The Brothers – Series Five. Simply Media DVD Review

The beginning of series five finds The Brothers in something of a transitional phase.  Two key cast members (Gabrielle Drake and Hilary Tindall) had left the show at the end of the previous run, although fresh blood (most notably in the shape of Kate O’Mara as Jane Maxwell) would shortly arrive to shake things up.

The departures of both Drake (Jill Hammond) and Tindall (Ann Hammond) were used to good dramatic effect though.  Ann and Brian had gone through the relationship mill during the previous series and even though their union was now at an end, Brian continues to suffer.  But his broken marriage is just one reason why he goes severely off the rails in the early episodes.

Although Tindall was gone, her character was still alive and therefore a return was always possible (and Ann did make a fleeting reappearance in a handful of episodes at the start of the seventh and final series).  But Drake wasn’t so fortunate, as Jill is dispatched in the time-honoured way of dealing with soap actors who either can’t or won’t carry on (an off-screen accident).  Talking about this decades later in The Cult of The Brothers documentary, it seems that Drake was a little taken aback at just how ruthlessly Jill was dealt with.

Another character, Martin Farrell, had also left, which results in both personal and professional consequences.  Professionally, it means that the position of chairman is vacant – which seems tailor-made for the ambitious Paul Merroney.

And on a more personal note, it was plain that Edward Hammond’s nose was put out of joint last series by the interest Farrell had been taking in Jennifer Kingsley.  So with Farrell out of the picture, Edward rekindles his own relationship with her.  Lest we forget, Jennifer carried on a lengthy and clandestine affair with Edward’s late father.  Unsurprisingly this meant she has always been viewed with great disfavour by Edward’s mother – the indomitable matriarch Mary Hammond – but it seems that Edward has eventually summoned up the courage to defy his mother and make an honest woman out of Jennifer.  Although I’m sure there’s still going to be a few bumps ahead before they can enjoy a lifetime of wedded bliss.

The series opener, the aptly titled Life Goes On, finds Brian in a pretty poor state. This concerns the bank – they don’t want to see their investment in Hammonds put at risk because the new managing director is feeling flaky – but Paul Merroney has put plans in motion to protect their money ….

Although Merroney was a rather peripheral character during the last series, here he really starts to make his mark. For one thing, he’s gained an assistant – Clare Miller (Carole Mowlam). Apart from signifying Merroney’s increasing significance, Clare also emerges as a character in her own right – becoming close to David, for example.

Baker’s good value in these early episodes as Merroney begins his manoeuvres. Surprisingly, only the bluff Bill Riley realises that Merroney has his eye on the chairman’s job – which doesn’t say much for the business acumen of the others! There’s a delicious sense of duplicity on show from Merroney as he puts the blame for the recent ousting of Edward as managing director firmly on the shoulders of the departed (and innocent) Farrell.

The way the audience learns about Jill’s death is done in a very interesting way which makes a positive out of the fact that Gabrielle Drake was no longer a member of the cast.  Jill isn’t mentioned during most of the first episode, although that wasn’t unusual (she was absent from the first few episodes of series four).  It’s only right at the end of Life Goes On, when David runs into a friend (who’s been out of town for several months) that we find out Jill is dead.  This is an incredibly jolting moment which provides us with a strong hook into the next episode where her fate is discussed in detail.

The dynamic between the three brothers – Edward, Brian and David – has been the motor which has powered the series to date.  Whilst series five continues to play on their conflicts, the emergence of Paul Merroney as a major player refreshes this somewhat – as an outsider he has quite a different set of loyalties.

But the brothers still dominate the storylines especially, in the early episodes, Brian.  In many ways he’s now got everything he wished for – he’s become managing director of Hammonds, ousting Edward.  Or has he?  We’d seen in previous series that it was Ann who was the ambitious one, constantly pushing him forward.  So the fact that he’s gained in business but lost out in his personal life must come as a bitter irony to him.

Richard Easton continues to be excellent as Brian, especially when he starts to lose the plot (the episode title Breakdown makes it fairly obvious what’s going to happen).  As his drinking increases, Brian is encouraged to seek psychiatric help.  And always around is Merroney, plotting to oust Brian at one point and then (so the others fear) attempting to buy Brian’s shares so he can gain overall control of the company. But as we’ll see, Merroney is no cardboard villain – he may be mainly motivated by self interest but he’s also not without compassion for the stricken Brian.

As Brian, ensconced in a nursing home, retreats into the background, so other plotlines begin to develop.  The long-running will they/won’t they relationship between Edward and Jennifer is now very much back in “they will” territory and moves forward at a rate of knots.  The problem with Mary (Jean Alexander, as good as always) still has to be overcome though, as the icy disdain she feels towards the woman who conducted a long-term affair with her late husband continues to be a fruitful source of drama.  Even when Mary and Jennifer appear to be on civil terms there’s always the sense that at any moment things could change ….

Although the departure of both Hilary Tindall and Gabrielle Drake left something of a hole, two new female characters filled the gap nicely.  Clare’s divided loyalties (between David and Merroney) generate a good source of drama which plays out as the series progresses whilst Kate O’Mara makes an immediate impression as Jane Maxwell.  Debuting in episode six, Flight of Fancy, Jane is the hard-headed director of an air-freight business which Hammonds have an interest in.  As a proactive business woman, she’s something of a rarity in the world of The Brothers (Jennifer might be a board member of Hammonds, but she’s a much more passive character).

Also appearing for the first time in this episode is Mike Pratt as Don Stacey, a hard-drinking pilot.  This would be Pratt’s final television role before his death in 1976 at the age of just 45.  Don would appear throughout the remainder of series five and the first half of series six. Whilst it’s always a pleasure to see him, this is tempered by how ill and haggard he looks.

Yet again, things conclude in the boardroom (episode thirteen, Warpath) as Merroney continues to scheme although it’s possible that in Jane he’s finally met his match (a decade or so later they’d once again lock horns, this time in Doctor Who).  With Edward under pressure and Brian’s fate still uncertain, things are left nicely poised for the following series to pick up where this one left off.

By now, The Brothers had become a well-oiled machine and series five not only manages to develop the existing characters in a variety of ways but it also develops intriguing new ones as well.  It continues to be highly addictive stuff, especially as the Hammonds, Merroney and Jane jostle for power and superiority.  But there’s time for more personal stories as well (Jennifer’s longing for another child) which ensures that the series isn’t completely boardroom and business based.

The Brothers – Series Five is released by Simply Media on the 27th of March 2017.  RRP £29.99.

The Two Ronnies – Series One, Show Two

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Original Transmission – 17th April 1971

Written by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cryer, Eric Idle, David McKellar, Chris Miller, Spike Mullins, David Nobbs, Michael Palin & Terry Jones, Bill Solly, Peter Vincent, Dick Vosburgh, Gerald Wiley

Introduction/News Items
Party Sketch – Ronnie C’s embarrassing baldness
New World
Hampton Wick – Episode Two
Tina Charles – Ruby Tuesday
Ronnie C in the Chair
Tarzan in Suburbia sketch
Jo, Jac and Joni
Gilbert and Sullivan
Outro

Notes: The desks are no longer at a weird angle and although a smaller CSO back screen remains – seemingly showing a shot of the universe – it no longer changes to display a picture for every news item.

The party sketch features Ronnie C as Mr Goldie, a rather bald man (wearing a not very convincing bald cap). After being told not to mention his baldness, of course Ronnie B can’t help himself (referring to him as Baldy, rather than Goldie to begin with). Ronnie B gets most the lines here as he attempts to dig himself out of this unpromising start, whilst Ronnie C is able to sit back and simply react. Such is Ronnie B’s over-sensitiveness, that even words like “wig-wam” are off limits – he quickly changes it to “wog-wam” (“you know, the wams where the wogs live”). Politically correct this is not …

Episode Two of Hampton Wick is chiefly memorable for Madeline Smith’s dress, which at times is unable to restrain her ample charms.  How they got away with some of the shots is anyone’s guess ….

New World warble an unknown (to me) song whilst Tina Charles continues her full-throttle attack on pop classics by tackling the Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday. She certainly doesn’t hold back, that’s for sure.

Although some of the productions misteps from the opening show have been ironed out, there’s still a sense that this is early days – as sometimes sketches don’t finish with a musical flourish, as they do later on, but rather with a fade to black.

Ronnie B makes an unlikely looking Tarzan (but then Ronnie C would have been even less convincing). But the strange juxtaposition of Tarzan crashing into the suburban garden of Ronnie C’s Arthur Norris is an appealing one.

As with the first show, there’s a moment of fourth-wall breakage, as the end of this sketch is interrupted to prepare the way for the spesh act – in this case Jo, Jac and Joni. They demonstrate that variety isn’t dead with a spot of musical comedy.

For a long time, the show would often end with a musical number – in this case Gilbert and Sullivan entertain (or not) us with a some of their favourite numbers, albeit cunningly re-worded. At least this one doesn’t outstay its welcome.

The Two Ronnies – Series One, Show One

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Original Transmission – 10th April 1971

Written by Tim Brooke-Taylor, Barry Cyer, Eric Idle, Chris Miller, Spike Mullins, David Nobbs, Michael Palin & Terry Jones, Bill Solly, Peter Vincent, Dick Vosburgh, Gerald Wiley

Introduction/News Items
Party Sketch – Ronnie B finds it impossible not to keep attacking Ronnie C
Tina Charles – River Deep, Mountain High
Ronnie B Solo – A Doctor who has a cure for people who say everything twice
Hampton Wick – Episode One
Ronnie C – Interpol Sketch
New World – Rose Garden
Ronnie C in the Chair
Hearing Aid Sketch
Alfredo
Big Jim Jehosophat and Fat Belly Jones
Outro

Notes: Although the Ronnies had worked together for a number of years prior to this, there’s still a slight sense of nervousness on show (especially in Ronnie B’s case). This is evident in the opening news items which seem more than a little stilled – although the weird set design (angled desks) and CSO back projections don’t help. This would be swiftly amended for show two.

The first of many party sketches finds Ronnie B in an abusive mood, first slapping Ronnie C’s face and then kneeing him in the groin! And since the slaps sound real it seems that Ronnie B wasn’t holding back.

Some of the Ronnies serials tend to drag a bit and Hampton Wick is the first example of this.  Luckily Madeline Smith’s winsome beauty is some recompense for the fairly laboured comedy.

These early series have an abundance of guests (later on they’d be pared down to just a single guest spot). The sixteen-year old Tina Charles impressively belts out River Deep, Mountain High whilst New World offer a blend of laid-back acoustic warbling that’s rather relaxing – although the moustaches and hairstyles on display make it a little hard to take them seriously.  But Rose Garden was a hit for them in 1971, reaching no 15 in the UK charts.

As for Alfredo, well he’s the first in a series of speciality acts who pop up in most of the series one shows.  Where else are you going to see a man dressed in German military uniform playing the drums and (sometimes) catching ping pong balls in his mouth?  If that’s not entertainment I don’t know what is.

Howards’ Way – Series One, Episode Thirteen

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For the first time we see Polly shaken out of her usual amused self-control.  The sight of Abby being carted off in an ambulance is more than enough to finally bring her long-repressed maternal feelings to the surface.

They aren’t reciprocated though, as Abby screams when her mother attempts to join her in the ambulance.  And Leo offers no comfort either – looking blankly at Polly when she insists that Abby’s tumble down the stairs was an accident.  Since it clearly was (there’s not even a hint that she was pushed) why does Leo seems incapable of offering even a crumb of comfort?

The baby – a boy – is born, although Abby still refuses to have anything to do with her mother.  This results in a tear-streaked Polly leaving her daughter’s bedside, convinced that Leo’s the one who’s turned her daughter against her.  “I hold you responsible for this, Leo Howard. And you’ll regret it, I promise you. I’m going to make you pay.”

After a brief moment of self-insight last time, Jack’s back to his normal, bluff persona.  Telling Avril that, in the words of Aristotle, “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” and plonking his shoes into the filing cabinet are two early signs of that.

He later refuses to be kowtowed when David Lloyd and the others visit the yard to inspect the prototype.  Jack’s at his best here, refusing to stand on ceremony and inordinately proud of the craftsmanship of the Mermaid.  The fact that the prototype is made out of wood is something that’s mollified him – it makes him content that although the Barracuda will be mass-produced, at least the original was hand-crafted in wood.

Jan asks Tom for a divorce (which rather oddly happens off screen).  Ken’s delighted to hear this of course, although he has to ratchet down his joy when he realises that Jan’s more than a little traumatised.  Bless Ken, his social skills tend to be somewhat limited.

Sir John invites Ken to lunch at the golf club.  Once again there’s some lovely class-based comedy – Ken orders a gin and tonic (no doubt seeing it as the perfect drink for such an exclusive environment) whilst Sir John asks for a pint.  Once again, this a small moment which illustrates the difference between them – since Ken is anxious to fit in, he attempts to modify his behaviour accordingly whilst Sir John is secure with his place in the world and sees no need to change.

Kate aptly sums Ken up later as “a wolf in wolf’s clothing” and is baffled why her daughter should prefer him over Tom.  Minutes later they meet – briefly – for the first time.  Kate flashes him an incredibly filthy look and refuses his outstretched hand, so they’re plainly not going to be friends anytime soon!

Relationship traumas in the Howard household continue with Lynne.  She’s still besotted with Charles, even though he’s proving to be somewhat elusive (breaking their appointments).   Poor Lynne spends her time moping by the phone and staring into the distance, waiting for him to call.  Charles doesn’t seem at all bothered though.

There’s another example that Charles is a winner – we see him bouncing around the tennis court, playing a range of athletic shots, which eventually ends up with him emerging victorious.

Claude pops up again, much to Ken’s disgust.  Ken does a nice impression of Claude’s accent though!  Claude wants to purchase a fashion house.  Jan’s keen, Ken’s not.

Howards’ Way, like The Brothers, always understood the importance of carrying forward certain plotlines to the next series as well as closing each run of episodes with a strong cliffhanger.  The disputed ownership of the Mermaid Yard is something that’ll be settled early in series two (we see Jack enter the hearing, but aren’t told what happened).

As for the cliffhanger, an increasingly irate Lynne make her way to Charles’ yacht, only to find him in bed with another woman.  He introduces her as “Honey Gardner, my wife” which rather takes the wind out of Lynne’s sails.  She exits, sobbing, and in her haste to get away loses her balance on the jetty and falls into the water.

It might not be the best stunt ever mounted – rather than a simple stumble and fall, the stuntwoman falls to the ground and then seems to deliberately roll over into the water – but no matter, it’s still a strong way to conclude the first series.

Howards’ Way – Series One, Episode Twelve

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Charles – a vision in white – is out for an early morning jog.  By the way that Tony Anholt labours his way across the marina, I’d guess he wasn’t a regular jogger in real life.  Once he’s puffed his way back to the yacht, Charles tells Lynne that he’s keen to spend the day with her – the fact she’s agreed to help her mother (it’s the grand opening of the boutique) doesn’t bother him.

If it hasn’t already been made obvious then here it’s explicit – Charles expects his own wants and needs to come first.  It’s what’s made him a successful businessman, although with one (failed?) marriage, the floundering relationship with Avril and (as we’ll soon see) the odd illegitimate child lurking about, possibly his controlling nature is the reason why his personal life is chaotic.

Shellet is also looking for female company.  His mild overture to Polly came to nothing (whilst the mind boggles at the pair of them together, a house-sharing comedy with Shellet as Polly and Gerald’s lodger would have been fab.  That’s one spin-off show we were sadly denied).  Anyway, he’s seeking solace elsewhere – eyeing the escort adverts in the local paper.  He doesn’t seem interested in either Adam and Eve Escorts or Madame’s Escort Agency, instead he circles the Pussy Cats advert.  I don’t know why, but this is a little detail that’s always amused.  We then have further evidence of Shellet’s uncouth and unstable nature – he slops his tea in his saucer.  Mind you, the strong hint later on that his relationship with his sister (Jack’s late wife) crossed familial bounds puts his tea slopping crime into perspective.

Avril and Tom are at Napier Marine, hopeful that the board will invest in Tom’s boat.  They can count on some support, but David Lloyd (Bruce Bould) is the one they really need to convince.  Bould was best known for playing the fawning David Harris-Jones (“great, super”) in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.  It’s very hard not to think of Harris-Jones whenever Lloyd’s on the screen – the fact that we meet him in a boardroom environment doesn’t help.

Avril’s in her element dealing with the board, which makes it plain that she’s somewhat wasted at the Mermaid, just trying to make the books balance.  Clearly the programme-makers thought so too, as in later years she’s shunted over to Relton Marine, where she became a high-flying executive.

Ken’s pushing to be an equal partner with Charles in the Marina development.  Will Ken really be able to raise the capital needed?  Time will tell, but at the moment all seems rosy.  I like the way that when Ken extends his arm for a handshake to seal the deal, Charles imperceptivity pauses, looks down at Ken’s hand, looks up again with the faintest ghost of a smile and only then shakes.  It’s subtle, but reiterates that Charles is still the dominant force.

Having packed in his job at the garage, Leo is looking for alternative employment.  He wants to change the world, but first is considering a factory job on the Isle of Wight.  Abby’s bump has expanded greatly (and she’s still happy, which is slightly unnerving).

Jack finally tells Avril about Shellet’s claim on the yard, which spells trouble for Tom’s boat (the Barracuda).  The scene is also notable for showing a rare reflective side to Jack.  Possibly it’s because he’s worried he’s going to lose everything, but there appears to be genuine regret from him about his disastrous marriage.  “She never forgave me for the way I treated her. I could see it in her eyes the night she died.  Sometimes I do feel guilty. I can’t help it. I can’t change the past, can I? God knows, sometimes I wish I could.”  Glyn Owen is often called upon to act as comic relief, but occasionally – as here – he gets an opportunity to play something a little deeper.

Jan doesn’t approve of Lynne’s relationship with Charles.  Mind you, as Lynne says, Jan can hardly talk – Ken Masters is surely nobody’s vision of a perfect partner.  There’s another classic Ken moment in this episode – he pops Sade on the hi-fi and, all by himself, smooches around the room.

Orin’s sent Abby another letter which, in her continuing absence, Polly unashamedly opens and reads.  Amusingly, Gerald initially registers irritation at Polly’s violation of their daughter’s secrecy, but a moment later can’t help but ask her what’s in it!

Polly agrees with Gerald that she’ll forward the letter on (although he doesn’t catch that she adds the word “personally”).  Thanks to the efforts of a private detective, Polly’s tracked her daughter down.  It’s not exactly a joyful reunion, since their brief squabble is followed by Abby falling down the stairs ….

Howards’ Way – Series One, Episode Eleven

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Shellet comes calling on the Urqhuarts.  Polly doesn’t exactly take to him, telling Gerald that “there’s a sort of person” to see him.  Shellet needs money for expenses and he also seems deprived in other areas (mentioning to Polly that it gets very lonely when he’s all alone in his hotel room).  Polly might have an eye for just about anything in trousers, but I’ve a feeling that Shellet is a bridge too far, even for her.

Lynne’s glammed up for her evening meal with Charles whilst Ken calls on Jan.  He plainly feels threatened by Claude (or “that froggy dressmaker” as he calls him) and seems to be fretting about the business trip to Cannes that Jan and Claude will shortly be taking.  Far away from home, he no doubt envisages that Claude will take advantage of her in just the sort of way he’s not been able to do so far!

It’s a sunny day in Tarrant, something of a rarity.  This makes Charles and Lynne’s champagne and caviar seem even more intoxicating.  He learns that Lynne’s father is conducting an affair with Avril (uh oh) and then outlines his philosophy of living, which revolves around power and freedom.  “Power to act and freedom to choose.” They’ve hardly finished the meal when he casually mentions that he’d like to sleep with her – which is as good an example of power and freedom as you can get.

Abby decides she wants to keep the baby.  This seems to have cheered her up – for pretty much the first time ever she seems almost happy.

And then we go to Cannes, well sort of.  In later years the budget would actually stretch to foreign filming, but that wasn’t the case here.  So we have a brief montage of stock footage (people lounging on the beach, etc) before cutting to a pool obviously somewhere in England.  But they made a bit of an effort to suggest exotic climes by having two topless women walk past Claude and Jan’s table in a casual manner.  That was a tad unexpected I have to say, especially considering that the episode originally went out just before 8.00 pm on a Sunday evening.

Ken might be right to be wary of Claude, but at present it’s her business acumen he wants (Claude’s attempting to woo her away from Ken – suggesting instead that they set up business together).  I’m afraid his silly French accent is beginning to get on my nerves ….

And then Ken pops up in Cannes, casually offering to take Jan out to dinner.  And of course being Ken he appears at her hotel door with a rose in his teeth and a bottle of champagne in his hand.  After a decent meal (off-screen, which saved a bit more money) they return to Jan’s hotel room and you can probably guess what happened next.

When they meet up for breakfast the next morning, Ken demonstrates that he’s an unreconstructed Englishman abroad since he’s not willing to try any funny food (bacon and eggs is what he wants).  The arrival of Claude sets Ken’s antenna twitching, but he acts casually in only the way that Ken Masters can.

The highly recognisable Hubert Rees pops up as racehorse trainer Stephen Bettins.  Kate’s part of a racehorse syndicate (each owning a leg) but it seems clear that she’s going to struggle to pay her share.  It might have been these scenes which inspired Glaister to later develop Trainer, which unfortunately wasn’t the same sort of success that both The Brothers and Howards’ Way had been.

Polly’s made it quite plain to Abby (before she ran away from home of course) that she viewed her daughter as an extreme disappointment.  But not any more.  After opening her mail(!), Polly’s delighted to read a letter from an American student called Orin Hudson.  He and Abby were obviously close for a while (as Polly so charmingly puts it – “God knows what this boy sees in Abby but it all sounds very lovey-dovey”).  And since he’s a member of an incredibly wealthy American family, Polly sees it as her duty to reunite the two lovebirds.  This is mercenary Polly at her best.

Jack’s solicitor lays on the line exactly how serious things are.  If Shellet’s claim is successful then not only will Jack lose the yard, he’ll also forfeit his house.  Tom will lose everything too, as all the yard’s assets (including the new boat) will be Shellet’s.  That’s a suitably dramatic way to bring the episode to an end.

 

Howards’ Way – Series One, Episode Ten

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Tom and Avril have spent the night together aboard the Flying Fish.  For all that Jan’s been shrill and accusatory this year, it’s Tom who turns out to be the one who irreparably destroys their marriage.  Pledging all their money (including using the house as collateral) for his dreams of boat building started the cracks but when it’s revealed that he’s been conducting an affair with Avril there’s no way back.

As Tom and Avril lie in each others arms in dawn’s early light, a young chap is making his way over to another boat.  Presumably he must be a little hard of hearing as he doesn’t seem to notice the red beeping danger signal on the dashboard.  He attempts to turn the ignition switch and whoosh, there’s a rather large explosion.

Tom plays the hero and rescues the boy but it means that neither Tom or Avril have time to return home before Leo’s up and about.  And Leo can’t help but notice that neither his father or Avril seem to have spent the night in their respective beds (he’s still doing a spot of paining and decorating at Avril’s).  Quite how he worked out that Avril wasn’t in her bed isn’t explained ….

There’s also a journalist sniffing about and he speaks to both Leo and Ken.  You can just imagine Ken’s delight when he learns that Tom and Avril spent the night together, whilst Leo is understandably perplexed and troubled.  With immaculate timing, matters come to a head just as Lynne returns home in triumph (her boat won their class in the FastNet).

Ken, of course, is on hand to stoke up the fire.  Meeting Jan off the train from London, he can’t wait to tell her the news whilst elsewhere Leo confronts Avril.  “You may have all the looks, Avril, but that’s all you’ve got. Any woman who goes after a man knowing he’s got a wife and family is damn well nothing.”  Edward Highmore doesn’t quite spark into life, but maybe he’s a little less wooden than usual.

Jan confronts Tom who tells her that it could have easily have been her with Ken.  This is an astonishing statement as there’s been no evidence – the odd tango apart – to suggest that Jan’s even considered breaking her vows.

Perhaps it would have worked a little better had this storyline dripped out over a few episodes, with the rumours about Tom and Avril slowly gaining momentum.  As it is, it feels rather rushed.

If you need a little light relief from the strife at the Howards, then Jack’s still ensconced at the clinic, playing gin rummy with Kate and reluctant to join in any group therapy.  Fair to say he’s not the easiest patient.  Jack finally makes an appearance at group therapy, although he doesn’t take it terribly seriously (“I don’t drink a lot, I spill most of it”) leaving the therapist – Louise Silverton (Christine Kavanagh) – mildly irritated.

Elsewhere, Ken and Charles have a business lunch at the yacht club.  Lynne waits upon them and is introduced to Charles for the first time.  Once again there’s the wonderful contrast between Ken – anxious to appear cultured and intelligent – and Charles – who breezes through any social or business occasion with ease.  The business of the wine is a good example.  Ken suggests a bottle of Mouton Cadet but Charles wonders if the Chateau Montrose might not be preferable.  It’s a subtle example of one-upmanship which sees Charles emerge victorious yet again.

But Ken’s convinced that he’s won the war, telling Jan later that he’s got Charles “just where I want him. If he doesn’t go along with me, there’s nowhere else to go.”.  I’ve got a feeling that Ken’s counting his chickens rather too early.

After spying Lynne for the first time, Charles clearly likes what he sees, so he sends her hand-picked flowers and arranges a dinner-date with her aboard his yacht at 8:30.  He’s a smooth operator, that’s for sure.

We finally learn that Shellet is Jack’s brother-in-law.  When Jack receives a letter from him, he’s perplexed.  Kate can’t understand why, after all it seems perfectly natural that he should want to get in touch.  Jack has the perfect riposte.  “He’s been dead twenty five years, that’s what’s wrong.”

And now he’s made a claim for ownership of the Mermaid Yard.  But the end of episode twist (Charles is the one who’s put him up to it) is a great moment which adds yet another layer to the plot.  Ten episodes in and everything’s ticking along nicely.