Archers spin-off Ambridge Extra is shelved

Ambridge Extra generic pic The digital spin-off launched in 2011 will be 'rested'

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Ambridge Extra, the digital spin-off of radio soap The Archers, has been shelved because of 'tough financial choices'.

Radio 4 Extra commissioning editor Caroline Raphael announced the decision on Thursday on The Archers website.

In a blog entry, she said: 'At the moment, we believe our limited resources are best used by focusing on the core purpose of the network, which is unlocking the rights to the archive of great radio programmes - including drama, comedy, features and readings - and broadcasting only a few originations.

'Our Ambridge Extra decision won't impact on The Archers in any way, but across the BBC we are having to make tough financial choices and prioritise and protect the services and content that deliver the most value to audiences.'

The occasional spin-off, first broadcast in 2011, could be heard on Radio 4 Extra and featured minor characters from the long-running serial on Radio 4.

It failed to capitalise on the The Archers' 5m listeners, attracting an audience of only about 250,000 per week on Radio 4's digital sister station.

While the BBC said the show would 'rest' for the time being, it hasn't ruled out the possibility that it might return in one way or another in the future.

A spokesperson confirmed there would be no job losses as a result of the decision.

Fans on The Archers website were split over the end of Ambridge Extra. One said: 'I enjoyed it - and I know lots of others did. Ah well, onwards and upwards.'

Another said: 'I liked AE because it was able to take a deeper look at some of the minor characters by having fewer story lines and a smaller cast. I hope that R4 finds space for it somewhere sometime.'

But other comments were not favourable, with one saying: 'Let's hope Ambridge Extra has gone the way of New Coke.'

Archers fans have been subjected to other cuts recently. The popular Archers message board shut last year because of 'diminishing traffic' and DQF.

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