SPOILER ALERT: If you’re an Omnibus listener and you haven’t yet heard the one on Sunday 2nd December, there is a spoiler in the first paragraph. Though you probably won’t be that surprised by it, tbh.
So after months (or years? It felt like years) of Lilian and Paul meeting clandestinely in little tea-rooms for tete-a-tetes in which NOTHING whatsoever happened, they finally shagged. I’d like to say it was a surprise but the only surprise was that it took so long. Though when it finally happened, it was kind of abrupt.
- Lilian: “Usual dreary chit-chat hinting at unhappiness with Matt.”
- Paul: “ Usual dreary platitudes hinting how much better it would be with him instead of Matt.”
- Listener: “Zzzz”
- Lilian: “Let’s go to your hotel room.”
- Listener, waking up and spilling tea: “Hey what?!”
Anyway, once the relief of a plot having moved forward was over – a relief so rarely experienced by Archers listeners – the panic set in. OH LILIAN! What about Tiger?? Matt and Lilian are by far and away my most favourite couple on the Archers. Whenever they share airtime you know you’re in for a treat. He growls away, tiger-ishly, like a middle-management Reggie Kray, alternately treating Lil like dirt or whisking her off to Lower Loxley when she needs to be distracted from some naughty thing he’s done. She, purring or letting rip her filthy forty-a-day laugh, tells Matt exactly how she feels, all the time. Both actors sound like they’re a gnat’s crotchet away from bursting into giggles. I love them so much. If they split up (NO!) and Lilian gets together with the too-good-to-be-true Paul, one of the great soap partnerships will be crushed, like Nigel after he messed up his Chim-Chim-Cheree roof routine.
More to the point, it will be the demise of the only couple in which I properly like both partners. There aren’t any others. Look!
Ruth and David: Can’t stand either of ‘em. She’s worse, obvs, but he’s nearly as bad. When they’re on together it’s like having some stinking heifer farting in your face.
Shula and Alistair: My antipathy towards Shula is legendary, but a few years ago I did really enjoy hearing her scenes with Alistair, as he always sounded like he was about to reveal the sneering depths of his hatred for her. Sadly, those reasonable murderous feelings of his have been lobotomised, and this couple are now as exciting to listen to as Ruth and David. But even more sanctimonious.
Ed and Emma: While Emma’s Scenes From A Poorhouse have been surprisingly touching (I had to wipe away a tear when Susan found Emma at the food bank), when Ed and Emma are together it’s a perfect storm of dreary. They spiral further and further into mutual depression and it’s all I can do to yell at the radio, “Ed, you fuckwit, you could have had Fallon!” Talking of whom…
Rhys and Fallon: I love Fallon. Rhys is a nob. He’s the sort of bloke who quotes Monty Python sketches in bed. Believe me, I know the type. It’s all I can do to yell at the radio, “Fallon, you fuckwit, you could have had Jazzer!” Talking of whom…
Jazzer and Jim: Technically not a proper couple (not yet, anyway), but I’m enjoying their Odd Couple routine immensely. When they shag I will promote them to the ‘almost as good as Matt and Lilian’ category.
Neil and Susan: Anyone who enjoys listening to these two together is the very dictionary definition of ‘masochist.’ I do quite like them separately though.
Eddie and Clarrie: My love for Clarrie is nigh-on limitless, with one exception: her scenes with her hubby. Her finely-crafted portrayal of a real, living and breathing human falls to pieces during their chats a-deux. She becomes a one-dimensional fishwife as she punctures Eddie and Joe’s Dodgy Scheme Number 53,728 with her wail of “Ohhhh EDDDDDIEE.”
Will-yum and Nic: I don’t mind Nic but what chance does she stand in her scenes with that psycho Will? I always find, when he’s talking, that my teeth are grinding of their own accord.
Caroline and Oliver: Deadly together, deadly apart. (NB Whatever DID happen to Caro? She used to be a laugh, back in the day. Age, I suppose, has withered her infinite variety.)
Mike and Vicky: Separately I love them. Together? Well god spare me the vomitous lovey-doveyness, which these days is tinged with a hint of menace from Vicky. “I DO love you Mike as long as you get the Buggabo travel system it’s the one Gwyneth used and if you don’t do as I say I’LL RAISE THIS BABY ON MY OWN. I DO love you.”
Tom and Brenda: Hate ‘em both. Apart, they’re awful. Together? Radio is OFF, gin is ON.
Adam and Ian: I love Adam, especially when he’s off being unfaithful, but I can’t stand Ian, from his accent to his cloying cake-making all-round goodness. PLUS he is friends with Helen and anyone who’s friends with Helen is no friend of mine.
Alan and Usha: I used to like their scenes together but went off them royally during the Amy-alienation storyline. They could possibly redeem themselves if they go back to their sexy Christian/Hindu banter.
Christopher and Alice: Dull.
Roy and Hayley: Tedious.
Pat and Tony: Interminable.
There are only four couples who come close to Tiger-Pusscat perfection:
Robert and Linda: Separately, he’s a bore and she’s a nightmare. Together, he becomes all manly and protective and humorous and she becomes all sweet and yielding. We see a different side of her, the warm, charming, I can’t believe I’m saying this, sexy side. “Oh, Robert!” “Oh, Lindy!” The whole, here, is greater than the sum of its parts.
Brian and Jennifer: I adore Brian, no matter who he’s with, but when he and Jenny-Darling get together it’s just terrific. Her life-long suppressed disgust at his outrageous behaviour, coupled with her self-loathing at continuing to take the Aldridge shilling – she is the Carmela Soprano of Borsetshire – make their scenes properly charged with long-term domestic resentment, just like a real couple.
Kenton and Jolene: I always have space in my heart for these two and the affectionate way they speak to each other. You can easily imagine Jolene running her finger up and down Kenton’s inner thigh as they stand chatting behind the bar. I only like Jolene more when she’s giving Fallon some Tammy Wynette style advice about man-keeping.
James and Leonie: Late entry as they’re only just a couple again. Long may it last. They make me laugh, and for that, I forgive them everything.
Posted by Qwerty