It’s the day of Sir Edward’s funeral. Despite the fact that few of the people present had any love for him, it’s still a sombre affair. But it’s livened up by one rather good gag. This must be one of the earliest examples of a mobile phone interrupting proceedings (it was 1990 remember). As the vicar intones “I heard a voice from heaven saying ….” Ken answers his brick-like phone with the words “hello, Ken Masters”. Well it amused me.
One notable absentee is Charles, who we see mooching by a bridge. Out of all the main characters, Charles has always been the one most fixated on business. True, he did have a lengthy relationship with Avril, but that often seemed just to feed back into his professional life. Given this, it comes as a real shock to see him unshaven and so lost in the aftermath of his father’s funeral.
Gerald (who by contrast is now a totally different man from the one we met at the start of the first series) gently attempts to find out why Charles couldn’t bring himself to attend. But apart from some vague comments about the way his mother suffered at the hands of his father we don’t gain any fresh insights. Charles’ histrionics are nicely played by Tony Anholt (a little over the top maybe, but that might be simply because we’re not used to any sort of emotion from Charles). Seeing the more human Charles here, it’s a pity that this side of his character wasn’t developed more. Another of those “what if” moments that might have been tackled during a seventh series.
It’s easy to forget that Vanessa was a Relton, but if this fact has been overlooked recently then the return of her brother, David, serves as a reminder. Some meat is helpfully put on the bones of his character – inheriting Relton Marine at a young age, he promptly sold the business and has trekked around the globe for the last twenty five years. Given Richard Heffer’s own age, this would have made David around nineteen at the time he sold the company, which just about fits the timeframe.
He might have a slightly icy relationship with Vanessa (not surprising if they haven’t seen each other for a quarter of a century) but he gets on very well with pretty much everybody else. David butters Jack up a treat (and then stands Jack and Bill an evening’s drinks). No surprise that Jack takes full advantage and eventually makes his way back to Vanessa very much the worse for wear!
Even more intriguing is David’s coupling with Laura. She remembers the callow youth he had been (what price a Howards’ Way prequel, set in Tarrant during the 1950’s and 1960’s?) but it’s plain that he’s had a great deal of, ahem, experience since then. No sooner have they become reacquainted than they tumble into bed, where he tells her that he’s fallen head over heels in love with her.
Given that this sort of thing does happen in HW it’s impossible to dismiss his claims out of hand (whereas most drama series wouldn’t have the nerve to jump in with both feet) but it might be that he’s pursuing his own agenda. Since his final appearance is in next week’s episode I think we’ll find out shortly. Their between the sheets action is rather marred by the honking saxophone (which was on the soundtrack rather than in the bedroom).
Lynne’s makeup presentation impresses Jan and Kate, but Robert is less effusive. He may always be positioned as the wet blanket, but it’s hard not to see that he has a point. His constant caution and desire for a clear business plan is clearly beginning to irritate the more freewheeling Jan (I’m still stunned that she’s now a world class clothes designer. Apart from anything else, when did she learn to draw?)
Lynne has a little more fun when she and Jenny later push Ken’s new prototype boat to its limits (with a crowd of investors looking on). This is a nice moment, reminding us of the carefree Lynne of old.
It seems that Leo’s well on his way to becoming a world class boat designer. He does have the grace to say that most of the work on the latest Leisurecruise success was Tom’s, but Avril’s still impressed with the amendments he put in to the later stages (so a design job at Relton will now be his. Hurrah!) Had HW gone to a seventh series then it’s easy to see Leo gradually moving into Tom’s old position as Tarrant’s top boat designer. A pity that it’s all a little pat though (Tom had to struggle just a little to establish himself). Watching Leo pour over designs at a drawing board wouldn’t have been dramatically very interesting, but a few brief scenes during the preceding episodes would have helped to sell this storyline somewhat.
Orrin suggests he and Leo meet. It’s a short and not terribly sweet encounter – Orrin attempts to buy him off, but Leo makes his position clear. “There’s only one thing I want, and it’s been coming to you for a long time”. Whack! One well aimed punch and Orrin’s on the ground. I confess I did let out a little cheer ….
Hovering over the entire episode has been the issue of Sir Edward’s will. As predicted by several characters, it’s been designed to cause the maximum amount of heartache. Jan is gifted a piece of jewellery from the first Lady Frere (a mocking example of what she could have had), Charles is granted Highfield (a place he always loathed) whilst Abby and Orrin are made co-executors of Sir Edward’s will. The bulk of his estate will be held in trust for William – provided that Abby severs all ties with Leo.
Gosh, that’s a bit of a cliffhanger. With Abby barely able to get the words out, it leaves her with a bitter dilemma. Stay with the man she loves (at least we assume she does) or leave to secure her firstborn’s inheritance?