Friday, 11 October 2013

Friday 11 October 1963

It's the eve of Kate and George Starling's anniversary.  The anniversary of their engagement, that is.  Kate's worried George might not consider it as important an occasion as she does, and decides to drop a subtle hint, placing a calendar and their wedding photos in full view on the kitchen table.  It's a waste of time: not only has George completely forgotten but he arrives home with an old schoolfriend, the very loud Bill Parker (Howard Pays) - commanding Kate to remove the photo album on the table and replace it with one that has photos of him and Bill in.  Their shared enthusiasm for a toy car Bill's bought his son does little to make Kate feel better.

Cars manage to ruin Kate's day further when she learns that, rather than take her back to Padley, the romantic beauty sport where they got engaged, George has planned an outing for them to Brand's Hatch with Bill the following day.  Sensing Kate's incipient wrath, he acquiesces to her plan, though he needs to steal not-so-surreptitious glances at the photos of their engagement outing in order to convince her he remembers anything about the day.

Kate wants to have dinner at the same swanky hotel where they got engaged.  "It's rather exp-crowded," George protests, but of course he has no real choice.

The anniversary gets off to a bad start with George in a grump about the increase in the rail fare since the previous year.  "Next time I get engaged I'll do it closer to home," he huffs somewhat unromantically.

Things aren't improved with the arrival of an aggressively gregarious hiking enthusiast (Blake Butler), who turns their carriage into a living hell for the duration of the journey.

Kate and George's walk in the countryside (on film) is a picturesque comedy of disappointments, including the discovery of another couple in the boathouse where they shared an intimate moment the previous year, and their own later discovery by their new friend in the same boathouse.

A collapsed bridge means the Starlings are late to dinner and have to share their table with another couple.  Added to which the staff fail to remember them from the previous year despite George's elaborate prompting, and practically everything on the menu's off.  Kate's longed-for romantic anniversary receives a final nail in its coffin when the couple sharing with them make a sharp exit on learning the man's wife is on the phone.  When Bill and his wife Patsy (Diane Elliott) unexpectedly appear and join them, Kate decides that, as there's no way of salvaging the day she wanted, she might as well embrace their company.  As the men head to the bar Patsy assures Kate she can empathise with her situation: it's her wedding anniversary and Bill has totally forgotten.

The Anniversary is especially fun for giving the Starlings a change of scene, and it's great to see Kate coming across as a truly likeable character again at last.  There's some brilliant acting from Prunella Scales as Kate wistfully accepts the end of her romantic dreams, and Richard Briers' astonished reaction to how reasonable she's being is a joy to behold too.

1 comment:

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