Tamsin Greig (Debbie Aldridge)
Brian picks Debbie up from the airport and hardly has the poor girl got into the car before he starts ranting about Adam’s unreasonableness about the proposed land purchase. Still, Brian’s pleased that at least now he’s got someone who thinks the same way as him. Except that Debbie is far from convinced that the purchase is a good idea - at least not on the scale that Brian wants.
At the family supper, Jennifer has banned all talk of the farm and the land and this lasts for about 10 minutes before they are all at it, arguing and voices being raised. Brian complains to Debbie about the obstructionism that he is facing, to which she replies that perhaps he should listen for a change, as Adam isn’t being unreasonable. “You can’t bulldoze through this decision,“ she tells him, adding that perhaps he could do with some time to think things through.
At the Borchester Land Christmas party a couple of days later, Debbie is in conversation with Justin and we learn that, not only is she not on message, Brian-wise, but she is actively trying to seek an alternative. Justin is mildly surprised, having been told by Brian that Debbie is 100% behind the plan and she tells him that it’s causing friction within the family. Has Justin considered selling the land off in a series of smaller parcels? Taking on a smaller debt might make it more acceptable to Adam, she suggests.
Brian returns with the drinks and Debbie tells him what she has proposed to Justin, who says that he doesn’t want to upset the family. Brian asks to speak to Debbie alone and he is very unhappy about what she is proposing. She fights back, saying “Can you not see the damage you are doing? The future of the farm is Adam - if you keep frustrating him, it won’t matter how much land you own, it won’t be a family farm any longer.” Brian maintains that he is only thinking of the future of the family and, somewhat bizarrely, adds “At least Ruairi supports me.” “He’s 14” Debbie points out, but Brian is past listening, saying again that the purchase will be good for the farm and the family. “If Adam can’t get his head round that, it’s a pity, because, believe me, it’s going to happen.” It’s always good to see democracy in action, I reckon.
I don’t know what timescale Justin has in mind to complete the sale of the land, but, if it is going to happen harmoniously, then someone needs to execute a massive U-turn fairly sharpish. Whatever happens, we will no doubt have Jennifer wringing her hands and saying how awful it all is.
Going back to the BL party, Justin talks to Rob, asking him where he is spending Christmas. Rob says that he is going to the family farm and Justin remarks that it cannot be very comfortable, knowing what people are saying behind Rob’s back. Rob replies that it makes no difference to him - it just shows how gullible and petty-minded some people are. He learns that Debbie is at the party and he seeks her out, reminding her that she and he helped set up Berrow Farm (which is now bulldozed by, the way). “We made a good team” he tells her.
You have to admire Debbie’s candour - instead of mouthing a few platitudes and escaping, she tells Rob that she wishes they had never built Berrow “As that was what brought you to Ambridge.” She also tells him that he reminds her of one of her exes, who hit her, and observes that no-one else in the room seems keen to talk to him. “Cheers, Rob; enjoy the rest of your night” she says as she moves away.
Instead of skulking off, Rob finds Adam in the bar, waiting for Ian, who has had to go back to Grey Gables to sort out a catering emergency. Rob asks Adam if he isn’t missing Charlie and Adam, who is pretty fed up, tells him to go. Just then, Ian returns and gives Adam a big sloppy kiss in front of Rob then leads Adam on to the dance floor, telling Rob that he can have his warm lager as “You look as if you need a drink.”
Not long now till the panto starts and Kate has still only managed to produce about one and a half costumes. Phoebe is back from Oxford and we learn that she has either had a personality transplant, or has suffered a blow to the head, as, when talking to Kate, she is not merely civil, but positively nice to her. Kate shows Phoebe her designs and Phoebe is impressed. She also says that she is impressed with what Kate has done with Spiritual Home and, in a sure-fire indication that she has been sampling some mind-altering drugs at Oxford, Phoebe tells Kate: “You’re my Mum and I’m proud of you.” Bloody hell, that’s a turn-up for the books - it was not so long ago that the only person Phoebe referred to as ‘Mum’ was Hayley. Phoebe’s admiration isn’t undimmed when she learns that Kate is, predictably, about eight weeks behind with the costumes and she pitches in to help, as does Jennifer, Peggy and Chris.
Lynda manages to track Kate down and she is not impressed with the lack of progress. In fact, Lynda throws a wobbly about the entire project, predicting that it will be an unmitigated disaster as the cast still haven’t learnt their lines. Hysterically, she fears that her reputation will be trashed and imagines what the review in the Echo (written by Tristram Hawkshaw) will say. Lynda tells Kate that, if the costumes aren’t ready, then she (Lynda) will disown the show and leave the entire production in Kate’s hands.
Another person on the verge of hysterics was Helen. On Christmas Eve, she and Henry are out delivering cards when they run into Jennifer. Helen is talking when she suddenly realises that Henry is not around and it’s getting dark. They call Henry and Helen makes a frantic phone call to Tom. She is panicking and sobbing and wants to call the police. Tom tries to calm her down, when Henry turns up. He had just been posting the Christmas card he made “for Daddy” through the Blossom Hill Cottage letterbox, because he thought that Daddy should have a card like everyone else. Helen is weeping with relief and, later, she apologises to Tom for going over the top and that “Rob is still there, in my head. Tom reassures her and says that Rob has left Ambridge for Christmas they will all have a wonderful, family Christmas.
Fresh from her photographic session, Susan is looking for an excuse to wear her posh frock, so she hits on the idea of holding a ‘Calendar Girls Reunion Party’. This is for females only, so Neil is despatched down the pub, with orders not to return until closing time. While there, he meets up with Eddie and Toby and much drink is consumed. The talk turns to Susan’s party - is it possible that the women will be stripping off? Eddie suggests that they go and have a look and Toby agrees, telling Neil “It’s your house after all - don’t you think you’re entitled to know what’s going on?”
The three creep around the patio and they see Susan helping Jean Harvey to take her dress off (Jean’s zip has burst). One of the men then knocks over an urn and an irate Susan comes to the door. Her temper is not improved when Neil pretends that they are carol singers. Susan apologises to her guests as they are leaving and has a go at Neil, telling him that, from January 1st, the ladies of Ambridge will be keeping their clothes firmly on. The question we are asking is ‘will this make 2017 a happy year for Neil or not?’ I know what I think.
Over at Brookfield, there is still much bad feeling about Pip’s refusal to visit on Christmas Day unless Toby is welcome too. As she decorates the tree, Rooooth wonders if she ought to be bothering and, when Jill offers to help, Rooooth goes off and leaves her to it.
Jill asks David what does he think is the attraction of Toby? David doesn’t know, and pointedly tells his mother that her keeping on about it is not helping the situation. Of course, she still goes on about it and says that it is as if Toby has cast a spell over Pip. Rooooth has just returned from a chance meeting with Pip, where Pip still refused to come over Christmas Day, and has a go at Jill. “You really despise him, don’t you?” Rooooth asks. “I don’t despise anybody,” says a shocked Jill, only for Rooooth to ask what is it that she hates so much about Toby? Jill replies “I just know he’s going to be bad for Pip. I’m sorry if that’s not a good enough reason for you.” Jill then adds: “Pip’s made her bed and she has to lie in it.” Between you and me, Jill, I reckon that is exactly what your granddaughter has got lined up for Christmas Day.