Beyond Paradise might have a cosy, low-stakes feel, but that doesn't mean its writers aren't adept at serving up some truly staggering moments, as we saw in last week's episode when Anne's love bubble was well and truly burst.


After deciding not to spend her evening with Richard (Peter Davison) out of respect to her late husband on his birthday, she later changed her mind and surprised her new beau at the art gallery. But he wasn't the only one who was caught off guard.

Anne (Barbara Flynn) was stunned to learn that Richard, who is actually called Peter (although we'll stick to Richard for continuity), has a wife – a critical piece of information learned only after she came face to face with said wife.

The pair spoke briefly, unaware of who the other was, before Richard suddenly appeared, with very little to say for himself, as the cold hard truth came tumbling out.

Peter Davison as Richard Baxter for Beyond Paradise. He is wearing a purple shirt, grey blazer and glasses as he looks ahead.
Peter Davison as Richard Baxter in Beyond Paradise. Red Planet Pictures/Alex Hill

The reveal was painful on four fronts. Firstly, there's the deceit, which leaves a bad taste in one's mouth.

More like this

Anne had also opened up to Richard in ways she hadn't to anyone else for a very long time.

"He makes me happy," she said to Martha before she found out who he really was. "For the first time time since your dad died, I feel like my life is going forwards and not back."

Anne and Richard also seemed like an ideal match, as showcased by their prior conversations, which flowed freely and were peppered with easy laughter.

And finally, Martha had warned her mother to proceed with caution on more than one occasion, advice which was continually met with frustration, which will only have added to Anne's shame.

Read more:

But before she hurried home to lick her wounds in private, Richard seemingly wanted a chance to explain himself, rather than just taking the hit and leaving her be.

"It's complicated," he said. "I was going to talk to you about it. I'm sorry."

But that explanation didn't arrive, not in that episode, or in tonight's, with Davison's character now firmly out of the picture, which is disappointing given the abrupt nature of the reveal and the conversation that came after.

Without a follow-up exchange between the two, however brief it might have been, it not only leaves Anne in limbo, but the audience also, who need some form of closure – even if his explanation amounted to nothing more than an extremely apologetic: "I wanted to have my cake, and eat it too."

Regardless of how Richard could dress up his behaviour – if indeed he was a scoundrel, and nothing more – that chapter of their story feels unfinished.

But Davison's swift exit was also a wasted opportunity.

Anne and Richard stood side by side outside her house
Barbara Flynn as Anne Lloyd and Peter Davison as Richard Baxter in Beyond Paradise. Red Planet Pictures/Ed Miller

That development provided an opening for the writers to take the show in an unexpected and inspired direction. In an alternate universe, Richard and his wife could have been in an open marriage, a way of life that's still considered both unseemly by some and out of step which the core tenets of marriage.

The couple could have lived largely separate lives, their marriage a platonic arrangement, with romance pursued elsewhere. Or they could have been about to formally separate while also maintaining a solid friendship, as many former couples do.

There are any number of possible explanations that could have worked and provided food for thought – the best television entertains and enlightens. But instead, everything was wrapped up as quickly as possible, leaving this particular viewer, and I'm sure many others, feeling shortchanged.

Had Richard withheld that truth from Anne rather than laying it all out when they first met, she would doubtlessly still have felt both betrayed and embarrassed. Regardless of your intent, whether it stems from protecting someone's feelings or protecting yourself, lies strip the injured party of their agency.

There's also a world in which Anne, feeling somewhat adventurous after several decades of a conventional marriage, might have been open to exploring unchartered territory. But who are we to say how she would have responded in the immediate aftermath and in the days to come? Theorising is ultimately fruitless when the answers will never arrive.

"There must be something behind it," Davison told and other press. "Maybe he's just after nice dinners and that feeling of being romantic again at his age."

But just like the man who played him, we'll never know.

Beyond Paradise airs on BBC One and iPlayer on Fridays.


Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.