Maddie Glasbey (Natalie)
I'm becoming convinced that most of the men in Ambridge are lucky to have wives or girlfriends who, quite frankly, are much too good for them. The classic example is Clarrie, who has put up with Eddie for longer than anyone should have to suffer and it appears that being a clueless git is embedded in the Grundy genes, as William can rely on Nic, who is way, way too nice for him.
Not only too nice, but more refined, not that that's difficult. Nic surprises Will at work with a picnic, telling him she popped into the patisserie. "What? The cake shop, you mean?" replies man-of-the world William. Yes William, and later on she bought some steak at the meat shop, some bananas at the fruit shop and some aspirin at the pill shop.
The latest star to appear on the scene is Natalie, who has taken arch-miserable sod Jamie under her wing and is proving to be a good influence on him. So much so that she is trying to persuade him to go to sixth form college; telling him that if he doesn't, they'll be apart for two years, which begs the question why is she trying to persuade him? I would have thought that two years away from Jamie would be favourite.
Jamie is worried how his friend Marty will face up to court, while everyone tells Jamie how good he's being. He and Kathy are getting along famously and Kathy tells him to go to the Bull and spend some time with Jolene and Kenton: "It's just what you need right now". How cruel is that? What have Jolene and Kenton ever done to Kathy? Actually, quite a lot when you think about it, so perhaps sending Jamie was a sort of twisted revenge.
The date of Phoebe's departure to South Africa draws nearer and Hayley is having last-minute doubts about whether Kate will look after her. "Are we doing the right thing?" she asks Roy. Don't be so stupid woman – of course you are! Getting rid of Kate and a moody Phoebe has to be a win-win situation. Even better, the local school can't guarantee Phoebe a place when she returns – maybe you should stay out there, Phoebe? One supreme bit of good news – Kate got to the airport and got on the plane. Jennifer went with her; presumably to make sure she left.
At the Borsetshire Show, David is networking in his NFU Presidential role, while Pip's lambs take the prize for being the most lamb-like or something. She tells Spencer that she really wants to work at Brookfield after her uni course but is worried that David thinks the business won't be able to afford her and she will have to look elsewhere for work. Perhaps you would all like to join me in praying for a recession in the farming sector for the next three years just to make sure?
Elsewhere, Tom continues to be an offstage character, being talked about but never appearing, while Rhys the barman has been given a speaking part. Not content with being forced off his bike with Harry by the car stolen by Steve, he is now renting Peggy Woolley's flat, which presumably means that previous tenant Helen will be staying at Bridge Farm permanently. How lucky is that for Pat and Tony?
The Keira Godmother crisis is averted when it is revealed that Samantha (Emma's cousin) and Alice have agreed to do it. Ed tells Emma that Alice and Chris have had a difficult time with a loan shark in Southampton and they were a bit rocky for a while. Apparently this story ran on the "Ambridge Extra" series on Radio 4 Extra and I hope we are not going to have this situation of précised plots all the time. Keep The Archers on Radio 4, say I!
Anyway, Ed says to Emma "Don't breathe a word", which sounds like the triumph of hope over experience. When Emma is talking to Alice a bit later, she lets it be known that she knows there has been trouble, making the atmosphere a bit frosty. Ed will have more time on his hands as he asked Oliver if he'd do two milkings a week. Oliver is delighted and, when Ed says he's worried that he can't afford the going rate, Oliver tells him that he'll do it for nothing, as a friend. Presumably Ed is now wondering if he can get Ollie to do it seven days. Oliver now officially joins Nic and Natalie as a member of the "too nice" club.
Finally, you may remember the Space Race and the Arms Race? Well ladies and gentlemen, we now have the Scarecrow Race! George was disappointed that Emma and Ed wouldn't build him a Billy Goats Gruff Troll scarecrow, so Nic and William decided to step in. Emma and Ed then had a change of heart, only to find out that Will and Nic's scarecrow is much bigger and better. "We can't just take it," says Emma, "We'll have to up our game!"
Instead of just a troll, there will also be a goat. But what will happen when the other side finds out? Presumably three goats? Then someone might decide to incorporate a bridge. Where will it all end? At this rate I envisage a scale model of Ambridge, incorporating the Am, a fully-functioning bridge, manned by a battalion of trolls and being crossed by an army of goats. And I bet the miserable little sod George still wouldn't be satisfied.