…Glad tidings of Tony
It's hard to picture Peggy Woolley as the Virgin Mary – or Tony as the baby Jesus for that matter – but there was definitely a touch of the Nativities in Birmingham Hospital this Christmas. OK, Tony wasn't born in a stable, but he was certainly recalled to life from a stable condition, conveniently enough just as Peggy was visiting her first-born son.
Disappointingly, Tony's first words were not 'Is that you, Otto?' but 'Me too, mum' – in response to Peggy's heartfelt wish to show Tony the stained glass window in memory of Jack, which she had just dedicated in St Stephen's.
With remarkable composure for someone coming round from weeks in a coma, Tony remembered to tell his mum that he'd heard her regrets at cutting him out of her will – so that was all alright then.
'I know you love me… mum, I love you too… I always will.'
Sobs from Peggy, and even the Ambridge Observer's hardboiled reporter seemed to have something in her eye…
Nothing wrong with Jill's heart - except it's breaking …
Meanwhile at Brookfield, Christmas lunch for 12 of the greedy Archers clan was awkward to say the least. It started with Jill nearly tripping over a hamper of rose petal jelly, sent by the evil Justin Elliott. And it ended with her plucking up the courage to tell David that she wasn't coming to Northumberland – emboldened by having a quick word with Phil in the churchyard, and then finding his sixpence in the Christmas pud. 'Ambridge meant everything to your father,' she reminded David, who was trying not to take out his frustration on the heifers. 'As long as he's buried here, it's where I want to be.'
This news will be greeted with delight by Lizzie, Shula and Kenton (who imagine they will now get to keep their mother AND the Elliott millions) and with dismay by Ruth, who faces Northern exile with a grumpy husband and without her unpaid cook and housekeeper.
There was one real Christmas miracle at Brookfield: Jill managed to get a same-day appointment with her GP. Perhaps Carol Tregorran bewitched the receptionist. Either way, Jill's heart has been given the OK, and now that she's got her big news off her chest, those pains will probably disappear entirely.
Welcome Kate, the vegan seagull
Since she moved to South Africa, Kate's role in Ambridge has been to fly in, poop on everyone from a great height, and fly out again. True to form, she arrived for Christmas this week, no doubt trailing clouds of patchouli oil and something more earthy, possibly connected to her new fondness for colonic cleansing.
Young Phoebe seemed sulkily indifferent to her mum's arrival – although this could be the prospect of having to go to the Young Farmers' New Year bash in Jennifer's salopettes and a giant pink snood.
Phoebe softened when Kate gave her an iPad for Christmas, which was unlucky for the hapless Roy. He turned up with an inferior 'tablet' for his daughter, which she rejected with breathtaking insolence: 'You could never have enough money to buy my forgiveness – not while you're a receptionist.'
With Kate refusing to put in a word for him with Hayley (she's having far too much fun up there on her high horse to do that), Roy slunk back off to Grey Gables, where he was resigned to fretting over the rotas throughout Christmas, pausing only to send Elizabeth a needy text on Christmas Day, which she smartly deleted. 'All I want to do is put this God-awful year behind me,' Lizzie told Shula – which is not what she was saying to Roy back in the Ambridge Summer of Lust.
'George is coming .. put your beard back on'
Emma and Fallon's Christmas fair was a big success, despite a near-disaster when Fallon forgot to put out the snowman meringues.
To everyone's surprise (not really), Father Christmas turned out to be none other than PC Harrison Burns, who is doing a great job as Fallon's Santa stalker.
And to no one's surprise, Fallon and 'Carpet' Burns's on-off romance finally got off the ground on Boxing Day, where the resourceful PC surprised her in the dressing room of Blithe Spirit with flowers and a good luck card, before snogging her Pan Stik off under some mistletoe that he just happened to have handy.'Is he a copper, a magician or the Milk Tray Man?' George certainly thinks he's pretty cool, as having asked Santa for snow at Christmas, it duly arrived thanks to Ed borrowing a snow machine from the Young Farmers. Not even Eddie and Joe murdering carols could dampen spirits at Number One The Green (although it did make poor Holly the dog do a stress wee under the Christmas tree).
'Adam, my lips are freezing …'
There was no expense spared at the BL Christmas bash at Grey Gables: balloons, magicians (not PC Burns this time), a swing band and a vodka luge, which caused Charlie to lose his cool completely and make hideously embarrassing passes at Adam. 'Let's go to a club… get a taxi to Birmingham.. or further afield .. I've got a BL account card'.
Hopefully filing that potentially damaging snippet away somewhere, Adam slapped him down like a misbehaving hound and had a friendly word with Roy, which prompted Charlie to reveal his true colours: 'Don't waste time talking to the staff, Adam. My lips are freezing …'
So Charlie had to find comfort and joy elsewhere, even plying Rob with drink,who staggered home at 2am and passed out on the sofa. Rob is keeping up his performance as family man and all-round good guy, having given Helen a new dress, a spa day,tickets to the Lower Loxley New Year ball and – best of all – beauty treatments at Fabrice of Felpersham for Christmas.
'He's so generous', gushed Helen – blissfully unaware that her beau is being even more generous with Bridge Farm's assets, squandering the profits on unsuitable new cows, non-organic feed and plastic grass. Well, maybe not that. But now that Tony is with us again, and once Tom gets to grips with the books, the stage is set for a New Year showdown. And that's even before Jess turns up with the baby ... can't wait!