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The Archers (R4)

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      17.05.2012 16:55
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      Great radio soap.

      'The Archers - 'an everyday story of country folk' ---What Is/Are The Archers?--- The Archers is the name of a family who live in the fictional village of Ambridge. This radio programme is a long standing soap which goes out on weekdays and has an omnibus on Sundays. The Archers are basicaly a farmng family and the programme covers a lot of the extended family plus other villagers. ---Where Do They Live?--- The Archers is set in the village of Ambridge in the fictional county of Borsetshire. Borsetshire is hyperthetically situated between Worcestershire and Warwickshire. ---Important Properties in Ambridge--- Ambridge is a small village situated on the river Am with the following being some of the main properties: *Village Pub - The Bull *Hotel - Grey Gables *Gentry Property - Lower Loxley Hall *The River Am, from which Ambridge gets its name *Church - St Stephens *Shop - Village Shop *Archer's Family Home - Brookfield Farm - family home of Archer family but many more are livng around the village but some are even as far as South Africa. Many more houses and farms are mentioned in the show and there is a map online which details all the properties and their residents. ---How Long have They Been Going?--- The Archers was frst broadcast in 1950 It was intended as a programme that farmers would listen to and which would help with information on growing crops etc as food was still rationed after the war. Apparently this educational side was dropped in the 1970s but the programme still has an agricultural advisor and there is much useful rural and farming information dotted through the show - how else would I know that Bees suffered from Varroa? ---When Are The On?--- *On Radio 4: Six episodes from Sunday to Friday, at around 19.02 (after the News). All except the Friday evening episode are repeated the following day at 14.02. Omnibus show - Sunday morning at 10am to 11.15. *On the Internet: The Archers is broadcast simultaneously online, and you can listen to any episode from the last seven days via iPlayer. *Podcast: The programme can be sent to your computer. You can then keep it for ever and listen to it when you like, either directly from your computer or by downloading it. ---Recordings--- The Editor is Vanessa Whitburn. The prgrammes are recorded at the BBC's studio in Birmingham. Episodes are recorded weeks in advance but if something current and relevant occurs it can be written into the story and re-recorded. ---The Tune--- It's a 'maypole dance' called Barwick Green written in 1924 by Arthur Wood. Apparently it is also the correct rhythm for doing chest compressions for CPR. ---My Opinions--- I started listenig to The Archers way back in the 1960s. Beng in school then I used to listen to the omnibus on a Sunday morning and made my mum make sure she woke me up in time. Moving forward through life with work and children I tended not to follow any rado or TV programme religiously, but now that the boys are grown I have once again resumed listening to my Sunday omnibus - making breakfast and then going back to bed to listen from 10am. Although once centred around the farming community this has now developed into a village soap which follows most of the inhabitants at various times, so you do not have to have an active interest in farming to listen in. It reflects the way village life has changed over the years. The central characters are members of the Archer family but there is also a lot of other villagers who add to the drama. Not everyone now farms and many aspects of life are convered - from gay marriage to donor sperm babies and the usual round of adultary and intrigue. Throughout the year various fesivals are covered - the flower show and fete, and the up and coming Jubilee - plus bonfire night and Christmas. They were even visited by Gardener's Question Time. Although when you first listen you might not know the characters you will soon figure out who is who - their voices are mostly quick distinct from one another and if you go online you will find family trees and biographies that will help you work out the family connections. One work of warning - after listening you build up your own image in your head of what each character looks like - and seeing their picture online will shatter your illusion! I just checked out a website and found that Kenton Archer, who has a smooth sexy cultured voice, is actually bald, but he will always stay the same in my imagination. However the BBC site has a facility where you can read about the characters and their families but keep their image hidden - so as not to shatter your illusions. I find it more enjoyable to listen to this soap than follow the TV ones fo Emmerdale, Coronation Street or Eastenders. All ages are in the soap, from the newest residents, children Brad and Chelsea, to Jack Whooley who is n an Old Peoples Home with dementia. There is talk of a new large scale dairy enterprise, the village has a green burial site and you get t hear what happens in the village shop. Hard to explain but once you have listened a few times you will find you are interested in their goings on. ---Would I Recmmend?--- Yes definitely. Not just for country yokels - it covers all the dramas of everyday life. ---Website--- www.bbc.co.uk/radio4 ---Merchandise--- Lots of books and Archer related items such as mugs and aprons on the Archers Addict website. ---Official Fan Club--- http://www.archers-addicts.com/ Also on Twitter and Facebook.

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        14.05.2012 20:50
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        A great pocket radio drama that is worth a listen on the daily commute!

        I'd always written The Archers off as being a radio soap for middle-class snobs and farmers, since my first experience of it came from staying at a friend's house who were decidedly modern parents, in that they refused to have a TV in their house and listened to The Archers on Radio 4 each evening. I'd catch the odd tail end of an episode, but never quite got sold on the idea of an audio-soap, opposed to the plenitude of visual ones available on TV. Fast forward several years and I managed to get a job in an office where we were allowed to use iPods whilst inputting data in order to stem the monotonous flow of boredom that came with such routine tasks, and I found myself growing bored at the frequent repeat plays of my fairly limited music library and it dawned on me to download podcasts, which are small bite-size radio shows ranging from 'best bits' of actual radio shows to original programming specifically for the internet audience. Amongst the plethora of podcasts available on iTunes was the daily podcast of The Archers. Remembering my past association with the show, and intrigued to have fresh daily content that might stimulate me during my work day, I subscribed to the Podcast feed and haven't missed an episode yet in over 4 years! The problem with listening to such an established show is that the intricacies of the relationships between the characters is lost on the casual listener, such as myself, and with the drawback of having to rely on voices only, it was harder to grow and attachment to some characters, compared to visually latching onto a person's performance on a visual serial drama, such as Eastenders. However, The Archers rotates their plots quite well managing to focus on small groups of characters over a week, allowing new listeners to gradually get attached to certain storylines (normally the mundane village life) and gradually get sucked into the larger story-arcs, involving family trysts and secrets coming to light. Over the period of a month, there are usually four or five smaller 'week-long arcs' and one slow-burner, so within a few weeks of listening, a new Archers fan can feel part of the events pretty quickly, and grow accustomed to the characters. Ambridge, the small village in which The Archers is set, is home to a varied cast of characters, of which many share relationships, some of which are so complex that even a four-year veteran such as myself still needs to double-check the website to see who is uncle/cousin/sister-in-law to whom. The Archers website (bbc.co.uk/archers) is mentioned at the tail-end of each podcast and is a fantastic source of information ranging from past storyline, actor/character biographies and a large family tree - all of which are indispensable to the freshly christened Archers Addict. The storylines, as I mentioned before, cover a mix of the mundane to the melodramatic, with things like family feuds over who has been milking the cows to people falling to their deaths on New Years Day (RIP Nigel) - so the criticisms usually levelled at the show of having a slow pace are somewhat unfounded. While it isn't quite as sexy and violent as the likes of Eastenders, it has a realistic day-to-day timeline that mirrors our own (Monday - Friday and Sunday too). In terms of mood, it is reminiscent of early 90's Emmerdale Farm, when it was called Beckinsale and before planes fell out of the sky onto the Woolpack...(Wow, I'm showing my age now!) The voice actors are all really enjoyable and each voice becomes distinctive and easy to identify the longer that you listen to the show. Some of the male voices may seem similar at first, but gradually you find yourself becoming aware of all of the characters, and attributing facial features and looks to them (which never match the actual actors - you can see the faces behind the voices on the official website). The background ambient noises, such as birds, tractors and kitchen crockery being laid on the table are very well done and if you have your volume up loud enough, you almost feel like you're there observing these people about their lives. It really is high-quality audio drama at its best! The benefit of having the shows on podcast is useful, as I can download each day's episode promptly after it airs on Radio 4 that day and listen to it at my leisure. Unfortunately, both the BBC website and the iTunes page only hold the last week's worth of podcasts, so if you don't download an episode before the following week's one airs, you miss out! A little bit more leeway when it comes to downloading these could be useful, as it is tricky when you are away from the computer on holiday (although luckily, I've yet to miss an episode in four years!) - The Podcasts come in two styles - the 15 minute daily episodes (which I prefer to listen to) and the full week's omnibus edition which comes in one simple download every Sunday. If you are interested in listening to the show, you can find it on the BBC.co.uk/archers page or by searching "The Archers" in the podcast section of the iTunes store.

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          11.04.2011 14:18
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          A great radio soap

          I've been listening to The Archers occasionally for a few years now, but over the last 6 months I've listened to it more and more. And I'm totally hooked! It's the only soap I bother with nowadays, but it's just enough to satisfy that part of my brain. ===Background=== The Archers is set in the fictional village of Ambridge in the fictional county of Borsetshire, somewhere in the English West Midlands (between Worcestershire and Warwickshire I think!). The Archer family are the centre of many story lines, along with other villagers. Many of the characters are farmers, so agricultural story lines feature regularly, as well as general village life and the occasional scandal! ===The programme=== The Archers is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 for 15 minutes at 7pm and repeated the next day at 2pm. There is also and omnibus edition on a Sunday. There is also a podcast and the programme is available on the BBC iPlayer. ===My opinion=== As I said before, I'm pretty hooked on The Archers. I listen to most of the episodes - usually online on the BBC iPlayer. Most of the time it is a nice gentle listen, with the characters going about village life. But that's not to say it's boring...the characters are varied, interesting and funny. The acting is great. But there are more serious stories too, like Nigel's death...Elizabeth coping with the loss of her husband has bought me to tears several times of the last few months! One thing that makes me chuckle is the very clear distinction between the middle class characters and the working class characters. One of the things I especially like about The Archers is the agricultural stories. The show has an agricultural story editor (Graham Harvey), and the themes are topical. I live and work in the countryside so I like how it relates to my life. ===Recommendation=== Even if you don't think you are the kind of person that listens to The Archers, I think you should give it a listen. It's a great way to relax for 15 minutes and absorb yourself in the lives of others. So I'd recommend The Archers - especially if you've never listened before. You might just find you're new favourite soap!

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            13.08.2010 20:24
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            If you want an evening radio programme, listen to this!

            The Archers is a radio 4 programme broadcast on Sundays through to Fridays at 7o'clock for 15 minutes. On Mondays-Fridays there is a repeat of the last episode. The Archers is about the fictional farming village of Ambridge. It looks at the upper-class, presented through Brian and Jennifer Aldridge, right down to the ruffians, presented through Clive Horrobin. Running for 50 years, today it has the more modern outlook of relationships between people with a huge age gap between them, one person pregnancies, and bars, but still looks at the farming side of things, and showing a lack of farriers by changing one of their own characters into one. Most episodes are recorded long before the broadcast date, but they will do quick episodes a couple of days before the broadcast. For example, last winter, they quickly re-recorded an episode, and included in it somebody's car slipping on the road, which goes to prove that the criticism they receive for not looking at current issues is wrong. It is a great show, full of great characters, and strong storylines. I'm never bored of listening to it, and if I miss a single episode, I'm always on the bbc iplayer the next day to catch up with it. I have been listening to the programme since I was 7, which is now 20 years, and I still love it just as much! As a bit of background history, the only remaining actress from the first ever broadcast is Patricia Greene, who was signed up for a 6-week contract, which goes to show that six weeks can be a very long time, as she is still going strong right now!

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              08.03.2009 13:41
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              an everytale tale of country folk

              When my brothers & I were young we used to stay every summer holiday with our Granny who lived in a small village in Norfolk. Living in the suburbs of Manchester we were seen as 'townies' as it was well before people bought second homes in the country. My Granny listened to the Archers religiously every evening on radio 4, just after 7pm (or 2pm) weekdays & I soon learned how to be quiet for 15 minutes & eventually got interested & since then it's been part of my weekly routine. I tend to listen to the omnibus edition which is on Sundays from 10am - 11.15 when I steam the clothes whilst catching up with the latest news, gossip & scandal in Ambridge. It's the longest running soap & has been broadcast since the 1950s & was dubbed. 'an everyday tale of countryfolk' & is easily recognised by it's catchy theme tune. OK, it's been criticised for the following reasons - 1) it's seen as only appealing to the middle class who, apparently, are the only people who listen to radio 4 (tosh!) 2) it's been criticised for not reflecting authentic country life. 3). it's been accused of not acknowledging real-life issues & econmic problems etc. 4). it's viewed by many (non-listeners) as boring. The Archers' storylines DO reflect real-life to a certain extent - eg we are now hearing about how the credit crunch is affecting businesses (eg the hotel & horse-riding establishment) & how government farming legislation is affecting organic & non-organic farms, there are always references to the environment, re-cycling, the economy & global warming etc. The writers have also introduced several interesting topics over the years such as racism, breast cancer, anorexia.gambling, bank fraud, homelessness,homosexuality & Alzheimer's disease - all, in my opinion, being dealt with in realistic storylines. There is a mix of characters who, in some respect, have similarities to those in Emmerdale & include the wealthy, the wheeler-dealers, the grafters, the shopworkers, those who own & serve in the pub plus the professionals. We see them through relationships, break-ups, pregnancy, birth, illness & death so the episodes are rarely boring. The focus of attention is usually centred around 'The Bull' pub, the village shop or the church (not as dull as you may think!) & there's always plenty of gossip to listen to & several storylines to follow - some mundane & some not - you may be surprised! I always think of my Granny when I hear the music which reflects the sometimes sentimental side of me which often gets hidden from those who don't know me well. summary ~ - NOT just for old people/ farmers! - a well-written, long running soap which reflects, in my opinion, a good cross section of the country community. - interesting & relevant issues usually well-balanced & sensitive. - gives an insight into problems faced by many farmers & their need to diversify. - a good way to relax for 15 minutes.

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                04.03.2009 10:22
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                Give it a try

                I am a complete and unabashed Archers junkie. When I looked at the ( very few ) reviews on here I saw that they came from 2001 and thought it was time for another look at this longest running of soaps ( soap for the intellectual middle classes - or so us addicts like to think !!). On at just after 7pm Sunday to Friday Radio 4. Omnibus edition at 10.00am on Sunday mornings - slightly truncated. Running since the early 1950s , I believe this is the longest running soap in the world. Originally started as an agricultural public information show ( learn while you are entertained ! ) it has long been pure adulterated soap although it still has country themes. It is set in Ambridge in Borsetshire and , like all good soaps, it features one family , not surprisingly called ....Archer. Although it has it's moments of high drama ( the deaths of John Archer, Mark Hebden and the most famous of all - Grace Archer ) its bedrock is the mundane trivia of day to day life. For example the last episode had an arrest by the Serious Fraud Office ( all right , not so mundane !) and the proposed buying out of a ( premium - very important )sausage business. Norman Painting ( who plays Phil Archer ) has been in the series since the beginning and a lot of the characters have very long histories , one or two having hardly changed the actors. This is no Eastenders though - no great drama timed to coincide with Christmas - generally the village pantomime is the most exciting event here -and in recent months we have had the Fat Club, marmalade making, house renovation , TB in the herd - the list is endless. More modern issues have been tackled in attemt to bring things up to date - there is an openly gay character who entered into a civil partnership , a multifaith wedding ( C of E vicar and Hindu - my goodness that split the village apart and Shula Archer has left the village church over it . Mind you she has only transferred her allegiance to Felpersham cathedral - Now do you see what I mean about middle class ! ) The current long running modern tackle an issue theme is Alzheimers - Jack Woolley , a very successful local businessman has developed the condition . Very difficult to include in what is essentially a light entertainment programme , but to my mind handled sensitively and effectively. There are working class characters scratching a living and a sort of old feud between the Grundys and The Archers. The credit crunch doesn't appear to have hit Ambridge yet however. My parents listened to The Archers and I remember the storylines from the early 60s. One of the earliest I reall was Jennifer Aldridge ( nee Archer - of course ! ) and her illegitimate son ( who is the gay character living with his partner Adam and Ian ) My mother didn't think that an appropriate storyline for a six year old and we all stopped listening for .... at least a week. She couldn't keep away fortunately and I was hooked. The only real interlude I had was when I went missing for a couple of years as an ubercool student - but then I realised it was top ubercool to be a fan and I returned . My husband is now as hooked as I am although I have to fill him in on the history and that really is my only criticism. The beauty of such a long running series is character development ( Jennifer , illegitimate child , now 40 and gay ) Huge amounts of scope but the scriptwriters often are fairly new and characters can change personality without warning or reason. The weight of the history and the long standing listeners , like me , can make the scriptwriters jobs very difficult . The story is also a bit inacessible to the new listener ( if he has no faithful fan to help ) so if you are tempted ....persevere. The BBC website has a very active and extremely critical message board which can be hugely entertaining - as well as super critical bad tempered and plain daft. One thing I will guarantee. You may never have listened to The Archers, you may not have heard of it .... but you will know the theme tune. Barwick Green and it goes like this Da de da da dee etc ( oh give it a try and you will know what the das and dees were trying to say.

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                  05.10.2001 21:18
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                  I am going to let you into a secret. That wonderful piece of music that goes 'Dum Dee-dum Dee-Dum Dee-dum, Dum Dee-dumm Dee Daa-Daa' is actually called 'Barwick Green'. Just the mere mention of those sounds by me will surely jog memories so that I will not have to name the programme about which I am to attempt to wax lyrical. Oh, alright then, it's 'The Archers', the longest running radio drama in the world, being as it is over 50 years old. If I were to recount every single twist and turn that has happened over the last 50 years, I would run out of words, so here goes for a potted background. The fictional village of Ambridge in the county of Borsetshire is the setting for this drama. The eponymous family are farmers and have been working the land in the area for many years. There was originally Dan and Doris, and then Phil and Grace. Unfortunately Grace died in a fire on the launch night of ITV (yes, the BBC liked spoiling tactics even in 1955!). Phil married Jill and they had four children, David, Shula, Kenton and Elizabeth. David now runs the farm with his wife Ruth, a lady who possesses such an annoying Geordie accent that I am surprised no-one has attempted to strangle her! Shula is married to the vet and Elizabeth is married to an idiot called Nigel Pargetter. Phil had many brothers and sisters. Tony married Pat and is a mad keen organic farmer. Indeed, his son Tom was up in court once for destroying a GM crop field (who says teh topics are never relevant?). There is also Jennifer, who is married to the local bigwig, and Peggy married the man who ran the pub, who ended up drinking the stock until he could swallow no more. She then married a rich Brummie called Jack. There are other families in the village. The Larkins were landworkers, and the last surviving one, Clarrie, married Eddie Grundy, who must surely be the unluckiest man in the world. He was a poor country singer, he went bank rupt, lost several jobs, including one delivering curries, and is now doing his own 'landscape garden' business. These are the main folk who inhabit the village and our airwaves twice daily, with an omnibus on a Sunday morning on Radio 4, just before 'Desert Island Discs'. So what is it about 'The Archers' that makes it so great? Well, if you could find something that could take the cares of the world away from you for one hour every week, wouldn't you become hooked to it? The stories are not superficial or frivolous, yet they provide just enough escapism to enable us to tune in. There are social issues, farming issues and good old family issues, and I love them all. Not to say that it isn't dramatic! last week Edward Grundy nicked his brothers car and ended up leaving a local girl in a coma! There has been the battle between local farmers and big business, property developers and warble-fly in the flock! One less pleasant aspect was a particularly unpleasant scene last year. The drama's first ever sex scene was gratuitous and totally unnecessary, and almost put me off my Sunday lunch. But tune into it! It is great and I guarantee you will soon be hooked!

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                    13.04.2001 05:59
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                    What can l say apart from l listen every Sunday! It is pointless to explain the plot, you either know it already or dont care what it is! I have listened to this programme virtually every week since l was seven. No, l dont know why and yes l am sane (possibly). The plots are predictable and seem to move in slow motion. The acting is often wooden and the characters, unbelievable. BUT, l like it. The only defence l have for this, is that it allows me 1.25 hours every Sunday to do some work while l listen and it provides an island of stability in the world we live in. Yes, Yes l know, pretty weak. But lets see you try to justify watching TV soaps! The final defence of the series, is that if you listen you will be unique amongst your friends and it will annoy your family (it does mine, anyway)

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                      05.03.2001 03:10
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                      If I ruled the world, I don't know about every day being the first day of Spring, but I do that that there would be some _very_ radical changes in terms of the Archers plot narrative. Having Ambridge hit by a medium-sized asteroid or an outbreak of the Black Death would initially be very high on the list, but I would fight off the temptation on the very reasonable grounds that it would be too quick for the buggers. Slow suffering is what's needed here. Very, very slow suffering. And lots of it. For why? Because the Archers makes me vomit. No, let me correct that: it doesn't make me vomit, it makes me projectile vomit. Let me hear that signature tune for a second and I can fill a bucket on the far side of the room. Radio 4 is the only national station worth listening to for any length of time, but the difficulty is that listening to Radio 4 for any length of time will often bring you into contact with the Archers. If you're wise, you'll turn the radio off as soon as that tune starts, then unplug it, just to be on the safe side. Otherwise you're in, twice a day every weekday, for a fifteen minute slice of smug, self-satisfied life as lived by smug, self-satisfied country-folk. Oh, and their working-class employees. But they're only there for comedy: one could hardly take the working-class seriously, could one? Or the upper-middle class. No, there's a narrow stratum where serious life is lived, and that's the world the Archers opens a window on. Middling middle class, not too high, not too low. And of course, it's only the women in that middling middle class who can be taken truly seriously. The men are incompetent and well-meaning at best, malevolent at worst. As in the equally revolting EastEnders, it's the women who drive things forward and cope in their usual marvellous woman's way with life. The female vicar, for example. The astonishingly talented Ruth, whose bungling husband can barely co pe during her absence from farm-work with breast-cancer. The even more talented Asian female lawyer Usha Gupta. Though of course, "talented Asian female" is a tautology on this kind of program. It goes without saying that someone blessed with not just one but two winning minority tickets in life's lottery will be talented. Well, no, I have to correct myself again: it doesn't. Usha's axiomatic talent has to be regularly demonstrated and I often wonder how the actress who plays her manages to endure being patronized so often and so thoroughly. And the list goes on. Even worse are the periodic outbursts of comedic flatulence, usually involving Eddie Grundy, the working-class wide-boy of the series, or Linda Snell, the token female baddie. Not that she really is bad, of course, just foolish and self-important. The sort of person whose escapades we all love to gossip about behind their backs. And that really sums up the Archers: it's gossip for listeners too pathetic or stupid or lacking in a sense of humor or proportion to see how badly written, arch, smug, self-satisfied, and unpleasant the Archers really is. Sartre once said that Hell is other people. He was wrong. Hell isn't other people, it's being struck down by paralysis at ten o'clock on a Sunday morning with Radio 4 on. Because that's when the Archers omnibus starts. More than an hour of uninterrupted Archers. My stomach rolls just thinking about it.

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                        27.02.2001 15:54
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                        I am absolutely devoted to radio 4. However, I thought I would praise a Radio 4, nay British, institution that has been rather ignored in this dooyoo section: The Archers. I've noticed some gentle slights against the Archers even from Radio 4 enthusiasts. It has taken me 7 years to grow into the series and get to know the characters and plots and nuances. But even as a sane and stable individual I would say that I am now in some way addicted to The Archers. It's strength lies in it's familiarity, it's dullness even. Nothing that is toooo bad ever happen. Nothing unrealistic. No murders, no plane crashes.....there was a bit of adultery last year and the blue rinses were up in arms (not least cos Eddie Grundy said “shag”). The people of Ambridge are currently up in arms at plans to merge their school with one nearby and tongues are wagging because the Vicar (a woman) and the new Village Doctor enjoy a The realism is tangible but the enthusiasm of the villagers is endearing. In Ambridge everybody cares. But then it is touchingly topical. The editors leave a small amount of space each week that can be filled with topical snippets. Last week, we had reminisces on the state of farming and the effect of the 1967 foot and mouth outbreak and a sense of foreboding of the impending crisis. At the other end of the spectrum we hear Eddie and Clarry Grundy moaning about the loud bellowing Music of Eminem that young Edward plays. The traumas are ones we might all face. The plots ones we can identify. Not too much malice or hate and then again no real schmaltz either. The seasons change too....that's faintly comforting. Yes it is annoying. Ruth Archer's contstant "Oh nooo" mentality, Joe Grundy's almost unintelligible grunts, Linda Snell' feng shui obsession and of course the Pargetter's. But it's a gentle entertainment after work, 10 minutes of safety. No alarms and no s urprises.

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