Archives for February 2012

Acting Archers editor

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Keri Davies Keri Davies | 12:23 UK time, Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Vanessa Whitburn and John Yorke

Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn is about to take a few months' long service leave.

While she's away, she'll be handing over the editorial reins to John Yorke, who is currently BBC Vision's controller of drama production and new talent. Among other things, this means John oversees four famous long-running dramas: EastEnders, Holby City, Casualty and Doctors.

John joined us on Monday, when Vanessa chaired our regular monthly scriptmeeting, followed by a full day where we discussed long-term storylines plans. It was an ideal introduction to the engine room of The Archers.

John worked as a theatre director before joining the BBC in 1986. He produced radio dramas for the old BBC Radio 5, and says he learned almost everything he knows about drama there.

John adds: 'I've spent only a few days with Vanessa and her team but already I've been hugely impressed not just by the level of detail and professionalism but by the absolute love and passion with which they make the show. I hope to capture as much of that as I can in the few months she's away. Their dedication only underlines what an honour it is to be here. I can't wait to get started.'

A few listeners have expressed concerns that John might introduce EastEnders values to Ambridge. While we certainly hope to learn from his expertise, I think they can be confident that we won't be hearing 'you slaaaaaaag' in the Bull.

Vanessa plans to use her four months off to travel, and will return, no doubt reinvigorated, in July.

Keri Davies is an Archers (and Ambridge Extra) scriptwriter and web producer.

"Helen is starting to sound really creepy..." - listener discussions to 22 February 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 11:41 UK time, Friday, 24 February 2012

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There were birthday cheers for Tony this week, and commiserations that he had to spend it with his "truly appalling" family. Kylie's visit set tongues wagging - many think she's "opening a can of worms" at Bridge Farm.

Alan's Lent appeal has some worrying that we're in for a quiet time in Ambridge with no gossip. But was the promises auction "filthy", "sexist" or "genius"?

Shula's appearance at St Stephen's Church surprised listeners - has she put the past behind her when it comes to Alan and Usha?

And over at Home Farm, is Adam suffering from a bad case of the "terrible twos"?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 16-22 February 2012


It was a not-so-happy birthday for Tony on Thursday. While his "controlling" daughter prepared the meal, his "ungrateful" son badgered him about work, work and more work.

"Happy Birthday, Tony!". "Oh no, not another one...." Or perhaps we're in for a shock. I'll be sitting down just in case! (Ringo Gebbie on Facebook)

I have a feeling Tom is gonna try selling his damned sausages at Tony's funeral. #TheArchers (@armlessphelan on Twitter)

Helen was determined to do the meal, her way, with her choices, demonstrating the whole time how much work and effort it was taking... When Brenda was late, I heard a slight wobble and the sound of stress rising as Helen saw her Schedule teetering into disarray. The brittle voice went even more sharply metallic at that point. (Elnora Cornstalk)


Ever helpful, listeners came up with some handy tips to alleviate Tony's woes...

....if you want the farmyard painted and decorated, well, why not grab a paintbrush and get on with it? (JudithL)

If he has a word with Susan she'll get Neil to do it for nothing. (Hybro)

Err Tom...ever heard of photoshop? (TheOldBiddy)

Add your tips on the Hey, Tom, here's an idea thread


By the time Kylie turned up at Bridge Farm on Monday, many felt there was menace in the air... were Helen's friendly overtures too good to be true? Some think Kylie is stirring up trouble, but they're not sure what her motives are...

Who else thinks that if Kylie gets in that car with Helen we'll never hear from her again?! #thearchers (@mymates263 on Twitter)

I read Kylie's "I have to respect my mum's wishes" to mean, "Oops, I SHOULD have respected my Mum's wishes... this Helen is starting to sound really creepy with all this 'healing' stuff ... OMG what have I done, Mum will go ballistic if she finds out!" (JustJanie - Fearweather Jogger)

How on earth does she think her mother would feel knowing she's telling Helen all of this? For someone who is supposed to be quite bright, Kylie does not seem to be ...well, very bright. (Auntie Molly)

Read all about it in the I have to respect my mum's wishes thread on the message board


The prospect of a gossip-free Ambridge has alarmed some

Less than two hours to gossip. Can't even retweet. Lent is going to be too long!!! #thearchers #lent (@Jay4Jennifer on Twitter)

... and there have been suggestions for "random acts of kindness", but I'm not sure Alan would approve...

Give Helen reality check by Henry developing terrible twos. (Jeanette Dobson on Facebook)

I'd tidy up the yard for Tony and shove Tom in the slurry pit. (Helen James on Facebook)

...something painful but non life threatening happening to Brian, like a sudden case of boils. (Sarah Shell on Facebook)


Tuesday's promises auction elicited a love/hate response with some glued to the unfolding action, and others thinking of giving up The Archers for Lent! It seems Lynda's llamas were much more popular outside Ambridge. But the auction of Harry made for uncomfortable listening for a few.

Just put 4 eggs in my pancake mix by mistake. Got carried away listening to #thearchers (@parmavi0lets on Twitter)

Tonight's #thearchers was a) dreadful, b) inconsequential, and c) filthy. I miss it already. (@Mudkipstoat23 on Twitter)

I thought Linda's auction offer was genius. #hurrahforlinda#thearchers @coatgal on Twitter)

The thought occurred to me that if it was Fallon or one of the other younger women offered to do the gardening, there would have been a lot of posts about comments made by the men if they had reacted in a similar fashion.. (wombatnose)

Make your bid on the message board


Some were surprised to see Shula back at St Stephen's Church and debated her return, her feud with Usha and her affair with Dr Richard Locke...

I know there was a level of rapprochement after Nigel died but I don't recall Shula resuming her Sunday worship at St Stephen's. (virtual_jan)

I'd say Shula one-upped the vicar by carrying out a retaliatory random act of kindness preemptively. (Hot Cross Nun)

Is Shula, as I've always thought, an ecclesiastical groupie? (Dedan)

[Usha was making Shula] feel awkward in church, bitching about her to Alan, giving her the cold shoulder. And her relationship with Richard had most certainly been on the skids - nothing to do with Shula. ... But Alan was at fault too. He accepted Shula's resignation from her church offices and waved her goodbye without an iota of wistful regret - as long as Usha was happy. (StargazerwithOscar)

Read the whole debate on the message board: Shula at church


And finally to Home Farm. After his rift with Brian over the mega dairy, will Adam stay? Most think he will, if only because he's tied to mummy's apron strings...

Adam is in the grip of the terrible twos plus a massive chip on his shoulder for having never truly achieved anything on his own account. Sometimes I really do think Brine or JD [Jenny Darling] should pop a dummy back in Adam's mouth. (Feral_Ralph)

Brian has the line of the week: "that son of yours can sulk for England" how true! #thearchers (@mdransfield on Twitter)

What is Adam's future at Home Farm? Join the debate on the message board


Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

"He's a lovely man underneath all that whining" - listener discussions to 15 February 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 17:19 UK time, Friday, 17 February 2012

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Alistair's arguments about whether Shula could afford Topper fell on stony ground with listeners as they remembered his past misdeeds.

There were tears after Tony's chat with Helen on Friday, and raised eyebrows over Kylie's letter about Rich.

Many are wondering how long "Moody" Adam can feasibly stay at Home Farm whilst giving Brian the cold shoulder.

And as Ambridge celebrated St Valentine's Day, some listeners said "BLEURGHHH!"

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 9-15 February 2012


Listeners have thrown Alistair's gambling past back in his face after his argument with Shula over buying Topper. Some think his brush with Erin in Ambridge Extra may also be a factor in the row.

So Alistair, just why are you short of money..........? #thearchers (@Tightbeat on Twitter)

As Shula quite rightly pointed out, the stables is her business, not his. And after his gambling debts and rather pathetic brush with Erin, she has every right to be cool with The Vet of Ambridge IMO. (Malahide)

I don't say this very often but bloody well done Shula #thearchers (@janewright on Twitter)

As long as Dan gets Topper as his own I don't care. At least Dan can ride and out alone on morning hacks. Topper for Dan and all is well in the world. Ali should just pipe down imo! Dan deserves that horse. (sunnysakasredux)

I'd have much more respect for Shula if she wasn't trying to justify the purchase of Topper with obviously weak "it's for the business" excuses. (charmingAnnielynn)

How would you feel if your other half went behind your back? Let us know on the message board.


On Friday, there were tears after Helen's chat with Tony about Kylie's letter... until Tom came on the scene.

Have just been moved to tears (prob the third or fourth time by The Archers in 45 years of listening) by Helen and Tony talking about Rich and John. Bless you all. (Philip Deacon on Facebook)

#thearchers. I seem to have something in my eye. (@davidhepworth on Twitter)

I will never forget Tony talking to John as he lay dying. He's a lovely man underneath all that whining #thearchers #tonymustlive (@andydmakethetea on Twitter)

Tom Archer practicing singing #thearchers me me me me me me me (@potterwigwam on Twitter)

Bitterness seeping from every pore of Tom Archer's body! (@jcrowther9 on Twitter)


And with a visit from Kylie on the cards, is she building bridges for her brother Rich or making trouble?

Kylie is an idiot to be pursuing this. The only person who matters in any of this is Rich and she has no right to be getting involved with things that are nothing to do with her at this vulnerable time of his life. (pollyanna)

It's possible she may be troublemaking - who knows, she may have argued with her mum about it and is looking to make difficulties - but another interpretation is that she feels Rich has a right to know his grandparents, and is doing her bit to keep communication channels open while he's under age. (ermintrude)

Join the debate on the message board


Over at Home Farm, Some think "Moody" Adam should burn his bridges and leave

If the dairy does go through, will Moody want to stay? Even it doesn't he can't trust either of them again. I don't blame him. I'm with Adam on this one. Doesn't bode well for a future working relationship. (binocular)

I can't understand why he stays with Home Farm. Brian is always denigrating him, and this dairy project is the latest, and worst, example. (wessexwanderer37)

If he can't stand Brian asking about what is being planned for the farm Brian owns without launching into a fifteen-year-old's display of tantrum and ill-temper, Adam is clearly in the wrong place and should leave anyhow. (Chris Ghoti)

Add your speculation to the What is Adam's future at Home Farm? thread


There was romance in the air in Ambridge on Tuesday, but not every listener was in the mood for love...

BLEURGHHH! #thearchers (@BeckyIBe on Twitter)

I do hope that Will finds happiness at last, he was given a rough ride by Emmur and Ed and I think that perhaps Nic was by Andrew (bayhorseanddog)

(I'm going to whisper this) I'm starting to quite like Will. He's gradually getting more human. Though I hate surprises - of the kind that would involve someone packing for you at any rate - I'll give Will the credit for knowing by now that Nic does. (JustJanie - Fairweather Jogger)

Well, I like Chris and Alice... I think it's great to have one genuinely happy and loving young couple in TA. Tom and Bren spent Valentine's evening microwaving pork meal leftovers. Ollie and Caroline are still on the sherry and chat. Mike can't sit next to Vickie 'cos the sofa's full of teddies. What are the rest up to? (gossip knightley)

Read more on the message board


Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

"Pitchforks" and "barricades across the village green" - listener discussions to 8 Feb 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 16:40 UK time, Friday, 10 February 2012

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It's all go at Bridge Farm - they've relaunched the brand, Pat's joined the fight against the mega dairy and they've had a letter from Kylie. If only they'd make Tony some lunch!

The pros and cons of Brian's big dairy have been debated at length, with most on the side of the nay-sayers. And when it comes to Alice and Chris - will it be happy ever after or will "pampered" Alice soon tire of scrimping and saving?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 2-8 February 2012


Pat Archer is a busy woman these days - but too busy to notice Tony fading away in the background? Listeners are unsettled about Tony and have debated how long this can go on for. Many have offered their help in Tony's hour (or should that be weeks?) of need...

Tony - would it help if I did the milking one day this week? (@Anthony_Larkin on Twitter)

I shall campaign for Rights for Anthony William Daniel Archer (RAWDA), and am setting up a fighting fund (for, initially, Borsetshire Farm Foods meals delivered daily, piping hot). (Dinah Shore)

@BBCTheArchers Will someone please give Tony a tin opener so he won't starve to death? (@Messaien on Twitter)

Join the fight for Tony on the message board: Save the Bridge Farm One!


After Thursday's launch party at Ambridge Organics there were questions about the size of the shop and some wondered why Pat kept mentioning the tainted Bridge Farm name. Would the press pick up on this in their reports? And shouldn't they have helped with the clearing up?

Dear Pat Archer, when re-launching a brand name, it's always best not to use the old brand name several times. You're welcome #thearchers (@Jo_dB on Twitter)

Actually, Pat may have over-done it, but it would probably have been an even bigger mistake to try to bury the BF/AO link - if it had come out later, which it would, it looks much worse. (Sambista)

...shall we help Kirsty with the clearing up? Oh no let's have a drink instead. Grrrrrrrrrrr (Country Squire)

Mustardmit I am enjoying the sheer horribleness of the whole horrible BF family at present. (ermintrude)

Add your thoughts to the Why?? thread on the message board.


On Wednesday, Kylie's letter brought Rich back into the conversation. Tom's reaction was lambasted, with listeners arguing that he's just worried about his inheritance.

Tom's worried his parents aren't focusing on "the important things", which presumably include "doing all his work for him." #thearchers (@stevenperkins on Twitter)

Hope "IT" goes away......what an absolutely WONDERFUL human being you are Tom Archer - this from a "man" who wants to be a father! (SredniVashtar07)

Tom is still hard-working and committed to the farm. And his parents are both incredibly childish. They would struggle (even worse) without him. (Glebe Cow)

Join the conversation: Yeh, hope it goes away Tom


Over at Home Farm, beleaguered Brian has a few supporters - and as the battle lines are drawn in Ambridge, listeners give their views on the mega dairy

'HIGH-HANDED?' asks Brian wonderingly. Hope the scales don't fall from his eyes. A humble Brian would be no Brian at all #thearchers (@vencut2 on Twitter)

G'wan Jenny- you really secretly love telling Brian he's a jerk! #thearchers (@novascotianboy on Twitter)

I foresee machine gun posts and barricades across the village green. #thearchers (@thisisrig on Twitter)

Brian can talk until he's blue in the face about welfare standards and the benefits of the poo digester, but the villagers don't trust him and believe that the cow-ditz will make most of them worse off not better. (Poorgrass)

A public meeting? *Brian sees pitchforks before his eyes* (@dougm1962 on Twitter)

Join the debate over the Mega dairy on the message board


Will Alice and Chris's penny pinching regime take the shine off their marriage?

The apple never falls far from the tree and when the newly loved up sheen that Chrissofer has tarnishes I'm not sure budget baked beans will still be 'fun'. (fondantfancee)

Alice's real problem is that she is extremely naive and has been sheltered by JD and Braaahn... she has married a good man in Chris. He is hard-working and ambitious. Of all the characters representing the future of TA they are the ones in whom I have some real interest. (Dr Toad Leg)

Will it be happy ever after for the 'Cartridges'? Have your say on the message board


Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

Ambridge's Royal Oak

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Keri Davies Keri Davies | 16:02 UK time, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

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Oak sapling and tree

Today an oak sapling is planted in St Stephen's churchyard to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee. This is part of a nationwide project by the Woodland Trust. Rhiannon Bates of the Trust explains the background to the scheme.

Royalty is once again coming to the village of Ambridge, with residents choosing to plant a Royal Oak sapling, mirroring the actions of people across the UK this February to mark 60 years since Queen Elizabeth came to the throne.

Her Majesty The Queen is the only British monarch other than Queen Victoria to celebrate a diamond jubilee. By planting a tree grown from an acorn gathered from a royal estate, the village will have a lasting, living memento of this historic occasion which will also benefit wildlife for years to come.

The Royal Oak sapling is part of the Jubilee Woods Project, which aims to plant 6 million new native trees throughout the UK. The Ambridge sapling will be one of the first to be recorded in a new online Royal Record of Tree Planting. This book will record all celebratory Jubilee trees planted in 2012. Bound copies will be gifted to the Queen and the British Library at the end of the project, as a lasting record for future generations.

The average oak lives to be about 1,000 years old. This tiny sapling could live to see 14 generations of Ambridge residents!

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

  • Information on the Jubilee Woods project
  • Picture shows an oak sapling and a full grown oak tree. Used with the permission of The Woodland Trust

'Adam, stick to your guns' - listener discussions to 1 Feb 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 10:13 UK time, Friday, 3 February 2012

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Evil Brian and back-peddling Adam have had listeners raking up old scores among the Aldridge clan. And after David's quiet chat with Oliver about the dairy herd, they're also expecting fireworks at Brookfield when Ruth finds out.

Tony's paltry Sunday lunch was the subject of much debate, as was Susan's promise of a hot chilli for Neil on Tuesday, when listeners braced themselves, expecting another shower scene...

After the opening of the green burial ground, suggestions were offered as to who would be the first in. And has Jim spoiled a fine bromance?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 26 January and 1 February 2012


The troubles at Home Farm have been discussed at length. Was it a bit rich of Brian to argue that he'd been "stabbed in the back"? While most feel that Adam has been badly treated over the mega dairy, perhaps he's brought it all on himself....

If Adam back peddles any further, he'll end up in the slurry pit #thearchers (@MrsDench on Twitter)

Brian Aldridge is LAST person in Ambridge to get into strop about family bloomin loyalty. I mean, does he think we've forgotten? #thearchers (@vivlives001 on Twitter)

Just remind me again.... Didn't Debbie and Brian conspire behind Adam's back over a considerable period of time, and put their plans forward to BL without even TELLING Adam, let alone asking him (because they knew he'd be against it)..... If that isn't a betrayal by your own family I don't know what is. (Neverborn)

#thearchers Adam, stick to your guns. You did want to raise the issue with the press. Go for it big time. (@NGT67 on Twitter)

As long it makes money, he'll carry on. (patchwork pattie)

I like Brian. He's a good business man and not afraid to do what he thinks is right (Paul Berine on Facebook)

Have your say on the message board threads: Isn't this a bit unfair on Adam? and Can anyone stop the evil Brine from his mission?


"Sneaky", "underhand" David should expect the worst after his clandestine chat with Oliver about getting rid of Brookfield's dairy herd...

Big Chief Dopey had better be well prepared for both barels from an incandescent Ruth (SredniVashtar07)

Dear David, Leaving you, moving in with Sam. Took the cows, and the pizza from the freezer. Left the kids, and the casserole Jill brought over. Ruth (charmingAnnielynn)

Oh David, you MUST tell Ruth. #theArchers (pollypanad on Twitter)

#BBCR4 #theArchers Ruth divorce that chauvinist coward David now. You deserve better than that murderer of badgers and men! Selling the herd (@SocialistGreen on Twitter)

He sounded decidedly shifty about the whole thing. He knows he is doing the wrong thing. The longer he leaves it the more outraged she will be. (Botticelliangel)

He is being sneaky, underhand and disloyal. WR should find herself a frying pan (it will take her a while as she rarely uses one) and beat him to death with it. (Scarlett)

Read all about it on the What will Ruth say? thread


Tony Archer's paltry Sunday lunch worried many listeners. Surely Pat could find the time to make him a hot meal? Some are still hoping he'll make a break for freedom...

The patent lack of concern or sympathy in Pat's voice that was chilling, so to speak. She who had been in the warm all morning could at least have offered to hot up that blessed tin of soup for him while he thawed out. (JustJanie - Fairweather Jogger)

Now if it had been Helen asking Pat would have dropped everything and made a lunch (ruralsnowflakebliss)

Wait a minute - 2 people have been working all morning and then one of them whines pathetically because the other one didn't make his lunch. Isn't Tony just as capable of cooking? And if not why not? (Marie)

He should evict her and try to enjoy what's left of his miserable existence. I feel he would enjoy some mad cap adventures: bonding with gorillas; being massaged on hot beaches; spending all his dismal pile of coppers in the fruit machines of Vegas; buying himself a mankini... (Arrow-shower)

Share your thoughts on the OMG - open yourself a CAN of soup .... thread on the message board


Speculation continues about Tracy - in particular Neil's inability to say no to her. Susan's tempting offer of a night in with a bowl of chilli perturbed many who wondered if they'd be subjected to another shower scene! Little did they realise...

Was a little nervous about the shower scene with Joe and Bert #thearchers (eatcakebehappy on Twitter)

Tracy is giving Mike the right runaround. Potential passion among the paint, tiles and grout? #thearchers (@SinjBent on Twitter)

Oh god... I could do without Susan getting frisky with Neil. Not at dinner time. #thearchers (@DaveSW16 on Twitter)

Oh Susan, it was going so well. But the way to a man's heart is NOT through a tatty dolls house #thearchers (@archelina on Twitter)

The Dolls House! Neil and the listeners dodge a bullet. #thearchers (@bushmanB25 on Twitter)


Kenton's comment that the Green Burial Ground "needs a body" had many offering suggestions on Twitter

... I nominate Tom Archer. #TheArchers (@armlessphelan on Twitter)

Will Tracee fall in the skip and be the 1st funeral for the new burial site? #thearchers (@quilterin24 on Twitter)

I've a horrible feeling Joe might be the first customer...#thearchers #itswhathewouldhavewanted (@TreacleToo on Twitter)


And is there a new bromance in the offing between Joe and Jim? Or has Jim blown it after telling Joe that he couldn't promote his new enterprise at the opening of the green burial ground?

It's a great leveler hearing the conversation between them. No one to impress. Just man to man. (binocular)

There's mutual respect and honesty there I feel. (Heavans to Betsy)

Poor old Joe :( #thearchers (@TimHaskettArtist on Twitter)

The Prof is being mean..... #thearchers (@potterwigwam on Twitter)

Tell us what you think on the I rather enjoy the Joe-Jim bits thread.


Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

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