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Feedback: Closure of The Archers' Messageboard

Friday 15 February 2013, 15:54

Roger Bolton Roger Bolton

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Roger Bolton Roger Bolton, presenter of Feedback

When I was a BBC executive I had little patience with those who said that "there is so much more to the BBC than programmes." I was tempted to put a notice on my desk which said "It's the programmes, stupid".

That was in the pre digital age. Today I would still keep the notice but I'd consider adding a rider - "and the digital conversations that result."

My possible change of heart is due to my experience this week chairing a discussion on the upcoming closure of the Archers' message board and the furore that resulted.

On the face of it, not too many people are affected.

It's reckoned that only 1,000 people each week contribute to that message board and that perhaps around 10,000 visit it each week.

However for those people it is a vital part of their lives and many feel outraged that it is being taken away from them. The BBC says that with a reduced income  it has prioritised  providing new services such as the ability to download more Desert Island Discs programmes and 900 editions of Letter from America.

Twenty years ago not many people would have forecast that radio would still be central to so many millions of lives here in the UK and that its audiences would increase and not diminish.

(By the way I'm delighted that the BBC Director General  designate, Tony Hall, has decide to call the new boss of radio, Helen Boaden, Director of Radio, not of Audio and Music).

Who would have forecast that the Archers would remain so popular?

I'm a little surprised that I am feeling anxious for Lillian and even a little sorry for Matt. I do hope Elizabeth doesn't bankrupt herself over Lower Loxley, and dream that David will whisk Ruth off for a dirty weekend in Paris. (Actually I'm dreaming I would whisk Ruth off!)

I'm just off to explain to my wife it's not Ruth - it's the Geordie accent.

Roger Bolton


Roger Bolton presents Feedback on Radio 4.

Listen to this week's Feedback
•Get in touch with the programme, find out how to join the listener panel or subscribe to the podcast on the Feedback website
•Read all of Roger's Feedback blog posts

The Archers

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  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    The only consolation I have is that in the fullness of time the BBC will find out it has made a colossal mistake. Newlach obviously you are the right kind of listener and the BBC is welcome to you.


  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    I am not a contributor to the messageboard of the Archers. However, when I heard Mr Smith being so arrogant to the license fee paying audience on last weeks Feedback I was really horrified. I hope that the management in the BBC have taken note of his arrogance, and will correct this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    I live on the other side of the planet and since my school days I have listened to the Archers. The message boards on their site is a comfort, a source of info, a place to laugh, to cry and a constant reminder of my roots. This is the only message board community that share the points of reference to my entire life. This is very sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    >>>The Archers messageboard is a living, breathing, useful resource that is an absolute lifeline for some of those who post on it. Investing the money saved from culling it to make long-dead progammes available on-line is rather like putting down a pet and then using the money saved from its feed and vet fees to buy a fancy hi-tech gizmo that is rarely used.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    hmm, half of my last message seems not to have been posted. I'm probably the 'wrong type of poster' for this place... Anyway, I was agreeing with Morganish as far as I remember.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Mr. Nigel Smith's 'contribution' to Feedback was appalling in its coldness and arrogance - far beyond what I had even imagined it would be. In The Archers message board the BBC had a
    unique resource of intelligent, witty and articulate listener feedback; most commercial companies would pay thousands for this. Yet they chose to forfeit this valuable line of communication with its listenership in what seems like a petulant, knee-jerk reaction to posters' criticism of recent storylines in the programme itself.
    Personally, I shall never feel quite the same about the BBC after this ....

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    Golly - I wasn't aware of this message board until seeing it referred to on The Archers one. Irony.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Re the Archers board closing: There are appx 1k active and 10k passive readers?
    Good gravy! That kind of metrics - that many involved listeners and you are dumping them?
    That's nutty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    In the scheme of things ML must be a pittance in financial terms. it's on a par with trying to rescue a falling company by banning biscuits with the coffee to close it for financial reasons. if it takes 90% of his online budget as he claimed elsethread then what is his value if he a managing a budget that small. As a licence payer can I suggest we keep ML and do away with mr smith's job in the interests of value for money?

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I wrote (twice) to BBC Complaints. The following is the standard reply I received. Oh well , I tried.
    Here it is:

    Thank you for your comments about our decision to close The Archers Messageboard.

    As you may be aware, a while ago we announced that the BBC’s online services are being re-shaped as part of a process we call “Delivering Quality First”. As our then Managing Editor, Ian Hunter, put it in his blog on Delivering Quality first for BBC Online’s social media services, this means that:

    “Sites that have only a peripheral connection with our editorial purposes don't significantly enhance our content or only engage small audiences can't any longer justify the resources they need.”

    Ian Hunter explained more about the background to this at the link below:


    In accordance with this, we’ve had to take the difficult decision to close The Archers message board. Nigel Smith’s announcement below provides more details, as well as links to other online spaces where the BBC continues to actively engage with The Archers audience:


    Radio 4 Interactive

    Kind Regards

    Michelle Wiggins

    BBC Complaints


    NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I have just listened to Feedback, regarding the closure of the Archers message board. Does Mr Smith deserve a job with the BBC? His staccato use of the English language was a disgrace, as was his decision to close down the message board. Shame on you Mr. Smith.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    The Bull was about the only message board left on the BBC where you could discuss anything. I have had extremely energised exchanges with other denizens on the subjects of religion, music, declining standards of English, and the nature of artistic excellence. The Bull has turned out to be a rigorous testing ground for many of my arguments, so I'm very grateful to the BBC for providing such a facility, and also very sad that they have decided to withdraw it. It's nice to know that Roger Bolton supports Mustardland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    I hope this is a suitable place for this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnxJnJLiTJ0

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    It's brilliant isn't it, SFA. How can the BBC throw away such talented imaginative people as those who inhabit Mustard Land? They simply do not realise how the Message Board could be built upon.

    The Archers is a BBC eccentricity and the MB should continue to be run alongside. Not everything new is better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    " Not everything new is better."

    Is Mr Smith new, by any chance?

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Yellow Toilet Roll
    Paint your canvas mustard yellow
    In Company with kindred fellows
    With words that no what any fule should tell

    Now, we understand
    What it meant to so many
    Wisdom, Fun, Compassion, Sanity
    How we tried to make them see

    But they did not listen
    And they're not listening, still
    And perhaps, they never will.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The BBC should be ashamed of themselves.


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