Philip Molloy (Will Grundy)
We had Clarrie going on, and on, and on about how this will be yet another Christmas trying to avoid a confrontation between her sons. Ed agreed to help slaughter and pluck the turkeys as long as Will wasn't there, which was OK, as Will had said that there's no way he was going to do it.
Enter Caroline, performing her godmothering duties by trying to make Will see that he's behaving like an unreasonable, whining lump of misery (Will's default mode, if we're honest) and it's hurting both George and Clarrie. Will has a change of heart (prompted perhaps by the thought of being written out of Caroline's will) and rings Joe to tell him that he'll be there to help. So, it looks like Clarrie was wrong and there will be no avoiding a confrontation, as if both Grundy boys turn up on the day, a confrontation will be a nailed-on certainty. Just keep sharp objects out of their reach.
I said that we had Clarrie going on and on and it seems that the women of Ambridge just do not know when to keep their mouths shut. Take Shula – Daniel decides to go and stay with a friend in Leeds and, as he is off to the station, she gives him a lecture about how he should feel some sympathy with Darrell and it all escalates into a full-blown row. If she'd just waved Daniel goodbye and kept quiet, it would have been so much easier.
Later on in the week, Shula's own sympathy for Darrell is tested and found wanting, although to be honest, his behaviour would try the patience of a saint. First of all she drives him to sign on and practically has to drag him out of bed. Then she and Alistair have a row, because she is washing Darrell's bedclothes and on Thursday, Shula finally snaps. Having made Darrell get up in the afternoon, she has cooked a chicken casserole and gets testy when Darrell doesn't eat much. Testiness turns to anger when he drops the dishes on the floor (sorry Alistair, no dinner for you) and she realises he has been drinking ("Just a quick swig to make me feel better"). Wrong answer, Darrell! Shula finally loses it and tells him that Daniel has gone because he can't stand Darrell and to "get a grip and do something about it – I'm not prepared to look after you for much longer." So much for sympathy.
And Darrell does indeed get a grip – sadly the grip is on a pint glass in The Bull, where Neil finds a drunken Darrell wallowing in self pity. Things get worse when Darrell's daughter Rosa turns up with Jamie and Darrell drunkenly implores her to talk to him, knocking over a table in the process. Just to make Darrell's day complete, she tells him that he disgusts her and "As far as I'm concerned, you're not my dad any more." Probably no point expecting a Christmas card this year then Darrell. Jamie calls Darrell a waster and Neil tells him sharply to watch his mouth and "When you grow up you'll know better." Sorry Neil – and call me unsympathetic if you must – but I suggest that, if Darrell isn't actually a waster, then he'd be a bloody good substitute if you needed one in a hurry.
Neil takes Darrell back to The Stables and, on Friday, we hear Shula and Alistair talking. Shula thinks it's time she woke Darrell up, while Alistair goes to the bathroom for a shower. Shula finds that Darrell is gone, while Alistair finds that their stock of paracetamol has also vanished. Could there be a connection? Too right and a manhunt begins. To cut a long story short, an unconscious Darrell is found in front of No. 3, The Green; the house he used to share with Elona. The week ends with Shula beating herself up and saying how it's down to her because she shouted at him and "If Darrell dies it will be all my fault." Actually, all this could have been avoided – if they had kept the paracetamol in a child-proof container, Darrell would probably have been unable to open it.
It's decision time at Grey Gables for the Deputy Manager's job. Who should get it – Kathy (capable, safe pair of hands) or Anton (good experience, reminds Oliver of Roy but worries Caroline because he never seems to stay anywhere very long)? Kathy gets the nod and she hands in her notice at work after only two weeks – even Anton stayed at places longer than a fortnight.
Elsewhere, there is a crisis at the rehearsals for the Christmas extravaganza as there is still a definite lack of spark between Rob and Kirsty. Lynda tries some half-baked amateur psychology, which is frankly embarrassing and, when Lynda is dragged away by Alistair, who is looking for Darrell, Kirsty and Rob have words. She tells him he makes her skin crawl and she'd walk off the stage now, but she feels loyalty to Lynda. Rob says they cannot go on like this and, when Lynda comes back, he tells her that he is having to pull out of the production. Lynda is appalled and begs Kirsty to talk him out of it. Hmm, unlikely.
This leaves the whole production in jeopardy, but Kirsty has an idea and rings Tom to try and talk him into it. He's not keen (one of the few occasions that I find myself agreeing with him) and points out that he's rather busy at this time of year. Lynda begs him ("You'd be my absolute saviour") and Kirsty tries again, but Tom interrupts her, saying "there are blue flashing lights outside" and puts the phone down – I don't know, he's always got an excuse.