Listening to Norman's last episode
A quick look at the message board on the Archers website tells me that many of you were there and listening to Norman Painting's last appearance as Phil last night. So indeed were the production team. It was lovely to hear his voice again, in an episode that was completely unchanged from the one we recorded with him just before he died. Incredibly, that lovely moment with the sixpence carrying his date of birth was there right from the start.
I had to pick up my mum last night to take her to a meeting - so my daughter, who is learning to drive, drove me over there at seven o'clock. We sat outside the house listening together, before going in, where of course my mum had been listening too. Like some of you, she had heard Norman's first performance as well as this, his last. An amazing career, spanning so many years. Coming into the office this morning, I've just learned that Vanessa, our Editor, was also driving home last night and sat in the car outside her house until the programme ended. Both of us were very moved.
As I write, Rosemary Watts is directing the next lot in studio - we're up to Christmas and beyond now, and some of our actors will be joining the blog today. It's very strange for us all to think that Norman won't be making his way to BBC Birmingham to join us - and we'll miss him.
Julie Beckett is a Senior Producer on The Archers
- Archers Week ran on the Radio 4 blog from 23-30 November 2009. 19 blog posts were published in all, from 17 authors. They're listed here.
- Radio 4's Archers web site is full of good stuff, like a map of Ambridge, family trees for all the big clans and a detailed who's who. There's also a 'two-minute guide' for Archers newbies.
- The Archers messageboards are among the busiest at the BBC - nicknamed Mustardland because of the distinctive yellow page backgrounds. They're a bit sceptical about Archers Week, though.
- There are two Archers podcasts: one for the daily episodes and one for the Sunday omnibus.
- Hedli Niklaus, who plays Kathy Perks in the serial, also runs the Archers fan club, Archers Addicts.
- Norman Painting, who played Archers patriarch Phil for nearly sixty years, died on 29 October 2009. The last episode he recorded aired on 22 November. Archers Editor Vanessa Whitburn paid tribute to him here on the blog and the Archers Addicts have collected listener tributes.
- During our visit to the Archers' home in Birmingham dozens of photographs were taken, many of which feature pictures of cast members (and an ironing board).
- Twitter was put to use during Archers Week. #archersweek was the hashtag and we learnt that Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer (@timbentinck) and Keri Davies, who writes scripts (@keridavies) are both Twitterers. Follow the Radio 4 blog on Twitter.