This tale of the missing wife of a much-reviled local farmer,
David Mortimer, is a little akin to "HIGHER GROUND" in that
its tragic outcome is entirely as a result of the
uncompromising behaviour of the husband.

Certainly there is a downbeat story contained herein, with
arguably the most shocking conclusion ever seen in the
series, but it rings true and indicates once again that things
do not always turn out all right in Eddie's investigations. We
never see Eddie's reaction to Mortimer's suicide but I don't
think he would have been surprised, or shocked.
Disappointed, certainly.

This episode has become famous due to the fact that it
contains the briefest of appearances of a pre-superstardom
Daniel Day-Lewis, but ironically he turns out to be playing
possibly the most anonymous DJ Radio West has ever

A sombre but totally absorbing installment.

Series 2, Episode 5:
Water cress farmer David Mortimer is being harassed by the over inquisitive locals in the village
where he lives. His wife Rosemary has disappeared for the second time and many believe that
she has been murdered.

The villagers smear Mortimer's house with mud, and taunt him. Cracking, Mortimer hits a
teenager and breaks his jaw. His court appearance coincides with Eddie's spot as a witness in
an independent case, which is adjourned.

One of the villagers at Mortimer's case tells Eddie of the suspicions of murder. Under pressure
from Don Satchley to increase the levels of human interest in his radio show, Eddie visits
Mortimer, and convinces him that he will prove the farmer innocent.

Prior to her first disappearance, Rosemary was ill. Eddie visits the village Doctor, Claire Wilson,
who tells him that the local GP at the time was Christopher Knightley, now a university lecturer.
Visiting Knightley, Eddie receives little information, then finds himself being thrown in a pond by
three students from the rowing team the lecturer coaches.

Visiting Knightley, Eddie demands to know what his relationship with Rosemary was. To keep
the past hidden from his wife, Knightley agrees to talk to Eddie about Mortimer's wife. Mortimer
didn't allow her to mix with anyone. When she fell ill, Knightley treated her and they had an
affair, during which Rosemary became pregnant.

The child, now nine years old, was adopted, and Eddie traces the mother to a convent, where
she is a music teacher. Mortimer wants Rosemary to return to him, and Eddie agrees to let him
no where she is. On meeting, her, Rosemary says she will never return: Mortimer has destroyed
her life.

Eddie narrates the story as part of his show, changing the names as usual. As the programme
goes out live on air, Mortimer commits suicide.

Throughout "The Farmer Had a Wife" there are flashes of
humour: the bowling green, Pam St Clement's role as the
newspaper deliverer, Eddie's ill-advised fitness bender and
the scene in the lecture hall where he is mistaken for a
medical student.

Underneath this lies a presentation of interwoven
manipulation, malicious gossip and broken lives, which
ultimately leaves the episode cold and bleak, not least
because of the ending. The sight of Eddie doing press-ups
on Erica's stairs, and his jogging spree, rank among my
favourites of "Shoestring's" wry 'character' touches.
Original BBC1 tx:
2105 - 2155hrs,
watched by 12.2 million

Filming dates:
23 June to 10 July 1980
(drn. 53'51")
David Mortimer
Eddie telephones Rosemary Mortimer's sister
in Winnipeg (much to Don's chagrin!)
Knightley reveals the truth
Rosemary Mortimer is located, but she
refuses to return to her husband
Eddie threatened by Mortimer?
A question mark hangs over peaceful watercress
beds as Eddie uncovers village scandal…
Click here for information on the
music used in this episode:
Eddie & Erica enjoy a lunchtime drink
(In the series Eddie is portrayed as most
definitely not a boozer, and is most likely
ordering mineral water)
...and up-and-coming
23 year-old Daniel Day-Lewis
featured as this episode's Radio
EastEnder-to-be Pam St Clement as
villager Gladys Robinson...
Erica treats Eddie's fitness
bender with disdain
written by WILLIAM HOOD