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Susan Carter has a PhD?

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 11:21 AM, Thursday, 10 February 2011

Charlotte Martin (Susan Carter)


Well, not exactly. But the actor who plays her does.

When not playing Susan, Charlotte Martin is a research psychologist. Charlotte helped develop the recently launched Youthspace website, designed to help young people with mental health issues.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Mr Davies,

    Why are you using The Guardian as the basis for your blog?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/feb/09/young-people-mental-health-problems-log-on

    Could you answer som of the questions asked over the past 6 weeks or so do you think?

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm not. There just happen to have been two consecutive stories from The Guardian this week.

    We'll try to link to any interesting Archers-related stories wherever they appear. For example, in this post about coverage of the 60th anniversary, as well as The Guardian I linked to the Mail, the Express and several stories in the Telegraph:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/2011/01/anniversary_episode_-_media_co.html


    >Could you answer som of the questions asked over the past 6 weeks or so do you think?

    I have to say I've seen rather more opinions, accusations and assertions rather than actual questions. That's fine, but they are harder to 'answer'. We certainly note them all, even if we find ourselves in disagreement with some of them.

  • Comment number 3.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    Thank you for your response.

    I see you note them all, even if you find yourselves in disagreement with some of them.

    Could I ask just one? when did the direction of the whole programme shift? From as wiki says :-

    It was originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk", but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as "contemporary drama in a rural setting"

    Was it from this rebranding?

    You know what you have done for a great many of us? Having chosen a very acceptable brand of chocolate and been feeding the habit over the years suddenly to find that it has been debased and ruined (the run up to "that" episode). Further that revelation has given retrospectve illumination and realisation that it has been going "off" for some time.. Years

    Conned & betrayed. Brand destruction. Reminds me of Perrier. Never seen again

  • Comment number 4.

    Why does the Guardian article refer to her as Charlotte Connor but here and in all Archers material she is Charlotte Martin? Stage name? Thanks.

  • Comment number 5.

    I'll ask a question then, 'When is Vanessa Whitburn going to stand down?'

  • Comment number 6.

    Perhaps Dr Connor could do psychological profiles for all the Archer's characters? This for the benefit of editor and scriptwriters, so that they could refer to them when planning future plot lines.
    If these were based on the characters as they manifested themselves, say, five years ago and their future behaviour could be guaranteed to develop logically from now on, I might - maybe - possibly be tempted back.
    Otherwise, there's no point in investing any time or imagination in to listening.

  • Comment number 7.

    Keri

    As you requested, here are some questions for you:

    - What percentage of the feedback on the 60th storyline was positive?
    - What percentage of the feedback on the 60th storyline was negative?
    - How are these figures arrived at?
    - How have viewer ratings figures held up since Jan 3rd?
    - Why was the summary of press coverage of the event shown in a positive/neutral light?
    - Does listener feedback EVER change story lines?

  • Comment number 8.

    and Keri, following on from @7, jdo....

    - How was it possible for the viewers complaints about 'that' EastEnders episode to be counted within a couple of days, whereas we have to wait until May to see just how much damage has been done to TA and Radio4 listening figures according to RAJAR?

  • Comment number 9.

    Keri

    Question 1 Why was it thought right to celebrate the 60th anniversary with the death of a character?

    Question 2 Why is a storyline of a bereaved widow and children being repetaed for the third time in 12 months?

    Question 3 As stories are planned well in advance why was the Helen pregnancy story told in such an unbelievable manner?

    I asked these question on the messageboard on 20 January and have had no reply.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693942?thread=8005833&post=105412393#p105412393

  • Comment number 10.

    ..... and ....

    - Why did Ms Whitburn and the prod team believe that the 60th had to be 'traumatic'?
    - What is in keeping with TA about 'traumatic'?
    - Why does Ms Whitburn and the prod team think 'traumatic' is good?
    - Why did Ms Whitburn and the prod team believe that inflicting more death and resulting misery on the listeners was a good thing?
    - Why does Ms Whitburn persist in the wilful misunderstanding of the complaints, preferring instead to promote the myth that it's all because a character was killed ..... rather than the real issue, which is the misery such an event leads to will last far too long for many of us to want to hear?

    (ex-listener of 29 days)

  • Comment number 11.

    Actually that's 39 days of course..... Silly me...

  • Comment number 12.

    Mr Davies,
    I notice that the Archers remains at the top of the list of Radio 4 favourites on Iplayer. Can you tell us please the Listen Again figures for the period before and after 2nd January? I often wonder how much blog comments and messageboards reflect the whole audience.
    I am grateful you are noting the comments.
    Many thanks,
    P.W.

  • Comment number 13.

    Questions

    Why was it deemed necessary to create yet another widow?
    Why was it thought a good idea to have yet another period of mourning?
    Why was it thought a good idea to remove one of the most likeable and well established characters who had been over twenty years in the developing?
    Why does the team say they have to disagree with listeners? Aren't listeners rather crucial?
    (Would the team regard an emptying theatre a mark of success if their show was on the stage?)
    Are the listeners' opinions irrelevant?
    Why did we all get the same generic reply (addressing none of the concerns we separately and collectively wrote of) when we emailed, posted messages, wrote letters etc?
    Why did the team of Feedback misunderstand nearly everything that was said to them about the quality of the scripts and storylines? Should Susan Carter be employed to explain to them? (she does have a PhD after all).
    Why was there apparently such a strong anti-male, pro-feminist leaning? (Helen's hideous behaviour was deemed to be fine, Tony's absolutely understandable feeling that children are better with a father was deemed as reprehensible.)


    Why - if the Duchess of Cornwall's role was recorded in early December - was THIS not aired on the anniversary?

    There are many more questions, but perhaps these could be answered first?

  • Comment number 14.

    Dear Keri

    I did ask on the relevant blog why, if the Duchess' visit was planned so far in advance that an osteoporosis SL had not been introduced?

    S

  • Comment number 15.

    Why has Helen been transformed into a saint?

    Why has Clarrie been turned into a misery?

    Why is personality transplanting become a feature of The Archers plots in recent years?

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm glad to hear our comments are being noted. I note the Brechtian determination to bring about some kind of Verfremdungeffekt by telling us about such details as 'Susan' having a PhD.

    Why?? lol I mean, we can read about it in the Guardian if we must, where is the old mystique?

    Ah Mr Davies, you seem to have no idea of the breadth of destruction you have wrought.

    Slightly more ON topic, laudable stuff here. Young people's mental health is a huge (and historically badly-addressed) issue.

    Perhaps Susan could do an OU degree just in time to dissaude Freddie from his teen suicide bid?

  • Comment number 17.

    Evening Keri, you said above:

    "I have to say I've seen rather more opinions, accusations and assertions rather than actual questions."

    There may be more opinions and accusations (you've gotta admit the VAST OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF PEOPLE are unhappy with the developments recently so are expressing their opinions). But you admit there are also questions.

    Question 1: If you are noting the questions, why are you/Ms Whitburn not answering them?

    Question 2: The reaction since SATTC is overwhelmingly negative here, DTA, AA, general media etc., and people are genuinely turning off TA. What is the production team's feeling about the reaction please?

    Question 3: Do the editorial, production and script writing team understand the REAL reason why ppl are so upset? (Reason for question is the official line from Ms Whitburn, Ms Williams et al is "several listeners were unhappy", "some complaints" and "we'll have to agree to disagree". These present a wilful misunderstanding of the reaction, which may/may not be accurate).

    Looking forward to responses to the direct and clear questions.
    Many thanks
    R4M

  • Comment number 18.

    Dear Keri
    My question is - why is Ms Whitburn still Editor of TA when she has switched off so many previous faithful listeners? Firstly with her sanction of the poor scripts and latterly with her arrogance to audience feedback.

  • Comment number 19.

    I too ask about the proportion of positive versus negative feedback that has been received.
    It's quite simple, according to your 'that was exciting' blog you said the team actually had someone counting tweets (unbelievable though I find this).
    So, counting tweets, blogs, messageboards, press is part of what you all apparantly do.
    What is the answer then?
    Second part of question: when are you all going to realise this will NOT go away UNTIL there are some answers?

    There, questions - now answers - please.

  • Comment number 20.

    Well, if I were a betting man (and I don't bet, and nor am I a man), .... but IF I were either of those things I would place all my worldly goods quite confidently on a wager that we will not receive the answers we request.



  • Comment number 21.

    I have a couple of questions too.

    Why are complaints regarded as compliments by The Archers crew?

    Is there another service where if a customer says something has been very bad the response is thankyou very much, we are thrilled by your response?

    As there has been such apparent gratitude for the huge volume of complaint, should we therefore assume that they set out to anger their listeners/customers in the first place?

    If so, why? Is there a "plot" to get rid of TA altogether?

    If not, then why the silence?

  • Comment number 22.

    Oh forgetmeknot - customer care does not exist in this fourth dimension that is the Beeb.
    This is a piece lifted from a newspaper.
    Have they nothing better to spend our money on?
    Mr Davies - could YOUR time not be better spent at my expense doing something else than reading newspapers?

    Or - can I get a job like yours doing the same instead of really grafting like I have to?

    Answers from you on a postcard maybe by now?

  • Comment number 23.

    Afternoon Keri,
    Apologies but one more clear, unequivocal question please.

    These pages are being read and you have responded quickly at times. There has been fleeting and unsatisfactory answers to the many clear questions posed though.

    Question: Why are the obvious and clear questions posed by so many (ex)listeners over the last 6 weeks not being answered? Is it because the prodteam have no answers to the debacle or because the prodteam feel they do not need to respond? Or some other reason?

    So please could you explain why answers to the direct questions are not being provided to your listeners and license fee payers please?

    That is as clear question as I can make it.

    Many thanks. R4M

  • Comment number 24.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    How on earth do you keep your patience when assailed by so many single-issue fanatics?
    By the way, do keep up the blogs - they're interesting, amusing and serve to flesh out the actors who make the programme.

    Pip pip.

  • Comment number 25.

    @24 quote: How on earth do you keep your patience when assailed by so many single-issue fanatics? end quote

    By not responding to most of it? By not really caring what we think or say? - we are, after all, the wrong type of listener.

    Of course, the quickest way to shut us up would be to acknowledge the malaise which TA is suffering from (of which the death of Nigel is just a symptom), address our grievances, answer our questions, and for the person responsible for killing off TA to apologise!

  • Comment number 26.

    I wonder if this is a covert warning that Charlotte Martin's latest piece of research is going to be into the 'bereft' listeners who post on these pages?

    It would tempt me, in her position.

  • Comment number 27.

    "- How was it possible for the viewers complaints about 'that' EastEnders episode to be counted within a couple of days, whereas we have to wait until May to see just how much damage has been done to TA and Radio4 listening figures according to RAJAR?"

    Hi I_never_write and jdo (posts 7 & 8)

    There were around 400 complaints sent in to BBC Complaints. RAJAR listener figures for radio are quarterly, unlike BARB (telly) figures which are published every week.
    Tayler

  • Comment number 28.

    Post 27 - Tayler. Recently I received a letter from the Archers Production Team in reply to my letter of complaint. In this letter I was informed, and I quote, 'that there were around a hundred letters of complaint together with around six hundred complaints by phone or online'. This is different to the numbers that you quote above.

  • Comment number 29.

    Judging by some that I have heard about there were quite a few Archers complainants who received 'EastEnders' reply letters - so who know how many complaints there really were for either programme?

  • Comment number 30.

    I have a question for you Kerry:

    As you have a psychologist on board do you not think it might have been an idea to consult her before giving David, Nigel et al the character transplants necessary to allow absurd events like roofgate to take place?

  • Comment number 31.

    Keri. Your post of 10 February suggested that you had not been able to answer questions as you had not seen many. A number of us then posted questions on this thread. We took it in good faith that you would answer questions if they were clearly posed as such. If you are not willing to do so it would be helpful to have a clear statement from you so that we need not return to see what you have to say.

  • Comment number 32.

    I’m sorry it has taken me some time to respond. As well as my usual duties I’ve been involved in another project which has been very time-consuming. However, I hope now to cover all the questions that have been asked.

    - when did the direction of the whole programme shift? From as wiki says :-
    It was originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk", but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as "contemporary drama in a rural setting"
    Was it from this rebranding?

    I’d disagree that the direction has shifted. We haven’t used "An everyday story of country folk" to describe the programme for over 20 years.


    - What percentage of the feedback on the 60th storyline was positive?
    - What percentage of the feedback on the 60th storyline was negative?
    - How are these figures arrived at?
    - How have viewer ratings figures held up since Jan 3rd?


    and...

    - I notice that the Archers remains at the top of the list of Radio 4 favourites on Iplayer. Can you tell us please the Listen Again figures for the period before and after 2nd January? I often wonder how much blog comments and messageboards reflect the whole audience.
    I am grateful you are noting the comments.


    I don’t have exact figures but it’s clear that the majority of responses were negative. That’s not unusual – people are always more moved to write to complain than to praise. Broadcast listener figures for January won’t be out until April. However the iPlayer ‘listen again’ figures for January are actually slightly up on December, which would suggest that listeners are not staying away in droves, as people allege.


    - Does listener feedback EVER change story lines?

    Yes, usually in small ways, but in the past we have changed the timing or direction of stories in response to feedback.


    - How was it possible for the viewers complaints about 'that' EastEnders episode to be counted within a couple of days, whereas we have to wait until May to see just how much damage has been done to TA and Radio4 listening figures according to RAJAR?

    TV and radio use completely different survey methods.


    - Question 1 Why was it thought right to celebrate the 60th anniversary with the death of a character?

    This is one of the myths I’m keen to scotch. We celebrated the anniversary in many ways (and these continue through the 60th anniversary year) – with a lot of activity on this website, including asking listeners for their memories of the programme, by a special day on Radio 7, by cooperating with numerous press and media outlets, by releasing The Archers Archives book etc. At no point publicly or internally did we say that this storyline ‘celebrates’ the 60th, and to think so would be perverse.


    - Question 2 Why is a storyline of a bereaved widow and children being repetaed for the third time in 12 months?

    The two earlier similar stories were forced upon us by circumstance – one actor dying and another wishing to retire. We wouldn’t have planned it that way through choice.


    - Question 3 As stories are planned well in advance why was the Helen pregnancy story told in such an unbelievable manner?

    This is your value judgement. I don’t agree that it was unbelievable, sorry.


    - Why did Ms Whitburn and the prod team believe that the 60th had to be 'traumatic'?
    - What is in keeping with TA about 'traumatic'?
    - Why does Ms Whitburn and the prod team think 'traumatic' is good?
    - Why did Ms Whitburn and the prod team believe that inflicting more death and resulting misery on the listeners was a good thing?
    - Why does Ms Whitburn persist in the wilful misunderstanding of the complaints, preferring instead to promote the myth that it's all because a character was killed ..... rather than the real issue, which is the misery such an event leads to will last far too long for many of us to want to hear?

    - Why was it deemed necessary to create yet another widow?
    - Why was it thought a good idea to have yet another period of mourning?
    - Why was it thought a good idea to remove one of the most likeable and well established characters who had been over twenty years in the developing?

    These sort of ‘why’ questions are difficult to answer satisfactorily, because storyline decisions are usually based on instinct and experience, rather than rational analysis. What I would say is that good drama does come (not exclusively, I know) from tough, sad events and I could point to scores of them in The Archers’ history. We’re already seeing excellent drama as David’s guilt leads him into conflict between helping at Lower Loxley and his responsibilities at Brookfield, for example. And from Sid’s death we are now seeing Jolene and Kenton getting together – and how interesting that’s going to be with Kathy and Jamie in the picture...


    - Why does the team say they have to disagree with listeners? Aren't listeners rather crucial?
    - (Would the team regard an emptying theatre a mark of success if their show was on the stage?)
    - Are the listeners' opinions irrelevant?

    The answer to these are so obvious as almost not needing to be said. Without our listeners we are nothing. Let me also point to the significant effort and expense that goes into providing and maintaining the programme’s message board, and now this blog. We do this precisely to give listeners an opportunity to express their opinions, which we’d hardly do if we thought they were irrelevant.


    - Why did we all get the same generic reply (addressing none of the concerns we separately and collectively wrote of) when we emailed, posted messages, wrote letters etc?

    Many correspondents were covering very similar ground in their letters. In an ideal world everyone would have individual replies. We are a small team with a programme to get on the air six days a week and we simply don’t have the resources to do that.


    - Why did the team of Feedback misunderstand nearly everything that was said to them about the quality of the scripts and storylines? Should Susan Carter be employed to explain to them? (she does have a PhD after all).

    I don’t think they did at all – but this is something you’d have to bring up with Feedback.


    - Why was there apparently such a strong anti-male, pro-feminist leaning? (Helen's hideous behaviour was deemed to be fine, Tony's absolutely understandable feeling that children are better with a father was deemed as reprehensible.)

    I’m sorry but I don’t accept your analysis. By whom were these attitudes ‘deemed’ in the way you say? Some characters thought that way, others disagreed. Looking at current storylines, I can see female characters is a bad light – eg thoughtless Kate, selfish Emma – and male ones in a good light – eg heroic David, caring Kenton.


    - Why - if the Duchess of Cornwall's role was recorded in early December - was THIS not aired on the anniversary?

    It was a matter of storylines, not the availability of scenes


    - I did ask on the relevant blog why, if the Duchess' visit was planned so far in advance that an osteoporosis SL had not been introduced?

    We did. It wasn’t a big storyline, but Lord Netherbourne had a fall last year and his slow recovery was referred to by Caroline with the Duchess of Cornwall.


    - Why has Helen been transformed into a saint?

    I don’t think she has


    - Why has Clarrie been turned into a misery?

    She hasn’t. She’s lovely with Nic, who she likes, and she’s reserved with Emma, who she’s always distrusted.


    - Why is personality transplanting become a feature of The Archers plots in recent years?

    I don’t think it has. People change over time, and sometimes act out of character, or unwisely. That’s a different thing.


    - Why are complaints regarded as compliments by The Archers crew?
    - Is there another service where if a customer says something has been very bad the response is thankyou very much, we are thrilled by your response?

    We don’t. We realise they are complaints, but we have just pointed out that if no-one cared about the character we’d created then there would be no complaints when he was killed.


    - As there has been such apparent gratitude for the huge volume of complaint, should we therefore assume that they set out to anger their listeners/customers in the first place?
    - If so, why? Is there a "plot" to get rid of TA altogether?

    Do you really want me to answer this? No, there isn’t.


    - My question is - why is Ms Whitburn still Editor of TA when she has switched off so many previous faithful listeners? Firstly with her sanction of the poor scripts and latterly with her arrogance to audience feedback.

    That is a matter you should take up with Vanessa’s bosses, but given that they have privately and publicly supported her you should understand that they disagree with your view. And the figures we have so far don’t indicate a reduction in listening (see above)


    - I too ask about the proportion of positive versus negative feedback that has been received.
    It's quite simple, according to your 'that was exciting' blog you said the team actually had someone counting tweets (unbelievable though I find this).
    - If not, then why the silence?

    That was an automated process. Please see above. And I don’t think this is silence, is it?


    - As you have a psychologist on board do you not think it might have been an idea to consult her before giving David, Nigel et al the character transplants necessary to allow absurd events like roofgate to take place?

    Please see my response on so-called ‘character transplants’ above.


    *Finally, the following are questions about questions (and answers):*


    - Question 1: If you are noting the questions, why are you/Ms Whitburn not answering them?

    - Question 2: The reaction since SATTC is overwhelmingly negative here, DTA, AA, general media etc., and people are genuinely turning off TA. What is the production team's feeling about the reaction please?

    - Question 3: Do the editorial, production and script writing team understand the REAL reason why ppl are so upset? (Reason for question is the official line from Ms Whitburn, Ms Williams et al is "several listeners were unhappy", "some complaints" and "we'll have to agree to disagree". These present a wilful misunderstanding of the reaction, which may/may not be accurate).

    - Second part of question: when are you all going to realise this will NOT go away UNTIL there are some answers

    - Question: Why are the obvious and clear questions posed by so many (ex)listeners over the last 6 weeks not being answered? Is it because the prodteam have no answers to the debacle or because the prodteam feel they do not need to respond? Or some other reason?

    - Well, if I were a betting man (and I don't bet, and nor am I a man), .... but IF I were either of those things I would place all my worldly goods quite confidently on a wager that we will not receive the answers we request.


    I’m fully aware that while I’ve tried to answer all the questions as best I can, we will still be in a situation where many (not all) of the people who have expressed opinions on this subject will be dissatisfied. We have heard and we understand the anger and upset. We have also heard – privately and publicly – from people who think very differently from those who have chosen to use the message board and blog to tell us what they think of us.

    For the absence of doubt: There will be no ‘resetting’ of the programme in which Nigel is suddenly alive again. None of us will be resigning or are being sacked over this. We don’t want anyone to stop listening to the programme, and if you have we hope you will come back in due course.

    It’s now three months since the incident. The dramatic consequences on-air will continue but in the real world we have to continue to make the programme, and so I hope you’ll understand that I won’t be returning to this subject again.

    Thank you.

  • Comment number 33.

    It is now 2 months since the incident, not 3.

  • Comment number 34.

    But it feels like much longer.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sadly, yet again, Mr K has revealed in so many of the casuistic and not infrequently evasive answers above, and the number of times he says ' I don't accept / I don;t beleive that is what we are doing / we are not making Helen into a saint' that the TA team really, and worryingly, still do not get it, and one honestly wonder if they are listening to a different programme.

    The overhwelming evidence on mbs, tweets, blogs and from AA, has been and cotinues to be, as said above, negative. Yet the TA team insist on starting from the premis that this is all predicated on Jan 2nd event - that is covenient for THEM as a basis on which to ground their rebuttals, but actually it is almost wildly inaccurate as a cause. I can see why they are doing it, but..... . The dissatisfaction with where Ms Whitburn is taking TA has been developing a head of steam for literally three plus years. Just read back over the messageboards alone. The events of Jan 2nd concentrated minds.

    What the TA team have done is suddenly face the hitherto pretty solidly loyal audience with a choice - accept our agenda or go. Once you force choice on an audience, the danger is that they might exercise it, and not in your favour. Soaps, even one as rooted as TA, are notoriously fragile: they have loyal even fanatic followings, BUT that loyalty depends at least in part on habit. If you challenge that habit, you make people re-think their position. And if they re-think, again, they may re-think against you.

    The TA team has awoken the Kraken. If the R4 evening begins to show listening figures falling off because the evening portal of TA is damaged, I wonder how soon it will be before Gwyneth Williams's gushing support might just ebb away and questions asked behind closed doors as pertinently as they are in public now by the disappointed loyalists of TA?

  • Comment number 36.

    Keri,

    You broke the covenant and, like virginity, the trust is gone.

  • Comment number 37.

    That's very interesting to know - I don't look at The Guardian, so I'm glad you posted it here. She's always just right as Susan - I wonder whether her profession gives her extra insight. That's an interesting and much-needed project they're working on, isn't it?

    I don't know why none of the comments are about the article, but since I'm here, I too will add an off-topic one: I just want to say that I loved the Jan 2nd episode, think the Helen story is very good (except for the pre-eclampsia, but I wouldn't have known if people hadn't said) don't think The Archers has deteriorated in the 40+ years I've heard it, do think it's improved on the whole, don't want anyone to resign and am posting to say "Thank you and congratulations to all concerned."

  • Comment number 38.

    "We’re already seeing excellent drama as David’s guilt leads him into conflict between helping at Lower Loxley and his responsibilities at Brookfield, for example. "

    No this is another stupid story..... not convinced by your replies, Keri - you would never make it as a politician...

  • Comment number 39.

    He ain't listening Dracs...

  • Comment number 40.

  • Comment number 41.

    Keri, like the rest of the team, simply isn't listening. We know best, we are in the meeja - you plebs can lump it.

  • Comment number 42.

    Keri clearly is listening. He has done so and set out the team's response above, and made clear that they understand the level of discontent with 2 Jan (and for me at least, DracsM1@35, 2 Jan was the prime cause for complaint - I think that the programme is generally excellent and that 2 Jan let it down badly, which is why it made me cross).

    But what are they supposed to do? They can't unwrite what happened, that would be absurd. We all have to live with it. I think they could perhaps de-emphasise the aftermath and background LL for a year or so and allow the programme to heal itself up. My view is that there has been great writing and acting since The Fall, but I find it hard to appreciate because of the yawning mistake that happened then so I would welcome less LL, less Rare Breeds, less Twins and less stretched David. More focus on Kenton, Jolene, the Grundies (with a proper SL now, not a scam), Brian, Amside, Kate and Pheobe. More Grey Gables. More pig farming.

    But in the end that is a decision They have to take, not Us - they have to be confident enough to keep planning and plotting the programme, to learn from mistakes of course but to go on with what they think is right - otherwise it'll be like those US films altered after audience polling, then we really might as well stop listening because apart from anything else I can't see any half decent writer or director or producer working like that.

  • Comment number 43.

    Keri, thanks for your long reply but there are a couple of points I'm particularly interested in.

    1 On the LAs stats I'd be very wary of assuming that because January's figures are slightly up on December then there hasn't been a fall off of listeners. Surely what matters is not the overall numbers but the profile across the month? Given the huge hype around SATTC I'd expect there to have been an enormous peak of downloads of that epi and possibly the next one (when it was confirmed Nigel had died). In other words, I'd expect the LA figures to be very significantly higher for January if overall numbers of listeners hadn't fallen for the month. The interesting stats are how the figures have held up on a daily/weekly basis since SATTC. I used to use LA several times each week but haven't done so since the end of last year - there are plenty in the same boat from what I can tell, on and off the boards - so for the figures to truly have held up implies you've reaped lots of new listeners. Have you really?

    2 I don't understand what it is you don't understand about the Helen SL. However little you intended it, she came over as either mad, nasty or both. On 2/3 January we had the revolting capitulation of Tony apologising to his selfish spiteful lying daughter with no one, not a single person, saying Tony old thing you had a point, your daughter has behaved shamefully towards you. Instead we have endured the beatification of Helen and her baby in a SL that is hot on the heels of a second coming SL. It has been grotesque and with the prodteam playing fast and loose with its characters I see no point in making time to listen to TA. All I can see in my head when I hear TA (2 or 3 times a week max these days) are cardboard characters dancing around on strings manipulated by the prodteam.

  • Comment number 44.

    Thanks for taking the time to answer all the questions, Mr K, not an easy thing to do.

  • Comment number 45.

    Keri Davis,

    I know you don't intend to revisit this but hope you will at least read this.

    Although you acknowledge the importance of your listeners there seems to be no humility about anything. It a very large number of people who like the programme enough to visit the website who are the ones complaining, not casual listeners, please bear that in mind.

    The opinions of the programme are based on the content, when we come up with opinions that seem unfair/daft it is still useful feedback because it reflects the writing back to you and your colleagues. The rest of my post revisits this theme.

    If so many of us feel characters are being rewritten it indicates a problem with the production surely you can see that? It means lots of people don't beleive in it any more. So even if character changes are only percieved from our side it indicates a very serious problem.

    If people felt you killed Nigel to celebrate the 60th anniversary that clearly indicates the 60th anniversary and "SATTC" was badly promoted. That is to say its possible we got that impression because we are willfully stupid, but I feel you need to take some responsibility and admit it was more likely down to how it was promoted. I remember those speculative upeat adverts where people came up with amusing suggestions for what would happen on the day.

    And if 2 bereavements have been forced on you by circumstances didn't that cause any of you to think about the wisdom of another storyline on these lines? The fact the other 2 were not editorial decisions doesn't mean having a third death doesn't count. It still means the editorial team decided to repeat a theme that built up earlier in the year.

    I think the sad thing is I am having thoughts that go against my own beleifs, I want to say things that will push the production teams buttons, I hope that someone will say something that makes you feel bad about yourselves as writers. I feel this way because it still seems to me that you think all the negative feedback is unfair and you are all far too thick skinned and self confident to admit it may be bad writing, basically "the writings perfect and you don't like it because you are being awkward"

    I am saying I would love to say something particularly cutting that made you doubt yourself and hopefully cry. I don't like the fact I am having these negative thoughts but see it as a natural response to the impervious shell of self confidence we are seeing.

  • Comment number 46.

    'not convinced by your replies, Keri - you would never make it as a politician'...

    Thank heaven that he wouldn't.

  • Comment number 47.

    A thoroughly predictable response from Keri Davies at message 32.
    What never ceases to surprise me though, is the arrogant and pompous tone of his responses. As he says himself that without our listeners we are nothing, I think a little more humility would not go amiss when responding to the very genuine complaints and concerns those listeners are raising.

  • Comment number 48.

    Dear Mr Davies,

    Thank you for your feedback and your earlier contribution

    Dated 10th Feb:-

    ">Could you answer some of the questions asked over the past 6 weeks or so do you think?...................

    ..........I have to say I've seen rather more opinions, accusations and assertions rather than actual questions. That's fine, but they are harder to 'answer'. We certainly note them all, even if we find ourselves in disagreement with some of them."

    You appear to have changed your mind and your answers appear to eminate from the Polit-bureau.

    Is it really that desperate?

    You seem to still not get it.

  • Comment number 49.

    "And I don’t think this is silence, is it?"

    Well, no Mr Davies. You have apparantly said your piece and now walk away even though the only 'answers' are, as usual, we were right, you understand nothing.

    I thought blogs were supposed to be interactive, they are certainly a time consuming and expensive addition to an existing message board.
    However, the appeal of them to the Beeb meeja is very clear. Hand down your tablet of wisdom then disappear and we, the consumers, have to lump it.

    That the death or retirement of cast members appear to be so unexpected that SWs cannot (or will not) alter stories accordingly shows a shocking lack of planning. With such a large cast, some of whom are octegenarians, you would think this sort of event could be anticipated.

  • Comment number 50.

    Quote from message 45: "I am saying I would love to say something particularly cutting that made you doubt yourself and hopefully cry. I don't like the fact I am having these negative thoughts but see it as a natural response to the impervious shell of self confidence we are seeing."

    Well, I don't see it as a natural response at all: it seems a rather peculiar & over-wrought one, IMO. How childish to want to make someone cry.

    I disagree with several points Keri makes in his answers & I have stopped listening; not because Nigel has been deaded but because of what I perceive to be a decline in standards, writing & characterisation.

    However, I do not think it is right for posters to attack & insult Keri who at least has had the decency to try to answer questions put to him. People seem to be lashing out at Keri because of their unhappiness with TA & its current Editor.

    Keri is part of a team & has to go along with a consensus. He may not agree with every aspect of the current editorial direction - he says that there were differing views on the 60th SL for example - but he has to be a team player. Do people really expect him to criticise his colleagues on a blog?

    Without Keri we wouldn't have ML & I wish to disassociate myself from posters who insult him & use him as punchbag.

  • Comment number 51.

    @50 politebirder "He may not agree with every aspect of the current editorial direction - he says that there were differing views on the 60th SL for example - but he has to be a team player. Do people really expect him to criticise his colleagues on a blog?"

    I agree absolutely with this sentiment and also your comments on the insulting of the production team and writers.

    However, my question, which was the one about an osteoporosis SL was answered with
    "We did. It wasn’t a big storyline, but Lord Netherbourne had a fall last year and his slow recovery was referred to by Caroline with the Duchess of Cornwall."

    Well, that's all right then - one reference to it makes it all OK.

  • Comment number 52.

    I disagree politebirder.

    The team responsible for the decline that has stopped your enjoyment DO have the accountability for what they have created. If one puts his head above the parapet - but only to tell you your tastes are wrong - a right of reply should be granted.

    It's not.

    You pay your hard earned £££s - to be told you know nothing. If listeners complain - in terms that they feel - it's up to them.

    'Mr Keri' is, as someone pointed out above, no more or less than an apologist for a breakdown of the contract between programme maker and listener.

    The whole bunch of them need a wake up call to the real world where even surgeons have to have a public - and accountable - persona.

    And none of these meeja lot have the guts in their feather bedded worlds to understand that BETTER people than them are asked the same questions.

  • Comment number 53.

    Sorry, but I think much of what is written on this blog is being unfair to Keri Davies. He has his own opinions and interpretation of story lines, and so what if it doesn't agree with yours? I don't agree with a lot of what is stated here, and I'm still a happy listener. Does this make my opinion more important than yours? No it doesn't, but equally your opinions are not more important than mine, or indeed Mr Keri's.

  • Comment number 54.

    @politebinder, message 50.

    "Well, I don't see it as a natural response at all: it seems a rather peculiar & over-wrought one, IMO. How childish to want to make someone cry."

    I am fully aware its not a "mature" response as you would have it, but I have not insulted Keri Davis at all, please admit that, I am opening up about how I feel about his responses. Nothing I have said is rude enough or personal enough to actually make him cry is it?

    "However, I do not think it is right for posters to attack & insult Keri who at least has had the decency to try to answer questions put to him. People seem to be lashing out at Keri because of their unhappiness with TA & its current Editor."

    The reality is my response is very polite, but clearly states my feelings taking full responsibility for them and admit they are negative. I believe sincerely and from the bottom of my heart that you have experienced similar feelings even as an adult, but perhaps have lacked the insight to recognise these feelings.

    I mean it when I say I would like you to admit that I have not insulted Keri Davis, or said anything intended to make him cry, because that is the truth and your implication that I have is not the truth. I sometimes wonder why I bother trying to be honest about my negative emotions when people choose to pretend that I am glorifying them or somehow seeing them as positive.

  • Comment number 55.

    I sympathise with Jigje in that when so many people have expressed so many emotions ranging from disappointment to genuine heartache, feeling brushed off with answers which do not really address their sadness/anger can produce feelings of "so what can I do to get the reaction I crave?" It's rather like trying to reason with a small child who keeps saying "yeah but, no but, whatever" and we most of us know how that feels!

    One of the reasons I stopped listening was during Helen Archer's pregnancy she was scripted as being in the right for turning against her father whose only concerns were for her welfare. I found this story to be very crude and to cast a loving father as the villain when he felt his grandchild would fare better with a father was to my mind irresponsible. My daughter is 17 and I am old fashioned enough to hope that if in the future she has a child it will be with a loving partner to help her. I do not find this attitude to be villainous.

    I did limp on with TA until the 60th but the utter ludicrousness of that that week was the final straw and although I have accidentally dipped in once or twice since then, it no longer feels like an old friend, rather the unwanted uninivited guest and I quickly switch off.

    Mr Keri says that more people are likely to complain than praise and I end with a short account. My daughter volunteers at a private nursing home at the weekends and she tells me that the residents used to get together on Sunday mornings to listen to the omnibus together. But now they say it is "rubbish" and they listen to Radio 7. They were looking forward to a morning of Arthur Haynes this morning.

    Many many people who have stopped listening are not likely to complain. These nursing home residents will not complain and their voices will not be heard. But there are a lot of people like them who have silently switched stations.

  • Comment number 56.

    If people do stop listening in sufficient numbers to affect the national figures then (assuming equal numbers haven't started, which is always possible) it will show up in the figures when the arrive. We will see what we will see.

    My view is, I hated what happened on 1 January but have stuck with the programme. I believe there has been some excellent stuff since then. I have found it possible to engage with the Helen SL because, while I have detested Helen for years, there seems to have been a reset of her character and Helen II seems much nicer. Long may it continue. I can understand Tony setting aside his justifiable hurt at her behaviour because she is his daughter, and now he has a grandson. So, against my expectations, that SL has worked for me.

    What has not worked for me - despite some good moments of scripting and acting - has been Lower Loxley. I find myself still resenting Nigel's abrupt writing out, questioning, as others have, why this couldn't have been changed when it became clear last summer that it would be the third major character death in 12 months (and the second one out of the blue). I believe this SL was a mistake and an easily avoidable one. I am getting more and more annoyed with David, Elizabeth and Ruth. I feel that when the magnitude of the reaction to this SL became clear, and listeners' likely response to the prolonged misery, something could still have been saved by backgrounding LL for a bit and concentrating elsewhere. I am very sad that this wasn't done.

    BUT

    Mistakes happen. People get things wrong. And it's OK to hold different opinions. Perhaps, to go on operating, the production team need to have some confidence in themselves, and a major change of direction might be something they just can't bring themselves to do. And of course there are people who are enjoying the post 2 January landscape, maybe quite a few of them. The numbers will, in the end, tell.

    In my view is therefore both wrong and discourteous to direct abuse at Keri or any of the team for the stance they are taking. For me, it would be wrong to switch off, though I respect the feelings of others who feel differently: and it seems pointless and a waste of time and bytes now to go on, and on, and on, demanding further answers to questions or insisting that people say sorry. I think that everything has now been said that can be said. There must be something more interesting to talk about (till those figures appear at least!)

  • Comment number 57.

    With all respect I have to say - come on!
    Discourteous to question one of the writers about their work??
    You must live in a different world to most people who have their work evaluated and questioned every month at least.
    Nothing has been rude.
    Most people DO think a 'sorry, got it wrong' wouldn't go amiss and this very much includes people who did listen, don't any more, but don't go on MBs or blogs. Met 2 of this representation on Saturday night.

    What IS 'wrong and discourteous' is to start a 'conversation' on blogs; decide you don't like what the conversation is about; walk out of the room for a couple of months; walk back in, announce to the people you have had the conversation with, 'I'll say this only once' - and walk out of the room again.

    I do not care 2 hoots about whether Mr Davies feels personally insulted frankly. If he was a chef and charged me for a bad meal, I'd feel the same.

 

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