Discuss The Archers  permalink

Attn: Tayler Creswell

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  • Message 1. 

    Posted by RS Acre (U6057963) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SENIOR PRODUCTION TEAM OF THE ARCHERS
    “My name is RS Acre, & I am an Archerholic”


    Dear Team

    I have been an Archers fan for many years, & when living less rurally than now, particularly valued the “everyday story of country folk” aspect. Sadly, I am a fan no longer, & have now ceased listening.

    While I realise that the above strapline, along with your stated remit, has changed to “contemporary drama in a rural setting”, I would like to take issue with the quality of the “contemporary drama” & veracity of the “rural setting”.

    I do not feel that it is stretching the boundaries of consumer demand to expect BBC R4 to deliver programmes of merit & accuracy. I appreciate the difficulty of scripting storylines for a six day per week drama of just 13 minutes an episode. However, I also expect R4 to recruit & retain senior production staff of a calibre sufficient to maintain, if not consistent excellence, at least a high standard of output.

    The Archers may be an old chestnut, but it is ‘our’ old chestnut, a venerable British tradition that was sometimes silly, sometimes lightweight, sometimes moving & sometimes informative. Following the much-vaunted & over-hyped 60th anniversary episode - which many, not merely message board folk but respected media commentators, viewed as jumping the shark - noises off sound less like farmyard SFX than a barrel being scraped.
    I am writing to ask you to examine the three strands of your strapline:

    1) If we examine the “contemporary” claim of The Archers, we must ask, contemporary to whom? We have characters of all ages & social strata (barring one missing toff, enough said) - but who is The Archers aimed at? PR is coy on this point, but if it is aimed at ‘everyone’, then where is the representative diversity of character? To illustrate this point, I offer you a village where no-one is racist, to the point of being colour-blind: no-one even mentions Lucas’s colour or origins; a village where no-one is anti-Royalist: no-one so much as muttered a sole Republican sentence when the Duchess visited; a village where no-one is shocked by a single woman choosing AI: no-one gossips in a normal manner about Helen’s procedure; a village where no-one has monetary problems: no-one is on social security, or suffers financially through redundancy, business problems or unemployment … how, in 2012, is that contemporary?

    2) Taking the issue of “drama”, there have been promising storylines over the last year. How will Lizzie cope, post-SATTC? What of Helen’s emotional weirdness & mental fragility, the e-coli outbreak, the discovery of an unknown Archer grandson, Phoebe’s potential annexation by her blood mother … but what has happened to these stories?
    The SATTC event was an embarrassingly signposted, utterly predictable mess. Ambridge, far from being shocked to its core, has merely dusted itself down & got on with its life. Melodrama aplenty from Lizzie, but fizzling out to the now-proverbial ‘damp squid’ as Lizzie - gasp! stops speaking to David. As Lizzie had no bonhomie & little likeability in the first place, her tiny sulk has zero effect on the drama.
    Helen’s well-documented mental health problems, brilliantly portrayed by writers & actor, disappeared over the night she gave birth: an immediate post-partum miracle of character transplantation, but hardly drama.
    The introduction of Rich, & Pat’s disintegrating grasp on reality was puzzlingly handled, with previously well known characters suddenly behaving like secret agents in a spy spoof. Far from being dramatic, listeners were forced to ask “why are they behaving this way?”, & far from being satisfyingly played out to a resolution - any resolution - the story has simply gone away, & Pat transformed herself from a depressive mono-maniac to a reasonable & phlegmatic granny-of-one, again overnight.
    The e-coli story was so promising, & offered such diversity of character reaction & long term effects. It could even have been contemporary! - with Bridge Farm facing bankruptcy, like so many UK farms … but, yet again seemingly overnight, & with no explanation whatsoever bar Pat suddenly stating “Tony, we ARE going to get through this”, the Farm is saved. We know not how, & this makes for pretty poor dramatic resonance.
    Phoebe’s trip to South Africa also could have been dramatic, but instead of a truly rich character interplay over the pro’s & con's, we were given a few minutes in one episode of Phoebe realising she was going to miss her UK family, & then - nothing. Not even a twitter from Jenny about skypeing the child: Phoebe has simply disappeared into the ether & we hear nothing of her progress, reactions, emotions or developing relationship with Kate. A truly wasted opportunity, & like the examples above, a mockery of the claim to “drama”.

    3) Finally, we come to the “rural” setting. In 2011/12, never has the rural aspect been so challenged, from the dearth of dogs to the horrors of horsemanship & all points in between. Entire message board threads have been dedicated to character transplants, SATTC, continuity errors & other less than admirable faux pax in The Archers, but none are so personally galling as the cavalier treatment of rural life, & this is where I have finally come unstuck from fandom. If the production team can’t be bothered with facts, why should I bother to listen?
    The Archers may only be a short daily fictional programme, but it is a BBC programme. Accuracy in fiction - even magical-realist or very small childrens’ fiction - has to be maintained if the structure of the story is to ring true. Instead, & increasingly, The Archers unwittingly presents itself as Acorn Antiques, with the equivalent of shaking props & in-shot microphones.
    To write about the countryside & farming, one must either know about it, or research it properly. With a rich seam of knowledge to be exploited via this message board alone, & no doubt offered gratis if asked for, there is simply no excuse for the legion errors propounded in scenes about gamekeeping, riding, dairying, shopkeeping, farm economics, or country hoteliering.
    This last has taken the Duchy Original: forewarned by the message board, I have boycotted the ‘blitz spirit’ episodes in despair at the reported portrayal of an experienced, senior, competent hotel owner disintegrating because her phone lines went down. Not rural. Not contemporary. Not dramatic. Not funny. Not worth listening to. And - I have to finally admit it - just … Not Very Good Any More.

    So, Team.
    You have the chance to consider, not merely my heartfelt outpouring, but a good year’s-worth of mainly well-meant criticism from a broad range of message board & external contributors, & make some solid changes.
    Or you can keep your fingers firmly in your ears, tell us you’re right, we’re wrong, (as believable a claim as the one that you didn’t blab Nigel’s death on ‘Today’), & kill off your remaining credibility along with the programme.

    I no longer care, as I no longer listen. The Archers has finally managed to entirely debase itself & now functions merely as a risible suburban soap.

    I will continue to visit the message board to arse about with people who make me laugh, who know how to write, & who quite often have some good hard facts at their fingertips. And if that penultimate sentence isn’t ringing a huge bell at St Stephen’s, you can eat my moleskins.

    Yours faithfully
    RS ACRE

    Report message1

  • Message 2

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Digitalis lividus et niger (U8605497) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Seconded with enormous enthusiasm.

    Dig

    Report message2

  • Message 3

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Dusty Substances (U1474929) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Well said Arsers.

    Dx

    Report message3

  • Message 4

    , in reply to message 3.

    Posted by Burberry (U14785386) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Brilliantly written, RSy !
    It should really be published more widely, to reach a larger readership,
    and not only us in ML. You were correct to put it on this forum *first*, though.

    I wonder whether you will get an official reply?

    Report message4

  • Message 5

    , in reply to message 4.

    Posted by Purple_Hay (U14319650) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    I wish I had written such a post and I suspect a lot of other posters feel the same, well done.

    Report message5

  • Message 6

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by annarina (U4017189) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    hear hear!

    Report message6

  • Message 7

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Doodlysquat (U13738858) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Rsy my love...we have so much in common...will you marry me?

    suze

    Report message7

  • Message 8

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Tadpole (U2267185) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Well said, RSy, especially your point 2 - so many wasted opportunities for great drama arising out of stories which the SWs had the creativity to set up and then, seemingly, abandoned or 'resolved' in ridiculously unsatisfactory and vapid ways.

    Report message8

  • Message 9

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by snarklehound (U15065053) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    In the early 1980s, I used to watch Coronation Street and even recommended it to students of English as a fine example of the way in which a long-established regular drama can explore subtleties of character and situation. Then it went "tabloid", seeking bizarre scenarios and even stranger reactions from characters, like so much television. I gradually stopped watching.
    The Archers, in my fifteen years of listening, has shown exactly the same progression, culminating in the last years in such voltes-face that I am left wondering why the BBC does not solve its financial problems by patenting and selling the instant remedies for mental distress apparently discovered by Helen, Pat and Jamie (to pick just three instances) and the rehabilitation from drug problems achieved by Ed and Jazzer. These are meretricious uses of characters and situations which could have been explored in much greater depth.
    I could go on, but Message 1 said it so eloquently that if the SW team cannot understand they will understand nothing anyone else says. Out of touch, out of reach and simply out of ideas.

    Report message9

  • Message 10

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by barwick_green (U2668006) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    I agree with every single word you have written RS Acre; a thorough and well argued dissertation detailing what 'that' ruddy woman has done to TA in the last couple of years. VW has turned my beloved into a farce, a stupid politically correct mess of mixed up characters, ludicrous asinine story lines littered with careless continuity errors.

    Tayler- I know your power is limited in these matters but could please try your bets to make sure your bosses see and answer RSA's reasonable and points. Any progress on the live web chat I suggested a couple of weeks ago?

    Ms Whitburn seems to have gone into hiding after her media disasters a year ago and it's past time when the awful architect behind the ruination of TA showed herself.

    Report message10

  • Message 11

    , in reply to message 10.

    Posted by rick_yard_withdrawn (U14573092) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    A perfect post - especially the "damp squid" bit!

    Report message11

  • Message 12

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Fi of little faith (U14298768) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    This says it all.

    Nice one RSy

    Report message12

  • Message 13

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Lilians twin (U4487710) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Well said RSy.

    Lils xx

    Report message13

  • Message 14

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by vicky griffiths (U14337310) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    I wonder whether you will get an official reply? 

    Pretty sure the answer to that is - No.

    Report message14

  • Message 15

    , in reply to message 11.

    Posted by Buntysdaughter (U7084475) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    More than happy to add my admiration of and full support to this fine critique.

    Report message15

  • Message 16

    , in reply to message 13.

    Posted by Lady Macbeϯh - not without mustard (U550479) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    At the risk of being labelled the wrong kind of listener - what /was/ that all about and what on earth did it mean? - 13thed.

    Report message16

  • Message 17

    , in reply to message 16.

    Posted by Sister Gnome of Wibbling Plume DefiantUntoThingy (U14268086) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    16thd, or 14thd (running out of toes to count gnow: only 7 to go*). Deffo the wrong kind of uncritical listener for over a year, with occasional dips from late autumn, to witness Hope followed by Despair breezing in and slamming doors, always in that order, unfortunately. Acorn Antiques it is, at times, which at least had the grace to know it was a parody.






    *unless all toes are involved: hedge-cutting last week has altered baseline from quirky lineage.

    Report message17

  • Message 18

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by JacksParakeetBeingDe-Nested (U2979858) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    My thoughts exactly, RSy, except that I do still listen although the SLs you mention make me wonder why I still bother. More power to your elbow.

    jp

    Report message18

  • Message 19

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by mamanchauffeuse (U5201740) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Count me in too, yeah even unto the not listening any more since SATTC.

    maman

    Report message19

  • Message 20

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Chris Ghoti (U10794176) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Thank you, RSy. Yu say well what needed to be said.

    It has been said before, but yours is a very cogent rendering.

    They won't reply, but then how could they? there *is* no reply to what you have said apart from "sorry" in a very small voice, and that we could no hope for.

    Report message20

  • Message 21

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by sunnysakasredux (U14979019) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Dear RS ACREx You are so right. So brave and not alonex Brilliant letter. Plus you have had a proposal and it isn't even Feb 29th yet.
    I haven't listened for a while but as Nesta said on another thread the board is like using methadone to get off Heroin.
    Really Oliver would have bought a dongle. Caroline would have coped.
    Someone would say something nasty about Hellin and her bought baybee and even if Mike had forgiven Hellin for running him over and then leaving him by the side of the road like road kill. I don't believe Brenda would have forgiven her or Tom!!! But the way it is written Brenda's loyalty is to the horrible archers not her own dad!!! It is worse than Dowton Abbey in its ridiculous stereotypes.
    so whatever number this is in the list I support youxxxxxxxxxxxx I would support you anyway 'cos you gave me the link to the deading threads when I was most in need (revising for exams!) So you helped me get where I am todayxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

    Report message21

  • Message 22

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by hiya_loxley (U2274305) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Dear Mr Acre,

    Thank you for your feedback on the Archers. Its always encouraging for us to see members of the audience engaging with the programme.

    Can I suggest that your future feedback be sent to to our twitter feed, as that is now our preferred medium for customer contact.

    Thanks again for your feedback and I hope you to continue to enjoy the show.

    Best wishes

    VW

    Report message22

  • Message 23

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by Burberry (U14785386) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    I think you left off the " byeeeeeee " part, hiya !!

    Report message23

  • Message 24

    , in reply to message 22.

    Posted by Lady Macbeϯh - not without mustard (U550479) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Can I suggest that your future feedback be sent to to our twitter feed, 
    Which is, of course, limited to 140 characters so please ensure that you are succinct.

    Report message24

  • Message 25

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by bornagainbartleby (U14365444) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SENIOR PRODUCTION TEAM OF THE ARCHERS
    “My name is RS Acre, & I am an Archerholic”


    Dear Team

    I have been an Archers fan for many years, & when living less rurally than now, particularly valued the “everyday story of country folk” aspect. Sadly, I am a fan no longer, & have now ceased listening.

    While I realise that the above strapline, along with your stated remit, has changed to “contemporary drama in a rural setting”, I would like to take issue with the quality of the “contemporary drama” & veracity of the “rural setting”.

    I do not feel that it is stretching the boundaries of consumer demand to expect BBC R4 to deliver programmes of merit & accuracy. I appreciate the difficulty of scripting storylines for a six day per week drama of just 13 minutes an episode. However, I also expect R4 to recruit & retain senior production staff of a calibre sufficient to maintain, if not consistent excellence, at least a high standard of output.

    The Archers may be an old chestnut, but it is ‘our’ old chestnut, a venerable British tradition that was sometimes silly, sometimes lightweight, sometimes moving & sometimes informative. Following the much-vaunted & over-hyped 60th anniversary episode - which many, not merely message board folk but respected media commentators, viewed as jumping the shark - noises off sound less like farmyard SFX than a barrel being scraped.
    I am writing to ask you to examine the three strands of your strapline:

    1) If we examine the “contemporary” claim of The Archers, we must ask, contemporary to whom? We have characters of all ages & social strata (barring one missing toff, enough said) - but who is The Archers aimed at? PR is coy on this point, but if it is aimed at ‘everyone’, then where is the representative diversity of character? To illustrate this point, I offer you a village where no-one is racist, to the point of being colour-blind: no-one even mentions Lucas’s colour or origins; a village where no-one is anti-Royalist: no-one so much as muttered a sole Republican sentence when the Duchess visited; a village where no-one is shocked by a single woman choosing AI: no-one gossips in a normal manner about Helen’s procedure; a village where no-one has monetary problems: no-one is on social security, or suffers financially through redundancy, business problems or unemployment … how, in 2012, is that contemporary?

    2) Taking the issue of “drama”, there have been promising storylines over the last year. How will Lizzie cope, post-SATTC? What of Helen’s emotional weirdness & mental fragility, the e-coli outbreak, the discovery of an unknown Archer grandson, Phoebe’s potential annexation by her blood mother … but what has happened to these stories?
    The SATTC event was an embarrassingly signposted, utterly predictable mess. Ambridge, far from being shocked to its core, has merely dusted itself down & got on with its life. Melodrama aplenty from Lizzie, but fizzling out to the now-proverbial ‘damp squid’ as Lizzie - gasp! stops speaking to David. As Lizzie had no bonhomie & little likeability in the first place, her tiny sulk has zero effect on the drama.
    Helen’s well-documented mental health problems, brilliantly portrayed by writers & actor, disappeared over the night she gave birth: an immediate post-partum miracle of character transplantation, but hardly drama.
    The introduction of Rich, & Pat’s disintegrating grasp on reality was puzzlingly handled, with previously well known characters suddenly behaving like secret agents in a spy spoof. Far from being dramatic, listeners were forced to ask “why are they behaving this way?”, & far from being satisfyingly played out to a resolution - any resolution - the story has simply gone away, & Pat transformed herself from a depressive mono-maniac to a reasonable & phlegmatic granny-of-one, again overnight.
    The e-coli story was so promising, & offered such diversity of character reaction & long term effects. It could even have been contemporary! - with Bridge Farm facing bankruptcy, like so many UK farms … but, yet again seemingly overnight, & with no explanation whatsoever bar Pat suddenly stating “Tony, we ARE going to get through this”, the Farm is saved. We know not how, & this makes for pretty poor dramatic resonance.
    Phoebe’s trip to South Africa also could have been dramatic, but instead of a truly rich character interplay over the pro’s & con's, we were given a few minutes in one episode of Phoebe realising she was going to miss her UK family, & then - nothing. Not even a twitter from Jenny about skypeing the child: Phoebe has simply disappeared into the ether & we hear nothing of her progress, reactions, emotions or developing relationship with Kate. A truly wasted opportunity, & like the examples above, a mockery of the claim to “drama”.

    3) Finally, we come to the “rural” setting. In 2011/12, never has the rural aspect been so challenged, from the dearth of dogs to the horrors of horsemanship & all points in between. Entire message board threads have been dedicated to character transplants, SATTC, continuity errors & other less than admirable faux pax in The Archers, but none are so personally galling as the cavalier treatment of rural life, & this is where I have finally come unstuck from fandom. If the production team can’t be bothered with facts, why should I bother to listen?
    The Archers may only be a short daily fictional programme, but it is a BBC programme. Accuracy in fiction - even magical-realist or very small childrens’ fiction - has to be maintained if the structure of the story is to ring true. Instead, & increasingly, The Archers unwittingly presents itself as Acorn Antiques, with the equivalent of shaking props & in-shot microphones.
    To write about the countryside & farming, one must either know about it, or research it properly. With a rich seam of knowledge to be exploited via this message board alone, & no doubt offered gratis if asked for, there is simply no excuse for the legion errors propounded in scenes about gamekeeping, riding, dairying, shopkeeping, farm economics, or country hoteliering.
    This last has taken the Duchy Original: forewarned by the message board, I have boycotted the ‘blitz spirit’ episodes in despair at the reported portrayal of an experienced, senior, competent hotel owner disintegrating because her phone lines went down. Not rural. Not contemporary. Not dramatic. Not funny. Not worth listening to. And - I have to finally admit it - just … Not Very Good Any More.

    So, Team.
    You have the chance to consider, not merely my heartfelt outpouring, but a good year’s-worth of mainly well-meant criticism from a broad range of message board & external contributors, & make some solid changes.
    Or you can keep your fingers firmly in your ears, tell us you’re right, we’re wrong, (as believable a claim as the one that you didn’t blab Nigel’s death on ‘Today’), & kill off your remaining credibility along with the programme.

    I no longer care, as I no longer listen. The Archers has finally managed to entirely debase itself & now functions merely as a risible suburban soap.

    I will continue to visit the message board to arse about with people who make me laugh, who know how to write, & who quite often have some good hard facts at their fingertips. And if that penultimate sentence isn’t ringing a huge bell at St Stephen’s, you can eat my moleskins.

    Yours faithfully
    RS ACRE
     
    Fantastic post. I'm ticking the box asking to include original post as quote, just to give it another bump.

    Very articulately expressed what are evidently the thoughts / opinions of a great many fed-up or ex listeners, as evinced by the number of replies to your post already.

    It would be interesting to receive a reply from Tayler but please not something patronising like "Your comments have been noted" as that would be risible and we'd all know where THAT came from.

    Report message25

  • Message 26

    , in reply to message 25.

    Posted by snarklehound (U15065053) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Did anyone hear Feedback yesterday on the difficulty of communicating even praise to the BBC? Made me grateful to the MB. Still, someone was saying they didn't want programme content to be determined by just a few posters nor did they want "penfriends". So it would seem that the standard reply will be just that.
    Prove us wrong VW, or we'll think you don't exist, like the Wizard of OZ!

    Report message26

  • Message 27

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by carrick-bend (U2288869) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    A very well-expressed post, RSy.

    Report message27

  • Message 28

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Auntie Clockwise (U8040384) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    Brilliant!

    Report message28

  • Message 29

    , in reply to message 28.

    Posted by JennyDarling Long Gone (U250754) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    A very brilliant piece of writing, RSAcres. Were I to wear a hat, I would take it off to you.

    Now for a reply, eh, Tayler?

    Report message29

  • Message 30

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Pahnda (U14681704) on Saturday, 21st January 2012

    You make some excellent points RSy, however I'm not hopeful of any improvements.

    Report message30

  • Message 31

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by My Mum is turning in her grave (U13137565) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Well said RS. Your post deserves a wider audience - e.g.the Radio Times.

    Report message31

  • Message 32

    , in reply to message 31.

    Posted by Dusty Substances (U1474929) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Well said RS. Your post deserves a wider audience - e.g.the Radio Times.  I agree.

    Dx

    Report message32

  • Message 33

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Doughy the Hood (U15023325) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    The only point I'd take issue with, is your comparison of 'The Archers,' to 'Acorn Antiques.'

    This is unfair. 'Acorn Antiques' was well written.

    Report message33

  • Message 34

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by maggiesaes (U2771771) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SENIOR PRODUCTION TEAM OF THE ARCHERS
    “My name is RS Acre, & I am an Archerholic”


    Dear Team

    I have been an Archers fan for many years, & when living less rurally than now, particularly valued the “everyday story of country folk” aspect. Sadly, I am a fan no longer, & have now ceased listening.

    While I realise that the above strapline, along with your stated remit, has changed to “contemporary drama in a rural setting”, I would like to take issue with the quality of the “contemporary drama” & veracity of the “rural setting”.

    I do not feel that it is stretching the boundaries of consumer demand to expect BBC R4 to deliver programmes of merit & accuracy. I appreciate the difficulty of scripting storylines for a six day per week drama of just 13 minutes an episode. However, I also expect R4 to recruit & retain senior production staff of a calibre sufficient to maintain, if not consistent excellence, at least a high standard of output.

    The Archers may be an old chestnut, but it is ‘our’ old chestnut, a venerable British tradition that was sometimes silly, sometimes lightweight, sometimes moving & sometimes informative. Following the much-vaunted & over-hyped 60th anniversary episode - which many, not merely message board folk but respected media commentators, viewed as jumping the shark - noises off sound less like farmyard SFX than a barrel being scraped.
    I am writing to ask you to examine the three strands of your strapline:

    1) If we examine the “contemporary” claim of The Archers, we must ask, contemporary to whom? We have characters of all ages & social strata (barring one missing toff, enough said) - but who is The Archers aimed at? PR is coy on this point, but if it is aimed at ‘everyone’, then where is the representative diversity of character? To illustrate this point, I offer you a village where no-one is racist, to the point of being colour-blind: no-one even mentions Lucas’s colour or origins; a village where no-one is anti-Royalist: no-one so much as muttered a sole Republican sentence when the Duchess visited; a village where no-one is shocked by a single woman choosing AI: no-one gossips in a normal manner about Helen’s procedure; a village where no-one has monetary problems: no-one is on social security, or suffers financially through redundancy, business problems or unemployment … how, in 2012, is that contemporary?

    2) Taking the issue of “drama”, there have been promising storylines over the last year. How will Lizzie cope, post-SATTC? What of Helen’s emotional weirdness & mental fragility, the e-coli outbreak, the discovery of an unknown Archer grandson, Phoebe’s potential annexation by her blood mother … but what has happened to these stories?
    The SATTC event was an embarrassingly signposted, utterly predictable mess. Ambridge, far from being shocked to its core, has merely dusted itself down & got on with its life. Melodrama aplenty from Lizzie, but fizzling out to the now-proverbial ‘damp squid’ as Lizzie - gasp! stops speaking to David. As Lizzie had no bonhomie & little likeability in the first place, her tiny sulk has zero effect on the drama.
    Helen’s well-documented mental health problems, brilliantly portrayed by writers & actor, disappeared over the night she gave birth: an immediate post-partum miracle of character transplantation, but hardly drama.
    The introduction of Rich, & Pat’s disintegrating grasp on reality was puzzlingly handled, with previously well known characters suddenly behaving like secret agents in a spy spoof. Far from being dramatic, listeners were forced to ask “why are they behaving this way?”, & far from being satisfyingly played out to a resolution - any resolution - the story has simply gone away, & Pat transformed herself from a depressive mono-maniac to a reasonable & phlegmatic granny-of-one, again overnight.
    The e-coli story was so promising, & offered such diversity of character reaction & long term effects. It could even have been contemporary! - with Bridge Farm facing bankruptcy, like so many UK farms … but, yet again seemingly overnight, & with no explanation whatsoever bar Pat suddenly stating “Tony, we ARE going to get through this”, the Farm is saved. We know not how, & this makes for pretty poor dramatic resonance.
    Phoebe’s trip to South Africa also could have been dramatic, but instead of a truly rich character interplay over the pro’s & con's, we were given a few minutes in one episode of Phoebe realising she was going to miss her UK family, & then - nothing. Not even a twitter from Jenny about skypeing the child: Phoebe has simply disappeared into the ether & we hear nothing of her progress, reactions, emotions or developing relationship with Kate. A truly wasted opportunity, & like the examples above, a mockery of the claim to “drama”.

    3) Finally, we come to the “rural” setting. In 2011/12, never has the rural aspect been so challenged, from the dearth of dogs to the horrors of horsemanship & all points in between. Entire message board threads have been dedicated to character transplants, SATTC, continuity errors & other less than admirable faux pax in The Archers, but none are so personally galling as the cavalier treatment of rural life, & this is where I have finally come unstuck from fandom. If the production team can’t be bothered with facts, why should I bother to listen?
    The Archers may only be a short daily fictional programme, but it is a BBC programme. Accuracy in fiction - even magical-realist or very small childrens’ fiction - has to be maintained if the structure of the story is to ring true. Instead, & increasingly, The Archers unwittingly presents itself as Acorn Antiques, with the equivalent of shaking props & in-shot microphones.
    To write about the countryside & farming, one must either know about it, or research it properly. With a rich seam of knowledge to be exploited via this message board alone, & no doubt offered gratis if asked for, there is simply no excuse for the legion errors propounded in scenes about gamekeeping, riding, dairying, shopkeeping, farm economics, or country hoteliering.
    This last has taken the Duchy Original: forewarned by the message board, I have boycotted the ‘blitz spirit’ episodes in despair at the reported portrayal of an experienced, senior, competent hotel owner disintegrating because her phone lines went down. Not rural. Not contemporary. Not dramatic. Not funny. Not worth listening to. And - I have to finally admit it - just … Not Very Good Any More.

    So, Team.
    You have the chance to consider, not merely my heartfelt outpouring, but a good year’s-worth of mainly well-meant criticism from a broad range of message board & external contributors, & make some solid changes.
    Or you can keep your fingers firmly in your ears, tell us you’re right, we’re wrong, (as believable a claim as the one that you didn’t blab Nigel’s death on ‘Today’), & kill off your remaining credibility along with the programme.

    I no longer care, as I no longer listen. The Archers has finally managed to entirely debase itself & now functions merely as a risible suburban soap.

    I will continue to visit the message board to arse about with people who make me laugh, who know how to write, & who quite often have some good hard facts at their fingertips. And if that penultimate sentence isn’t ringing a huge bell at St Stephen’s, you can eat my moleskins.

    Yours faithfully
    RS ACRE
     
    Superb post and sums up the situation extremely well.
    I would add my name to it were it a petition.
    Well done indeed!!!!And many thanks.

    Report message34

  • Message 35

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by LindaLee (U2777941) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Great letter! Let us know what response you get if you decide to give it a wider audience.

    Report message35

  • Message 36

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by maggiesaes (U2771771) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Well I just posted agreeing with your sentiments and thanking you for taking the toruble to put everything into words so well and I've been catpeed???
    Didn't swear,didn't call anyone names,wasn't rude so I don't know why.

    Report message36

  • Message 37

    , in reply to message 33.

    Posted by henlady (U2261843) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Absolutely bang on.

    This is why I haven't posted much in the last twelve months, I have lost the enthusiasm to comment.

    My heart sometimes begin to race a little when it seems that a plot line may just be about to approach real life and today's grim mood but no!

    The fairies alight and wave their wands sparkly star dust solves everything.

    Report message37

  • Message 38

    , in reply to message 36.

    Posted by irene (U14262395) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    erm i stil think its only l2 minutes a day, and cant really understand the problem. yes i thought killing nigel off was utterly ridiculous, but thats about the only big sore for me. stories wax and wane and then wax again. ps we did hear jenny twittering on about skypeing phoebe!

    Report message38

  • Message 39

    , in reply to message 37.

    Posted by Ash (U8676573) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012


    My heart sometimes begin to race a little when it seems that a plot line may just be about to approach real life and today's grim mood but no!

    The fairies alight and wave their wands sparkly star dust solves everything. 


    OP is absolutely bang on indeed! Eloquently summarised my feelings too.

    However this reply highlights an issue: some listeners complain that the programme is too depressing while others want more 'real life' with bankruptcies, breakdowns, failure, etc.

    Can't do both.

    Report message39

  • Message 40

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Lady Trudie Tilney Glorfindel Maldini (U2222312) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Gosh RSy, I didn't know you could do 'serious', what a heartfelt and well argued piece.

    I fear that, if noticed by 'them' at all, your line 'I no longer care, as I no longer listen' will cut no ice as the fact that you've gone to the trouble of writing all that shows you DO care (and therefore be counted as a positive).

    I don't know how much notice of radio the RT takes these days, but maybe a respected radio critic like Gillian Reynolds would be interested in it?

    Report message40

  • Message 41

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by pollyanna (U7304225) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Hat taken off to you RS. Thank you.

    Report message41

  • Message 42

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by KUBRICK (U14515319) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    What a wonderful letter, I agree 100%. I too been a listener since the first episode in 1951. But stopped listening last year when they killed off one of its most amusing characters. Storylines and some of the acting leave a lot to be desired.
    There, I've had my say.

    Report message42

  • Message 43

    , in reply to message 42.

    Posted by SteveKills (U14949122) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    This is a splendid post, RSy and one I agree with in its entirety. Sadly it will not make a whit of difference as long as VW remains at the helm.

    Report message43

  • Message 44

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by edgeley (U14271479) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    An excellent letter, and sentiments with which I wholly agree. Thanks for writing it.

    Report message44

  • Message 45

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by anna kist (U2314477) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Top post Rsy but we shall be the only ones to read it unless you send it to the controller or other bigwig.

    Report message45

  • Message 46

    , in reply to message 44.

    Posted by simplefuneralbloke (U14708163) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    Well done. Brilliant letter - makes every point any regular listener will agree with.

    The trouble is, the BBC is not good at listening or accepting criticism. And as far as this forum is concerned - they seem to believe we're all obsessive nutters, which rather lets them off the hook.

    Report message46

  • Message 47

    , in reply to message 46.

    Posted by returnmigration (U14260026) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012



    I agree in spades. But clearly we wont be listened to as we are the Wrong Sort of Listener, ie. intelligent.

    Report message47

  • Message 48

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by mike (U14258103) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    TA seems much the same as ever to me (I see no particular deterioration in quality, although I do regret the passing of Nigel).

    Report message48

  • Message 49

    , in reply to message 47.

    Posted by Abby33 (U6428266) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    I agree in spades. But clearly we wont be listened to as we are the Wrong Sort of Listener, ie. intelligent 

    I class myself as 'the Wrong Sort of Listener' and there are a lot of us. I thought it was a brilliant letter and I agree with all of it.

    I have stuck with a lot of the story lines that I really dislike e.g. Helen's miracle change to supermum -but I think that Phoebe returning home having had a wonderful time in SA, having bonded with Kate, will be the last straw.

    Report message49

  • Message 50

    , in reply to message 1.

    Posted by Dairy Queen (U14314834) on Sunday, 22nd January 2012

    AN OPEN LETTER TO THE SENIOR PRODUCTION TEAM OF THE ARCHERS
    “My name is RS Acre, & I am an Archerholic”


    Dear Team

    I have been an Archers fan for many years, & when living less rurally than now, particularly valued the “everyday story of country folk” aspect. Sadly, I am a fan no longer, & have now ceased listening.

    While I realise that the above strapline, along with your stated remit, has changed to “contemporary drama in a rural setting”, I would like to take issue with the quality of the “contemporary drama” & veracity of the “rural setting”.

    I do not feel that it is stretching the boundaries of consumer demand to expect BBC R4 to deliver programmes of merit & accuracy. I appreciate the difficulty of scripting storylines for a six day per week drama of just 13 minutes an episode. However, I also expect R4 to recruit & retain senior production staff of a calibre sufficient to maintain, if not consistent excellence, at least a high standard of output.

    The Archers may be an old chestnut, but it is ‘our’ old chestnut, a venerable British tradition that was sometimes silly, sometimes lightweight, sometimes moving & sometimes informative. Following the much-vaunted & over-hyped 60th anniversary episode - which many, not merely message board folk but respected media commentators, viewed as jumping the shark - noises off sound less like farmyard SFX than a barrel being scraped.
    I am writing to ask you to examine the three strands of your strapline:

    1) If we examine the “contemporary” claim of The Archers, we must ask, contemporary to whom? We have characters of all ages & social strata (barring one missing toff, enough said) - but who is The Archers aimed at? PR is coy on this point, but if it is aimed at ‘everyone’, then where is the representative diversity of character? To illustrate this point, I offer you a village where no-one is racist, to the point of being colour-blind: no-one even mentions Lucas’s colour or origins; a village where no-one is anti-Royalist: no-one so much as muttered a sole Republican sentence when the Duchess visited; a village where no-one is shocked by a single woman choosing AI: no-one gossips in a normal manner about Helen’s procedure; a village where no-one has monetary problems: no-one is on social security, or suffers financially through redundancy, business problems or unemployment … how, in 2012, is that contemporary?

    2) Taking the issue of “drama”, there have been promising storylines over the last year. How will Lizzie cope, post-SATTC? What of Helen’s emotional weirdness & mental fragility, the e-coli outbreak, the discovery of an unknown Archer grandson, Phoebe’s potential annexation by her blood mother … but what has happened to these stories?
    The SATTC event was an embarrassingly signposted, utterly predictable mess. Ambridge, far from being shocked to its core, has merely dusted itself down & got on with its life. Melodrama aplenty from Lizzie, but fizzling out to the now-proverbial ‘damp squid’ as Lizzie - gasp! stops speaking to David. As Lizzie had no bonhomie & little likeability in the first place, her tiny sulk has zero effect on the drama.
    Helen’s well-documented mental health problems, brilliantly portrayed by writers & actor, disappeared over the night she gave birth: an immediate post-partum miracle of character transplantation, but hardly drama.
    The introduction of Rich, & Pat’s disintegrating grasp on reality was puzzlingly handled, with previously well known characters suddenly behaving like secret agents in a spy spoof. Far from being dramatic, listeners were forced to ask “why are they behaving this way?”, & far from being satisfyingly played out to a resolution - any resolution - the story has simply gone away, & Pat transformed herself from a depressive mono-maniac to a reasonable & phlegmatic granny-of-one, again overnight.
    The e-coli story was so promising, & offered such diversity of character reaction & long term effects. It could even have been contemporary! - with Bridge Farm facing bankruptcy, like so many UK farms … but, yet again seemingly overnight, & with no explanation whatsoever bar Pat suddenly stating “Tony, we ARE going to get through this”, the Farm is saved. We know not how, & this makes for pretty poor dramatic resonance.
    Phoebe’s trip to South Africa also could have been dramatic, but instead of a truly rich character interplay over the pro’s & con's, we were given a few minutes in one episode of Phoebe realising she was going to miss her UK family, & then - nothing. Not even a twitter from Jenny about skypeing the child: Phoebe has simply disappeared into the ether & we hear nothing of her progress, reactions, emotions or developing relationship with Kate. A truly wasted opportunity, & like the examples above, a mockery of the claim to “drama”.

    3) Finally, we come to the “rural” setting. In 2011/12, never has the rural aspect been so challenged, from the dearth of dogs to the horrors of horsemanship & all points in between. Entire message board threads have been dedicated to character transplants, SATTC, continuity errors & other less than admirable faux pax in The Archers, but none are so personally galling as the cavalier treatment of rural life, & this is where I have finally come unstuck from fandom. If the production team can’t be bothered with facts, why should I bother to listen?
    The Archers may only be a short daily fictional programme, but it is a BBC programme. Accuracy in fiction - even magical-realist or very small childrens’ fiction - has to be maintained if the structure of the story is to ring true. Instead, & increasingly, The Archers unwittingly presents itself as Acorn Antiques, with the equivalent of shaking props & in-shot microphones.
    To write about the countryside & farming, one must either know about it, or research it properly. With a rich seam of knowledge to be exploited via this message board alone, & no doubt offered gratis if asked for, there is simply no excuse for the legion errors propounded in scenes about gamekeeping, riding, dairying, shopkeeping, farm economics, or country hoteliering.
    This last has taken the Duchy Original: forewarned by the message board, I have boycotted the ‘blitz spirit’ episodes in despair at the reported portrayal of an experienced, senior, competent hotel owner disintegrating because her phone lines went down. Not rural. Not contemporary. Not dramatic. Not funny. Not worth listening to. And - I have to finally admit it - just … Not Very Good Any More.

    So, Team.
    You have the chance to consider, not merely my heartfelt outpouring, but a good year’s-worth of mainly well-meant criticism from a broad range of message board & external contributors, & make some solid changes.
    Or you can keep your fingers firmly in your ears, tell us you’re right, we’re wrong, (as believable a claim as the one that you didn’t blab Nigel’s death on ‘Today’), & kill off your remaining credibility along with the programme.

    I no longer care, as I no longer listen. The Archers has finally managed to entirely debase itself & now functions merely as a risible suburban soap.

    I will continue to visit the message board to arse about with people who make me laugh, who know how to write, & who quite often have some good hard facts at their fingertips. And if that penultimate sentence isn’t ringing a huge bell at St Stephen’s, you can eat my moleskins.

    Yours faithfully
    RS ACRE
     
    Well said, lets keep this at the top of the thread for all to see

    Report message50

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