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Mousey - and The Archers archive

Friday 2 September 2011, 12:05

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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The old Archers archive cards, and the archive computer system

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.

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    Comment number 1.

    What version of 'The Jungle Book' did Ruari watch, I wonder? It certainly couldn't have been the Disney animated classic made in the 60s, which ends with Baloo and Bhagheera happily dancing off while singing 'The Bare Necessities'. How mean of Siobhan/Brian or whoever it was to find an obscure version (if indeed it exists!) where Baloo pops his clogs, esp. in the circumstances! Of course, if they were determined to show him a cartoon death there's always 'Bambi' . (Although Siobhan wasn't a doe, nor was she shot.)

    Tayler has proudly announced 'No cast photos' for this blog, but, speaking personally, I'd have rather liked to see a picture of Mousie.

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    Comment number 2.

    Given some of the continuity howlers of the last few years, from twice-dead aunts to Hayley's due date, Jazzer's new found fear of cattle to Ross's changing surname, let alone the changing ownership of the holiday cottages at Home Farm, I must admit I had thought that TA's archivist was of the same ilk as ISIHAC's Samantha & Sven!

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    Comment number 3.

    Well, quite. Maybe I'm being pernickety, but that note on the blog about Ruari should read 'he needs a cuddle when Mowgli THINKS Baloo is dead'. Only Baloo isn't dead, is he? More attention to detail, please!

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

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


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