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Reflecting the floods

Wednesday 19 February 2014, 15:45

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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Cow in flood Cow in flood

Reflecting the floods
[PIC - FLOOD]
We explain how and why listeners are hearing about floods in The Archers
It’s widely known that The Archers can mirror topical occurrences on-air. Although the programme is recorded in blocks three to six weeks before transmission, the agile nature of radio means that we are able to rewrite and re-record scenes on the day of transmission. 
It costs money to do this, of course, and it’s disruptive of an already tight production schedule. So we are selective about which events find their way into the programme. Usually no more than a handful of episodes per year get the “topical insert” treatment.
We first managed to squeeze in a mention of the terrible flooding last Monday (10 February) when Ruth reported the latest to David in the lambing shed. And because we were in studio for several days last week, we were able to reflect the developing situation in other episodes during the week with comparative ease.
But given the unprecedented scale of this emergency, Archers editor Sean O’Connor felt that a few mentions were not enough. Sean says “We felt that we had to respond to the anguish that real-life farmers are going through at the moment – and the way in which other farmers are rallying round to help them.”
[AUDIO CLIP – DAVID AND RUTH]
Sean assembled a small team of Archers colleagues, who developed a storyline in which David, Ruth and Tony come to the aid of a beleaguered farmer in Worcestershire. The new scenes were written by scriptwriter Graham Harvey in consultation with his successor as agricultural adviser, Steve Peacock. The new scenes replace existing content which has been stripped out or condensed.
[PIC – STUDIO]
Caption: Recording the new material in studio
I won’t spoil things by saying how the story develops, but we hope that it reflects in a small way what is happening on British farms right now.
The Bull
Ironically, the storyline about the flooding in the Bull cellar is not part of the new material. That was planned in early November, well before the floods took hold. When we were writing it, for all we knew the ground could have been covered in snow or we could have had the driest winter on record.
Midlands Today
Our regional news colleagues took Timothy Bentinck and Felicity Finch (David and Ruth) to see a real-life Worcestershire sheep farmer who was coping with the floods. The report is on Midlands Today tonight (Wednesday 19 February) at 6.30pm
Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.
Midlands Today 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mj57
Information on floods from the Environment Agency
http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/
We explain how and why listeners are hearing about floods in The Archers

It’s widely known that The Archers can mirror topical occurrences on-air. Although the programme is recorded in blocks three to six weeks before transmission, the agile nature of radio means that we are able to rewrite and re-record scenes on the day of transmission. 

It costs money to do this, of course, and it’s disruptive of an already tight production schedule. So we are selective about which events find their way into the programme. Usually no more than a handful of episodes per year get the “topical insert” treatment.

We first managed to squeeze in a mention of the terrible flooding last Monday (10 February) when Ruth reported the latest to David in the lambing shed. And because we were in studio for several days last week, we were able to reflect the developing situation in other episodes during the week with (comparative) ease.

But given the unprecedented scale of this emergency, Archers editor Sean O’Connor felt that a few mentions were not enough. Sean says “We felt that we had to respond to the anguish that real-life farmers are going through at the moment – and the way in which other farmers are rallying round to help them.”

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David and Ruth decide to help the flooded farmers (Feb 2014)


Sean assembled a small team of Archers colleagues, who developed a storyline in which David, Ruth and Tony come to the aid of a beleaguered farmer in Worcestershire. The new scenes were written by scriptwriter Graham Harvey in consultation with his successor as agricultural adviser, Steve Peacock. The new scenes replace existing content which has been stripped out or condensed.

David Troughton (Tony Archer) and Rosemary Watts (Producer) David Troughton (Tony Archer) and Rosemary Watts (Producer)

Recording the new material in studio. Thanks to Andrew Smith for the photo.

I won’t spoil things by saying how the story develops, but we hope that it reflects in a small way what is happening on British farms right now.

The Bull

Ironically, the storyline about the flooding in the Bull cellar is not part of the new material. That was planned in early November, well before the floods took hold. When we were writing it, for all we knew the ground could have been covered in snow or we could have had the driest winter on record.

Midlands Today

Our regional news colleagues took Timothy Bentinck and Felicity Finch (David and Ruth) to see a real-life Worcestershire sheep farmer who was coping with the floods. The report is on Midlands Today tonight (Wednesday 19 February) at 6.30pm

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Midlands Today 
Information on floods from the Environment Agency







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Comments

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  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 1.

    It must be hard to be topical when recordings are done so far in advance, but this was shoehorned in so badly it (and the acting) creaked like Noah's Ark.
    I thought David was supposed to be Top Banana in the local NFU. In real life, their membership network has been occupied with the floods for weeks, yet it took a phonecall from someone Ruth knew as a feed rep (I think she said) years ago to startle David into action. And Jolene's costumes taken down to the cellar only hours before it floods? Oh, please! Out in the real countryside, we've been struggling with the effects of this appalling weather since before Christmas. The subject needed to be tackled, but this was too late, and far too patronising.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 2.

    So sad to hear Jolene's character behaving and shouting completely out of her normal behaviour pattern - stressed or not, the Jolene we are used to is a calm, loving, humorous and insightful person who loves Kenton very much, so the shrieking banshee on tonight's episode is completely and utterly wrong. Please stop trying to be overly dramatic. We like the Archers for its realistic portrayal of very true-to-life characters, not the stupid sham acting of TV soaps, so stop trying to change our very much loved friends into people they have never been, and give us back the continuity which makes the Archers a pleasant haven to return to day after day.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 3.

    Sorry but it's ridiculous. Yes there are floods but normal people know that and don't have to talk about it all the time. The Archers seem to have talked about nothing else for about 4episodes now. Are you still making up for When you missed it was snowing several years ago?!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 4.

    I feel justified in coming back on this subject as I've just wasted 13 minutes of my life listening to Wednesday night's episode. What on earth was that all about? Kirsty is a sensible, independent woman- or should be. Yet an oily blow-in of a dress designer (initially I thought it was Helen speaking, btw) convinced her she should spend a fortune on a dress, by showing her the wedding photos of people of whom we've never heard (and don't care about). Lambing's a 24-hour-a-day crisis for Ruth and David - right up until the moment they drop it to collect more stock (in the dark? With TWO people in each tractor, over such a distance on public roads? O_O) and I've never disliked David more than when he snarled about other drivers blowing their horns. It's obvious he's never been on any sort of flagged-up mercy mission before: being tooted and waved at (and waving back) is half the fun!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 5.

    Appallingly inaccurate details about accommodation at The Bull, ignorance of the the geography of Ambridge in relation to the Am and The Bull, total character change of Kirsty, but, and wait for it, here's the jackpot: Dopeys travel to Yorkshire for the weekend in the middle of one of the non-stop busiest periods of the farming year - as if - and all this apparently on advice of the "Agricultural Advisor".

    Are you JOKING?

    And as for that crucifyingly embarrassingly written and acted insert ref trip to Wrocestershire........

 

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