A day spent producing (and directing) The Archers
A straight hit into studio today after not having been in the office for a week, all a bit of a shock and I gave myself an hour and a half to get into work - I only live 12 miles away! Just as well I did, the traffic is always heavy on a Monday morning, and I got in with 20 minutes to spare; time to get a cup of tea and find out what's been going on since I've been away. It was a great start though with some lovely scenes between Lilian and Peggy, and later some feisty scenes with Pip and David, nice to see her finally spreading her wings.
It's important to keep my eye on the ball, as I'm doing episodes from different weeks; four from Carole Solazzo in week 1 and then two from Mary Cutler in week 3 of our recording month. There's no time for a break, fortunately there are plenty of chocolate biscuits to keep the energy up. We are also lucky enough to have Julie Cook with us on work experience, and between helping us do the scene timings she gets us all a cup of tea! With two more episodes in the afternoon it was a long day, and it was great to finally arrive home.
Another couple of episodes on Tuesday morning and I hand over to my colleague, Kate Oates, who is directing this afternoon and tomorrow. That just leaves me to catch up on storylining queries. Just before I went on leave I was liaising with a research contact in the prison service; one of the writers wanted to know some details about visiting times in open prisons, so that will need chasing up this afternoon. Then it's heads down on the writers' synopses for the last four weeks of the double-up. The synopses have already been edited by Vanessa Whitburn (Editor) and Julie Beckett (Senior Producer); I need to go through them as well to ascertain what the 'jump off' points are for each story and then work on the potential storyline for the next four weeks.
It's quite a complicated business, as it includes a combination of research lines, longterm storylines, programme anniversaries, events that are happening in the real world, and most importantly, liaising with our Agricultural Story Editor Graham Harvey - a mine of information and all of it good! The 'pickups meeting' is on Friday morning, and we will be discussing storylines which will be broadcast running up to Easter 2010 - the year goes even quicker when you work here!
Nothing discussed at this meeting is set in stone though, Graham and I continue to work on the storylines over the next few weeks, and our next full script meeting is early in the new year, when the writers will have a chance to look at the script pack and discuss where we want to go with the programme. There's never a minute to spare in The Archers, and very little time to look back at what you've directed and think - 'yeah - that was ok;' as soon as one task is complete you're straight on to the next. It's a good job we work in a team.
Rosemary Watts is a producer on The Archers
- Archers Week ran on the Radio 4 blog from 23-30 November 2009. 19 blog posts were published in all, from 17 authors. They're listed here.
- Radio 4's Archers web site is full of good stuff, like a map of Ambridge, family trees for all the big clans and a detailed who's who. There's also a 'two-minute guide' for Archers newbies.
- The Archers messageboards are among the busiest at the BBC - nicknamed Mustardland because of the distinctive yellow page backgrounds. They're a bit sceptical about Archers Week, though.
- There are two Archers podcasts: one for the daily episodes and one for the Sunday omnibus.
- Hedli Niklaus, who plays Kathy Perks in the serial, also runs the Archers fan club, Archers Addicts.
- Norman Painting, who played Archers patriarch Phil for nearly sixty years, died on 29 October 2009. The last episode he recorded aired on 22 November. Archers Editor Vanessa Whitburn paid tribute to him here on the blog and the Archers Addicts have collected listener tributes.
- The picture shows Rosemary at work in 'the cubicle', the control room next door to The Archers' studio. During our visit to the Archers' home in Birmingham dozens of photographs were taken, many of which feature pictures of cast members (and an ironing board).
- Twitter was put to use during Archers Week. #archersweek was the hashtag and we learnt that Tim Bentinck, who plays David Archer (@timbentinck) and Keri Davies, who writes scripts (@keridavies) are both Twitterers. Follow the Radio 4 blog on Twitter.