Noah's Ark - Episode Five

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  • Tom Kirby - Peter Wingfield
  • Noah Kirby - Anton Rodgers
  • Val Kirby - Angela Thorne
  • Clare Somers - Orla Brady

WRITTEN BY - Johnny Byrne

DIRECTOR - Herbert Wise


Laura Nichols - Mel Martin

Laura Nichols

Dr Mason - Hilary Gish

Dr Mason

Robin Layton - John Duttine

Robin Layton

Cath Baldwin - Emily Morgan

Cath Baldwin

Chris (soldier) - Sean Gallagher


(For more information on this week's cast, see Cast Notes .)

making breakfast

'I could get used to having breakfast here' (Þ)

hello good morning breakfast kiss


The episode opens in the usual off-beat style, with Noah called to a dust cart (refuse collectors') where there are animal noises coming from a sack that was about to go into the crusher. The bin men claim to be terrified that there is a snake in the bag, but when Noah opens it up, he finds only a hamster in a cage.

Returning home late for breakfast (a habit, despite the fact he is supposed to be watching his diet), he is called out almost at once to see a new client, Laura Nichols (Mel Martin) who is worried about her dog being about to whelp. Despite Val's protests, he goes off without any breakfast. Something Anna says about the amount of attention Noah has been giving Mrs Nichols gets Val worried, and when she goes up to the Laytons' farm to do the accounts later, she cannot help noticing as she passes that Noah's car is still there.

Tom is operating later, when two men burst into the surgery and demand to see Clare. She is not there, but the men will not explain what they want to Tom, and go off saying that she is to meet them at the pub tomorrow lunch time. When Tom tells Clare that they 'just gave me the thousand mile stare', she does not object to his offer to go with her the following day.

In the pub the following day, the two men are still extremely cagey, but they tell Clare that they have a badly injured golden eagle ð that cannot be moved and must be treated. They will not say who they are, or how they came by the eagle, but they insist that Clare must go with them - or the bird may die. Eventually, Clare agrees, but as she tells them 'at some point I am going to need explanations.'

In great secrecy, Clare and Tom are driven to - an army base of all places - and are smuggled in by the two men. They are led into a hangar and shown the eagle. The soldiers have tried to care for it, but the bird is badly injured and dangerously ill. Clare realises that even though it may not survive the journey she must get it back to the surgery for x-rays and an operation. The soldiers do not want the bird moved, and will not tell Clare how the bird was injured or where it came from. There is a big argument, but Clare prevails (to some visible admiration from Tom).

Mrs Nichols is a newcomer in the country, naive and in need of money. Later that day, when a stranger offers to pay her for grazing some cows on her land, she readily agrees. Before she knows it, the heifers have been dumped on her land, and she is left with no means of contacting the owner. She has clearly been conned. Noah comes over, and tells her that there is work needed on the field to make it safe - loose barbed wire and a damaged water trough to be fixed.

Small aside here - Noah is shortly to judge the village pet show, and he tries to persuade her to come along to meet some of the villagers. One of his fellow organisers is Cath Baldwin (former owner of several peacocks and a Vietnamese potbellied pig, current owner of a disobedient Borzoi houndð called Dimitri, and new owner of one small abandoned hamster) who has made a rather splendid cake a first prize. Unfortunately, when the cake is unveiled, Dimitri is found eating one end of it. More hysterics from Cath, who specialises in high drama. Laura Nichols does put in an appearance, but flees when introduced to Val, which does nothing to relieve her suspicions, especially when the Baldwins let slip that her husband has recently walked out on her.

Noah is due for a visit to his doctor. Dr Mason tells him very gravely that he has been abusing his diabetes, and that he must rest and follow his diet properly. Val is puts her foot down and says he has to find a partner - if not Tom then someone else - and soon. But their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Clare and Tom with the eagle. Clare tells the soldiers that she is not capable carrying out the operation, but Tom is. And the soldiers finally admit that the bird was injured by a shell during a military operation abroad. A soldier decided to try help the bird, and they ended up smuggling it back into the country.

operating3 operating2 operating4 operating1

With Clare as assistant and Noah as anaesthetist, Tom begins to operate to remove the shrapnel. More than once the bird stops breathing - and then begins again. And Tom continues, quietly, carefully, to remove the shrapnel that is buried the eagle's wing. As Tom works, two pairs of eyes are on him. Clare is watching Tom, and Noah is watching the two of them together. Eventually, Clare comes out to tell the soldiers that - surgically - the operation was a success. Now it is just matter of time.

As the soldiers drive away, Clare tells Tom how much she admires the way he worked - and his courage. 'You're brave, but you're afraid too. That's what true courage is, isn't it? (Þ) I'd admire it in anyone, but I especially admire it in you.' When Noah comes out of the house, he finds the two of them kissing passionately - and he discretely withdraws back into the house.

aftermath1 aftermath2 aftermath3

At breakfast the next morning, Noah comments to Val that Tom is not yet back. He talks about how well they worked together in the operating theatre. 'But a relationship too? They are such very different people.' 'That never stopped us,' Val replies.

boxer2 boxer3 boxer1

On the other hand, when Clare comes into her kitchen that morning, she finds Tom (dressed only in a pair of blue boxers) making her breakfast. They are clearly very happy together, and Tom tells her that he could get used to having breakfast here. Clare is smiling broadly - but still perhaps a little unsure? 'You know, I can't work you out at all, Tom - what your plans are, anything.' (Þ) 'Well, whatever they were before,' he answers, 'they've changed now.'

Later that day, Val questions Noah about Laura - and warns him that her husband is not, as he has been told, working abroad. 'She's a very vulnerable woman, Noah.' Later, she tries to persuade her client, Robin Layton, that Laura may need help, but Robin (who is a widow) is clearly shy of Laura, and Val backs off. But a day or two later, she looks out of the window at Laytons', and sees Laura struggling to rescue a calf that has caught itself on the broken barbed wire. She telephones Noah, and then asks Robin to look after the calf while she takes Laura, now covered in blood and panicking badly, back to her house. The two of them talk, and Laura admits that she has been abandoned and left virtually penniless (except for the house) by her husband. While Noah stitches up the calf's gashed side, Val and Laura discuss what she can do. (By the end of the episode, Val seems to have found Laura a job - and perhaps a date (with Robin).)

A day or so after this, on his way to Clare's, Tom stops off to talk to his parents. He has an announcement to make. He is willing to stay on at the practice, they can guess why. But Noah is angry - what he wants is a commitment. Last week, Tom didn't want to stay, this week, because of Clare, he does - next week, who knows? It isn't good enough. Either he accepts a full partnership now, or Noah will offer it to someone else. 'Think about it, Tom - but don't take too long.' But a day or two later - after trying unsuccessfully to persuade his father to let things carry on as they are, Tom turns down the offer of the partnership.

it doesn't have to be like that

'It doesn't have to be like that.'

Tom tells Clare that he has turned down his father's offer - and that this time is was 'yes, I stay; no I go'. Clare is upset that he has not discussed it with her. Tom tries to persuade her that they could go off together, apply for jobs as a team( Þ). Upset and angry, Clare paints a scene - of moving from place to place, never satisfied, always looking for the perfect job, until the perfect job comes along, but only for one of them. She has been there before. It was the story of her failed marriage, and she will not fall into that trap again. She is where she wants to be, in Melton. Tom is incredulous. He is still locked in his adolescent relationship with Melton (the place where 'you name it, I was missing out on it'). He cannot believe anyone really wants to stay there. 'What about us?' Tom asks. 'A couple of nights together and you think I stop having a life?' protests Clare. 'So what do we have? (Þ)' he asks. 'I don't know, Tom. I don't know.'

On the plus side, the eagle is recovering nicely. And the soldiers are warned that it cannot legally be kept in captivity - and Tom and Clare will not work outside the law. They have found him a breeding ground in Scotland, where there are a couple of potential mates for him. With Tom and Clare and the soldiers looking on, the eagle is airlifted off in a helicopter.

excellent choice

Coming down stairs a day or so later, Tom finds Clare in Noah's office. Noah tells him that Clare has been offered a full partnership in the practice - and that she has accepted. It will mean changes, 'not least the considerable expansion of the wildlife part of the practice'. Faced with a fait accompli, Tom is dumbfounded. But he congratulates them nevertheless.

I think Clare is a brilliant choice (Þ)

Cast Notes and Odd Facts

I haven't credited Emily Morgan (Cath Baldwin) before, and as this is the third time she has appeared I was beginning to feel a bit guilty about it. She is most likely to be recognised as Vomiting Veronica from Four Weddings and a Funeral, but she also played Charlotte Hardacre in the wonderful comedy seriesBrass. Mel Martin is another face that crops up everywhere. She payed Ross's wife in the recent sequel to Poldark, but her career goes back to The Pallisers, in which she played Violet Effingham. John Duttine is another character from Out of the Blue, but he was also in the '81 television version of Day of the Triffids. Hilary Gish was in Fierce Creatures. And Sean Gallaghar was in the mini-series Holding On.

eagle2 eagle

The golden eagle is Europe's largest bird of prey, with a wingspan of up to 2 metres. Their territory can cover thousands of hectares, and they can survive and breed at higher altitudes than buzzards or ravens. The estimate I found for 1985 was that there were around 300 breeding pairs in Britain, mostly in Scotland. Unlike the red kites from the first episode, they feed on live prey (such as grouse). They can be recognised in flight by the 'fingered' ends to their wings, and close up by the fact that their legs are feathered right down to the toes.


The borzoi was bred in Russia from the 17th century for hunting wolves and other game. They are strong and fast, and make gentle (though in Dimitri's case, disobedient) pets. They stand about three-quarters of a metre high at the shoulder, and weigh about 40kilos.

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Last updated 07/10/1997