Rhys Bevan (Toby Fairbrother)
Whatever else you might say about Rob, you have to admit that the man has a hide like a rhinoceros and an Olympian-sized self-belief. Take Sunday: the Ambridge cricket team are psyching themselves up for their rearranged match against arch rivals, Darrington, when Rob turns up, already changed into his cricket gear, breezing into the dressing room with a cheerful “Afternoon, everyone.” Adam asks him what he thinks he’s doing and Rob replies that he heard they were a man short and he wants to talk strategy. He knows he’s not fully fit yet, but the team is still lucky to have him, as he’s off to hospital soon.
PCB, the team captain, tells Rob that he’s not on the team and Rob cannot get his head round this, saying “But I’m your best player; your best strategist - you can’t manage without me.” Adam joins in, saying “We can and we will - we don’t want men like you on our team.” Rob retorts that at least he is a man and Johnny chips in “Call yourself a man after what you did to Helen?” Rob says that Johnny is another one who has been brainwashed, but PCB steps in, telling Rob that a unanimous decision was made to throw Rob off the team. Again, Rob cannot believe this and appeals to the other players - what do they think? “Do you want me on the team or not?” he asks, clearly expecting the answer ‘yes’. Nobody says anything, but a slow handclap begins and PCB suggests that it’s time he went. “Let’s see how this pathetic collection of geriatrics and schoolboys gets on without me” Rob sneers, as he leaves.
Anybody else would have slunk off home, but not Super Rob - Ambridge were all out for 150 and, at tea, Rob unbelievingly approaches PCB, keen to talk tactics for the Darrington innings. “I thought I made it clear,” PCB says, “You’re not on the team any longer.” Rob dismisses the earlier row as ‘a storm in a teacup’ and PCB has to tell him yet again that he doesn’t want to talk strategy with him. Ambridge manage to win the match and all the players are very complimentary about PCB’s captaincy.
It gets worse for Rob, as he realises that the day that he goes into hospital is the day that he has contact with Gideon. Ursula says no problem - ask the Archers if they will bring the day forward, but Rob says that he won’t go crawling to that family, so Ursula says she will do it and she rings Pat to ask her. Pat says it’s not up to her, but to Helen and she’ll ask her. Helen says she will think it over. Back at Blossom Hill Cottage, Rob isn’t happy, saying “I hate being in their power like this” and “Why doesn’t she ring? She delights in torturing me.” Now you know how it feels, Rob! Ursula is confident, telling her son “Helen wouldn’t dare say no.”
Helen is undecided - her solicitor has suggested that it might be a good idea to be accommodating to Rob, while they await Rob’s psychological report - a document that will probably make the Chilcot report look like a shopping list. Helen notices that Pat seems a bit scared of Ursula and she makes up her mind. “I’m not having you bullied and Dad worried sick” Helen tells her mother - the answer is ‘no’ to Rob. Pat rings Ursula and tells her that Helen has decided that she will not change the arrangements and Rob can’t see Jack. Ursula is very aggressive and Pat is getting annoyed. Helen calmly takes the phone and tells Ursula that it’s Rob’s responsibility and if he cannot make the scheduled time, tough.
Ursula is scandalised and says “He’s only going into hospital because you stabbed him!” Helen says this conversation is achieving nothing and politely, but firmly, ends it. “You were magnificent!” Pat tells her daughter, who replies “The Titcheners have no power over us any longer.”
It was a mixed week for Helen - she went back to the prison to see Kaz, who was deeply touched, as she thought that Helen would forget about her once she got home. “You’re my friend” Helen says, simply. Helen went to see Kaz’s mother - her kids are doing fine.
Kaz describes Helen as ‘the most loyal person in the world’ and that Rob used that. “You need to get him out of your life” Kaz tells her.
Helen takes another big step forward when Kirsty takes her to the cinema. Helen also takes Henry and Jack to the playground on her own. “Standing up to Ursula really seems to have given Helen a new lease of life.” Pat tells Tom. Kirsty also suggests that it’s time that Helen looked at her and Rob’s joint bank account - they do so and it’s grim news; not only is there no money, but Rob has taken out an overdraft and spent up to its limit. The overdraft was taken out after Helen was released, incidentally.
Susan and Helen talk and Helen tells her that she has started divorce proceedings against Rob - it’s sad, because she and Rob were so happy once. Susan says “You were a lovely couple” and Helen replies “You always were a fan of Rob’s.” “I was wrong - I couldn’t have been more wrong” Susan says, adding that, if she had any doubts, they were dispelled when she learned how Rob treated Emma last week. “I’ve told him that I won’t serve him in the shop,” Susan says, and Helen is touched. Susan goes on: “The sooner he knows no-one wants him in the village, the better. You need to be rid of him.” Susan has always admired Helen’s independent spirit (“A bit like me” she adds) and the week ends with her saying “You need to be Helen Archer again - we all want you back.”
While things are looking better for Helen, Bridge Farm is getting a bit overcrowded with her and the kids living there. Johnny has a solution - he’ll move out. The fact that he can’t look after himself properly and couldn’t possibly afford the rent, doesn’t seem to have crossed his mind, and Pat says it’s a non-starter. Tom, however, has a solution of his own - he will move out. Furthermore, he has spoken to Will, who will let him rent No. 1 The Green. Johnny comes in as Tom is telling Pat and he thinks it’s a great idea - the two lads can move in together, and why not move in tomorrow?
Tom, who was initially a bit taken aback, agrees and the two lads are soon ensconced. Johnny is excited - he can’t wait to bring a girl back - but Tom is a bit quiet. “This place holds a lot of memories” Tom tells Johnny. I should think so - he lived there with Kirsty, and before that, with Brenda. Tom admits to Johnny that it would be a bit grim on his own.
Thursday was the evening of Tom’s mock Nuffield panel interrogation. David and Brian represent the farming experts, while Jazzer and Jim are also on the panel “Good cop, bad cop” Jazzer explains, when Jim asks why he has been asked. Jazzer seems to be taking it very seriously, adjusting the light so it shines in Tom’s eyes. Some of the questions are searching - Brian asking most of them. He suggests that Tom never seems to finish what he starts and reminds him that their business partnership did not end well. David brings up Tom’s court appearance for trashing GM crops, but Tom counters that it was something he felt passionate about and that he was acquitted by the jury. Everyone seems to agree that the panel was a worthwhile exercise, although Jazzer was disappointed that he wasn’t allowed to use any farmyard implements on Tom in the interrogation process.
Kate goes to see Roy and the two reminisce about when Phoebe was younger. Kate moans that Phoebe going to Uni makes her feel old (she was 39 last week), while Tom is a bit low, as Phoebe told him that Hayley has a new man in her life, Luke, and she (Phoebe) thinks that Roy should start dating again. Kate agrees, telling Roy that his chi is blocked, which sounds uncomfortable.
Actually, Kate had a bigger part this week - not only the heart to heart with Roy, but she was trying to sell the benefits of her therapies to Susan. Susan is unhappy - October is her month on the Calendar Girls calendar and she gets depressed whenever she looks at the picture, finding another wrinkle every time she looks. Should she have a skin peel or talk to Lilian about having something done? Neil assures her that she is lovely and he meets Kate in the street and asks her if any of her therapies could make Susan feel better and perhaps Kate could have a word with her about it? Also, on no account should Kate mention the calendar.
Kate assures him that she will be the essence of tact and then proceeds to tell Susan that she understands that “Your insecurity is because of your page on a charity calendar.“ Susan is appalled, thinking that Neil thinks she is insecure. Kate says, by the time her therapists have finished with her, Susan won’t recognise herself and, as luck would have it, there has been a residential cancellation this weekend. Susan is lots of things, but she’s not that stupid, saying that she wouldn’t pay to stay in a tent half a mile from her home. What if she could only afford one treatment? Kate suggests a juice detox, to which Susan replies that she could do that herself. Kate urges her not to. “I’ll be fine” Susan says, and Kate says, darkly, “Will you? Tell me that on Monday.” Sounds ominous.
We have remarked in the past that Jill can be a bit on the crabby side sometimes, and we had further proof on Tuesday; the day of her 86th birthday. It began well, with David and Rooooth bringing her breakfast in bed. Later on, Pip tells her mother that she has invited Toby to Jill’s birthday tea. Rooooth is surprised - is it really Toby’s thing? Pip replies that he is her boyfriend and everyone knows him.
Carol comes to Brookfield and is amazed at the mountains of cake - how will they ever eat it? Pip says no worries, Toby will polish it off. Jill picks up on the name and asks sharply “Why is he coming?” Pip says happily that she asked him. Jill is frosty “I didn’t. I don’t want him here.” Pip is amazed, saying that he would come with her. “It’s not your birthday, it’s mine, and I don’t want him here.” Jill snaps, adding that Pip should never have invited him. Don’t you want me here either?” Pip asks. Jill replies: “That’s up to you, sweetheart. If you can’t spare your Gran a couple of hours on her birthday without him hanging on your arm, that’s your choice.” Pip runs out, upset and the other adults are stunned, with Carol saying “That was an awful thing to say.” David agrees and says “I don’t like the bloke either, but there’s no need to take it out on Pip.” Rooooth asks Jill if she wasn’t being a bit unreasonable? Not a bit of it, as an unrepentant Jill says “She’s made her choice.” Jill goes further, saying of Toby “Being in love with a Fairbrother never brought anyone anything but heartbreak.” She is adamant that she has done nothing wrong or cruel and eventually goes up early to her room. David says to Rooooth “Mum certainly threw a tantrum - we’ll just have to hope that it’s a one-off.” Happy birthday, Jill!