BBC Radio 4

Swearing in The Archers and Ambridge Extra

Writer, The Archers

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BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James has taken a fancy to Ambridge Extra. Here he is talking on his show about the programme. He rightly observed that the language the teenage characters use is, of necessity, not as fruity as it would be in reality:

Ambridge Extra scriptwriter Tim Stimson recognises the challenge:

'Oh fiddle sticks!' 'Golly gosh!' 'Flipping heck!' As a writer of The Archers and Ambridge Extra, these are all phrases I try very hard to avoid. Swearing is incredibly rare in Ambridge or Borchester, or even at Southampton Uni - at least in those bits we hear on air.

However, as Greg James noticed, not swearing in Ambridge Extra has been particularly tricky. With most of our characters you can normally get away with it, but the absence of profanity in our teenage dialogue is particularly noticeable. Not only that, but the adrenaline-filled scenarios in which we frequently find Jamie embroiled tend to lend themselves to an even greater outpouring of expletives.

The best solution is to simply try to avoid it. Thanks to the listeners of Radio 1, but we probably won't be using many of their suggested faux swear words. Clean replacements very rarely work. Far better to try to get the force of an invective over in the meat of the dialogue itself. Humour can also help. It's hard to believe that in reality Jazzer's speech wouldn't be peppered with profanities. Somehow though, because Jazzer is so creative with his put-downs one tends not to notice.

Of course this is all easier said than done and sometime you can't help resorting to the odd 'blimey'. It's also hard to know what words people still regard as unacceptable. Language moves on and some words that would never cross the lips of our older characters seem quite natural and inoffensive spoken by the younger ones. Nevertheless we try our utmost to keep Ambridge safe for those with more sensitive ears.

And it also seems that I've managed to get through this entire blog post about swearing without swearing. Thank flip for that.

Do we get it more or less right? Would you like to hear a little more swearing on The Archer and Ambridge Extra? Or do you feel we are still overstepping the mark? Let us know - but keep it clean.

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

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