This one opens with Charles steering his yacht en route to a business meeting with Ken. Size, of course, isn’t everything, but it’s fair to say that Charles’ craft dwarfs most of the others in the marina. His yacht serves several purposes – not only does it tell us that he’s a man of substance but it’s also a handy device to impress others.
And Ken is very impressed. Dressed in a gleaming all-white outfit, he’s obviously a little overawed. A breakfast meeting with champagne? It’s a small taste of the high life that he’s incredibly anxious to sample more regularly (and no doubt Charles would have been well aware of this, so the location would have been no accident). Charles suggests a joint venture – Ken builds the new marina, Charles runs it. Ken asks for time to consider, but still seems confident that if he refuses then Charles will be stuck – since Ken owns a prime piece of property bang in the middle of the proposed location.
Charles isn’t bothered though, in true Thatcherite spirit he declares that “we live in a commercial world, Ken. Everything’s for sale.”
Time has clearly passed off-screen, as Jan and Ken are practically ready to open the boutique, whilst Tom’s prototype boat has passed its tests with flying colours. We saw a brief moment of testing in the previous episode, but Tom’s boat has still sailed off the drawing board with unseemly haste.
As for Jan, she’s suddenly turned into a hard-headed businesswoman, easily able to gain very favourable terms from tailor Bernie Rosen (Harry Landis). Bernie’s Jewish of course (this scores a full ten on the cliché ratometer).
Tom’s delighted to hear that his prototype is developing well and, in a moment of sheer joy, embraces Avril in the office. Alas, Leo walks in at precisely that moment and if looks could kill no doubt both his father and Avril would have disintegrated on the spot. I’m not sure whether Leo’s more annoyed that his father’s in the arms of anther woman of if he’s simply miffed not to be the one enjoying the embrace! Edward Highmore continues to essay a performance which is low on subtlety, but perhaps that suits Leo’s character. Whereas most of the other characters are capable of hiding their true feelings from time to time, Leo is very much a WYSIWYG type.
Leo tracks Abby down in Southampton, which is the cue for another burst of Abby’s theme (the plaintive guitar melody which, along with the theme, must be the most familiar part of the incidentals) and a somewhat surprising revelation – she’s pregnant. Charles formally meets Jan for the first time, Lynne is offered a place in an all-women crew in the FastNet, whilst the other main point of interest concerns the continuing travails at the yard.
With the loss of the German contract, the bank are ready to foreclose but Tom is able to persuade them that his prototype will turn their fortunes around (but he needs Jan to agree to use their house as collateral). Jack is still insistent that plastic toy boats have no place in his yard, but is shocked and stunned to realise that he no longer owns fifty percent of the company (and therefore is unable exercise a casting vote). Tom has 25%, Avril had 25% but then bought an additional 5%, so she and Tom are able to outvote Jack. The look on Glyn Owen’s face is priceless. Presumably Jack must have been pretty drink-addled in recent months not to realise that Avril’s increased her shareholding.
Jack later articulates his feelings to Kate. “I’ve fought for that yard, Kate. Lost sleep, sweated blood for it. And what’s it all been in aid of? Nothing. Everything I’ve specialised in over the years is gone.” In her own way, Kate is as much of a traditionalist as Jack is – but she can see that everything has to change, nothing can stay the same forever.
Later Charles plays Avril another visit. She’s still not interest in his proposals, this time he tells her he’s interested in buying the yard. Whilst he claims he’s prepared to do it in order to help her father, she’s far from convinced. “The only person you’re willing to help is yourself”. This helps to ramp up the tension surrounding the Mermaid (plus Charles’ recent arrival also continues to shake things up nicely).