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29 October 2014
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New vicar in The Archers

BBC Radio 4's The Archers have two fresh faces in the village of Ambridge.

The new vicar of St Stephen's Church, Alan Franks, and his 14-year-old daughter Amy, are moving into the vicarage in Darrington today (Friday 1 August).

Alan is the vicar of four parishes including Ambridge.

The vicar made his first appearance at the Village Fete on Sunday 20 July, where he presented a prize to Helen Archer and Greg Turner - the winners of the wife-carrying contest. So he already has an interesting insight into life in Ambridge!

The parish of Ambridge has been awaiting the arrival of Alan, who is a widower, and his daughter Amy for a while.

Jennifer Aldridge and her mother Peggy Woolley will no doubt give them a warm welcome.

Alan is played by the actor John Telfer who lives in Bristol.

John was born and bred in Middlesbrough and went to the University of York where he got a degree in Music and Theatre.

He went on to study at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and then worked for the Theatre Company.

He has recently appeared on stage at the Old Vic in Henry IV Parts One and Two, as the Earl of Westmoreland and Lord Mortimer.

John also occasionally teaches at the Theatre School.

He has appeared in numerous television serials including Without Motive and Bergerac, and numerous radio plays and dramas for BBC Radio 3 and 4.

John has been an avid Archers fan since his university days.

He recorded his first scenes at the BBC Birmingham studios in June.

He says: "I've been a fan of The Archers for years and it becomes a part of your life.

"I think it's the greatest show in the history of soap - and that was before I became a cast member!

"So I was ecstatic to actually become part of it. I was walking around with an inane grin on my face the week after I found out I got the part.

"And the cast were so welcoming; it's like being part of a family.

"When the first script popped through my letter box I started reading it immediately.

"As I'm familiar with all the characters' voices, I could hear them all playing out in my head.

"It's a little bit nerve-wracking - I've got a lot to live up to."

John adds: "Alan speaks his mind, is socially aware and is not afraid to be confrontational - which is a little bit like me.

"The funny thing about playing the vicar though is that I'm not at all religious.

"But I can associate with him being a father. Alan is obviously a loving and caring dad who has a close relationship with his daughter, Amy. He's been her sole parent since his wife died when Amy was six.

"Natalia, who plays Amy, is great to work with but I didn't actually meet her until July so Alan had been talking fondly of her and Natalia and I hadn't even met her which was quite funny!"

16-year-old actress Natalia Keery-Fisher is no newcomer to the world of acting.

She left school at 15 to pursue her acting career and plays Sima in the BBC ONE comedy series All About Me alongside Jasper Carrott.

She's just finished filming a second series which will be shown in the autumn.

Natalia - who was born in Bradford and lives between Leeds and London - went back to school to finish her GCSEs and then continued with acting.

She appeared in Casualty last year and has made several Radio 4 dramas at the Birmingham studios - where she was spotted by The Archers production team.

Natalia says: "Amy and I are a little alike; we're both outgoing, have a good sense of humour and are really close to our families.

"But I can't imagine Amy rapping and being into hip-hop music like I am.

"It was great to be offered the part and everyone's really lovely to work with.

"It's so exciting to be working on such a well known programme - my breakdancing friends knew all about the soap and think it's great that I'm part of it."

Tune into The Archers every week day on BBC Radio 4 at 7.00pm; the episode is repeated the following day at 2.00pm.

The Archers omnibus edition goes out on Sundays at 10.00am.

And if you've missed that vital episode listeners can listen again via the BBC website:

All the BBC's digital services are now available on Freeview, the new free-to-view digital terrestrial television service, as well as on satellite and cable.

Freeview offers the BBC's eight television channels, interactive services from BBCi, as well as 11 BBC radio networks.



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