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Ambridge Extra on BBC Radio 4 Extra

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 08:25 AM, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Scott Arthur plays Rhys, barman at The Bull

People who follow me on Twitter @keridavies will be aware that I've been very busy recently but I haven't been able to say why.

Now at last I can.

I'm one of the two scriptwriters from The Archers team who have been working on a spin-off from the main programme. 'Ambridge Extra' will launch on BBC Radio 4 Extra (the new version of Radio 7) in the first week of April.

The idea is that you'll be able to hear more stories from in and around Ambridge, and also we'll be able to go further afield with Archers-related characters.

You can enjoy the new series without listening to the main Archers programme. And you can continue to listen to The Archers without missing out on anything essential. But if you follow both programmes, then you'll get a deeper insight into what's going on in our characters' lives. You'll also hear from new characters in Ambridge Extra who don't appear in The Archers, or who are only minor characters there.

It's been an exciting challenge helping to develop the new series. The episodes have a different feel to the main Archers programme. Unlike The Archers, where the events of one day are covered in one episode, Ambridge Extra episodes often cover the key events of two or three days in their 15 minute duration. So it zips along quite fast, although we are covering fewer stories, so we hope it should be a lively listen.

In the early episodes, we learn how Alice is getting on at university, and we meet Rhys, the barman at The Bull, who up to now has been a silent character. There's also a chance to see what Jamie is getting up to behind his mother's back.


Schedule

Ambridge Extra will broadcast on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am, with repeats on the same days at 2.15pm (straight after The Archers on Radio 4)

An omnibus half hour programme will air on Fridays at 10.30am, repeated on Sundays at 11.15am and 7.15pm (again, straight after The Archers Omnibus and evening episode)

BBC Radio 4 Extra can be heard on DAB digital radio and digital television, and online via your computer. You'll also be able to have episodes sent to your computer free of charge as a podcast.

The initial plan is for two 13-week series. The first starts on Tuesday 5 April, with a second series in the autumn.


I hope you give the new programme a try. Do let us know what you think of it.


Keri Davies is an Archers - and Ambridge Extra - scriptwriter and web producer

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    That was a well kept secret Keri, how exciting. Unfortunately I can't get DAB radio where I live but I'll certainly be listening on my computer. I'm not sure from your piece exactly how it will work though. You mention Rhys, the currently silent barman at the Bull, will we get to hear him in The Archers as well? I guess I'm asking how much crossover there will be between the two programmes.

    What a great way to mark the anniversary. Hope it goes well and more series follow.

  • Comment number 2.

    Oh Keri, that explains a lot. Sorry to diss your hard work but you've read the reaction to TA since SATTC, why can't you concentrate on one thing and get it right.

  • Comment number 3.

    How glad I am not to be able to receive digital radio, so I can't even be tempted to listen to even more character rewriting and the transmogrifcation of Ambridge into Midwich.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sounds like an interesting plan to me and congratulations to all on selling the idea to the powers that be. Shame that you've got such a knee jerk negative response from some. I'll certainly give it a try.

  • Comment number 5.

    Sounds interesting and I will give it a listen - if it's on the iPlayer (It won't make me go out and buy a digital radio!). Good luck with it.

  • Comment number 6.

    Tell us, Keri, is Molly Button in Ambridge Extra?

  • Comment number 7.

    Will it be available on the interweb

    a) At same time as broadcast

    b) On demand?

    c) As a podcast (please)

  • Comment number 8.

    Mr Davies.

    I do not wish to disparage your hard work producing this "spin off" without a listen. However it appears that the core, the raison d’être, The Archers itself has suffered greatly for this, this, thrasing about.

    Could you, or anyone else, please just fix The Archers? Instead the BBC's diminishing resources appear to be being used on, what appears at first glance, another piece of PR Puffery?

  • Comment number 9.

    PS There is a photograph of an actor at the head of your blog.

    Do you realise how many of us object to having visual images of radio characters forced upon us?

    It is all in the mind.

  • Comment number 10.

    re message 7

    Hi OI - you'll be able to listen to Radio 4 Extra online as you can today to Radio 7. It will be available as a podcast too :)

    Tayler

  • Comment number 11.

    Well I for one am looking forward to this. Spin off series are always tricky, but this is a clever idea, especially using the 'silent' characters. The interplay between established and new characters will be fascinating.
    Those who don't want to listen to the 'expanded universe' can always stick to the original original series.
    The first week in April is going to be a good one I think!

  • Comment number 12.

    (peers over unnecessary spectacles in disapproving manner) I do hope it's not going to be rude like late nite Hollyoaks......

  • Comment number 13.

    So, can I try to get this right?

    Having had to make do over the last two to three years with a progressively screwed up, misfiring old banger, just having it daily run up and down the drive to check that there is still a semblance of an engine in there somewhere, we now learn that the maintenance team have been busy with a shiny, new, naughty little roadster round the back.

    Presumably the mantra is 'it'll do for those traditionalist geriatrics, and we can all have a snigger at the tripe we push out for them, but really, it'll be all steamy fun and excitement as we go off-road with the TA-Porsche. Serves 'em right for moaning at us for years. Only get it online / DAB? Oh, that is SO tough luck, oldies!'

    You guys at TA HQ, you take the biscuit for sheer, cynical, brazen cheek.

    And you wonder why there has been such a tide of rising disillusionment, rage, and scorn over the last few years?

    Sorry, what was that about BBC cuts, Mr Thompson? Sorry, the line's breaking up....no, I really can't......very sorry, why not call again later?

  • Comment number 14.

    What an excellent idea - and congrats on keeping such a juice secret - MI5 will be after you for your lack of leakiness.

    I presume that I can listen to this on a digital TV channel - in which case it makes it easy to record to listen to later on.

    I won't be the only one to hint at this - but presumably we can keep fingers crossed that we may here the delectable Nigel P once more. Happy Thought

  • Comment number 15.

    Good luck with this new project - I'll definitely give it a try.
    I listened to TA faithfully from childhood onwards, but I've practically given up over the last 2/3 years. I dip in and out, but it just seems to get worse and worse so I never stay.
    However, maybe this new wheeze will have researchers, proper agricultural advisors, and some grasp of how to write an entertaining, interesting, everyday story of country life without resorting to sneering caricature and/or heavy handed thud-and-blunder.
    Can't wait to find out.

  • Comment number 16.


    Kerri old chap,

    How much of this is driven by the desire to get as many DAB radios sold as possible? ie.upstairs in my quiet room away from kids is my trusty 80s clock radio. This is where I retreat to on Sunday evenings. If I want to be part of 'Archers Lite' then I clearly have to go out and buy a new ruddy radio.

    AND, if it isnt a 'success' - ie not enough radios are sold - will they then drop the whole idea or tell us they are moving the entire TA fixture to R7 to force the issue?

  • Comment number 17.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    Hi returnmigration (message 16)

    You can listen to Radio 4 Extra online or via the podcast, so you won't need to splash out on a rew radio :)

    Tayler

  • Comment number 19.

    Yes - I have to say my first reaction is that I didn't think Radio 7 was broken, so I'm not sure about these attempts to "fix" it by turning it into Radio 4 xtra are going to work for me. (And I said so when I filled in my questionnaire last year - presumably I'm in the minority here, or they are ignoring people who said that they didn't like the idea of rebranding Radio 7) I'm wondering, given the scheduling details, what is going to happen to the current 10am slot which runs daily drama serials (currently the Barchester Chronicles)

    But that's got nothing to do with your new programme, Keri - I suspect I will be curious enough to listen to some of them to see what they are about. BTw - is Rhys a silent? I feel sure we've heard him speak when Jolene and Fallon were interviewing for new bar staff - at least, we definitely heard one of the rejected candidates, who gave the impression that she'd be running off to festivals at short notice all the time.

  • Comment number 20.

    Interesting but I would rather hear old archive editions from the fifties and sixties in the days when The Archers really was an everyday story of country folk with an editor and production team who were more interested in entertaining the listener rather than making vain efforts of chasing ratings with the introduction of unbelievable sensationalist plots.

  • Comment number 21.

    Keri, I'm sorry, but this sounds ghastly. First of all, I don't like the idea of Radio 7 being re-branded in this way---as far as I was concerned it was an alternative to Radio 4, offering other things, like the dedicated sci-fi/supernatural slots. Secondly, this 'Archers Extra' sounds like a misguided attempt to woo younger listeners, and as someone who's been struggling to enjoy the programme since VW's cheap publicity stunt of killing Nigel, the last thing I want is a spin off featuring Jamie, Alice and Rhys.

    Good luck with the enterprise, but, negative as it might sound, it doesn't appeal to me and I feel vaguely insulted by the suggestion that I ought to be 'excited' by this pointless innovation.

  • Comment number 22.

    What on earth makes the BBC think that anyone is going to listen to another Archers on another station. My radios are on R4 only and I am not about to mess around with another station. And what exactly will be on this - how can it not impact on the main prog? how will the actors manage extra? what is the point if it does not fit with the main prog?
    Sorry Keri bad idea all round in my opinion.
    Also how will you stop people commenting on the MB and spoiling things?

  • Comment number 23.

    Where you tempted to call it "Underneath the Archers" ? I hope not. All the best with the new venture - another pleasant few minutes to look forward to.

  • Comment number 24.

    Keri, I feel really torn because I want to congratulate you BUT this kind of thing (the spin-off) has always irritated me. Nothing to do with the Nigel fiasco, simply that had I still been listening I would have been irritated at the thought of missing anything else that was on, and I would not have been able to find the time to do so.

    I can see why you are excited and I wish you well, but it's not going to be something I will (or even could, tbh, with my radio) access.

  • Comment number 25.

    We have never seen Eastenders they did E20 to celebrate their anniversary to attract da yoof :-

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EastEnders:_E20

    TA can't even come up with originality for the 60th Anniversary... Same old same old...

  • Comment number 26.

    Will there be pigs and llamas and Eccles and just everything?

    Best wishes and I hope it all goes well

  • Comment number 27.

    Great news, Keri, and I really look forward to it. Radio 7 is my favourite Listen Again channel -- I don't need a new radio for that as I listen via my computer. Just ignore the negativity. Some people moan at anything. I think it's a creative & obvious use of the new kinds of media available in the 21st century. Congratulations to you and the Archers production team. And it's great to see more opportunities for employing actors in such difficult times as these.

  • Comment number 28.

    A great idea, and I'm looking forward to hearing Ambridge Extra. But why one earth couldn't you find a picture of Sabrina Thwaite to put up instead of that vapid-looking yoof?
    And do ignore the whingers - most of them profess to have switched off the Archers anyway (gone downhill ever since they ditched the Home Service...why should I have to retune my wireless to Hilversum...splutter...PC gone mad...sensationalism....contd P.94).

  • Comment number 29.

    Bring it on.Can't get enough Archers or BBC 7 me.

  • Comment number 30.

    I enjoy The Archers but can't help thinking that I shall be missing out on something if I don't listen to the extra programmes. I'm not sure I want devote more time to Ambridge.

  • Comment number 31.

    Give me strength... please.

  • Comment number 32.

    Is it true that instead of the Duchess of Cornwall, Ambridge Extra will have a guest appearance by Samantha from ISIHAC?

  • Comment number 33.

    I'll give it a whirl as long as it is a HellinanHenry free zone. First whine from the 'little wriggler' and I'm off.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm looking forward to this, and glad to hear that it'll be a podcast.

    VH

  • Comment number 35.

    I can't wait! There's just not enough Archers on. I think buying a digital radio was some of the best money I've ever spent: digital channels enable output that just wouldn't be possible if the BBC had to stick to crowded FM. PLEASE let Lillian Bellamy be in both programmes. Daaaarling.

  • Comment number 36.

    Sounds interesting. Will we get Sabrina?

  • Comment number 37.

    Definitely interesting and I'll definitely give it a go. But won't plot meetings now involve wrangling over which storylines are going to be done by which version of TA?

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm not sure about this. Annie on Being Human is feeling lonely, could Nigel move to Barry Island?

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh Mr Keri, this makes me so sad! You are one of the respected Archer's scriptwriters who can always be relied on to 'come up with the goods'. Yet you desert an ailing (once much loved) programme to create a spin off? Please come back and rescue our beloved Archers - we don't need an 'Extra' - we need a decent storyline with convincing character development in the original series x x

  • Comment number 40.

    Thanks for you comments. If I could pick up a few points:

    >is Rhys a silent? I feel sure we've heard him speak when Jolene and Fallon were interviewing for new bar staff - at least, we definitely heard one of the rejected candidates, who gave the impression that she'd be running off to festivals at short notice all the time.

    We did, but we didn't hear Rhys at that time. Oddly enough, I wrote that episode and named Rhys, little knowing at the time etc etc...

    >First of all, I don't like the idea of Radio 7 being re-branded in this way---as far as I was concerned it was an alternative to Radio 4, offering other things, like the dedicated sci-fi/supernatural slots.

    As far as I know, much of the existing content will remain. I think it will still recognisably be the Radio 7 you love.

    >I enjoy The Archers but can't help thinking that I shall be missing out on something if I don't listen to the extra programmes.

    You neededn't worry. Our over-arching objective is to protect the main programme. There is already a huge amount going on in the fictional universe of Ambridge that we are not able to dramatise. This just gives us an opportunity to reveal a little more, for those with the appetite for it.

    >Oh Mr Keri, this makes me so sad! You are one of the respected Archer's scriptwriters who can always be relied on to 'come up with the goods'. Yet you desert an ailing (once much loved) programme to create a spin off? Please come back and rescue our beloved Archers

    Thank you for those kind words, but I am still on The Archers writing team, contributing ideas at script meetings, and writing scripts (albeit fewer than in previous years).

    >Is it true that instead of the Duchess of Cornwall, Ambridge Extra will have a guest appearance by Samantha from ISIHAC?

    Oh, I wish... What a lovely idea :o)

    Finally, I will say that we know this won't be for everyone, for all sorts of reasons. No problem, just don't listen, or just carry on listening to The Archers. But I have been encouraged by the many appreciative - and actually excited - comments that we've already received from listeners about the prospect of Ambridge Extra.


  • Comment number 41.

    Mr Davies,

    It seems a little odd that you assert 'I think it will still recognisably be the Radio 7 you love.'

    Were that the case, why bother re-branding the station at all, at - no doubt - considerable expense?

  • Comment number 42.

    Re response # 41: I don't know why you are asking Keri this. It wasn't his idea and it isn't within his control to reverse the decision. Go and ask whoever is in charge of Radio, or the BBC Trust.

    I look forward to the new programmes. The Archers has its ups and downs but overall it remains the cornerstone of my radio listening.

  • Comment number 43.

    I don't have a TV but leave R4 running via the iPlayer pretty much all day long 6 am - midnight and beyond into the world service, I dip in and out upping the volume when something appeals.

    I first listened to the Archers in 1964 and stopped listening over two years ago although I usually hear the first few bars of the music before I hit mute. I decided to give it a try again a few days before Nigel slipped, then I stopped listening again two days later as the only character that was still vaguely entertaining had gone; an alternative version with Nigel might tempt me to give it another try but I think it was increasingly seeing images of the actors that destroyed my internalised version, this along with just getting very bored with the small world pushed me into dropping it. It sounds like the extra will be a good addition but I have left it all behind, that guy with a pint in the image on this blog was not in my version of the Archers, Elizabeth has the wrong coloured hair, pictures of Joe are not my Joe etc etc. Unlike the usually excellent dramas on R4 where the imagination of every individual can generate their own unique version the endless Archers images have ruined my mental games. I also agree with Brian - Ambridge is just the same old or maybe Im getting too old I am bored with guessing ahead and getting it right and guessing ahead and getting it wrong.

  • Comment number 44.

    Well done Keza, that's mint, as da yoof still sometimes say. I'm looking forward to it and take off my felt trilby to all of you for coming up with this. I always I could do with bit more TA, so this will do nicely. I think it sounds like a good tag team, you and Stimpson and raising your hear above the parakeet always gets some tomatoes in the gob. Good luck with it. Bash x

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm a podcast listener in California. I can't get enough of The Archers so I'm really looking forward to this! Thanks!

  • Comment number 46.

    Goodness, I've only just caught up with all this!

    I'll certainly give it a try, especially if I can access it via Podcast, which is how I usually listen to TA anyway.

    Just one reservation though:

    "In the early episodes, we learn how Alice is getting on at university, and we meet Rhys, the barman at The Bull, who up to now has been a silent character. There's also a chance to see what Jamie is getting up to behind his mother's back."

    A spin-off with Silents sounds intriguing to me, but for those who can't/aren't interested in listening to the spin-off, or miss a number of episodes,I hope not too many of the regular characters will feature only there in much more detail and not in the regular TA. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to hear more of Alice & Jamie's doings in their usual daily fix...

    Will it be ok to discuss the spin-off on the MB, perhaps with TAX in the thread-title, so that those who aren't interested can scroll on by?

    Katy

  • Comment number 47.

    This is fantastic! More Archers...I can hardly wait!

  • Comment number 48.

    So how long will it take to be a Podcast?

  • Comment number 49.

    I am astounded at the number of negative comments on this subject. If persons are that upset then surely you just don't listen to either programme. I have to agree though that it seems pointless to change the name of Radio 7.
    My advice is give it a try. You cannot criticise something until you have tried it. You never know - you might be pleasantly surprised!
    David

  • Comment number 50.

    I have been an Archers fan since Col. Freddie Danby arrived in Ambridge. But the new proposals are a disappointing use of valuable broadcasting time. It is slightly patronising that whenever Radio 4 faces changes, the instinctive reaction seems to be 'roll out more from The Archers.' Radio 4 listeners in general and Archers listeners in particular, deserve to be treated with greater respect by Radio 4 executives under political, funding and scheduling pressures not of the making of listeners. If there is time to spare on Radio 4 Extra, use it to innovate; use it to bring forward new programme ideas.

  • Comment number 51.

    I think that this is a great opportunity for the script-writers, the whole TA brand, and, if they have learned from what went wrong in recent times then it may be and, I hope, will be, a wonderful opportunity for redemption in the minds of listener land.

    I'm really looking forward to test driving the greater access we are going to have to more textured story lines and the script writers' additional opportunities for deepening and widening the experience, for everyone.

    I'm the same age as TA and it is more than time for this new development, and others I hope you're working on too. I depend on LL and LA Digital & Podcasts in south east Europe and it's time that TA moved in to a great new future.

    PLEASE write with a consciousness which connects with the core intelligence of we who really are who listen and engage with best drama, whatever chronological age we are. Some, like me, are capable of being your listeners for another 40 years, and we are worth cultivating and not alienating by insubstantial and fake characterisations and story lines. Please, too, offer the younger listeners you want to attract now, the ones who you want to have around for the next 70-80 years, an exemplar of good, depth, writing and slow-burn evolution as well as the quick fire tragic-comic where we can all be surprised and turned on a sixpence. I am asking for it all. Yes, I am. We want it, and we deserve it. Yes, we do. Editorial expectations of our maturity did grow shamefully low. Let this be renaissance all round. Thanks. I'm rootin' for ya!

  • Comment number 52.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Radio 1 Extra a station for 'Black' music. If so, should Radio 4 Extra be a speech station for the African Caribbean community? Or should the BBC just not muck around with their stations' names?

  • Comment number 53.

    I shall certainly give it a try, especially as I flit between R4 and R7 already.
    One aspect that is positive about the new programme is that it has been written by only two SWs. I think the lack of continuity from week to week in TA, which has been particularly noticble recently, is due to each writer doing one week at a time.

  • Comment number 54.

    Don't take any notice of all those moany people out there. If they don't want to listen then they don't have to, and as for griping on about DAB radios, you clearly say the programme is available online and on digital TV.
    Much as I disagreed with Nigel's death and subsequent jerking of our emotions with the Elizabeth story, I haven't quit listening and am still enjoying TA so shall definitely be giving Ambridge Extra a go. Good luck to you.

  • Comment number 55.

    Hi Keri. I'm going to try the new programme and I really do wish it well. However I do have a reservation which I posted on the messageboard, as follows:

    " It can't be completely separate.

    If any of the 'main' cast appear in Ambridge Lite, then whatever they do or say or have happen to them becomes part of their back story and should inform what happens in the main show.

    Admittedly the SWs currently have scant regard for continuity or integrity of personality of characters, but we the listeners hold these things dear.

    If I know that Alice has been tempted to have a relationship with someone at University, then it will colour how I listen to all her conversations with Chris, for example.

    The only way it can be totally separate is to have no main programme characters, no references to main programme storylines, and so on. And if the new programme has none of those things I'm sort of thinking 'why bother?' "

    Any comments?

    Dx

  • Comment number 56.

    Oh dear. Now I know why I don't listen much anymore. The Archers is clearly not for the likes of me anymore. Dear Keri, are you really old enough to drink? How soon before 'The Archers' is featured on CBBC?

  • Comment number 57.

    I think this is a great idea and I think it can be 'separate' from the main Archers. In fact if it concentrates on minor characters we don't have to listen to the ones we hate. Good luck with it.

  • Comment number 58.

    >A spin-off with Silents sounds intriguing to me, but for those who can't/aren't interested in listening to the spin-off, or miss a number of episodes,I hope not too many of the regular characters will feature only there in much more detail and not in the regular TA. I'm sure I'm not the only one who wants to hear more of Alice & Jamie's doings in their usual daily fix...

    >If any of the 'main' cast appear in Ambridge Lite, then whatever they do or say or have happen to them becomes part of their back story and should inform what happens in the main show.

    >The only way it can be totally separate is to have no main programme characters, no references to main programme storylines, and so on. And if the new programme has none of those things I'm sort of thinking 'why bother?' "

    I understand the concerns, but perhaps I could explain a little about how we'll be structuring the series. A large part of it will be about regular characters who don't have a storyline running at the time - and who wouldn't have had one whether or not Ambridge Extra existed.

    These Ambridge Extra stories will have passing references in the main programme (eg Jennifer's looking forward to Alice coming home for the holidays). One story will be more closely integrated, but anything that you need to know to enjoy the story in The Archers will be contained within The Archers. You'll just get more detail and a different perspective from the Ambridge Extra content.

    We'll also keep things consistent between the two shows. To help this, Tim and I are still on The Archers writing team, attending all the scriptmeetings and still writing the occasional Archers week.

  • Comment number 59.

    >Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Radio 1 Extra a station for 'Black' music. If so, should Radio 4 Extra be a speech station for the African Caribbean community? Or should the BBC just not muck around with their stations' names?

    There is also a station called Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, which doesn't especially feature African Caribbean sports, so I don't think the argument really holds.

  • Comment number 60.

    >So how long will it take to be a Podcast?

    They'll appear on the same schedule as The Archers podcasts, with an added bonus. Because Ambridge Extra is structured in series of 13 weeks, then 'series stacking' will be available. This means that each episode will be available until seven days after the final episode of the series it's in.

  • Comment number 61.

    I understand the concerns, but perhaps I could explain a little about how we'll be structuring the series. A large part of it will be about regular characters who don't have a storyline running at the time - and who wouldn't have had one whether or not Ambridge Extra existed.

    These Ambridge Extra stories will have passing references in the main programme (eg Jennifer's looking forward to Alice coming home for the holidays). One story will be more closely integrated, but anything that you need to know to enjoy the story in The Archers will be contained within The Archers. You'll just get more detail and a different perspective from the Ambridge Extra content.

  • Comment number 62.

    Blast. That was meant to be a quote followed by a comment from me. Its gone phut.

    To repeat ... presumably Ambridge Lite was conceived because the team anticipate that listeners to TA want to hear more from familiar but silent or currently un-featured characters, or the back story to a current bit of plot. So it has to link and refer to the main programme or you may just as well not bother. And if someone says something on Ambridge Lite, those that hear it can't pretend they haven't ... it is bound to influence how they then listen to those characters on the main programme.

    I really hope this posts properly this time ....

    Dx

  • Comment number 63.

    It amuses me that people that claim to HATE The Archers and to never listen to it since sometime before I was born, come here to complain about the script writing. Especially when they imply that people leaving outside of major cities should have no interests aside from farming. I started listening to The Archers last summer and my wife and I really enjoy it. TAX is an interesting concept and I hope it goes well. Obviously it should be related to the main story lines or it is pointless, but in the same way that currently characters disappear for months and then come back and just happen to drop a lot of clues/plot exposition about what has happened, the writers can recap anything that happens in TAX that is useful int he main series. For example Jamie was a big part of the show last fall and then had to be ignored to make space for the Nigel and Elizabeth. When he returned this week to fight with Kenton there was a brief little period when the script let you know that he hadn't dropped out of school or been arrested yet as one might have feared. He storyline would have been obvious for TAX over the Christmas time when the main show was so preoccupied.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think it would be more fun to do an "Alternative Archers". One where Grace never died in a fire and so Jill is a retired visiting sales demonstrator who visits Ambridge one day and says "What a dreadful place I am glad I don't have to live here." Or bringing it more up to date a world where Nigel falls off the roof but lands on a trampoline.

  • Comment number 65.

    I've been told that there has been a sudden influx of many more 'silent' characters in TA, presumably to provide a cast for TAX, so today's 'Broadcasting House' programme (Radio4, 9am) should be particularly interesting/amusing, as I understand it is going to hold live auditions for the Archers silent characters.

  • Comment number 66.

    Test.

  • Comment number 67.

    Test again.

  • Comment number 68.

    Great, please could we have a story line set in a parallel universe where Nigel and David don't do something totally out of character and the Archers doesn't become East Eanders......no we can't....I didn't think so.......
    This is just another way of applying sticking plaster to a deep seated problem.

  • Comment number 69.

    Don't know whether to be pleased or despairing.... the real Archers scripts need tightening up. Characters are so out of character that in real life they would be receiving psychiatric help. I suppose this won't be a problem for new characters! Still - I'll give the Xtra Archers a chance as I've been listening to the original for over 50 years now - and I'm just over 60 so hopefully I've got a few more years listening ahead! But please concentrate on the real Archers. Please! Please!

  • Comment number 70.

    Maybe, given the 'integrity check failed' message that sometimes comes up, the problem is those angular brackets or summat...

    59. At 17:45pm on 23rd Mar 2011, Keri Davies wrote:

    "Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Radio 1 Extra a station for 'Black' music. If so, should Radio 4 Extra be a speech station for the African Caribbean community? Or should the BBC just not muck around with their stations' names?

    There is also a station called Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, which doesn't especially feature African Caribbean sports, so I don't think the argument really holds."

    Right, so Radio 5 Live Sports Extra used to be called Radio 8, did it?

  • Comment number 71.

    I for one am very pleased with this i feel it will be brill, i am tho very mad at the above comments of pepole moaning when they have not heard it but if they dont want it then DO NOT put it on you all have the power not to put it on your radio/iplayer.

    Things develop and thats a good thing time moves on the main Archers is still on same time/day so NO ONE is makeing folk turn on the radio!

  • Comment number 72.

    'These Ambridge Extra stories will have passing references in the main programme (eg Jennifer's looking forward to Alice coming home for the holidays). One story will be more closely integrated, but anything that you need to know to enjoy the story in The Archers will be contained within The Archers. You'll just get more detail and a different perspective from the Ambridge Extra content.'

    To which one can only reply 'Why?'

    The R4 messageboards were closed ostensibly because of financial reasons, then WHY is money being thrown at this misbegotten mess?

    If this was SUCH A GOOD IDEA why wasn't it part of the anniversary?
    Couldn't get the R4 extra relaunch ready in time, then why the secrecy on this?
    I'll tell you why, if this had been 'trailed ' for any length of time especially before the messageboard closures there would have been a HUGE outcry. But they closed down the boards before much could be said.

    No the lack of co-ordination of all of this, the revamp of the R4 boards (hopelessly incompetently) then their closure, the Archers anniversary and now the Ambridge Extra (Underneath the Archers would have been more appropriate) smacks of sheer desperate incompetence WITH OUR MONEY!
    And WHERE IS THE DEMAND? Have R4 listeners been demanding MORE Archers? Many think there is more than enough of it already.

    What the heck is going on?

  • Comment number 73.

    Good for you, Denise.

    As for me, I tend to think that cynicism about Radio 4 in gneral and the Archers' production team in particular has not steered me wrong in the last few months.

    No response from Keri, so it looks like *his* argument doesn't really hold. There is a big difference between creating a brand new station adjacent to 5 Live Sports and calling it 5 Live Sports Extra, and re-branding Radio 7.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hello,I'm a relatively newcomer to the sheer joy of TA. And my life was simply not
    as awesome without them. I stream the Sunday
    omnibus while having a bath and
    I'm am now a nicer person due to the residents of
    ambridge letting me into their kitchens, sheds and
    local. To discover I'm getting an extra half hour of my
    new best mates a week fills me with joy I've simply
    been raving on about it since I found out yesterday. My family and friends
    collegues and client think I've lost the plot,
    what they don't understand is the plot is what keeps
    me hooked and smiley all week. I hope it becomes a regular
    addition to my bubbly bath time on a Sunday night.

  • Comment number 75.

    Oh good! As we're going to hear 'The Silents', can we have Nigel back please, as he's certainly silent NOW! Perhaps dear old Walter too and oh yes, don't let's forget Dan and Phil and Mark Hebden and ...................... etc etc

  • Comment number 76.

    I gather its the not silents too....

    How does that work?

  • Comment number 77.

    I thought the first episode of Ambridge Extra was a decent start. I'll always prefer The Archers but I'm interested enough in AE that I'll certainly tune in tomorrow.

    I really don't understand people's complaints that The Archers is "suffering" and how Mr. Davies needs to "get it right". Personally, I consider The Archers to be an incredibly well-written program and Keri is doing a wonderful job.

    Though, IMO, Jamie has become far less sympathetic in Ambridge Extra. In The Archers, although I hated how horrible Jamie was to Kathy, I could at least understand and somewhat sympathize with him. But in Ambridge Extra, Jamie said how he had Jolene wrapped around his finger and was contemplating stealing from The Bull. The kid also smokes. Any sympathy I had for Jamie is gone.

    The highlight of the debut episode though was Kenton's appearance. I do hope we'll see more crossovers in future episodes. I would love to see Kathy and Jolene appear.

  • Comment number 78.

    Well, I did give it a try even if it meant sacrificing Woman's Hour for The Archers Extra. The strangeness of this timing was explained when I listened. The target audience is completely different from the main Archers one. To me the new one reminded me far too much of Grange Hill - and much more frenetic. so I take it that you are aiming at a younger audience. At that time? Who exactly? Can't you just leave it be. In fact, after sampling the new programme I returned to the "real" Archers with such relief that I have forgiven (well, almost) all the recent messing about with the plot. It is just so much more considered in structure and character and, usually, more mature. The Jamie story came over much more effectively without having to be so "in your face".

  • Comment number 79.

    There are two very current subjects which you haven't current I believe these would be long running subjects and i think you are the person to that they will be of interest to.

  • Comment number 80.

    Thanks for your thoughts. A couple of responses:

    In Ambridge Extra we are more of a side to Jamie that we've seen traces of before, as he tries to keep up his image, talking big to his mates. One of the interesting things is the tension between this and the side he shows to the adults (mainly in The Archers).

    Brocher (and others elsewhere) have asked if / suggested that we are aiming AE at a young/younger audience. Thank goodness, this just isn't the way we work. At no time have we ever discussed tailoring the show to attract a particular 'demographic'.

    We just want to tell interesting stories, and we felt it would make sense that the listening experience shouldn't be a carbon copy of The Archers - otherwise you might just as well run them as Archers episodes.

  • Comment number 81.

    Sorry. '...we are *seeing* more of a side to Jamie...'

  • Comment number 82.

    Have read some negative reviews about Ambridge Extra - ignore them. The whole point of the Archers is its gentle real time pace. Don't be tempted to 'jazz it up' for a teenage audience, whatever that may be - since when have all teenagers liked the same thing anyway.
    Regarding the question of 'silent' characters being heard: I would vote for Hilary Noakes who would be a real challenge to good old Linda Snell

  • Comment number 83.

    As an addict, I appreciate the extra fix. I listen on my telly with a freeview + pvr and record each episode. Even with the facility to rewind to listen to bits again, your 'more muscular' sound effects are proving a problem and I am missing much of the dialogue. Any plans for radio subtitles?

  • Comment number 84.

    what is the point of this programme?

  • Comment number 85.



    Would someone please remove this dross from radio 4 extra and reinstate the QUALITY drama it seems to have replaced.

  • Comment number 86.

    Does there have to be a point?

  • Comment number 87.

    #86.........yes there does have to be a point! This latest idea to patch over a major problem seems to illustrate what I believe to be the case that more doesn't necessarily mean better. I would prefer less and better quality but sadly this will not happen, hence why I have given up TA.

  • Comment number 88.

    I thought there were only to be 13 episodes (at least in series 1). So how come we are now on episode 14 with, it seems, more to come?

  • Comment number 89.

    >I thought there were only to be 13 episodes (at least in series 1).

    13 *weeks* - ie 26 episodes. So we're about half way through series 1 now.

  • Comment number 90.

    I'm surprised that there haven't been more gay chracters in The Archers, and especially - although I suppose I ought to give it more time - in Ambridge Extra. I know the BBC has the proverbial broomstick in its backside when it comes to such subjects, but get real. Over on "the other side" (The Archers itself) we get Adam and Ian, who are never heard to give each other so much as a peck on the cheek, while people such as Kenton and Jolene can be heard face sucking like there was no tomorrow. Ambridge Extra is the perfect platform for a young person to try to come to terms with his sexuality, finding it in some ways easy (things are better these days than even when Adam and Ian came on the scene) and in some ways still rather bigoted. It's not believable that everyone, but everyone, in Ambridge Extra seems to be straight.

    Chaz was on candidate I had in mind. The fact that Chris is cool with Chaz and Alice living together and being fairly close made me think Chaz may well be gay, and known to be. But Paulie obviously doesn't think he is.

    Then there's Rhys the barman, who is still unattached to a female in spite of Fallon's matchmaking. He was another candidate I had in mind.

    But people don't conveniently develop into being gay to suit scriptwriters' love of leading up to great reveals: they're that from the outset. What's the reticence with exploring what is a big part of real life? Why am I rapidly finding it harder to suspend my disbelief?

 

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