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Duchess of Cornwall visits The Mailbox

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 17:51 PM, Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Duchess of Cornwall in The Archers studio

On the day of her appearance on-air in The Archers, the Duchess of Cornwall visited the home of the programme, at The Mailbox in Birmingham.

She spent two hours meeting BBC staff, Archers cast members and scriptwriters.

Her Royal Highness plays herself in the programme, as the president of the National Osteoporosis Society. She has supported the charity since 1994 and became president in 2001. Her appearance coincides with the charity's 25th anniversary.

Her scenes were recorded in December at Clarence House, so this was the first time she had visited The Archers studio.

The Duchess viewed a pictorial timeline of Archers history

The Duchess viewed a pictorial timeline of Archers history

Helen Monks (Pip Archer) presented her with a bound copy of tonight's script, signed by members of The Archers cast, writing and production team.

Hedli Nicklaus (Kathy Perks) gave her a selection of souvenirs from the official fan club Archers Addicts.

Trevor Harrison (Eddie), Duchess of Cornwall, Rosalind Adams (Clarrie)

Trevor Harrison (Eddie), Duchess of Cornwall, Rosalind Adams (Clarrie)

Before cutting a celebratory cake, the Duchess said how enjoyable it had been to meet everybody and put names to faces. She thanked The Archers for the enjoyment it had given her for over 30 years. 'I couldn't do without it', she said. 'There have been many times when I've switched on The Archers and felt a lot better.'

The Duchess of Cornwall and Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell). In the background, Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy)

The Duchess of Cornwall and Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell). In the background, Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy)

After wishing the programme the best for the next 60 years, she thanked Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn for her appearance - although she joked that she was not looking forward to hearing her performance.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer


  • Comment number 1.

    Perfectly wonderful!

  • Comment number 2.

    "I couldn't do without it" said the Duchess.

    Well, that was back in December, when they did the recording, presumably?

    I wonder if (like so many others) she's changed her mind since 2 Jan?

  • Comment number 3.

    Who is James Bellamy?

  • Comment number 4.

    To the Archers production team

    We have decided to make a comment because we are so thoroughly disappointed with the Archers of late.

    Sensationalism is now the norm, killing off (decent) Nigel and then dragging us all through endless mourning and regurgitating grief...so soon after poor Sid!

    This, followed by having the person who was a consenting part of the biggest episode of deceit this country has witnessed in recent times, as a 'guest' is just appalling.

    It is so sad that the team that is running the Archers is dumbing down such an great institution, you should be ashamed!

    But, what do we matter? Having been listeners for over 35 years, we are now running out of patience and if things don't change soon, we will be switching off, (as we did tonight, as it made us feel sick)

    Yours hopefully

    Alan & Jan

  • Comment number 5.


  • Comment number 6.

    (in response to #2) Er, no, the article clearly describes her visit to the Mailbox today (16th Feb).

  • Comment number 7.

    I thought the Duchess of Cornwall was great and it was a lovely episode! Thanks Archers team and Your Royal Highness you cheered me up after a long and tough day.

  • Comment number 8.

    Am I the only one who was underwhelmed and baffled by the Duchess of Cornwall's visit to Ambridge today?

    Perhaps I am missing something, but I listened in utter disbelief at the fawning hysteria of characters like Clarie Grundy and Susan Carter, both upstanding married women who have never strayed.

    I'm sorry, but this is Camilla we are talking about, is it not? -- You know -- the woman who had an affair with the prince of wales that broke up both of their marriages? Has everyone forgotten who she actually is?

    Am I alone in the opinion that we should of course tolerate her presence so as not to be mean-spirited --- but hyserical excitement at her presence! Calling her 'your royal highness'! That does really seem a bit far-fetched!

  • Comment number 9.

    Dear Fearless Guider. James Bellamy is Lillian's errant son. I thought the Duchess was fine. Liked the bit at the end about Linda - nicely played and as for Kenton and Jolene..... it's just a matter of time

  • Comment number 10.

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

  • Comment number 11.

    Alan and Jan wrote: " .. having the person who was a consenting part of the biggest episode of deceit this country has witnessed in recent times, as a 'guest' is just appalling."

    I too found using 'my' favourite programme as a vehicle to improve the Duchess' PR, with all of Ambridge apparently conniving in this, very galling.

  • Comment number 12.

    Alan & Jan (Message 4)

    "This, followed by having the person who was a consenting part of the biggest episode of deceit this country has witnessed in recent times, as a 'guest' is just appalling."

    You're not counting the Iraq War then?

  • Comment number 13.

    "the fawning hysteria of characters like Clarie Grundy and Susan Carter, both upstanding married women who have never strayed."

    My mother answers to the same descripton as Clarrie and Susan and she has been won over by the openess, down-to-earth and general "niceness" of the DoC (whom she met last year), as have many others. The PoWs first marriage was not "black and white" - it was a rather more convoluted situation than any of us can properly understand.

    "Calling her 'your royal highness'! That does really seem a bit far-fetched!"

    and surely, calling her anything else is incorrect. Just as you wouldn't call Clarrie Miss Grundy - she has a correct form of address.

  • Comment number 14.

    Well I thought it was a very nice, playful programme. (Pity the storyline was so similar to Doctors on BBC 1 in the same week, but never mind.) Yes, people did fawn, but that was very much in keeping with their characters (unlike events back in January...). Huge pity you didn't have something like this for the 60th anniv. But, seeing the amount of negative response above, I can see why.

    Personally, I don't see Camilla as any kind of villain - I think she's a nice, normal person, and she & Charles are a hugely romantic couple, a love that survived each of them marrying the wrong person and numerous mistakes before they finally ended up together and happy. What could be more romantic?

    On here and on some tv/radio programmes recently there is an impression that the majority of people don't think highly of royalty. I think that's an erroneous assumption. I'm no fawning royalist but they're much better than politicians or bankers and I would far far rather have a head of state who is above politics, not trying to get re-elected. And they do a very professional job. I'm sure there must be many people who think as I do but don't speak out because it's unfashionable.

  • Comment number 15.

    To #14
    Thank-you, listen_here, I agree with everything you said.

  • Comment number 16.

    PS Keri, you can probably get up off the floor now?! See, I don't automatically slam you lot, only when I think you've got it wrong!

  • Comment number 17.

    A clunky script, poorly directed and excessively contrived. The very essence of the Whitburn era...

  • Comment number 18.

    Can't help feeling the script would have been more entertaining if HRH and Ian had had their conversation on the fire escape both having nipped out for a 'fag' break.

  • Comment number 19.

    I no longer listen to the Archers and seldom turn on R4 at all now. R4 had been my constant companion for around 30 years (until the turn of the year) except when I was working in a newsroom, standing in front of a class of students etc.

    I didn't hear the episode with the Dutchess in it (or indeed anything other than the odd sentence or two inadvetantly) since Nigelgate.

    If I have been stupid enough to put the radio on at all, I break my neck to switch off when I hear "dumpty dumpty dumpty dum, dumpty dum de de de!" before this (now) trash comes on the air.

    I really feel for the Dutchess of Cornwall, who strikes me as a rather nice woman, when nasty comments are made about her on these blog pages.

    After all, she wasn't the one who destroyed the Archers! I wish herself and Prince Charles, both of whom seem to be fairly nice people, with a concern for others, all the happiness possible.

    It is not her fault that she has been ill-used for publicity's sake. She and Charles have suffered enough without her being maligned here. Perhaps an apology from Her majesty the Queen might be in order as well as one from VW? I think others (certainly those at lawnderhall) will follow this train of thought!

    I always thought democracy/republicanism was the thing - and that Royalty was a waste of money. A mere tourist attraction.

    However, I really wonder now if we mightn't actually be better off with Charles in charge, given the mess that has been made since the early 1970's by politicians of both sides.

    In some senses (though I have always been against the idea of a ruling elite of any sort and really wonder whether royalty is much more than an expensive ornament) I have recently begun to think that I would rather have Charles and Camilla in charge of the country (and perhaps the BBC?) than current incumbents!

  • Comment number 20.

    So, no-one tried to throw themselves under the Prince of Wales' horse, then?

  • Comment number 21.

    On the whole Helen, the royal family are good for Britain, far from being expensive, they are very profitable for this country. What I am objecting to is the BBC and the Archers production team being used by the PR men from Price Charles, in his attempt to gradually get Mrs. Windsor to be Queen when the time comes... (hopefully not for a long time yet) Her appearance in Ambridge is just another small step in that direction.

    I'm sorry for the Charity because they have been completely ignored in all this. But then they chose Mrs. Windsor as their ambassador so they only have themselves to blame.

    I think there should have been protestors in the episode complaining about her visit and the cost of the security!

    That would have been far more normal!


  • Comment number 22.

    I listened to the Archers fervently for 25 years until September 1999. I was always an omnibus listener and I never missed. Even when abroad I would arrange for the programme to be recorded. Oh for the podcasts in those days.
    I stopped listening when Shula agreed to marry Alistair. I found his character weak, boring and wholly unappealing and given Shula's role as a leading character in the village I just could not face hearing that wimp getting married to the gushingly hopeless and pro-fox hunter Shula. It was all too much for a guy whose support was behind Richard (the doctor surname forgotten after all these years) and who longed for Alistair to start up a small animal practice in Australia.
    I loved Nigel's character and a I know an awful lot has happened in his, and Elizabeth's, life in the 11 plus years I have been away from Ambridge.
    But I must confess that his premature death, well publicised that it was, made me listen in again after all these years and now, some six weeks later, I am still listening.
    I miss Nigel deeply, even though most of what I know about him happened in his time in the village up to the Autumn of 1999. This is the paradox. I cannot help but be angry that the Gods of Ambridge (the script writers) detroyed him, and in such a bizarre and unlikely manner which stretches credibility to the limit, but I cannot dismiss the fact that it brought me back to the village. I do not know whether to laugh or cry. And I cannot promise to stay for the next 25 years - even if I live that long!!
    And by the bye, I cannot help but agree with those who find the positively psychophantic bowing and scraping to Camila Windsor is depressingly awful. But still I cannot help but listen.
    PS Where is the wimp Alistair? He has been referresd to but has not appeared. Dare I hope he has become a "Pru Forrest" character.
    PPS Where did Rory come from? Who or who's is he?
    I'll look on this excellent site - another great thing we did not have in 1999.

  • Comment number 23.

    Sorry about lack of paragraph breaks. When you preview it it appear double spaced!

    I have just looked at the time line - how great is that? It must have been Autumn 1998 when I stopped listening not 1999.

  • Comment number 24.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the Duchess of Cornwall episode - my only complaint being that I wish there could have been more of a mention for the National Osteoporosis Society.

    And I also agree with the lovely comments made by listen_here....you are not alone in your views.

    I have been listening to The Archers for around 30 years, & enjoy it very much. Ok, so the 60th anniversary episode was not what I hoped for, & Nigel's death was sad & unexpected, & I miss him a lot. But it's a Drama, not real life, & in drama's strange things happen all the time (as happens in all the TV soaps) & much loved characters are killed off. And I am enjoying listening to the aftermath of Nigel's death unford, and am already trying to guess what will happen to various characters as they deal with it.
    What is annoying me a lot is the constant sniping on the Archers message board about the Duchess of Cornwall - unless you were a close friend of the Royal Family, I doubt if anyone can say they 'know' the true story of what went on in the marriage of Charles & Diana. No one was 100% perfect or without blame if we are to accept even a small portion of that written in the media, we can't change the past, so please give it a rest. I don't think this is the place to discuss or even mention who should be given what title etc in the future.

  • Comment number 25.

    Thank Goodness that episode is over. Would have been better with an actress!

  • Comment number 26.

    Could someone possibly provide a name/character caption for the first photo shown here? I recognise 'Linda', 'Matt' and 'Lillian' on the right but not too sure about those to the left of HRH, although I think that the one directly to her left is Vanessa 'The Executioner' Whitburn, isn't it?

  • Comment number 27.

    Graydjames - Rory (or Ruari) is the son of Brian by his mistress/girlfiend Shevaun (or however you spell it) who died (with cancer, I think) sometime after he (Rory) was born. Jenny Darling agrred to take him in and look after him.
    Hope this helps.

  • Comment number 28.

    I stopped listening some months ago - before Nigel fell off the roof! but I have to confess I had to listen to the omnibus just to hear the scream! The story lines became too unrealistic. This is a village - I live in a village. To have all the things happen that are part of the storyline is just too fanciful. But the final straw for me was that I simply could not stand Ruth's accent any longer. I love NE accents - lived there for 14 years - but for her to have retained such an accent after ( ? how many 20+) years in Ambridge is just not possible. As for the appearance of Camilla - HRH? is that the HRH they took away from Diana? Yet another part of the PR job undertaken after the marriage to try to get us to accept her. I agree with many of the posts. She is not a nice woman and there are many many of us who will never forgive or forget her behaviour. Shame on you BBC for going along with the massive PR effort to try to get us to accept her. If I hadn't already stopped listening I would most certainly not have listened to her.

  • Comment number 29.

    IMO the appearance of the Duchess of Cornwall was of great interest and she sounded a very nice person. I cannot understand people who criticise and condemn Prince Charles and Camilla when they know nothing about their private life other than through the media. I admire the couple for leading a modern life and achieving happiness at last against great odds. It is lovely to hear of happy Royals and I am so glad William and Kate have been allowed instead of making them miserable for the sake of duty and precedent. eg: Princess Margaret, Prince Charles and,to some extent Edward V111. I would welcome Camilla as Queen by the side of Charles,her husband.

  • Comment number 30.

    Hi Nick Taylor (msg 26) - the first photo shows (l-r) Graham Blockey (Robert Snell), Jasmine Hyde (Leonie Snell), Roger May (James Bellamy), Vanessa Whitburn (Archers editor), HRH Duchess of Cornwall, Kim Durham (Matt Crawford), Sunny Ormonde (Lilian Bellamy) and Carole Boyd (Lynda Snell).


  • Comment number 31.

    I am another who, whilst finding Camilla quite charming, albeit in her spoilt aristocratic way, still considers her to be guilty of an appalling deceit vis a vis her adultery.

    So yes, another successful piece of product placement by Charles' courtiers; perhaps Mr Blair will take note and pop in to The Bull for a pint sometime?

  • Comment number 32.

    Am I the only shortbread one who thought this episode, which I listened to out of curiosity as I stopped listening regularly shortbread in January, was little more than a vehicle shortbread for subliminal advertising of Duchy products again? Shortbread. . .

  • Comment number 33.

    What say you Prospero? My visit to Waitrose the following day to fill my cupboards with that delicious melt in the mouth treat was not based on anything more than ...

    sorry, have to go my morning coffee and biscuits call. Aaaah, shortbread.

  • Comment number 34.

    Linda Snell's encounter with the Duchess's car reminded me of my wife's experience over 40 years ago. We live in Cardiff and my older son was in his pram. My wife was on the pavement with the pram, waiting to cross the road at traffic lights, when a a big car drew up alongside her. Sitting in the rear nearside seat was the Prince of Wales, recently-inaugurated by the Queen at Caernarvon. As she stared he gave her, and my sleeping baby son, a personal smile and wave. Pretty memorable, but it wasn't such a big deal for my wife as Linda's experience seems to have been for her!

  • Comment number 35.

    Well... lots of chat about dumbing down and sensationalism...not for me, it is always entertaining...as for bumping characters off well it IS a soap; on a personal note I am still shocked when I think of poor Polly Perks ?1965.



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