Sunday, 4 October 2015

It’s Not Whether You Win Or Lose - Oh Sorry, Apparently It Is

Andrew Wincott (Adam Macy)

Let’s kick off with cricket, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor. Ambridge were playing Darrington and a win would give them the league title. Adam was acting captain, in Alistair’s absence (and I still think there’s something strange going on with Alistair and his growing number of absences) and he soon has words with Johnny, who, under Rob’s influence, is sledging the batsmen. If Johnny doesn’t calm down, he’ll be taken off, says Adam.

Rob thinks that Adam doesn’t have what it takes to win and isn’t impressed when Adam puts himself on to bowl, conceding 20 - odd runs. Eventually he brings Johnny back, and he takes the final wicket. When it’s Rob’s turn to bat, he says someone has to show Adam how it’s done and he is scoring well. But then he edges a ball behind - or does he? Umpire Tony cannot give him out and Rob refuses to walk, despite the exhortations of the Darrington players. Adam comes on to the pitch and asks Rob if he edged the ball? Adam thinks he should “do the decent thing, so we can win the match honourably.” Rob says that he is quite happy with the umpire’s decision and would Adam mind getting off the pitch?

Rob wins the match by hitting a six and, afterwards, Adam ducks out of going to the pub for celebrations. He tells Rob that he’d rather have lost than cheated his way to victory and Rob replies “why don’t you stick to growing your wild flowers and leave cricket to the real men?” Adam isn’t impressed, but just then, Helen turns up. As Adam leaves, Helen tells Rob that she filmed his edged/not edged stroke on her phone, when she was filming Henry playing. Rob demands to see the phone and, when he gives it back to her - surprise, surprise - the cricket footage has, mysteriously, vanished.

Heather is finally on her way down to Ambridge, being driven by Rooooth. Heather is very happy to be on her way and she and her daughter burst into song - “My Old Man” has seldom sounded so untuneful - and Rooooth promises her mother that they will stop off at a Service Station near Nottingham. When they get there, Rooooth is talking to Heather, who isn’t answering her questions. Rooooth has told her mother “don’t worry - you’ll never see that care home again” And how right she is - Heather has had a stroke and Rooooth calls paramedics, and David, who says he’ll be there as soon as he can. By the time he arrives, Heather has passed away.

We’ll come back to David and Rooooth later, but let’s move to Bridge Farm, where Tom is keen to finalise details of the café, which he thinks Fallon should be given the chance to run. Rob has told Helen that it is a mistake to mix business with friendship, but she is too busy being sick and tells Tom to do what he thinks is best. Fallon turns up and, when she hears Tom’s suggestion, she grabs his hand off, even when he suggests that she should use as many Bridge Farm products as possible. This causes conflict when Fallon goes to Rob and Helen’s gaff on Friday; Helen is in the bathroom and Fallon lets slip to Rob that she will be running the café. He didn’t know and he’s not best pleased. Fallon leaves (Helen says she’ll look at her plans and get back to her) and Rob goes into Mr Angry mode, berating Helen for not attending the meeting with Tom and Fallon and “for taking Tom’s advice over mine.” He snarls: “Badly done, Helen - I’m disappointed with you.” Helen says that there are extenuating circumstances and, when Rob expresses disbelief, she tells him that she’s pregnant. Rob immediately goes from Mr. Nasty to Mr. Considerate, calling Helen ‘darling’ and plying her with cushions.

Henry comes into the room and asks if Mummy is all right, as she’s lying down? Rob tells him that he will soon have a new brother - “or sister” Helen adds - but Henry wants someone to play cricket with and Rob is adamant, telling Henry “You’re going to have a baby brother.” No pressure, then, Helen. But you know whose fault it will be if you should give birth to a girl.

Let’s talk turkey, or, rather, geese: the Fairbrothers don’t seem to be team players - they negotiate separate deals over the geese and it seems that there’s only ever one of them at the farm at any one time. Rex has sold 50 birds to Elizabeth and Toby has negotiated a deal with Ian at Grey Gables, giving him a 10-mile exclusivity on the birds. The brothers eventually meet and the conflict is revealed. Toby goes to Grey Gables to try to re-negotiate the deal and Kathy suggests that now is not a good time to talk to Ian, as he is somewhat frazzled because of a big party tonight. Kathy says that she will talk to Ian, but she can’t promise anything.

As it turns out, she comes back to Toby (who has been joined by Rex) and says that Ian will forego the exclusivity clause, but he wants a 15% discount. Toby tries to negotiate, but Kathy says ‘no’. Rex agrees and Kathy tells him “Your handsome brother talked me into it.” Dear God, please don’t let Kathy get romantically (or sexually) involved with Toby - I don’t think I could stand it. Mostly because I don’t like him. Come to think of it, Kathy’s not my favourite either.

It was a change to hear from Kathy and it turned out that she was at Grey Gables (of which she is the manager) in order to interview candidates for the post of Health Centre Manager. There were five on the shortlist, but let’s cut to the chase - Kirsty Miller was one of the candidates and - knock me down with a feather - Roy (who was the other interviewer) rang her to offer her the job. Should be interesting when she meets Tom - if he has a sauna at the health club, the temperature could well be 1200° C.

We return to Rooooth, who is still in guilt trip mode - it started off because she thought it was her fault that Heather died in a service station (come on, they’re not that bad). Jill is deliberately keeping away from Brookfield while things are difficult, but she cooks a chicken at Lower Loxley and brings it to Brookfield. Rooooth and Jill meet and they hug, although later a tearful Rooooth tells David how hard it was to see Jill at Brookfield, when it should have been Heather and perhaps, had they moved up north as originally planned, Heather might still be alive. For God’s sake - has this woman got a wardrobe full of hair shirts and does she regularly thrash herself with nettles? ‘What if?’ is one of the most pointless mindsets going - nothing you can do is going to bring Heather back, so don’t try, and stop making everyone else feel guilty.

Lynda finds a dead deer and Brian reckons that it has been hunted
down with dogs, although he doesn’t care that much, as it isn’t one of his herd. Nevertheless, he informs the police, who confirm that there is a gang of armed poachers on the loose, which gives Lynda goose bumps. Sadly, instead of pulling up the drawbridge and staying at home, Lynda goes to see Elizabeth to suggest that, with the Village Hall standing no chance of being ready for the annual Christmas extravaganza, wouldn’t Lower Loxley be a great venue?

Elizabeth is not convinced, but Lynda says “Can you imagine Ambridge without a Christmas show?” Speaking personally, the answer is an unequivocal ’yes’ - in fact, at this time of year, a show-less Ambridge dominates my dreams - but Lynda tells Elizabeth that the positive PR would be beneficial. Was I the only one who thought that there was an unspoken ‘and if you disagree, the negative PR will be a disaster’ hanging in the air?

Whatever - and this is why I (and, I like to think, five million other listeners) may never forgive Elizabeth - she agrees, but obviously has reservations, as she says to Jill “What have I let myself in for?” I’d like to point out that (a) we don’t know, as Lynda hasn’t decided what this year’s offering will be and (b) never mind yourself, you selfish cow, what about the rest of us?


  1. Barring an unexpected plot twist that reveals that there exists secret mobile phone footage of Jill Archer making adjustments to the exhaust outflow of Ruth's car to ensure critically high levels of carbon monoxide in the passenger compartment I am going to say that I thought the death of Heather was moving, original and well done.

    I think it has been possible to see this outcome in general terms on the way for a while and I thought: well, I'll remember this one.

    I found Sid's death shocking, also Nigel's. Phil's death was handled very well, also Jack's, but this one...well, there is just something so random about it occurring at a service station in the midlands...that is how real life is, I think, arbitrary, contingent, absurd...

    That she was so happy in the end?

    It moved me, there you are.

    1. It moved me, too - nice that she went out happy.
      I can't help wishing, though, that she'd been the one driving, so she could have taken Ruth with her.

  2. I've only just discovered Neil's blog, and I have to say how grateful I am. At last I can read this instead and maybe even cure myself of the bloody Archers once and for all ... there isn't a character in it that I don't want to smack hard, but for some reason I've never been able to give it up. Must be one of Roooooth's hair shirts.

  3. I have for some time been unhealthily obsessed with finding the point where the Ambridge universe intersects with our own. It was always curious that David and Hairshirt were able to move to Prudhoe (which I believe is in our universe, although I can't say I have proved this myself).

    Now - the M1 goes to, or near Prudhoe. It's obviously possible to get from the M1 to Ambridge, otherwise Roooth couldn't have been on it. She was obviously doubtful where the actual stroke occurred ("a service station on the M1" suggests a degree of spatial uncertainty) _but_ she (and Heather, obviously) were taken to a hospital in, I believe, Nottingham. Which is a real place, honest.

    So - given that she was, presumably heading south, and was still in the real world at Nottingham (well, Roooth was, Heather obviously wasn't by then), the boundary must be somewhere south of there; my personal vote is somewhere on the A42 north of Tamworth. I've often felt a distinct sense of existential angst whilst travelling that road. In the past I've put that down to the imminent prospect of Birmingham; now I know it is due to the space/time warp into Borsetshire.

  4. I think this is an excellent theory.Somewhere on the A42 there is the Ambridge wormhole - and maybe there's one in Prudhoe, too.

    Wormholes are predicted by the Theory of Relativity, and it's well known that Einstein was a devoted Archers fan for the last four years of his life. In fact he made one of the first celebrity appearances on the programme in 1952 when, at Walter Gabriel's suggestion, he was invited to open the village fete.