the ones they know about, at which he protests. She is just being honest, she tells him furiously. In the course of the argument she says that forgiving isn't the same as forgetting, and starts to cry as she tells him they all had to watch what he put Mum through; when he points out that Jennifer was not always faithful either she asks him indignantly why he thinks Jennifer went back to Roger, and talks of all the things she had to put up with to keep the family together. No wonder it affected her heart! That is enough for Brian, who tells her he is not going to be blamed for bringing about her mother's death. Now get out. When she asks him to let her explain, he says coldly that he thinks she has 'explained' enough; doesn't she?

The same questions that were put to Susan are now being aimed at Clarrie, with a side order of praise for her answers; she is similarly beguiled into agreeing to ask Emma and Ed about a party for George's eighteenth birthday.

The account of what Debbie said to Brian has shocked Adam, who wants to know how that was an apology. She admits that it wasn't, but blames it on what Brian is like sometimes, he couldn't just accept she was sorry. So you accused him of killing Mum instead, says Adam wryly. She denies having accused Brian of killing her, and Adam says causing her condition, then; what, he broke her heart so many times it finally broke for real? She admits that she shouldn't have said it. Adam wants to go and talk to Brian and check he is OK, but Debbie begs him not to: it won't do any good, Ian has dinner ready and they should just go and eat. When Adam says she can't just leave it like this, she tells him that it wasn't just what she said about Jennifer's heart, but refuses to tell him what else it was. The point is there were things said that can't be unsaid; she's sorry, she doesn't think there's any way of putting this right.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 23rd March, 2023

In which everyone is either unreasonable or stupid, and misunderstanding abounds.

Characters: David, Harrison, Ben, Justin, Jim, Paul
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The lamb has survived her encounter with the dog, as David tells Harrison, who has come round ostensibly to tell him there has been no result about the reported attack but also to castigate him gently for having been mean to Jim and his gang; Jim is still upset about it. David admits he had been having a bad day, and agrees he will try not to inflame the situation next time. When Ben gets back from work Harrison leaves, and it becomes clear that Ben (having been at work all day) has not got the bedroom ready for a guest who booked it as he was leaving in the morning, and nobody else has done it either. David reckons if he was going to be at work all day Ben shouldn't have accepted the booking, and Ben goes off to sort out the bedroom.

It's now Justin's turn to get a friendly warning from Harrison, this one about keeping Ruby on the lead. Justin checks that the meeting tonight is at six; he is looking forward to it. As Harrison turns away to shout something to Jim, Justin mentions that coronations don't come round every year, but it is clear Harrison hasn't heard him. When Jim comes over, Justin takes his leave, and Harrison tells Jim he had a chat with David and suggested he could have handled things a bit differently on Monday; Jim doesn't seem to mind that it was nothing more than having a word, and says they live to fight another day. He too leaves Harrison to go about his off-duty business, ignoring a shouted invitation to the Eurovision meeting.

When the doorbell ring David doesn't answer it, instead calling Ben to come downstairs and do so. When Ben gets to the door, Jim is on the doorstep and turns out to have made the booking that morning. David is exceedingly hostile, not at all surprisingly, and Jim is urbane, while forging into the house and upstairs and saying that he doesn't mind carrying his own case.

At Harrison's meeting, Justin tries to pump Harrison about Jim's protest but gets nothing out of him. Paul then arrives, flamboyantly dressed and carrying a lot of union flags; as expected, Justin makes a lot of 'amusing' mistakes about the Eurovision song contest because he thinks Paul and Harrison are talking about the coronation.

David asks Jim to leave, and Ben offers him a refund, but he is determined to stay the night and says they have no legal way to evict him. He doesn't want a refund; he would like David to take his foot out of the door so he can settle in. When David says he is going to throw him out, Jim speaks of the review he would write in that case and the effect it would have on future custom. He refuses all conciliatory offers about his campaign made by David, and refuses to say what he actually wants of him. When David argues that his action won't change anything and asks him please to get out of their house, he simply says no. Ben opines that Jim is right: he has paid to be there, and it is no skin off their nose if they let him stay. He tells Jim when checkout time is, and that there is a late check-out fee. Jim replies that he understands, and also mentions that he won't be requiring breakfast; he has brought plenty of sustenance with him. He then shuts and locks the door.

At The Bull the hilarious misunderstandings continue, including Paul saying 'you do know she's trans' (meaning Dana International), and Justin being outraged because he was speaking of Queen Elizabeth II when he got that reply. At that point, mercifully for all of us, Harrison actually mentions the word Eurovision, and Justin is suppressed and somewhat embarrassed. Harrison promptly co-opts him as treasurer.

Brookfield is now adorned with a sheet hanging out of Jim's window saying 'Visit Brookfield, charging station views coming soon'. [This confirms that Jim is getting a little gaga; Hollowtree is not in line-of-sight from Brookfield farmhouse because there is a village in the way. Chris.] David says he will go to get a ladder and pull it down, but Ben dissuades him: it's getting dark, and even in the morning you'll barely be able to see it from the road. Getting Jim riled only makes him worse, and if this makes him feel he has got one over on them what difference does it really make? Just let him do his thing. David understandably asks what if he refuses to check out tomorrow? He could have enough in his suitcase to stay holed up for days. [That, I suspect, would be illegal; he has paid for one night, not many. Chris.] Don't they have more guests coming tomorrow? Ben confirms that the Thompsons are doing so and will stay until Monday. David asks what happens if Jim doesn't leave, and when Ben assures him it's not going to come to that, wants to know how Ben knows that. Can he see inside Jim's head? Now they have to hope it's not just his welcome he outstays.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 24th March, 2023

Two departures, both timely.

Characters: Brian, Adam, Debbie, Ruth, David, Chelsea, Jim
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Adam is trying to persuade Brian to talk to Debbie, who is leaving for the airport in a couple of hours. Brian can't see that they have anything to discuss; Adam most unfairly says how unhappy Jennifer would be about this, which brings a reproachful 'Adam' from Brian.

The siege at Brookfield continues; Ruth is up outside the guest bedroom with a cup of tea and a flapjack. There is no reply to her knocks, so she leaves them and goes back downstairs. David tells her that Josh has discovered an online video by Jim, one of a series, though David says he's had hardly any views or shares. Ruth can't think how they are going to get him out; Alistair, Jazzer and Jill have all failed to get him to budge. Ben still thinks he will check out at midday, but Ruth is worried in case he doesn't; David says that the minute the clock strikes twelve they drag him out of there, which Ruth doesn't think a good idea because of how he might retaliate. They have to find another way. Ruth then notices the replies to Jim's posts and wonders if the person who sent them might be able to help.

Debbie has packed and is ready to leave; Adam wonders if she plans to see Brian and it is clear that he thinks she should try to make peace with him, but she says he obviously doesn't want anything to do with her and the best thing she can do is just get going. As they argue over who will carry her case to the car the ding-dong doorbell rings, and when Adam answers it Brian is on the doorstep. Debbie greets him with the words 'Guess you were hoping I'd gone.' [So she clearly doesn't want to be civil to him; would Adam still think she did, after hearing that? Chris]

The writer of the comments to Jim turns out to be Chelsea, whom Ruth is begging to help them get Jim to leave. She isn't sure what to say, but is sure she doesn't want Ruth anywhere near when she tries: she can't do it with Ruth hovering over her. Once Ruth has reluctantly gone away downstairs, Chelsea knocks on the bedroom door and says who it is, offering to message Jim if he doesn't want to talk to her; Jim opens the door and pulls her inside.

In her own stammering way Debbie is trying to convince Brian that she never meant to hurt him [a patent lie. She did mean to. Chris] and is just asking him to listen. Fine, says Brian, he's listening. After a longish pause, Debbie admits she doesn't think he caused Jennifer's heart condition, then turns her latest 'apology' into a rehash of her feelings from twenty years ago and how Brian's behaviour with Siobhán compounded how hurt she was by Simon Gerrard's behaviour and not being able to trust him (to which Brian comments that he never trusted Simon and would have stopped Debbie from marrying him if he could have done) and how it felt as if her whole world was collapsing, so she put up a wall and she doesn't think it's ever come down. Brian is surprised, because they seemed to get on well in Hungary when he and Jennifer visited last summer, but Debbie continues with her jeremiad: she has no-one special, she doesn't have children, and she is all alone. Brian is sorry: he genuinely thought Hungary was what she wanted, and that it was a fresh start for both of them. Debbie tells him that the irony of it was that mum was able to forgive him (at this point she starts to cry) and the two of them were happy while she stayed stuck in the past. Then she blames herself for crying. Brian is horrified, and tells her they can make it all right: come back to Ambridge! When Debbie is completely taken aback, he tells her he is serious: she could manage the farm; why not? Come back and run the farm!

In the safety of 'Campaign HQ', aka the spare bedroom at Brookfield, Jim is telling Chelsea all about his lack of understanding of modern communications methods. Chelsea tells him bluntly that he can never go viral, and the top hat and banner just make him look a little bit mad. He ought to play to his strengths; all the stuff he was banging on about in his videos like flood risk and light pollution and village envelopes, that's what he's good at: the really boring stuff, what most people can't be bothered with. Jim says that he does have an eye for minutiae, and Chelsea tells him that is what he ought to concentrate on and that is how he is going to win.

Out on the stairs, David and Ruth whisper together, until suddenly Jim's door opens and he emerges, only going back briefly to collect his razor. He praises the comfortable room, tells them he will certainly be leaving a complimentary review, asks them to cut down his banner-sheet, and when David asks what about his campaign says that Chelsea has convinced him this phase has served its useful purpose. The new tactics Chelsea says he has cooked up are nothing that need concern David. As he breezes out he thanks the astounded Archer couple for their hospitality.

Brian is doing his best to persuade Debbie, minimising the need for Stella after her contract finishes: when Debbie says this is nuts, he assures her they only took Stella on because there was no-one else to manage the farm after Adam left. All Brian ever wanted was to be able to pass Home Farm on to his children, and Debbie is the one who could do it. They could be a team again, put the past behind them properly this time. What does she say? Debbie says it's funny, she was only telling Adam the other day how much she missed the place, and you can't escape your roots; Brian, delighted, assumes that is a yes and she will come back, but what she says is no. She's sorry: she loves the farm, she loves Ambridge, she loves him, but there's just too much history. For better or worse, Hungary is her home now. It's where she belongs [lucky old it, Gus].

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 26th March, 2023

Every moment with your children counts; the best ones are when they are leaving.

Characters: Tom, Helen, Natasha, Lee, Alice, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

An outing to Netherbourne Hall has been arranged and Tom and Natasha are late; Helen and Lee have been waiting twenty minutes. Helen and Tom start to talk about Bridge Farm, until Natasha calls them to order: she and Tom agreed, no talking about work.

When Alice walks into Willow Cottage Brian is not hard at work, but as she says, they can't do much until Adam and Ian get back. They look at a framed photo of Brian and Jennifer in Hungary last summer which Debbie has given him, and Brian can see the irony of their having gone to Hungary because they were worried about his health. He and Debbie spoke last night, and Alice is glad they have talked together and sorted things out: she was worried last week. A van pulls up outside and Adam and Ian are back; it's time to get on with it. One more load and they'll have the cottage cleared.

While Jack and Henry play, the adults discuss Jim's behaviour: Natasha has a copy of the video Jim made at Brookfield, but says what it has mostly done is make her want to stay at the B&B. She feels that thinking that Ambridge isn't the right place for a charging station doesn't mean you get to hole yourself up in someone's home. Lee points out that Jim did pay for the room, but Natasha still thinks it was a bit much. He has taken the video down since, though. Tom then triumphantly shows off some photos of his daughters, taken by an advertising campaign for Fairtrade cotton babygrows. Natasha suggests they can tell Helen and Lee about the offer they have had, for Seren and Nova to advertise for the personal care and hygiene division of a multinational company, Schaeffer Baas, which Tom says makes some of the most environmentally controversial agrochemicals. It's for a global campaign: corporates and on line. Helen is horrified, Tom says that of course they aren't thinking of doing it, and Natasha is silent; Helen tells him that it is as well they aren't, because it wouldn't just be her who'd have their guts for garters: Mum and Dad's heads would explode. Lee asks how much they are offering, but Natasha says they don't know: it was just an initial approach from the agent, and since Nell knows they run an organic farm she will be expecting a 'no'. The conversation moves on, with Tom saying [untruthfully. Chris] that it isn't as if they planned any of this, and that they didn't set out for the girls to be child models [which is why they, um, got them an agent and made them available to be, well, child models. Chris]. It's days like today that really matter, all being together. He goes on at length about the joys of parenthood and having two daughters, and Lee abruptly goes to see what Jack is up to, leaving Helen to point out to Tom that Lee is feeling a bit sensitive, and then when Tom realises what he has done that it isn't Tom's fault. [He mustn't blame himself; she'll do it for him. Gus.]

The van drives off and into the echoing Willow Cottage comes Alice, who discovers that Brian has decided to keep a few of Jennifer's old recipe books after all. Brian has turned the heating off, taken the meter-readings and made sure all the windows are locked: they're done. This is it. Roy and Kirsty came round with a present, and Alice says they have been good neighbours, especially recently. Brian agrees but says he won't miss sharing a wall; for that you need to share a taste in music. He says that Willow Cottage was only ever meant to be a stop-gap while they looked for somewhere Jennifer would be happy and they would spend their golden years, but they never found it. Alice says that Mum was happy at Willow Cottage, and she knows it wasn't easy having her living with them and it can't have seemed she appreciated it, but she really is grateful and it saved her, that and the rehab. It feels strange to see the place empty now. Brian suggests all that might be better in the past and it's not worth holding on to unhappy memories. Alice reluctantly agrees, and he says they still have the unpacking to do once they get to Blossom Hill: what are they waiting for? Time to go.

Tom is rightly feeling like an idiot because it didn't occur to him that Lee might be missing Mabel and Evie (though Natasha doesn't see why it would have done when they were talking about modelling) and when Lee comes back apologises for going on about Nova and Seren; he didn't think. Lee brushes it off, saying that time with your kids is precious and he wishes he'd had more of it before his two moved away, and Natasha asks if they have been in touch; they have video-called him and given him a tour of their new house, which has a steep street outside just like in the films. Natasha utters a few bromides, which seem to comfort Lee; he thanks them both and says it means a lot. Helen then comes back talking about tea, with hot cross buns, but Tom can't let it go, saying that he just wants Lee to know he's got them, he's got family around him. The women then defuse it all by leading off towards the café. Apropos nothing in particular, Natasha says she will drop Nell an email about the modelling job first thing.

In an equally echoing Blossom Hill Cottage [why echoing? It is full of all Brian's possessions, it ought not to echo. Chris] Brian calls goodbye to Adam and Ian and firmly shuts the door. Alice wants to stay and help him unpack, laughing about Kate having told him before she left that he is not to hang the mirror opposite the front door to reflect all the positive chi that arrives back out again, then offering to make a cup of tea, but he is determined that he doesn't want one; she should go home as well. He doesn't need any help; he would much rather do it by himself. It's been a long day. She says she thought he might want some company, but if that's what he prefers... He thanks her, and opens the door. She takes a while to get through it, making various further suggestions; he tells her not to worry about him, he will be all right on his own, and shuts the door firmly behind her.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 27th March, 2023

Oliver is in revolt, and has Jim smelled a rat?

Characters: Justin, Jim, Elizabeth, David, Oliver, Neil
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

When Justin jocularly asks Jim whose house he plans to squat in today and recommends Ambridge Hall of the local B&Bs, Jim is not particularly amused and is somewhat cagey about his plans. He asks whether Justin is familiar with satyagraha, and when Justin has no idea what that is, kindly explains that it is the philosophy of non-violent resistance that Gandhi employed in the fight for Indian independence. His idea was to synthesize it with social media, which Justin points out did not work. Jim agrees, and says that Chelsea told him that if he wants to stop the charging station being built his expertise lies elsewhere. When Justin tries to find out what he will be doing he asks whether Justin is not meant to be working in the shop, which opens at two, and tells him that punctuality is the politeness of kings ['punctuality is the politeness of princes' is the usual form. I suppose Jim might claim 'l'exactitude est la politesse des rois' as referring to kings; but Louis XVIII, 1755–1824, is a bit outside his period and 'princes' is the usual translation at that time, just as 'l'exactitude' is not translated as meaning 'accuracy'. Chris] and he will let Justin get on.

His burgundy waistcoat makes Oliver look very smart, according to Elizabeth. Oliver calls it 'the volunteer blazer', leaving some doubt as to which type of garment he is actually wearing. He clearly has something he wants to say to Elizabeth, but she doesn't let him get a word in, being too busy telling him all about what he presumably, being 'on the rota', already knows. When he finally manages to tell her he has been put in the scullery and the butler's pantry for the next two months, she realises that this is a complaint and swiftly tells him (and Neil, who has just arrived) that any questions about the rota should go to Freddie, not her. Neil tells Oliver he is at the main entrance, in charge of buggies and back-packs and anything people need to leave behind while they tour the house, which Oliver thinks might be even less scintillating than his post.

Collecting Jill is Elizabeth's next job; while at Brookfield she takes the opportunity to make fun of David about Jim's protest. She does volunteer that if they hadn't had to sell the land to pay for the solar panels none of this would have happened, but without actually saying they only took the money for the solar panels because Vince was her boyfriend. She asks if David has seen Brian, who wasn't in [or chose not to answer the door. Chris] when she dropped in a card for his house-moving, but David hasn't. She asks about lambing, which is easing off, and David says there have been no more dog-attacks. He asks her how things are at 'the pile', and whether she is getting used to not having Lily at home, and she says she hasn't had the chance because Lily is still around so often. She does feel that Lily might be getting more out of uni if she lived in Felpersham. David then utters a disbelieving groan; Jim has arrived and knocks on the door.

A creaking door heralds the arrival of Oliver, wanting a word with Neil. He is bored and hasn't even got mobile reception. He is rather fed up with what he has been given to do, and resentful of the more experienced guides being given the more interesting rooms to show off. He has a good gripe about it, and Neil suggests that he and Oliver were not the recruits Freddie had in mind, especially with some of the mutterings from the old guard about the painting: one is even threatening to resign if it is removed, a view with which Oliver is in sympathy. If their possibly agreeing about the painting is the reason Freddie consigned him and Neil to the very boring areas they are in, he feels they need to demonstrate that the more mature people still have something up their sleeves.

Jim has come to apologise, and to invite David to be part of his team for the pub quiz on Thursday, the drinks to be Jim's responsibility. When David is reluctant, Elizabeth butts in to ask how he can possibly say no to an olive branch. Eventually, and having apparently forgotten about the lambing and the calving, David agrees to go, though Ruth is out at the cinema with Stella that night and Ben is working evenings, while Jill may be at Leonard's and Pip would have to find someone to babysit. He doesn't want to be a team of two with Jim, and when Elizabeth tells him he should go he tells her she ought to as well, to which she agrees. After Jim has gone, Elizabeth speaks reproachfully to David, who says he has already been lumbered with Jim once this week; now Elizabeth can enjoy the pleasure of his company too.

Further to his insurrectionist plans, Oliver has arranged that he and Neil will take a tour from Abberton Wood, a retirement village, round Lower Loxley Hall on Wednesday, while Clifford and Diane take over their positions in the scullery and at the door. Neil is a bit taken aback but does agree that he wanted to be given more to do; it just seems rather a lot to take on. He was thinking more of being a guide in one of the main rooms. Oliver talks up the idea as being a friendly group of pensioners to show round, and says it will show Freddie there is no reason not to give them more rewarding roles. Neil agrees it is worth a shot.

When Jim gets to the shop at one minute to five he feels that Justin could finish early, but Justin would rather stay and talk. When he tries to pump Jim about what he plans to do, Jim elects to tell him in spite of being suspicious of him; he plans a campaign based on thorough research and facts. He has already approached a local architect to advise on planning regs, and Usha is asking on of her colleagues if he'll assist with legal issues on a pro bono basis. His 'cunning scheme', as Justin put it, is to assemble a crack team of experts to challenge every detail of the application. At the very least, it might delay things. Justin rather ruefully says that it might And who knows, says Jim: if they put up enough obstacles the developers may decide to throw in the towel before it even reaches the planning committee. So what does Justin make of that, he asks triumphantly. Justin thinks it sounds like a much more formidable plan; he's sure when the developers get wind of it they'll be quaking in their boots.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 28th March, 2023

Tom goes against his better judgement and Oliver shows there is no fool like an old fool.

Characters: Oliver, Ed, Will, Natasha, Tom, George
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The revised tour on Wednesday is being bigged up by Oliver to Ed, who is polite but not interested; when Will arrives to help weigh the lambs and separate them for weaning Oliver leaves to brush up his Lower Loxley Hall knowledge so he won't be caught out by any tricky question, and the two brothers get on with the task before them. As they work they discuss both George's grandmothers having produced near-identical reasons for George to be allowed an eighteenth birthday party at Grange Farm, and they realise it isn't a coincidence; they conclude that George has been coaching Clarrie and Susan.

It is hectic in the Bridge Farm packing shed when Natasha comes in determined to talk to Tom. She has picked a bad moment; he is both very busy and totally preoccupied, talking at length about the grand opening on Monday and the parts everyone including the two of them will play in it, as well as Justin trying to talk to him about the charging station, and without stopping to listen to her; eventually she shouts at him to get his undivided attention. When she has it, she tells him she's had Nell on the phone about the Schaeffer Baas job for the twins; Tom at once hopes she made it clear the girls would not be modelling for an agrochemicals firm, and she says yes, she did, but then Nell explained exactly what they might be giving up financially. She thinks they ought to take the job.

George is back from college early, as Oliver points out, and they get talking. Cassis tutissima virtus is apparently the Pargetter motto [Have they had away with Cholmondeley's arms as well as the Cholmondeley motto? Has anyone bothered to tell the seventh Marquess? Chris] and Oliver obligingly translates it for George: virtue is the safest helmet. Oliver then keeps George to talk about his pig bio-security project, and George is surprisingly informed and eloquent on the subject.

Natasha is now arguing for what she wants, and Tom for once is not caving in immediately but arguing against her. She keeps on about the money, he is equally firm about the company being one which none of them would want to be associated with. She claims that she doesn't like it either, but if they don't take the job, someone else will. Also, if anyone thinks they recognise the babies, their parents can just say it's not them. Tom feels she has already made her mind up; she can't see how they can turn down that sort of money, and then mentions having left home with nothing but a load of student debt. She doesn't want that to happen to Seren and Nova. He wavers, but in the end he has had enough and tells her desperately that he needs time to think about it.

The lecture on pig bio-security continues, and ends with George admitting that he might like to work with pigs but absolutely doesn't want to work for a company like Borchester Land: he wants to be his own master. Oliver sympathises. George tells him that one of the options he is doing at college is about developing a land-based enterprise, about which he also seems knowledgeable. Oliver applauds this, then says he'll be an adult soon; week on Friday, says George, only ten days to go. George then starts to try to get Oliver's consent, as the owner of the farm, to George having a party there; Oliver is busy being non-committal as Will and Ed come in and let George know his scheming has been seen through. And it's still a 'no', Will tells him, though they have come up with something else he might like.

After the boxes are all packed and the van is loaded Natasha comes back and may have intended to have another go, but Tom pre-empts her. He's sorry about earlier, and she's right; they should take the job. It's hard, but they'd be mad to turn their noses up at that sort of money [the amount of which he has telepathically discovered, since she didn't in fact give any figure. Chris]. Natasha says there is one more problem: the video-shoot is on Monday. She could try to take the girls on her own, but if anything goes wrong that will be very difficult. Tom realises it would be too tough for only one of them and they both need to go. He says they can't tell everyone the truth, and Natasha suggests just saying it's another big modelling job that they couldn't afford to turn down. Will then arrives to start delivering the food-boxes, and Tom and Natasha leave it at that.

Oliver has gone to find Ed and ask his opinion of a scheme Oliver has had about George's birthday; Ed assumes it's about the party and says George seemed happy enough with the offer of being driven into town in the limo to impress his mates, but Oliver says no, it's something else. He thinks George has a lot of potential and wants to sponsor him; if George can produce a convincing business proposition and Oliver would want to see a properly worked out plan before committing himself – he thinks providing George with a kick-start would be money well spent. Ed is slightly staggered and asks how much they are talking about; Oliver says that would depend on George's proposal, but he was thinking of maybe five thousand pounds? How does that sound to Ed?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 29th March, 2023

All's well that ends well for Oliver, while it's his beginnings that bother George.

Characters: Neil, Elizabeth, Oliver, Will, Ed, George
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Neil is rehearsing his guided tour talk at Elizabeth, who really isn't interested until he tells her that he and Oliver have swapped rôles and he and Oliver will be doing the tour. She is disconcerted and wants to know whether Freddie knows, then tells Neil that Maria will be late arriving because her little boy is ill. Neil has no idea who that is, and Elizabeth says it is their schools co-ordinator; Neil has not spoken to her, and has not been through the lesson plan for Abberton Wood. Neil thought Abberton Wood was a retirement village, and as she starts to correct him Oliver, the originator of that idea, arrives full of good cheer. When he too is told that he has volunteered to show members of a primary school round he disputes that Abberton Wood is a primary school in Felpersham, but is told the primary school he knew about has been taken over by an academy trust who rebranded it. A coach-load of year six pupils will be arriving shortly, and someone has to teach them, while at the moment they don't even have Maria.

The limo has not been properly cleaned by Eddie, so Will and Ed are doing it. They agree that they should take Oliver up on his offer to help George, just before George himself turns up and starts to criticise the cleaning job, then demand extra perks for his limo ride such as a keg of beer in the back so he and his mates can have pints on the way. He wants to test the sound system in order to make sure he can play music off his phone, and when Ed starts the car so the battery won't be drained, the engine makes an ominous clattering noise [such as no car ever makes. Chris] and it becomes clear there is something badly wrong.

The penny has finally dropped for Neil: Abberton Court is a retirement village, Abberton Wood is a primary school. Oliver is relieved he hasn't gone completely mad, and admits he made a mistake. Elizabeth gets a text from Maria, who is now stuck in traffic after an accident just outside Websterbridge and has no idea when she'll arrive. Oliver offers to speak to Cliff and Diane; Elizabeth has already tried that and they're not prepared to swap back so it's no use. Oliver asks if she or Freddie could do it, but she has a meeting with the accountant and it is Freddie's day off. She's afraid Oliver and Neil will have to do it; they've got the Key Stage Two resources. She gives them some skeletal instructions. Neil hears the coach arriving.

George asks anxiously whether they can fix the limo, but Ed says something major has gone wrong and Will says there's no way it will be up and running for his birthday. George is gutted: he promised his mates a swanky ride. Ed offers them lifts from him, Will and Emma, but George point-blank refuses the offer; it's embarrassing. In the limo with the partition his mates can't see who's at the wheel; if they can, he knows what they will say. As Will comes over to ask how it's going, George explodes: he wanted to prove to his mates that his family aren't just a bunch of hoboes and they wouldn't let him show off the family farm, and no way is he going to be dropped off by his parents and his uncle. Ed says if it's that embarrassing they could manage taxis; Will cavils about the cost of taxis to Felpersham, and George continues to refuse to be taken by his family: he's not giving his mates the ammunition. He'd rather just sack off the whole thing.

Oliver is feeling miserable and inadequate, because he has been babbling and blustering in a random way; Neil tells him that is working very well because Neil knows the actual answers and is correcting him, and the kids love the by-play. Oliver is the class clown and Neil is the boring swot. They are indeed laughing at Oliver, but in a good way. One of the teachers has just told Neil she's never seen them so engaged. Oliver is greatly encouraged.

A ferret is squeaking at George, who when Will comes up to his room pretends to be working; Will sees through that and reminds him he's not meant to have ferrets in his room, but he won't tell. He wanted to talk to George about his birthday; it's not George's fault the limo is bust, so if paying for taxis means he'll have a good birthday then that's what they'll do. Just don't go promising a ride to absolutely everyone: it'll bankrupt them. George says he won't. Will then asks whether George is that embarrassed by them, and walks into the truth as George sees it: it isn't him personally, explains George, it's just what people say. When questioned further, George tells him that it isn't them not having money, it's that Ed isn't just his uncle, he's his step-dad and all, and George's friends poke fun at his whole life, asking if his mum couldn't tell the difference between the brothers, does he know who is his real dad, or if they are a threesome. Will says he should ignore them, he knows what happened; yeah, says George, and even he thinks it's messed up: mum having two kids by two brothers and they're all living on the same farm? Will says he thought George was fine with it, and George wants to know how come Will is fine with it: that's what he doesn't understand. Will tries to explain: for a long time he wasn't, but after a while he came to terms with the fact that he and Emma just weren't meant to be. George mutters that she humiliated Will, and when Will says that he wouldn't say that comes straight back with 'No, you wouldn't. That's how weak she made you.' Will objects that's a bit harsh, and George apologises, and says he knows they are meant to pretend like it's normal, but it really ain't. Of course his mates take the mick: it's weird. Who can blame them?

Oliver triumphantly tells Elizabeth that it is all fine and Maria has now arrived and is taking the children to lunch. Elizabeth is greatly relieved and asks if it was a total mess; the two men say it wasn't a mess at all, and give her a quick taste of the double-act they put on, which makes her laugh. She says that as with all the school visits they'll be asking for feedback, and Oliver asks whether Freddie will hear about it if it is positive; Elizabeth assures him he will. Just if Oliver is tempted in future to amend the rota, please check with him first! She tells him they can go home when they are done with the children; Neil apologises for tinkering with the rota, and she supposes there is no harm done in the end. Oliver suggests that if two fuddy-duddies like him and Neil can handle that, they can handle anything: maybe this is just what was needed to make Freddie take note.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 30th March, 2023

Alice moithers, Jim investigates, and Justin quite gratuitously stirs some shit.

Characters: Alice, Lilian, Justin, Jim, Elizabeth, David
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

For some reason Brian is not at home; he is out in his car, and Alice wants to know where he has gone. [He has clearly gone down to the end of the town without first consulting her. Chris.] Lilian is unfussed; that doesn't mean he's gone AWOL, he might have gone into town or to the market. Alice thinks it's a bit odd that he went out without telling anyone, or answering the message she has left for him. They go on grooming Aziz and chatting; Martha has a new cute saying, and it is James' fiftieth birthday. Then Justin drives into the yard in an electric car.

At The Bull Jim is delighted to greet Elizabeth, and wonders where David has got to. Elizabeth says he hasn't managed to persuade anyone else to join their team. Jim has got them a table and registered them for the quiz as Team Détente, which has be explained to Elizabeth as being suitable for Jim and David; Jim hopes David won't mind, but Elizabeth is sure he won't. He offers Elizabeth a drink, and she asks for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc; there is a queue at the bar, and he chats with her for a little until David appears, delayed by a cow-muck based emergency, and asks for a pint of Shires. Jim apologises for having tried to force his hand over the charging station, then tries to get him to divulge the name of the person he sold the land to; Elizabeth suggests they could get the drinks and the quiz out of the way first and Jim immediately agrees. He has already made a start on the picture round: he thinks the young man with the beard and luxuriant hair is Stalin.

The car was a present for Lilian, who enjoys driving it but wants to know why he got it for her. She is not flannelled by his saying she deserves to be spoiled, and Justin comes clean and tells her Damara is an investor in the company behind Ambridge's proposed new EV charging station. He didn't tell her this before because as the deal came together, she was losing Jennifer and he didn't want to trouble her. He is telling her now because of the rising public opposition, though he doesn't intent to make Damara's interest public knowledge. Anyway, he feels they ought to walk the talk, and an engineer is coming next week to install a charging point on the drive. Lilian thinks they ought to head for home before they run out of battery, and Justin agrees that she has drained it [so they've gone a couple of hundred miles? Chris] but suggests stopping for a nightcap on the way.

One of the children, probably Lily, might have been able to convince Jim the hirsute young man was Zayn Malik not Stalin, or so Elizabeth reckons. She tells David that Lily has been haunting Lower Loxley Hall, but has finally explained to Elizabeth that she doesn't feel confident enough at university to move away altogether; she felt The Stables was a good half-way house. Jim comes back to the table, having submitted the answers so far, and the next round is going to be current events. Elizabeth jokes that one of the answers might be Jim's sit-in, and David lets slip that Justin implied to him that Jim had set his sights on Brookfield, and he ought to have listened. This treachery seems to confirm Jim in a low opinion of Justin, and he offers to get in another round

Being the treasurer for the Eurovision committee has been worrying Justin, who doesn't want to do it, though Lilian thinks he would be the perfect fit. When he says he doesn't know how to get out of it, Lilian says don't, then, just throw himself into it and have an absolute ball. He changes the subject to ask her whether she has locked the car, and when she does she exclaims that even the way its lights turn off is fancy. Justin reminds her to say nothing about Damara's involvement in the charging station; she says her lips are sealed. Alice then appears out of the darkness and asks if they had a nice drive; she is still trying to get hold of her father, for no reason she seems able to specify, and was going to see if he was in the pub. Lilian goes happily off to check if he's inside.

The quiz has not been a failure exactly, since Team Détente came in third, and Jim comes back with drinks complaining about the quality of the illustrations in the picture round; Elizabeth goes to congratulate the winners, the Snell's Angels, leaving David and Jim together. Jim says he found himself next to Justin at the bar, and is surprised he didn't resume his questions regarding Jim's plans to stop the charging station. David asks if Jim thinks Justin has something to do with that, and Jim says it's possible: he's never trusted him, and now it turns out he's been slipping David information. David cavils that it was more of a general warning, but Jim feels it confirms the man has a hidden agenda. When David wonders how they can be sure, Jim suggests that investigating the man who acquired the land could help: he might have purchased it for Justin in order to keep David in the dark. David is happy to divulge it if Jim thinks it would help: the name was Marcus Bonneville. Jim is delighted: isn't it better when you work together! It looks as if they've got some detective work to do.

Speaking as to a small child or one who is hard of understanding, Alice bellows into the phone to her father, explaining that she was worried because he didn't reply to her messages. After she rings off Lilian asks where he is, and Alice doesn't know, though it sounded as if he were in a bar or a restaurant. After she has gone home to go to bed, Justin takes the opportunity to suggest to Lilian, on absolutely no grounds whatever, that Brian may be 'up to his old tricks', all about which Justin has heard. [This is patently echoing Shula saying the same in 1985, only there was at least a little evidence on that occasion. Chris] Maybe the reason he didn't say where he was going is that he doesn't want anyone to know, leers Justin.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 31st March, 2023

Tom stands up better than Brian against being pushed around; Jim plays detective.

Characters: Jim, Brian, Alice, Helen, Tom, David
Credited scriptwriter:
Tim Stimpson
Director:
Gwenda Hughes
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A solicitous Jim is offering Brian another bag in the shop; Brian has spent £23.86. Jim mentions a couple of names (Marcus Bonneville and Asif Morani) from the business community, ie connected with the charging station, to see if Brian knows them, but he doesn't, and he is about to leave when he remembers paprika, which he couldn't see on the shelves. Jim goes to find some just as Alice walks in and starts cross-examining Brian, who makes his excuses and leaves before Jim gets back from the stockroom asking whether he wants his paprika ordinary or smoked.

At Bridge Farm Helen is ordering Tom around and piling extra work on him because he and Natasha won't be there for the Grand Opening on Monday; she has written his tasks on the white-board without consulting him, so the requirement to put the wooden cow made by Bert out into the yard comes as a surprise to him. She excuses her high-handedness by saying that the rest of them will have to work twice as hard on Monday now he and Natasha won't be there. After a longish exposition of how important the day will be, all of which Tom and the listeners already knew, she makes it clear that she has guessed that the photo-shoot on Monday is in fact for Sheaffer Baas, which Tom emphatically denies. She asks where the shoot is and he says London, whereupon she lies and says Natasha told her Manchester. Tom falls for this. Helen becomes shrilly indignant about them having taken the job with the agrochemical giant, whereat Tom sensibly walks out saying he has jobs to do.

Jim has gone triumphantly to Brookfield to pool information with David. They have both found out that Marcus Bonneville is the director of Chaff and Wester Property Limited, but Jim has taken his search further and discovered the other names associated with that company, one of whom is called Asif Morani. And Asif Morani also works for a company called Cellcharge UK, which specialises in charging stations. Admittedly this gets them no closer to proving that Justin is involved – but David has come from the other end, looked at Damara Capital's website and discovered that you can download their annual report, where he has discovered them writing about the move from fossil fuels and the opportunities provided by investment in rural charging infrastructure. Jim congratulates David, who says that now all they need to do is link Damara Capital with Cellcharge UK. But how, wonders Jim portentously.

Alice has doorstepped Brian and is continuing her interrogation; he doesn't want to let her in but eventually capitulates. He doesn't see any reason for him to have to tell her his every whereabouts, and says so perfectly reasonably, but she then starts to come out with the same grossly insulting suspicions voiced by Debbie, which makes him angry. She says she didn't really think that, but since he won't tell them what he is doing... He does his best to point out that it is nothing for her to worry about, but before he can get her to leave him in peace the smoke-alarm in the kitchen starts to go off. 'Oh, that's just perfect,' says Brian crossly.

Jim is now ringing Cellcharge UK's head office, pretending to be Justin Elliott and asking if he can speak to Asif Morani; it's quite urgent, he tells the switchboard, so they transfer him to Asif's mobile. When he is put through he claims he has been put through to the wrong number and hangs up, telling David triumphantly that Asif greeted him with the words 'Hello Justin' and it sounded is if they'd known each other for years. Jim is outraged again: all those questions in the shop, pretending he was simply making conversation; that man's been playing Jim for a fool. David too; last week's events need not have happened if Justin had had the decency to come clean. However, there is nothing to be gained from an immediate confrontation; as long as Justin doesn't know that they know, then they hold an advantage. They can play him at his own game.

Brian reckons the chicken Kiev [not pronounced Kyiv by him. Chris] that he was cooking is pretty unsalvageable, though Alice says it is only burnt on one side, and starts to put it in the bin. Under continued pestering he 'admits' to having been to a cookery school, since he thought he could benefit from mastering a few basic skills. [Since when was a Chicken Kiev 'basic'? Chris] That was where he was yesterday, and when Alice asks why keep it secret, he admits he was self conscious. He didn't want lots of attention. And it was rather nice being with new people who didn't know he was a widower. In the evening they ate what they had been cooking, which was what Alice heard when she rang him. His kievs were better yesterday; Alice says that one looked pretty professional to her and she would love him to cook her one. In fact, they [nb, not he; she is taking over. Chris] ought to invite Adam and Kate to Sunday lunch as a mini housewarming. He's not to worry, they could all muck in if he needs help; and it's what Mum would have done. With surprisingly good grace, or perhaps just worn down by her importunity, he agrees.

Displaying uncharacteristic backbone [sudden onset scoliosis? Gus], Tom stands up to Helen's bullying over the Shaeffer Baas job. He eventually points out that if she tells Pat and Tony it won't stop them from doing the job, it will just cause lots of nasty arguments, and he'd say Dad has had enough heartache this year. When Helen says that's not fair and it is his decision, he comes back with no, it is hers. She can think what she likes about his and Natasha's motivation, and as for Mum and Dad finding out, that's up to her.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 2nd April, 2023

Martha's in the money, and Tom is in the dog-house.

Characters: Helen, Tom, George, Alice, Brian, Adam, Kate
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

While Tom is working flat out to get the veg boxes ready Helen comes to nag him shrilly in order to make it absolutely clear that she is annoyed with him. Eventually she needles him into snapping back at her, and then being very calm as he asks her if she wants to talk about the modelling job, since that is obviously what her evil tamper is about. She denies that there is any point, and then since George arrives and she presumably doesn't want to appear badly in his eyes says that she is going for lunch with Lee and the boys, and that George and Tom can find and erect the wooden cow. She can't resist being a bit nasty about Tom to George before she flounces off, even so, though she moderates her voice for his benefit.

At the Sunday lunch preparations Alice offers to help, but Brian has everything under control. To give her something to do, he asks her if she will prepare the starter: asparagus wrapped in prosciutto ham, though he is not sure whether that is cheating; she says it isn't if he calls her his sous-chef. As she goes to get the asparagus she notices the important-looking envelope with Jennifer's will in it, fetched by Brian from the solicitor's yesterday. She is surprised that he hasn't opened it, but at that moment the doorbell rings and he says it must be Adam and Kate as he goes to answer it. Adam has brought some Prosecco and some sparkling rhubarb cordial; Kate has brought nothing, but volunteers herself to clear up. They all go through to the kitchen.

As Tom and George look for the wooden cow, we discover another new talent for George: he is expert enough at film-making to be able to provide an answer to Tom's difficulty about Will not being able to stand in for him explaining about the Bridge Fresh veg boxes. They have quite a good time discussing how the film is to be made, and also find a forgotten promotional life-size cut-out of Tom to which a QR code can be fixed.

Brian having mysteriously vanished out of earshot pro tem, Kate declares that the meal was surprisingly tasty, though Adam suggests he needs Jennifer's recipe for roast potatoes; Alice defends him, saying he's done pretty well after only one week of lessons. [During which week Alice didn't miss him at all until Thursday. Hmmm. Chris.] Kate praises with faint damns (her veggieburger obviously wasn't home-made but the cauliflower cheese was quite nice) and Alice says it's a shame Debbie and Ruairi couldn't be there, though Kate suggests the tension in the room might have made digestion a bit difficult. As they discuss Ruairi and poor old Dad being the only one still in the doghouse Brian comes back in and asks who is in the doghouse, to be told by Kate that obviously it's not him; now he's proved himself she'll send him some of her favourite vegan recipes to try next time. Brian's enthusiasm is not noticeable, but she goes to get her phone anyway and comes across the envelope with the will in it and asks what it is. When told, she too is surprised he hasn't opened it, and he says that he knows what's in it, but she can open it if she wants; he was planning to send copies to Ruairi and Debbie, but otherwise they are all here. Kate pauses and says it feels wrong, 'deceased' in relation to Jennifer, and Alice becomes upset; Brian says if it is going to distress them they can read it another time and there is really no hurry, but Kate has gone right ahead and now discovers that Mum left some money to Martha but none to her other grandchildren. Adam assumes it's a gesture and must be for all the grandchildren, but Kate says he can see for himself, and as far as she is concerned fifteen thousand is more than a gesture.

The filming of Tom is going on until Helen barges into the middle of a take and spoils it. She is completely unrepentant and simply asserts that Mum needs a break and the trail signs need to go up: Tom promised he would do that. Tom asks for fifteen minutes, but Helen isn't going to allow them, so he has to go and do as he is told; he leaves George to take establishing shots of the farm. He'll be back in an hour. Helen tells George to come back to the yard as soon as he's done: they aren't hiring him to be Tom's personal assistant. As soon as George has left she has another go at Tom for not being there tomorrow. He didn't have to say yes to the advertising job, she tells him bitterly: he had a choice. She reiterates that she hates what he's doing, and again asks him if he can imagine how horrified Mum and Dad will be if they find out. Tom asks if she is planning to tell them and she says no, it's not her place; it's his mess not hers. Now will he please get the route signs out on the track before Dad drives her mad going on about them. He asks whether there's any chance she will stop treating him like something unpleasant she found on the sole of her shoe, and she says 'Sorry Tom, no, can't promise you that.'

Brian thanks Kate and Adam for doing the clearing up, then says he'll go and light the fire because it is getting a bit chilly, but before he can go to get in some logs Adam says that when they have finished they can discuss the will [to what purpose? It's a will. It's not subject to alteration at this point. Chris] and Kate asks if he knows when Jennifer changed the will: was it after she knew she was sick, or before? Brian is absolutely clear that he didn't know she'd made any changes; she didn't tell him. Adam wants to know why only Martha and no mention of her other grandchildren, which Brian doesn't know either. He goes to get the logs, and Adam and Kate are left to speculate; Kate says he obviously doesn't want to talk about it, and Adam adds that neither did Alice: she couldn't wait to get out of there. Kate is unsure neither of them knew about this, and Adam doesn't know what to think; Kate wishes they could just ask Mum, who would have a good reason and could explain. Adam heaves a huge sigh and follows it with 'it is what it is', but Kate inclines to feeling it's wrong, and not like Mum to disregard the rest of her grandchildren. What was she thinking?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 3rd April, 2023

The second law of Finagle states: 'Everything that can fuck up, will'.*

Characters: George, Adil, Pat, Susan, Helen, Adam
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As the latest Bridge Farm Launch Day is about to start, George finishes hammering the model Tom into the ground and finds time to talk to Adil, who is looking for Helen. He's about to try to show Adil the promotional video he made with Tom when Pat materialises beside them, in time for Adil to smarm for a bit about David Attenborough talking about wildlife habitats in Britain [on BBC 1 at 7pm. Chris] and their importance, and how it got him really excited about the idea of growing food while giving space to nature, just as they are doing at Bridge Farm. Pat offers to give him a quick tour so he can see everything that's going on, and mentions salad shortages as a reason for it to be important that people see how their food is grown, without making the connection clear at all. Then she tries to introduce George and Adil to each other, except that they met at Christmas because they were both in what George refers to as 'the Christmas farce' meaning the Christmas carols; Adil flatters George by telling him that Oliver speaks highly of him. Pat breaks up the love-fest by asking George to pop over to the welcome tent and grab Adil a taster pack, which George goes to do.

Inside the dairy Susan and Helen are chatting together and having a laugh about the families who have been looking in through the window when Adam comes in to ask how it's going. Apparently they've been busier than usual and had a nice steady stream of visitors all morning, and had a lot of questions. When Helen steps outside to put a list of times outside the window Susan asks Adam whether he has heard anything from his father, which he hasn't, and then whether Brian is OK with him putting out feelers, to which Adam replies that he's been very good about it, and in answer to a further question about how Brian is in himself says he seems fine and cooked a really nice lunch for him, Kate and Alice yesterday. Then another family appears at the window, Helen comes in to say she is off to give a talk about the farm, at which point a noise like chain being bashed rhythmically against a concrete floor indicates to Susan that a bearing has gone again and Helen asks Adam to move the family over to the other window [or the other end of the single long window we heard was being installed? Chris] and he says he will keep them entertained while Susan and Helen sort things out.

Adil is now telling Pat that he sees local producers as partners and goes into a panagyric on growing, making and serving food with love [sounding like a refugee from Pseuds Corner. Chris], which pleases Pat, who replies that they are planning to build on what he sees today. George comes back with the taster pack and fails to derail Pat's determination to show Adil the new viewing window [not windows then? Chris] in the dairy; Adil promises to swing by later and be his guinea-pig. Then Helen messages Pat to tell her there is a problem, and she has to go and do Helen's talk instead of her. Perhaps he would like to come and hear it, in front of the farmhouse in twenty minutes? And he can go and see the goats in the meantime. George then intervenes saying that he will look after Adil and he will be in safe hands, and starts to boast about the video, 'my latest premier'. Unfortunately after all his talking it up, it doesn't work: the QR code has expired. Adil tells him he'll just have to firefight: George made the film and knows what Tom was talking about, so he can simply do the talk in person. Adil has five minutes: 'impress me, George Grundy.'

While Adam keeps the crowd at bay, Susan replaces the broken bearing. She mentions this is not in their original job description, and gets ready to go and take over from Adam; Helen is non-committally pleased about all being well that ends well. Susan says that now the public have these windows [not window? Chris] into their world the job will never be the same again. We move to the other window (or end), where Adam is making weak jokes to a group of people who are apparently lapping it up, or at least silently refraining from heckling or throwing things. As he finishes, Helen tells him they're ready when he is, and he directs the group to move across to the cheese-room window [both of it. Chris], where Helen Archer is getting ready to load the curds into the milling machine.

George has Tom's spiel memorised and also manages to answer questions Adil throws at him; he is rewarded by some desultory clapping and Adil saying 'well done', and that he got Adil to believe he actually cared about organic farming. He soon puts Adil straight on that one; not enough money in it for him. He wants to be a proper businessman, or an influencer. Adil is somewhat disappointed, but takes the opportunity to give him a pep-talk about hard work and a good attitude, and how being decent and hard-working matters more than ever when you have money and power.

As a reward for having slogged their socks off all day, Helen proposes to give Susan and Clarrie an extra break tomorrow. Pat congratulates everyone, herself included, on the success of the day, and mentions that Will said quite a few people mentioned the blog; Susan says they had as many questions about Nova and Seren as they did about curds and whey. Pat's talk was a success, with people staying afterwards to chat about the history of the farm, and Ambridge. And Adam's talk about the edible forest garden seemed to go very well. Susan mentions that she was half machine engineer and half public performer today, and Helen says she deserves proper recognition for that but, as Susan asks what sort of recognition that might be, George walks over and interrupts, then embarrassed by Pat's praise of him. Tom and Natasha are mentioned as not having been in touch, and George says when they do hear from Tom, could they ask him when he will get paid: Tom said he'd sort him out with a bit extra because of the filming. Susan is mortified by him asking, Helen says he deserves to be paid because he's done a good job, and Pat says they've all done a good job. All these new attractions, and a decent Spring, are really going to put Bridge Farm on the map.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

* Finagle's third law states that once you have allowed for every conceivable fuckup, nothing will go wrong, just to fuck you up. The first law was lost in the post.

Tuesday 4th April, 2023

Now it's Brian chasing Alice, while Lee hunts for treasure.

Characters: Lee, Susan, Helen, Alice, Brian
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

All Lee wants at the shop is washing powder and beans, though Susan tries to tempt him to get some treats for the boys. She asks how today went at the dairy and is told it went well, though not as crowded as yesterday; when Lee tells her Helen said she was great and fixed the cheese machine like a real pro she replies that it was Our George who was the real star of the day. Lee has seen the film he made of Tom and thought it looked great. When Susan says that in a few days they'll have their first grown-up grandchild, Lee lives up to her expectations and says she doesn't look old enough. His bill is six pounds and eight pence, and as he puts it on his card he asks if she has any plans for the evening; she has to pop up to Bridge Farm and collect a bag of George's stuff, and Lee says he is going there too: Helen has just sent him a mysterious text about a surprise waiting for him.

It's a treasure hunt, organised by Henry and Jack. They wanted to cheer him up because they know he misses his girls, and Jack decided that hiding his little gift would be more fun than just giving it to him. Helen is allowed to help, and has the first clue ready to give to him. It is in rhyme.

Brian is ringing Alice, and gets a message first but then tries again and is answered. He has been worrying about her since she left precipitately on Sunday, and both Adam and Kate have said she didn't return their calls. She claims to be busy at work, too busy to pop in to Blossom Hill Cottage on the way home, and refuses to make any concrete arrangement to see him.

It has taken Lee and Helen almost half an hour to do one clue, and the boys have got bored and cycled off, abandoning them. The next clue is as impenetrable as the first, and when Helen says she knows roughly where one of the final clues is hidden Lee initially disapproves of the idea of cheating, but when she points out that it will take them until well after dark, and then he can expect Jack, tired and cranky, her, tired and cranky... Lee capitulates without a further thought and agrees to cheat.

Alice does arrive to see Brian, who asks her about work; she describes it as a good distraction, and when he asks from what, says whatever fresh hell is thrown their way and then claims to be joking. She wants to know if he has spoken to Kate and Adam, about Sunday, about the will, and he says 'no, not really', and then simply 'no'. She wants to know how mum could do something like that, and whether he really didn't know about it, which he is firm that he didn't. She feels favouring one grandchild only is something Mum wouldn't do, it's weird, and it keeps going round and round in her head. Brian is getting somewhat alarmed even before she says it's not a thoughtful gift for Martha's future: it's insurance against her being an absent mother.

The last clue has Lee and Helen baffled, and Susan comes up to find out how they are doing, offers to have a look, and almost immediately works out the answer. She goes with them to see if she is right, and is there when Lee opens his present: a guide-book to San Francisco. Susan for some reason feels obliged to say she had got it into her head that it would be an engagement ring. Helen had no such thought and nor did Lee: he was expecting a bar of chocolate or one of Jack's painted stones. Susan, slightly embarrassed, says she had better be getting off: she'll see Helen tomorrow. Maybe then they can talk about that recognition Helen mentioned? Helen asks what she means, and Susan enquires whether it might be a pay-rise, recognition for the fact their job has completely changed? They are constantly on show, and she thinks it only fair she and Clarrie get a pay review. Helen was thinking more of a blog post saying what a good job they do in the dairy, but she hears what Susan is saying; they should pencil in a meeting at the end of the week. Remind me tomorrow, she says, to which Susan replies fervently that she will. After she has gone, Lee and Helen laugh over the engagement ring notion, and Lee says the book is the perfect treasure and gives Helen a kiss.

Alice has worked herself up into a state and is refusing comfort from Brian; the more he tries to get through to her, the more she argues against him. She is full of anxiety because she feels the bequest for Martha means that Jennifer didn't trust her, didn't think she was strong or was cured; the more Brian tells her Jennifer was proud of her, the less use it is. When he says it was a gesture for her youngest grand-daughter, Alice comes back with, 'that she left in trust – with Chris!' There's no other way to see it, Alice argues: she was afraid for Martha, and didn't trust Alice. Brian doesn't know what to say, and as he does his best to get through to her Alice bursts into tears, sobbing wildly as he helplessly says 'Come here, darling.'

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 5th April, 2023

Kate thinks she understands Jennifer's motivation, while Justin's is transparent.

Characters: Jolene, Harrison, Adam, Kate, Justin
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The Eurovision meeting at The Bull is about to get under way as soon as others than just Jolene and Harrison arrive; Fallon and Paul have sent regrets but ideas which shows they still want to be involved, as does Joy who can't make it either. They'll go upstairs as soon as Justin gets there; Harrison expresses surprise that Justin signed up to be on the committee, and Jolene admits she didn't think he had an altruistic bone in his body, to which Harrison replies that could be because he doesn't. Harrison has discovered that he has an ulterior motive: he wants to be made Borsetshire Business Angel of the Year, the award given to people in business who do saintly things for their community. Jolene is unsurprised but wants to know how Harrison found out: his superintendent is going to the Presentation Do and spotted Justin Elliott and Martyn Gibson on the list the nominees. Jolene immediately spots an opportunity to get more out of him: let's see how angelic he's prepared to be, she suggests.

To avoid Xander's bath-time Adam suggests that he and Kate take their drinks into the garden, which Kate thinks a good idea. Adam has been talking to Ian about the bequest to Martha; Adam still doesn't get it, but Ian thinks it would be a shame for them all to fall out over money. Kate starts out being resentful of the fact that Jennifer singled out one grandchild, with which Adam agrees, and says that if she's honest, she feels angry. Mum must have known it was a contentious thing to do, but she left no explanation. Adam points out that she did it without letting Brian know: maybe that was so he wouldn't challenge her. Kate can't see why the fifteen thousand couldn't have been three thousand to each of her five grandchildren; it could have made a lot of difference to Noluthando and Sipho. Adam is trying not to feel hurt on Xander's behalf, but Kate says it's impossible not to feel hurt; either she was being thoughtless, which doesn't seem like her, or she wanted to favour Alice. Adam has inside knowledge there, though, and says she seems even more upset than they are, to which Kate adds that Brian seems quite worried about her. Adam suggests they go out and hope fresh gives them a new perspective, but Kate just mutters gloomily that it makes you wonder what sort of random stuff Dad will do with his will.

After Justin arrives, a little late, Harrison and Jolene act on their plan and wind him up with ever-more outrageous suggestions about what is to happen at their Eurovision Extravaganza and about what is expected of him as a volunteer; he finally starts to crack over the costumes they suggest the judges will have to wear. Fallon has suggested the theme 'all the sparkles' and Jolene (who is having a hard time not bursting out laughing) gleefully says what she thinks each costume should be: Paul, fiery red dragon; Chelsea, silver fish; Joy, purple diva; Harrison, mermaid; Jolene, queen of hearts, and Justin, the glittery business angel. He suddenly realises what is going on.

Kate reckons it is hard not to see this as Mum favouring Alice, but then factors in them knowing Jennifer was worried about her, what with alcoholism and a new baby, to which Adam adds 'and the divorce'. Kate can't imagine how many sleepless nights having all that on her mind must have caused their mother. Adam muses that the change may have been about doing something concrete, in case? In case Alice started drinking again, says Kate starkly. Adam can see why Alice is upset! Kate thinks it's all so complicated, and Adam realises that Mum leaving the money in trust to Chris means Alice must see that as a double whammy. Light dawns on Kate, who suggests that actually, it's not that complicated if you see it from where Alice is standing: it's absolutely brutal. Kate realises that when she was at her most wild she would have been the one giving Jennifer sleepless nights; if Jennifer had changed her will when Kate first became a mum, it would have been Phoebe she'd have picked out. [Since Phoebe was her only grandchild at that point it would have been difficult for her to choose one of the other four! Chris] She and Lucas and Roy have proved themselves as parents, whereas Alice hasn't. Their children don't need Mum's protection. Adam works out that this means he and Ian should be happy Mum wasn't worrying about Xander. Leaving the money as she did was about Jennifer's need to do something, muses Kate, so they need to support Alice through this. They'll have to set aside their own feelings and accept it as a nice thing Mum did for Martha. Adam reckons they should be grateful if Mum didn't think their children will need the money.

Justin confesses: the Business Angel Award has become extremely important to him. Harrison thinks that it's brilliant Justin and Martyn and a load of other high profile businesspeople getting so het up about an award that they actually end up doing good. He's seen Justin in the shop. Jolene starts telling Justin how much she can see his enthusiasm for his rôle as a judge, and he makes a further confession: he can't stand Eurovision, and thought he was volunteering for a Coronation celebration committee. In theory he has nothing against the Eurovision song contest but he knows his limits. Jolene says they've had their fun and no-one is going to force him to stay, but as he is about to leave he asks for a signature saying he participated in the village Eurovision initiative so that he can show it to the award panel: without a third-party witness his volunteering won't count towards the award. Harrison points out that he didn't do anything and doesn't want to sign, and Jolene can't resist taking the piss some more, but Justin is serious: he has put in more hours, but Martyn Gibson has more variety. He begs Jolene and Harrison to sign, and they take the opportunity to touch him for a generous financial donation to the funds.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 6th April, 2023

Lee is anxious as usual, and for once George pushes his luck a little too far.

Characters: Lee, Pat, George, Chelsea, Helen, Susan
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

A shotgun blast turns out to have been Pat potting pigeons. Lee is surprised to see her with a gun; he is looking for Helen, who isn't in the dairy. Since he can't find her, he wants a quick word with Pat, first about Henry and Jack and then, as they go to look for Helen, about something else.

Chelsea is cutting George's hair, and clearly finds him objectionable, not surprisingly when he tells her he is only there because she is his cousin and she is cheap. When he adds that if he were not saving for his birthday night out he would have gone to a proper hairdresser she downs tools until he apologises. He then outlines their plans for his birthday night so she recommends a club, and he wonders whether they are big on checking for fake IDs; she points out he will be eighteen tomorrow, and he tells her his mate has made a fake ID for Brad, which outrages her. She asserts that Brad won't be going with them, to which George replies he wants to go along because he's desperate to pull; she is not convinced.

When Lee explains what is on his mind Pat is relieved it's nothing important; he tells her he didn't really think Helen wanted to get married again but he was afraid Helen might have been hurt when they laughed at the idea after Susan's faux pas. Pat laughs at him for his worries: Helen has never given her the slightest hint that she wants to marry Lee. He is slightly hurt and she hastens to reassure him: Helen likes him and wants to be with him, she just doesn't want marriage. He shouldn't let Susan Carter's ideas upset him: it's working for him and Helen and he should just enjoy it. Helen then arrives in a car with a cry of 'Hi you two!' and talk about the viewing window. Pat mentions having had enquiries about how Nova and Seren are, and Lee asks how they got on with the modelling; Pat doesn't know and has seen no pictures of the shoot, and Helen is not interested in asking. She is more concerned that it is soon going to be time to fetch Jack, who is making a scone-based pizza at his holiday club.

George continues to needle Chelsea about Brad and about her being boring, until he goes too far and suggests that in order to get him to behave more like them, he and his mates might spike Brad's drink. At this point Chelsea 'accidentally' cuts a large and very obvious swathe through his hair with the clippers, and claims to have slipped. He is furious and claims that he was only messing, but she is unrepentant; when he says he won't pay she tells him she doesn't want his money and he is to get out. If she finds out he has even gone near Brad's drink with anything she will tell Harrison.

In a panic George rings Susan, begging for help and claiming that Chelsea shaved part of his head with no provocation. She's totally ruined his birthday: he can't go out like this! Susan suggests he should come round and she'll see what she can do. She could always help when he was little; he shouldn't worry because Nana will always fix it.

Henry is not yet home, but Lee will message him. When Lee points out he has emptied the dish-washer, Helen replies that it was under duress and the penalty of part of his pocket-money being withheld, but he apparently has a creative idea of where cutlery lives. Meanwhile Evie has sent Lee a photo of her science project, a working model of the lungs, and Helen says she is so proud of her. [What exactly entitles Helen to be proud of a child that is not hers and which she has not brought up? Chris] Lee is just pleased they are messaging him. Henry replies to Lee's message and Helen says ruefully that he replies to Lee, whereas she has to practically declare him missing before he answers anything from her. He is at the skate-park and will be catching the next bus home, apparently. Helen goes into a fugue about them growing up so quickly, and Lee distracts her by telling her what he and Jack got up to before holiday club: he got Lee to help him line up the Marvel characters and graded them in order of strength, then size, then kindness. Helen thinks that was very sweet. He decided the kindest was Mantis, and Helen can't wait to pick him up and hug him.

Neil is out so Susan and George will be eating sausage and mash without him; Susan has sorted out a hairdresser who thinks she might be able to help with George's hair. It's the mobile hairdresser and she will fit him in as a special favour; George is dubious because she was at The Laurels, but Susan is firm that she does all ages, and that he needs to tell her how grateful he is because she doesn't usually work late. She made an exception because he is turning eighteen. George thanks Susan and tells her she's the best, and immediately reverts to boasting about what a great birthday night out it's going to be. At her request, he gives her a hug, and she tells him he's a good lad.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 7th April, 2023

Several mock shocks for George and Brad, and a real one for Helen.

Characters: George, Brad, Harrison, Susan, Helen,
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah Hehir
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

As a diesel vehicle pulls away George shouts insults after it, and is quite rightly ignored. He thinks there should be a law against dumping people in the middle of nowhere, but Brad is not surprised they were chucked out of the taxi: George had started burning hash. The other lads have apparently been in town for an hour already; Brad offers to ring his mum and ask her for a lift, but George turns the idea down: she will ask awkward questions like 'why are they stranded outside Grey Gables'. [Which is a good question: Grey Gables is well off the road, on a drive past The Lodge which only otherwise goes to the Golf Club. No taxi would be going past it to get anywhere: that drive is a cul-de-sac. Chris] George decides to text Rex, and while waiting for an answer tries to lie about who did his hair, but Brad knows who actually did it and is not impressed by talk about 'a celebrity hairdresser'. Rex will be at least forty-five minutes, and George can't think what to do while they wait. [Walk the five hundred yards back to The Bull, perhaps? Chris] As they start to talk about the poltergeist in Room Thirteen, with George suggesting climbing over the fence and going ghost-hunting since it is dark, Harrison Burns turns up in his car (and is described as 'the feds' by George); however, he is easily fobbed off and drives away again wishing them a great night.

Susan has come round to discuss a pay-rise on account of the extra work and pressure the window is going to cause for her and Clarrie, and Helen is disconcerted at being challenged in this way, especially when Susan starts to generalise about the behaviour of employers. She takes the wind out of Susan's sails by agreeing with her and saying that she has had a look at the figures and thinks she can stretch to a small pay-rise for both of them.

At George's instigation, the trespassing pair has moved a bench under a window and George tells Brad he can get in now. Brad doesn't want to, even though George points out it's only plastic sheeting in the window, so they won't have to break glass; he is a very reluctant criminal, pointing out reasons not to break and enter. He has noticed that Harrison saw them there.

Once they are in, Brad thinks it's all rather beautiful without any people in it, but George can think of nothing better to do than shout 'hallo' repeatedly and then start messing about with ghostly voices, until there is a definite clattering which is nothing to do with either of them. Brad doesn't like it at all, but George just wants him to take a photo of George, or better yet a video of him running towards the camera. Brad wants to know if they can go once he has, since he thinks Rex might turn up any minute and wouldn't wait for them if they're not there; as George is insisting they have to go to Room Thirteen Brad sees a flash of light like a torch. George mocks at him about that as well, but there is a sudden cackling and both of them run for it.

Susan gives provisional approval to an updated job description, but is not prepared to commit herself for the future since they have no idea how busy it may get. Helen is thrilled that sales of ice-cream in the shop are up already; Susan thinks they might need another person working the dairy if it gets busier. They start to part with Susan telling Helen she is going to watch the last two episodes of a boxed set with Neil, and Helen talking about the boys camping out in the back garden. As they are about to go their separate ways Harrison's car arrives. Susan is alarmed, it being late, and George being out in Borchester; she fears something may have happened to him.

To the sound of the eerie barking of a fox, Brad and George pelt away from Grey Gables building down the road, having climbed out again over the fence. Brad is sure the unspecified 'they' will know it was him and George; the ever vain-glorious George thinks there is literally no reason why they should. Brad fears the possibility of CCTV, and thinks Chelsea was right and he should have stayed at home; George is already thinking about what the lads will say when they hear about it. Brad doesn't want him to talk about it to anyone, especially since George broke something, and wants him to delete the video off his phone. He wants to know how come George doesn't get it: trespassing, breaking and entering, they're looking young offenders. George continues to belittle his alarm, and is saved from further argument by the arrival of Rex in his taxi.

The greeting Harrison gets is Susan assuming he wants to talk to her, but he makes it clear it is Helen he wants to speak to, and Susan slowly and reluctantly goes off home. Harrison suggests Helen might want to sit down, which only alarms her; she assumes something has happened to one of her boys, or Mum and Dad, but Harrison assures her everyone's fine. He does have some difficult news, though; understandably she wants him just to tell her. It's Rob Titchener: he's back in the country. Helen absolutely denies that he can be, and instantly wants to be reassured that Harrison has checked and Henry and Jack are safe; Harrison tries to calm her in the face of her rising and shaking voice and assertion that she is terrified. Harrison doesn't know Rob the way she does, she says; she is certain that he will come back to Ambridge.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 9th April, 2023

Many people are patronising and Helen can't keep everything under control.

Characters: Mia, Justin, Jim, Lee, Helen, Tony, Pat
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The Bull is redolent of the smell of hot cross buns made by Wayne; Jim and Mia take their existence at face value, while Justin assumes they are to lure in punters and points out you can get them all year round so they don't just mark Easter. Jim drags in Dr Johnson writing of 'cross buns' for Good Friday breakfast. Justin sees them being available all year round as a missed marketing opportunity, which irritates both Jim and Mia. He has to be off, and Jim reminds him that he is meant to be at the shop for Bank Holiday opening tomorrow. After he is gone Mia wants a chat with Jim about the Brookfield charging station.

Lee wants to tell Pat and Tony about Rob's possible reappearance, but Helen says there is no need and forbids it. They will only be worried, and she has a prohibited steps order in place: Rob can't come anywhere near, he can't see Jack and he can't get in touch. She says they were wrong to worry when Blake turned up, and Lee says that time they were wrong, this time they may not be. She argues that this time they have CCTV, and Harrison is on the case; she doesn't want everyone's lives disrupted by this man. When Lee says he just means they should stay alert she pounces on that and says yes, the two of them: they don't need anyone else. They can manage this themselves; Lee wonders whether they can.

What Mia wanted to do was to tell Jim that she admires his standing up for what he believes in, but inform him that he is wrong in what he is standing up for, and will be on the wrong side of history. He very sensibly [and with remarkable patience. Chris] makes his points about a charging station at Brookfield being badly sited and ill-thought-through, while she totally fails to listen to or apparently understand anything he says and goes on about charging stations saving the planet. She then becomes insulting about him wanting to preserve the character of 'his little corner' while the rest of 'us' pay the price. She finally warns him she is not letting it happen: he and his protest are standing in the way of the common good and she is going to do what she can to stop him. He thanks her courteously for the warning, so she tells him she is an expert protester and knows the ropes; he finally loses patience and asks her how she feels about being shoulder to shoulder with the fat cats and profiteers like Justin Elliott. She repeats the name as if she never heard it before, then asks if it is Justin Elliott behind the charging scheme; Jim tries to backtrack and say he was merely giving an example of the type, telling her it would be better all round if she forgot all about it.

After lunch at Bridge Farm Lee is chatting with Pat and Tony, about the Easter service on Lakey Hill; Tony quizzes him about whether Helen is all right, since she seemed rather quiet at lunch. Neither Tony nor Pat will accept Lee's repeated assurances that she is fine, and insist that he should speak to her, or they should have a word; after some very disproportionately third-degree questioning it becomes reasonably clear he can't convince them there is nothing wrong with Helen. [Come to think of it, nobody could, since there very definitely is – though perhaps not in the ways they mean... Chris]

Mia is working at The Stables when Justin drives up; after a misunderstanding about her possibly planning to lecture him about destroying the planet, she takes the opportunity to offer him her support over the charging station and tout her experience as a protester. After telling him that he seems quite a bright bloke (an echo of patronising words he used to her earlier at The Bull), she suggests to him that he might come to need her help: she can mobilise if he ever needs support. He thanks her, and she says he knows where to find her.

It is clear that Lee has spilt the beans, and Tony is urging Helen to come and talk to them about things while Pat tells her it is different this time and they know what to look for. She more-or-less patiently tells them in effect to mind their own business and not worry about it. She is determined that she doesn't want everyone knowing, which is just going to start a panic: neither Gran nor Tom needs to know. Tony reluctantly agrees, if she is sure about that, and is relieved that she has heard nothing from Rob. Pat decides to make coffees and unsubtly need Tony's help to do it, leaving Helen and Lee alone so that Helen can tear Lee off a strip: the one thing she asked him not to do, she says in an icy voice, and accepts no excuse for his disobeying an order from her: wasn't it clear enough? When he says he couldn't have stood there saying nothing when Pat and Tony started making things up, she tells him that he could have invented some reason for her to be being worried. He ends up apologising but asserting that Pat and Tony are entitled to know, and actually, worrying about people you love is part of the deal. She says furiously that she wanted to control this situation and now she can't: Lee has taken that away from her. He tells her that he made a conscious decision to tell her parents, after thinking about them and about her; he didn't just jump in. Surprisingly, she apologises and admits she shouldn't take it out on him and says she just doesn't want to put them through it again, everything that happened before. When he asks if she is all right she says yes, and don't worry: she can cope with this. Tony is right: Rob hasn't tried to contact her, and there is absolutely no evidence he is planning anything.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 10th April, 2023

Helen's confidante seems sincere; we know Oliver's is not.

Characters: Justin, Jim, George, Oliver, Natasha, Helen
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Jim has been doing the Bank Holiday shift in the shop alone, Justin having found other more important things to do, and is not best pleased about it. Quite failing to realise that he has offended, and indeed not being there to help even now, Justin asks Jim to write him a reference for the Borsetshire Business Angel of the Year Award saying that he has worked unpaid at the village shop as an act of service. He would have asked Susan, but thought Jim might be a touch more articulate and persuasive. Jim asks him to leave the form with him.

When George catches up with Oliver he tries to butter him up about the guiding work he is doing at Lower Loxley Hall, but Oliver is not particularly cheered, and when George says he seems a bit down explains that there was a break-in at Grey Gables on Friday and both the memorial bench for Caroline and the tree planted in her memory were damaged by the intruders. George feigns outrage at the 'pig' who did it and at what Oliver describes as 'desecration'; he advises him to put it behind him, get the bench fixed up and not give the scumbags another thought.

Natasha has come to drop something over at the office for Pat, and in spite of Helen being very busy stops for a chat and asks her if she is all right. Helen says she would be perfectly fine if people would just let her handle this herself and goes into a rant about people assuming she will fall apart, which baffles Natasha, who had no idea Rob was around. When Natasha says she doesn't know what Helen is talking about, the wind is completely taken out of Helen's sails. She therefore tells Natasha what has happened, claiming that she is managing: she has applied for a non-molestation order. Natasha prods her for more information, claiming she would need a little friendly reassurance if it was her, and gets the whole story out of her in double-quick time – not that there seems much reluctance to confide in her. Helen had an email this morning from Jess, his first wife, wanting to see her on Thursday.

The shop is now shut, so when Justin called there Jim was not available and he has had to come and find him at Greenacres, where Jim is washing his Riley. The form is in the house, not yet filled in, and Jim shows no sign whatever of treating it with the least urgency. However, he claims to be keen to play his small part, and knows that this is important; he will have it ready for Justin tomorrow morning at the shop.

Helen is sure that hearing Rob is in the country on Friday and getting an email from Jess on Monday can't be a coincidence; she assures Natasha that she trusts Jess, who wouldn't do anything to harm her: Jess isn't the problem. She just can't trust anything to do with Rob Titchener, who manipulates people who aren't even aware he's doing it. Natasha encourages her to go and see Jess but to take a friend, and volunteers herself for the position. Helen doesn't know what to say; 'say, Thank You, Natasha, and then say Yes," instructs her sister-in-law.

Oliver is now sitting in Clarrie's pergola at Grange Farm, and George has come to find him again; he wants to suggest that rather than employing a professional bench-fixer, Oliver might let him mend it. It's the least he can do in the circumstances, he says, which baffles Oliver: he asks what circumstances, and George mentions the start-up fund. Oliver is not terribly willing but is eventually persuaded. George has restored some of his faith in human nature, when he compares his actions with those ... 'Scumbags?' suggests George. Scumbags, agrees Oliver, but goes on to say they may yet face the consequences of what they've done: Adil has decided to call in the police. The perpetrators have clumsily left all sorts of traces the police can follow up. 'Sweet,' mutters George.

George then rings Brad to warn him to say nothing to the police, fill him in about the story he is to tell, and warn him never, ever to grass on a mate.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 11th April, 2023

Various chickens come home to roost.

Characters: Brad, Harrison, Tracy, Justin, Jim, Adil
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Pester-power doesn't work on people younger than yourself; George keeps ringing Brad to repeat his instructions and threats, and Brad is fed up with it. He feels sick when he thinks about Oliver's bench and would rather own up. Immediately after he has rung off Harrison comes in wanting a quick word, and Tracy assures him that Brad will be as helpful as he can. Brad denies having heard about the break-in and Grey Gables, but Tracy contradicts him and says he has; Brad continues to deny having seen anything after Harrison drove by on Friday night, and says that he can't really remember. Harrison reckons in that case the best thing is to get the pair of them back to the station, and since Brad is under eighteen he will need someone with him during the interview, and Tracy agrees to go along: she says they just want to get to the bottom of it – don't they, Brad?

Need for his form is causing Justin also to pester, in his case Jim, and Jim is deliberately obfuscatory; this time he has left the filled in form at home. He does however promise to deliver it to the venue before the deadline of one o'clock, by hand.

At 'the station' Harrison reminds Brad that he is under caution, then questions him. He mentions having seen him at Grey Gables, and there being CCTV there which the police could check. [Which of course they would not do in the four days before dragging a sixteen-year-old in for questioning. Right. Chris.] He wonders why they were dropped off there, and Brad is unable to explain the taxi-driver's behaviour except to say one of them started rolling a fag and he pitched them out. Harrison wonders whether it was tobacco and Brad says he doesn't know. Then when asked whether they saw anyone else, Brad talks of shadowy figures hanging about by the fence, and it becomes clearer and clearer that he is lying; Tracy wants to know whose idea it was, and Harrison says he is going to take a break and make a cup of tea.

The Borsetshire Business Angel of the Year Award is in a glitzier venue that Adil had expected, and Justin talks up the importance of the occasion. Adil says he must be leading the field, and Justin complacently agrees that he was, but he has been let down by Jim Lloyd, who is a clever man but has the organisational skills of a garden snail. Adil wishes him good luck, and he goes to check the place-settings just before Jim arrives. When Jim asks whether Adil is jostling for an award himself, he says it's not really his sort of thing; he is only there to represent the company. Jim tells him that he is himself there to see Justin Elliott, and when Adil says ah, another endorsement form, complains that Justin has been sweeping through the village like Mother Teresa. Adil tells him that Justin has just swept into the dining-room, and Jim doesn't follow him, saying that he still has a minute or two and asking Adil what he would rather be doing. When Adil says he'd prefer to be at home with a good book, and when Jim rather forbiddingly suggests The Art of the Deal Adil laughs and says no, a biography of Graham Greene. [I wonder whose, and also whether Adil has read 'A Sort Of Life', Greene's memoir. Chris.] Adil reckons Greene would have watched the award ceremony with interest, whereas he has to invent games to play in order not to be bored; at the moment it's posh car bingo: you get points every time someone manages to let you know what car they drive. Double points if they mention 'my other car', suggests Jim, which tickles Adil; Jim then mentions that he drives a vintage Riley, presumably to get Adil off to a good start, but then has to go to catch Justin.

It's not so much Jim catching Justin as Justin hurrying up to Jim wanting the form, which Jim gives to him with the suggestion that he ought to read it before handing it over to the judges or he might regret it. When Justin does, he is horrified: Jim has described him as 'a devious and manipulative presence' and mentioned 'an entirely spurious concern for the public', and when Justin expresses his outrage Jim makes it clear that he knows exactly what Justin has been up to with Damara. Justin tears up the form, but Jim smugly tells him that was a copy, and he can take the original to the judges himself. He is totally unimpressed by Justin's bluster, and tells Justin he will just have to brace himself, unless... Unless what? demands Justin.

At the police station Harrison is pressing Brad hard, asking for all sorts of details, to which Brad mostly replies he can't remember. Eventually he says it was more than four days ago: why doesn't Harrison ask George? Harrison says that's enough and they are done; Tracy can have a word with Brad if she likes, but he is going down the corridor to do what Brad suggests: talk to George Grundy and see if his story matches.

Adil is confused because Justin has withdrawn from the award. Jim remarks that it was something of a puzzle, and Adil wonders whether his arm was being twisted, which Justin denies. When asked why by Adil, he comes out with sententious guff about the real pleasure you get from doing your bit for the community being in the help itself, not in some bauble: good luck to Martyn Gibson! Adil appears to be deceived; Jim clearly is not. He says it was very self-effacing, as was resigning from the shop, which does surprise Adil, who thought Justin enjoyed that. After more flannel from Justin, Adil tells him that he is an example to them all.

In the interview room Tracy does her best to get Brad to tell the truth and get out of the mess as best he can, and is sure it is George who is behind it, but before she manages to make an impression on Brad Harrison returns and tells them George has owned up to everything, a quite different story from that told by Brad. Brad doesn't believe George said all that, then goes silent before admitting it is what happened, to Tracy's exasperation. Brad desperately says the bench was an accident and they never meant to break it, but Tracy and Harrison say he should never have lied, and Harrison points out that whereas George has told them the truth, Brad has lied about it under caution, which is much more serious.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 12th April, 2023

Alice has no idea what she wants, and Oliver decides not to do what is not in his power.

Characters: Alice, Brian, Oliver, Tracy, Chris
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Alice is trying to get Brian to understand how hard everything is for her; he says rather wearily that he does understand, they've been through it often enough, but she insists on telling him that it makes her feel shaky, and his quite reasonably saying that it needn't, and that she has said herself that the will can't change, cuts no ice with her. She requires his absolute attention while she talks at him: an email to Stella can wait. Resignedly, he offers her five minutes, and she reverts to telling him what she has already said:the will makes her feel insecure, she can't help that. To her incredulity Brian says that actually, he thinks she can: she is torturing herself with this. Unfortunately he tries to reason with her, and she goes off on an accusatory tack and puts words of blame for her into his mouth. The nub of the matter appears to be that Alice has convinced herself that Jennifer was expecting her to fail. Brian thinks perhaps she should respect her mother's wishes, and move on.

In The Bull Oliver is telling Tracy about the cherry tree with Caroline's ashes buried among its roots, and explaining that he intended it to mean both love, the Chinese meaning, and transience as it does in Japan. Tracy says it's a lovely spot, and Oliver sadly tells her that George and her Brad ripped branches off the tree as well as breaking the bench. It may not have been deliberate, but they obviously didn't care, and to him it looks as if they were out to trample all over Caroline's memory. Tracy is horrified and unhappy, and says they didn't stop to think but they never meant any harm, but Oliver says the end result is the same: something precious has been destroyed. He does believe her when she says she can't tell him how sorry she is about all this, but points out it isn't really her who has to say she is sorry. He adds that even if Brad does say he is sorry as Tracy is certain he will, Oliver may not be able to forgive him.

Chris is at work when Alice comes to him and tells him Brian is not prepared to listen about Jennifer's will. Chris doesn't believe that Brian told her to get over it, and she admits those were not his actual words, but continues to air her grievance and also to try to pick a quarrel with Chris as well when he is not absolutely supportive of her view of the matter. When he suggests sharing the money out she is quick to say that won't work and belittle his thought. Then she tells him that the money isn't the problem, it's that the will actually signals to the whole family that Jennifer was setting the money aside in case Alice starts to drink again. Jennifer not trusting her is what it is really about. Quite what she expects him (or anyone) to do about this she cannot seem to articulate, though her grievance is reasonably clear. It's enough to drive anyone to drink, she says, and then when Chris protests at her choice of words tells him it was a joke.

It seems that Oliver can now guess what Tracy has come to see him about. She's had a call from Harrison. Emma has been to see him too, and she too had a call. Harrison has told them that the police are not taking any further action, and it's now up to Oliver whether or not to press charges. [This is not how it works: it would be up to Oliver if he wanted to take out a civil case, but it is never up to the victim of a crime whether or not the police/CPS press charges. If it were, the courts would collapse under the weight of unwinnable cases. Chris.] He doesn't know what he is going to do. She hasn't come to press him to make a decision: she just wants to say something about Brad, that he will never do anything like that again. Oliver takes leave to doubt that: he doesn't think it likely, but after Friday he isn't inclined to take anything for granted any more. He has said to Emma what he now tells Tracy: that he will think about it, and decide later today. She pleads for Brad, saying that he is without malice, but Oliver is not inclined to give way in thinking that there may be an obligation to press charges and see Brad is properly punished. Tracy says she wouldn't blame him; she's only asking him to think about what she said, and Oliver promises that he will, and he'll let her know as soon as he has made his decision.

Chris has come to see Brian, and they have a conversation about how it feels being on your own again and how one might not find pillow-cases for weeks, with Brian adding comments about Kate and Alice coming round, tidying up and moving things; Chris asks whether he moves them back after his daughters have gone, and Brian says, 'Of course.' Eventually, after a bit of bereavement-bonding, Chris comes to the point: he saw Alice this morning and she was a bit upset. It's not so much the money, he explains; it's the feeling she's not being trusted. Jennifer did what she thought best, but it's what it's doing to Alice. Brian insists they can't change the will, and Chris agrees but says he thinks they should keep an eye on her and see that she stays on track. Maybe if they all work together, including Adam and Kate, they can come up with a plan. Brian thinks that's a good idea, and when Chris says it's probably only a wobble but if they're all aware of it... We can help pull her through, agrees Brian.

When Oliver comes over to 6, The Green, Brad is out, and Oliver says that he can't hide away: he'll have to see him some time. Has Tracy told Brad that? No, she tells him, and he immediately says he'd rather she didn't: he doesn't want her sending her son round to say sorry. If he comes, it has to be his own decision, not because he's been sent. Tracy thinks that means Oliver will press charges if Brad doesn't come to see him off his own bat; she's getting a bad feeling about this. Oliver assures her he has already made his mind up. He isn't entirely sure he is doing the right thing, but the decision is no; he's decided not to press charges.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 13th April, 2023

Everyone is sorry, very sorry, except perhaps for anyone who ought to be.

Characters: Chris, Adam, Ian, Helen, Natasha, Jess
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Chris is trying to explain Alice's problem to Adam and Ian, who are initially understanding; Ian says wills always make things difficult, Adam wants to know whose advice Jennifer had taken [as though she were incapable of independent thought. Chris] and they all agree that it is not about the money. Chris says he wondered about dividing it equally among all the grandchildren, which appeals to Adam and Ian, but tells them Alice said it isn't his money and he can't give it away. They ponder this and try to think of ways round it, but unfortunately Ian says something Adam is able to take as a slur on Jennifer and then follows it up by saying that giving Martha an advantage could also be seen as disadvantaging Xander, which leads to all three talking loudly and simultaneously so the listener will have little or no idea what is being said by any of them. Eventually Ian says 'sorry' and suggests he should put the kettle on.

Jess has arranged to meet Helen at The Golden Pheasant, just the other side of Denton Grange, so Helen and Natasha are driving there. Helen has not told Jess that Natasha is coming, and Tom doesn't know she is either, which Helen thinks a good thing. He has taken the girls to the safari park [which they will really enjoy, now they are nine months old. Chris] since it is quieter on the farm today. Helen is very grateful to Natasha, who asks how she is feeling; Helen thought she'd be all right, but... Natasha assures her she'll be fine. It has occurred to Helen she is doing this before she has the court order in place, and well, all the old feelings have come creeping back. Natasha says she can turn round right now, or they can go somewhere else, but having been offered this 'out' Helen of course insists on going on: she has to know. Natasha reassures her that she will be there, and Helen calls her 'my safety-net.' When asked about Jess, she tells Natasha they don't have much in common apart from Him, but Jess testified for her at her trial and saved her life. Natasha feels that this means Jess broke Rob's hold over her, to which Helen agrees Jess now thinks he's a monster.

Tea has been brought, and Ian apologises for going too far, Adam says he didn't mean to suggest Alice wasn't stable, and Chris asserts that he was a bit too quick off the mark; they all start playing the old apology game in which each person blames himself a little more than the last, and they end up saying 'sorry' simultaneously.

By a twist of fate, Helen now says 'I'm sorry' to Jess for not having mentioned Natasha, explaining that it isn't because of Jess, just that she gets nervous about any link to Him. They agree that it is nothing to do with sense or reason, more of a feeling in the pit of your stomach. Jess tells Helen she is lucky to have someone who'll come with her, and when asked how she is says she is OK, still doing a bit of work for Social Services, part time; most of her time is spent looking after Ethan, who is doing fine. Just as she asks how Helen is, Natasha comes back with their drinks and then offers to go and sit at another table so they can be private, but Jess doesn't mind her presence so she stays, promising she will just sit there and not say a word. Helen diffidently suggests they should get to the point. Jess says it didn't feel right to tell her in a message, and she really was driving up to see a friend, and goes on at such length about why that Helen has to ask her again what it is she wanted to say. When Jess says that Rob's back in the country it's a definite anti-climax, and Helen tells her the police already let her know. Natasha butts in to tell her about the non-molestation order, and Jess apologises for having dragged them all the way out there. Natasha, rather sharply, asks whether that is it, all she can tell them, and Jess explains she thought Helen would be devastated and had to see her face to face, which Helen says was very considerate. Natasha asks whether Jess knows why Rob is here, and when Jess says yes asks whether he has told her: is she actually in touch with him? No, Jess insists; she heard from a friend down in Hampshire who is on a village Facebook group and saw that his mother had died, and that's why he's come back: for the funeral. [And she knows this how? Rob's doings won't have been on the Facebook group. Chris.]

Back at the Fathers' Union meeting Chris is suggesting that what Jennifer put in her will is a kind of tribute to Adam and Ian: she had faith in them. This leads to another outbreak of careful explaining from each man about not meaning to give offence, followed by praise of Jennifer as having treated all her grandchildren the same; she would have been so sorry to see them squabbling about her will when all she wanted was to make things work out well for everyone, the whole family. The family is why he came round in the first place, reveals Chris: family support. Alice needs a bit of support right now, to keep her on track and stop her spiralling out of control. Adam asks whether she is losing confidence in herself and Chris thinks maybe she is; Ian suggests that she needs something to occupy her (as well as The Stables and a two-year-old child): a hobby, something where you can just lose yourself. [Orienteering, then? Gus.] Chris says 'bell-ringing' as if this were a revelation from On High, and says it's obvious when you think about it: they could always use more ringers. It's perfect. Adam is incredulous.

On the way home, Natasha says she reckons there has been no-one in Jess's life since Rob; she was kind of nervous, not with them but in general, like the shyness you see in some kids: is it all right if I have a drink now, should I take my shoes off, little moments of uncertainty. Helen isn't interested in that and simply wants to think about what Jess had to tell them: it's sort of reassuring that he's come for a funeral... Natasha says that of course it's reassuring, it's a proper reason for his being here and nothing to do with Helen. Helen is reluctant to accept that, and Natasha tells her to believe in it: she'll get her non-molestation order tomorrow, but that is going to be belt and braces now. He'll be at the funeral in Hampshire and then he'll go back to wherever: Helen has to believe it! Helen laughs and assures her that she will.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 14th April, 2023

Contrition from Brad, confession from Pat, and neither from Natasha nor George.

Characters: Tom, Natasha, Brad, Oliver, George, Pat
Credited scriptwriter:
Nick Warburton
Director:
Marina Caldarone
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The trip to the safari park was a great success and the twins enjoyed it, according to Tom; they loved watching the other kids playing, and they loved the animals. Natasha mentions the client absolutely loving the shoot last week, and Tom's response is decidedly lukewarm, but she says she thought he would like to know and she doesn't like keeping things from him. Like where she was yesterday, which she proceeds to tell him.

Brad has sought out Oliver in order to apologise to him, and a very grudging Oliver gives him a hard time, asking whether Tracy sent him and how he knew where he was. Bewildered, Brad says that no, it was his own idea to come, and explains that he rang Grey Gables and Roy said Oliver wasn't in, so Brad looked for him at Grange Farm. [This is completely mad. Why would Oliver be at a building site? Why would Roy be at one? Come to that why would there even be a phone there? Chris.] Oliver says he has been waiting for Brad all week and knows why he has come but is not going to make it easy for him. What does he want? Oliver drags thanks for not pressing charges, and an apology, out of Brad, who also says he isn't trying to share responsibility and what he did was wrong: he's not talking about George, he came to say sorry for himself and what he did. He doesn't need to speak for George, who has already been to see Oliver; Oliver thinks that was brave, and contrasts it with Brad having taken so long to come and see him. Oliver then goes on to ask him if he knows what they did, and how Oliver felt when he saw what they had done; Brad doesn't, and is told to try. He says he keeps thinking about it and wishes it had never happened, but he can't do anything about it now. He is clearly sorry and wants to make up for what he did, which Oliver says he can't do, but suggests he could ask George if he wants help trying to fix the bench. Brad says he will. Oliver says that it pains him to discover that someone he thought cared about people was behind this: Brad can only repeat how sorry he is, and Oliver asks if he will shake his hand on that. A handshake, to show that he's sorry and that Oliver will give him another chance.

The revelation of what Helen and Natasha did has sent Tom into a furious state of disbelief: he thinks that what they did was incredibly stupid. He can see what might have happened if Rob had been there, and no amount of Natasha saying 'but it didn't' cuts any ice. And they told nobody, so nobody knew what they were up to. Natasha somewhat patronisingly tells him to calm down, which fails to calm him; he says he shouldn't be surprised, since she has done this sort of thing before when she and Kirsty went looking for Blake. He does not agree that Helen needed support: she needs to stay well clear. What if it triggers her? He tells Natasha that she has lied to him, and didn't even tell him Rob was back in the country, and being told that Helen asked her not to doesn't make it better: Helen was wrong. When Natasha asks if they ought not to attend to what Helen wants, he says no: they tried that before, when she was living with Rob, and look how that turned out! Natasha can't believe he is saying that, blaming Helen for what happened to her. Tom denies blaming Helen but says that people should be told about this so they can be prepared. They are going to have to let Mum and Dad know. That they do, and he is the last to be told, sends him out slamming the door. [And neither of the two sleeping nine-month-olds woke up during the whole row. Remarkable. Chris.]

When Brad goes to offer help to George he is turned down: George claims he promised Oliver it would be all his own work, and if it is Oliver will reinstate his birthday present start-up money. Brad is horrified that is all he is bothered about: doesn't he care what they did? George says it was only larking about, and it was both of them: the bench was collateral damage. Even if it was their fault he'd be mad to let a chance like this slip by, and he doesn't intend to share the credit for the repair. Brad can't believe it: breaking in was George's idea in the first place. George tells him that's the way of the world and it's too late crying over it: you just have to suck it up. Brad says he lied to Harrison as George told him, and George changed his story and left him in the muck. George clearly doesn't care, telling him it can't be helped, things move on and you have to move with them. [Tempora mutantur? Really, George? Gus.] The outraged Brad has had enough of him creeping round Oliver just to see what he can get out of him: he's done with following George around. From now on, he goes his own way.

When Tom asks Pat when they were planning to tell him that Rob was around again he gets a 'calm down' from her too, and again it doesn't work. She tells him that it is Helen's decision when to let people know, which infuriates him further. He says [rightly. Chris] that they need to know so they can do something about it, and when he is told that Helen is applying for a non-molestation order reckons, sarcastically, that will be a shed-load of help. Then he tells Pat what Natasha and Helen were doing yesterday, which she didn't know.

Oliver seems unimpressed by what George has achieved so far in the bench-mending line, and reminds him of the deal: if he is not satisfied with the result, he will call in a professional. George agrees, and says he will hand over and Oliver won't pay him a thing apart from basic material costs. Then Oliver asks where Brad is, and George is surprised; when Oliver says Brad was going to offer to help, George asks if that was what he said, then hints that Brad said something he doesn't want to divulge and tells Oliver that Brad looked in but never did a stroke of work: don't hold it against him, he's still basically a kid. He then says that Brad is desperate to be noticed, and that he feels sorry for him, which is why he invited him out last Friday, and of course he really regrets that now.

Surprisingly, Pat now thinks Tom is right: it could have been dangerous going to see Jess. But he is wrong about them not being ready. They're never going to be fooled by that man again. She tells Tom that she would be prepared, personally. She's thought about it, over the past few years, during sleepless nights. If Rob came back now she'd be prepared, in her darkest hours she honestly believes, she would be prepared to do anything to stop him. She sees herself holding the gun; he's done that to her, she'd take his life. His life to save Helen's: she'd be prepared to do that.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Sunday 16th April, 2023

Helen is angry with Pat: lying is her job, after all.

Characters: Tony, Jim, Jazzer, Helen, Pat, Lee
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Her sons are planning a treasure hunt for Helen's birthday, so Tony has been sent to the shop to buy prizes for it. Tony has been told by Lilian that Justin has stopped volunteering in the shop and tries to discover why, since she is a little worried about him, but Jim is giving nothing away and suggests that Justin may shed some light for her. In return, Jim canvasses for his support over the charging station, but is disappointed: Tony has considered both sides of the matter but is definitely leaning in its favour. As Tony leaves, Jazzer comes into the shop in response to Jim having asked for an emergency meeting about his stag-night.

It's been a lovely birthday so far, according to Helen, and there will be trifle as well as cake; the boys are upstairs writing the clues for her treasure hunt. Pat asks about a flickering outside light and the CCTV; Helen points out that Lee has been over the security and checked it all, and tells her to stop worrying. Helen is feeling better now she knows why He is in the country and that he will soon go back to America; Pat prefers to be cautious, but capitulates in the face of both Lee and Helen saying everything will be fine and anyway there is nothing more they can do. Lee suggests that Pat should go and fetch the boys so that they can eat and then go and look for the treasure, and when she goes to do that asks Helen if she needs a hug. Helen says yes, please, but adds she is OK and Mum's just a bit anxious; Lee hopes that won't make her anxious. Tony gets back just in time for Pat to come back down in a panic: she can't find Jack, and Henry thinks he has gone outside with one of the clues.

Jazzer was looking forward to a good pub-crawl, but Jim wants to complicate it with a check-list for each pub: ambience, cleanliness, state of the beer and so forth. He feels that they this way they will be able to tot up the scores and decide which is the best pub rather than trying to remember through a fug of beer. Jazzer is not looking forward to seeing Ed the following night: it's this thing with Brad and George. Tracy is in a tizz about it: she's grounded Brad and is fuming with George. Jim opines that what they did was reckless and hurtful, and Oliver was extremely upset, but Jazzer reckons Brad only did it because George pushed him, and, when Jim argues that doesn't make what Brad any less culpable, says that George is a jail-sentence waiting to happen. Brad is not like that; he's quiet, and just now too quiet: he's gone right back into his shell. Jim asks what's happened, and Jazzer explains about the interview with Harrison, with Brad having been threatened by George to make him lie; so Brad denied everything and then George owned up and told Harrison the truth (Oh, no! interjects Jim), so that Brad now looks like the liar. And Brad is upset about what's happened to Oliver, too. Jazzer really feels for the kid. As a step-father would, says Jim, before pointing out that Ed is in the same relationship to George. Jazzer doesn't know about that, but feels that nothing seems to bother George, and wants to know how he can go out and be pally with Ed when his boy has done that to Jazzer's? When Jim says he can see that might be an issue, Jazzer tells him it's more than an issue: he can't do it.

Not being able to find Jack straight away was solved at once by Tony, who went immediately to Jack's favourite hiding place behind the shed; Helen thinks it was lovely seeing the boys being so normal, but feels it was more of a strain for the adults. Lee points out that Pat managed to hide how worried she was in front of the boys, but he thinks she was quite shaken: Helen says Pat was there and saw what That Man did to Helen. She can't tell Lee how much it helps having him with her. But they should go inside now and have some of the lovely tea he's made for her. As they turn back to the house Pat comes out and tells them she and Tony have decided to invite the whole family to come and stay at Bridge Farm as they did before. Helen doesn't want to, and when Pat says they'd be much safer with more people around them insists that they are not moving to Bridge Farm: if they move out their life stops being normal, and she won't let Him do that to them. When Pat says he's done that already she denies it: she is in control of this, and the boys need a normal life in their own home. Lee backs her up, and then Tony calls them all to come in. Pat tries again to persuade them to come, just until they know Rob is gone, and Helen absolutely refuses the invitation.

The shop is being closed early; Jim is very concerned about the situation between Jazzer and Ed. [What these two statements of his had to do with each other, who knows? Chris.] Jazzer says it can't be helped, but Jim thinks that it can. They have a stag do and a wedding coming up, and they can't have Jazzer and his best man at odds with each other. Jazzer thinks he should stick to Jim, as was his original plan, but Jim is having none of it: Ed is one of Jazzer's oldest friends and means a lot to him, and when Jazzer says Brad and Tracy do now says he knows that. Just leave it to him. The three of them are going to have a lot of fun tomorrow night, and by the end of it he guarantees that Jazzer and Ed will be the best of friends.

The situation after the treasure hunt at Bridge Farm deteriorates badly when Helen says she is sorry and doesn't want to upset Pat, but moving to Bridge Farm isn't right no matter what she and Dad think, and Tony doesn't know what she means. When it is explained to him he says he and Pat have never discussed that, and when Pat starts to argue her case says that what he said was that it would be up to Helen and Lee. It's not Pat's decision. Pat desperately tries to get them to see how she feels, postulating more and more possible disasters, with the result that Tony tries to stop her, Helen becomes angry, and Lee shouts at her that she must stop, now. She says that somebody has to say it and Lee says that they don't: they are not stupid and they will protect their boys their way. Pat says he doesn't know what he is talking about because he didn't know Rob, and Helen snaps: of course they are afraid, but they are doing their best to control it, and there is Pat, winding them up, pretending that Dad's on her side, and he's not: she is on her own. Helen thinks they should go. Tony tells Pat that Helen is right and they should give her and Lee some space. After Pat and Tony leave the room, Lee apologises to Helen for snapping at her Mum, but Helen doesn't blame him: she deserved it. The front door shuts and she turns to Lee, saying despairingly that she wishes she had never met Him and that He'd never been part of her life. She hates Him so much.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 17th April, 2023

Exes are in the air.

Characters: Jim, Ed, Jazzer, Ian, Lee, Dennis
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The stag-night test run is about to begin, with Jim providing the first halves of the bitter at a pub called The Crown Inn. As well as thinking the whole exercise decidedly strange, Ed and Jazzer are initially very wary with each other despite all Jim can do in the way of bonhomie. He feels that the Borsetshire Meadow beer is only worth a two out of ten, with an aftertaste of burnt rubber; both the younger men agree with him about that. The ambience and cleanliness also leave a lot to be desired, and they decide The Crown is definitely one to miss off the list of possible venues, drink up and leave.

It seems that someone from a genealogy website by the name of Erin has got in touch with Adam about Paddy Redmond, and they are going to talk to each other tomorrow. Lee finds the whole story of Adam's quest and the old love-letter exciting, and says 'wow' a bit, but he has actually sought out Ian in order to ask him about Rob Titchener. He manages to do so without revealing why he wants to find out about him right now, and Ian suggests that rather than talk about Rob immediately he will take Xander home for Adam to put to bed, and he and Lee can then have a drink and a chat in a quiet corner of the beer garden at The Bull.

At the next pub, Jim has got Jazzer talking about the nonsense-Scots poem he recited at Lynda's New Year's Eve party, of which the first line was 'The cruickie scunner has nae thrapple' (he is mercifully unable to remember the rest, though he has it written down somewhere), and remembering it and other what Jim calls 'japes' they shared gets Ed and Jazzer being more civil to each other. They even laugh over some of the sillier things they did together back when they were younger. At Jim's prompting they speak of their time together in Fallon's band Dross, and Ed muses that they were very different people then. Jazzer goes to get in another round and check out the gents for marking on the card.

Lee is asking questions of Ian and being given a slightly biased but on the whole accurate account of Rob Titchener's character and how he treated Helen. Ian is a bit uncomfortable remembering how he just somehow detached Helen from everybody she loved, and the little things Rob did to isolate her and make her feel small and worthless; Lee is rather uncomfortable hearing about it. When Ian talks about hiding her keys or purse and then blaming her when she couldn't find them, Lee is reminded that Helen has spoken of gaslighting. Ian says that he lost her [by having a blazing row with her and calling her a 'piece of work', not speaking to her again thereafter. Chris], and Kirsty lost her [mostly by not being in Ambridge while most of this was going on, to be fair. Chris]; it was frightening. Lee says this is all outside his experience. Ian says Rob was a manipulative narcissist by all accounts. He's the only man who's ever made Ian turn to violence, which surprises Lee, who wants to know what happened and is told about Ian punching Rob after he'd been riled up by him. Lee can't imagine Ian doing that, and Ian says it's just an example of how Rob could get under your skin, but it was nothing compared to what he did to Helen. Lee wishes he could have been there for her, but Ian assures him he is doing a great job being here for her now.

On his way back to the other two Jazzer has struck up acquaintance at the bar with someone called Dennis, who is wearing a Birmingham City football shirt of which Jazzer makes fun; Jazzer himself of course supports Celtic, but they get on very well in spite of that, having the same appalling sense of humour. Jazzer speaks of his stag do and having two best men; Dennis offers himself as another, and Jazzer invites him over to meet his competition.

During Jazzer's absence Jim has got Ed to talk about George and Brad's trouble with the law and with Oliver; Ed sympathises with Brad being low about it, but they were in it together and Emma is as upset as Tracy. Jim asks how he feels, and Ed admits that George drives him up the wall, but he was a lad once himself; if you pinned him down, he'd say he was worse than George. So far. And Jazzer? asks Jim. They broke the mould with that one, replies Ed, whereupon Jim says that in that case, this really shouldn't get in the way of their friendship. As Ed is agreeing, Jazzer arrives with his new pal, Dennis, whom he describes as 'part of the ambience'. Dennis asks how they are liking The Fox and Hounds, and when Jim and Ed agree it scores highly on several counts, Jazzer says it is definitely a contender, though Jim feels they have not necessarily finished the exercise. Dennis asks whether they have ever been to The Seven Stars in Netherbourne, and speaks highly of it, inviting them along to a darts night there on Thursday; Jim asks whether Jazzer would be able to cover that one. He agrees to and asks whether Ed would like to join him, but unfortunately Ed is working late on Thursday and can't go along. Soon afterwards Dennis takes his leave, saying he only came in for a quick half and that he will see Jazzer on Thursday.

Ian tells Lee that Rob completely undermined Helen's self-confidence, which looking at her now Lee finds hard to believe; Ian assures him that only her amazing inner strength got her through and out the other side. Lee reckons it must have been so hard for Pat and Tony too, and when Ian gives examples of the hard time Rob gave them Lee muses that it isn't surprising they are afraid of Rob. Ian isn't sure afraid is exactly the word he'd use, and Lee very nearly lets the cat out of the bag by saying that's how Pat came across yesterday, but manages to retrieve his slip by saying that the subject of Rob came up. Ian's worry is that Jack is Rob's son, and Lee explains that was how Pat got to Helen yesterday; not on purpose, he hastily adds, but it made him so angry because that's the last thing Helen needs. Ian says that from where he's standing, Helen has been able to move on and she seems in a good place now; I do hope so, agrees Lee fervently.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 18th April, 2023

Goats, a dog, an apology, an invitation and a disappointment.

Characters: Adam, Ian, Ben, Sykesy, Pat, Tony, Erin
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The conversation with Lee has of course been shared with Adam, and he is glad Lee has now messaged Ian and seems to be 'in a better place' after a long talk with Helen last night. Adam is waiting to hear from Erin, though it's early yet. He is very nervous, wondering whether she really is going to call, but is sure it isn't a scam. Ian goes out leaving him waiting for her call, saying he will collect Xander from nursery later and wishing Adam good luck.

At The Laurels Ben is indulging in what is probably called 'chaff' with Sykesy, whom he manages to persuade to come down to the lounge later when he brings Bess in.

Pat and Tony are still somewhat at odds; Pat has not seen Helen, whom Tony describes as having been 'normal, busy' when he came across her, but when Pat hopes she isn't avoiding her he tells his wife that she might be and it might be best to let things lie: Sunday was quite upsetting for her and Lee. Pat reluctantly agrees, and he counsels her that since they both have plenty to do they should just get on with it, which is what he is doing. Pat reverts to a grievance: she doesn't understand why the police haven't questioned That Man yet; Tony doesn't know, but Pat continues to wonder angrily why they can't just go to his parents' house. Tony doesn't know that either, but points out that it's a seven year old case and hardly a police priority; he's sure they will hear something in the next few days. [Why on earth will they, when Helen told the police she had no interest in pressing charges against Rob? And what exactly are they meant to be 'questioning' him about anyway? Chris.] Helen is in the dairy and Pat doesn't know whether to go in or not; Tony implores her not to go in there and start banging on about Titchener, and when she objects to the phrase 'banging on' says she should be trusting Helen and Lee and swallowing her pride. She is seriously put out by this, and when Tony says that Helen is not alone any more but has Lee in her life now, says she didn't like the way Lee spoke to her. Tony doesn't blame Lee for getting cross: she had overstepped the mark. When Pat angrily continues to argue that Helen and Lee are too close to the situation to be able to judge it he says no, they simply don't agree with her, and she must allow them to do that. 'You never know, love: you might even be wrong,' he suggests.

The residents of The Laurels have had Bess shown off and explained to them, ending with her doing some tricks such as 'roll over' (which causes oohs and laughter), 'eights' (to more applause) and 'speak'. Ben boasts that she has now won her first rosette at a trial last year. The tea trolley than arrives and Ben says that anyone with more questions or wanting to interact with Bess during their tea should feel free just to shout.

It's time for Ian to prepare the evening meal at Honeysuckle Cottage; he is proposing to make a stir-fry with what is left over from the vegetable box. Xander is back from nursery and playing unsupervised elsewhere, and Adam is still waiting for his call. Erin sent a text to say that something had come up, so she may not ring until rather later, and Ian suggests he could go and play with Xander to distract himself, but as he is hauling himself to his feet his phone chimes. Erin has called: the first thing she says is that she is his half sister, which he describes as 'amazing'.

To the sound of bleating [the usual indicator that he is in the vicinity. Gus. (Bah. Chris.)], Tony comes and finds Pat, asking her how things are in goat-world. He says he is sorry about earlier, and she says that she is too; he says crossly that Titchener is having his effect on them, and that it's only because she loves them that Pat wants them close; Pat admits ruefully that all she has ended up doing is pushing them away. Tony tries to comfort her by telling her that Helen is dealing with it well on her own terms, but she still needs her mum and dad. Pat knows, and that is why she is going to go and apologise.

It then turns out that rather than having just been casual labour as Jill seems to have thought he was when he worked at Brookfield, Sykesy kept working dogs: a lot of them over the years, his most recent having been called Flynn, a border collie like Bess. Ben tactfully says Sykesy must miss him, but it turns out he was long gone by the time Sykesy moved to The Laurels. As Sykesy turns to go back off upstairs [his independent mobility is a great improvement from how he was when we first heard him, unable to move from bed to chair without help. Chris] Ben invites him to come over to Brookfield if he can arrange it, but Sykesy thinks not: it would only remind him what he's lost. Ben argues that he would love all their livestock and tractors and everything, and seeing how it has changed since he was last there, and at the offer of a cuppa in the farmhouse kitchen if he behaves, Sykesy capitulates and agrees to come.

Adam and Erin are chatting about not having known each other existed, and places where they might have met; they get on well. She hasn't yet told anyone else about him, because she wanted to be completely sure first, which he understands. She works in retail, sales, and he tells her about being a farmer and having a pizza van, and having a little son. He asks if she still has family in Ireland and she says 'a few' without elaboration, then mentions that she is thirty-five, which sounds quite young to Adam. Then he asks about her parents, and she says her mother stayed where she was her whole life, but the thing is, as for Paddy, he passed. This takes a moment for Adam to take in: he's so sorry. She's sad that he never got to meet his father, and then when he asks how long ago Paddy died drops a bombshell: it was only two weeks ago. She's really sorry: Adam has just missed him.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 19th April, 2023

Adam is surprisingly happy; Freddie unsurprisingly is not.

Characters: Freddie, Elizabeth, Adam, Ian, David, Ruth, Ben
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

In the Lower Loxley Hall office Elizabeth is busy working and not in the least interested in talking to Freddie about the trustees' meeting which seems to be going on somewhere on the premises. He is waiting to find out what they decide about the painting, and is treated to a dismissive set of comments. She claims that the reaction to a reworded explanatory notice under it have been positive, then undermines this assertion by telling him there haven't been any complaints so far. He says he can't see why he can't go into the meeting and talk to them himself, and she tells him it doesn't work like that and changes the subject to David, Ruth and Ben coming over to supper to celebrate her birthday a couple of days early.

Adam seems to be taking his father having died very well, possibly because he has discovered a sister. Ian is glad he doesn't regret getting in touch with Erin.

Calving is more than half-way through, and David reports a successful birth to Ruth. They agree that they both love calving. Ruth remarks that Ben looks happy and wonders if he has remembered they are going out tonight. When reminded of it, he says that luckily some B&B people have cancelled so he won't have to stay in to look after them. He mentions Sykesy and having invited him to come over; David and Ruth are happy with the idea. Rather than taking Bess out again he is going to replenish the stocks for the B&B; after he has left on this errand, David tells Ruth that he is starting to think they might just have got the old Ben back again.

As expected by Elizabeth, the trustees won't let them sell the painting. Freddie thinks them stupid and short-sighted, and being addressed as if he were about six and beseeched to try not to be too disappointed, darling, merely seems to drive him into a ten-year-old snit about it: his voice rises and his arguments sound more and more like whining. She claims to understand his frustration, which he clearly doubts she does, and thinks they should actively encourage the guides to engage their visitors in discussion: that's something he can do. He can train up the guides. He wants to know what good that will do, and she says it might be a revelation to some of their visitors. He describes this as just giving in to the trustees, and Elizabeth, still speaking as adult to prepubescent, tells him that one day he will realise that as well as caring for his home he is running a business and one of the most important abilities he will need is to be able to take set-backs in his stride and move on. This is a set-back [she says, forgetting that it is in fact what she wanted. Chris] but in deciding not to let them sell the picture the trustees are guarding his inheritance. He bursts out that he doesn't want it in his inheritance, and it's not a family portrait anyway; and isn't having principles important too? She tells him he can't afford to get too emotional about these things, and his angry reaction makes her point for her very nicely.

Ian has come over to Bridge Farm to pick up some Borsetshire Blue for an event in Heybury tomorrow and stops to chat with Adam: has he heard any more from Erin? Yes, they've exchanged a few messages and agreed they are looking forward to meeting each other. Ian asks about the rest of the family, but it turns out she's an only child – which seems to relieve Ian. Adam has asked her if she'd like to meet up in Ambridge, but she has no plans to come over just yet, though she's keen on seeing where Paddy used to live [from March 1965 until June 1967. What is it about having been in Ambridge for a couple of years that makes someone an old-established Ambridge resident/family? Chris] and though they haven't fixed a date Adam hopes it might be soon. Ian suggests they could go over to Ireland, which he would love to do: it's been a while.

Supper is finished and Elizabeth is being thanked; Freddie is still fed up and rather silent. Elizabeth tells the company to ignore him: it's the trustees' decision again. When he answers her criticism she says 'not now' and tells him he has talked about it enough. Ruth starts to talk about Sykesy's impending visit, and the others join in and discuss him; Freddie gets up and goes out, saying he needs some fresh air. Elizabeth says that he refuses to take on board anything she is saying and it's exhausting; David can see that it's a tricky issue. Ben offers to go and see if he can cheer Freddie up but is over-ruled by Elizabeth, and in the end David follows him instead.

Outside, he finds Freddie and sits down beside him, though Freddie is not particularly welcoming. After some gentle probing from David the root of Freddie's unhappiness comes out: Elizabeth thinks she understands, but she really doesn't get where he is coming from. David suggests he could try not being to hard on her, but Freddie is now wound up [though not talking like a child; perhaps being talked to as an adult has a good effect. Chris] and just says he doesn't think he is being. David admits that parents don't always get things right, but that doesn't mean they aren't doing their best: if she is not budging about the painting, that must mean she really believes what she's doing is right. Freddie appreciates the point, and says Elizabeth is wonderful and has often helped him, but that this time she is wrong. She basically told him he is too emotional, and that's a problem for her. He has first-hand knowledge of what he is talking about: Blake. David is somewhat enlightened; he had never even thought of that day at Grey Gables. Freddie explains that the thing is, the people who bought that painting were his ancestors, and were proud to show off a portrait of a man who bought and sold human beings. Mum is not related to them, but Freddie is, and his howevermanyeth great grandfather thought the bloke in that picture was terrific, and hung it in pride of place, but Freddie doesn't: he's seen what slavery does to people. To him, the idea of keeping that picture and having to see it every day is completely unbearable. David does understand that, and offers to have a word with Elizabeth.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 20th April, 2023

A bad penny turns up, and old woes are rehashed.

Characters: Tracy, Jazzer, Den, Helen, Pat
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The Seven Stars in Netherborne really impresses Tracy, who tells Jazzer that his mate has good taste and if it's as good as it looks they could book stag, hen and wedding reception there: they might get a discount. She is really grateful to Jazzer for her night out, though they are limiting themselves to two pints each: it will help her forget George's iniquities and Brad's unhappiness, which she then proceeds to talk about. She goes to fetch her coat from where she has left it by the bar, and in her absence Dennis arrives and greets Jazzer. His darts match is with the Hop Pole in Darrington, but before it starts he is there to sell the pub to Jazzer. The moment Tracy gets back she and Jazzer's friend recognise each other: 'Is this a wind-up?' asks Den, and Tracy tells Jazzer it is Chelsea and Brad's dad, in the flesh.

Pat has take some biscuits over to Beechwood Estate for Helen and Lee, and she and Helen chat quite amiably together. Helen has a birthday card for Elizabeth which she has not yet delivered, and Pat warns her to be careful what she says to Freddie: he and Elizabeth have crossed swords over something. Pat is in full grovel about having thought she knew what to do about Rob, and Helen agrees with her that she was wrong; she should have trusted them, says Pat, and Helen tells her kindly that she was only trying to help them. She is sorry that any of them are having to think of him, and it's horrible to think of the hold he had over them. Pat tells her how unhappy she and Tony were about barely being allowed to see Henry, but after a little dwelling on the past Helen pulls herself together and asserts that is why wherever he is he shall never get back into their lives like that again.

In the face of fury from Tracy, Den tries to defend himself, saying that he never saw Jazzer before the other night and it is just a weird coincidence; certainly weird, agrees Tracy, but she knows the sort of thing he gets up to. She should, seeing they were together for ten years, he mentions. She wants to leave, and while Jazzer hastily finishes his pint Den continues to extol the pub: yes, replies Tracy, it's nice, but using somewhere he had found for them would be even weirder. Den suggests that they could at least stay and watch the darts match, but Jazzer tells him not to be funny, Tracy tells Jazzer to leave it, and they go.

Helen and Pat are continuing to chat along about a picnic in the orchard with Seren and Nova, who saw a chaffinch singing; Pat quotes Browning on the subject. Helen invites Pat and Tony to supper, but Pat has something in the oven for them and must get home. They are briefly rude about Ursula and have a laugh about her; Helen says that if they don't take the Titcheners seriously they can't hurt them so much. Pat apologises for having mentioned them, and Helen hopes that soon they won't have to think about them again. Pat thinks that would be wonderful but perhaps they shouldn't get too far ahead of themselves; Helen is quite happy to get ahead of herself as sometimes it's the best place to be. They then have a few minutes of praise for Lee and how the boys, and Helen, love him, and Helen says he faces with 'his own sort of quiet courage' being unhappy because Helen is so upset.

After getting away and going home, Tracy is still a bit shaken and Jazzer apologises for getting her into that. She didn't connect 'Dennis' with Den: he has never called himself Dennis. When Jazzer asks if she reckons it was all deliberate, though, she scoffs at the idea because Den is not clever enough, and anyway what would be the point? As they are about to see what's on the telly, Tracy gets a message from Den, who is just down the road and wants her to go and talk with him, saying it's really important. Jazzer inquires whether he is stalking her, but she says no. Jazzer suggests just leaving him sitting there, but she wants to know what he wants to talk about, and goes to find out what the numpty's got to say.

The numpty seems apologetic about possibly having their wedding plans, which he doesn't want to have done, and says that Jazzer seems a good bloke and is the right person for Tracy. What he has come to do is talk about his own introspection on reaching the age of fifty, and wanting to have a new start as Dennis. He says his life hasn't amounted to much (Tracy agrees) and that Tracy and the kids have been the best thing about it, especially Chelsea and Brad; he knows he hasn't done right by them, and Tracy doesn't disagree with him: they barely know who he is. He admits he wasn't all that great with Brad when he saw him, and Tracy tells him that Brad was really upset by him, which he tries to excuse by saying that his head was in the wrong place. He wants to make it up to him, he wants things to be different from now on; oh yeah? mutters Tracy. He can't make up for all the lost years, but he can do something about the ones to come. He offers his help with whatever is wrong for Brad and Chelsea, which Tracy is at first very reluctant to take at face value; he should have been saying this ten years ago, and she thinks he is too late: she's heard it all before. He goes on pleading for this one chance and he will prove to them that he's a different person, and although Tracy mocks him as 'super Dennis' she eventually tells him that it's not up to her, it's up to them. If it were her it would be easy, but she will talk to them. She can't promise any more than that. He seems to reach out for her and she tells him sharply not even to think of touching her; he apologises, and she gets out of his car saying that she will let him know how it goes.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 21st April, 2023

Brad has a change of mind and Helen has a flash-back.

Characters: Helen, Tracy, Lee, Chelsea, Brad
Credited scriptwriter:
Paul Brodrick
Director:
Kim Greengrass
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Outside the shop, Helen and Tracy collide; there is much blame-claiming and it's clear neither was looking where she was going, since each was worrying about her men-folk. Tracy says Susan loves the new dairy window, and Helen that she has to go, then as Tracy goes on her way gets a phone call from Lee to tell her apologetically he won't be home till seven even though he's supposed to be cooking. She tells him it will be fine in spite of her needing to talk to one of their suppliers.

The Eurovision organising committee [no, not the one in Liverpool! Chris] now has Chelsea on it instead of Justin, but Brad's congratulations to her are lukewarm at best, and he disputes that liking to watch it makes her an expert. He is more concerned about Tracy having told them she wants to talk to them, and sounding serious; Chelsea is sure she has done nothing wrong, and Brad can't have because he is grounded. She advises him to stop hanging round with George, and he tells her he wishes George had deleted that video he made him do; his voice is on it. She can't see the problem, since he is already known to have been there, but he just hates the idea that George will be showing it to all his mates and laughing over it. She then harks back to Mum sounding serious; it can't take long, whatever it is, because Chelsea is going out with Tara tonight. Tracy then comes in and demands their attention: nothing is wrong, but she is serious. She tells them that she met Den and he says now he is fifty he's turning over a new leaf; he wants to get to know them. It's entirely up to them if they want to meet him or not: Tracy is not going to push them either way. Even though she doesn't want to have anything much to do with him herself, she wouldn't stand in their way if they want to. Chelsea instantly says she wants nothing to do with him, and after a bit of stammering Brad agrees that would be better. Tracy asks if he's sure, and he says yes, a hundred per cent.

The paella Helen made for supper was delicious and Lee is full of congratulations to her. The boys have settled for the night [12-y-o Henry is got rid of sent to bed at the same time as 6-y-o Jack, it seems. Chris] and the adults discuss the long two weeks they have had, and thank each other for help getting through it. Helen says she is OK now, though she wasn't at first, and is glad they've made up with Mum. She suddenly starts to laugh about a customer they had at the viewing window earlier, who looked like Basil Fawlty and wanted to come in 'to talk to the ladies'.

When Tracy asks him it seems that Brad is not OK really; he is worrying about George and how upset Oliver was, and feeling guilty. George was high: he lit a spliff in the taxi, and that was why they got chucked out. George didn't tell Harrison that though, did he. Brad didn't have any, nor any drink. Tracy wants to know what they thought they were going to do in there, and Brad says that it was all George, who thought it was funny; Tracy tells him he ought to stop beating himself up about it and learn from it instead. He agrees that she's right, and he will. He's still grounded, though: Tracy wants him where she can see him. But she can tell there is something else, and Brad eventually admits it's his dad; Tracy tells him he doesn't have to decide at once, and then all about how she and Den came to meet each other again, and Brad wonders if she thinks he really wants to see them. She says that's what he said, but she'll be honest: she doesn't trust him an inch even though it looked as if he meant it. He drove over specially to ask her. [She actually said 'came over', but Brad seems to have known intuitively that this meant 'to Ambridge' rather than 'in the pub'. Chris.] The important thing, though, is whether they want to see him. Brad doesn't know, especially after last time, and as Tracy is talking with him about it and telling him that whatever he decides she will support, her phone tings with a message: Jolene wants her to go in to work early. Before she actually leaves, Brad says he has decided: he thinks he does want to see Den. Tracy says she'll get in touch and let him know. He thanks her, and she says that whatever happens he has her: she's going nowhere. [Apart from the Bull, right now, presumably. Chris.] Chelsea then bursts in complaining that Tara can't make it, Tracy sets out for work, and Chelsea says she'll stay in with Brad if he likes. He tells her that he has told Mum he wants to meet Dad, which she argues against, telling him to be careful: he doesn't remember how awful it was for Tracy, but she does, and it was bad. And he has hardly spoken to them for years. Brad doesn't have to put himself through this. He explains that he has heard Susan talking about Adam Macy's real father having died before he found him, so he was too late. It made Brad think; he just wants to give Den another chance, and him a chance to know what Den's like. She understands, and says she will come with him: there's no way she's letting him meet Dad on his own. They're going to stick together on this.

At Beechwood Helen and Lee are chatting together about their forthcoming trip to the USA and what they might do there, with Helen mocking Lee for his ignorance of American geography. He says that he can't wait to go away with her, and moves in for a kiss; she suddenly panics, saying 'no, Lee, don't, sorry, I can't!' and frightening him: 'What's the matter? Did I...?' he exclaims anxiously. She tells him it's not him and not to worry, but as he tries to find out what's wrong while she hyperventilates, she manages to pull herself together enough to suggest they should have another look at the map almost as if nothing had happened.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

[Gus wanted the header to be 'Helen is a prick-tease and so was this episode.']

Sunday 23rd April, 2023

Harrison is a broken reed and Chris is a source of comfort.

Characters: Harrison, Pat, Alice, Susan, Chris, Paul
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah McDonald-Hughes
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

Even though it is Sunday Pat has come to see Harrison, who is listening to Eurovisioncast and having some hot cross buns. He offers her a bun and talks about the Eurovision event he is helping to organise, but she has no real interest in either. He explains what is being planned, that each contestant or group is allocated a country and has to come up with an act related to that country: singing, dancing, cooking or whatever they like. She says politely that it sounds a lot of fun, but it has all passed her by because they have had other things on their mind [sic. Chris] recently. He understands, and asks whether they have heard anything from the police down in Hampshire; they haven't. That is why she is there: she wondered if he had; it's awful waiting like this. He's sorry: he emailed last week but has had no reply. He'll chase it up and let her know what they say. She thanks him, apologises for just turning up, then suddenly loses her composure and talks about sitting there terrified. Harrison tries to calm her, and she goes on to say that Helen is really frightened, though she doesn't show it on the surface. It would help so much if someone would let them know what is happening. She then launches into accusation of the police for not caring, and, when Harrison tries to excuse them, verbally attacks both them and Rob, shouting about 'you lot' protecting Rob. Harrison's response is to offer her a cup of tea.

Alice has brought Martha for Susan to look after while Alice has a go at bell-ringing. Alice asks after Brad, having been told about his brush with the law, and Susan thinks Tracy is being hard on him and makes excuses for his lying to the police. Chris then comes in and tells them that as Neil has been called in to work, he will be tutoring Alice, as well as making the bad bell-ringing puns. They go off together.

Harrison is trying his best to calm Pat's concerns, talking about the non-molestation order Helen has, and the Protection Order for Jack; Pat claims she wouldn't say it to Helen but cannot see what use those would be if Rob decided to do something against either of them. Harrison says that would be a criminal offence and the police could act immediately. Pat is somewhat mollified, especially when he says he will get onto Hampshire and try to find out more. He wishes there were more he could do; she says he has been great, letting her sound off when her family is too worried for her to feel it would be fair on them. He says that speaking not as a policeman but as a friend, she is welcome any time.

Somewhat as expected, Alice turns out to be a natural at bell-ringing and she and Chris are clearly having a good time and getting on well. They remember previous bell-ringing occasions, and she wonders whether she could come and watch them do the quarter peal for the coronation. She tells him that it has really taken her mind off everything, and he says you can do bell-ringing and think about anything else; she thanks him and says she hasn't thought about anything else for the past hour, and bell-ringing ought to be marketed as therapy.

Paul is rushing to the shop for some wine to go with supper when he runs into Susan; she is taking Martha to the park [where's that to then, in Ambridge? Chris], though the child is asleep and she thinks she might just go home and have a cuppa instead. Harrison then comes over and is told by Paul about great news regarding the Eurovision extravaganza; neither of them has heard from Justin, but Paul has got hold of a load of flags and decorations for the village hall from Craft and Spangle, who had decorations at three for two and he went a bit mad. He wonders what is up with Justin: has he still not paid up? He hasn't, and they can do with the cash he promised. Susan remarks that promises don't mean much to the likes of Justin Elliott, and when Paul asks whether she thinks he might not give them the money says darkly that it wouldn't be the first time. [Presumably his no longer doing shifts at the shop has upset her. Chris.] Paul is taken aback, but Harrison thinks Justin has probably just been busy and forgotten about it.

Later Susan waves Martha goodbye and she and Chris are left together; she describes Alice as almost radiant when she came back from the bell-ringing, and Chris agrees that it's the first time he's seen her smile since Jennifer died. She has been having a bad time, with the will and everything, and he's been worried about her. Susan asks if he means she might crack, and he says no, but if anything was going to drive you to drink all that would do it. She's been really strong: she's amazing, when you think about it. Susan agrees but warns him to be careful: any fool can see he's still got feelings for her. Chris says of course he has, they were together a long time and she is the mother of his child, but that's not what Susan is talking about; when he says they are friends and co-parents and of course he cares about her, Susan asks pointedly whether that is all. Yes, Chris says, it is.

Paul describes Justin as a snake, and Harrison says that he did say something about cash-flow but also that the way they treated him was nothing short of blackmail; Paul is outraged, but Harrison tells him that without Justin's money they can't afford to go ahead. Paul cannot accept this, and is not prepared to admit defeat and try again next year; he's bought all this stuff! Harrison says that short of a fairy godmother they have little choice, but that reminds Paul about a fairy godmother he may have found: someone he met in the village shop who was very keen to help with advice about the show. She gave him her phone number and he'll get onto her at once: he enthuses about her and Harrison realises he is talking about Lynda Snell. He warns Paul she can be a bit full-on, but Paul says that's great and full-on is exactly what they need. In spite of Harrison saying darkly that he doesn't know Lynda Snell, Paul cannot be stopped: trust him, who needs Justin Elliott when they've got Lynda Snell?

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Monday 24th April, 2023

Stella swithers, and Paul is decided.

Characters: Lynda, Harrison, Paul, Stella, Adam
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah McDonald-Hughes
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The alternative plan put forward by Lynda for 'a celebratory European event that brings our community together' seems to be a cheese afternoon, with the contestants providing cheeses from the country they have chosen. When she has finished explaining this, there is a short silence followed by Paul saying 'guess the cheese' rather blankly. Harrison remarks in a conciliatory way that he supposes a cheese and wine party could be rather fun, but Lynda instantly vetoes the idea of wine on cost grounds. When she asks what they think Harrison is non-committal, and Paul comments that he likes cheese as much as the next person, more if we're taking Big Zuu's Baked Camembert, but a cheese afternoon sans wine – isn't it a bit ... boring? Harrison whistles, and Lynda takes umbrage at the word boring. Paul says no offence, but people are expecting an all-singing, all-dancing Eurotastic extravaganza, and he's sorry, but he's not sure 'guess the cheese' is going to cut it. Lynda sniffs.

At the farm shop, Adam is buying fillet steak for Ian to use in a Beef Wellington on Thursday for Brian and Alice, when he encounters Stella, and they talk for a while about Adam and Ian trying to look after Brian without him realising. She asks about Erin and enthuses about the idea of her and Adam meeting: you can't have too many siblings. Adam remarks that there have been times over the years when he would have happily traded Kate [no, he didn't say for what. Chris], which makes Stella laugh. She tells him she ought to be seeing all her siblings next month, at her sister Lila's wedding, but it is in Florence and she can't really take the time off. She hasn't even asked Brian for leave; it's a busy time of year and there is nobody she could ask to do all the work there, not with Brian still off. It would be asking him to cover, and that wouldn't be fair. Adam is horrified and offers to take her for coffee before the shop closes to see whether they can come up with any ideas.

The Eurotastic Committee, in this case Paul and Harrison with added Lynda, are beating their brains for ideas, and Paul suggests going with the variety show idea, but smaller and cheaper. Lynda points out that they have no budget at all, and they cannot be all-singing and all-dancing without financial backing. Unfortunately it is rather late in the day to raise alternative funds, and they don't want to run the risk of it being a damp squib. Paul agrees but says he reckons they could manage without the sound system, and he's already bought all the decoration, so that's sorted. Harrison shies away from the idea of Paul spending all that money, but Paul is happy to gift a bit of sparkle to the village; anyway, he can probably use some of it himself later. Lynda is clearly impressed by this, and says a scaled-down version might be achievable; what do they need as a bare minimum? Harrison starts with the hire of the hall, for which Lynda says she might be able to call in a favour; Paul puts in the cake as a centrepiece, which Lynda rapidly converts to being many cakes contributed by all and sundry; Paul adds a big screen, because it would be a bit rubbish if they all had to gather round a tablet, and Lynda's simple solution there is to borrow the one from The Bull [which obviously won't be in use for showing the Eurovision Song Contest there. Chris], since Jolene is on the committee. Lynda first suggests that everyone should be allowed to choose their country, then undertakes to make sure they don't all choose the same one. Leave it with her, she says smugly.

Stella has had no time off since Christmas, even at weekends, and Adam says she will burn herself out. She agrees with a sigh, but says she has no choice. Someone has to keep the farm going, and she's glad she can be there for Brian. She will have a holiday, when Brian's back. Adam is very firm that she ought to go to her sister's wedding, and starts to knock down her objections: for instance, he and Ian would love to look after Weaver, because it will be a trial run for getting Xander a dog. She should go and see Brian about it, now.

Paul has caught up with Lynda, who tells him she has good news: she has talked to Jolene, who has happily contributed the use of The Bull's big screen; also Lynda has drawn up a chalkboard so that people can sign up for countries, which Jolene has agreed to supervise. Paul is full of admiration, and when she says good night asks whether she fancies staying for a drink: they could brainstorm some ideas. She doesn't think that will be necessary, since everything seems to be in hand, and he says that he and Harrison were talking after she left and he hopes he didn't offend her. He's kicking himself: her cheese idea was really great, just maybe not quite the vibe they were going for. Lynda is not offended: she suggested cheese, he preferred cheesy, and actually, she found it rather refreshing to encounter someone with the nerve to directly disagree with her. She thinks it better not to pussy-foot around, but instead to be direct. Paul assures her she can rely on him for that, and they part on friendly terms.

To the surprise of both Stella and Adam, Brian immediately said she ought to take leave to go to her sister's wedding. She has come round to Honeysuckle Cottage to tell Adam about the fact that Brian told her that life is too short to miss these important family events. She can't wait; she hopes Adam was serious about looking after Weaver, which he assures her he was. She told Brian she would take a few days for the wedding , and he told her to take the full two weeks and have a holiday in Florence. Adam is delighted: a proper break, she must make the most of it. She is happy about the time with her family, but worried about Brian, and the farm. Brian is still grieving, and she's not sure he's ready to come back to work.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Tuesday 25th April, 2023

Stella stirs, Susan is a weathervane and Den gets nowhere.

Characters: Susan, Chelsea, Stella, Den, Brad, Lilian, Kenton
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah McDonald-Hughes
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

In the shop, Susan sells Chelsea some gum for sixty-five pence and remarks that she thought Brad was still grounded, but he is waiting outside; Chelsea explains they are going to meet Den, which alarms Susan. Whilst she is warning Chelsea against her father, then asking her to sign the petition against the charging station, Stella comes in and interrupts, then extols the virtue and necessity of the plans, at which she has looked, and it is fairly clear that Susan can't have done, when what Stella says in its favour seems to come as a surprise to her. It seems that it will be more like a barn than anything, with cedar cladding and corrugated iron and thus in keeping with the village; it will even have a grass roof. Susan is outraged: if Justin Elliott thinks he can pop a grass roof on top and that makes everything OK, well he can't! [When did she discover it is Justin Elliott's scheme? As far as I know that is not common knowledge. Chris] Ambridge will vanish under concrete and posh electric cars. Stella points out that it is not in the village but on the other side of Hollowtree [and not on a road at all, then? Chris]. It will be for locals too: those without driveways do need to charge their cars as well; Chelsea agrees that electric cars are better than petrol, and while Susan is being indignant and asking whose side she is on anyway ('the environment's', says Chelsea) Stella sweeps on: the idea is that it will be a real community hub, with a shop, a coffee place, a hair salon, nail bar... At this last Chelsea becomes excited, but has to go to get her lift, saying she might just read up more about it before she signs Susan's petition. Piously, Stella says she's right: best to assess the information before reacting, doesn't Susan think? Susan is sure it's not yet a done deal; Jim has written to their MP and asked for a meeting with the developers. Justin needs to learn he is not the boss of the village.

It seems there are free lemonade refills at the place where Den is treating his children to lunch. He tries hard to be jolly, but Brad is completely non-communicative and Chelsea abrasive. She asks what Den wants, and he says he has recently turned fifty and suddenly realised he had been a pretty terrible dad, and what he'd like to do is get to know them.

Both Susan and Lilian have been left in the lurch by their men, and Lilian tries hard to be friendly in the face of Susan's active hostility about Justin. She offers to buy her a drink, and just as Susan has agreed to have one, Kenton comes over and tries to sell them his special coronation cocktails. Neither is interested; they have g&ts, but Susan says at least someone is doing something to mark the coronation. Lilian congratulates Kenton, and Susan says everyone has gone Eurovision mad and seems to have forgotten they're crowning a new king. The bell-ringing is mentioned by Lilian, and Susan says there is also a picnic on the village green, but that's it. This gives Lilian the opportunity to speak of Justin's plan to put on a light show, lighting up an Ambridge landmark to celebrate. He doesn't know which yet, and Susan says he wants to get on with it: the coronation is less than two weeks away. She also wants to know what is in it for Justin, and when Lilian indignantly says 'nothing', Kenton pops up with their drinks and says he will believe that when he sees it.

Having a conversation with Brad and Chelsea is being uphill work for Den: they don't respond to his overtures with any enthusiasm, as he clearly hoped they might. When he asks Chelsea what she has been up to she says 'college, working, had a termination last year and that was a laugh', which understandably throws him somewhat. Brad, who is getting on with eating, says the spicy rice is really good and offers Chelsea some, but she doesn't want it. Den asks him how he feels about keeping in touch, more regular like, and Brad says he doesn't know. It's good to see him, and he seems a bit ... Den interrupts to say enthusiastically that he is, yeah, he promises, things are different, he's different. Brad says that's good, but he's all right how he is. This deflates Den audibly, and Brad says sorry. Den tells him it's up to him, and Chelsea says yeah, it is.

'The Coronation Illumination', Susan's name for the idea, has struck Lilian as a good one and she wants to text it straight to Justin; Susan says fair's fair, it sounds lovely, and it's very generous of him to fund it out of his own money. Kenton pops up again to point out that this is the cash Justin promised to the Eurovision committee, which he just withdrew again without any warning. And now he wants to promote Damara with his little light-up popularity contest. Kenton can guarantee one thing: The Bull won't be entering. Lilian says that she thinks he'd have a good chance of winning, and he says he doesn't want to and turns to serve Stella, who asks for red wine. Lilian suggests that Kenton doesn't want to cut off his nose to spite his face, Susan the sanctimonious says that if there's any time to put aside grievances it's the new king being crowned, and Stella asks what this is? Lilian explains Justin's plan to light up a local landmark, and Susan suggests St Stephen's, or yes, The Bull would be perfect; over my dead body, says Kenton. Stella says Susan is singing Justin's praises, after what she was saying in the shop only half an hour ago, which little bit of gratuitous stirring has the effect of making Kenton say 'Oh, really?', Lilian say she is not to worry, and Susan indignantly say that it's true she hasn't been happy with Justin over the charging station but it pays to keep an open mind, and the Coronation Illumination idea is a very good one, and very generous too. There'll be a catch, warns Kenton: always is where Justin's concerned.

Den is concealing his disappointment, or rather isn't really, and when Brad goes to fetch himself and Chelsea another lemonade each, Den tries while he is gone to to arouse pity in Chelsea by talking about being lonely, which fails to get her to agree to see him again; she doesn't want to. As Brad gets back, she tells her father that Brad's got her back and she's got his: if he doesn't want to see Den, she doesn't either. Sorry, but that's just the way it is.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Wednesday 26th April, 2023

A couple of loose ends are tied up amid constant petty bickering.

Characters: Kenton, Jolene, Lynda, Freddie, Tracy
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah McDonald-Hughes
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

His coronation cocktails are creating interest, according to Kenton, but in fact he seems only to have sold two. Jolene thinks they might need to fine tune the blend, and is dismissive of Kenton's ideas. Kenton then tells her all about Justin's Coronation Illumination; she looks it up and then demands to know when he heard about it. He tells her that Lilian told him last night, and that he told Lilian [The Bull's senior shareholder. Chris] that The Bull would not be entering. Jolene [the other owner of the business. Chris] disagrees. He reminds her that Justin is 'a double-crossing snake' as well as something unrepeatable, according to her; she doesn't care, if taking his sixpence will mean they get a lot of publicity at Justin's expense. Ignoring any protest from Kenton, she merely sees it as a great opportunity for them.

Lynda and Freddie coincide outside The Bull; he has a day off and is on his way to help Lily build some shelves for her bedroom. [I hope Shula has given her permission! Chris.] He left his coat at the pub last night and is going to pick it up first. Lynda tells him he ought to sign up for the Eurovision variety show, but he did that last night, with Italy as his country of choice. He hadn't realised that she was involved, and she takes the opportunity to be patronising about Harrison being out of his depth.

Having gone away to eat a sandwich in peace does not protect Kenton from Jolene coming to tell him that she has decided that they will be entering The Bull for Justin's competition, and if he doesn't like it that's tough. Being part of the Coronation is a big deal and will attract people from all over. He says that people looking at the outside of the pub is not going to make them any money, and suggests that the electricity bill for the light show will outweigh any profit they might gain. Justin might be supplying the lights, but they'll be running off the winner's electricity and cost them an arm and a leg. Jolene is certain they will make it back in sales. To him it sounds like a lot of effort, and Jolene says he can leave it to her: she is happy to make the effort – not for Justin Elliott but for the new king. Kenton groans, and when she asks whether he doesn't think it would be an honour to be part of such a historic event replies simply, 'Not really.' She has decided, however, but before they can start having a serious row Tracy shouts for them: she wants a hand to deal with a bit of a situation to do with Lynda's board. Kenton thinks he might finish his sandwich, but Jolene demands his immediate attendance in the bar.

The problem is two-fold: Tracy has been alone all morning [while Jolene and Kenton have been too busy squabbling to serve customers. Chris] and has a load of lunch orders to put through the till, and Freddie is loudly indignant because his name has been rubbed out and Ian is now down for Italy. His is the third complaint this morning, and Tracy is fed up with being a referee. Jolene tells her to leave it with her, and sets out to calm Freddie, who appeals to Kenton for corroboration that he saw him put his name down last night. Kenton didn't, but believes him when he says that is what he did. Jolene can't believe people are rubbing each other out: that's not in the spirit of things! She is surprised at Ian. Freddie, who has worked for him, isn't: he says it is classic Ian. He is ruthless. Jolene tells him not to worry: she'll sort it. Freddie's phone then pings: it's a message from Chelsea telling him he is needed at Lower Loxley because one of the waiting staff has gone home sick and she is on her own in the Orangery. He doesn't have the car with him because he planned to stay with Lily: what's he going to do? Kenton offers to give him a lift. Jolene is annoyed that he plans to leave her to deal with the problem, which he cheerfully says is not his circus, not his monkeys, but luckily Lynda comes in at that moment and the two men take the opportunity to escape. Lynda thinks the crowd by the chalkboard means a 'buzz' and interest in her idea; Jolene starts to disillusion her as they move together towards the bar.

In the car, Kenton expresses surprise that Elizabeth has agreed to have the painting with a ship in it removed and put into storage. It seems the trustees merely didn't want it sold. Freddie is incoherently dissatisfied with the solution, since it was not his arguments with Elizabeth that succeeded: she wouldn't hear him out, but Uncle David did listen, and he must have spoken to Elizabeth about it. Kenton congratulates him on having stuck to his guns: he should be proud of himself, and so should Elizabeth. Freddie says she is more annoyed about all the messing around, but he has an idea to get her back on side; he is going in for the Illumination competition that Justin is running. When Kenton lets him know that The Bull is entering, against Kenton's wishes, he is cast down; Kenton explains that he can't bear the thought of doing anything for that weasel Justin, and they are seriously in the red over the winter fuel bills and the cost of electricity for the poxy light-show might finish them off. Freddie tells him not to worry: he reckons Lower Loxley has this one in the bag. Kenton just hopes he's right.

The fuss about people switching in their own names on the chalk board has been sorted out by Jolene, Lynda and Tracy, who are now in need of a soothing brew; it seems that among other disputes, Mandy Beesborough had nicked Ireland and was nearly assaulted by Sabrina Thwaite as a result. Tracy is off home in order to be there when Brad and Chelsea get home from college; she says they are both a bit shaken about Den reappearing. Lynda thinks she has got all the countries back with the right people, and suggests the board should go behind the bar where it can be supervised; Jolene is a bit doubtful, and Tracy thinks it might be better to start again, and have all the countries in a hat for people to draw out at random. Lynda disagrees because she wanted everyone to have a choice, but much to the relief of the other two decides in the end that the draw is the best idea, and they will do it at the weekend. Problem solved; our Eurovision variety show is saved, she exclaims hyperbolically.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Thursday 27th April, 2023

Alice is impertinent, Justin is underhand and Kenton is sneaky.

Characters: Alice, Adam, Brian, Jolene, Kenton, Freddie, Justin, Natasha
Credited scriptwriter:
Sarah McDonald-Hughes
Director:
Dave Payne
Editor: Jeremy Howe

The fiasco about the allocation of countries for the Eurovision talent show is being recounted by Adam at the family supper being held at Honeysuckle Cottage. Apparently Lilian had signed up for Australia and planned a dance routine, which she now intends to perform no matter what country she ends up with. Brian is slightly surprised that Australia is in Eurovision, but then changes to talking of the memorial planter that Neil is putting up on the green for Jennifer: it is to have bee-friendly flowers in it and will be allowed to grow as it wants. Alice becomes maudlin, and Brian changes the subject again, this time to the food they have just eaten. Adam says ruefully that Ian's will have to go in the microwave: he is taking a long time to get Xander settled again after he came down on his own recognisance to join the company. This reminds Alice that she wants details of Xander's savings account; she is planning to put some money into it, or open one for him if he doesn't have one yet. She has decided to make payments into savings for the other grandkids to make up for Martha being left money. [That's Phoebe, Noluthando and Sipho, and I'm sure they'll all be very grateful, if they even still have savings accounts. Chris.] She wants to do it because she doesn't want Martha having been left money to come between her and the others [not to fret, pet: being well over twenty years older will probably do it for one of them, and living on another continent for the other two. Chris]. When Adam protests that it's fine, she launches again into her well-rehearsed 'Mum didn't trust me not to drink' jeremiad, and starts to get tearful; Brian tries unsuccessfully to shut her up. Her response to that is to tell him there had better not be any nasty surprises in his will, to which he very properly replies that what is in his will is his business. She is taken aback and claims she was only joking. Unless... Are there some nasty surprises in his will?

Outside Justin's den Freddie, who is due in at quarter to, is on a high, and Jolene is quietly confident; Kenton is along purely to support her, which he is clearly going to have to do whether he feels like it or not.

Alice is now banging on about Brian's will; his having made it clear that it is none of her business has not stopped her and she won't let the subject alone. He doesn't want to discuss it. She and Adam tell Brian what they have assumed he would do: leave the farmland to the partnership and split everything else between the five of them. He refuses to be drawn, even when Alice asks if he has fathered another child they know nothing about, but says slightly indignantly that he's a bit shocked to find that his children are all waiting for him to die so they can get their hands on his money. He's planning on sticking around for a while yet, so they'll just have to wait and see.

To Jolene and Kenton, waiting for Jolene's turn to make her pitch, enter a cheerful Freddie accompanied by Justin Elliott, who gives him the impression that he may already have chosen Lower Loxley Hall on the basis of Freddie's presentation. Jolene goes in, leaving Kenton and Freddie to talk together; Freddie regrets not having talked more about farming, since King Chazzer is really into organic farming and rewilding and all that. He adds that Lower Loxley isn't a farm as such (quite forgetting the five farms on the estate), but no farm has entered as far as he knows, so it should be all right. 'Oh, really?' murmurs Kenton.

Adam offers Brian a nightcap, but Ian is waiting to drive him home so he declines it. Alice apologises for putting her foot in it earlier, and after he has gone she and Alice discuss whether he is fine after her earlier outburst; she wishes she hadn't said anything. She had no idea he'd react like that [and go on not thinking much of it when she went on and on, too! Chris] and Adam, forgetting that in 2008 Brian told everyone what was in his will, suggests that not telling anyone what is in your will might be a generational thing. Alice is alarmist about the possibility that he will now change it to cut her out for offending him, and leave it all to a cats' home to teach them a lesson, to which Adam replies crushingly that Brian can't stand cats. Adam than starts to wonder what is in Brian's will, and Alice to ask why he won't tell them. Adam responds that like Brian says, they'll just have to wait and see.

After starting her pitch, Jolene reveals that she has brought some Chenin Blanc with her to show what she means about the importance of The Bull, and starts vamping Justin, who responds very much as one assumes she has hoped he will.

Meanwhile, Kenton has rung Natasha, who doesn't know who he is because she doesn't have his number in her phone [but he of course has hers: why? Chris]. He tells her that an exciting opportunity has arisen and it occurred to him that it might be of interest to her.

Justin appears no longer to be thinking with his brain but with some other organ less suited to the exercise, and gives Jolene to understand that she may well have won the competition, telling her that the wine was a nice touch and a little bribery goes a long way. He admits that Lilian being a major shareholder means he is biased towards The Bull, but on this occasion bias doesn't come into it: after that pitch he can't think of a worthier winner.

Although it is a bit of a hard sell, Kenton eventually persuades Natasha to ring Justin and see if she can get him to allow her to make a late entry for Bridge Farm, so suitable as an enterprise which would be approved by the new king. She thanks him and says it is lovely of him to think of them; don't mention it, says Kenton. [He really means that. Chris.] Good luck! He'll be keeping everything crossed for them.

Summarised by Chris Ghoti

Friday 28th April, 2023

Bridesmaids Bride's attendants, bullying and bullshit.

C