Wednesday 29 Oct 2014
One of The Archers' best known characters, Nigel Pargetter, met an unexpected tragic end in a nail-biting climax to the show's special half-hour 60th anniversary episode on Sunday 2 January.
Listeners heard Nigel, played by actor Graham Seed for nearly 30 years, accidentally fall from the roof of his stately home at Lower Loxley while taking down a New Year's Eve banner.
But listeners were kept in suspense until tonight's episode before hearing for sure that he had died.
Commenting on the shocking storyline, kept closely under wraps until broadcast, Vanessa Whitburn, Editor of The Archers, said: "We thought long and hard about a storyline that would befit a landmark anniversary like the 60th and one that would reverberate through Ambridge well into the year. For that sort of impact we knew it had to be a major event involving a significant character.
"It is a tough decision to kill off one of the show's leading characters, especially Nigel who, thanks to Graham Seed's subtle and spirited performance, will go down in soap opera history. But we have given Nigel a grand exit that listeners will talk about for years.
"Nigel's death will have a profound impact on Ambridge and central characters and it will go on affecting them in 10 years' time. We have shaken Ambridge to the core as only the Archers can, profoundly and deeply, and the repercussions will burn slowly."
Being born of country gentry isn't always an advantage in life, as Nigel found out when he inherited the charming but expensive-to-run Lower Loxley Hall. More used to playing the loveable fool, he discovered that funding the house's upkeep was a full-time job, and he was happy and grateful to have efficient wife Elizabeth alongside him at the helm.
Some of his schemes were a little bizarre, but most panned out well, with Elizabeth's sensible guidance to iron out some of his eccentricities.
Like an over-eager puppy Nigel was bursting with enthusiastic ideas, some of which were indulged and some squashed. Luckily Elizabeth gave the seal of approval to both his wine production and "green wedding" plans.
A loving husband to Elizabeth and father to Lily and Freddie, Nigel's loss will be deeply felt at Lower Loxley and throughout the Archer family. His death also throws the future of the Lower Loxley business into question – how will Elizabeth manage to keep such a huge enterprise running, while caring for her bereaved children? Meanwhile, the manner of his death leaves his brother-in-law, David Archer, traumatised.
Born in London in 1950, Graham realised he wanted to be an actor at a young age. He had just left Charterhouse School, where he had performed in a school play and felt he knew exactly what he wanted to do in life.
Graham's application to RADA resulted in an audition at the age of 17. He was offered a place immediately and then went on to make his professional debut with Sir John Clement's Chichester Festival Company, and then to play many roles in rep.
In 1980, he was spotted by the then Archers editor, William Smethurst, while performing in the Birmingham Rep production of Major Barbara and asked to audition for The Archers.
An accomplished and regular theatre, TV and film actor, Graham has appeared on stage in the West End hit, Me And My Girl. Other theatre includes, frequent national tours, Alan Aykbourn's Relatively Speaking and Confusions, Noel Coward's Design For Living, Translations, and most recently, a hugely successful tour of Journey's End.
His television appearances include parts in I Claudius, Brideshead Revisited, Midsomer Murders, Victoria Wood and Jeeves And Wooster as well as long spells in Crossroads and Brookside. He also appeared in the hit American mini-series Band Of Brothers, while film roles include Gandhi, Honest These Foolish Things and Wild Target.
Graham has just completed a Christmas season playing John Wilton at Wilton's Music Hall and is in the middle of shooting the film Tezz and then starts rehearsals for the major revival of Emlyn William's play Accolade playing opposite Aden Gillett.
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