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Six diamond decades - the 1990s

Writer, The Archers

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The Archers celebrates its 60th anniversary on 1 January 2011. Over the six weeks running up to the anniversary, we are looking back at the main storylines in each of its six decades.

This week: the 1990s, a decade which saw the growth of the world wide web, the introduction of the National Lottery, and a change of political tide with the election of New Labour.

In Ambridge, Kate Aldridge shook up the village, there was a tragic accident and saintly Shula proved to have feet of clay.

Do you remember these storylines or characters? What else do you remember of The Archers in the nineties? Share your memories and thoughts by using the comment box at the bottom of this post.


Devastated Shula decided to give up trying for a baby after a much longed-for pregnancy turned out to be ectopic, causing a rift with Mark

Despite the attentions of Godfrey Wendover, Peggy finally accepted Jack Woolley's proposal of marriage.

Tony resisted his family's urging to buy the freehold of Bridge Farm when Lilian sold the Estate. The new owner Cameron Fraser was soon dating Caroline Bone.

Young John developed a crush on Sharon Richards after Pat and Tony let her move into their caravan.


Caroline Bone soon discovered that Cameron Fraser's initial charm belied a harsh approach to business matters, especially when Mike Tucker lost the sight of an eye while working for the Estate.

Betty Tucker struggled to cope as Mike slipped into depression. But the £33,000 compensation at least enabled them to buy Willow Farmhouse.

The younger and more easily impressed Elizabeth soon filled Caroline's place on Cameron's arm.

Mark returned from Birmingham and set up in Borchester in partnership with female Asian solicitor Usha Gupta. He and Shula resumed their hopes to start a family.

40 year-old lecturer Simon Gerrard unsuccessfully pursued Debbie Aldridge to Ambridge when she dropped out of university after their affair. When Debbie's father Roger Travers-Macy turned up after a long absence, it was clear that he and Jennifer still had issues to resolve.


Although initially offering to pay for an abortion, Cameron Fraser eventually seemed to accept Elizabeth's pregnancy, and offered to take her away for a romantic break. But in fact he was fleeing angry creditors in his investment business, and he abandoned Elizabeth on the way to the airport. Devastated, she had an abortion after all, to barren Shula's horror.

Although Debbie kept her distance, Jennifer Aldridge had a torrid affair with her ex-husband Roger Travers-Macy. But she ended it before it destroyed her marriage.

After a failed attempt to sell bottled Grange Farm water, the Grundys visited France with the idea of farming there. Eddie was unimpressed, but Clarrie returned a confirmed Francophile.


After wayward Kate Aldridgewas caught with her boyfriend in a stolen car, her parents called in an educational psychologist.

Clive Horrobin returned to rob the village shop at gunpoint, causing Jack Woolley to be hospitalised, and continuing psychological trauma for Betty.

Clive forced his sister Susan Carter to support him while on the run from the police. By Christmas, he was given seven years imprisonment. And the village was shocked when Susan was given six months for perverting the course of public justice.

After the birth of Ruth and David's first child Pip, Mark and Shula started IVF treatment, although the first implant was unsuccessful.

Caroline Bone agreed to marry Robin Stokes, a vet who also worked as Ambridge's unpaid vicar.


Elizabeth married Nigel Pargetter, despite the opposition of Nigel's patrician mother Julia. But Julia's own humble origins as a greengrocer's daughter were revealed at the wedding by her sister Ellen Rogers.

Mark Hebden was killed while trying to avoid Caroline Bone's horse, spooked by a fast driver. Mark died not knowing that Shula was finally pregnant. Daniel was born on 14 November.

After many weeks recovering, agnostic Caroline could not reconcile the randomness of the accident with Robin's Christian faith and the wedding was called off.

Brookfield's finances suffered badly because of a TB outbreak.

Turning his back on organics, John began work at Home Farm and started his own herd of conservation grade pigs. Returning from a holiday, Pat found a pair of Sharon Richards' knickers in her bed. After the resultant row, John moved in with Sharon, but the relationship didn't last.

Kate Aldridge took up with travellers and after disastrous GCSE results disappeared with the riding course takings. By the end of the year her desperate parents still had no idea where she was.


Caroline Bone became close to the considerably older owner of the Estate, Guy Pemberton. They married in September, to the obvious disapproval of Guy's son Simon, who came to run the Estate while Guy recovered from a riding accident.

Simon put backs up all round the village with his hard-nosed approach. But Shula saw a softer side in him and they started a tentative relationship.

To Brian and Jennifer's relief. Kate Aldridge returned from her travels and started going out with the rather more clean-cut Roy Tucker.

Usha Gupta suffered a series of racist attacks. Roy eventually confessed to the police that he was part of the gang involved, suffering a severe beating from his former mates as a result. Two were convicted. Dr Richard Locke, who had been a great support to Usha, declared his love and moved in with her.


Depressed and alone at the beginning of the year, Kate fortunately survived an overdose of whisky and Temazepam. She eventually got shot of her drug dealer boyfriend (Jolyon) Gibson and picked up with Roy again. They took a falafel van round the festivals, but the van broke down and eventually so did their relationship. Roy enrolled to study at Felpersham University.

John's chirpy Brummie girlfriend Hayley Jordan took advantage of the leap year to propose -as a joke. John drunkenly accepted and it took a while before that was disentagled.

While dating Shula, Simon Pemberton was involved with Harriet, an old flame. Before Caroline could tell Shula, Guy died of a heart attack. When Shula defended Simon's actions over the funeral, Caroline spilled the beans. Shula confronted Simon, who lashed out at her. Although the relationship was over, she remained managing the Estate office.

The merger of Ambridge with three local parishes brought a woman vicar for the first time: Janet Fisher. Peggy Woolley objected, and started to worship in Borchester.


The Grundys suffered a disastrous fire in their milking parlour, losing equipment and 34 cattle. Simon Pemberton, now the Estate owner, seized the opportunity to get rid of them on the pretext that it was through their own neglect. When he lost at a tribunal, he savagely turned on his then girlfriend Debbie Aldridge.

Shula encouraged Debbie to report the assault. To general dismay, Simon escaped with a £200 fine. But it spelled the end of his association with Ambridge. Brian, as part of a mysterious consortium, bought the Estate, becoming brother-in-law Tony's landlord.

John Archer and Hayley Jordan rented April Cottage together. But when Sharon re-appeared, the temptation was too great for John. Hayley caught them in flagrante and promptly moved back to Birmingham, deaf to John's pleas.

Roy Tucker and Kate Aldridge's revived relationship didn't survive Kate's support for a campaign against the widening of Borchester by-pass - especially when Kate's old flame Luther turned up. After Luther moved on, Kate confessed to her sister Debbie that she was pregnant.


Kate Aldridge's baby was born in a tepee at the Glastonbury festival. Roy Tucker insisted on a DNA test that proved he was the father. Kate was eventually persuaded into a reasonable contact arrangement. Baby Phoebe was named in a New Age ceremony on Lakey Hill.

John continued to pursue Hayley, even proposing to her. Reeling after her refusal, compounded by a row with Tony, he angrily drove off on the cabless 'Fergie' tractor. Tony discovered the tractor in a ditch, and John dead. Pat in particular has extraordinary difficulty in coming to terms with the loss. John's brother Tommy dropped out of A levels to run John's pig business with Hayley Jordan.

Shula's relationship with local vet Alistair Lloyd was going well until Daniel developed juvenile arthritis. Swayed by Dr Richard Locke's support, Shula started an affair with him. But when she couldn't abandon her beloved Ambridge, Richard left, making an enemy for Shula of his partner Usha Gupta. Betrayed Alistair nonetheless declared his continuing love. He and Shula were married on Christmas Eve.

Having abandoned his Borchester café-bar for Spain, in the company of merry widows Julia Pargetter and Ellen Rogers, Nelson Gabriel then disappeared, leaving angry creditors and puzzled friends.


Pat's depression following John's death came to a head when she blamed Tony for the accident. The new doctor, Tim Hathaway prescribed medication and counselling, which started to help her recover.

Tommy was part of a group who destroyed his uncle Brian's trial crop of GM maize. Usha Gupta defended him and he was found not guilty on the grounds of lawful excuse, leading to a huge rift in the family.

Frustrated with Ambridge's limited horizons, Kate Aldridge took Phoebe travelling. They quickly returned after contracting gastroenteritis in Morocco. But Kate's itchy feet got the better of her and she left alone, leaving Phoebe in the care of her father Roy Tucker.

To Brian Aldridge's disgust, Debbie picked up again with her returned older lover Simon Gerrard, soon moving in with him. Not immune to Simon's charms, Jennifer tried to build bridges between the two alpha males.

After a diarrhoea infection in their dairy herd and continuing financial troubles, the Grundys faced the new millennium only weeks away from bankruptcy.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and producer.

  • The picture shows Joe and Eddie Grundy (Edward Kelsey and Trevor Harrison) trying to start their ancient tractor.
  • Relive the decades with The Archers Timeline, complete with archive photos and audio clips.
  • Read the storylines from other decades:
  • 1950s
  • 1960s
  • 1970s
  • 1980s
  • 1990s

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