Tom Graham (Tom Archer)
First the silver lining - Tom is still awol and Tony scales new heights of anger and invective, reaching a crescendo when the letter arrives from the organic people, suspending the organic status of the pigs. The rest of the farm and the shop have escaped, but that does little to mollify Tony or improve his mood.
Actually, we did hear from Tom late on Tuesday, when he rang Rob for some advice, saying that he has some difficult choices to make and swearing Rob to secrecy about the call. Tom shows he’s got his finger on the pulse when he says “I must be Ambridge’s most hated person.” Tactfully, Rob doesn’t answer.
I would be surprised if Tony knew the meaning of the word ‘Schadenfreude’ but he demonstrated it in spades when he and Pat next saw Peggy; hardly had she got across the threshold when he tells her about the loss of organic status for the pigs, adding almost gleefully “It’s not my fault this time Mum - it’s Tom’s”. If Tony is expecting his mother to tear her hair and rend her garments, or to call in the solicitor to change her Will, he is in for a disappointment. In fact, Peggy had already been told by Rob and she suggests to Tony that, far from being a disaster, this could be an opportunity. You could hear the ‘clonk’ of Tony’s jaw hitting the floor as a strangled, incredulous “What?” escaped from his lips.
Peggy goes even further, questioning whether there is any point in retaining the organic status of Bridge Farm. Pat takes Peggy home (presumably before Tony does her physical violence) and Helen and Rob turn up. Frothing slightly at the mouth, Tony tells them what Peggy said. Rob sinks even lower in Tony’s estimation when he too says that it could be an opportunity and Tony asks Helen to tell him that he (Tony) is right and going non-organic would be selling out. Helen offers her support, but it was half-hearted and unconvincing.
But where is the silver lining, I hear you scream? That came on Friday, when Tom returned home and got both barrels from Tony. Every time Tom said anything, Tony leapt in with another accusation, to the point where Pat more or less kept telling him to shut up. Tom drops his bombshell - he has decided he cannot stay in Ambridge, so he is going to sell his Ready Meals business and move away. Where to? Hollerton? Loxley Barrett? Er, not quite, as he has applied for a job in Ontario and has only come back to pack a few things because his flight is booked for tomorrow.
And now to the cloud, or rather, clouds. First of all we had Lynda and Lilian spending a day at the Chelsea Flower Show (good choice, given Lynda’s hay fever) and they had spent the previous day with Leonie and James. Lilian is a bit down, wondering what sort of Dad James will make. Lynda reassures her that he’ll be a wonderful Dad. Why? The man is a complete dork, so does fatherhood give you a personality upgrade? As it is, the episode was just a chilling reminder that the birth is imminent.
However, this cloud was a mere wisp compared to what we were subjected to later. The scriptwriters demonstrated new depths of cruelty as, having already been prepared for the fact that the Midnight Walkers were defunct, we had Jolene reminiscing over her old tapes of previous performances and Fallon said that she had been in touch with Wayne and why didn’t Jolene get in touch with him and they could perform as a duo? Fallon, you have gone down seriously in my estimation. Jolene is worried that Kenton might not want his wife performing with her ex-husband, but when she broaches the subject, the Muppet not only agrees, but suggests that they get a whole new band together. Does the loss of Tom make up for the threatened return of Wayne? The jury is out.
The character of Charlie becomes ever more complex, as he has a profound conversation with Adam, over a pint bought to recognise Adam’s sterling work on the maize, saying that there are six billion people in the world who need feeding and “I wake up, thinking, ‘yes, this is what I want to do - it really matters’. “ Presumably the (no doubt) generous remuneration helps him get out of bed too. With Charlie spending more time with Adam, do you reckon Charlie is gay? Last year Adam had a one-night stand with Pawel, one of the fruit pickers - perhaps Charlie is looking for some boss on employee action.
Will somebody please take Jennifer’s old kitchen cabinets off her hands? Clarrie is the latest to reject Jen’s cast-offs. On the subject of the kitchen, if it isn’t finished soon, then I reckon Jennifer will be found under the floor as Brian is becoming increasingly pissed off with the noise and disruption.
Finally, going back to Tom, cast your mind back to when Rob first appeared in the village; he had returned from managing a large dairy business in Canada. Tom rang him for some unspecified advice and, a few days later, he’s off for an interview in Canada. Coincidence? I think not. If Pat ever finds out Rob’s part in this and learns that Rob told Peggy about the pigs, I suspect his life expectancy will reduce dramatically. But how about this for a story - Tom doesn’t get the job in Canada, but Charlie, who has been having a hard time with Rob, realises that Tom is the man to run Berrow Farm and sacks Rob. Thus Tom would move from organic pig farmer to head of the hated mega dairy and would replace Helen’s lover in his job - now that would make family meals at Bridge Farm really interesting. Or even more of a silver lining scenario - Tom gets the job in Canada and takes Will along as his assistant; life just doesn’t get better than that.