Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell)
Helen continues to behave like a complete cow, ignoring Tony's efforts to build bridges. Mind you, he's spending every waking moment feeling sorry for himself. They deserve each other, really. Of course, they do meet up at Adam and Ian's party (fair division of labour here; Ian made the canapés, cooked the food and prepared the punch, while Adam had a shower) but Helen is so shagged out after taking Kirsty on a 100-mile route march earlier that she leaves prematurely. Tony is convinced that this is just to snub him and his paranoia is coming on a treat.
At Lower Loxley, Kenton (who else?) has the great idea of putting the 'Happy New Year' banner on the roof and Nigel (who else?) agrees. Lizzie is not best pleased and tells them to come down before the children see them. Not, you will notice, "come down because it's dangerous and I'm afraid for you" but we mustn't let the children get ideas. How will the children see them, when they're kept in a windowless room, shackled to their desks and going over old exam papers? Nigel finds an old Art Deco brooch in the attic ("It was Mummy's" he says – how old is he supposed to be, for God's sake) and resolves to get it cleaned and give it to Lizzie on New Year's Day.
Pat mentions in passing that "the Grundy's had a nice Christmas", which makes me think that Will probably stayed at home. Nic was her usual helpful self, bless her.
After what seems like decades, the first night of the panto arrived and 14-month old Oscar was in the front row. Apparently he was on a promise to stroke Sabrina Thwaite (Dick's cat) after the performance, thus making him a hate figure for all the young men of the village. But there's a crisis! Tristram Hawkshaw, the new director of the Felpersham Light Operatic Society), is seen in the audience, taking notes. Lynda goes berserk at this and has an attack of the vapours when she learns that he is reviewing the panto for the Echo.
That doesn't stop her interrogating Harry about any possible love interest between him and Fallon "And there's nothing more you want to tell me?" she asked him in a faux-coy voice, doubtless with eyelashes fluttering. Instead of telling her to push off, Harry tells her that there's nothing like that between them. What is it about Harry and Fallon that makes people so bloody nosey? Even Oscar's mother Flat Leaf Parsley asks Joe if they're an item and, after the panto is all over, Brenda tells Fallon what a lovely couple she and Harry made.
Once again we have the simpering "is there anything you'd like to tell me?" Yes, mind your own business, you nosey cow, should be Fallon's response, but instead she tells Brenda that she really fancies Harry and the first kiss was sensational. "But after that, they were just like panto kisses" she complains. What does she expect? Does she want Harry to throw her to the stage and ravish her in front of the audience? Fallon moans that, when she invited Harry over to read through their lines, that was exactly what happened. Perhaps she should have given him a hint, like dragging him upstairs? "I'm going to forget all about it" says Fallon, adding optimistically "you must keep this to yourself". Ha! Fat chance!
Lynda is worried about the panto and tells Harry when she learns of Tristram's presence; "There's so much resting on you and Fallon". So no pressure there, then Harry! However, you know Harry won't let you down and he and Fallon were marvellous. Lynda's good at the moral blackmail, persuading Nigel to go to Felpersham (from where he had just come) and pick up a replacement wig, his having been ruined by the wardrobe mistress. Nige isn't keen, but Lynda says "the entire artistic endeavour of this year's panto depends on you."
As it turned out, Tristram's review was wonderful and they are beating people off with sticks. Lizzie comes to see Nigel's performance and she is ecstatic, shouting out "bravo Nigel!" at the end. I thought only Nigel used 'bravo' but it must be a landed gentry thing. Perhaps 'bravo' was Freddie and Lily's first word?
As New Year's Eve drew to a close, Nigel gave Lizzie the brooch and all was lovey-dovey again. Meanwhile, Tony was happy too in his way (ie unhappy) by trying to fix the yard tractor in the dark and refusing to go to the Bull to see Helen. With such an abundance of festive spirit perhaps next year he can get a job as Santa Claus?