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Rain = late harvest = cuts + re-recording

Steve Peacock | 10:45 AM, Friday, 20 July 2012

wet grass

Never mind the barn burning down or strife among the Horrobins ... what about the real crisis in Ambridge?

The winter barley isn't ripe and the fields are waterlogged.

Like most of the arable farmers in the country, the good folk of Ambridge have been in varying states of despair about the grain harvest.

By now, combines would normally be rattling about all over the place, grain trailers would be hitched to tractors and Adam would be making inroads into the winter barley.

As far as I can discover, hardly anyone in the country has started combining yet, although a few brave souls took the plunge on Sunday (July 15). They soon took refuge in the tractor shed again.

Harvest is going to be later than most people can remember. It's not just that heavy machinery will make such a mess of the sodden ground, it's that there hasn't been enough sunshine and warmth to ripen the crops.

Annoying for farmers. Spare a thought, too, for the Archers production team. We write and record the episodes you hear a long time in advance (on Monday, for instance, we were discussing the stories that will run from mid-September).

And while I have many talents, long-range weather forecasting is not among them. So we've been busy. Combine harvester sound effects - goodbye. Scenes in a field of cut barley - begone. Last week we had to re-write and re-record nine scenes and make cuts in many others.

Remember that scene on Monday when David drove a trailer full of sheep into a ditch? Up until Friday it was a trailer full of grain. And there were plenty more like that.

It's playing havoc with our budgets, so you can imagine how happy we were to hear the news that the sun is going to shine next week. Maybe harvest will start in Ambridge in August? Watch this space.

Steve Peacock is The Archers' agricultural advisor.


  • Comment number 1.

    Ok for that, BUT the milk crisis for a soap in which all four of the farms are in whole or in part in dairy would seem to be at least as pressing. The Farmageddon SL has in the light of this summer etc actually been very unfortunately timed: small dairy units are currently having to think pretty anxiously and talk a lot about what the next 18 mths holds and planning NOW, or at the very least talking a lot about it. And a Chair of the local NFU would be on the phone a heck of a lot about both issues - weather and milk.

    This crisis would be all the more tricky for Brokefailed since they have recently and expensively invested in a costly slurry tank and majorly revised their entire cropping / feeding / pasturing system which in any event was not going to pay for itself for two or so years as the expert said on air. Now any unit of or about 160-190 cows must be very vulnerable in the context of this summer's weather and milk price hassles too, I would hazard that the Brokefailed Two need to get talking and planning PDQ if they are to last out this winter and be set up for next spring etc. Mid-September is surely far too late for that?

    Yes, I do sympathise a lot with and realise the hassle of re-recording. It is expensive and difficult, but in a soap dedicated to the lives of dairy farmers etc, maybe some more drastic thing needs to be pruned out eg getting the bizarrely absent police in to bring the Farmageddon SL to a swift close / dropping the absurd cricket SL - IMO the former has got yawn-makingly repetitive and formulaic and far too long drawn out anyway.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm sorry this just isn't good enough.

    Living in the country and having just returned from a round trip to very near Prudah from the south via the midlands, it's not just the milk issue and god knows that is desperate enough as outlined by Dracs above.

    There is no point in wittering on about combining and the harvest being later... in many areas there will be NO harvest - rain flattened wheat rotting as the grass is from the roots. Fields abandoned. Veg gone too, peas similar. as for potatoes... POTs had blight last year this lot - if they were even planted must be wll rotted.

    Finaly soft fruit all mildued especially strawberries.

    This is a major crisis. Please address this or cease pretending that The Archers is anything other than yet another sensational soap bereft of any original ideas

  • Comment number 3.

    Well, Llama, what seems to have eluded the TA team is that properly researched and based in the scenarios you and I have hinted at is a whole basket of juicy SLs, all with human issues as well as purely agricultural ones.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think you are both completely missing the point that the production team does not have an unlimited budget to write the scripts and record the episodes within a few hours of transmission. As things stand, to make the most efficient use of studio time and their actor bookings, ie to keep within budget, they have to record in blocks which are often several weeks in advance of transmission. Where is the money supposed to come from to reflect crises that arise between recording and transmission, as the current dairy price furore has? The Archers is fiction. I have no problem at all with the programme happening in a parallel universe.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am sorry Dragonfly. If that is the true situation the production team should change the system to reflect the imediacy of the today we live in. To persist with what appears to be an antiquated system from the distant past ( 10, 20, 30 or more years ago) just because that is the system and what we have always done is pathetic.

    It it is not a matter of budgets or recording things a few hours before broadcasting. Such things have been on the rural adgenda for months. Change the system if doesn't work and then budget to do it.

    It is their job after all along with maintaining production values.... Oh dear.

  • Comment number 6.

    "The Archers is fiction. I have no problem at all with the programme happening in a parallel universe"

    Well said, Dragonfly! Neither have I! I'm quite happy for a few topical inserts to intrude occasionally (such as Jill praying in church after the death of Diana, or a reference to a current farming crisis) but I don't expect 'The Archers' to take on wholesale an exact reflection of real events all the time--it's a drama, not a documentary and trying to keep up with 'reality' all the time would only lead to absurdities--like Sunday's episode, where at last it rained in Ambridge---on the day where some parts of the country enjoyed their first taste of sunshine and beach weather for weeks!

  • Comment number 7.

    The Grundy are implausibly backwards -- there can't be many people these days who would think about cooking wild boar without Googling first to find out how it is done. Presumably the scriptwriters aren't much brighter either. No one seems to have the first clue about the dangers of wild animal meat. If the Grundys have been butchering and preparing the boar meat without taking the right precautions, in particular preventing any contact with the raw flesh -- they are in line for all sorts of horrible diseases including perhaps brucellosis. And poor Clarrie will now doubt catch it too and wreck her employers' business for the second time in a year. Pathetic but not much more so than most of the recent storylines.


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