Sunday, 14 July 2013

A Not-So-Happy Birthday

Amy Shindler (Brenda Tucker)

Before we start this week, I'd like to say how much I agree with all the listeners who besieged the BBC (according to the 'Feedback' radio programme) to complain about how the denouement of the Matt/Lilian saga was played on Ambridge Extra, rather than the Radio 4 network. From all accounts, the vast majority of people were incensed that they had missed Matt telling Lilian that he knew she had been screwing his brother and what a betrayal it was. Hopefully the powers that be will look out of their windows at Broadcasting House at the sea of flaming torches and pitchforks and think again before deserting Radio 4, which is the natural (and should be the only) home of The Archers!

Lilian returns home alone, telling Jolene that Matt has stayed on in Montenegro "to do some business." She also mentions that the holiday had been a total disaster and tells Jolene about how Matt had told her that he knew about the affair between Lilian and Paul all along. Lilian says that she wants to put things right – something that, I submit, will take considerable effort – but it's not easy as "I don't know when – or even if – he's coming back."

Monday was Lilian's 66th birthday and it was drinks all round at Home Farm. Lilian feels pretty wretched and her mood is not helped by Jennifer wittering on about Matt. The following day, we learn (when Brian visits Brenda at work to return Lilian's lighter) that Lilian put away a bottle of wine before dinner last night.

Lilian continues to wind Brenda up by not pulling her weight at AmSide and Brenda is not too thrilled to learn that Matt isn't coming back yet, so she is now doing the work of three of them. Things come to a head on Tuesday when Brenda cannot take any more and tells Lilian some home truths and that they only pay her a pittance. Lilian replies in kind, saying "How dare you speak to me like that?" and "We've taught you everything you know." Brenda calls Lilian "spoiled, demanding, moody and unpredictable" and says "I don't know why it's taken me so long, but you can stuff your job!"

Brenda is experiencing feelings of relief and freedom, plus a delicious sense of revenge, as Lilian keeps ringing Brenda's mobile and, listening to Lilian's voicemail messages, with phones ringing in the background and an increasingly-hassled manner, Brenda chuckles to herself. Eventually, Lilian drives round to see Brenda, but she's away in London, so Roy and Hayley bear the brunt of Lilian's wrath.

Far from being contrite, Lilian tells Roy and Hayley to tell Brenda that she has made her point "but this nonsense stops here and I expect her back in the office tomorrow." Lilian then drives off and Roy says to Hayley "She's not exactly apologising, is she?" But there is much worse to come for Lilian, as, at the end of the week, Brenda reveals that her trip to London was for business and she has agreed to work with Matt in property development in Russia. Brenda views this as a massive opportunity rather than Matt getting revenge, like the rest of us. If anybody asks, the cover story is that she will be travelling in Europe with a friend. Mike is not convinced, telling Vicky: "I don't like the sound of this – Matt Crawford and Russia; one's bad enough. I just hope she doesn't get mixed up in anything dodgy." What? Matt?

Elsewhere, Pip has achieved sainthood in Jill's eyes by giving up the chance to do some relief milking because she is running Brookfield while David and Rooooth are in France on holiday and she's loving it.

What else? Freddie didn't win a rosette – or rather, his heifer Sorrell didn't, but this won't stop him trying again, so we're still on for the possible trampling. Bridge Farm is now officially a cow-free zone, as Tony sold Lonely Cow (for a cool £1,450). The more astute of you will notice that, over the past two weeks, I haven't mentioned 'swishing' once. Neither do I intend to, unless it turns out to be a spectacular storyline, or embarrasses Jennifer.

Finally, what a smoothie that Rob Titchener is! On Thursday he turns up at Bridge Farm for dinner cooked by Helen and immediately gains a brownie point by bringing organic wine. He is charm personified and tells Helen she will have to teach him how to cook the dish. However, Pat seems immune to his charm offensive and says pointedly that he won't need to cook for himself when his wife comes to Ambridge. Pat then starts on about the mega-dairy but is rebuked by Helen, who says "All right Mum, that's enough".

At the end of the evening Pat says "Thank God that's over." Tony thought it went well, but Pat said that it was odd how Rob clammed up when she mentioned his wife – and he didn't stack the plates. He's probably afraid of having his head bitten off, truth be told. The following day, Rob drives up to Bridge Farm, bearing an enormous 'thank you' bouquet for Pat, but she is not bowled over. On the other hand, Tony is a pushover – Rob asks him about the wetland system and, when he takes up Tony's offer to show it to him, that's Tony firmly on side as well as Helen, Rob – you just need to keep working on Pat.


  1. What a superb site this is (just found), Not only have the BBC completely screwed longstanding listeners like me (I've listened for over 50 years) by broadcasting a key episode on digital, but they haven't included a synopsis (or if they have I couldn't find it).

    This is the only place where I've found a proper synopsis and will be my first port of call from now on

  2. I'm in two minds - in a way, listeners to R4 are in the same position as everyone in Ambridge, and will gather the threads about the Lillian/Matt story as they do. We just need Clarrie or Linda to sniff it out!