Listen
On Now : Sunday
Hurricane Katrina, Faith and the fringe, 400 church drawings
BBC Radio 4

So Ruairi is regretting not taking 'Mousey' to his new boarding school. But who or what is Mousey?

A search through our programme archive turned up details from the episode broadcast on 6 May 2007. Ruairi's mother Siobhan Hathaway, in the final stages of her illness, was desperate that Brian should know as much about possible about his son, including his favourite soft toy.

Siobhan died two weeks later, but Ruairi's preferences survive, thanks to the archive.

This is the entry:

"Ruairi likes his books "Three little pigs" and "Where the Wild Things are" and when he's watching The Jungle Book he needs a cuddle when Baloo dies. In summer he likes to eat outdoors and his favourite food is hot dogs made with bratwurst. Mousey is his comforter Siobhan bought a duplicate in case the original got lost, but Brian would need to dirty it up a bit."

(As an aside, this brought back memories for me, as I wrote that episode, and based some of Ruairi's preferences on those of my own three sons - not the bratwurst, though, which came from Ruairi's time with Siobhan in Germany.)

Computerised now

As you'd expect, the archive is computerised, and has been since the the early 1990s. It contains a vast array of information, including every episode synopsis since then - the same ones as you can read on our programme pages.

But before computerisation, and right back to the start of The Archers in 1951, details were typed onto file index cards (over 20,000 of them). Our archivist Camilla Fisher still turns to them when we need some information from the dim and distant.

Back in the present, Camilla categorises events so that they can be tracked and recorded by storyline, rather than with a painstaking search through perhaps years of individual episodes.

She also trawls the scripts for important details that haven't got into the synopsis, but which still need to be recorded.

Camilla is invaluable to The Archers writers, in big ways and small. The big includes providing us with detailed backstories that are relevant to current and future events in Ambridge. The storylines that you can access through our timeline are based on information she provides.

And the small? Well, I recently wanted a reason for Brian to have left Lilian and Matt's dinner table. Perhaps he didn't care for the dessert? Camilla confirmed that if Jennifer said Brian doesn't really like meringue it didn't conflict with anything in the archive.

Archers listeners care about these things. And quite right, too.

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

Tagged with:

Comments

This entry is now closed for comments.

  • Comment number 13. Posted by Organoleptic Icon

    on 12 Jan 2012 17:15

    Please can Camilla look up "Side Park" - one of John Tregorran's bright ideas. Unless my mind invented it?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 13: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 13: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 12. Posted by DracoM1

    on 12 Sept 2011 11:09

    Just check out the Continuity Errors thread on the Discuss the Archers pages if you want to get the REAL news about TA 'research' and 'checking' and 'archives'.

    Do the actors of Freddie's Mother / Grandmother not remember which primary school their 'son/grandson' attended, given that a very high percentage of the chat between the two women / actors has been about the Pargetter children's education for the last eighteen months? Or are actors not allowed to notice and get changed such glaring anomalies?

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 12: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 12: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 11. Posted by beligerent_londoner101

    on 10 Sept 2011 09:41

    So you bother to check the food preferences of the different characters, but not Lily and Freddie's primary school? A situation which you'd think would be quite simple, seeing as all the recent Archer/Aldridge/Pargetter/etc children (prior to Ruardhi's departure) were educated at the same place.

    Intriguing.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 11: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 11: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 10. Posted by Sallyruth

    on 9 Sept 2011 19:50

    I meant, you put
    ""It contains a vast array of information, including every episode synopsis since then - the same ones as you can read on our programme pages. ""

    But there isn't even ONE

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 10: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 10: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 9. Posted by Keri Davies

    on 9 Sept 2011 13:04

    I'm sure there is if no expense were to be spared, but careful use of the licence fee etc...

  • Comment number 8. Posted by careen

    on 8 Sept 2011 07:35

    Keri I think it could be as slick as that - not sure how but there must be a way.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 8: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 8: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 7. Posted by Keri Davies

    on 7 Sept 2011 14:30

    >So are topics crossreferenced - eg you can click on "meringue" or "Ice Skating" and a name and find out what links they have had in the past.

    It's not quite as slick as that, I'm afraid.

    >Could not find any t programmes, let alone 1990s programmes on the "programme pages" link, except most recent episode.

    I didn't mean that you can read synopses that far back - just that they were the same synopses. I think you can go back a bit over two years on the programme pages.

    And yes, of course Baloo isn't really dead. No bears were harmed in the making of this programme.

  • Comment number 6. Posted by carrick-bend

    on 6 Sept 2011 21:40

    This blog was mentioned in post 96 of the thread on the Archers MB -
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbarchers/NF2693940?thread=8272673&skip=0

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 6: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 6: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 5. Posted by Sallyruth

    on 6 Sept 2011 17:44

    Could not find any t programmes, let alone 1990s programmes on the "programme pages" link, except most recent episode.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 5: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 5: 0
    Loading…
  • Comment number 4. Posted by careen

    on 6 Sept 2011 15:50

    So are topics crossreferenced - eg you can click on "meringue" or "Ice Skating" and a name and find out what links they have had in the past.

    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of positive ratings for comment 4: 0
    • This entry is now closed for comments. Number of negative ratings for comment 4: 0
    Loading…
More comments

More Posts

Previous

Next