- Episode 9 || 5 October
1980 || Synopsis || Old
Country Wisdom || Manor Trivia
episode of Series 2 (six episodes)
- Guest cast: Ben Aris (Spalding); Nicholas McArdle (Miller)
The financial windfall
of Audrey's adventure in crass commercialism apparently has not stretched
very far; notices from the electricity board, the gas board and the telephone
company all find their way into her wastepaper basket. A letter from the
vacationing Brabinger brings more bad news: in addition to spraining his
ankle over the holidays, he has now caught a cold, leaving Audrey without
Marjory arrives to accompany Audrey on her shopping trip, and gets an
earful about Audrey's dinner at the rector's. "I haven't had a meal
of such unrelieved awfulness since we left school," Audrey complains.
"I had no idea the church still went in for burnt offerings."
On their way out the door, they run into Ned, who has been dragooned into
working in Audrey's garden. "You've got the blight real bad,"
he tells Audrey. "I know," she says. "It comes from Mr DeVere."
Mr DeVere, meanwhile, is touring the estate with Spalding, his new farm
manager. Their first stop: to meet Miller, the farm foreman, who is handing
out the pay packets. Spalding's first discovery is that a gentleman named
Old Frank comes in once a week to roll oats for Mrs fforbes-Hamilton's horses...which
of course were all sold a year ago. The fruits of Old Frank's labors are
discovered in the stable: dozens and dozens of sacks of oats.
Richard's plan is to turn the estate into a working farm, supplying foodstuffs
to his supermarket chain. But Spalding is dubious. "If you don't mind
my saying so, Mr DeVere, you've bought a period piece," he says, pointing
out the antiquated equipment. "I'll give you a free hand to do whatever
you think is necessary," Richard promises.
- N E D:
- "You've got the blight real bad."
- A U D R E Y:
- "I know. It comes from Mr DeVere."
- R I C H A R
- "What do you think we should run
- S P A L D I N G:
- "A tax loss."
Audrey and Marjory, returning with their shopping,
discover that Mrs Beecham, the cook at the manor, has left a cookbook for
Audrey to use while she is on her own. "'Suppers for Simpletons,'"
Audrey snorts. She next discovers Ned, muddy boots on and shovel in tow,
in her living room answering her phone. This, of course, is an occasion
not only for a scolding about wearing boots in the house but for a lesson
in telephone etiquette. She demonstrates the proper way to greet a caller--only
to discover that the call is for Ned. "I know," he says. "They
want me to come collect my pay." He trundles off, Audrey's injunctions
about Wellington boots following him. Marjory is enormously amused, and
when the phone rings again she picks it up. "Mrs fforbes-Hamilton's
residence," she intones, and then burst into laughter. "It's for
Ned again!" Audrey, exasperated, goes to the patio to call Ned back.
"And don't forget to take your boots off!" she warns; which poor
Ned does, standing in the middle of the drive.
Their tour of the estate complete, Richard and Spalding return to the
farm office. Richard is eager to hear Spalding's assessment of Grantleigh's
potential. "Are we to be a dairy farm? Do potatoes, onions, cereals?
What do you think we should run Grantleigh as?" "A tax loss,"
replies Spalding. But Richard is undeterred, and despite Spalding's claim
that it won't contribute to the farm's productivity, Richard announces plans
to renovate all the tide cottages--bathrooms, inside lavatories, insulation,
"maybe even double glazing." He plans to begin with Mellow End
Mill, Ned's lodging.
Ned himself arrives to pick up his pay, and is introduced to Spalding.
"What do they call you?" he asks. "Spalding," comes
the reply. "No, your first name." "Mister." Richard
tells Ned he plans to do up his cottage; Ned is unimpressed; the plans have
been on the books since 1956.
Richard also lets Audrey in on his plan ("We were just about to
do that," she notes), and asks a favour: he'd like her to house Ned
while the cottage is renovated, and in return Richard will pay Ned's wages
while he helps Audrey around the house. After some initial misgivings, Audrey
agrees. Ned is enthusiastic at the prospect; "I've always fancied myself
as a butler," he says. "I can't say I share your fancy,"
Audrey notes, but she takes it upon herself to teach Ned the basics of the
trade. She dispatches him back to his cottage to pick up whatever he'll
need for the next few days. "I don't know how my ferrets are going
to like living here," Ned says. Unfortunately, before Ned can leave,
the rector arrives and there is a tussle between Marjory and Ned as to who
will serve tea, with the result that the service ends up on Audrey's carpet.
While Ned is packing at the cottage, he sees Richard
and Spalding arrive to look the place over. Richard points out that renovations
will begin with this cottage, and Spalding again expresses his misgivings
about spending money to renovate a house for a farm laborer who will soon
be retired. He enquires about Ned's responsibilities. Richard puzzles over
this for a moment. "Difficult to say, really," he finally admits.
Spalding notes that he wouldn't mind living in the cottage himself, once
it's done over.
Audrey is brushing up on her domestic relations. "According to this,"
she reads, "the butler's duties include brushing and ironing the billiard
table...and in return, I have to provide him with a new livery every year,"
she adds, disappointed. Ned, meanwhile, dashes in, out of breath and his
coat half off. Audrey is shocked. "What do you mean by rushing in here
half naked?" she demands. Ned blurts out what he has overheard at the
cottage--DeVere has installed him at the lodge in order to get him out of
Mellow End Mill in order to fix it up for Spalding, the new farm manager.
Audrey assures him that this cannot be true, that DeVere would not be so
underhanded. The bell rings, and Audrey sends Ned to answer, then quizzes
Marjory. Neither has heard anything about a new farm manager at the manor.
"Could be true," Audrey admits. "Ned moves in here so DeVere
has vacant possession of Mellow End Mill. But I'm left with a useless domestic
who's also a sitting tenant."
Ned ushers in DeVere and Spalding ("Move along there!" he says
crossly to the latter), introductions are made and Audrey offers drinks
all around--sherry for herself and Marjory, whiskey for Richard, a gin and
tonic for Spalding. She asks Ned if he can remember all that. "Oh,
yes, ma'am," he says cheerfully. "Never had no trouble remembering
a round of drinks."
Audrey, determined to learn the truth about DeVere's intentions, learns
that Spalding is the chief farm executive for Cavendish Foods. She is unimpressed.
"I suppose he knows an awful lot about polythene bags and coloured
wrappers," she sniffs. But Richard says he is determined that the farm
will run at a profit--despite what Spalding refers to as the deplorable
state the place has been allowed to collapse into, remarks which do not
exactly endear him to Audrey. Ned appears with the drinks, including a large
one for himself. "Mud in your eye!" he toasts.
Audrey immediately launches a campaign to inform DeVere of Ned's haplessness
as a domestic and to return him to his cottage. She digs out one of Brabinger's
old liveries (rather ill-fitting on Ned) and apprises Marjory of the plan.
"I shall put him into these tails and invite DeVere to dinner,"
she says. "And let Ned drop trays all over him," Marjory guesses
gleefully. "Better than that, I'll get Ned to cook the dinner....Who
else do I owe? Oh, yes. The rector....I'd like to invite Spalding but one
has to draw the line somewhere."
Come the dinner, Audrey seats her guests ("I'm sorry we're an odd
number," she apologises, "but Marjory couldn't get a man")
in the dining room. She announces that Ned is responsible for the cooking,
although she herself prepared the avocados. Marjory points out that it's
hard to go wrong with an avocado. "You can go very wrong with an avocado,"
Audrey insists. "I've had an avocado that was like a lead bullet. And
quite recently, too," she adds pointedly to the rector."
Conversation turns to Ned's qualifications as a butler (he has an astonishing
grasp of wine vintages, due perhaps to his furtive tasting in the kitchen).
Audrey points out that it might almost be planned, Ned moving to the lodge
just in time for the new farm foreman to be given Ned's cottage. "I
don't go around putting people out of their houses," Richard declares.
"You put me out of mine," Audrey maintains. "Why not Ned?"
"I didn't exactly put you out," says Richard. "Well, first
the manor, then Brabinger's accident...they say disasters come in threes."
"In that case, there's one more to come," Richard says. "If
it hasn't arrived already," Audrey says, as Ned wheels in a tray with
the main course. But when she pulls the cover off the platter, she reveals
a beautiful rack of lamb. Appreciative noises all 'round the table. "I
don't know about Ned's father, but his mother must have been Mrs Beaton!"
Dinner, to Audrey's chagrin, is a smashing success, but she stirs herself
to give Ned generous congratulations. "We had to show him that old
Ned can still turn his hand to anything," Ned chortles. Audrey tells
him that she has made arrangements with Mr DeVere for Ned to stay at the
lodge until Mellow End Mill is renovated, at which point Ned will move back
home. And as she continues to praise his cooking, Mrs Beecham comes in looking
for the big pan she cooked the lamb in. "If you ever want me to cook
you all another meal sometime, I will," she says, exiting with the
- N E D:
- "I don't know how my ferrets are
going to like living here."
- A U D R E Y:
- "The butler's duties include brushing
and ironing the billiard table...and in return, I have to provide him with
a new livery every year."
- "The tongue that talks most tastes least."
- Ned likes to sneak smokes.
- Richard drives a white Range Rover on the estate.
- Richard tells Spalding the estate comprises about 1,000 acres.
- Spalding has taken on unpleasant tasks for Richard in the past; he
refers to a "hatchet job on the onion people in Wiltshire."
- Ned's father was a butler.
- Richard kisses Audrey goodnight after her dinner party.