Happy New Year, loyal reader.

    Jennifer finds Lillian, sitting gloomily in the dark. “I’m sorry it’s been such a horrible Christmas.” There was too much land chat, the Justin incident at the panto and Debbie has headed back to Hungary.

    It’s New Year’s Eve and Tom is still reeling from the Kirsty baby bombshell. He calls her, awkwardly. Johnny has a new ‘noticeable’ shirt and wants to bring a mob back to the house after the Bells, Tom isn’t keen. At the Bull for Hogmanay, Tom, Roy and Johnny are besieged by Tracey Horribin – Roy has to keep hiding from her. Tom is worried as Kirsty isn’t there. At the Bells at the Bull, Tracey finds Roy and smothers him. Tom leaves and runs round to Kirsty. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright.” “I was fast asleep until you turned up.” Tom is very stiff.

    At the Lower Loxley Ball, Lillian points out that Miranda (Mrs. Justin) left ‘Mother Goose’ early, after some pretty heavy innuendo from Kenton from the stage and street-savvy Cockernee Kaz working things out from the cheap seats and they haven’t been back to Ambridge since. Justin hasn’t been in touch, either. Self-centred Brian is worried that Miranda finding out about the Justin/Lillian affair will in some way queer his epic Land Deal. The Ball seems desultory.

    Helen and Pat are preparing for the Pyrex Kid’s birthday. It’s being held at a (urine and germ soaked) soft play centre. Helen wants to boost the shop’s takings with “new initiatives”. Some cards have turned up for Henry, including one from the Dark Lord. Helen brings the cards to the play centre, unsure about what to do about Rob’s card. The party goes well and the Synthetic One has a ball. After, Helen bins the Evil One’s card.

    Pip arrives back from sheep and is very frosty with Toby. She’s still upset about the mystery Brighton flit and having to play the Goose at the panto because of Toby’s no-show . Rex meets Toby to give him his share of the goose money from last year. “That’s the end of out business relationship.” Rex tells Toby that they’ve been cut off by their Father – no more bank-rolling the business ideas and no allowance – who knew the brothers were still getting pocket money. Toby heads back to an angry Pip. He then tells Pip about ‘Stu’ (an old friend in Brighton) and his bad break-up. Sounds iffy, if you ask me. “You don’t seem to realise how humiliated I was.” Pip is still skeptical and heads off grumpily to see Alice.

    Adam has a meeting with Rob who is all sneery about Adam’s herbal lay experiment. Adam fights back with his lecture about soil repair. “Oh, change the record, please.” Nasty Rob. Adam twists the knife – “Christmas is so much better with small children around, don’t you think?” The Dark Lord counters with threatening to put the estate work out to tender. Nasty, nasty Rob.

    Roy is being texted endlessly by Tracey and consoled by Kirsty. Tom turns up. “As you can imagine, I’ve been thinking a lot about what you’ve told me.” Tom wants her to move into One, The Green. Kirsty isn’t sure. “Children are raised all sorts of ways these days.” There’s a chaste kiss on the doorstep and Kirsty wants another scan before they go public. Unfortunately, Roy works out that Kirsty is up the duff.

    Tom arrives home to find a smoke-filled kitchen with burned oven chips. Johnny and Slow Freddie were too busy playing computer games to notice the rapidly-blackening kitchen. Tom is furious.

    Kirsty finds a raging Rob in the street. He raises sparks from beating his hooves on the road as some girls have lip-sticked his windscreen with something “libelous.” “Some labels are hard to remove,” says Kirsty.

    In the shop, Susan is trying in interest Jim in her choices of pictures from the family photoshoot. Jim doesn’t care. Toby arrives to buy flowers and an apology card. “He should be buying those in bulk,” says Susan. He goes home to find Pip drain-clearing. He grovels and invites her to a gin-tasting in Birmingham for the night. This seems to be enough to thaw Pip somewhat.

    Lizzie turns up at the Bull for a family conflab with Kenton. The Dark Lord slithers in, returning some white spirit he borrowed to remove the car graffiti ad Lizzie point-blank refuses to even be in the same room as him. Lizzie wants Kenton to take the twins round the estate roads in their new car. After the driving session, Kenton is traumatized as the twins were terrible, abusive and dangerous drivers. He recovers with Lizzie. Dr. Locke seems to have had a bit of a dalliance with Debbie over New Year, but Lizzie is philosophical about it.

    At the shop, Jim closes bang on five and the Dark Lord arrives on leathery wings two minutes late. Jim refuses to serve him until the Evil One lashes his scaley tail and smoke pours from his nostrils. Jim lets him in and Rob, having got what he wanted, is still incredibly abusive, describing Jim as a “little Hitler”. Susan overhears it from the back room and throws Rob out – banning him from the shop. Word of Rob’s latest outrage quickly spreads far and wide (Susan was involved, after all). Jolene tells Alan at the Bull. Meanwhile, Helen arrives back from the solicitors. Rob is contesting the divorce and might be able to make a claim on Bridge Farm. This is going to be expensive for Helen. Back at the Bull, Lillian confides to Jolene that the affair might be over.

    After learning about Rob’s latest outrage, kindly Alan heads round to see him. The Dark Lord is sitting on his throne made from the bones of previous victims and stewing – “Christmas without my sons – unbearable.” He does actually call his son “Jack”, but in spite of Alan being as placatory as possible, Rob is still angry about Jim, the girls who defaced his car, Helen, the village, the parents, life etc. Alan can see so headway – “you are putting yourself beyond help.”

    Helen has come up with promotions for the shop – a New Year de-tox theme including apple and kale soup. Really? She’s even laminated some signs. This should help pay for the divorce.

    Susan is pleased about Tracey and Roy. “Tracey hasn’t always made the best choices when it comes to men.” I’m not sure Roy even knows that there IS a ‘Tracey and Roy’. An enormous New Year’s snog at the Bull isn’t really a relationship in anyone’s eyes apart from Susan’s and Tracey’s.

    After finding out from Helen that the Evil One is no longer going to contest the divorce – much to the relief of Helen and, no doubt the poor customers who were going to be force-fed apple and kale soup to help pay form the thing, Tom runs round for another difficult meeting with Kirsty. He has had a long think about things. He has come to the conclusion the best solution would be to get married. I don’ thtink he has really though this through. Kirsty is understandably horrified. “How on earth to you think I can trust you again?” Maybe Tom mentioning ‘marriage’ to the woman he left at the altar wasn’t the best plan after all. If anything, this brilliant idea is even worse that apple and kale soup and has mae Kirsty remember the ‘vile’ thing Tom did to her. “You need to back off – back right off. I don’t need you – I don’t need you at all.”


The Week In Ambridge

The Week In Ambridge

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I am a new listener to The Archers - my Mother started me at birth, so I have only been listening for 46 years. Apologies if I get things wrong.

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