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Six diamond decades - the 1970s

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 15:27 PM, Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Archer family and friends in The Bull, 1970s

The Archers celebrates its 60th anniversary on 1 January 2011. Over the six weeks running up to the anniversary, we are looking back at the main storylines in each of its six decades.

This week: the 1970s, a decade that started with power cuts and the three day week and ended in much the same way, with the infamous "winter of discontent". In between came punk, the Queen's silver jubilee and some truly embarrassing fashion.

In Ambridge, Shula kept her parents worried, two unreliable husbands breathed their last, and the break-up of the Estate introduced a suave and charming character to the village.

Do you remember these storylines or characters? What else do you remember of The Archers in the seventies? Share your memories and thoughts by using the comment box at the bottom of this post.

1970

Lilian's husband Lester "Nick" Nicholson died in a fall while sleepwalking while in hospital with an ear condition. Wealthy Ralph Bellamy took an interest in the grieving widow.

Resentful at Phil's move into Brookfield, Jack was allowed a part-time job - and salary - on the farm.

Walter Gabriel and Henry Cobb both set their caps at "Mrs P" Perkins, who had returned to the village after the death of her second husband.

1971

Having ridden his thoroughbred in the point-to-point, Lilian eventually agreed to marry Ralph Bellamy. They moved to The Dower House after a honeymoon in Venice.

Jack went to a rehab clinic in Scotland, after collapsing with liver damage.

Despite opposition from the Ambridge Protection Society, who feared being overrun with townies, Jack Woolley turned 100 acres near Grey Gables into a country park.

1972

Jack paid the ultimate price for his destructive drink habit. Stoic Peggy continued at The Bull until her temporary manager Dick Corbey stole from her. Jack Woolley persuaded her to Grey Gables as his assistant.

Sid and Polly Perks became managers at The Bull, selling the shop to... Jack Woolley.

Young buck Tony Archer cruised around in his MG Midget, chasing girls to the detriment of his work running Ralph Bellamy's dairy enterprise. When Ralph (who was now his brother-in-law as well as his boss) sacked Tony, Phil and Dan agreed to take him on at Brookfield - if he shaped his ideas up.

1973

After friction with Phil, Tony went into partnership with Haydn Evans, and was soon involved with their farm secretary Mary Weston.

To replace Tony, Phil took on a green young apprentice, Neil Carter.

Kenton and Shula did well in their O levels. Shula started A levels but with the hopes of eventually becoming an event rider.

Jack Woolley was attacked by burglars at Grey Gables. Peggy ran the hotel while he recovered. But he suffered a heart attack after estranged wife Valerie asked for a divorce.

1974

Jennifer and Roger Travers-Macy were separated when he sold the bookshop and became a travelling salesman for a book dealer. Jennifer moved in with Christine, as Paul was trying to establish himself selling horseboxes in Germany.

After Mary Weston called off her wedding to Tony, he became captivated by Pat Lewis, who came to help with the cattle after her uncle Haydn Evans slipped a disc. She proposed and they were married by Christmas.

However, Peggy turned down Jack Woolley's proposal, thinking she wasn't ready to marry again.

All the Brookfield pigs were slaughtered after an outbreak of swine vesicular disease. Neil Carter did community service after girlfriend Sandy Miller planted some cannabis on him. He was lucky when Phil gave him another chance after he failed his farm proficiency test.

Kenton enrolled as a cadet in the Merchant Navy

Bull barmaid Nora McAuley ignored the village gossips and moved in with moody gamekeeper George Barford.

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1975

On the advice of his doctor, Ralph Bellamy sold much of the Estate. Lilian reluctantly moved with him to the balmier climes of Guernsey.

Suave Brian Aldridge bought 1500 acres and soon started seeing Jennifer, who became even more available (and hopeful) after Roger asked for a divorce.

Ramshackle tenant farmer Joe Grundy outraged the village by holding a pop festival on his land. Unlike most of his schemes, it was a modest success. Winning a weekend for two at Grey Gables in the flower and produce show, widower Joe tried to claim half of the prize in cash.

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1976

Jennifer moved to Home Farm after marrying Brian, who became step-father to Adam and Debbie. Jennifer continued to work part-time at Grey Gables and wrote a regular countryside column for the Borchester Echo.

After an affair with a colleague, Paul Johnson threw up his job (now in London) and returned to Ambridge, The Stables and Christine.

Realising that she'd never have the top-flight riding career she hoped for, Shula hitchhiked round Europe. She returned, signed on as unemployed, flirted with the smitten Neil Carter but fell for the Borchester Echo editor Simon Parker. Phil was furious when Simon published a photo of Shula in riding gear headlined "Hunting on the Dole".

1977

Bankrupt after the failure of a fish-farming business, Paul left Christine for good.

Aristocratic beauty Caroline Bone started work as a barmaid at The Bull.

Entranced with the trouble-stirring Simon Parker, Shula lost her virginity to him in a cornfield.

When Pat and Tony took over the tenancy of Bridge Farm, dairy manager Mike Tucker left Brookfield to replace Tony as Haydn Evans' partner

1978

After difficult times, Nora McAuley left George Barford. Christine became a widow when Paul was killed in a car crash in Germany. George was a great to support to her. Once his divorce from his first wife came through, she agreed to marry him, despite the doubts (and prejudices) of the Archer family.

Messed around and eventually dumped by Simon Parker, who left for a job in London, Shula started going out with Phil's dashing farming student Nick Wearing.

Jennifer and Jill opened the Two Jays craft studio in a converted barn at Home Farm, but it closed after a few months.

With his sons Alf and Eddie involved in a shady scrap metal business, Joe Grundy collapsed with flu, and hit rock bottom after his cattle were slaughtered because of brucellosis. Eddie returned home and they started a turkey-rearing business with Joe's compensation money.

1979

Shula and Nick Wearing left on the overland hippy trail but it didn't go to plan. Nick went on to Australia and Shula looked for a job in Bangkok. But she had to return home after her money and passport were stolen.

After an on/off engagement, Eddie Grundy finally pulled out of marrying flighty divorcée Dolly Treadgold. Joe received a warning from his landlord, the Estate: shape up the farm or face eviction.

David failed his A level Maths, and started studies at agricultural college. Phil looked forward to his son joining him at Brookfield, and expanded the farm by another 30 acres.

Keri Davies an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

  • The picture shows Dan and Doris Archer (Edgar Harrison and Gwen Berryman) with family and friends in The Bull
  • Relive the decades with The Archers Timeline, complete with archive photos and audio clips
  • Read the storylines from other decades:
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmm, I remember Neil's 1st day at Brookfield (he left the farmyard gate open).

  • Comment number 2.

    Fascinating stuff, Keri. Shula the hippy? The Grundies haven't changed much.

    Hilarious photo!

  • Comment number 3.

    Great stuff---is that bearded figure leaning on the bar John Tregorran? Was it in the late 70s that he developed a crush on Jennifer, much to Carol's dismay, or was that the early 80s? I do remember Lilian's wedding---I'm sure there was a colour photo in the Radio Times.

  • Comment number 4.

    sounds like Jack is a walking medical miracle

  • Comment number 5.

    This and the Timeline are a great start on an Archer's historical archive, but can't we have it all? That would be wonderful for Archer's fans and very educational. I'm sure I'm not alone in believing that since the Archer's, and the rest of the BBC's output, was paid for by us licence fee payers it morally speaking belongs to us. So we can hope for all episodes since the start (1951) being available for at least "listen again"?
    No doubt in law we have no such rights - they will all belong to someone who cannot for legal or so called good manners be named. This I heard given out (on Feedback I think)about Roy Plumbly's heirs, but the BBC managed to arm wrestle (or was it money? we should be told) from them the podcast and listen again rights for Desert Island Discs.
    But I fear that many episodes are lost - no doubt due to some economy drive or carelessness.

  • Comment number 6.

    >is that bearded figure leaning on the bar John Tregorran? Was it in the late 70s that he developed a crush on Jennifer, much to Carol's dismay, or was that the early 80s?

    It is indeed. And the crush was in the 1980s - I'm just about to put up the next post in this series.

  • Comment number 7.

    >This and the Timeline are a great start on an Archer's historical archive, but can't we have it all?

    I'm afraid that practically all the episodes until 1985 or so were destroyed as a matter of routine. But even if they physically existed, it would be a very expensive process to make them available. This is because the contracts for the writers and the actors were only for one broadcast of the material (plus repeat and omnibus from the point they were instituted).

    So we'd have to contact all of them (or their estates, as many are dead) and pay them an additional fee for further use of the writing and performances.

    A limited number of archive scenes are available on CD or for download as The Best of Vintage Archers.

 

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