"Its time to stop playing at it and start farming" - Mark Carter

A group of youngsters arrive at Whitecross. Their leader, Mark Carter, wastes no time in knifing
a group of cows open who have 'clover bloat', from grazing on fresh clover. It is a condition
that could kill them. Jack, John and Lizzie are unaware of his expertise or intent and the
children go off to the mill to find Greg and Charles, believing the cows are being slaughtered.

At the mill, Charles, Greg, Alan and Arthur are trying to dry some crops. Arthur is ill and agrees
to go back home. Alan thinks he may have contracted the illness from a man who came from
another community for Ruth's help. John and Lizzie arrive and Greg and Charles duly head
out to the fields to see what all the fuss is about.

Pet and Jenny meanwhile are making bread, when Ruth arrives, worrying she may have been
infected by the members of the community she has visited. A lot of the older people died there.
She reveals that she has brought five of the youngsters back to Whitecross. Pet and Jenny are
understandably concerned. Ruth suggests that they should be put up in the old mill. She also
tells them that one of the new arrivals, Mark Carter, has a BSc in Agriculture

Mark explains about the clover and berates Jack and Charles for their ignorance. Mark talks
with Charles in the fields, revealing that he is an agronomist. He gives Charles some advice
about one of the fields and suggests he look around at other problems they might have.

Meanwhile Alan fetches Ruth as Arthur's condition has worsened.

The new arrivals take up residence in the mill. As well as Mark, there are four others; Melanie,
Sally, Dave and Pete. Charles welcomes them to Whitecross.

Pet and Mark discuss the condition of her pigs. One of them has just died. He explains that they
have lost their natural immunity to infection and advises her to put them outside. She protests
that this has been tried already, but he is not interested.

Ruth nurses Arthur and tries to encourage him to get better, but he seems to have lost the will to
live. Mark discusses Greg's methane refinery solution to the issue of fuel and is impressed.

Pet tries to cheer up Arthur but fares no better than Ruth. She believes that it is the fault of the
man who came from the other settlement. At the mill, Sally and Melanie discuss the relaxed
mood at Whitecross, preferring it to their last community. Mark looks thoughtful and Mel tells
him pointedly that "this is their place not yours!"

Hubert complains to Jenny that Mark's ideas are tantamount to factory farming. Lizzie is also
upset as Mark has advised that her lamb should be slaughtered.

Mark reveals to Charles that he has planted a winter wheat in summer and that weeks of work
have been wasted. Mark suggests he draws up a five year plan covering livestock
management and crop rotation.

Mel interrupts Jack and Greg as they discuss Arthur's condition. Jack leaves them alone. Mel
flirts with Greg and tells him about some of the problems at their old community.

Alan arrives looking for Ruth. Ruth arrives at the farmhouse and tells those gathered that
Arthur has died. Peggy and Mina are said to be ill as well. Ruth wants to keep the news of
Arthur's death quiet, but Mel already knows what has happened.

At the mill, Mel tells them the news. Alan arrives with his belongings. Mel has recruited him
to join them. Charles tells Greg that he is concerned about the formation of a splinter group
at the mill. Greg warns Charles to back down, fearing that he will make the new arrivals feel
cornered, driving them away from Whitecross.

That night, over supper, Pet expresses concern that Jenny and Charles have both begun to
listen to Mark Carter too much. Meanwhile at the mill, Mel accuses Mark of producing the
five year plan idea to make him feel less small compared to Greg and Charles. She tells
him that she will keep quiet about what happened at the old settlement.

Ruth tries to talk to Charles about Arthur's death and Jack, but is interrupted by Mark, who
has arrived to talk through the plan he has written up. Charles reads the plan, but is
certain that his proposal to shift the farming setup around to make dung available for
Greg's as yet untested fuel harnessing system, is too much of a gamble at this stage.

Ruth tends to Jack who has also fallen ill. He is rambling and making little sense. Mark
demands that a meeting be held to discuss his plan. Greg thinks this is a good idea.

Pet tells Charles that she thinks Mark is a fraud. She also believes that Charles has qualities
that are more important to the community than farming know-how. Greg and Ruth arrive.
Ruth explains that she thinks the illness is linked to low morale and is possibly a delayed
reaction to 'the death'.

John finds Jack. He has been hallucinating about football. John asks Jack to teach him how
to kick the ball bringing him out of his reverie. At the mill Mark tells the others that the
community must buy his plan at the meeting.

At the meeting Charles explains Mark's proposal. He personally feels that it may be a little
premature and something of a gamble but wants the decision to be down to the community
as its their sweat and toil that is at stake. Mark takes the floor and is aggressive and rude to
older members of the settlement. He sees his plan as the only way forward.

Pet interrupts Mark accusing him of twisting his words. Greg takes his turn to speak and asks
Mark if he will leave if his proposals are rejected. He says that both he and the other new
arrivals would leave. He goes on to ask him about his previous settlement asking whether
he would still put farming efficiency above morale. Greg makes it clear that his old
settlement had failed due to demoralization and implies that compared to Charles, that Mark
is no leader. An angry Mark leaves the meeting.

Ruth believes that the situation has made it clear how lucky they are to have Charles as their
leader. Greg thinks this is all very well but still wants to go ahead with the vote over the
change in farming system. There is a unanimous decision that they should try the idea.

At the mill, Mark tells the others he has decided to leave Whitecross to live a life as a roving
agronomist guru. He counts on Mel going with him, but she refuses.

The next morning, Charles and Greg see Mark off. He says he will return to see how they are
getting on but has no faith in them implementing the plan.

Episode Review

New Arrivals is the most agriculturally technical episode of the series. With phrases like 'clover bloat' and 'winter wheat' bandied about like its an episode of The Archers, but really this is no bad thing. Up until now the production team have really been playing at farming (which is exactly what Charles is accused of by Mark), rarely getting to grips with what it would really mean to farm without fuel and only a smattering of knowledge. The reality is that this type of existence would be extremely tough and it does seem that without Mark's guidance that the community would find themselves in trouble.

However the brilliance of this episode is the understanding in the final scenes that farming efficiency is all very well but that ultimately it stands for nothing if a community has low morale, as in the case of Mark's last settlement. The illness that has wiped out many members of that community, which alights upon the depressed and grieving, and spreads to Whitecross is the proof of the pudding. Unfortunately long standing Arthur has to die to make this point.

Charles' leadership role is imbued with some very positive characteristics here. He may not be a farmer but he knows about people, and as Pet points out, that is far more important. Nevertheless the community has the sense to accept Mark's plan if not the man himself.

Ian Hastings makes a strong guest performance as Mark Carter and Heather Wright, a promising debut as Melanie, who could tease for England. The regulars are also in fine form, with Gordon Salkilld given some acting to do at last, whilst Pet comes over very strongly as she protects Charles' interests. But once more it is Denis Lill who steals the show. Before the credits roll we have the best line of the episode, as Charles' meets
Mark's sarcastic parting shot about the community taking up bingo, with the wonderfully tongue-in-cheek response 'now there's a good idea!'.

Rating: 8/10

Episode 24: New Arrivals

Roger Parkes
first broadcast: 9th June 1976

Regular Cast:

Charles Vaughan: Denis Lill
Ruth Anderson:
Celia Gregory
Jack Wood: Gordon Salkilld
Alan: Stephen Tate
Arthur Russell: Michael Gover
Pet Simpson: Lorna Lewis
Greg Preston: Ian McCulloch
Jenny Richards: Lucy Fleming
Hubert Goss: John Abineri
Lizzie Willoughby: Tanya Ronder
John Millon: Stephen Dudley

and introducing...

Melanie: Heather Wright
Sally: June Page
Peter Duncan
Roger Monk

Guest Cast:

Mark Carter: Ian Hastings

designer: Ian Watson
director: Pennant Roberts
producer: Terence Dudley
episode recorded: 12th - 17th May 1976


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Page Last Updated: 25th February 2003  All text Andy Priestner   Screen Captures BBC