Polly tells Jan the truth about her sham marriage to Gerald – Abby isn’t his child and his numerous affairs aren’t conducted with women. It’s something of a storytelling weakness that best-friends Polly and Jan have never discussed this before, but it does make dramatic sense for the viewers to learn about it at the same time that Jan does. These revelations help to chip away at Polly’s self confidence, giving us a glimpse of a lonely person lurking underneath her bravura exterior.
As regards character interactions, something similar happens when Lynne finally realises that Phil is a male chauvinist pig who only wants her for her body and would never have considered her as crew for his FastNet team because, well, she’s just a woman. Both have lived in Tarrant for some time, so it stretches credibility that she wouldn’t have realised exactly how he operates by now (and lets be honest, the viewers probably twigged some ten seconds after he first appeared). Leo sums him up perfectly. “Self satisfied berk.”
One of my favourite comedy moments occurs with Jack and Kate. Jack’s two days into his month long pledge of sobriety (he’s got a fifty pound bet with her) but is clearly weakening. A his hand slowly stretches towards a bottle, the phone rings. He picks up the receiver – it’s Kate. Shamefacedly he then hides the bottle behind his back! It’s a lovely bit of business, which is developed further when Kate tells him that even over the phone she’ll be able to tell if he was lying about his drinking.
One technical observation is that the difference between the film exteriors and videotape interiors is glaringly obvious, mainly because of the weather. For example, Tom calls on Avril (on film) and it’s a gloomy day but once they enter her living room (on videotape) the sun is streaming through the windows. Normally, the film element of the episode would have been done first – if this was the case, I wonder why they didn’t attempt to replicate the weather a little more accurately? If they’d shot the studio scenes first, then fair enough – nothing could be done – but if it was the other way around then it’s something of a missed opportunity.
The main interest in this episode though is the introduction of Charles Frere. When we first meet him he’s nattily dressed in a tuxedo, like a cut-price James Bond. He bumps into Polly and views Jan, from a distance, with interest – but he’s really in Tarrant to speak to Avril. Yes, Charles is the mystery man who broke Avril’s heart and now he’s back.
He’s only interested in business, or so he says, but the mere sight of him is enough to send Avril into mild hysterics. So when Tom later calls at her cottage and finds her in a distressed state, the inevitable happens ….
They both comfort each other and as the credits roll it’s fairly obvious what’s going to happen next. Indeed, the only surprise is that it’s taken them seven episodes to make a move on each other.
Jan and Ken have yet to advance beyond their professional relationship (despite what a poison-pen letter delivered to Tom might say). Although Ken doesn’t have a great deal to do in this episode, his character is nicely developed – although it happens when he’s off-screen. Jan and Lynne discuss him, with Jan nailing him as something of a social climber – he may have money, but he really wants to be accepted amongst the upper classes. But his barrow-boy persona seems doomed to ensure he’ll always be an outsider.