Sunday, 27 September 2015

Bert’s Obsession Reaches its Climax

Eric Allen (Bert Fry)

It’s the day of the flower and produce show and Christine wakes Peggy with the news that her latest batch of biscuits are prize-winning perfect. All Peggy wants to do is stay in bed snuggled up with her cat Bill who starts purring appreciatively, when their peace is broken yet again by Christine. This time she’s blaming Bill for breaking through the cling-film and scattering her biscuits all over the floor. Bill makes a quick exit through the cat-flap but there is no mention of him having eaten any. I can only think that the ever-faithful Bill was saving Peggy from eating whatever concoction Christine had knocked up this time. However Peggy persuades her to make another batch.

Bert’s still obsessing about Carol’s marrows. It doesn’t help when he starts, with some considerable effort, to twist the biggest one at the stem causing Carol to sound very appreciative. We leave him alone to polish it but later on we hear Susan also admiring Carol’s engorged cucurbit after it wins a first in the show.

Peggy’s still bathing in the glory of defeating Hazel over the village shop – she even gets an apology from Susan for the things she said about the shop. Susan’s so contrite that she gives Peggy her second placed ginger biscuits – poor Peggy. Where’s Bill when you need him.

Rob’s at his emollient best, reassuring Helen about how well Henry’s settling in at school. However the menacing streak is only just under the surface when he says that he’s sure Henry won’t have any more accidents and that he’ll feel more secure “when he’s mine by adoption”. His barely suppressed anger starts to rise when Helen rebuffs his idea of a weekly ‘date night’ when they can spend more time alone – probably the last thing she wants right now – and suggests going out as a family instead. She not happy either when she finds out that Rob’s now planning a livestock pen outside the café. He starts brainwashing her again when he convinces her that he did mention it before, blaming overwork for not remembering, before putting on the pressure about date nights again and talks of recapturing the ‘post Honeymoon glow’.

Helen later confides with her mother, over the ripening milk, about Rob wanting to adopt Henry and she does her best to convince Helen that it’s a good idea. Are Pat and Rob in cahoots? It certainly doesn’t appear to be the answer Helen’s looking for as she rushes out of the door – or is there another reason for her hasty exit?

Later we learn that Rob has found a quick way to gain control over Henry – a step-parent parental responsibility order. Helen’s obviously not keen, and when the food arrives rushes off again – presumably to be sick.

David’s still wringing his hands with guilt about pushing his mother out and moving Heather in. He’s talking with Elizabeth and Jill about Heather’s house going on the market and Rooooth clearing it of rubbish when Jill can’t resist another well-aimed dig, when she says “a house can hold so many memories”. Ouch.

Carol’s very nervous and confused sounding friend Hester is visiting and they’re having a get together in Grey Gables with Jill, Christine and Peggy. This provides an opportunity to reminisce about the past and weave in memories of Grace, but when Carol briefly leaves the room Hester blurts out that Carol killed her husband John. When Carol returns the rest are left wondering whether it could be true or whether Hester’s just confused, while the conversation politely turns to puddings.

Peggy tells Jennifer what Hester said and this re-awakens her suspicions about Carol, engineering a visit to Carol’s house on the pretence of giving Peggy a lift. Lilian’s desperate to escape the retreat she’s detoxing in with Kate and was going to use the excuse of having to pick up Peggy as a reason to leave, but Pat manages to reach her before her ‘ear candling’ to put her off an early return. When Jennifer arrives she soon turns the conversation to John’s demise, and Hester talks about John being frightened of death, wishing she had Carol’s courage. Just as Hester is about to reveal all, she is cut off by Carol.

Toby meets with Ian to talk goose. He must have an extraordinary sales technique, as not only does Ian want to order the geese, he wants an exclusive contract. It’s not even as if they’ve built up a reputation – they’re just a couple of opportunistic brothers raising geese on some land they’ve blagged.

At the village hall committee meeting Neil is still firmly in the Justin Eliot fan club now that he’s offered to pay for the new village hall. Eddie however cheerleads for the anti camp and questions start to be raised. Jim backs him up, and when Eddie produces a signed photo of Anneka Rice, he invokes the ‘Challenge Anneka’ spirit and suggests to the meeting they do it themselves – as they had done when Anneka visited the village in 1993. Eddie shouts down Neil’s reservations when he reminds him that he built his own house. Eddie says that he can get all the building materials at a discount to avoid getting ripped off (he must have thought of a way to do that himself), and finally delivers a rousing speech that persuades the committee to reject Eliot’s money.

Lilian’s arrival back in Ambridge is announced by ice tinkling in a gin and tonic. Jennifer goes on about Carol again but Lilian doesn’t care, being more interested in her improvised gin and fags retox programme. During the final episode of the week Jennifer invents another excuse to see Hester on the basis of a promised jar of home-made strawberry conserve, and seizes the opportunity to drive her to the station. Did Jenny sabotage Carol’s car by sticking the nail in the tyre? Jennifer waits with Hester for her train and presses her further, and we are left believing that this final meeting was inconclusive. Perhaps stirred by memories of John, Jennifer visits his grave and chances upon Carol. There follows a very touching scene where Carol finally says: “I only did whatever anyone who loved him would have done”.

So Jennifer got her confession and it looks like we got Carol all wrong after all.


  1. About the man we love to hate, Rob, I have a theory the he suffers from infertility, which is why he knew that he couldn't be the father of Tess's baby, but he wants a son. Along come Helen and Henry, the boy with no father. He promptly ditches his wife, seduces and marries Helen and will soon be adopting Henry. Nothing too sinister so far, but this is Rob, the J.R. of Ambridge, so he must have an ulterior motive (why else would the scriptwriters titillate us with glimpses of his nastier nature?). One is that he could drive Helen to suicide to keep Henry all to himself, possibly with a chunk of Bridge Farm. Any others? - Zoe

    1. I'm assuming that the infertility idea has vanished, I see him getting Helen sectioned and claiming both kids for himself.

    2. Yep, I got that one wrong, but we got another glimpse of Rob's nastier side and it will be interesting to see how that story develops. I think that the Helen/Rob/Bridge Farm saga is becoming one of the best story lines in recent years. - Zoe

  2. "...and it looks like we got Carol all wrong after all" - what did we get all wrong ? I never thought for a second she'd actually murdered her husband - Carol is one of the only genuinely likeable characters in The Archers. I only wish she'd bump off a few of the others starting with that bloody annoying Johnny (or Rich as he used to be called - I must have missed the episode where he changed his name). And Zoe asks why would they titillate us with glimpses of Rob's nastier nature if he has no ulterior motive - well, 10 years ago we were being led to believe that Vicky was some kind of evil gold-digger who'd run off with Mike's savings then she turned out to be sweeter than the Andrex puppy dipped in icing sugar - The Archers characters aren't real (gasp) so their personalities can change at the whim of the scriptwriters which is why Hazel had that change of heart over the shop which I'm sure is meant to be genuine, even though it's ludicrously unlikely. So Rob might turn out to be a really nasty piece of work or maybe we are being led up the garden path - the scriptwriters haven't decided yet.

    1. I think it is fairly unequivocally established now that Rob has a bad character. He punched a Sab (and he liked it), he has undermined and hurt Helen, he is a bully, a liar and we have all sorts of dark warnings from Jess.

      He is clearly a bad egg, we just don't know yet how bad.

      Either there will be some terrible event (he scissor-kicks Christine Barford having fractured his crown on one of her ginger snaps?) or there will a slower developing story around Helen's gradual realization she has married a good looking monster.

      I'm with Jennifer on Carol. I find her a bit creepy, but I really enjoy the performance from Eleanor Bron.

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