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Duchess of Cornwall to appear in The Archers

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 19:14 PM, Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Sara Coward (Caroline Pemberton) and the Duchess of Cornwall

As announced by Caroline in this evening's episode, the Duchess of Cornwall is to visit Grey Gables on 16 February. And we can confirm that the royal visitor will actually speak in the episode.

The brief appearance will be broadcast in two weeks time, on Wednesday 16 February.

Her Royal Highness will feature in the programme in her role as the president of the National Osteoporosis Society. She has supported the charity since 1994 and became president in 2001. Her appearance coincides with the charity's 25th anniversary.

In 'real life', the appearance will take place on the same day as a visit by Her Royal Highness to our studios at the Mailbox. She will meet cast, writers and production team before attending a reception, hosted by BBC chairman Sir Michael Lyons, to mark 60 years of The Archers.

The duchess, a keen Archers listener, first met Archers team members ten years ago. This was at an event at St James's Palace, hosted by Prince Charles, to mark the 50th anniversary of the programme.

As long-standing listeners may remember, this is not the first time a member of the British royal family has spoken in The Archers. In 1984 Princess Margaret made history when she appeared - also at Grey Gables, to Jack Woolley's overwhelming pride and pleasure - in an episode marking the centenary of the NSPCC.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Another reason to switch off.

  • Comment number 2.

    Not normally a fan of celebrity appearances, but what a pity that the 60th celebrations weren't honoured with this treatment?

  • Comment number 3.

    Haven't read beyond the first para. Don't want to and don't need to.

    Another tawdry attempt to win listeners with silly sensational gimmicks, and another reason not to listen as far as I'm concerned.

    When will the team get it? We want quality drama (and we know you can do it, you have in the past) we do not want to be patronised, we do not want sensationalism and we do not want gimmicks.

    It just gets worse and worse....

  • Comment number 4.

    This piece of annoying silliness was compounded by a blatant plug for Duchy Originals (ridiculously expensive) shortbread - what about BBC impartiality/no advertising?

  • Comment number 5.

    Is this a joke?

    I trust a good brief was givem to The Dutchess? To see what a cesspit she has been conned into.

    I do hope she can't make it. If it is in the can I hope VW is held responsible for the utter B**ls-up. Treason?

  • Comment number 6.

    Better keep her away from the roof garden

  • Comment number 7.

    You guys just can’t sink much lower. What planet do you live on?

  • Comment number 8.

    My comment was genuine, and not designed to start another opportunity for the same arguments to be rehearsed.

    Most celebrity appearances are squirmingly dire ... but who knows, the Duchess could make a decent go of it, we shall see. But it could have been the opportunity to make a celebration of the 60th ... the Ambridgites would undoubtedly have been scripted as being delighted, we'd have to put up with the divine Lynda being the butt of unnecessary 'humour' but it would have had a lightness and cheeriness that would fit in with an air of celebration. Maybe the date wasn't right for the anniversary of the Osteoporosis charity, but that wouldn't have been insurmountable.

    If the worst we could have said as a result was 'Ooh that Camilla can't really act, can she?' then how much better all round.


  • Comment number 9.

    This is pathetic, people must have such short memories concerning the part this lady played in one of the unhappier royal incidents of recent years. I can't believe that the re-branding exercise has worked so well.

    Get a grip. Ms Whitburn, I gave you the benefit of the doubt after the ridiculous Nigel episode, but Camilla appearing in a 'Cameo role' - complete with another shortbread plug - will make sure I and the rest of the family give up on the Archers for good.

    I didn't think the show could get any worse, but you just managed it

  • Comment number 10.

    The usual spurious 'charitable' connection to validate what will be a round of cap-doffing and cringing discomfort for us listeners. On the plus side, it might up the ante on the acting, especially that displayed during the (literally earthbound) 60th anniversary episode. In the medium term, it might licence Mister Duchy to grant Ms. Whitburn her gong and let her shuffle off. Away from Ambridge.

  • Comment number 11.

    It's a weird thing, this. I've listened to the Archers for years but it all just seems wrong at the moment, and this storyline is just another wrong thing. The stories seem to have been wrenched away from the characters and put into a realm of convenience, for publicity or shock or whatever. This is not a good thing from the perspective of drama, and it's the reason why my enthusiasm for listening is fading.

  • Comment number 12.

    Yukkk! still not listening!

  • Comment number 13.

    Well, Mr K, the responses on here and over on the DTA board will show you just how far the TA team have now cut themsleves off from an articulate seciton of the audience. At one time, many of us might have smiled indulgently, and just not turned on. Now, as has been said before, once you encourage a soap audience into being critical, they start being so, and after the Jan 2nd debacle, this will provoke incredulous laughter, not applause.

    Manifestly planned - probably now recorded too - to as a pairing to erase the memory of the hilariously miscalculated Jan 2nd and jolly us all up nationally. Patronising and arrogant, but I fear that is getting to be typical TA clumsiness.

    As effective a way of cheering us all up, say, as the arrival of the TC baby SL as we were told? Yes, probably, and showing roughly the same level of miscalculation too too.

    As Dusty so wisely says upblog, if this had been the 60th celebration epi, just think how different things might have been now.

    The only good thing is that probably the cause the DoC is patron of will benefit.

  • Comment number 14.

    I agree with Dusty. It would have been much more in line with Archers tradition to celebrate the 60th by having Mrs Windsor appearing as herself. (And I write that as an anti-monarchist, he adds pompously.)


  • Comment number 15.

    Just what we needed right now, a bit of cap doffing.
    If this is seen as some sort of 'coup', the team are more out of touch than I can believe is possible from a tweeting, blogging bunch of media savvy types. My 89 year old mother is a staunch royalist - apart from the disdain she feels for this woman - as do others.
    As for plugging Duchy products - I suggest a few questions to the BBC board are in order and I will be asking.

  • Comment number 16.

    I like the Duchess of Cornwall!

    My favourite Royal, in fact!

    She's the sort of competent person who may well perform very well in the programme, and do her chosen charity some serious good.

    I think 'The Archers' is going through a 'below par' phase, and I see no reason why a visit by the Duchess of Cornwall will do anything but good!

  • Comment number 17.

    Does the Duchess of Cornwall know how angry everybody is here ?

    I'm sure her appearance is being used to try and placate the listeners , well it won't work !

  • Comment number 18.

    I have nothing against the woman but this seems like a desperate attempt to get listeners back and improve the probable poor ratings. This is really tacky.
    I haven't listened now since the "event" and I really don't miss it all.

  • Comment number 19.

    #16, alphamnemonic wrote: I like the Duchess of Cornwall!

    Yes, so do I!
    Thank-you for being brave enough to say so, after all the posts dissing her.

  • Comment number 20.

    If the Duchess had been appearing at Lower Loxley, there would have been much doffing of caps, Nigel would have bowled her over with his charm, Bert would have recited an especially written verse (where is Bert?) and Helen would not have been invited! So unfortunately the Duchess has to make do with second best - Grey Gables. I love Caroline and Oliver and I'm sure everything will be all right on the night.

    In the meantime Ms Whitburn, get rid of the Shake Ambridge to its Core storyline. It's driving me insane!

  • Comment number 21.

    I think it is wonderful news - and great publicity for the National Osteoporosis Society on it's 25th anniversary, for which HRH, as President, does a lot of hard work. I also admire the Duchess of Cornwall enormously, and the horrible comments made by others regarding the past history of the Royal family are most unwelcome.

  • Comment number 22.

    People who have not already switched off are now given yet another reason to do so. Fortunately she will probably only be in one episode, a date I will make sure to miss.

  • Comment number 23.

    Whether the Duchess is a nice person or not I can't say but I am astounded at the depths to which Ms Whitburn will stoop to get her MBE.

  • Comment number 24.

    Associating itself with this radio show, apparently entering its death throes, is going to do the Royal family as much good as 'It's a royal knockout' did.

  • Comment number 25.

    Someone mentioned this to me earlier this evening - not in a positive way it should be said - I have hardly stopped laughing since.

    What on earth is going on in the mind of Ms Whitburn et al?

    A Royal Visit as a celebration of the 60th I could accept, as a follow up to that "event" this is beyond belief.

    I agree with everyone else above - this is yet more evidence that TA team have completely lost the plot and that they are now completely out of touch with what makes TA audience tick.

    Please take yourself off to another TV soap Ms W.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a pity Nigel won't be on hand to greet HRH... they would have got on famously!

    And what a pity the Royal visit wasn't part of the 60th anniversary. That would have been a much better way to celebrate.

  • Comment number 27.

    I think this is great, and would have been a lovely way to celebrate the 60th anniversary. If only...

  • Comment number 28.

    Manifestly planned to ease the pain of the Jan 2 episode?
    The royal episode was recorded in December, and given the planning and protocol attached to such things, was probably conceived some six months earlier. To suggest that back in June 2010 the production team was engaged in a cynical 'damage limitation exercise' to counter the fallout from an episode to be aired six months hence (when the current bluster and outrage from the more vocal posters on these blogs and on the message board was totally unforeseen) is to credit them with a level of foresight and deviousness that not even the most 'colourful' Archers fan would normally show.
    Sleb guests are an Ambridge institution; think Alan Titchmarsh, the Duke of Westminster, Judi Dench etc. And if Camilla's brief appearance is even marginally less dull than Colin Dexter's underwhelming cameo I'll raise a small glass of dry sherry.

  • Comment number 29.

    We are not amused.

  • Comment number 30.

    The Duchess of Cornwall seems to be a very pleasant lady and the charity is worthy. The Archers has been up until recently a British institution.

    The problem with mixing them up together in my opinion is that both parties lose their dignity. I do not think it fitting for a member of the royal family to "appear" (as they put it) on the Archers and it looks like a cheap publicity grab on behalf of Ms. W to invite her to do so.

    I cannot see who gains by this. Like many others here my reaction is yet another sigh of despair as TA lurches from dull through maudlin to desperate.

  • Comment number 31.

    You speak for me, mike

  • Comment number 32.

    Killing Nigel - then this news - Time to give the Archers a miss

  • Comment number 33.

    @28 Gervase
    Actually, I agree with you here. TA has always done these weird little cameo appearances. The great benefit of this kind of thing, to raise the programme profile, is that it has no lasting impact on the stories or characters.
    I feel rather sorry for the Duchess at this point. I am sure she wasn't expecting the programme to be in such dire straits when 'her' episode was to be broadcast. I wonder how she feels about the crass pantomime of 2 Jan... If I was her, I'd been feeling badly used now.

  • Comment number 34.

    Could I make a polite suggestion please?
    Whilst I have almost entirely disagreed with Gervase's opinions over on DTA (whilst lurking - I rarely post as not welcoming IMHO), he does have one valid point above. This appearance will have been agreed/planned long before the "celebratory" SATTC went all Pete Tong for Ms Whitburn & prodteam. Logistics alone ensure it will not be a suddenly implemented distraction technique deployed to break the furore.

    Of course, a distraction may be *EXACTLY* what they hope for right now because the open listener revolt following the Nigel debacle is as alive as it ever was, one month on and counting. Not least because so many things have been handled extremely badly by Ms Whitburn, thus only escalating the reactionary anger. (When is Ms Whitburn/prodteam going to OPENLY ACCEPT THE *REAL* MESSAGE being sent from the listeners?).

    My polite suggestion? It would be wise to underplay this event Prodteam, even if it exists to help promote her charity. My *personal* opinions on DoC and her appearance will remain private. But the overwhelming negative and derisory reaction both here and DTA should be taken on board by prodteam and handled with kid gloves. It'll only drag out your open-revolt misery if you don't. And Keri has had enough of aforementioned misery by all accounts.

    To bunker down yet again, to convince yourselves that this is a jolly ticket out of the revolt, and to learn no lessons from the SATTC atrocity, would be yet another stunning miscalculation about your (ex)listeners.

    Just IMHO. After all, Ms Whitburn knows better.

  • Comment number 35.

    She's fairly Upper Class, so is she going to be pushed off the roof too?

  • Comment number 36.

    @34 - agree entirely root4me and with several of the above posts.

    As Gervase has pointed out there is not some plot by the SWs to alleviate the furore surrounding the 2 Jan as the planning would have been well in advance of the "celebration" but what a shame that they did not pick up and run with an osteoporosis story - there are plenty of candidates - and make this a true celebration.

    Then inviting the Duchess would have had some kind of relevance instead of appearing to be another random event.

  • Comment number 37.

    @24 Kitty,

    Thanks for that.I had forgotten its a Royal Knockout. And the aftermath...A very good parallel.

    The Epi must have been in the can before ex-Pargetter night. And I do hope The Duchess was briefed. If not she may consider herself, her charity, and the buiscuits all traduced as a cheap publicity stunt...

  • Comment number 38.

    @ 36

    "what a shame that they did not pick up and run with an osteoporosis story - there are plenty of candidates "

    I agree. Helen, of course, being the prime example, as the link between osteoporosis and eating disorders has been well established.

    But of course, oh silly me. The Birth of Henry means all Helen's problems have been solved at one miraculous stroke, so I guess her unhealthy obsession with calories & exercise, still much in evidence during her pregnancy, has been swept away once and for all, and so the relevance to this SL is lost.

    Go on, Production team, prove me wrong here.



  • Comment number 39.

    I'm with Dusty - it would have been much better to celebrate the 60th with this event and I'm no monarchist - it would be more in keeping with TA tradition.

    The prod team has definitely lost the plot and everything they do accentuates this at the moment. If only they would come clean - admit the SATTC plot is not their finest moment and do their best to get back on track I am sure they would be forgiven.

    But they seem to prefer to put their collective fingers in their ears and say lalala.

  • Comment number 40.

    Why does the production seem to think their stalwart listeners are interested in a minor celebrity who has done nothing to for the country but marry a member of the royal family?

  • Comment number 41.

    This cynical use of a member of the royal family to protect the editor and the production team from having to start working to improve the quality of the programme is another nail in the coffin of TA.

    When will we start having some good writing, some intelligent plotting, some subtle characterisation, some topical references to real rural issues, and some humour?

    Not in the lifetime of this prodteam. Poor Duchess of Cornwall, being used in this way - I hope she kicks the advisers who walked her into this one.

  • Comment number 42.

    @ 33. I agree with you entirely. I have nothing against the Duchess of Cornwall and the Osteoporosis Society do great work. There is nothing wrong with The Duchess of Cornwall appearing on TA.

    But I am surprised at my reaction. A year or so ago I would have thought 'oh, that's nice, I hope she doesn't make a hash of it like some celebs have in the past'. Now, my reaction is completely different - the anger resurfaces - still no acceptance from VW and her team of how so many of us are feeling. As @39 above says, 'they put their collective fingers in their ears and say lalala'. Until there is some recognition of the SATTC debacle and the storylines, the characters and the actors start getting back to normal I think I am going to feel like that whatever they do.

    I do hope someone has briefed the Duchess of Cornwall as to what is going on.

  • Comment number 43.

    I've just seen Gervase's post #28 where he sums up the prodteam's cynical actions here as 'foresight and deviousness' [he doubts they have these qualities btw].

    Clever set-up though. Stage a big story that may or may not be popular. Shortly before it is aired, record a programme with a member of the royal family. The knowledge that this is in the mix will prevent the team from getting serious censure from BBC management if the story goes down badly.

    Let the 'royal celeb' story go public the day before the RAJAR figures to November 2010 come out, so that it can be used to deflect any enquiries about the drop in audiences during the awful storylines in the year running up to the Big Event.

    I suppose there's some other drearily melodramatic story ready for airing just before the May RAJAR release that will expose the 2nd January debacle, and that will be waved in front of critics, like a board covered with lots of different doorbells.

    Foresight and deviousness. Spot on Gervase.

  • Comment number 44.

    This is nothing more than cynical use of a member of the royal family to publicise the 25th Anniversary of The National Osteoporosis Society and I heartily approve.

  • Comment number 45.

    This is very shabby. The Archers is British institution; the monarchy is another. It does not follow that they should be mixed. The Duchess of Cornwall will have been advised that this will help her gain some easy popularity... and they may be right. I do not believe that I will be alone in very much resenting a programme I am fond of being hijacked to bolster the standing of an institution that I have absolutely no interest in beyond mild disapproval.

  • Comment number 46.

    A cynical PR plot to attempt to build the popularity of the DOC! She is still widely disliked across the country. Yet again it is clear that the editorial team is out of touch with the Archers' audience.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think it's a shame that everyone is being so negative. I love The Archers and I enjoy it for being the entertainment programme it is. If there is a story line you don't agree with or find amusing then don't listen for a couple of weeks. I used to watch Eastenders but haven't watched it since before Christmas as I don't agree with the storyline. I don't then go onto their website & slate it.
    Keep up the good work Vanessa - I am still listening.

  • Comment number 48.

    47 - LoubagsWarwickshire - you may not go onto a website to slate a show but you do however come to congratulate one which is your prerogative - as it is for others to express their displeasure.

    You suggest a two week break and had this been a temporary blip with a weak storyline over a few episodes I think there would have been very little reaction. Many people however have found an insidious deterioration of this once rather lovable little soap over a much much longer period of time, and the catastrophic 60th anniversary "celebrations" served to highlight many other problems to those listeners.

  • Comment number 49.

    I have listened to TA since it began and in those far off days picked up quite a lot about farming but not much about the characters who seemed to be limited to Walter Gabriel and Dan Archer. I think it is great to listen to these days but mutter and mumble when there are people in an episode I cant stand like Vicky, Matt and Lillian's laugh, I had just about come to terms with Nigel's departure when the Camilla bombshell was dropped. Can't abide the woman and this may well be the final straw.

  • Comment number 50.

    Bad enough that you're bowing and scraping to the wouldbequeen Camilla, but giving the Prince of Wales free advertising for his overpriced Duchy products is outrageous.
    Are you completely losing it at the Archers?

  • Comment number 51.

    I heard about four minutes of the Archers this afternoon - (not by design, I was visiting a friend who had it on in the background waiting for the afternoon play). I think a big society wedding is being planned although I have no idea whose. And now The Duchess of Cornwall is to visit.

    It occurs to me with all these posh visitors a new character could be introduced as there is a definite vacancy. I suggest someone upper class, male, fifty-ish, with an interest in the environment and a slightly dippy disposition. A loving husband and father of course. He could perhaps become involved in an allotment scheme. He could be called something like Piers or Miles or - how about Nigel? The scriptwriters could gently mould him over the years into a really interesting character so that after about thirty years he would be a real asset to the show. Most of us regulars will be dead by then of course, so you could then hurl him off a roof with impunity.

  • Comment number 52.

    I've just posted this on the messageboard - not sure if there's a crossover of participation. I don't have a problem with Camilla and wouldn't like to be associated with personal comments about her, just her inclusion in the programme.

    " Just to clarify, I've nothing against the Duchess of thing, if anything I prefer her to Diana and think they should have been allowed to get married in the first place. However I'm never impressed by celebrity appearances full stop - they sound very arch and not usually well carried off.

    OTOH, it is a very Archers thing to happen as we know, and surely to heavens she can't be worse than Colin Wotname (of whom I'm not entirely sure I'd heard of in the first place).

    With all that taken in mind, had I been in on the planning meetings and heard that the 60th anniversary was going to be 'celebrated' by an execution and yet 7 weeks later there was to be a Royal Visit, I think I'd have at least said 'Hang on a minute ....' and recommended a weensy rethinkette.

    But then my radio drama experience is decades behind me and I've probably not got my finger on the zeitgeist.

    Dx "

  • Comment number 53.

    @51 lesley,

    I am afraid to tell you that you missed the Very Important Wedding.

    Another plot line of asanine stupidity... Featuring a tiny but variably sized cake, the hilarious hunt for an antique silver tray, discovered in the attic in a suitcase full of various other Antique silver as you do, at which point the cake became smaller.. et ctera, and similar....

    The steam hissed. Someone cleared his throat.
    No one left and no one came

    Thats it.

  • Comment number 54.

    Gervase used one word I liked - 'deviousness'.

    This start to 2011 has been more or less planned for two years, and I'm afraid that my own sense of how SLs have been manipulated over that time scale leads me to suggest that they DID plan the DoC visit as part of the 60th dedding of Nigel, knowing full well - at least they may have thought they did, but in the event, I bet they didn't!- that there would be a reaction to the Nigel death and needing a 'shiny bright new day' to pick up the morale of the depressed nation. So give them a royal, eh?

    Feels like yet another shameless grab at headlines, and above all a way of trying to pre-empt, then de-fuse and then excuse / correct any possible dip in TA listening figures when RAJAR reports - watch for the smoke and mirrors in that context too. Bet those figures are deemed 'too commenrcially sensitive' to release.

  • Comment number 55.

    Even if they didn't plan it that far ahead (though getting diary space would have required a fair old lead time), the HRH episode was almost certainly recorded between the 2 Jan episode's recording and its airing, by which time the overall 'quality' of the episode in question and the general loss of continuity will have been evident. So I am not prepared to dismiss 'damage limitation' entirely.

    But for me this pales into insignificance beside the blatant violation of the BBC's Editorial Code (article 14.4.1 of the 12 October 2010 revision), which says:

    "14.4.1 Product placement is the inclusion of, or a reference to, a product or service in return for payment or any consideration in kind. The taking of product placement for licence fee funded services is prohibited under the terms of the BBC Agreement.
    The BBC must not commission, produce or co-produce output for its licence fee funded services which contains product placement. All programmes made by the BBC or an independent producer for broadcast on BBC licence fee funded services must be free of product placement."

    I humbly submit that HRH's appearance - with or without the desire to compensate for the recent race to the bottom - constitutes consideration "in kind."

  • Comment number 56.

    Sad, sad, sad in everyway.....what universe does THE ARCHERS inhabit? There wasn't even one word about the snow in all the time I was stuck in and listening during that 6 week period......then they kill off one of the
    most popular people in the cast, and NOW they have a royal to try to make up for it!!! I came on here just to say again.....Bye Bye.....can't listen anymore ever now.

  • Comment number 57.

    Diversion tactics like this won't work I'm afraid.

    Just for the record, a quick informal survey of my facebook friends produced 12 people who were regular listners of The Archers prior to the 60th anniversary episode. Of those 12, 3 have stopped listening altogether, 2 no longer listen regularly and all thought the anniversary episode (and the build up to it) unnecessarily sensationalist. None had ever used the Archers website, messageboards or blog and none belong to Archers Addicts.

    Speaks for itself I think!

  • Comment number 58.

    Kit@57: A straw poll I did of 12 friends and colleagues who are (were) regular listeners produced similar results. A while ago I estimated that listening figures will be down 10-30% for the relevant period when they eventually come out, and it's looking like this will be the least of it.

    Interestingly, although some of us who have been rather vocal critics of the whole SATTC debacle are posting in this thread, there are many new names here adding their negative views to the debate. Of course, as far as VW is concerned volume of criticism is more important than content, so I'm sure she regards this as another "success".

    I inadvertently heard the last few minutes of an episode the other night as I got into my car for the supermarket run and heard Jolene being upset about Sid's passing and how 14th February was the night he proposed. What a merry-go-round of misery TA has become, even if the DoC is riding one of the horses.

  • Comment number 59.

    errr ... no thank you.

  • Comment number 60.

    hmmm nicely timed ...just ahead of the RAJAR listener numbers for the last 1/4 of 2010. Coincidence ...

  • Comment number 61.

    Like Camilla, I too am an Archers fan, but you have not asked me to go on an episode and spoil it for everyone. How can you bring my beloved Archers to such a low standard. I despair and feel that you have totally lost your understanding of the listeners.

  • Comment number 62.

    Brian (53) - it sounds utterly riveting - the hunt for a tray must have had you on the edge of your seat but thank goodness it was found in the attic - did they find a corpse while they were up there? Or were there any cake-related deaths? No one has died for about a month and it must surely be time to kill off another character.

    I do hope the Duchess brings a hardhat, a gun and a bodyguard. Who know what dangers lurk at Grey Gables?

  • Comment number 63.

    Poor Camilla has been dropped right in it but maybe she is oblivious to all the backlash and therefore does not realise that her appearance has been up-staged by Nigel's death and the neagtive fallout.

    I would have liked to hear Camilla's appearance, would have been amusing and entertaining for me but I don't listen to The Archers anymore.

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 63 lesley,.

    I don't listen I gleaned that from here and the MBs.

    There was very much of other fragmented stuff. Was it one or two ice albetrosses? Choclate fountains, Champagne fountains, (I do hope they didn't get the pipework mixed up here). A piano turned into a harp and back again, there were a lot of smokers as guests who promptly left for a fag as the Brides father rose to speak. As you do at Very Importat Weddings

    Ah! Don't forget the MC - In the red corner.... seconds out.

    I am so glad I did not hear this guff but it was funny to read about it here

  • Comment number 65.

    That's one episode I WON'T be tuning in to. I don't see much support for this rediculous idea...

  • Comment number 66.

    I'm still listening but only by default. Elizabeth's pain, David's secret, Clarrie's horribleness to Emma, promotion of overpriced biscuits ... Maybe I needed to move on from Ambridge anyway!!

  • Comment number 67.

    I have never liked the celebrity episodes, and this won't bring me back into the fold.
    I've nothing against Camilla, and I hope the ill feeling about TA resulting from the 60th anniversary fiasco will not spoil this promo for the National Osteoporosis Society.
    Now why could this not have been expanded into a fitting 60th Anniversary Celebration, instead of all that gloom and misery?

  • Comment number 68.

    And another thing - I though the BBC didn't do advertising?

    Go on, Ian, make some of your lovely shortbread. Homemade has got to be better than commercial, however prestigious.

  • Comment number 69.

    Why do you people who so dislike TA still keep visiting the website and commenting on the blogs. If you dont want to listen any more why dont you go away and watch Brookside or something and leave the rest of us to enjoy the programme we all love including its little idiosyncrasies without having to read all your drivel.

  • Comment number 70.

    still a fan #69. I am so sorry you feel you have to read these messages. I wonder if it would help if you tried looking away?

  • Comment number 71.

    stillafan@69 - I'm a fan of what TA *used* to be. My objections are to what it's turned into, and I'd like to see it returned to its former glory. That's why I post on here. And because I'd actually still like to listen to a *good* radio drama. In the same way that you are entitled to your opinion, I'm entitled to mine, and to express it. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it. Also see regolific's post @49.

  • Comment number 72.

    still a fan - I suspect if a) Brookfield was still on and b) it way my cup of tea, then I'd be less exercised by sensationalist storylines.

    I am still listening, and am free to comment where I like I think. I love the programme too which is why I am saddened by all this.

    You'll just have to put up with my drivel I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 73.

    I'm a fan of TA as it was.
    I don't recognise the miserable programme currently being broadcast, nor the aliens now inhabiting it.
    If I were a fan of Brookside I would have no problems with the current sensationalist plotting, but I still hanker for the everyday story of countryfolk that has been stolen from us.

  • Comment number 74.

    Like Clarinda I am disappointed that people have such a short memory of this woman's part in the debacle of the Royal marriage. It's certainly a strong reason to switch off as far as I'm concerned.

  • Comment number 75.

    still a fan. Wake up.
    Brookside isn't on anymore.
    People here listen to the Archers.
    Otherwise they wouldn't be on here.
    Tried to make it simples.

  • Comment number 76.

    I agree with the idea that, if we had to mark the occasion of the 60th anniversary with some sort of 'celebration', then a visit from Royalty with Nigel as the perfectly charming host and Bert as entertainment, aided by Eddie and Joe, would have given us an episode to remember with pleasure.

    I still cannot comprehend how VW and writers could have wanted to get rid of Nigel and bring on nothing but despair, depriving us of great momebts of cheering possibilities for the future. Having a member of the R Family on for one episode does nothing to brighten up this misery.

  • Comment number 77.

    Ref 29 and 31, Definately not amused.....

  • Comment number 78.

    I've only dipped into the responses for this entry, but the absense of a 'puzzled' Keri is notable. If you're not sure, Keri, *ask*!

  • Comment number 79.

    Dusty, no. 72:

    "I suspect if a) Brookfield was still on"

    Dost thou mean Brookside? Mind you, I quite like the idea of Brookfield done as an o.t.t. issue-driven soap. Obviously I wouldn't listen to it, because I can't abide that sort of stuff. Oh, hang on, I've just realise while typing that that's just why I've stopped listening to TA. Oh well, wasn't planning to make that point, but there you go.

  • Comment number 80.

    For the record: This appearance has been many, many months in the planning and at no time were there any thoughts that it might in some way counteract reaction to the Nigel storyline. They are completely unconnected, except by virtue of both falling within our 60th anniversary year. The year will contain several special events, on and off air. This is one of them.

    The timing of the appearance was predominently determined by Clarence House, not us.

    The scenes were recorded in December.

    Re the accusation of product placement: no-one asked us to mention Duchy products. That line was the invention of the writer, and was checked and approved by BBC Editorial Policy. To be slightly playful on the subject, I can't speak for the Duchess but I know that she is a genuine and enthusiastic Archers fan, and I wouldn't be surprised if she rather thinks we are provding her with a 'consideration in kind', rather than the other way around.

  • Comment number 81.

    @80 Keri, as this event had been planned many months ago why wasn't there a SL with an osteoporosis theme? This would surely have been a "consideration in kind"?

  • Comment number 82.

    i think this is great! really looking forward to the episode, and as for you lot up there being so negative, then turn off if you want to, that is your right and leave the rest of us to enjoy the archers. it is totally acceptable that a member of the royals would visit a village in this country or any town or city for that matter! get over it!

  • Comment number 83.

    I find it most interesting that those of us who are critical of the present state of affairs in Ambridge-land are on the whole completely tolerant of and polite to anyone who has an opposing view. And yet those few who support the show find it necessary to tell the rest of us to shut up or "get over it".

    It is a curious juxtaposition.

  • Comment number 84.

    The appearance of a member of the Royal Family is entirely in keeping with the traditions & history of TA - think Princess Margaret & Princess Anne - & I am happy that Osteoporosis is getting a mention.

    It is not enough to make me listen again though because this does not cancel out all the uneven writing, soapy SLs & rubbish of recent years.

    Please note, I am very happy for those of us who still enjoy TA.

  • Comment number 85.

    @80 Keri - Your explanation is appreciated, but you must be able to see what motivates the suspicion and criticism here. A long-running serial like TA relies upon an ongoing contract between the writers and the listeners, whereby the former create believable characters and situations and the latter in turn suspend their disbelief. Rather than shaking Ambridge to the core, the effect of the 60th anniversary broadcasts has been to shatter that contract. Listeners no longer believe in the characters they have come to know so well, and they no longer trust the production team. In the light of that, ANYTHING you stage now is likely to be shot to flames in the kind of terms seen in this thread, regardless of when it was planned and how sincere you were about it.

    As writers it must be difficult to see your efforts being dismissed in this way, especially for any of you who were not wholly in agreement about the 60th anniversary storylines, but I really don't see what you can do about it now. It takes a long time and a lot of hard work to build up that level of trust in your listeners and once it has gone it will take a lot more time to get it back again - if ever. Personally I think that even if the storylines improve there will still be many of the old listeners who will never return, because they feel that the present production team neither understands nor respects them. Perhaps the best you can hope for is to try and build a new audience, but I really don't know where they is going to come from and how you are going to attract them.

    The situation is exacerbated by the absolute refusal of Vanessa Whitburn or anyone else to admit that a mistake has been made, and consequently many listeners will simply never trust you again. It's a great shame that something which has evolved organically and magically over such a long time has been needlessly trashed in the course of a few ill-conceived episodes.

    The contributor (Lizzie from Oxford, I think it was) to the latest edition of Feedback was right when she said that Ambridge and the characters of TA don't really exist. TA is not a TV soap with universally recognisable faces. Instead of having visually prescribed characters, each listener has their own personal vision of the people they have come to know. But what unites them is their common understanding and appreciation of the characters, and their common expectations regarding how they will behave.

    So without any visual images on screen, characters in a radio serial exist more in the heads of the audience than anywhere else. When you killed off Nigel, you effectively killed off the rest of the characters as well, and for many of us TA has become just another bunch of actors reading another dull script.

  • Comment number 86.

    @80 Prospero - I agree. I'd add that for me, what exists in my head is further damaged when I see on the BBC news Felicity Finch & Tim Bentinck reading their scripts in the studio and trampling on miles of video/audio tape to simulate the sound of walking across a meadow. Were I still listening, those pictures would now be in my head whenever those actors were on. If it wasn't already dead for me, this extra publicity would kill it off for sure.

    In so many ways, VW and whoever else is involved in decisions about TA have lost sight of how TA works for its listeners. Too close? Bored? Well I'm certainly the latter now - especially with death, doom & gloom, and repeated lack of response to well-argued complaints and objections. I'm still here in the hope - which looks increasingly vain - that things will change for the better. Hah - that's a triumph of hope over experience!

  • Comment number 87.

    START QUOTE "I find it most interesting that those of us who are critical of the present state of affairs in Ambridge-land are on the whole completely tolerant of and polite to anyone who has an opposing view. And yet those few who support the show find it necessary to tell the rest of us to shut up or "get over it"." END QUOTE


    That's not the impression I've formed over the last few weeks.

    At all.

  • Comment number 88.

    Hi Keri - are you able to tell us whether anyone ever considered that 'celebrating' 60 years could have been better served by persuading the Duchess to appear on the anniversary rather than having a tragedy?

    So many of us feel that a chance to celebrate our favourite programme has been snatched from us. Instead we have a catalogue of bereavement and depression following the best part of a year of bereavement and depression. The manipulation of Helen's character and the improbability of her experience with AI treatment have not provided any sort of light relief for many of us.

    Having used the word 'celebration' on the website for months, and encouraged listeners to contribute to the 'celebrations' (despite Vanessa's refutal of the use of the word) did anyone at all think it appropriate to mark it with a happier storyline? Dx

  • Comment number 89.

    Top post Prospero. My analysis too.

  • Comment number 90.

    Agreed Dusty. Although I thoroughly dislike the intervention of real life characters in the fiction which is Ambridge - yes Keri we realise that it is fiction - it would have been more appropriate than what we have been subjected to.

  • Comment number 91.

    Keri. I would ask you to read two posts by Prospero. @85 on this blog and @859 on The Archer's Editor on the 60th Anniversary blog. I believe that these two posts sum up how so many of us are feeling and why this anger is not going to go away for a very long time. I personally don't need to say any more. Prospero has said it all for me. Thank you Prospero and again, Keri, please read these two posts and pass them on to VW and others.

  • Comment number 92.

    I can only add my voice to the preceding ones. Prospero has summed up what the vast majority of long-standing listeners are feeling. A decades long contract between writers and listeners has been broken. Very sad.

  • Comment number 93.

    I would like to add my support to @85 on this blog and @859 on The Archer's Editor on the 60th Anniversary blog - Prospero has summed it up in a nutshell.

    Also I noticed today on Mike's Laws of Mustardland in the faq:
    16. If any character develops a new interest or behaves in a way they have not previously, it is claimed that they are behaving "out of character" and that this is yet another example of the current low standards of storyline plotting and scriptwriting. (23/09/06)
    Probably why current complaints are being ignored.

  • Comment number 94.

    I agree with both of Prospero's posts as well.

    I stopped listening on January 3rd. The radio is on very infrequenly now in our house and Radio 4 is off almost all the time. My teenage sons have stopped listening too.

    The management's reaction to the very many intelligent and loyal listeners who have criticised the way TA has been developing has been condescending and disrespectful and, to me, that is far more shocking than the poor plot lines and clunky script-writing at New Year. I've just realised that Vanessa Whitburn's and Gwyneth Williams' tones of voice and sense of certainty that they know what is right in their interviews on 'Feedback' sounded terribly like my memory of Margaret Thatcher in her 'Nanny knows best' days. Not a good comparison in my book.

    It's a shame that important real-life issues such as support services for bereaved children or for people dealing with the serious health implications of osteoporosis are being tangled up in the bad feeling surrounding The Archers.

  • Comment number 95.

    In light of these comments, may I suggest that Bloggers go back to the Blog about the 60th Anniversary episode and get that Blog number up to 2,000 respondents to say that Ms Whitburn has failed in her duty to the Archers heritage and the standard required for quality script direction and production culminating in a huge loss of listeners since the killing off of Nigel?

    The link is: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/2011/01/the_archers_editor_on_the_60th.html

  • Comment number 96.

    Very strange,

    I stopped listening a while ago (the idiocy of a CofE vicar in a small English rural community marrying a practicing Hindu!) but was conned back by the hype for "that" episode .

    My R4 listening dropped too by around 60-70%. My wife carried on listeng until "that" episode. She too has given up in discussed. Our listening to R4 is now 10% if that.

    At one time we were 100% R4. Now? virtually nil. I wonder what the controller and above make of that?

  • Comment number 97.

    Oops Should read

    "in disgust"


  • Comment number 98.

    I have just read about this on TA website as I am no longer listening since the unacceptable story to mark the 60th anniversary. If this is supposed to be VW's sop, I am afraid it is little too late. I am not a royalist having turned down an invitation to a royal garden party but to, in many ways many ways, middle class Ambridge it is the most likely thing to happen and I would have accepted this to celebrate the 60th Anniversary but at Lower Loxley where, as said before, Nigel would have been in his element. Come on Vanessa, twenty years is a long time in one position, give over to an Archers' fan and let's get the programme back on track.

  • Comment number 99.

    That's it - 20 years of listening to the Archers, but not any more!! The grovelling story line around the Duchess of Cornwall and promotion of Duchy products has finally achieved what even the weak 60th anniversary story line had failed to do.
    Can't we arrange for Camilla to fall off the roof at Lower Loxley too?!

  • Comment number 100.

    I have been a listener to The Archers for over 50 years, but shall not be listening once MRS P.C.arrives. Why are you determined have this woman accepted by the country? You have now made the Archers a flag staff for immorality.


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