Monday, 1 November 2010

Cue Barwick Green

A while ago, I promised you a post about my love of The Archers. So, here it is! 

Thanks to the wonder of podcasts, I am now able to follow it regularly in a way that I've never been fully able to in the past. It makes my walk to work in the morning even more of a joy.

So, why do I like it so much? Well, here are a few of the reasons:

Real time events: Unlike TV soap operas, each episode of The Archers records events of that day... This means that future events can be trailed in advance, within the show. Rather than not knowing whether there has been seconds, hours or days between episodes, you know exactly when the action is taking place!

Handling of Death: Characters live long in The Archers and it's not unusual for the actors to die while still contracted to the show. This creates obvious problems which are handled with a great deal of sensitivity. Somehow the writers, cast and production staff always seem to hit the right note.

Long lasting stories: The lack of the ratings pressure which TV soaps are subjected to mean that there isn't the constant pressure for high profile storylines. This means that some stories can be developed over a long period of months or years. The best example in recent years was the development of Jack Wooley's Alzeimhers which won awards from mental health charities.

Regular events: Birthdays and wedding anniversaries are referenced as a natural part of the ebb and flow of the drama - not only when it suits the storyline! This adds to the feeling that your eavesdropping on real people, not artificial constructs.

The short lead-in times that radio can offer - and lack of visual  continuity issues - allow for topical references to be inserted at short notice. Examples include English World Cup scores or the death of the Queen Mother... One year they even recorded John Peel on location at Glastonbury!

Celebrity appearances - from Stephen Fry to Ewan McGregor, Alan Titchmarsh to Terry Wogan and Dame Judy Dench to Princess Margaret, The Archers has always drawn the great and good!

Of course, all these things are in addition to fantastic storylines, great characters and superior acting. Well, mostly superior acting - that of the children and sheep can leave a lot to be desired!


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