Tuesday, 26 December 2017

I Bet The Registrar Was Pleased…

James Cartwright (Harrison Burns)

So, Justin and Lilian didn’t tie the knot after all. They decided to get married, giving Elizabeth nearly a week to reorganise everything and get her suppliers in order, which must have had her doing cartwheels of delight. Lilian also decided to have a hen party and said that Justin should have a stag party on the same night. Lil’s bash was in The Bull, while Justin’s do was a night in with some single malt and a game of poker.

Both guest lists contained a bizarre and unexplained anomaly - In Justin’s case, he invited Harrison and Lilian invited Lynda. I mean, come on; if you were looking for somebody who epitomised the party spirit and joie de vivre, would you choose Lynda? Me neither. As for PCB, he still has Justin as red-hot favourite for the hit and run driver, which came through at the Stag. PCB had three tens, but Justin held four jacks. PCB made some comment and Justin replied that if you wanted to succeed in business, you needed a good poker face. PCB responded to this by saying that that was just another way of saying that you are a good liar, prompting the somewhat frosty remark from Justin “Is there something you want to get off your chest, police constable Burns?” “It’s just banter, Justin” PCB replied.

Look PCB, I appreciate that this is difficult for a copper to understand, but let it drop - practically all of Ambridge and his so-called business associates who he was scamming had a reason to wish Matt ill and the prevailing mood is that he got what he deserved, so feeling Justin’s collar will please nobody, except Matt, assuming they get the Borsetshire Echo in Ecuador, or wherever he is. I mean, suppose Rob Titchener had been found nailed to the wall of The Bull, would anyone want the culprit found? Some things are best left alone.

The poker game is interrupted by Lilian, who has been suffering angst - she and Justin had lunch with James, Leonie and young Muppet (I’m surprised that, after that, Justin didn’t take off for Ecuador himself) and James was indulging in what Lilian called banter - telling his mother that she’s fallen on her feet and he knows where to come if he needs a sub. The thing is, Lilian tells Jennifer, that Justin became very tight-lipped at this stage and she is wondering if people will think like James (unlikely - people have more brain cells than do nematodes) and say that she is a Gold-digger, only after Justin for his money? Her solution? She gatecrashes the Stag with a pre-nup agreement, saying that this is the only way that she will feel comfortable and will Justin sign it before the wedding, please?

Come the wedding day, Lilian has been staying at Lower Loxley and has just opened her first bottle of champers. She is in her dress and Fabrice (who must be secretly delighted at having palmed off Hilda Ogden [the cat from Hell] on Peggy) has done her hair. There is a knock at the door and it is Justin, wanting to see his fiancée. Peggy protests that this is incredibly bad luck, but she is dragged downstairs and the couple are left alone. Justin tells Lilian that he cannot go through with the wedding. Lilian thinks this is some twisted plan of revenge and bursts into tears.

Eventually, Justin gets her to shut up and explains that the pre-nup made him think; all his life is controlled by contracts and documents and the marriage (and the pre-nup) would be just two more examples. He loves Lilian too much and the way things are is just perfect for him. “We don’t need a certificate - what would that change?” he asks his bride (not) to be. Lilian agrees and the two exchange their vows alone.

This is all very well, but the guests downstairs are becoming agitated. Elizabeth is on the verge of going to see what is happening, when Justin and Lilian come down and announce the change of plan. Justin assures everyone that he and Lilian are committed to each other and invites them all to participate in the Reception, to help them celebrate. Brian is particularly pleased, as he tells a scandalised Jennifer that he bet Noluthando £20 that the wedding would not go ahead.

Someone whom I suspect is not so pleased would be the Registrar, who, having been booked, unbooked and then booked again, presumably turns up on the day, only to be told that his (or her) services are no longer required. Just think - that’s a day wasted that could have been spent Christmas shopping.

The other big story last week was Pip’s decision to not go ahead with the abortion and Toby’s reaction when she tells him. Being Toby, he gets it completely wrong and says never mind, she can always rearrange it for a later date. Pip spells out, in words of one syllable and speaking slowly, that that’s not what she meant - she is having the baby. She has a supportive family (“so you’ve told them, have you?” he asks. Pip admits that she hasn’t, but she’s sure they will support her. “What about me?” Toby asks, and goes on to say that he feels trapped. He continues to react in typical Toby fashion, saying “I can’t deal with this” and going out, leaving Pip alone. Later on we learn from Jolene that he has been in the pub every night, steadily getting drunk and not talking to anyone.

Well done Toby - a good impression of an ostrich there. On Friday he and Pip talk again. He feels he has no say in the matter and, indeed, Pip makes it plain that the choice is hers alone - she neither wants, nor expects anything from Toby (that was lucky, then) and, if he wants nothing to do with the child, then she will handle it herself. “So I’m redundant, am I?” he asks and Pip tells him to decide how involved he wants to be, while making it clear that they have no future as an item. There is silence, then Toby says “I don’t think I do.” “What?” Pip asks. “Want to be involved” Toby tells her. Well, that’s going to make an interesting conversation with mum and dad ‘by the way, I’ve been knocked up by Toby and I want to keep the baby but Toby wants nothing to do with it. You will support me, won’t you?’ I would wait until David has put down the electric carving knife before you tell him, Pip.

Jennifer confesses to Lilian that she is not looking forward to Christmas, as Debbie is staying in Hungary, Alice is going to Neil and Susan’s and Phoebe is going to see Hayley and Abbie (obviously these girls are no fools, although you have to question Alice’s wisdom in going to Susan’s). “Never mind; you’ll still have Kate and Noluthando” Lilian says. Apparently, Jennifer’s heart-rending cry of despair was heard in Borchester.

Sunday saw the twins’ party at The Bull upstairs. Freddie was the DJ and did a spectacular job of it, aided by a pill given to him by Ellis, the uber-cool guy at college whom Freddie admires. Freddie sleeps in the next morning and Lily phones Noluthando to come over. Lily tells Nolly that she has flushed the rest of Freddie’s pills down the toilet and, when fragile Freddie does emerge from his sack, Lily gives him a lecture on how irresponsible he is and how Nigel would have been disappointed in him.

Freddie responds by saying that he’s not his dad, neither does he want to be. Furthermore, he is now 18 and can pack in education if he wants and nobody can stop him. He’s not going back to college and he’s going to make a career out of DJ-ing. Lily, who is 18 going on 45, tells him not to be so silly and grow up. Noluthando is on Freddie’s side and tells Lily that it’s really none of her business. “Well, it’s certainly none of yours” Lily retorts. Now girls! Elizabeth comes in and, when Freddie and Nolly have gone to shoot some zombies, she tells Lily that she really thinks Freddie has turned the corner and is growing up. Freddie told Lily that he would inform Elizabeth of his decision when he is ready - I feel we are in for another child/parent dialogue, with some full and frank views being exchanged, or, as it was put in Yes Minister, ‘full and frank, bordering on the direct’.

A quick recap on other events in Ambridge; Adam and Ian went to the Fertility Clinic and, according to Jennifer, the results of tests on Adam’s sperm were OK - surely there are some things that you’d want to keep secret from your mother? Adam also offered the tractor driving job to Ed, who dithered about taking it, as, on the one hand, it meant a steady wage, paid holidays and sick pay, while, on the other hand, it would mean that his independence would be gone. As he told Emma, his dad and granddad always worked for themselves, but, as she tellingly reminds him “It didn’t do them much good, did it? They ended up losing the farm.” This is where your theory falls down Ed, although we learn later that he did take the job, having got an increase in wages and Adam’s OK to do freelance work in his spare time. Brian told Adam that he must be getting soft.

The Panto lurches from crisis to crisis, with Lynda becoming ever-more pretentious, annoying and megalomaniacal. She has rewritten her part of the evil fairy and introduces wholesale changes to scene after scene. The rest of the cast (notably Eddie and Susan) urge Alan to have a word with her, as she’s ruining everything. He tells them he will do so and to “have a little faith - everything will be fine.” He then attempts to do so, but it is like water off a duck’s back, as she points to her in-depth knowledge of pantomime and tells him, in so many words, that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. She leaves him totally defeated, saying that she doesn’t like his constant carping. Usha asks her husband how did he get on and a stunned Alan replies “I have no influence over her whatsoever - she’s either going to do it her way, or not at all.” I know which option I’m in favour of.

Anyway, dear readers, this is being written on Christmas Eve evening (only one more sleep to go!). I don’t know when Neil will post it, but please accept our good wishes for the New Year - I’m sure you’ll agree that there are some intriguing storylines upcoming in 2018 and, thank God, the Lilian/Justin saga appears to have come to a conclusion at last.

Thank you for following the blog and may it continue
throughout next year!


  1. Your efforts have been so good I've almost given up listening to the actual show! Keep it up, and thanks for the hard work put into these timely missives.

  2. Yes indeed. Thank you for your witty and comprehensive coverage of our favourite Radio Four programme. Please keep it going, you are much appreciated.

  3. Read and enjoyed every week - a few chuckles and at least one belly laugh guaranteed. Justin/Lilian saga completed - we wish!

  4. Thank you so much for all your hard work, and true understanding of Kate's character.

    My husband has given up listening to the Archers completely, and just reads your summaries and comment, which he finds equally, if not more, enjoyable.

    Happy New Year, and long may the Ha Archers continue to delight us all!

  5. Happy New Year to you both.. Thanks so much for your blog-love it- I no longer dread missing an episode or going on holiday!

  6. Happy New Year to you both plus all your readers.

    I wasn’t surprised that Justin would want to avoid any contractual commitments applying to his relationship with Lillian.

  7. I love your comments, being in America, I don't always understand some of the references during the show, but you help me understand whats going on! I think your wittty comments are better than the show itself!

  8. Happy New Year! I too love your blog more than I love the programme. Thank you for the entertainment!