Saturday, 8 January 2011

Tum te tum te tum te tum...

This past couple of weeks I have been wallowing in Archers nostalgia following the 60th anniversary episode on the first Sunday of the year, in between incandescent fury at the content of that particular episode, the outcome of which must now be well known. Why Nigel? One of the nicest characters in the programme, I loved episodes with him in, you always knew that he would be up to some fresh plan, full of his latest enthusiasm, be it allotments, wine making or his shire horse. The ineptitude with which the episode was written has only added to the sense of outrage, it was third rate melodrama, or like a bad detective novel in which the average reader can surmise the entire plot within the first chapter. Nigel's death was as meaningless as Grace Archer's death more than fifty years earlier, only she was given the dignity of a decent send off. Having recently listened again to that episode, timed co-incidently for the night ITV started, it was a good, well written piece of drama that crucially rang true in a way that Nigel's accident did not.

Vanessa Whitburn (programme editor) et al have not shown themselves at their best through this entire incident, in the storyline, the writing, the way that actors and listeners have been treated or their feeble attempts to gain listeners through sensationalism. This is The Archers, not Eastenders: no one tunes into The Archers for sensational happenings and unending woe, it is the quiet everyday rhythm of life in the countryside that is so attractive. Phil and Jill competing in the cake baking at the village fete, lambing, harvest, Joe and Eddie Grundie attempting to make a dishonest buck, chat outside the village shop, even Lynda Snell interfering and posing, are the sorts of storylines we love. I am also mystified as to why a programme that attracts more than five million listeners feels a need to employ cheap tricks in an apparent bid to gain listeners. What about the existing listeners, or are we not important?

I'm now aware that I have gone on for a considerable period of time about a radio programme, however, I do feel incredibly strongly about this, not only have I listened since before I can remember, but my father has also listened since before he can remember. My grandparents listened, many of my friends listen; it is a part of my life. The Archers truly matters and "the powers that be" need to remember that they are not just running a radio programme but a national institution that plays an important part in many people's lives.

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