Look out for links with (Þ) next to them - click on them and you will hear some sound clips form the show (.wav format only at the moment.) On the other hand the ð symbol links to additional information relevant to the episode (strictly for the trivia minded).
WRITTEN BY - Johnny Byrne
DIRECTOR - A.J. Quinn
THIS WEEK'S GUESTS
|Henry Meacher - Michael Jayston|
|Graham Sowerby - Sebastian Abineri|
|Nicky Baldwin - Chris Jury|
(For more information on this week's cast, see Cast Notes .)
|Peter Wingfield (Þ)||Peter Wingfield and Orla Brady||Anton Rodgers (Þ)|
This is a fairly detailed synopsis, but it misses out a couple of minor subplots - largely those which add a touch of humour to the episode, like the local landowner with a penchant for keeping noisy peacocks (played by Chris Jury) and the cat who attaches himself to Noah and keeps returning to the surgery. If I am ever over-endowed with time, I will add some of these grace notes. Bear with me for now.
Tom Kirby (Peter Wingfield) has resigned his job with a big company producing vetinary drugs. He had come home without any warning, but he has no desire to join his father's practice. He and his father, Noah, (Anton Rodgers) don't seem to be able to exchange two words without hackles rising. When Tom arrives, his father has two things on his mind - a pregnant shire horse who seems to be sickening for something, and a pair of rare red kites ð that are nesting somewhere on the local estate. Then one of the red kites is brought in to the surgery, shot in the wing - and the local gamekeeper, Graham Sowerby (Sebastian Abineri) is the chief suspect. Tom meets, and is impressed by, the wildlife vet, Clare Somers (Orla Brady), who comes into the surgery to treat the kite.
After a long day in the surgery, Noah is finally on the way to see the sick mare. But as he is driving along, he goes dizzy and crashes into a hedge. He is lucky - he is only cut and bruised, but their is clearly some underlying problem. Noah tries to walk out of hospital, but Tom (Þ) - heatedly - persuades him to stay, and to let him look after the practice for a few days.
Tom takes a rigidly scientific approach to diagnosing the sick mare - not like his father's approach of 'instinct and experience'. Neither his father nor the owner of the mare, Henry Meacher (Michael Jayston)fully trust him, and when Clare turns up to talk to the owner about the shot kite, Tom jumps to the conclusion that she has been sent to check up on him. When they meet that night in the pub, they are both a little embarrassed by the words they exchanged earlier, and they soon make it up over a pint and their shared concern for the kites.
About the same time, Noah returns from hospital with his wife - and sneaks off against doctor's orders to check up on the mare. He comes home full of theories that she has been poisoned by toxic plants ð in her hay, but Val (Angela Thorne) is furious, and white with worry, and Noah is finally forced to admit that he really needs full time help.
The next morning, father and son set off together in search of possible toxins. When they spot the male kite, Noah tells Tom to follow if and find the nest. He chases it across country, first in the Land Rover and then on foot, and finally sees, in the distance, the hidden nest. But when he takes Clare back again, they also spot the suspect keeper with his eye on the nest. Again in the pub, they confront the keeper, warning him that the kites are a protected species - that killing them is not only illegal, but pointless: kites are carrion eaters and will not attack the game birds he is paid to protect.
Not long after there is an urgent message from the Henry Meacher - the shire is giving birth to her foal prematurely. The two rush out to her, and find the mare very weak, the foal turned the wrong way. Noah is too weak to deliver the foal, and Tom has no experience with such a large animal. But between them they do succeed - and Tom earns the first outright praise from his father in a long time.
The episode ends with the female kite being released back into the wild and rejoining the male. But is she safe from Graham Sowerby?
For those of you with a mind like mine, who always want to know where someone has been seen before, here are a few notes on guest actors I recognised. Chris Jury played Eric to Ian McShane's Lovejoy - he looked a lot older in this, and I hope it was partly done with makeup! If he's got that much older, so have I. :-(( I didn't reconise Sebastian Abineri, but John Abineri played Hurn the Hunter in Robin of Sherwood. It is such an unusual name I suspect they must be brothers. Michael Jayston is of course pretty well known - over here, anyway. I probably first remember him as Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Solder Spy. But he was (apparently) in Highlander III. Rather more in his favour, he has recently been in Outside Edge, a delicious and quintessentially English comedy about a village cricket team that, sadly, will probably never make it across the Atlantic.
ð - The red kite is a scavanging species of hawk, with a characteristic fork tail that can be seen in flight.. It was once very common in Britain, even in big cities, but it had virtually disappeared. It is now being reintroduced in a few areas of Wales and the Welsh Marches, often by releasing into the wild birds that have been bred in captivity. It is a protected species - that is neither the birds nor their eggs may be harmed. But gamekeepers are often hostile to any birds of prey on their 'patch', thinking that they will harm the game birds (usually pheasants in southern England) that they are paid to protect.
ð - Noah suspected that the mare had been poisoned by hay that had been cut from a field in which toxic weeds were growing. The most likely suspects were bracken, a fern (for which there was no antidote) or ragwort (for which there was an antidote). In fact it turned out to be horsetail - common, spore-producing type of rush.
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Last updated 06/09/1997