Just a quick-ish and late one on Newcastle (available here ), I'm afraid, because real life is still in the way a bit.
Every series, it seems, one episode causes me more trouble and hair-tearing than any two and a half of the others combined. In series one it was Cremona - my God that plot took some wrestling to get down to twenty-eight minutes. In series two it was Kuala Lumpur, which if I'm honest I still don't think I ever got quite right. This series it was Newcastle. And it's always the same problem: way, way too much plot, resulting in a nine thousand word monster of a draft which I somehow have to boil down to about 5,600. I didn't quite manage it with Newcastle, either, so there's a lot on the cutting room floor this week. What annoys me about it is that I realised when it was too late that actually, the problem was that there's the material for two perfectly good episodes in it - one based around flying Herc and Linda; and one based around Martin getting on the wrong side of an engineer. Apart from anything else, it's a shame to cram three such brilliant guest stars all into one episode, rather than giving them room to breathe. Oh well. I'll know better next time. (I won't.) This is all sounding very negative, isn't it - I still really like the episode.
And then, of course, the morning before the recording, we got the call from Benedict's agent saying she was terribly sorry, but he simply had no voice left at all (you can hear he's suffering a bit in some of the other episodes). So hooray for the tremendous Tom Goodman-Hill, who I think does a terrific job of being a Martin that's not just a pale copy of Benedict's, but on the other hand doesn't feel like a jarring leap away from his. And hooray for Benedict, Roger and Stephanie for very decently agreeing to re-record Martin's scenes in the next episode, Ottery St. Mary, so that Ben-Martin could appear in five out of the six episodes. Isn't everyone great? Arthur's right: other people are brilliant.
Speaking of Arthur, here's some more of his Monopoly game:
CAROLYN: He also once did a deal whereby he gave Martin Mayfair, so long as he was also allowed to give him the Electric Company.
ARTHUR: Well, I kept having to times things by four! That’s not fun, that’s maths! Anyway, I’m still playing!
CAROLYN: Of course you are. Indeed it’s your go.
FX: DICE THROWN
ARTHUR: Twenty-forth go in jail. Are you sure I can’t just pay fifty pounds to get out, Herc?
HERC: You wanted to be the little dog.
ARTHUR: I’m always the little dog.
HERC: And everyone knows the little dog can’t pay to get out of prison. You just have to wait till you get a Get Out Of Jail Free card.
ARTHUR: But how can I get one when I’m in jail?
HERC: Well, that’s exactly why you should never be the little dog.