Tim Bentinck (David Archer)
The week began with David remarking to Rooooth that Pip seems to be avoiding them, to which she replies that this is because of David’s attitude towards Toby. It has to be said that, if David had one shotgun cartridge in his gun and he came across Toby and a badger, he would be torn, trying to decide which to shoot.
Rooooth keeps on at her husband, saying that Toby is probably cowering in fear at Hollowtree and David needs to sort things out with Toby. David’s mood is not improved when he goes to The Bull and Kenton congratulates him on the news. Kenton then rubs salt into the wound by telling his brother that, yes, Toby can be a bit flaky, but Kenton has got to know him and “he’s not the total waste of space that you think he is.” Praise indeed, Kenton!
On Friday, David gives in to Rooth’s nagging and goes to Hollowtree to clear the air with Toby. Rooooth’s plan is that David should tell Toby that, while the news of Pip’s pregnancy came as a shock, she has decided that she is going to keep the baby, is happy about going it alone and she has the support of the family. David is charged with conveying this message calmly, reasonably and with dignity, in a civilised manner, and showing Toby that he (David) is OK with the situation.
Things start off reasonably enough when David rocks up at Hollowtree and he and Toby exchange pleasantries and small talk about how they spent Christmas. When the subject of the pregnancy comes up, Toby is pleased that Pip is happy and he offers to keep well out of the way and let Pip and the Archers raise the child - after all, all Toby ever wanted was a quiet life. Wrong answer, Tobes! David’s (admittedly limited, where Toby is concerned) stock of reasonableness has been used up and he has a go at Toby, telling him that all he ever does is just drift along through life and, if he had been more responsible in the first place…
Toby protests that the situation is nobody’s fault, but is interrupted by David, who says that the baby will be brought up by the family, so Toby is free to go away and start a whole new life. David then goes further, saying that the tenancy for Hollowtree runs out at the end of the month “so now might be a very good idea to consider your options.” Toby is taken aback, but David is in full flow now, as he says that Toby can run his gin business from anywhere “so maybe it’s best if you go sooner, rather than later.” David storms out angrily. Was that the sort of chat that you had in mind, Rooooth?
Pip, meanwhile, is having troubles - exactly how can she break the news to granny Jill? As it turns out, Jill is suspicious that something is going on, as Ben told her that he thinks something is up. I’m glad Ben talks to his gran - he hasn’t said a word to anyone else for months. Pip eventually tells Jill that her first great-grandchild is on the way and, in horror, Jill works out who the father must be and rushes off for a hairdressing appointment. After this, Jill goes to see Peggy and slags off Toby, accusing him of not accepting responsibility. Peggy mentions that, as far as she understands, the decision was Pip’s and Toby isn’t to blame.
Peggy goes further and reminisces about when Jennifer was pregnant with Adam - and Peggy didn’t know who was the father. “That turned out all right” Peggy reminds Jill and says that they should forget about Toby and concentrate on doing all they can for Pip. The message obviously hits home, as Jill returns to Brookfield and seeks out her granddaughter. Pip apologises for the shock - and Jill admits that it was a shock, but if this is Pip’s choice, then she will support her all the way.
Later on in the week, Pip speaks to Helen - what will she do if, when the baby arrives, Pip decides that she’s not ready to be a mum? Well Pip, I’m no gynaecologist, but as far as I know, no-one has ever managed to send a baby back. Helen reassures her, saying that having Henry was the best thing that ever happened to her and she is sure that Pip will be a fine mother. Talking later with David, Pip admits that she never thought it would be like this and she envisaged a traditional wedding (probably to a farmer) at St. Stephen’s but now she’s messed it all up. David, in a comment that came straight out of the Brian Aldridge book of quotations, jokes that this way he won’t have to pay for the wedding.
Pregnancy loomed large last week, as Roy becomes increasingly concerned because Lexi is undertaking considerable research about what is involved in being a surrogate. He says that, from what Lexi says, it sounds like she’s halfway to agreeing to do it. She says no, but she’d like to talk about it. Roy is mystified - if she’s not going to do it, what’s the point of talking about it? He says that he knows that Lexi is only considering acting as a surrogate because she is such a kind, caring, considerate person.
That’s as maybe, but later on we learn that there is an ulterior motive. At Grey Gables, Lexi asks Ian if she can go to Honeysuckle cottage and talk to him and Adam - she has a few questions to ask them. Let’s suppose that Lexi agreed to be the surrogate - if she felt unable to work full time, would Adam and Ian compensate her for loss of earnings? Of course they would.
Secondly, she would not want to use one of her own eggs, but would want a donated egg. Is that OK? Yes. Finally, her contract at Grey Gables will soon be over and, if she were pregnant, she would like to spend as much time as possible with her daughters in Bulgaria - would the boys cover her expenses? Adam says that, while this isn’t what they envisaged, they wouldn’t want it to be a deal-breaker. So what’s Lexi’s answer - yes or no? “It’s a maybe” she tells them.
All this has been going on without Roy’s knowledge and he confronts Lexi - does this mean that she is going to do it? Lexi says that, if she does, then she’ll be doing it for selfish reasons, to spend more time with her family. I bet that made Roy feel good, but he says that something like this would change the dynamics of their relationship. Lexi cannot see this and, when Roy reminds her that she’d be carrying someone else’s child, she tells him that it doesn’t matter. “It matters to me,” Roy wails, adding: “I love you so much, I don’t want to end up losing you.” I fear there is still much to be sorted out between the couple, but my sympathies are with Roy.
At Home Farm, a power struggle is brewing. Brian has been looking at the financial situation and he feels that they ought to change the agronomist that they have been using for years and engage a new, flashy company, Hardys. He mentions this to Jennifer, telling her that there’s nothing for her to worry her head about and leave it up to him. Because of the way the farm business has been set up, Brian, Jen, Adam, Debbie, Kate, Alice and Ruairi (whose proxy is Rooooth) all have a vote. Brian tells Adam that, as he has Jennifer and Debbie on his side, he has a majority.
Adam is despondent - he doesn’t want to see a return to the days of high input, chemical dependant agriculture and gently chides his mother for siding with Brian. Jennifer replies that she said no such thing and she is still making up her mind. The family meet at a supper arranged by Jennifer and the lines are drawn. Jennifer stuns he husband by saying that she agrees with Adam, but little do they know that Brian has been buttering up Kate (who was particularly obnoxious this week, as she is being ignored by Noluthando.) Brian lays it on with a shovel, telling Kate that he loves both her and Nolly and he thinks that Noluthando’s problems are all down to the way Lucas is treating her in South Africa. Kate falls for this and rapidly agrees, at which Brian says, “by the way, there’s a little something else to think about.” At the supper, surprise, surprise, Kate sides with her father, as he has explained the situation to her and she believes that his viewpoint is the correct one.
Brian is smug, until Jennifer says that she had spoken to Rooooth, who has a vote as Ruairi’s proxy, and she is on Adam’s side. Brian protests that Rooooth has nothing to do with Home Farm, but Adam triumphantly reminds him that the rules were set down by Brian. We look set for an impasse, but then Alice comes in with Chris, on their way to dinner with Susan and Neil (I bet they are both looking forward to that) and Alice tells everybody that, by the way, she agrees with Brian as well. Adam is gob smacked and Brian crows as only he can, calling Adam a bad loser and saying that this is a triumph for democracy.
While on the subject of Susan, she is still persevering with recipes for Kefir, but she’s wasting her time, as Helen has taken stocks off the shelves of Ambridge Organics, as no-one is buying it. She volunteers to talk to Tom and persuade him that Kefir is not a project worth pursuing. Reluctantly, he agrees and tells Susan and Clarrie that there will be no more Kefir. Clarrie is disappointed, as they were getting extra money for working on Kefir, but Susan is devastated.
As usual, Susan has harboured delusions of adequacy and envisaged a glittering new career as the queen of Kefir, overseeing and masterminding a new branch of the Bridge Farm empire. She accuses Tom of giving up too easily and is convinced that they were on the verge of a breakthrough, conveniently ignoring the fact that nobody likes the stuff, let alone is willing to buy it. We get an indication of Susan’s rather eccentric perception when Clarrie commiserates with her over her disappointment.” It’s not just a disappointment,” Susan wails, “it’s a disaster!” No it isn’t woman; get a sense of proportion, for heaven’s sake.