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27/04/2017
BBC Radio 4

    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

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