Bob Pullen’s Home at Manorfield Close, Ambridge
So, poor old Bob Pullen, the oldest person in Ambridge, didn't make it to Christmas, when on Wednesday Jill came into The Bull and announced Bob's demise. Kenton quickly gave her a brandy (and didn't even charge) and he, she and Jim embarked on a voyage down memory lane, telling Bob Pullen stories and toasting his memory.
All very well, but as Bob had never said a word on air in all his 97 years, these stories could have been made up for all we know. Jill was shocked at Bob's death, but should she have been? Only a few days earlier, he had given her authority to organise his funeral, which is a pretty strong hint that he wasn't feeling too good, I reckon.
I wonder too if we are witnessing a disturbing trend at the Archers – the getting rid of non-speaking characters? Consider; Bob's gone and earlier this year we lost Ivy Horrobin. What can be the motive? It's certainly not to save money – perhaps the writers have something against mutes or mime artists? Whatever the reason, I reckon Derek Fletcher and Sabrina Thwaite are looking nervously over their shoulders.
But back to speaking members of the cast. Matt and Lilian had an action-packed time in New York, marred only by the fact that she'd rather be with Paul. Paul keeps sending her texts and Matt assumes that it is Jennifer who is doing it. He goes on at Lilian to call Jenny back, but she refuses and the conversation becomes a little tetchy. I think it's not that clever of Paul to text when he knows Matt is around – all it takes is for Lilian to leave her phone lying around and an inquisitive Matt might find out the truth. Having said that, with her making calls from New York and GB to Dubai, if Matt sees her latest bill, he might be in for a bit of a shock.
We had a teasing storyline when Paul suggests to Lilian that she fly out to Dubai to be with him. Lil is tempted, but asks how she would explain it to Matt? "You'll think of something", said Paul, helpfully. Hmm – not that easy, is it? Imagine if she told Matt she's spending a few days in Cheltenham and then comes back with a tan, a shedload of duty free and new stamps in her passport. It would have to be a stupendously good story, not least to explain why you need a passport for Cheltenham.
Matt is bored, bored, bored and keeps whining at Lilian to do something, like a walk, or shopping. She, however, is busy with the Christmas extravaganza and the atmosphere between her and Matt becomes increasingly frosty. In fact, Lil is late for the final run through and, when she does turn up, Lynda dresses her down like a naughty schoolgirl. That's too much for Lilian, who blows up at Lynda and flounces out. About time someone told Lynda what a load of pretentious twaddle she spouts.
When Lilian comes back after the rehearsal, there is another row with Matt and he storms off to bed in high dudgeon. Thursday's episode ends with Lilian on the phone, saying: "I want to make a booking please…" Oh no! What about the show? After we spent a sleepless night worrying, on Friday we learned that the booking was for Peggy to go to Whitby. Phew! Why Whitby? Apparently Peggy was there in 1943 and has been longing to return ever since.
Friday is the day of the show and the dire predictions of many that it will be awful seem doomed to come true. As these doom mongers include Fallon, Kirsty and Jim – all of who are in the show – it doesn't look good. However, Kenton to the rescue! In his role as Lord of Misrule, he hijacks the show, encouraging the audience to join in and turning it more into pantomime than an artistic experience. Lynda is mortified, saying "It's not the show I planned at all", which immediately improves it 100%. She asks husband Robert what she should do and his response is "Nothing – the audience likes it." Perhaps there's a lesson to be learned here, Lynda?
In the interval, Peggy, Elizabeth and Jim congratulate Lynda on keeping a straight face in rehearsals while knowing what was going to happen on the night. Even worse, at the end of the show Kenton asks the audience to show their appreciation to actors and people behind the scenes "but most of all we have to congratulate our producer Lynda Snell for a fantastic blend of acting and comedy." This was her opportunity to admit that she knew nothing at all about it and thank Kenton for saving the evening, but instead she gave the audience Prospero's speech from The Tempest.
After Christmas, there was apparently some unpleasantness when Clive Horrobin was threatening Brenda at Tracy's and the Police were called. Before Christmas, Susan visited Keith in prison and Emma asked how he was. Susan admitted that he seemed a bit down at the prospect of spending Christmas behind bars. Emma then revealed that she must have attended the university of the bleedin' obvious, when she observed "No, I don't suppose it's much fun."