The Archers Archives


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One of the most controversial Archers episodes was broadcast on 22 September , which coincided with the launch of the UK's first commercial television station.

Lost 'Archers' recordings are found on a dusty shelf | The Independent

Phil and Grace Archer had been married just a few months earlier, and their blossoming relationship was the talk of the nation. However, searching for a story which would demonstrate some real tragedy among the increasingly unconvincing episode cliff-hangers, Godfrey Baseley had decided that Grace would have to die. The scripts for the week commencing 19 September were written, recorded, and broadcast on each day, with an "exercise in topicality" given as the explanation to the cast.


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On Thursday, listeners heard the sound effects of Grace trying to rescue Midnight , her horse, from a fire in the stable at Brookfield and the crash of a falling timber beam. Whether the timing of the episode was a deliberate attempt to overshadow the opening night of the BBC's first commercial rival has been debated ever since. It was certainly planned some months in advance, but it may well be that the actual date of the death was changed during the scriptwriting stage to coincide with the launch of Associated-Rediffusion.

This controversy has been parodied twice: in " The Bowmans ", an episode of the television comedy programme Hancock , and in the play The Killing of Sister George and its film adaptation. In , William Smethurst recounted a conversation with Baseley in which he reveals his real motivation for killing off Grace Archer: Churchman was encouraging the other actors to join a trade union.

The Archers Radio 4 from 1983

The actor Norman Painting played Phil Archer continuously from the first trial series in until his death on 29 October His last Archers performance was recorded just two days before his death, and was broadcast on 22 November. According to Who's Who in The Archers , [65] episode 15, was to be broadcast on 1 January The Archers reached its 60th anniversary on 1 January and to mark this achievement, a special half-hour episode was broadcast on Sunday, 2 January, on BBC Radio 4 from 7pm. The episode had been advertised as containing events that would "shake Ambridge to the core". The main events in the episode were Helen Archer giving birth to her son Henry and Nigel Pargetter falling to his death from the roof of Lower Loxley Hall.

This unlikely event provoked interest in the frequency and causes of death in the series. In fact, although the incidence of accidental death and suicide is seven times the national average, the overall mortality rate in Ambridge is almost exactly what would be expected.

The writing out of the character of Nigel caused much controversy among listeners, [70] [71] with a large number of complaints variously expressing dismay at the death of a popular character, concerns over the manner of the dismissal of the actor, belief that the promise to "shake Ambridge to the core" had been over-hyped, criticism of the credibility of the script and acting for the anniversary episode, and a perceived unwillingness of the editorial team to engage with these listener complaints. The programme has tackled many serious, contemporary social issues: rural drug addiction ; rape , including rape in marriage ; inter-racial relationships; direct action against genetically modified crops and badger culling; family break-ups; and civil partnerships , and a family being threatened by a gang of farm thieves.

There has been criticism from conservative commentators, such as Peter Hitchens [72] that the series has become a vehicle for liberal and left-wing values and agendas, with characters behaving out of character to achieve those goals.

However, one of the show's charms is to make much out of everyday, small concerns, such as the possible closure of the village shop, the loss and rediscovery of a pair of spectacles, [73] competitive marmalade -making, or nonsense such as a ' spile troshing ' competition, [74] rather than the large-scale and improbable events that form the plots of many soap operas. According to some of the actors, and confirmed in the writings of Godfrey Baseley, in its early days the show was used as a conduit for educational announcements from the Ministry of Agriculture , one actor reading an announcement almost verbatim to another.

Direct involvement of the government ended in Many famous people have made cameo appearances on the programme:. The Sunday omnibus broadcast of The Archers starts with a more rustic , accordion -arranged rendition by The Yetties. Excerpts from these movements were then used for a time as bridging music between scenes. The recordings were never made available to the public and their use was restricted even inside the BBC, partly because of an agreement with the Musicians' Union.

In , the theme was re-recorded in stereo, retaining the previous arrangements. The slightly different sound mixing and more leisurely tempo reportedly led some listeners to consider the new version inferior, specifically that it lacked "brio", although the BBC publicised the fact that the orchestra contained some of the musicians who had played in the previous recording, including Harold Rich piano and Norman Parker percussion. Robert Robinson once compared the tune to "the genteel abandon of a lifelong teetotaller who has suddenly taken to drink". He then went on to show how similar it is to " Montagues and Capulets " - "Dance of the Knights" - from Romeo and Juliet by Sergei Prokofiev , claiming that this was a result of Russian spies going through the BBC's rubbish bins looking for the scripts.

At times, a cliffhanger involving the death of a major character or a disaster was marked by the traditional closing theme being replaced by the final dramatic section of Barwick Green involving trombones, cymbals and the closing bars of the signature tune - known as the "doom music" to some fan groups. This has irritated some followers, who consider the jollity of the normal segment inappropriate in such circumstances.

When John Archer died no music was played. There was a nod to The Archers in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London on 27 July , where the theme tune was played at the beginning of a segment celebrating British culture: the sound of a radio could be heard being tuned in as Barwick Green was played.

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BBC Radio 4 Extra ran an occasional short supplement, Ambridge Extra , between and , featuring characters away from the Ambridge environs. Series 1 and 2 had 26 episodes and series 3, 4 and 5 had The reason offered for non-renewal was limited resources.


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Two organisations dedicated to the programme were established in the s. Archers Addicts was the official body, run by members of the cast. The club had five thousand members [] and an online shop where Archers memorabilia was sold under licence. It closed as a club on 31 December but still has a Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Archers Anarchists was formed some time later, objecting to the "castist" assumptions propagated by the BBC, and claiming that the characters are real. The usenet newsgroup uk. Its users include experts on many subjects covered by the programme, such as campanology, many aspects of farming, the running of small businesses, etcetera, and lengthy discussions ensue - as well as light-hearted matters, and plot speculation.

Various gatherings occur where umrats come together: the first were a series of about ten annual barbecues [] in Reading [the first of which was attended by Carole Boyd Lynda Snell ], but subsequently at various points around the world. The 'group has at times included participants from various parts of Europe and north and South America.

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It has nicknames for many of the main Archers characters, such as S'aint for Shula, and Hellen it also has nicknames for most of its own regular participants. Despite the general decline of usenet [] with the advent of trendier media such as Facebook and Twitter , UMRA remains a very active newsgroup compared to many. Its one-time T-shirts [] and mugs bore the legend in yellow on "Barwick Green", of course "An everyday story of internet folk. The Academic Archers, founded in , is a community of fans who share an academic approach to the programme.

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The Archers, The Death of Grace Archer

It organises an annual conference at which papers are presented which draw on academic expertise along with enjoyment. Although the useful information was more likely to concern unexploded land mines and opium addiction than the latest modern farming techniques, the inspiration and model of Naway Kor, Naway Jwand was The Archers , and the initial workshopping with Afghan writers included an Archers scriptwriter.

This slot was established on radio in the early postwar era and moved to television in Each series lasts six months, i. All centre on a heroine, usually a young girl facing challenges usually in Japanese traditional social ways to realize her dream. Programmes have often been used as vehicles for discussion of matters of social concern, such as the foster-child system, and to celebrate the locales around Japan where the series are set. Ned Sherrin produced a short film called The Cobblers of Umbridge. John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme has parodied The Archers with its recurring "The Archers Accidentally" sketches; [] the sketches claim to portray The Archers the way it sounds to people who only listen to the show inadvertently.

The radio series of Dead Ringers has frequently parodied characters from The Archers , including a special edition. In addition to books and audiobooks, purported maps of Ambridge and Borsetshire have been published. It was narrated by Stephen Fry and included interviews with current actors and scriptwriters. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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This article is about the radio series. For other uses, see The Archers disambiguation. British radio soap opera. Main article: List of The Archers characters. See also: List of fictional towns and villages. London: Grafton; p. Retrieved 9 September Retrieved 6 January The Independent on Sunday. Retrieved 10 July The Independent. Retrieved 9 January Retrieved 9 January — via www.

BBC Press Office. The Daily Telegraph. Oxford Royale. BBC News Online. Retrieved 1 March Telegraph Newspapers. Retrieved 26 February BBC Radio 4. The Archers.

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Retrieved 12 September The Times. Retrieved 22 May Archived from the original on 28 June Retrieved 17 February Retrieved 2 February Retrieved 16 June London: Michael O'Mara Books; p. London: Michael O'Mara Books; pp. Retrieved 28 December The Argus. Retrieved 18 September The Telegraph.

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