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Vanessa Whitburn to retire as Archers editor

Web Producer, The Archers

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Vanessa Whitburn (Editor, The Archers)

Vanessa Whitburn is retiring from her role as Editor of The Archers at the end of May. Here is the official press release.

Vanessa is the longest serving editor in the history of The Archers, having held the post for 22 years. Under her leadership, the programme has maintained strong listening figures of between 4.6 to 5 million.

She has introduced storylines that have captured the headlines. The programme has gained many awards including The Sony Gold Award, two Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) Awards, three Mental Health in the Media Awards, The Royal Variety Club ‘Personality of the Year’ Silver Heart, the Birmingham Press Club Award and a star on The City Of Birmingham “Walk of Stars”.

From 1995, as Executive Producer of Radio Drama in the Midlands, Vanessa was also responsible for Silver Street, the long running serial on the Asian Network, as well as single plays and serials for Radio 3 and Radio 4.

Most recently, Vanessa initiated Ambridge Extra, our companion series on Radio 4 Extra.

The Archers is a model for radio dramas in several developing countries, where radio is a powerful tool in educating through entertainment. Vanessa has facilitated radio drama workshops in Kenya, South Africa and in the USA.

She has also lectured on radio drama and script writing and has produced and directed for television.

In 2012 Vanessa received an honorary doctorate from The University of Hull, for services to broadcasting.

Vanessa said: “I have had a wonderful time running The Archers, always interesting and exciting. But I want to step down now in order to take a holiday, develop a project for TV drama and get involved in some more training overseas. I leave the programme in good shape with some strong storylines planned. The BBC is a great place to work and I’ve been privileged to work with some very creative people along the way.”

Gwyneth Williams, Controller of Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra said: “Vanessa has been an excellent editor of The Archers over many years. She has kept the nation’s longest-running drama at the heart of Radio 4 and we are very grateful to her. She leaves Ambridge in good health with almost five million listeners eagerly looking forward to the next episode.”

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer

Picture shows Vanessa Whitburn

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  • Comment number 49. Posted by Keri Davies

    on 3 Apr 2013 10:06

    >Or has she been a freelance Editor for 22 years?

    No, she's been a staffer and as far as I know is retiring from that situation.

  • Comment number 48. Posted by braces2

    on 2 Apr 2013 18:21

    I wish her well in her future endeavours but I'm afraid her story lines ruined The Archers for me and I stopped listening three years ago. Hopefully whoever takes over will change things for the better.

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by afficionada

    on 2 Apr 2013 16:37

    I deplore the personal attacks on Vanessa Whitburn but think that after 22 years it may be time for a change. I greatly enjoyed many of the story lines and thought they were well done - Brian and Siobhan, John's death and the aftermath, Jack's decline into dementia, the Grundy bankruptcy. The storylines round Helen and Amy seemed more unrealistic and the timelines seemed much too short - as with Christopher's recent recovery.Maybe the past always seems rosier but recent story lines don't seem to be as well plotted.
    Anyway thanks for the good times.

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by B BARKER

    on 1 Apr 2013 21:57

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

  • Comment number 45. Posted by anna kist

    on 1 Apr 2013 18:03

    Just signed back in to say I am very pleased that Vanessa Whitburn has done the decent thing and stepped down for all the reasons mentioned in messages 43/4. 22 years is a long time and I'm afraid it showed. I hope that the sws are culled too. 12 is far too many and some have been working on the programme far too long and standards have slipped especially around research and continuity.

    Back to Peets now where many of us are now happily ensconced. There is nothing left on this board worth looking at.

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by San Fairy Anne

    on 30 Mar 2013 18:46

    Got called away and I meant to ask " Why are you surprised you feel you have been cyber bullied?"
    As I read things people have been trying to get you to interact with them. So they get more and more unpleasant trying to get a response. We knew it was fiction but it started as propaganda too and facts had to be right. All we wanted was" Ooops! got it a bit wrong there. Sorry! Do better next time." when some expert pointed something out. Jack's Alzheimer's was absolutely spot on so we knew it could be done.

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by San Fairy Anne

    on 30 Mar 2013 18:06

    I heard the first Episode and listened thereafter. My mother wrote synopses when I was at Boarding School ( no radio allowed) when I lived abroad and could not listen ( pre transistor radios and not on World Service) and when at University.

    Gave up when the mother of the The Miracle Baby explained what colostrum was to her dairy farmer father. Finally convinced me the the research had become so bad it was no longer worth listening. What made it all sadder was you did not use the free and available source of expertise available to you in The Bull! I know for certain among our number were people whose work involved intimate knowledge of Anorexia nervosa, AID by Donor, School Terms in South Africa, Entry requirements for University, to name but four. I have no quarrel with the storylines, what irritated me was the careless and erroneous research in areas I knew a good deal about. So how could I trust the accuracy of other areas I knew less about?

    Add the fact you would not interact with us, the listeners as represented by the Message Board posters in any way, rather you patronised us in a most unpleasant way. Given that the demographic of the Message Boards was of people well above the national average of education and at least your equal in intelligence and qualifications that was unforgivable.
    I sincerely hope you have a long and peaceful retirement and have not left behind a programme so broken it cannot be revived.

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Stablelass

    on 30 Mar 2013 14:32

    Good Luck Vanessa, I hope you do not take to heart the vicious comments of some people. I consider many to be cowards hiding their identity. The anonymity of the mob comes to mind. Just because people disagree with a storyline does not make them a critic! All the best..

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by Organoleptic Icon

    on 29 Mar 2013 11:28

    Am I right to think that VW is leaving the Archers but not ceasing to be a staff member of the BBC?

    Or has she been a freelance Editor for 22 years?

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by John Kelly

    on 28 Mar 2013 19:31

    Wouldn't it be fitting for Vanessa's exit to be via an appearance in an Archers episode ? No doubt seasoned bloggers can come up with some imaginative suggestions but for starters how about as a mystery customer at Grey Gables (is it still going?) struck down by e-coli in the Borsetshire Blue, as a customer in the Bull bored to suicide by one of Tom's sausage monologues, whisked away to (where was it - Costa Rica?) by Matt when he finds out about Lillian and Paul,as a speech therapist dispatched from Borchester General who discovers why Mollie Button, Eric Fletcher etc are so silent.....

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