After all the anticipation, the weeks of speculation, the outlandish yet exciting theories: did it live up to the hype? No. It did not. And what’s more, Hell-en is still with us.
The unusually large cast spread out languorously across the half hour, confirming that what’s perky in fifteen minutes can be a complete dog at twice the length. We began with the much-trailed conclusion to the Hell-en drama, in which everyone who’s ever given birth – and many who haven’t – yelled ‘It’s pre-eclampsia!’ at the radio. The clues were obvious. Swollen ankles? Check. Headache? Check. Need for dramatic finale to a pregnancy during a special anniversary edition? Check.
And so a nation pinned their hopes on a perfect end to this sorry saga: Hell-en pegs it but the baby survives. Actually I was perfectly prepared to give up on the baby too if it meant binning Hell-en. In hospital Tony reprised the teary-scene from when he found poor John under the Massey Ferguson. He had a horrible reversal and started blubbing that Hell-en had been right all along and it was All. His. Fault. How very irritating. I think FanofLinda, a mental health professional, will back me up when I say that this is a classic case of someone with Personality Disorder (Hell-en) gradually sucking those around her (eg Tony) into their twisted world and making them see things all distorted. Tony mate; you were and are still right, and you have been way more supportive than the silly moo deserves. Take it from one who knows someone who knows.
The red herrings came thick and herring-y. Tony’s driving too fast and they’re all gonna die! Oh. They’ve arrived safely. Hell-en’s not going to make it through the Caesarean! Oh. She’s fine. (Damn.) The baby’s going to be touch and go! Oh. He’s doing well. Lizzie’s going to remember she has a heart condition and collapses on the banqueting table, accidentally stabbing herself in the heart with that Art Deco brooch as she falls! Oh. She’s hale and hearty. Kenton’s going to over-excite the children into a frenzy in which they go all Lord of the Flies and kill off the adults. Oh. They’re eating crisps.
Then there was all the will-they-won’t-they teeth-clench of whether Nige and Dave would go up on the ROOF, that’s THE ROOF, yes THE ROOF, with everyone shouting don’t do it don’t do it it’s the special extra-long Sword of Damacles episode you damn fools. But eventually up they went, and there being only five minutes to go we knew one – or both – would do a Rod Hull. The smart money was on Nigel; dear Mummy-lovin’ brooch-cleanin’ dame-starrin’ public-school attendin’ poshly-softly-spoken Nige. And so it was, proving that being too loved up with your spouse in the days leading up to a big-story edition is just asking for trouble.
Though of course, we don’t know for sure that Nigel has actually ceased to be. Just how high is the Lower Loxley roof anyway? It does have ‘lower’ in its name after all; perhaps it’s a bungalow. I can think of dozens of with-one-bound-he-was-free scenarios that would allow his friendly little chinless face to re-appear once more, the most likely being:
- Nigel is alive but badly injured. I won’t be able to bear this: the painful acting as he hovers between life and death – like Tony Hancock’s brave Joshua Merriweather after he was caught in the threshing machine – will mean I have to take an Archers sabbatical until he is out of the full-body cast.
- Nigel is caught up in the unfurled banner which breaks his fall, or…
- The banner, strung across two ramparts, acts as a trampoline and Nigel boings up again, inadvertently knocking David off the roof and resulting in one/two deaths/boings.
- Nigel lands on someone, saving him but killing them. It can’t be Hell-en so it might as well be Ruth. Some good must surely come out of this.
But let’s assume that Nigel is gone, gone to join Mummy and Daddy (about whom he was reminiscing seconds before the Great Tumble) in the south wing of the Celestial Lower Loxley. What does this mean for those left behind in Core Shaken Ambridge?
Lizzie will do widow-hood very well; she can mooch about mysteriously in a black cape like the Scottish Widows lady. Much better her to be left than the other way round. Imagine how gruesome Nigel would be as a widower. She will be sad for a while, sure. Maybe for about as long as Jill was over Phil (approx four weeks). But she is a cool resilient type who pre-Nigel was rather a goer and will soon be finding comfort with the gentlemen of the Ambridge Gingerbread set. Freddie and Lily will be devastated but I’ve never really warmed to them; and it does mean they can go to the local comp and get the plebby education their father never wanted. David will have survivor’s guilt, and relations between him and Lizzie will be frostier than ever. Ruth will be sickeningly understanding about David’s guilt for a few episodes, then she will force him to seek counselling, which we will hear in all its implausible glory. Oh god I don’t think I can stand hearing David in therapy. Shula will use Nigel’s death as a chance to be even more sanctimonious than before (start annoying her again please Jim, we need you more than ever). And Kenton will use it as a sign that life is to be lived and shag Jolene within a fortnight.
So. RIP Nigel. Possibly. And thank you for that useful life lesson. Be careful when going on the roof, or standing on a ladder, or going downstairs, or reaching for a book on a high shelf or even standing up too quickly from your computer… AAAAARRRGGGHHHHH….
Posted by Qwerty
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