Tim Bentinck (David Archer)
We had a week of being drip fed David’s gradual change of heart over the sale of Brookfield - first of all he found old farm diaries from the 1930s, than he dragged Rooooth round the farm to see a hedge that Phil had layered way back in the mists of antiquity. Rooooth is keen for him to approve the plans for the new robotic milking parlour, but he pleads being knackered after a hard week’s lambing.
David talks things over with the Herefords, but the straw that broke David’s back was the toy farm that he donated to the SAVE jumble sale - he realises that he cannot bear to part with it and tries to track down the buyer to buy it back. As it turns out, he doesn’t have to, as Hilary Noakes threw it out before the sale began, as it was a bit tatty. This annoyed me, as I had the title ‘David buys the farm’ in mind, but he rummages through the bins and finds the farm for nothing.
The toy farm is just a symbol, as David realises that he cannot bear to leave Brookfield and “It isn’t just about profits and the obscene amount of money that Justin offered us”. He also tells his mother that he heard his Dad speaking to him earlier and he thought he was going mad, then Jill demonstrated that this is obviously genetic, as she says that she talks to Phil all the time. “And does he answer?” asks David, to which she replies “Of course he does.” (You keep them talking and remove all sharp objects and I’ll fetch the nurse and the screens…)
It is a great relief to David to finally admit that he could never leave Brookfield (even if this was six months later than five million listeners) but he tells Jill that there’s ‘another huge question’ “Rooooth?” she replies, and he agrees, saying “How am I going to tell her?”
I submit that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that David is in for an interesting time in the near future - true, Rooooth is keen to start afresh in Northumberland and she wants to be nearer her ailing mother, but she’s not the only one who is going to be disappointed. Let’s think; Pip is wandering around with new tractor brochures and is keen to get the robotic milking established; Kenton has already spent part of his inheritance on business class flights to Oz and is keen to buy Lilian out of The Bull, he has also promised to help Fallon with her business, so she’s another one who is going to be disappointed (not to mention Jolene). Lilian really needs this money as well, having been cleaned out by Matt.
Justin Eliot isn’t likely to be best pleased either, especially if his architect bills him for the work he has done so far on redeveloping Brookfield; Shula will have to put her plans for an equine swimming pool on hold, while Elizabeth (who has said that her share will give her financial security and banish her money worries) will have to go back to biting her fingernails. Who else will David’s decision upset? There’s Heather, of course, who was looking forward to a bit of attention from her daughter, plus the people selling the farm in Northumberland will no doubt be a tad annoyed at being messed about for so long. I just hope that the rep who took the order for the robotic milking parlour hasn’t booked an exotic holiday in anticipation of the commission he won’t now be earning.
At this rate, the only ‘people’ who will be talking to David are the Herefords and his late father. No - I forgot Eddie (who will presumably be able to continue working at Brookfield) and Bert (whose worries about being evicted will have evaporated); neither of whom is the most scintillating conversationalist in the world.
Elsewhere, we learn that Shula lied to PC Burns about what happened between Rob and the hunt saboteur and, as she tells Caroline, it is causing her something of a crisis of confidence. Shula feels that she has to confront Rob and tell him what an impossible position he put her in. He cannot see what she is getting so worked up about and is just pleased that he has got away with it. Later on, Shula talks again to Caroline and says how spooked she was by Rob’s attitude. “He seems to believe that he really was the victim - he can’t concede that he was in the wrong.” “That’s unhealthy” Caroline answers and Shula says “I don’t like it - I’ve seen another side to him.”
After giving Helen his total support for working at Ambridge Organics earlier, Rob’s manipulative side comes to the fore when Helen comes home late after a busy day at the shop. Henry is acting up (Rob has probably got him wired up to the mains) and Rob tells Helen that Henry is missing his mother. This makes Helen think and she says that her life has moved on and she doesn’t want to devote so much time to the shop. “It’s your call” Rob tells her, somewhat mendaciously, adding “What do we do next?” Helen doesn’t know, but - surprise, surprise, - Rob has a radical solution; why not get rid of it and sell it? Helen is immediately taken with the idea, saying “Why couldn’t I see it? It’s obvious”. I can’t help feeling that Tom and Pat (and Tony, whose convalescence is progressing nicely, thank you for asking) might see things somewhat differently.
Ed is in the money after selling off his cows; indeed, it was a good week for the Grundys, as George won a pancake race at The Bull. Commentating on the event, Kenton urges everyone to stick around as “We have the afternoon’s big attraction; the Boudicca of Ambridge herself; Jennifer Aldridge!” This is a reference to Jennifer’s outstanding performance on Radio Borsetshire last week and it gets up the nose of Lynda Snell, who keeps reminding people that SAVE is a team effort and she is taken aback when Jim tells her that the Press will be turning up to cover Jennifer’s speech and Lynda is even more miffed when Jennifer gives a rousing speech and is cheered to the echo by the crowd.
We come now to the ’getting the wrong end of the stick’ award for last week, so step forward Roy Tucker and take a bow. Hayley is making a visit to Ambridge and meets Susan, who is keen to pump her for information about what she’s doing there. Susan keeps prattling on about what’s been happening in the village while Hayley has been in Brum until Hayley makes an excuse and leaves. Roy comes out of his house and invites Hayley in - he is delighted to see her and says how good it is to see her back where she belongs and “Please say you’re coming back - I’ve missed you so much.” He wants them to all be together again and begs for another chance.
Are we in for a touching reunion and reconciliation, we asked? Er, not exactly, as Hayley says “I can’t come back Roy - I’ve thought long and hard.” This sounds clear enough to me, but obviously not to Roy, who says “Don’t say I’ve lost you.” And indeed, she doesn’t, but dashes his hopes completely when she tells him “Sorry, but it’s gone too far - I want a divorce.”
Finally, the pancake race reminded me that we are now in Lent (Shula has given up biscuits for the duration) and it occurs to me that we do not seem to have had the usual deranged idea from the mad vicar Alan Franks to mark the festival and plague his parishioners for the 40 days, or have I missed something?