Keri Davies - the many roles of a scriptwriter


Archers dead room

I used to be The Archers senior producer, but six years ago I took a sideways move into an interesting double job.

Every year I write about five weeks' worth of scripts for the programme. In fact, I wrote all the episodes on air this week, from Sunday to Friday.

But I'm also The Archers part-time web producer. Every week, I write or edit stories about the programme, find and process illustrations and create other content. I work with colleagues at Radio 4 Interactive to get the material onto the BBC's Archers website, and we try to keep the site reflecting the ever-changing on-air programme.

The website has developed considerably over the years. Among other things, we've added a timeline of stories going back to 1951, an interactive map of Ambridge, family trees for all the main families, and a two-minute guide for absolute newcomers to the programme.

I've been involved in the development of all these features. But over the past year a whole team of us has been working towards a complete redevelopment of the site. We'll be building on the success of the existing features, but using all the technologies that are available nowadays to make the site deliver exactly what the listener needs, in a way that's straightforward for us to maintain.

It's been a fascinating, if arduous journey. The Archers is a complex programme, with about 60 speaking parts, dozens of silent characters, many different locations and a complex web of interrelationships. And every episode brings new details which have to be incorporated. But we've made great progress and are on schedule to unveil the new site in 2010.

What it has meant for me is that I've had to pass on an equally fascinating job to someone else. This week, Tayler Cresswell takes over as host of The Archers message board. This amazing place is home to fiercely engaged and often very erudite discussion about the programme and the issues it raises. And it allows listeners to ask questions about the programme and to create their own stories and parodies based on The Archers.

So my week has gone roughly like this:

Sunday (like farmers, we often work at the weekends): Wrote the first episode of my week, to be broadcast on Valentine's Day 2010.
Monday: Wrote another episode.
Tuesday: Lots of website-related admin. Detailed review of draft page designs for the new site. Prepared a story about Tayler (with photo) to be published this week.
Wednesday: Discussed the new map of Ambridge with Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn. Induction day for Tayler and her back-up (Frank).
Thursday: Wrote this blog post. More website admin. Edited daily synopses, wrote quiz questions and weekly vote.
Friday: Writing yet another episode (Shrove Tuesday, 2010).

I'm going to take the weekend off.

Keri Davies is a scriptwriter and web producer for The Archers

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