David Troughton (Tony Archer)
Honestly, if Tony gets any more miserable, he'll top himself. Everything anyone else says or does is examined in forensic detail so that he can twist it to extract every ounce of self-pity from it. Consider the following: Peggy gave Jack's old dinner jacket to Rob and, when Tony learns of this he says that Peggy obviously assumes that he would never be invited to a black tie do. Be honest – would you invite the miserable sod?
Tony surpassed himself this week when Rob came to tea. All Tony had to do was to be civil to him for an hour or two, but he couldn't even manage that and storms out when Rob talks about how generous Peggy is. This has a somewhat negative effect on the party and Rob leaves. Helen returns from seeing him off and she is absolutely seething, telling her parents that Rob will never darken their door again and neither will she – she and Henry are moving in with Rob.
Quite rightly blaming himself, Tony sinks ever deeper into a slough of despair, to the extent that, when he goes to the pub, Jolene says to Eddie "Tony's not a happy bunny." It was standing on a chair and throwing a rope over the beam in the roof that gave it away, I reckon.
Mind you, Tony's children aren't helping to lighten his mood any – as well as Helen leaving home, Tom manages to depress his father. Having originally decided on having the wedding reception at Bridge farm ('so that Mum and Dad can feel involved') Tom now wants to go to some stately home and tells his Dad that the only reason they can't is that the Home isn't free on the day.
Tom proves why he's never been in the running for the title of 'Mr Sensitive' when he suggests to Kirsty that they go and look at the site on Bridge Farm where they will build their house. She's not keen, saying that that was what Tom and Brenda had planned but she would rather live away from the Farm. Even though this is more expensive, Tom agrees, but it turns out to be another cross for Tony to bear, as the plan was that, when the time came to retire, Tom and wife would move into the farmhouse and Tony and Pat would take over Tom's house. More misery for Tony, but can you blame Kirsty for not wanting to live on the farm when Tony is hanging around, oozing despair and pessimism from every pore?
Rob appears to have caught some of Tom's insensitivity – Kirsty says to Helen that she would find it creepy, sleeping in the same bed that Rob and Jess used and Helen suggests to Rob that they should get a new one. He won't hear of it, saying that there's nothing the matter with it. Mind you, I don't know how much scope there will be for passion, as Henry slept between Helen and Rob on his first night and Rob was detained overnight the next night after a hard day's work away, too knackered to drive home. Is this the truth, or is Rob really the rotter that some (yes Pat, I am talking about you) suspect? I really hope not as I couldn't bear the crowing and 'I told you so' moments if Pat should be correct.
Ed and Emma hatch a cunning plan to get Holly back from Will and Nic's and that is to get Nic to persuade Will to let Holly go back to live with Ed, Emma and George. As it turns out, there is very little needed in the way of persuasion; certainly as far as Nic is concerned. No sooner has Emma tentatively broached the subject than Nic has offered to pick George up from school and drop him and Holly (who really ought to be renamed yo-yo with her changes of address) off at Ambridge View.
"What about Will?" asks Emma, but Nic says that she'd "rather deal with Will in a strop than have a puppy to worry about" and tells Emma "you'll be doing me a massive favour". And let's be honest, she must be used to dealing with Will in a stroppy mood, as this is his default mode, except for the times when he's miserable and moaning. Perhaps Will and Tony should go out for a drink together. I'm sure the Samaritans could take on extra staff.
The rumour of Susan's massive lottery win continues to spread, with Jennifer saying that she's heard that it is over £2 million, which is what Jennifer probably spends a year on getting her hair done. Pat wonders whether Susan will give up work and Eddie tells Clarrie that Neil will never leave his home or give up his pigs. Clarrie wonders whether Neil might buy their house, saying that Neil would be a better landlord than Hazel. I fear a few people are in for a bit of a disappointment when the Carters return and Neil and Susan might have a hard job convincing some of them that the jackpot win is just the product of some over-active imaginations and tongues.
The alternative, rival Valentine's night at The Bull story leaves me cold, although I did smile when Kenton tried to persuade Tony to go along. But let's end with Tony and Pat. Tony has just walked Jill home, saying that it was a change to be with someone who appreciates his company "unlike my children". He tells Pat that Tom doesn't want to build a house at Bridge Farm, saying that they don't want us. He then gives her his vision of the future for himself and Pat, which is "No kids, no grandchildren, no cows; just this big, empty silence." Wouldn't it have been just great if Pat had replied "By the way Tony, I'm leaving you and moving out"?