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The death of Grace Archer

Monday 11 August 2014, 16:59

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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Ysanne Churchman and Norman Painting (Grace and Phil Archer) Ysanne Churchman and Norman Painting (Grace and Phil Archer)

We remember one of the most notorious moments in The Archers long history.

On 22 September 1955, Phil Archer had arranged a small dinner party at Grey Gables to celebrate the offer of a directorship by his employer and father-in-law George Fairbrother.

The other guests were John Tregorran, Carol Grey (who was later to marry John), Reggie and Val Trentham, and Phil's young wife Grace. Phil and Grace had been married for six months. 

At the party, Grace noticed that one of her earrings was missing and returned to the car to find it. But Grace never got as far as the car. As soon as she was outside, she could see that there was a fire in the stables.

Grace's immediate reaction was to try to rescue as many of the horses as she could. After calling for help, she rushed in and started to guide the animals to safety.

Grace was quickly joined by the others. Between them they managed to get most of the horses out. But Midnight, who had already been saved, slipped her head collar and in panic returned to the blazing barn. Grace went in after her. But suddenly part of the roof collapsed.

Phil and John dashed in and pulled Grace from the fire, but she had been badly hurt. Despite her injuries Grace gained consciousness long enough to tell Phil that she loved him. The ambulance and fire engine arrived and Grace was taken to hospital. Phil went with her. 

Later a wretched Phil came home to Brookfield. He had to tell his father and his sister that Grace had died in his arms on the way to the hospital. 

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

The only surviving member of that fateful dinner party is Carol Tregorran. Learn more about Carol in our Who’s Who.

Carol is played by Eleanor Bron, who talks about her impressions of The Archers, and joining the programme.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    And, as most people of a certain age remember, Grace's death pushed the launch of ITV off the front pages. Hot news.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    This made a deep impression on me and all my friends as twelve-year-olds. They didn't play the signature tune at the end, so we were all left suspended within the tragic story. I thought of this just the other day, when there was no signature tune at the end of the 4th August episode after the commemoration of the start of the First World War.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I was not listening at that moment but my new born baby was in the next room with an elderly help. suddenly the help rushed in screaming "she's dead she's dead". Imagine my consternation only relieved when I discovered she was listening to the Archers and my daughter was safe and sound.. i have hardly missed an episode since

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I am in the States and have been a loyal listener to the podcasts for the last few years and absolutely love The Archers - these historical tidbits are helpful in making connections to the characters. I wish there was a way to listen to it from the very beginning - have the episodes ever been serialized on CD's or could a catch up Podcast be created? When BBCAmerica first came to the US, they played older versions of the Eastenders to get folks interested - unfortunately they have stopped airing it and I have to watch 8 year shows on my local PBS station. There are lovers of all things BBC in the states!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I am so sorry Sue. I was trying to rate your comment positively and the stupid thing did the opposite. I love your comment and hope you continue to enjoy the Archers and other British things. Where I live, in deepest Shropshire, I am daily reminded of Ambridge.....


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