Radio Blog
« Previous | Main | Next »

Immerse yourself in The Archers

Post categories:

Tim Davie Tim Davie | 15:28 PM, Wednesday, 5 January 2011

The Pargetters. Left-to-right: Nigel (played by Graham Seed), Lily, Elizabeth (played by Alison Dowling) and Freddie.

Unless you have kept well clear of the media this week, you will have seen or heard that we have been marking the 60th anniversary of the world's longest running continuous drama. The Archers has been a central part of listener's lives since 1951 and, if nothing else, the past few days have proved that it is precious and in rude health.

As you may be aware, debate is raging, particularly over the instantly infamous death of Nigel Pargetter in the special double-episode that ran on Jan 2nd. Even before his extended scream as he fell from the roof of Lower Loxley Hall, the messageboards and Twitter were buzzing. The reaction has spanned many emotions: listeners are angry, supportive, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, shocked, sad and enthralled. Above all, what is clear is that they care, deeply, about what happens in Ambridge.

I understand that some listeners think the special episode received too much attention, but we do need to be able to showcase and highlight the wonders of radio drama. The Archers is quite different to other dramas and I agree that we should let audiences quietly find the plot (too much 'sell' can be counter-productive), but this was a special occasion and we view it as a very rare set of circumstances. We should resist the sense that there is a growing need to sensationalise to build impact.

Also, those that do not believe that recent revelations were big enough to have "shaken Ambridge to the core" (the words of the Archers' editor, Vanessa Whitburn) should listen for a year or two to see just how big these events are: not in comparison with TV spectaculars but for the residents of Ambridge (and the loyal listeners).

Meanwhile, if you have not heard the programme or want to read the comments from listeners, here are some links for you to explore. Now is a good time to immerse yourself.

Tim Davie is Director of Audio & Music at the BBC


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    What a huge shame that your idea of "celebrating" a milestone anniversary ever involved the half-baked idiocy of "shaking Ambridge to the core" and killing off a much-loved character (doting father, loving husband, green idealist and all-round good egg). How much more would true fans have enjoyed listening to the family grow up and old together rather than listening to the strident, caricatured females you have introduced over the years? Can I be the only listener who switches off if I find the awful Vicky Tucker in earshot? The only way to redeem yourselves is to announce at the end of Sunday's omnibus edition that this week was an awful nightmare suffered by Elizabeth after being plied with too much champagne by the gorgeous Nigel.

  • Comment number 3.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the script writer should be sacked and the BBC should take a 'hit' on its credibility by apologising to Archers fans and resurrecting Nigel by whatever means is necessary.
    The Archers should not be trying to compete at the same murky level as Coronation Street or Eastenders; it should remain a lovely, escapits story where good prevails. I'm not even sure that I will listen to it ever again after 25 years as a fan.

  • Comment number 5.

    ...oh, and I agree about Vicky's accent and general character - can she tone it down a bit and become a bit more country-friendly? Don't sack her, you've done enough damage for one millennium.

  • Comment number 6.

    The only good reason for this storyline was that Graham Seed did not want to play the character any longer. If he was effectively sacked for doing a good job for 30 years, this is quite appalling. Everyone wanted to hear what Nigel Pargetter was up to in old age.

    Even with prompting from a close relative, nobody with any sense of self-preservation would go up a high ladder to the roof of a stately home in icy or windy weather. The whole idea is ludicrous. It is far more likely to happen when he thought it was safe. I myself nearly did the same when my ladder slipped on a cowpat.

    I live in rural Worcestershire. My village mirrors life in Ambridge astonishingly closely. Tonight we are putting on a 12th night wassail evening in the village hall. In real life, the last death was when the vice-Chairman of the Parish Council, a judge, tried to cross a river in his Volvo during the 2007 floods. His last words were on his mobile to his wife, saying all was well because he was in a strong car. He died having a heart attack trying to climb out of the sunroof.

  • Comment number 7.

    It is so sad that the pathetic writers have to destroy a good man for 5 minutes of notoriety.

    I suspect that the reason may be because Nigel is upper - middle class which will not sit well with the liberals in the BBC who decry normal family life.

    It would have been much more appropriate to remove the sad, anorexic, artificially inseminated Helen who is doing all she can to delete normal family values which The Archers has usually depicted for the last 60 years.

    Please find a way to resurrect Nigel and prove me - and many others - wrong.

  • Comment number 8.

    Director of Audio? That sounds important. Important enough to stop this butchering of out lovely little show. We don't do sensationalist, crass story lines to mark anniversaries. That's other shows. The Archers is - was - different and special. You should have known that in your position. You should have protected it. You should put it right. Please.

  • Comment number 9.

    I have listened for 30 odd years but this was the last straw. The News is bad enough at 7pm - I could do without being further depressed for another 13 mins. And it's so lazy, killing off a well-loved character. The predictable unravelling of this plot device is such a dismal prospect - and we are given to understand the repercussions will take years... too, too depressing.
    I suspect that this is deliberate - sensationalism for its own sake seems to be the shortcut to attracting a younger audience - us 'oldies' aren't the "target demographic" anymore. Goodbye then, Ambridge, at least until VW retires.

  • Comment number 10.

    I was deeply shocked by the death of Nigel - as well as the manner of his death. It was a massive mistake to kill off this character, quite unnecessary. It displays a complete misunderstanding of what these characters and the whole atmosphere of The Archers means to the listeners.

  • Comment number 11.

    I have been an Archers fan for over 20 years now and do not think that the anniversary episode received too much attention.
    Over the years the Archers has provided some stunning radio drama and I completely agree it should be promoted and showcased.
    Unfortunately the 60th anniversary episode was not one of the great ones. The script was clunky - frankly the party sounded like it had about 8 people there - and the plot device that resulted in Nigel taking his fatal fall was, for long term listeners, just not credible.
    When you listen to a long running radio drama you invest a lot of imagination into how the characters look, dress, where they live etc. You need to have your characters behave consistently. The actions of David and Nigel, in going onto the roof in the dark in slippery conditions in their party outfits just does not stand up. Nigel was a happily married man, doting on his children and wife and well aware of managing risk (his business has a tree walk, after all). David in the past has been a bit cavalier but he has grown up and is also well aware of risk - recently he was extremely angry with Pip over the accident on the quad bike which could have turned out badly. The suspense of disbelief is dispersed. I did not believe that David would encourage Nigel out onto the roof, nor that Nigel would go. I could however have believed that Kenton would have ventured out...
    Now if the storyline had been that Nigel went onto the roof because for example one of his children had gone up there and needed rescuing - well he could have died a heroic death (as Grace did). But no - this was a silly death. I suppose for the long term plot David has to be responsible in some way.
    I won't comment on the Helen plotline as I have never liked her character since she was really mean to Hayley after John's death and I felt her recent treatment of Tony was appalling. I am too biased.
    As a long standing listener I felt my intelligence was insulted by the telegraphing over the previous few episodes and the plot device on the day. Had the actor wished to leave the series then Nigel's untimely death would have been understandable. However I have heard this is not the case. I'm afraid I felt that this was sensationalism for a short term impact. Not Nigel's death per se but the manner in which it happened.

  • Comment number 12.

    It was fairly disturbing to read that the sound of the scream has had so many 'hits' and I can't imagine long term Archer's listeners would want to hear it a second time. (or even the first come to that) But perhaps that's the point - to find new listeners who want more sensational storylines. As for me, I think I'll give it a miss. Characters like Nigel, decent, environmentally switched on, caring, and unneurotic are a welcome relief from the irritations of others, particularly dire Helen and whiny Will. Who is next? Ian? He's a decent guy. I'm sure there will be some story lines to follow - hopefully not the predictable family feud I suspect will follow. but I don't hold out much hope for that. A shame - I loved the 7.00 hit of something other than horror stories.

  • Comment number 13.

    After viewing Keri Davies' review of the press reaction I am shocked at the one-sided impression it gives. The comments selected are worthy of a B movie poster trying to influence ticket sales by selecting only the choice printed items. The Archer's website and reaction (or lack of) smacks of self-serving complacency.
    My listening experience of The Archers is over 45 years (I am 50) so I think I have a right to criticise my much loved radio drama.

  • Comment number 14.

    Finally some kind of statement from an exec level BBC type. Shame you appear to be dismissing the wealth of justified critical comment being down to people just being passionate about TA. Such a deceit is quote loathsome.

    Some people are happy with the storyline. An enormous number of people are not. Do not dismiss this R4 faithful body of people as just "passionate". We're not. We are really angry at how and why this has come about.

  • Comment number 15.

    I totally agree with the measured response of everyone above - just shows that the typical Archers listener is not after the sensationalist storylines of popular TV soaps, and has invested years of listening into this drama. We felt safe with The Archers, and now we feel let down. I too have given it a miss since Sunday and I have no intention of tuning in again. A great pity as it was a little oasis of familiarity at 7pm (when I am generally driving) which I can no longer look forward to. And what a waste of an opportunity to really celebrate this great achievement of 60 years!

  • Comment number 16.

    Well, Mr Davie the first person on the other side to stick your head above the parapet and what do you do? Refuse to acknowledge what a disastrous misjudgement this sorry episode has been.

    "As you may be aware, debate is raging..."

    There can't be a debate if one side is overwhelmingly of one opinion and the other side refuses to accept that there's anything to debate?

    Why on earth does no-one at the BBC have the courage to acknowledge the comprehensively negative response to this mess up?

  • Comment number 17.

    Root4me @ 14 you've hit the nail on the head. A BBC exec responds - not to anything that's been filling these blog pages, but as usual, with whatever it was they intended to say anyway. Which included, "We should resist the sense that there is a growing need to sensationalise to build impact". No sensationalism in a needless death then, and by VW's own admission of one of TA's best-loved characters. I also agree with your point about us being truly angry - why does no-one at the BBC care? I reiterate a comment I made earlier - please, please cease to listen in the hope that the all-powerful ratings drop will provoke the courtesy of a response to the points made in these blogs and a return of both Nigel and TA's previous standards.

  • Comment number 18.

    At 5:12pm on 05 Jan 2011, Kim Hollingshead wrote:

    "I think the script writer should be sacked and the BBC should take a 'hit' on its credibility by apologising to Archers fans and resurrecting Nigel by whatever means is necessary."

    With respect, sacking a good Script Writer will accomplish nothing more than making a scapegoat of an innocent worker. Sacking the Series Editor [who was responsible for taking the decision for running the storyline, and who also called Graham Seed [during the evening of November 5th] to tell an actor of 27 years' service over the phone that he was no longer required - the same Series Editor who also gives away the outcome of cliffhangers over the Radio 4 Today program, 11 hours before the episode where the cliffhanger will be resolved - on the other hand, might just serve some purpose to the better long-term good of a loved and cherished national treasure which has lacked consistent guidance and cae "from the top" for some while.

    An apology would be nice as well, though ...

  • Comment number 19.

    I'm very cross that you've destroyed an important source of everyday pleasure for me. I don't want to have to involve myself in a family's grief for the next several years while they "come to terms with" this absurd death. I've lost all trust in the programme - indeed I've come to dread listening. It wasn't a "celebration". It wasn't "thrilling". It won't attract new listeners, and it's certainly lost me. I've been a fan for many years but I won't be listening again. Such a shame. Actually, I feel bereft.

  • Comment number 20.

    “The reaction has spanned many emotions: listeners are angry, supportive, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, shocked, sad and enthralled.”
    Really Mr Davie?
    This was mindless, gratuitous, vandalism. And the vast majority of those on the blogs and message boards are the angry ones. Any support I've read has been for Graham Seed, not the anniversary broadcast.
    Yes, we know it is a story. So do something. Change it, re-edit , rebroadcast..
    It won't be a story I want to listen to else.
    RIP The Archers.

  • Comment number 21.

    Thank you for "coming out"; at last, somebody has the guts.

    I can only agree, however, with the comments already made, and with virutally no exception at all with all those on The Archers blogs.

    You refer to reaction spanning "many emotions"; yes, but so far as I can see, none are positive. Dismay, anger, sadness, feelings of betrayal are a few out there, but I have seen no approval; am I missing something?

    You are right to say Archers audiences care deeply. Perhaps that should be respected.

    Your paragraph refering to this being a special occasion then refers to the need to resist the temptation to sensationalise etc. I am not sure what you are saying; you appear to contradict yourself.

    There is no point in rehearsing all that has been said by hundreds and hundreds of others, but you, and Keri, and VW on Today (how unprofessional was that?!) seem to be saying that there are positive reactions to the 60th episode. Where are they? I've not seen them. Why are they not on the Blog? What debate, pray? There isn't one.

    You (the BBC) have got to address the vitually unanimous reaction of the listenership openly and honestly and, dare I say it, with humility for once. No spin or disembling. Please?

  • Comment number 22.

    PS: another thing.

    Many have referred, including above, to the part imagination plays in the success of radio drama; bit like reading a book, I guess. I have listened to the Archers for maybe 40 years, and I have pictures in my head of all the characters and places.

    I do object hugely to having cast mugshots, maps and visualisations all over the web site, BBC and now papers. I do NOT want my imagination polluted thus. I have always avoided the Archers website until hnow for this reason. Why does the BBC seem to think we all want to know what actors look like?

    Could there not be an opt-in button for those that want to see this stuff, so the rest of us do not have to suffer it?

  • Comment number 23.

    On reading the above I get the feeling that the BBC is still in self congratulatory mood and are viewing the outrage the 60th anniversary episode generated as a success story. To be honest I started to lose interest in The Archers a few months ago and after Sunday's debacle I can't be bothered with it any more. However what is really bugging me about this whole sorry shambles is the continuing denial from the BBC and the programme team that there is anything wrong. It's obvious from these boards alone, let alone friends and acquaintances that would never post here, that things are very wrong. Why then won't anyone issue an apology? If VW had the courage to say 'Look I got it wrong - sorry' I would start to believe that TA still had a future.

  • Comment number 24.

    Whoever made the decision to kill off Nigel got it so wrong. On Monday I realised that I ceased to care about what happened in The Archers. Very sad about this as I have enjoyed listening for 20 years. I know many people feel the same. Silly, silly BBC for letting this happen, cannot believe that the production team did not reflect and realise the foolishness of this storyline. I know that I will not bother to listen again, such a shame.

  • Comment number 25.

    Having read these comments for the last few days, I have to wonder what planet/substance the writher of the above editorial was on when he described some of the responses as ‘supportive’ or ‘enthralled’. With few exceptions the overwhelming reaction has been one of contempt, derision and even disgust for the editors of the Archers, particularly when it was discovered that Graham Seed had not wanted to go.

    I have been an occasional listener to the Archers all my life (I’m 51) and have often dipped out for long periods, particularly when a storyline irritated me – e.g. the introduction of Ruairi. I will be avoiding the programme for at least a year now until things have settled down; because of the combined nature of this radio show and the plot line, the long period of resolution will be realistically grim and tedious. Most Archer listeners are older, I suspect, and don’t need to be patronised by Radio 4 editorial staff when it comes to the experience of grief following a premature death.

    As for Vanessa Whitburn, I have just two words for her.

    Anderson Country.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a brilliant idea! It's just been an awful nightmare suffered by Elizabeth - I'll go with that. I haven't listened to the Archers since the night poor Nigel left the scene, it's all too depressing and I don't trust the storyline anymore.

  • Comment number 27.

    It surely is about time that the BBC admits that all the evidence shows that the "celebratory" episode was a great mistake which has alienated many devoted listeners A lot of whom, including me, will no longer tune in at Archer time. A great shame. It is a chance for the BBC to show that it really does listen to its audience. Take the show off air for a month. From the existing team put someone else in charge who is more in touch with the listeners. Re-write that terrible episode, re-engage the shabbily treated Graham Seed and give us back our Nigel, who can live into an eccentric old age. Then re-launch - a great victory for the listening BBC. And I and lots of others will be back.

  • Comment number 28.

    Now we know what to do. According to the Today programme, complaints about EastEnders have forced them to cut their sensationalist storyline short. let's hope the BBC will give in without insisting on 6000 complaints about TA. If you've not already done so:

  • Comment number 29.

    Mr Davie, this comment-- We should resist the sense that there is a growing need to sensationalise to build impact.
    Is diametrically opposite to Ms VW's reason given to Mr Seed. i.e. 'We have to kill you off, I have to make an impact'
    How diverse are your ideas to Ms VW's?
    I'm just another listener of many years and am not partial to having my intelligence insulted to such an extent.

  • Comment number 30.

    I thought Blog pages were a two way dialogue. That's why since the inception of blogs, comments were a fundamental element allowing end users to feed back to the blogger, and the blogger responding in kind. Both they & Twitter are not just a trendy thing to do badly, to be seen to be doing, so you can tick some "interactive" checkbox on your annual career review.

    All across these blog pages (and extending the concept of INTERACTIVE to the message boards), BBC types have posted and then run and hid (with an honourable but sadly brief & underwhelming exception by Keri).

    I've posted a couple of things yesterday after hearing the storyline wasn't knee jerk.....I hated the episode on Sunday for quality reasons and am stunned at the nature Mr Seed has been dumped.

    But what is making me really angry are the brief "Oh look at the fuss we made...isn't it great" statements from you all followed by radio silence. ***When are you going to fulfil your remit to your listeners and respond?**** Or are you just sitting tight till the fuss dies down and then plan to carry on as usual?

    p.s. Thanks Rumble for #17.

  • Comment number 31.

    So what about those loyal listeners who believed the episode was poorly written and a betrayal of all the years of careful plotting and character-building for a moment of cheap sensationalism? I don't mind the promotion of the anniversary, and I don't mind a certain amount of melodrama in a soap. But this was a travesty and a huge mistake.

  • Comment number 32.

    I,for one, am still refusing to listen to the broken Archers. It strikes me that it is not just Vanessa Whitburn guilty of this betrayal- but the whole cast and others who must have known for weeks- If someone of them had only leaked the 60th anniversary plotline earlier we listeners could have rebelled then and stopped it- I say 'bring back Nigel' I don't care how- but with so many episodes prerecorded -how can they bring him back now?
    So they are all as bad as each other, in not caring about the integrity of the story.. O for a Wikileak where it matters!

  • Comment number 33.

    Thanks to everyone for your comments so far. In case you haven't seen it, Mary Cutler, scriptwriter for the anniversary storyline, has written a post for the Archers blog in which she responds to some of the criticism.

    And, jshooky, you might like to know that there is an opt-in for pictures of the cast on the Archers web site.

    And, for those you who can't bring yourself to listen since Nigel's demise, I'd urge you to give it a try - as a listener of forty years standing I can say that the post-Anniversary episodes have been some of the best I've ever heard.

    Steve Bowbrick, blogs editor

  • Comment number 34.

    Hello Steve Bowbrick,

    1. Please could you explain how to get rid, then, of the pictures on the Archers Web site: I can't see how to do it?

    2. I have read Mary Cutler's post. I am sure she means well. However, she was, presumably, not responsible for the storyline. In the end her post adds more insult, as a) she is not VW, b) her tone is, frankly, condescending ("There there, children, that's life.") and c) she makes no reference to the poor writing of the episode so widely criticised.

    Where is Vanessa Whitburn, please?

  • Comment number 35.

    I have also registered specially to leave a comment as, like the majority of other posters, I think the 60th anniversary episode was not up to the usual standards we have come to expect from Ambridge.

    Choosing to kill off a character purely for 'impact' is simply another way of saying that ratings, rather than the listeners, are more important. If I wanted a soap that had 'impact' then I would follow one of the more unrealistic soaps on the television. Instead I chose The Archers because it is largely inoffensive and easier to follow - no one is shouting, swearing or being violent to other (apart from the tiresome Grundy brothers) - plus it is far more realistic, or it was up until last Sunday.

    If those involved at the BBC were to say now 'Sorry, we got it wrong' then I would accept the apology and move on. However, the Corporation often finds itself unable to do this, and this is one of those occasions. Those concerned should remind themselves that we pay their wages (in the form of the licence fee) and should therefore be accountable.

  • Comment number 36.

    I rather like:
    "It surely is about time that the BBC admits that all the evidence shows that the "celebratory" episode was a great mistake which has alienated many devoted listeners A lot of whom, including me, will no longer tune in at Archer time. A great shame. It is a chance for the BBC to show that it really does listen to its audience. Take the show off air for a month. From the existing team put someone else in charge who is more in touch with the listeners. Re-write that terrible episode, re-engage the shabbily treated Graham Seed and give us back our Nigel, who can live into an eccentric old age. Then re-launch - a great victory for the listening BBC. And I and lots of others will be back."

    After 25 years as an Archers Fan, I have now stopped listening. This is sad for me and for my wife. The 7 p.m. huddle around the kitchen radio was an important ritual for us but we are both so disgusted that we have now stopped listening.

    Goodbye Archers.

  • Comment number 37.

    Thanks Steve for taking the time to respond here. I too have read Mary's blog and feel it leaves many questions unanswered.

    I haven't listened to any episodes since Sunday and I will not for a while. This is not cutting off my nose to spite my face. As I posted above, Nigel and David's actions were just not credible. I cannot believe in Helen's complete transformation - I haven't heard that she has apologised to Tony which should have been one of her first actions. When I was about Helen's age I faced a life threatening situation. Yes, it does change you but not overnight.

    Once the suspension of disbelief is dispelled then the Archers simply becomes actors reading scripts, however beautifully and carefully those scripts are crafted.

  • Comment number 38.

    Good grief, you guys at the BBC just don't get it, do you? We listeners don't want to hear about the ramifications of Nigel's death echoing down the years. What kind of depressing prospect is that? The joy of Ambridge is that it deals with country life, not country death.
    I also agree with the other comments about the BBC's one-sided view of audience reaction. Just because you're the BBC doesn't mean you are always right. And how lazy and complacent to say that we need to listen for one or two years in order to experience the full impact. You'll be lucky...

  • Comment number 39.

    I was very disappointed by the turn of events in Ambridge at the beginning of the week. I couldn't believe Nigel was dead and it does seem very unfair on Grahame Seed, who sounded quite upset at not playing Nigel any more. If he weren't an actor he could probably have claimed unfair dismissal.

    If the widely watched Dallas could bring J R Ewing back from the dead, can't David Archer step out of the shower and realise it was all just a bad dream about what might have happened after he had a scare when Nigel slipped just a bit?

    Of course people must die in the Archers, of old age, and when a well-know character wants to leave and a change in voice wouldn't really work, but most listeners have come to expect the Archers to be a positive reflection of reality with a little levity (sometimes provided by Nigel) thrown in for good measure. We don't expect a character to be killed off in cold blood for a cynical attempt at sensationalism that seems to have backfired.

    I've been listening for 30 years, but if it gets any more miserable, I shall give it up. I've become attached to many of the characters and don't want them to be experiencing nothing but suffering and misery. We've already had 2 grieving families this year and the Archers haven't really got over Phil's death yet. We don't need doom and gloom at the beginning of a new year.

  • Comment number 40.

    Time for some arithmetic and careful reading of the majority of listener responses for you, Mr Davie. I'm not sure you have quite got the message.

    Ms Whitburn's response (which had to be shamed out of her, by repeated demand) about the 60th Anniversary Episode on the BBC Archers Board Blog, shows arrogance, dismissiveness and contempt towards her core audience.

    You might perhaps find that the pursuit of sensationalism in 'The Archers' would diminish with the appointment of another, more sensitive and skilled team leader /aka/ Editor.

    You might also look at the current incompetence of your Complaints Department, which has been responding to complaints about 'The Archers' as if they were complaints about 'East Enders'.

    Marie Nokes

  • Comment number 41.

    Dear Mr. Davie,

    I too wish to complain about the 60th Anniversary edition of The Archers, and the treatment of Graham Seed.

    Many other long-term listeners to the programme are as agrieved as I am with the way the programme 'celebrated' its 60th anniversary. What has been attractive about The Archers was the fact that it is the story of everyday folk: it's drama taken from the insignificant matters of country life. Recently however, the programme seems to be issue-led and PC driven. For me this culminated in the anniversary edition, when one of the programme's best loved characters, Nigel Pargitter, played by Graham Seed was needlessly written out of the programme as he fell off the roof of Lower Loxley. At the same time, a much detested female character, Helen Archer, was given a premeture baby from AI as a single mother, with some mental health issues. Both stories were incredible.

    I now turn off the radio at 7p.m.. I've no wish to listen to actors shouting at other in some sort of bleak drama. Drama isn't drama merely in this mode: there is much drama in change counting, bell ringing and a pint in the Bull. I know many others share my views and have stopped listening too.

    This rating chasing culminated in the dismissal of an actor after 27 years of service to the programme. It was done over the telephone less than two months before his last episode. This is an appalling way to treat someone who has given such service.

    If you would care to look on the Archers website, you will see many posts, more eloquent than mine, of dedicated listeners who are very unhappy at this turn of events. Some, including myself, calling for the resignation of the editor of the Archers, Vanessa Whitburn.


    A less than happy Radio 4 listener

  • Comment number 42.

    I agree with the largely critical comments expressed above: I too registered on the BBC boards to comment on the anniversary episode. I too,have not had the heart to listen since.
    The 'Helen transformed by motherhood,' and more particularly, the 'Nigel falling off the roof, egged on by a character-transplanted David' story lines were just not credible.
    The tone of the BBC's replies to criticism has seemed to me to be rather patronising - along the lines of saying 'Calm down, dears' and refusing to engage in genuine explanation or debate. 'Auntie knows best' just about sums it up.

  • Comment number 43.

    Regardless of whether or not the decision to broadcast doom, gllom and despondency to celebrate 60 years of the programme can be justified, could somebody with a bit of clout please be notified that complainants about The Archers episode of 2nd January sent via the complaints procedure on The Archers messageboard are receiving a reply apologising for their not having enjoyed an episode of EastEnders? The thread on Discuss The Archers called something like "The progress of my complaint" has more than one instance of this noted in it, with names, and it is I think a shocking piece of teh most appalling publicity, as well as making Archers fans seriously feel that their complaints are treated with utter contempt, since they are clearly not even being read.

    Thank you, whoever is able to pass this on before a particular section of the press gets hold of it and uses it as a stick to beat the BBC with...

  • Comment number 44.

    Chalk me up as another faithful listener who will no longer be listening. "Celebrating" the anniversary with the needless (and ludicrously poorly-written) death of an enjoyable character was a huge misstep. The show is no longer appealing to me now that it is cheap sensationalism and bad writing. Vanessa Whitburn should go.

  • Comment number 45.

    I hope I'm not breaking the rules having also, more or less, posted this on the Radio 4 blog to the Archers piece of 29 December but I've just come across this and being more actual seems at least equally, if not more appropiate to post here.

    Interesting. I've been listening to the Archers longer than I care to remember (actually I can't remember when I started listening, was it when I was still at school, or at least when home during holidays, or after I left school? Whichever it back in the dim and distant days of the Home Service, long before Radio 4 was even a glimmer on the horizon).

    I'm not certain I would call myself an Archers Addict (I get the same sort of feeling about that as all contacts and acquaintances on Facebook being described as friends) but am a dedicated listener with my only real break in listening being when work meant moving to Denmark in 1973, long before the internet and webcasts of radio, never mind podcasts. The relief when I moved down to the Netherlands three years later and found I was within range of LW broadcasts and could resume my listening!

    It's been an interesting week's listening and I'm glad I was able to catch each days broadcast as I was surprised to find today's omnibus was emasculated still being only 75 minutes and not extended. The sunday 30 minutes was all there, I think, but other days where edited with material missing.
    I especially enjoyed the two part Politics of Ambridge broadcast yesterday and the Saturday before and was delighted that last Monday's Farming Today was an Archers Special. A pity these where not mentioned in the blog as part of the anniversary. Hopefully they might be made permanently available as listen again on the Archers website?
    Talking of which the new revamped website lists the characters appearing in each days episode. Imagine my surprise when last Wednesday's includes Nigel Pargetter. Surely not a miraculous come-back, had it all been a Lizzie nightmare? And Your Archers memories are enjoyable but why in the celebrity clips on the right are some not available to those of us outside the UK? No problem with Sue Johnston, Martha Keaney, Samantha Bond, Stephen Fry, etc so why no Martin Clunes, Ian Rankin and more?

  • Comment number 46.

    I posted a comment on the main BBC compliant site about my disgust at the "celebratory" episode and have received the following response:

    Dear Mr Osbourn

    Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘The Archers’. Below is a response to your concerns from the Editor:

    “I’m sorry if you were unhappy with aspects of the Archers anniversary storyline. Of course, it is a tough one as Nigel Pargetter was and actually will remain an important character in influence and memory.

    The story was designed to show empathy around loss and to open up a new set of circumstances within the ongoing drama. Life has to go on for those close to Nigel, such as the business of running Lower Loxley.

    The main focus of The Archers has and will always be on the quality of the drama we offer. A big story may begin with a shocking event but then ripples through the programme with many other ongoing strands.

    Thanks again for your feedback on this storyline, I do appreciate it and I do hope you continue listening.

    Yours Sincerely
    Vanessa Whitburn
    Editor, The Archers”

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Audience Services

    Since it did not address some of the points I made, I imagine it is identical to what has been sent to all other complainers. It is now obvious that no-one is listening. Very sad. It is as if you had lent a treasured book to a friend who returns it messed up, torn, dog-eared and broken backed - and then demonstrates that they don't even care about what they have done. There is no chance that I will continue listening while VW is in charge.

  • Comment number 47.

    I commented at the beginning - post 7 and have watched this blog with sadness and empathy.

    Response 46 showing the reply from VW (cannot bring myself to type the name) shows the contempt in which listeners are held.

    I am in my 60's - from a farming background and despite the odd moron in the show over the years I have been a faithful listener.

    I cannot now envisage my return to listening - the 'every day story of country folk' is just too polluted with the brainless style of all other soaps - and the show I enjoyed has gone to the proverbial dogs.

    ps I know it is fiction - all the best to Graham Seed

    Shame the editor returned after another accident a while ago.

    Bye bye Archers

  • Comment number 48.

    With respect, I would argue there are plenty of other opportunities to showcase and highlight the wonders of radio drama without resorting to improbable and needlessly destructive plots that are out of character with the usual kilter of the series, and fail spectacularly to factor-in relatively recent events, not least the deaths of two "major" characters within the last 12 months already, the aftermath of which is still being addressed.

    This was an example of monumentally poor editorial judgement, reducing The Archers to the base level of same of the lower order of television soaps, all for the sake of trying to break some record for twitter hits.

    Of course, Tim Davie is absolutely right to want to showcase and highlight the wonders of radio drama - as any reader of "The Technique of Radio Production" [otherwise known as the "bible according to Robert McLeish"] will appreciate how passionately McLeish, all-time guru of BBC Radio Production, demonstrates time and again things that can be done on radio which either can't be done on TV, or just don't work on TV.

    Why, then, does this particular attempt to showcase and highlight the wonders of radio drama seek to do so by reducing this series to the cheap, sensationalist tricks of mediocre television? This is akin to suggesting the Royal Philharmonic should perform Beethoven in the Albert Hall whilst topless, tattooed and fake-tanned, before an audience of music lovers, the front two rows of whom have been replaced by flashgun-touting, leering, pose-demanding photographers for Playboy/girl, The Sun, and The Nudes Of The World. I suggest, even on an occasion as heady as the Last Night of the Proms, this would shake the Albert Hall to its core to an extent that would be beyond the taste of most of the audience [let alone the orchestra!].

  • Comment number 49.

    Mr Davie it is very insulting to find that none of the editorial team or yourself are not awknowleging the overwelming response. Your listers did not engage with the plot they were irritated with it and furious about the sacrifice of an excellent character in the interest of sensationalism and yet another depressing plotline. There is not much range in the message board, people are irritated, cross and mourning the vandelism too a much loved programme.

  • Comment number 50.

    Yet another listener in her 60s who no longer listens.

    I have complained and received the standard reply (which does not address the issues of poor scriptwriting/clunky unbelievable dialogue/characters acting out of character etc) and I feel patronised and dismissed.

    It would seem that any publicity is good publicity and from reading the boards and blogs I estimate that those in support are in a minority.

    No reply from VW, Mary Cutler or indeed yourself actually addresses the issues that you are defending what to us listeners is the indefensible. I posted elsewhere that I celebrated my 60th with a party and no-one jumping from the roof - in no way was this episode a showcase of how the Archers has been over the years and in no way was this a celebration.

    I do not care to listen to the ripples and ramifications of this story line over the next decade - if I want depression I will look at TV soaps and it is all so predictable.

    Very sad.

  • Comment number 51.

    Just another ex-Archers listener of 40 years here Tim.

    There really is no debate raging over the quality of the Archers 60th ‘Celebration’ programme.

    Read the comments here and show me the debate. Read the comments to Vanessa Whitburns sanctimonious blog (nearly 500 of them to date). Read the comments on the sick 'Nigel Pargetter - share your memories' blog quickly posted by Keri Davies to hide the Vansessa Whitburn blog

    There is no debate in any of them, only overwhelming condemnation by intelligent people who, are now in many cases ex-listeners also.

  • Comment number 52.

    Just a final one from me. My wife and I have now not listened to TA for about ten days and we're still sane and happy. As we see it, we have for many years listened to TA, excusing ourselves by saying that it wasn't like the TV soaps with their sensationalist stories but was suitable escapism for the sane, reasonable Radio 4 listener.

    We were proved wrong, and we feel we have been fools to kid ourselves all this time. We couldn't now go back to TA with its silly sensationalist storylines- we would feel degraded. D--n it, we're better than that! :-) Anyway, who wants to get depressed wading through the predictable, tedious follow ons?

    I think it's about time they brought TA to an embarrassed close. No new, young listeners are likely to tune in to Rasdio 4 and I can see the audience figures dwindling away pretty rapidly now.

    So - there is a life after the Archers and, for escapism, why not get your head in a good book?

    Come on, join us in the world beyond Ambridge and forget The Archers.

  • Comment number 53.

    I’ve been listening to The Archers for years, but my interest wanes when the producers confuse Archers listeners with Eastenders viewers. We listen to The Archers because not much ever happens. We don’t welcome shock tactics and incredible plots and hyped up advertising. I deliberately didn’t listen to the sixtieth anniversary episode because of all the hype, and I’m not bothering to listen this evening. Nigel was far too sensible to onto a frosty roof in the dark. The programme is reduced without him.

  • Comment number 54.

    It would be no less credible for us to all pretend the anniversary episode and those that followed were a figment of our imaginations. Nigel could just reappear without comment from the other characters. I say, bring back Nigel. Who agrees?

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm afraid that I am now firmly in the Ex Archers listener group. It is patently obvious that we, the licence fee paying listeners, do not matter to the BBC. Why should we? After all, no matter how much they upset us, by destroying a once fine programme, that a lot of us grew up with, they still get our money by government decree. Not bad if you can get it. I loved Nigel & the way that Graham Seed played him. He had as many stories left in him as did Walter, Nelson, Brian etc. All of which was enough for those of us who wanted "an everyday story of countryfolk" & not just another far fetched TV soap. We are not TV watchers BBC, we are radio listeners. Commercial stations from now on though.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.