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Norman Painting's memorial service

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Andrew Caspari Andrew Caspari 15:30, Friday, 28 May 2010

Norman Painting with Muck Spreader in 1954

The fields of Borsetshire were transplanted to St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square yesterday for Norman Painting's memorial service. The church was packed with hundreds of those who knew, worked with, loved or simply listened to Norman's searingly distinctive voice as he played Phil Archer for nearly sixty years. This was a remarkable service in memory of a remarkable man. It was clear we were there to remember and celebrate Norman and not Phil Archer. However Phil was never far away. Clips of some of the great scenes were played, Ysanne Churchman who played Phil's first wife Grace read a Thomas Hardy poem with Alison Dowling (Lizzie) and Patricia Green who plays Jill Archer spoke of Norman's great kindness and spirit.

Other readings and memories were delivered by Stephen Fry, Alison Dowling, Trevor Harrison (Eddie) and Tim Bentinck (David). The music had a strong pastoral tone as we sang We Plough the Fields and Scatter and listened to a magical performance of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending. The Organ Voluntary was, as some of us predicted, 'Barwick Green'!

It was a splendid occasion - Our sadness punctured by warm memories, humour and beautiful music and readings. I think Norman (and Phil) would have approved.

Here are tributes to Norman from Radio 4 Controller Mark Damazer and Editor of The Archers Vanessa Whitburn. They sum up an extraordinary man.

You can listen to the service itself on The Archers website.

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Andrew Caspari was a Radio 4 Commissioning editor for ten years and is a lifelong Archers fan. As Head of Speech Radio and Classical Music, Interactive he is currently supervising the relaunch of the Archers web site

  • Read the text of Mark Damazer's tribute here and Vanessa Whitburn's here.
  • Visit The Archers web site and The Archers messageboard for more about Norman and his legacy.
  • Vanessa Whitburn wrote about Norman here on the blog when he died in October last year.
  • The picture shows Norman with a piece of agricultural machinery in 1954. It's from the BBC's picture library.

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