Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
In a fitting tribute to the greatly missed actor Norman Painting, BBC Radio 4's The Archers is playing a hymn composed by Norman as part of its Advent Sunday programme on 28 November 2010.
Norman Painting, who was the unmistakable voice of patriarch Phil Archer for nearly 60 years, composed the Advent hymn, Waiting For A Wonder, in 1991. It was recorded for the programme by the church choir of Norman's home village of Warmington, near Banbury.
Listeners to The Archers hear Pip Archer (played by Helen Monks), Phil's granddaughter, play the organ for this moving tribute to her grandfather as part of the Advent service held in the fictional village's church, St Stephen's.
Pip plays the hymn – Phil's favourite – on the organ, as a surprise for her grandmother Jill (Patricia Greene). Following a few secret lessons to hone her skills on the organ and a close call when her grandmother almost catches her practising, Pip delivers a very poignant rendition of the hymn that moves Jill tremendously.
Vanessa Whitburn, Editor, The Archers, says: "Using Waiting For A Wonder in our Ambridge Advent service is a small way of paying tribute both to a much-loved character, Phil Archer, and to a much-loved former colleague, Norman Painting."
Actor Norman Painting, who died in October 2009, was an accomplished musician and composer, sharing his talent for the organ and love of music with his radio persona Phil Archer.
Norman played the role of Phil Archer on The Archers from its pilot episodes in 1950 and was also a script writer on the programme from 1966 to 1982, producing 1,198 scripts in that time, in addition to writing and adapting for radio many drama and documentary scripts.
For many years Norman has had a personal entry in the Guinness Book Of Records under the world's most durable programmes, holding the world record for having played Phil in The Archers without a break for more than 50 years.
In 1975 he published his own account of the history of the programme, Forever Ambridge, which became an instant best-seller. His autobiography, Reluctant Archer, was published in 1982.
In 1972 Norman was appointed OBE in the New Year's Honours List and in 1988 the University of Birmingham awarded him a much-cherished honorary degree.
The Archers celebrates its 60th anniversary on 2 January 2011 with a special double 60th anniversary episode.
The Archers is broadcast Sundays to Fridays on BBC Radio 4.
The Archers has also recently launched a brand new website at bbc.co.uk/archers
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