Ken’s attempting to interest Charles in a new business venture – the purchase of a large stretch of land, currently in use as a nature reserve, to be transformed into a marina. The difference between them is again thrown into sharp relief after Ken tells him that they could build some chalets as well. Charles, on the other hand, believes a five-star hotel would be better.
It would be a difficult sell to the locals, but Charles decides that the job creation angle (a very Thatcherite concept) would work well on that score whilst Ken declares that it would still be good for the wildlife (all those masts that the birds could perch on). This line is delivered straight (presumably Ken actually believes what he’s saying) although Charles’ expression speaks volumes.
When Leo finds out about Ken’s plan for the nature reserve he’s not at all happy …
Charles jaunts over to France for a meeting with Viscount Cunningham (Richard Wilson). Naturally enough, Cunningham arrives by helicopter (the only way to travel, clearly). Charles’ meeting with Cunningham is designed to try and head off any protests from the environmental lobby, re the proposed purchase of the nature reserve.
Charles pays lip service to the idea that the views of the nature lobby should be taken seriously, but he’s also concerned that whoever makes the final decision should be “objective, someone who has the best interests of the county at heart and who is totally, totally impartial.” Or in other words, someone who knows what the right decision is. And in this case, that means what’s right for Charles Frere.
David Lloyd (great, super) wants Avril to join Relton Marine full time. At present, the members of the Mermaid all take turns to attend Relton’s board meetings – and today it’s Jack’s turn. The prospect of Jack mingling with the suits obviously gives plenty of scope for both drama and comedy and although we don’t actually see what transpired, Jack returns to the yard to tell them what’s been decided.
A solo crossing of the Atlantic by the Barracuda will give them just the publicity push they need … and Jack’s offered to sail her. Avril looks appalled, Tom looks pleased, whilst Jack begins to have second thoughts.
Tom and Ken run into each other at the Jolly Sailor. As with the recent meeting between Avril and Jan there’s a distinct lack of warmth. Ken tells him that Tarrant’s a small place, so he can’t spend the rest of his life avoiding him. Tom counters that “I’d appreciate your trying.” Maurice Colbourne shines during this scene, his intensity plain to see.
Lynne’s back at home but she’s still yet to regain her memory. Tom offers to take her out in the Flying Fish – and thanks to a spot of psychology from Tom it does the trick. Before that we see Jack (nice bobble hat, sir) set out for a quick sail, but he comes back in a bad temper, unhappy with the rigging on the boat (and therefore the standards of the yard). Glyn Owen’s on his usual fine form as Jack annoys Avril (placing his boots in the filing cabinet was the final straw).
Shellet keeps on popping up – at Jack’s house and then round at the Urquharts. Gerald, whilst not as cutting as Charles in the previous episode, still sends him away with a flea in his ear. We do see a spark of anger from Gerald when he deals with him though, which continues when Polly wonders why her husband let such a repellent creature like Shellet through the door again. “It’s part of my job. This house, the clothes you wear, the trips you make, your expenses, extravagance. Where do you think it all come from, eh? Sometimes I have to get my hands dirty.” This brief outburst is all the more noteworthy as up until now Gerald has been a fairly neutral character. It’s the first sign that there’s more to him than his public façade would suggest.
With Orrin keen to marry Abby, Jan fretting that Ken won’t commit to her new business venture and Kate concerned that her racehorse trainer is overcharging her for oats (!), there’s certainly plenty going on in this one.