Press Office

Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Release

A new series from Ambridge for BBC Radio 4 Extra

Alice Carter (Holly Chapman)

Listeners to BBC Radio 4 Extra can enjoy more stories from Ambridge with the launch of a new series, Ambridge Extra, on the digital network next month.

Ambridge Extra will give listeners the chance to spend more time with Archers characters and give them an added insight into other areas of their lives – it can be enjoyed in conjunction with The Archers, or listeners can tune in to both as stand-alone dramas.

The new series will be set in Ambridge and will also follow characters further afield. Through Ambridge Extra, listeners can find out how Alice is doing at university; they can hear from Rhys, The Bull's barman, a character who has yet to speak in The Archers; and find out more about what Jamie is getting up to behind his mother's back.

Vanessa Whitburn, Editor of The Archers and Ambridge Extra, said: "Ambridge Extra is an added bonus for listeners who want to spend more time immersed in Ambridge life. BBC Radio 4 Extra gives us the space to explore the lives of Archers' characters in more detail. And it is a lovely way to mark the 60th anniversary year."

Initially two series of Ambridge Extra have been commissioned to run on Radio 4 Extra over 13 weeks, starting from Tuesday 5 April. A second series will air in the autumn. Each episode will be 15 minutes.

Ambridge Extra, which like The Archers will be made in Birmingham, will broadcast twice at week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10am with repeats on the same days at 2.15pm. An omnibus half hour programme will air on Radio 4 Extra on Fridays at 10.30am and be repeated on Sundays at 11.15am and 7.15pm.

As well as hearing the programmes on Radio 4 Extra, listeners will be able to catch up online or download the podcast.

Find out more about Ambridge Extra on The Archers website or join other listeners on Facebook – BBC The Archers – or on Twitter using #thearchers.

Hear from Ambridge Extra scriptwriter Keri Davies on The Archers blog.

Notes to Editors

The majority of UK households have access to digital radio content. Latest Ofcom figures show that 93 per cent of households have access to digital television, which enables householders to listen to digital radio stations. An extra 40 national DAB transmitters planned this year will give 93 per cent of the population national DAB network coverage by the end of the year. According to figures issued by the Office for National Statistics last year, 73 percent of households can access the internet, which can enable access to digital radio.

The Archers is the world's longest running drama and celebrates its 60th anniversary this year and attracts a weekly audience of more than five million. There have been more than 16,000 episodes of The Archers broadcast since it started. The theme tune, Barwick Green, has been played more than 70,000 times in Britain since the first episode.

The Editor, Vanessa Whitburn, leads a the production team and writers who plot the twists and turns of the families in Ambridge. They work months and even years ahead and have bi-annual long-term meetings where they discuss ideas for The Archers that won't be broadcast for well over a year. The detailed planning for the drama is done at monthly script meetings roughly two months ahead of transmission, after which four of the writers have to produce a week's worth of scripts each in just 14 days.

Guest stars over the years on The Archers appearing as themselves have included Richard Todd, Humphrey Lyttelton, John Peel, Terry Wogan, Britt Ekland, Dame Edna Everage, Princess Margaret, The Duke Of Westminster, Alan Titchmarsh, Griff Rhys Jones, Morse creator Colin Dexter, artist Antony Gormley and of course more recently HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. Actors who have appeared in character include Dame Judi Dench and Richard Griffiths.

June Spencer who plays Peggy is the longest serving cast member and even appeared in the first ever pilot episode of The Archers, along with the legendary Norman Painting, broadcast on 29 May 1950.


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