There’s a further example that Charles is a thrusting (and wealthy) businessman at the start of this episode – he arrives by helicopter. I wonder if his comment that the weather in Geneva was even worse than back in the UK was an adlib to take account of the fact that yet again location filming took place on a gloomy day. If the exteriors for series one were shot during the summer, then the sun rarely seemed to come out.
Charles meets Gerald outside a palatial country house – one of a number which Gerald has earmarked as potentials for Charles to purchase. Since they make no effort to inspect the interior, landing here doesn’t make a great deal of sense – apart from the fact that (like the helicopter) it reiterates to the audience that Charles Frere is a man of substance. This is also subtly acknowledged via the incidentals, as a plaintive string melody plays over shots of Charles’ chauffeur-driven car moving away from the house.
Lynne has arrived at the Isle of Wight, keyed up for the FastNet race. A barrage of stock footage is employed in order to create the illusion of a massed phalanx of boats, which isn’t entirely successful due to some of the clips being on film and others being on videotape. Phil pops up to taunt Lynne and the others – since they’re just a bunch of girls, surely they’ll have trouble even getting to the start?
In the most unsurprising twist ever, the two boats find themselves head to head (curiously there’s no other boats around at this point) and the girls easily pull ahead, leaving Phil floundering. Hurrah!
One oddity is that Tom, Jan, Kate and Leo never express any interest about how the race is going. You’d have thought they’d at least have mentioned it.
Jack’s in the Jolly Sailor, bending the ear of the unfortunate barman, Arthur (Patrick Carter). This seems to be a common occurrence – no doubt whenever Jack gets plastered he reminisces about boats he has known (in this case, the first one he ever built – back in 1948). Arthur is plainly desperate to get away, but with the politeness of a trained barman can’t bring himself to tell a valued customer to stop chuntering away. Perusing the delights on offer in the bar, I wonder what Badger Export Bitter tastes like?
Kate’s still acting as his conscience, ringing up the pub to berate him for hitting the bottle again. Jack’s eloquent comeback (“you old teabag”) is priceless. Things take a darker turn later when Kate finds him collapsed at his home – she takes control straight away and calls an ambulance. Luckily, there’s nothing seriously wrong with him, so she checks him into a clinic in order for them to dry him out. This is going to be fun ….
Abby discusses with Dr Malik (Renu Setna), the possibility of terminating her unborn child. Setna, still working I’m happy to see, has played an awful lot of doctors during his career (episode one of the Doctor Who story The Hand of Fear is one such which springs to mind).
Several characters make their debut here. A mystery man, who we later discover is called Richard Shellet (Oscar Quitak), is seen lurking about. He’s clearly a wrong ‘un – the way that the incidentals suddenly turn sinister and Shellet’s peremptory way of dealing with the hotel staff are two obvious signifiers of this. Although he doesn’t speak, he later fingers a picture of the Mermaid Yard, so it may not be too hard to work out where this plotline will go. It’s going to rumble on for a while (into the second series) and will provide considerable entertainment, not least because of Quitak’s performance – Shellet always appears to be a man teetering on the edge of insanity.
Ah, Claude Dupont (Malcolm Jamieson). The devilishly handsome, smooth-as-silk, would-be fashion designer crosses paths with Jan. She’s looking for a designer, he’s looking for work, it seems a marriage made in heaven. It’s hard to take Claude that seriously, since this is another example of plot contrivance (a potentially world-class fashion designer who just happens to fall – as it were – into Jan’s lap) but Howards’ Way never really bothered too much about realism. And why should it? Mind you, his silly French accent is a little irritating.
Ken, invited to a swanky party organised by Charles, runs into merchant banker Sir John Stevens (Willoughby Gray). Sir John will be a regular throughout the six series and for all that time always refers to Ken as Kenneth (the only person to do so). A subtle put down, possibly? Sir John is always politeness personified, but the clash of different worlds that occurs whenever he runs into Ken is not only obvious but also an endless source of class-based comedy. Ken, dazzling in a white dinner jacket with a rose in his button-hole, is clearly overawed by Sir John.
The episode ends with Tom and Avril enjoying an idyllic time aboard the Flying Fish. But I’ve got a feeling that their joy is going to be short-lived.