Public Service Announcement 3 of 2016: Spin (Les Hommes de l’ombre), Mr Selfridge

Apparently, good things do come to those who wait.

Regular readers will know that since we first clapped yeux on Pierre Clement in Spiral (Engrenages) season 1 all those years ago, In Our Dreams winner Gregory Fitoussi has been something of a favourite with me.

Last year, there was the heady but all-too-brief joy of the Fitoussi Watch Weekend with Spiral (Engrenages) and Mr Selfridge respectively, followed by the summer madness of Odyssey but, at the risk of sounding like a deranged stalker, I’ve also been hoping for a long time that someone – anyone – would buy the UK rights to exceedingly grown-up (even the trailer has “nudity and adult themes”) French spin doctor drama Les Hommes de l’ombre, because the idea of a critically acclaimed, utterly fantastic-looking, sharp political drama, in French, with Gregory F in it (as well as a bunch of other potentially fabulous folk I’m not yet acquainted with), sounds so amazing I’m scared I might have dreamt it.

Not only did I not dream it, however, but Walter has bought seasons 1 and 2 for me! Now called “Spin” in accordance with that oddly patronising tv convention where imported drama is given an anglicised new name when screened in the UK (we can cope with the entire programme being in French, you guys, I think we can cope with the title being in French too), Les Hommes will be making their UK tv debut on Friday (8th January) at 9pm on More 4 (in a double bill. Naturellement.) and I will be watching, reviewing and generally getting very, very excited over the whole business as soon as I can.

Ironically, however, at the same time, same night, but over on ITV 1, Mr Selfridge, now without Mr Fitoussi, returns for its fourth, final and much less inviting run. I’m not sure if I’ll be watching or not; having sat through three seasons of diminishing returns, and without the prospect of any Henri and Agnes to leaven the mix, I don’t quite know if I can face any more of Mr S’s downward spiral or Mr Colleano’s Club/Casino carry-on. Especially since history suggests it’s not going to end well. If I do decide to tune in, it’ll be for completeness more than anything else, but I’ll let you know…

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 10

It’s taken me longer than I would have liked to review the Mr Selfridge season finale, mainly because real life (and Poldark) got in the way, but the couple of days I’ve had to muse about it in the meantime got me thinking, of all things, about Romeo and Juliet.

Not because Mr Selfridge is anywhere close to Shakespeare – the gulf between the two is about the same as the distance between Mars and planet Earth – but because I remember reading an argument somewhere that the only significant difference between Romeo and Juliet and a comedy like, say, Twelfth Night is the ending. I suspect this episode, possibly this season as a whole, wanted to say something profound about class as a potential obstacle to love, with Violette and Victor and S (Club) Junior and Grace, respectively, struggling to reconcile their social positions and their hearts’ desires. Since this is Mr Selfridge, however, what we got instead was a parade of endings, some happy some not, with your favourite/least favourite couple having to accept the luck of the draw. Or the writing of the script.

In fairness to Mr Selfridge, though, real life (interfering with my tv again!) history has something of a say in how some of these romances must end, so maybe I’m not being entirely fair. Without delving into that real life history too much, though, I wonder if the necessary constraints it must place on writing about the Selfridge family themselves are part of the reason why the relationships of fictional characters like Miss Mardle and Mr Grove are much more interesting. Watching this, I really didn’t care what happened to Violette and Victor or Mr S and Miss Webb or S (Club) Junior and Miss Calthorpe in the end, but I did care about Miss Mardle. Yes, Mr Grove has been appalling to her, and no, I’m not sure I’d have forgiven him, but at least she told him so. Loudly and clearly. And she’s so wonderful and she’s wanted him so long – I hope it works out. Especially since Mr Crabb was so awesome about sorting it. I LOVE Mr Crabb.

Sadly, I’m not loving much else about the show these days, though. Since Henri and Agnes left, the show has a sort of “final reductions” week at the sales feel about it: there are some great pieces (Mr Crabb! Miss Plunkett, George etc) and ideas (the gender politics themes were dealt with surprisingly well early on in the season) buried among the discount racks, but you have to dig through a lot of polyester piffle to get to them.

The Loxley plot, after weeks of build-up, petered out into nonsense – this super-clever, super-manipulative uber-villain who’d spent months carefully, methodically laying a secret trap for Mr S, suddenly lost his mind at the last minute and literally shouted his entire scheme to everyone he was trying to fool. The Selfridge Estate plot finished up the way it had to, I suppose, but took an interminable time getting there, when the purpose of it was really just to get Mr S back to the gambling and womanising he was doing two seasons ago. And as for the focus on Colleano’s Club… oh my God, who on earth CARES?

Sigh. Truth be told, Gregory Fitoussi was the show’s biggest draw for me and, now he’s gone, I keep coming back to two main problems – I don’t care about the Selfridges themselves and I don’t care about Victor either. Which is unfortunate because, ultimately, they became this season’s main focus. I much prefer the show when it’s about the staff or the store, rather than the owners or the club. If we can’t have Henri back next year, can we at least have more about his colleagues? Or, final one or not, I’m not sure I’ll make it as far as next season’s finale.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 9

As one very boring enterprise closes, another one opens: Colleano’s Club is now a private members’ Casino with, as Mr Regan notes with some menace, a distinct lack of private members. Till Victor sends out invitations to his rich Palm Court connections – why he couldn’t have done that before the Casino opened isn’t entirely clear – and people start showing up. If those people don’t start losing though, the Club could Close once again. A girl – especially one who is supremely fed up with this season’s focus on Colleano, Clubs and this type of Carry-on – can hope, right?

Or a girl can stop hoping and make things happen for herself. Well done then to Miss Calthorpe who stands firm on the Say No to S (Club) Junior issue. Till she doesn’t. Sigh. You could do so much better, Miss C. But, as we say a lot round these parts, the heart wants what the heart wants. Even if the heart is a moron.

Speaking of which, Mr S and Miss W continue to slobber over each other, as she continues to try and reconcile her competing careers of con artist and future society wife. There are two major obstacles to that particular ambition though; Evil Gus is determined to see the plan through, and Princess Wizwaz is beginning to see through the plan. Takes a con artist to know one, eh, Your Highness?

But, then again, I’m not being entirely fair to the Princess, since the origin story I thought she’d made up seems to be confirmed by the arrival of the jewels I thought she’d made up as well. And while I was unimpressed by her immediate desire to fund Sergei’s expensive aeroplane dreams with her sudden largesse, her offer to pay Mr S back for everything deserves credit, even if he (idiot that he is) turns her down. I like that she’s looking out for him anyway and, since she seems good at it, who knows? If she’s looking for a new venture to invest her money in, “Princess Wizwaz Investigates” has a nice ring to it.

Unfortunately, even Princess Wizwaz can’t protect Mr S and the store from Lord Loxley. The Sale of the Century means buying too much stock, taking out too much advertising and playing too easily into Lord L’s hands, as hot-headed Harry allows himself to be goaded into making things even worse with the surprisingly easily-manipulated Board. Have these people really forgotten that Lord L’s a traitor and a liar? Hmm.

Since Lord L’s not a fool, however, he seems to be running rings round Mr S, even with the loyal Mr Crabb – still the best character in the show – standing by the Chief’s side and ready to “stick it to them!” Hurrah for Mr Crabb! Here’s hoping he and new Head of Security George Towler (now promoted to second-best character in the show) can save the store, sort things out between Miss Mardle and Mr Grove (who deserved that tongue-lashing she gave him and more besides) and give us something heartwarming to look forward to in next week’s finale. Otherwise, forget Loxley and the Board, the audience – or this member of it anyway – losing any interest it had in the show may be a far bigger problem.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 8

The quest to fill the gap left by Gregory Fitoussi continues this week with the show throwing not un but deux well-dressed Frenchmen at the problem.

The dapper Vicomte de Sibour is Sergei’s new friend and business partner, a pilot with an inexplicable fascination with Violette; she rebuffs him at first but, by the end of the episode, seems more intrigued than averse to the idea of taking a ride in his flying machine (that’s not a euphemism. Ok, it is a euphemism) and why not? He’s got an aeroplane, a nice suit and he (sort of) fits in with her rule of only dating people she shares an initial with.

Vicomte de Sibour is visiting the store as part of one of those big Selfridge promotions Mr S loves, so of course we need some sort of display to drum up interest. S (Club) Junior tries to enlist our other Gallic friend, Monsieur Longchamp, to set this up in Fashion, a slightly strange idea which causes said Monsieur to wonder aloud – and not unreasonably so – what on earth Fashion has to do with Aeroplanes. We don’t hear from Monsieur Longchamp again.

Which is fine, because the episode is more than busy dealing with everyone else’s problems. Having saddled Miss Mardle – or, more accurately, the endlessly patient George Towler – with Ernest, Mr Grove spends the bulk of the episode refusing to get over himself despite the best efforts of the frankly wonderful Mr Crabb (and Mrs Crabb – off screen, but still awesome) to gently help him out of his sulks. It takes a surprisingly moving talking-to from George to jar Mr G out of it, but not before Connie becomes the second Hawkins sister to notice Mr Towler’s charms. He’s come a long way since season 1.

While George turns out to be some sort of Baby Whisperer, however, three weeks with Ernest is enough to make Miss Mardle reflect, with some sadness, that raising children is not amongst her talents. Thank goodness for Kitty, then, who points out, kindly, sweetly and firmly, that all the young girls who’ve worked under Miss M at Selfridges might have something to say about that – Josie might not be great at looking after children, but she’s fantastic at looking after adults. Bless.

With half the cast thus preoccupied with baby issues, it’s left to the other half to worry about love lives and/or profit margins. Victor – to my complete lack of interest – decides to get over Violette and rein in Regan’s buddies by re-launching Colleano’s as a private gambling club. I’m sure that’ll go swimmingly. Mr S, unsettled by Loxley’s scrutiny and unsure how he’s going to fulfil last week’s ridiculous promise to the shareholders, interprets Miss Webb’s “let’s take a break” as “let’s take a psychotic break” and proposes to her. And S (Club) Junior is finally caught making out with an underling – ok, it’s Miss Calthorpe – in the store room. Mr Crabb (the best thing about this show now) gently and sensibly points out the numerous reasons why this is not really on, only to be roundly ignored by S (Club) Junior because S (Club) Junior’s an idiot. Miss Calthorpe, however, is not – looks like that romance might not make it to the end of this season, let alone the next one.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 7

I thought this shipping and shopping business was supposed to be fun?

If last week’s episode was a mix of the cheerful and the calamitous, this one had clearly sold out of cheerful and over-stocked on calamitous just to keep the shelves full.

We began with tears and tea-cups at Doris’s wake, followed that up with poor Miss Mardle inheriting the Billy Problem and added in a spot of drug-dealing and organised crime at Colleano’s (getting more screen time these days than Selfridges itself) to keep things suitably depressing. On the off-chance this wasn’t enough misery to be going on with, though, we also had to endure Victor and Violette’s latest break-up (seriously – together or apart, does anyone actually care about these two?), Lord Loxley getting his claws into the store and Mr Grove banishing baby Ernest. Banishing baby Ernest! My, what a prince of a guy old Roger is – taking it out on the blameless, motherless infant is totally the way to go. No one could possibly accuse him of being a hypocrite or anything given his philandering with Miss M, oh no. *rolls eyes*

Speaking of philandering, meanwhile, the Great Philanderer himself, Mr S, spent the week giving away expensive stock to his latest squeeze and blaming Sergei (who is an idiot yes, but he’s not the only one) for selling shares which ended up in Loxley’s hands, having done exactly the same thing himself. Or, to put it another way, given that the store’s profits are going down and Loxley now has a seat on the board, Mr S spent the week fiddling while Selfridges burned.

A bleak, tiresome episode, then, filled with bleak, tiresome characters. With ratings on the slide and Poldark on the other side, this show really needs to buck up or, come season’s end, it may well have to shut up shop, forever.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 6

A mixed shopping bag of an episode this week, with some light-hearted store-based shenanigans twinkling along cheerily in amongst all sorts of calamity and strife.

New Deputy Store Manager S (Club) Junior and the Soul Patch of Silliness take up their new post – much to the entirely justified and mildly comical chagrin of both Mr Grove and myself – and promptly attempt to fill the Gregory Fitoussi-shaped gap with A.N.Other Frenchman. Step forward Monsieur Longchamps, who causes consternation then delight then more consternation by dint of a little thievery, a revolving tree thingy and a deeply ugly underwear-themed window display. Zut alors! Monsieur Leclair would never have been so indelicate, but subtle Monsieur Longchamps is not.

Nor is this episode, starting as it does with a mopey Violette and an equally mopey yet inexplicably shirtless Victor. Mr S giving thanks that Mrs S isn’t here to witness Violette’s shame is obviously a trifle hypocritical given that Miss S isn’t doing anything with the former help that Mr S isn’t doing with the current, but apparently “a gentleman won’t marry a woman who’s disgraced.” Or, as most women out there will have heard more times and in more contexts than they can count: “it’s different for boys.”

Argh.

Putting the Selfridge sexual double standard to one side for the moment – because nobody wants to think about the words “Selfridge” and “sexual” together for any longer than necessary – I don’t give two dessous affriolants about Victor and Violette, shirtless or otherwise, but the show seems very keen to promote them as Oxford Street’s answer to Romeo and Juliet and simultaneously get the most out of the Colleano’s club set. So, while Mr S keeps Violette busy – but still lovelorn, mind – with a made-up job on the made-up building project he’s about to lose all his money and the store on (just how dense is this man?!), man of honour Victor makes a deal with a dodgy businessman, which is apparently much better than making a deal with a dodgy policeman. Or not. George Towler and I are unconvinced.

Colleano’s club worries aside, though, George is having something of a banner week. Since the club’s temporarily closed, he takes his Forrest-Gump-as-bodyguard act on the road, saving Mrs Edwards from attack (twice), from the pain of a trial and from any further damage to her marriage. The fact that these are all areas where Mr Edwards has failed miserably is not lost on his wife – is that a renewed interest in George I see, Kitty, or just a little extra rouge on your cheeks? – but Frank appears to be forgiven for now. For NOW.

No sooner is one trauma averted, however, than another one pops up in its place. Miss Mardle’s attempts to assist Mrs Grove were always going to end badly, but the light-hearted nature of most of the episode meant I wasn’t prepared for quite how badly. From dessous to death in a matter of minutes: Mon Dieu. Neither an entirely successful shift in tone, nor an entirely successful episode, then, and with the pick’n’mix of misery on offer at the moment – Billy’s sights set on baby Ernest, Loxley’s sights set on revenge and Mr S’s sights set on bankrupting himself – I’m not really looking forward to the rest of the season either.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 5

“I know we had all night, but all I can think of is when are we gonna kiss again?”

Ugh.

In a fruitless bid to distract us from last week’s loss of Henri, this week’s Mr Selfridge throws three – THREE – secret, doomed romances at us, each inducing varying degrees of discomfort in the confused, distressed viewer who has watched the show this long for Gregory Fitoussi and, now he’s gone, is kind of stuck with it.

With no Leclairs around to awwww at, then, there may be no shortage of snogging on-screen but there’s a distinct lack of shipping at the House of Cregg.

Mr S’s affair with Miss Webb would be rendered embarrassing enough by Mr S’s wildly enthusiastic participation – remember the heady days of Ellen Love? Best not – but that opening line of his takes proceedings into a whole new realm of mortification. The sooner Miss Webb goes the same way Miss Love did, the better.

If Mr S’s love life is embarrassing, however, Angry Victor’s is just unpleasant. That his half-naked encounter at the club with Violette is cut short by a police raid on trumped-up charges may be unfair to both Mr Colleano and Miss Selfridge, but it’s also an act of mercy for at least one member of the audience who really did not want to see any more. Memo to Victor: Please do not dally with debutantes in your office. Anyone might walk in. And some of us were eating.

Of course, this is advice which S (Club) Junior and his soul patch might also do well to heed, now that he’s kissing Miss Calthorpe in stock rooms and such. Not entirely appropriate behaviour for Store Deputy Manager, one might think, but the starry-eyed Miss Calthorpe convinces S (Club) Junior to “apply” for the post anyway – the “application” process consisting of marching into Papa’s office and demanding the job – and he gets it, immediately, which means we’re not only robbed of the chance to see Miss Mardle or Mr Crabb running things (so much for the job “going on merit”, eh, Mr S?) but we’re also going to see a lot more of S (Club) Junior.

Neither Violette nor I are very pleased about this.

While Miss Mardle is unsuccessful on the promotion front, however, a promising new career as a PI (or a post at Miss Blenkinsopp’s Information Bureau!) may await her, uncovering as she does Mrs Grove’s tragic secret – which has something of the doomed romance about it as well – by giving her what appears to the 1919 version of truth serum, cunningly disguised as, um, a cake in a tin.

Poor Mrs Grove. Her marriage may never actually have been a romance, but it was always doomed too. And it’s beginning to look like the Edwards are similarly cursed, as Kitty’s idiot sister makes a bad situation infinitely worse and exposes her blameless sister to a mercenary and misogynist press. It’s worth noting that Amy Beth Hayes is doing excellent work as Kitty at the moment, and the show itself is far better when it’s looking sensitively and intelligent at post-war changes in gender politics in this way – even the Lord Loxley sub-plot is interesting in that context – and as it has in general over the past few weeks, than it is when one of the male leads is dutifully kissing yet another ingenue.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 4

*SPOILERS*

imageWell, at least he didn’t die this time.

It seems, however, that Gregory Fitoussi has left us once again. Those of us trembling at the prospect of another violent tv demise for the handsome one were at least spared that pain, as Monsieur Leclair didn’t throw himself off the bridge we saw in last week’s trailer (Mon Dieu!) and instead sought out Mr S for a pep talk and some couples counselling. I might have wondered at the irony of Mr S, of all people, offering marital guidance to Madame Leclair, had I not been shouting similar advice at the tv, myself: talk to him, Agnes! Make him talk to you!

And so Agnes did, in a sweet, sad scene in the park where Henri finally, and literally, allowed himself to lean on his wife and share his burdens. After an equally sweet, sad scene in their bedroom, they decided to seek solace together in the clear skies and endless beaches of his childhood because “I want to make you better” and “I’d love to go home and show it all to you.”

Sniffle.

A poignant goodbye and an audible sigh (from me) later, and Henri and Agnes board the Midday Train to Grenoble (sorry), leaving Miss Mardle to investigate the mystery of Mrs Grove, George to dress like an extra from Bugsy Malone and Mr S to wonder “Who will design the window displays now?”

Are the Leclairs coming back? The press around their departure suggests not, but I don’t want to give up hope yet. What about a brief visit in the season finale, perhaps, to ask Mr S to be a godparent to l’enfant Leclair? Or a little vignette from one of those gorgeous beaches – Monsieur et Madame lying back quietly, contentedly in each other’s arms as the gulls fly overhead and the waves wash against the shore…..Please? So we know they’re happy and we needn’t worry for pauvre Henri any more?

Too much to ask? Peut-être. But Gregory Fitoussi and Aisling Loftus are fantastic, and the prospect of continuing to watch this show without them in it isn’t a jolie one. Especially when Frank and Kitty are on the rocks after his craven behaviour this week and our alternative shipping choices seem to be Mr S and Miss Webb, S (Club) Junior and Miss Calthorpe or – gulp – Victor and Violette.

Mr S’s tendre for Miss Webb is as predictable as it is dull. S (Club) Junior still has his kiss-repellent excuse for a moustache protecting his virtue. Which leaves us with the unpleasant Victor, a man whom I feel sure has “treat’em mean, keep’em keen” emblazoned across his lucky underpants. His “charms” exercise a powerful effect on both Violette – disappointingly, since she was supposed to be the Selfridge with sense – and my stomach (EWWWWW), but it seems we’re doomed to see considerably more of this couple and their, er, coupling. Brace yourselves.

Still, I suppose at least the younger Miss Selfridge is enjoying herself. Her sister, meanwhile, is saddled with Sergei, who instead of getting a job – Selfridge Stealth Security is hiring, after all – has taken to throwing spoiled debutante-style tantrums at his wife, his mother and the suddenly wryly amusing (but still EVIL) Lord Loxley. “Wah, wah, WAH, I want my plane!” Quite, Sergei. And I want Henri to come back. Doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Sigh.

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 3

imageMixed fortunes for the ladies at Selfridges this week, but it’s business as usual, ie almost unmitigated disaster, for the gents.

The “surplus female staff” from the loading bay are being laid off, with a lot of hand-shaking from Mr S and sad-facing from Mr Crabb but, up on the shop floor, sisters are far more successfully doing it for themselves.

Lovely Miss Mardle has taken over Fashion, for a start, the triumphant effect of which is spoilt only slightly by the new, almost mesmerisingly messy bouffant she seems to have brought with her. And by the shameless Mr Grove sending Doris in for her birthday treat. (Who’s the fella, Doris, hey? Do tell.)

Perhaps next week Miss M can purchase some hair clips from Miss Calthorpe, the blushing new Head of Accessories and object of S (Club) Junior’s mini-moustachioed affections. Or some sort of pomade from the Beauty counter, if Mrs Edwards is back on her feet by then – poor Kitty! She’s hardly had time to congratulate herself on the success of “Selfridges’ biggest beauty event ever” before she’s waylaid by that pack of ne’er-do-wells who’ve been hanging about ominously on the street corner since episode 1; they spend most of this episode acting as a sort of malevolent, misogynist Greek chorus singing their tuneless song about the role of women in society’s ills, before presumably getting bored of the sounds of their own whining and moving on to sexual assault as an alternative form of protest.

Charming.

Thank goodness for Mr S who interrupts and saves poor Kitty, in a lone moment of usefulness during an entire episode of otherwise behaving like an imbecile. Less canny businessman than credulous idiot, Mr S not only takes a ridiculously high-interest loan to pay for the Rose Selfridge Memorial Estate but compounds his stupidity (and interest rate) at the auction by falling for a ridiculously obvious trick from Lord Loxley, who effortlessly drives up the price of the wretched field (one would think it were Eden, given Mr S’s desperation to buy it) with nothing more than a curled lip and a bon mot. “Did you miss me?” snarks Lord L. No, barks this viewer. Go away and take stupid Mr S and smug Mr Sergei with you.

I suppose, in his defence, at least Mr S does his best, between bouts of stupidity, to soothe the distressed Henri (Gregory Fitoussi). The pauvre handsome one tries to window-dress his way out of his pain, but silver-painted tree displays are hardly effective treatments for PTSD, so it’s not long before our beloved Monsieur Leclair loses both temper and plot, and the crack in the Leclair marriage becomes a canyon. Poor Henri, doomed to wander the sole (suspiciously clean) tunnel on the Mr Selfridge set. Poor Agnes, so scared of gentle Henri she goes to violent Victor for advice. And poor George, who fought in the war too, even if the script and his sister only remembered it this week. Never mind, George: since Henri’s under the weather, you can share the Man of the Week prize with Fraser – butler, detective and all-round good egg. Now if only he could get his own crime-solving spin-off with Mr Crabb…

Mr Selfridge s3 ep 2

imageHeadlong along the road to disaster we go; if this episode and last week’s opener are anything to go by, this season’s plan is to drag darling Henri and not-so-darling Mr S to their doom and not to waste any time about it.

After Mr Thackeray’s single-minded (and annoying, so ANNOYING) persecution of Henri last season, it’s something of a surprise to me to find he’s still running fashion at Selfridges “five years later”, but – hurrah! – it doesn’t last long. Sucking the life out of the proposed Lanvin display doesn’t help his cause, but it’s his insistence on very rudely telling Mr Selfridge a few home truths that gets him, er, discontinued in a scene where I might have had some sympathy for him had he not been a pain in the posterior since we met him. See ya wouldn’t wanna be ya, Mr T; don’t let Kitty’s sister hit you on the way out.

Handily, this leaves a nice new job open for the woefully under-used Miss Mardle – reduced this week to cooing over “Little Ernest” Grove, shudder – but what of the Lanvin display crisis? Fear not, gentle shoppers, the crack team of Leclair and Leclair (aw) are back from honeymoon in Scotland (sadly, they didn’t find time to pop in to Unpopcult HQ while they were up here), just in time to save the day! Problem solved, bien sur, as, thanks to an assist from bored socialite (and very much her mother’s daughter) Violette – doing the classic bored socialite/Selfridge woman thing of getting her bored socialite friends together to put on a fashion show – they rescue the Lanvin display and the reputation of Selfridges etc etc. It’s all very season 1 “let’s put the window display on right here!” Till the flash bulbs start going off and Henri starts freaking the hell out.

The pauvre fellow is so traumatised, he heads, of all places, to Victor’s bar – next time, maybe try a bar not run by your wife’s ex-boyfriend, eh, cheri? – to find solace in whisky and ragtime tunes. Victor helping him do it apparently stems from respect and understanding of a fellow soldier’s struggle, which is a trifle disconcerting seeing as it’s Victor we’re talking about, but since this is a club where George “hard as a tissue” Towler is now apparently employed as his enforcer, I guess anything’s possible. Violette certainly seems to think so; a couple of harsh words and she’s Mr Colleano’s, apparently. Or did I imagine that look between them? I was a little distracted in fairness – partly because I kept waiting for George to pull out his mobile phone and call Agnes, then having to remind myself it’s 1919, and partly because, y’know, Gregory Fitoussi 😉

As Henri drinks, Agnes worries and Victor glowers, then, Mr S looks for his own kind of oblivion in the charitable housing project, risking so much in the process that it puts even the stalwart Mr Crabb off his Victoria Sponge. Too far, Mr S, too far. I love Mr Crabb. In a very different way from Henri, but still. He’s adorable. And he’s also completely right this week, but Mr S is too preoccupied with Sergei, Loxley and the already tiresome Aeroplane Axis of Evil to pay any attention. Even the humiliating Board meeting doesn’t seem to dampen his passion for the Rose Selfridge Memorial Housing Estate, which only a person with a parasol for a brain would think is a good idea at this stage, but that’s Mr S. “I fear his heart is ruling his head these days,” says Mr Crabb. “Dude, what’s new?” says the entire viewing audience. And “Is there any more of that Victoria Sponge left?” Mmmm.