As her on screen character settles into the African way of life, so Hayley Mills felt at home returning to film in South Africa.
“It was like coming home,” she says. “This country is filled with such lovely people. I have become extremely fond of it.
“I have travelled around quite a bit this year too. My wonderful driver, Hodges, has taken me to his house and his friend’s houses, and everyone has just been incredibly friendly and lovely. The South Africans are great. They are passionate about what they do and have a wonderful sense of humour. There is an openness and a sweetness of spirit here.
“I also managed to get up to the Drakensberg Mountains for a few days. I stayed in this absolutely fantastic area, mountain range after mountain range after mountain range. I went to the place where some of the great British and Zulu battles happened. The history is fascinating.”
In this series, Caroline’s relationships with Africa and its people has also developed.
Hayley says: “Caroline is certainly more comfortable in Africa than she was. She doesn’t keep it all at arm’s length as much as she did. I think she has evolved more into somebody who can live here, and has really grown to love it.”
The mother-daughter relationship is much more established in this series, and Caroline is supportive of Sarah.
“Her relationship with her daughter is much better. They work together and she cares very much about where they are. It has been a very positive development.”
In addition, changes are evident in the dynamic between Caroline and Du Plessis.
“They certainly get along a lot better now. They seem to be rather similar. They are both the kind of people who speak their mind; not always necessarily the most tactful people in the world. But both of them are good at what they do. I think Caroline admires Anders in spite of herself. He is lovely with the children and is tremendously supportive of the family and she likes that.”
In this episode Danny is shocked when Elaine (Maggie O’Neill), his old flame from veterinary college, turns up with a tranquilised lioness which she claims to have found in the bush. Sarah is disquieted at Danny’s reaction to seeing Elaine again.
It soon becomes clear that Elaine has not told the whole truth when a man from Catabele, a nearby game park, reveals that one of his lionesses, destined to be shot in a hunt, has been stolen. Danny confronts Elaine who denies taking the lioness, but Sarah’s suspicions are raised.
After some internet lessons from Evan (Luke Ward Wilkinson), Du Plessis (Deon Stewardson) secretly goes on a dating website but Caroline knows he’s up to something.
Kriel has discovered a problem: in the new merged reserve there aren’t enough prey animals for the two lion prides. They need to buy more animals so Du Plessis volunteers to visit the auction. He has an ulterior motive for going to the auction thanks to his online dating, but to his dismay Caroline decides to accompany him to take care of the money. At the auction Du Plessis waits for hours for his date and eventually Tina, a female version of Du Plessis, shows up. They get on like a house on fire but when Tina meets Caroline she’s curious about Du Plessis’ relationship with her.
Danny is oblivious to the fact that Elaine still has feelings for him, but Sarah is starting to worry. Sarah is furious with Danny when Mr Castle returns to demand his lioness back. Danny promises to sort it out, but Elaine has already released the lioness.
Evan has been off school for a few days as his teacher has been sick. On his return to school he is mortified to discover that the replacement teacher is Sarah. She struggles to maintain order at school as the kids play tricks on her. Evan tells Sarah she needs to win the kids over.
Danny desperately searches for the lioness but without success. He fears she won’t survive long in the wild. Elaine is defiant about her actions but Danny spells out some home truths. The next morning Elaine finds the lioness badly mauled.
Danny brings the lioness into his surgery – where he’s astonished to find a room full of Sarah’s schoolkids. It was Evan’s idea to bring them and they are eager to help. Danny removes the lioness’ identifying microchip and Sarah has an idea.
While Du Plessis was out with Tina, Caroline had to step in to buy the prey animals. After discovering the wildebeest have mange, Caroline buys ostriches instead. A grumpy Du Plessis has to admit that Caroline did the right thing.
Mr Castle returns to claim his lioness. He’s faced with a load of kids and Elaine, who pretends to be from the local paper. When his reader fails to detect the microchip, he’s forced to admit defeat. Elaine takes her leave, having realised she can never come between Sarah and Danny.
Wild at Heart is produced by Nick Goding and the series producer is Suzan Harrison. It is directed by Nigel Douglas, Juliet May and Nick Laughland and written by Ashley Pharoah, Jack Williams, Michael Chaplin, Kieran Prendiville and Andy Watts. The executive producers are Ashley Pharoah, Charlie Pattinson and George Faber. It is a Company Pictures production for ITV.
Sunday 10 February 2008 7:30pm – 8:30pm on ITV1.