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60th anniversary episode - a writer's perspective

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 14:00 PM, Friday, 7 January 2011

Mary Cutler, scriptwriter for The Archers

Archers scriptwriter Mary Cutler writes:

It is exciting but frightening to look at the schedule for the year and discover that you are writing the week of one of our big anniversaries. And in this case, because of the way the schedule worked out, the following week, too. Of course we are all aware that the programme will get even more attention than usual round such times and expectations will be high. And some people will be disappointed - I think every big story The Archers has ever done has been greeted by some people as too shocking/not shocking enough. But this is not our focus.

So what is our focus? I'm a Brummie, and Birmingham is a city that constantly reinvents itself, so I have lived all my life with the phenomenon that is the ever-changing Birmingham skyline. Mourning as a beloved building falls, and then being fascinated by the beauty of the landscape behind - the new perspective and fascinating possibilities.

This is what we try to do with our big stories. We want something from which the ripples will spread outwards not just for weeks and months but for years, because that is what we can do on The Archers. Of course we mourn Nigel. I have felt writing the week after the accident, and next week including the funeral, as one often does after a bereavement - possessed by his spirit.

My own father died when I was seven so writing for Elizabeth and the children has been particularly painful and moving. What will it do them? To David? To the whole Archer family? To the ecology of the village? The great, and I think unique, thing about The Archers is that we shall find out, properly, in real time. This is not just a headline grabbing two week wonder.

The advantage - one of many - to writing The Archers for such a long time (32 years this April and counting) is that I know the power of these stories, and I know once this initial shock has worn off, their infinite possibilities will start to work through.

We killed Mark Hebden leaving poor Shula a widow and subsequently a single mother, splitting up, in collateral damage, Caroline and then Vicar Robin Stokes. It seemed a terrible thing to do to Shula, and The Archers. But eventually it led, among other things, to Shula being torn between two lovers and feuding with Usha and all the hours of fun we've had from that. And if she hadn't met Alistair we should never have met Jim - the ramifications are endless.

Many of the big stories got mixed reactions. Susan Carter going to prison, Kathy being raped, all the triangles - David and Ruth and Sam, Jennifer and Brian and Siobhan... Mixed reactions among the script writers here with a sizeable minority wanting the guilty couple to run away to Hungary and start a new life.

New characters similarly often have a rough ride. Marjorie Antrobus and Lynda Snell may well have ended up as national treasures but that certainly wasn't what some of the audience thought to start with. So there is hope for Helen yet, and indeed the traumatic circumstances of Henry's birth and her absolute joy in motherhood will change her profoundly. Watch, or rather listen, to this space.

So why do our big stories provoke such strong reactions? I have two ideas. One is that it is the result of having such an intelligent and creative listenership. I mean that quite sincerely. I have lost count of the number times over the years that friends of mine speculating over current plotlines lines have come up with brilliant suggestions. Playing alternative Archers is a great game. Indeed there are still conspiracy theories circulating as to who was driving the car that frightened the horse that Mark Hebden swerved to avoid.

But it is a game, and writing - and running - The Archers is work. Very enviable work, but like all work it is constrained by realities: which actors are available, when and for how long, financial implications, the impact of events in the real world and maybe most importantly how much life and drama you can credibly squeeze into an hour and a quarter a week.

But I think there is something else our audience have in common. They are attracted to The Archers because it describes the enduring beauty of the English countryside and celebrates the never-ending joys and sorrows of life in a community. It's not that nothing dreadful happens - of course it does - but the trials and tribulations will be met with courage and love and humour and friendship - those eternal truths.

Which is a long way round to say that if you're an Archers listener it's possible you don't like change much. I don't myself, and I'm a listener, too - for even longer, if that's imaginable, than I've been a writer. Much longer; I was six when Phil Archer's wife Grace famously died in a fire, and I remember it distinctly. They can't do that! I thought indignantly. But what if they hadn't? No Jill. No Shula Kenton David Elizabeth. No Daniel Meriel Pip Josh Ben Freddie Lily. In fact - no Archers.

So keep listening, and bear with us. It will all come right in another sixty years.

Mary Cutler is the longest serving Archers scriptwriter.

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  • Comment number 1.

    "It will all come right in another sixty years."

    I'm not waiting that long thanks. As you said yourself, you already did this story with Shula...

    "They are attracted to The Archers because it describes the enduring beauty of the English countryside and celebrates the never-ending joys and sorrows of life in a community."

    Indeed we do. The anniversary episode can in no way be described as the above however. Many posters have already pointed out the complete implausibility of all aspects of the plot, so I won't repeat them.

    "So keep listening, and bear with us."

    Absolutely not! Bye..

  • Comment number 2.

    I think the main outrage is the fact a loved charecter gets killed off to celebrate 60 years of production. Shouldn't a celebration be joyful, not depressing?
    What is up with writers this xmas and new year? Tram crashes, cot deaths, folks falling off roofs?
    Did you all get out the bed the wrong side and thought if im not happy then nobody else will be in my script, so lets spread the misery?
    There was so much possibility to celebrate the 60th production year of the WORLDS LONGEST RUNNING radio drama, and the only sensation i've read is how badly it was hyped and how depressing the story line was.
    Yes the repercussions will continue for years, but that event could have happened at anytime, WHY in a celebration episode?
    Do the writers do a Conga when they hear someones died? If they do i suggest therapy and new writers as that seems their idea of a celebration.

  • Comment number 3.

    Mary, you say "Many of the big stories got mixed reactions".

    Well, this one hasn't. Everyone hated it.

    I'm not blaming you or any other writers personally... no doubt you were following the brief you were given. But it was an appalling misjudgement for the Editor to kill off a popular character for no apparent reason than hoping to get a (brief) boost to the ratings.

    This storyline has been roundly condemned; it was no way to celebrate a 60th anniversary.

    As mentioned previously, a much better outcome would have been to have Nigel slip and to be left dangling on the drainpipe for a cliff-hanger ending. The next episode he could have been rescued by the fire brigade. Drama and humour! That's entertainment - a concept apparently not understood by the Editor. This was just plain nasty.

    The clock should now be turned back and this episode expunged from the record!

  • Comment number 4.

    No-one in real life missed Mark Hebden when he died, did they, not even the actor who played him!

  • Comment number 5.

    "This is not just a headline grabbing two week wonder."

    Right, and that's why I probably won't be bothering to tune in over the coming weeks/months/years. More grieving widows, fatherless children, and feuding families--the same stuff we've already had in spades this year.

    "So there is hope for Helen yet, and indeed the traumatic circumstances of Henry's birth and her absolute joy in motherhood will change her profoundly. Watch, or rather listen, to this space."

    Again, no thanks. I simply can't find the "change" in Helen to be believable character growth (something I used to love about TA)--this sounds like an overnight brainwashing or character transplant.

    If this is what TA will centre around for the next 60 years--New Improved Helen as happy mum and the rest of the family fighting miserably over the death of one of the few "fun" characters--I will turn elsewhere.

  • Comment number 6.

    I have never heard such a load of nonsense. What utter tosh ts say that had Grace not died there would be no Shula, Kenton, David etc. YOU ARE A SCRIPTWRITER! You create whichever characters you choose - and had Grace lived then you had to power to give her those children.
    Actually this article confirms what I had feared. The producer and writers on TA are all quite insane. This explains why they would write out one of the characters who made us want to listen. Such a suicidal move. I quit TA on Sunday cold turkey. It hasn't been difficult - I had quite enough of widows and bereaved families in 2010 with Phil and Sid. Really - I would have thought a team of writers could have thought of something more original than yet more grieving families.

    To sum up. Cruel, crass, rude, igorant and fundamentally boring.

  • Comment number 7.

    Mary, you've sadly met all my expectations. My prediction was that anyone involved in the production of TA would respond to listeners' reactions with the following:
    1. No response at all to the accusations of clunky scripts, out-of-character actions and personality changes
    2. No response at all to the wholesale condemnation of an unnecessary death to mark an anniversary
    3. No response at all to the suggestion that something good and unexpected would have been a fitting way to mark the anniversary
    4. A justification of the anniversary episode and its consequences
    5. A complete glossing-over of the fact that, unlike previous major events in TA, this one has provoked NO debate - just almost universal condemnation
    You say that without other deaths certain things wouldn't have happened. Maybe not, but other things would - or is the production team only capable of producing a series which deals with responses to death? Starting to feel that way to me - three in a year, and all men, to boot!
    Furthermore, you describe the TA listenership as "intelligent and creative" then go on to condemn us as possibly not liking change much. Creative yet change-averse? Hello? Wait for the next 60 years for it all to come right? Okay, I can turn off till then!

  • Comment number 8.

    Mary's beautifully written response addresses the big issue - the death of a major character - which is not something I personally have a problem with. She has elegantly implied what some of us have suspected - that Nigel's rather limited persona did not offer much in the way of interesting plot or character development and there are more possibilities without him than with him.

    My criticism was that it was not particularly well-executed. However, I do have sympathy there - writing such a major event to such a tight specification is a tall order and, as she says, the pressure was huge.

    The hype was overblown which made that weakness more visible but then I suspect there are bigger issues there - the positioning of the BBC as a source of entertainment and so on - although it would have been better if the programme's management had resisted that particular pressure rather more than they did.

    PS. Please don't make Helen into a glowing advert for motherhood - that really would be incredible (far more than falling from the roof of an aristocratic pile in an attempt to bring down a new year's banner in a storm when it could just as easily waited which is the type of thing that can happen to any of us).

  • Comment number 9.

    What a let down Mary!!!!
    We ALL hate the script, it was unanimous, there is no debate we are furious!!!! Are you not ashamed of the fact that the actual storyline was so unbelievable, yes people do have accidents and fall off roofs but Nigel and David would never have climbed up onto an icy roof in the dark on a windy night just to get down a silly banner. Also, the rest of England was knee-deep in snow at that time and you Archers script-writers pride yourselves on being acurate and topical; even managing to get in spot-on reactions to the World Cup etc.

    If you HAD to suddenly kill off Nigel why wasn't it a more believable death, another car accident would have been more realistic. This script seems rushed and an insult to us loyal listeners.

    Can you please tell your boss Vanessa to answer our posts, this is really the limit now and your explanation falls far short of the mark I'm afraid.

  • Comment number 10.

    I'm speechless.......... well, almost. What a lot of self-serving pants.

    Where do I start? We was robbed. There are so many holes in your justification, it's hard to know..... but, OK, taking just a few of them: comparing TA to a city skyline is a stretch, but .... nah! that's too easy a target; if Grace hadn't died there wouldn't have been a Jill? THIS IS FICTION, Mary, Shula and Kenton etc could have been Grace's children. DUH!

    I could go on but it's like talking to a sponge. You'll just continue to soak it up and blunder on.....

    What you still don't seem to understand is that you've done permanent (for the moment at least, until listener numbers drop like a stone) damage and the storylines that will come out of it are not new at all. To paraphrase Eric Morcambe, the same words ... just in a different order: -

    (i) You've said it yourself, Shula (and Jill... and Jolene too) have been widowed already. Why do you want us all to live with unnecessarily frequent death??

    (ii) Rows in the Archer clan - Oh, Please! It's been done to, well, death, really ..... and while I'm on it

    (iii) All the dramas you've mentioned - Yeah, the love triangles, the daft / disfunctional / downright dislikeable behaviour, were things that caused flutterings and debate on the messageboards. This ..... this travesty of clumsiness has caused no debate at all. We universally think you've dropped a large pile of poop.

    (iv) "...but like all work it is constrained by realities..." Not much evidence of that when it came to, say, the hunting debate, the election, the Chilean miners..... and it's been said before that the death stats in such a small interlinked group would have most people moving away from Ambridge. You can't have it both ways, Mary. Either it's a tough, gritty reality, or it's the programme-unlike-Stenders that we all used to love.

    And finally, how ridiculously patronising and unaware you are to say that we might be Archers listeners because we don't like change. How ironic....... we'd very much like a change ...... of both editor and writing team.

    PS How about celebrating with a truly fun event with genuine ripples .... It's not hard. Grundys win lottery. Just think about it......

  • Comment number 11.

    I can understand why, for dramatic purposes, a key character might need to be 'killed off' in a long running soap. What I can't understand is why this death should coincide with a much-hyped 'celebration' of the programme and why it should coincide with dispensing of the services of a much appreciated actor who would have been happy to continue with the role.

  • Comment number 12.

    Well Mary Cutler and the other writers, and Vanessa Whitburn and all the produciton team - how does it feel knowing that you will go down in history as the group of people who have probably effectively killed off the longest-running and best-loved radio programme in the world?
    Like many others I've listened to The Archers since its start in 1951 - I was only four and a half then, but was brought up listening to it because my parents did, and by the time I left home it was an unbreakable habit (though by then I kept in touch via the Sunday omnibus edition). No more though - this nasty, cheap, completely unnecessarily sensational storyline (to be expected in the tackier, gaudier world of TV soap writing), has made me defect and break a lifetime listening habit. What should have been a joyous occasion has become a funeral (literally).
    How dare you people be so disregarding of your 'customers' (the millions of devoted Archers listeners)? Your egos seem to make you think you may do exactly as you wish with 'OUR' programme - but you should realise that you, like all your predecessors, have only ever been granted the privilege of temporary custody of this 'jewel' of the airwaves. It is absolutely NOT your right to upset and infuriate what I'd guess is probably 90+% of Archers' listeners. How would you like it if you employed (because indirectly that's what the listening audience does - without suficient listeners the show will die, and your jobs with it), someone to look after your children - and after years of by and large doing so fairly well, they suddenly go berserk and kill one of your favourites? Extreme? Perhaps this view is - but it does reflect the anger and sadness which your nasty sensation-seeking writing has engendered in so many. If Graham Seed had wanted to leave, that would have been a different matter. His voice is so distinctive that you couldn't possibly ever replace him with another actor - but he didn't, and I imagine that this vicious ploy has left him and his colleagues extremely upset. Some reward for nearly 30 years loyal service. Sadly typical of the BBC these days.
    Many thanks to Graham for nearly 30 years of entertainment and much laughter - and many commiserations to all he cast. In much the same way that the last government obliterated centuries of 'Britishness' - this writing and production team has murdered the biggest institution in British broadcasting! Are your nasty ideas and unassailable egos satisfied? You will remain forever unforgiven by a very large number of people.

  • Comment number 13.

    Alfred Hitchcock, the master of suspense, famously explained his 'bomb theory'. He said if two people were sitting at the table and a bomb suddenly went off, that would be a huge shock. It would be much better to show the bomb ticking away, but the people sitting at the table don't know it's there. This builds suspense. And the bomb doesn't actually need to explode.... Something else unexpected can happen.

    In contrast, Nigel suddenly slipping and falling to his death was a total waste - and a slap in the face for loyal listeners.

    Given the daft and unbelievable idea of David and Nigel going up on the icy roof in a howling gale in the first place, there could have been a much better outcome. What about some humour?

    Full marks to Mary for trying to defend this dreadful storyline, but it doesn't wash.

  • Comment number 14.

    Mary can only answer as a scriptwriter - the ill conceived plot was not her responsibility although I imagine the team discussed it. The Arena showed that VW rules from above and it is she who should answer our questions about why this story was chosen and why it was so overhyped. Her silence speaks volumes about her attitude towards her audience. She holds us in contempt.

    And no I don't want helen transformed by motherhood. The story has been vile from the outset. I would prefer her to leave the area and never be heard of again rather than have her turned into a madonna-like character. But again VW thinks we listeners don't understand Helen. Silly us.

  • Comment number 15.

    Yes, indeed, what a let down. Contrived situations more befitting a third-rate American soap and yet more grief and sorrow to come. Jill, Jolene and Kathy have suffered bereavement in the past year, and Peggy has effectively lost her husband to dementia. Was another Ambridge widow really necessary? I'm 63. I don't need this constant harping on death. I've stopped listening (after nearly 40 years).

    As for the complacently insulting, "if you're an Archers listener it's possible you don't like change much" unfortunately I cannot think of a response to this which would get past the moderator!

  • Comment number 16.

    The first time I listened to the Archers was perhaps 60 years ago with measles, confined to bed with a small white plastic looking radio. Since then where ever I have been in the world I have tried to follow the program.
    The BBC podcast system is my link to the UK. The Archers have always reminded me of my life in the UK. Even one of my sons who lives in New Zealand is an avid fan.

  • Comment number 17.

    I have just listened to the recent episode and it is all about Helen and Tony and the baby. Nigel has just tragically died for God's sake!!!! If you are going to do dramatic death please write about it, I want the details of the death, I want to know how Lizzie told her children, I want to know what is going on at Lower Loxley not about Helen and Tony and Joe's mistletoe. If you want interesting and educating storylines which will move the listeners then show us the grit please, I would like to know what this sort of grief is like from a widow and her children. No, you've taken the easy option and ignored it. I cannot ignore it, every time I listen I am shouting at the radio: "What about poor Nigel, you all knew him, you saw him every week, he just stole the show in the panto!" I live in a smallish place (nowhere near as small as Ambridge) and whenever anyone dies tragically (which is VERY rare) the whole town goes on about it for weeks even if they never met the deceased.

    Change the storyline now please, re-write the script and change it to a celebration. The suggestion to have The Grundys winning the lottery is believable and fun with many permutations. We don't want feuds, most families DO NOT have feuds that run and run with malice, that is why we all love the Archers because it is so believable. People do stay faithful for years, people do fall out and then apologise, people do talk about eacother as therapy but never let it overtake their lives; that is real and Mary you have done it very well in the past.

    Don't tell me that a sensible woman like you actually agrees that the roof incident was in any way believable, it was not, it would have been impossible in middle England in the winter of 2010 because of the snow; the worst since records began.

  • Comment number 18.

    Mary's well written and informative piece fails to address the basic problem that has been posted widely on the message boards. We don't believe that Nigel and David would have been up on the roof of Lower Loxley taking down a banner in obviously hazardous conditions.

    Now the problem with that lack of belief is that if we don't believe in the starting event then we don't believe any thing that follows from it. We don't believe David would have encouraged Nigel on to the roof so we don't believe his remorse, we don't believe Elizabeth is justified in blaming him for Nigel's death. The scripts going forward may be brilliant, but we don't believe where they started from, so we don't believe where they go.

    Now if we don't believe what is happening why should we be interested. There is of course the theatrical tradition of taking a ridiculous hypothesis and running with it but I doubt it is the intention that the Archers turns into a farce.

  • Comment number 19.

    Thank you for your response Mary. I don’t envy you your task, acting as curator for a national treasure. I understand your point about needing, “something from which the ripples will spread outwards not just for weeks and months but for years” but I don’t feel you have explained why that had to be a death. As others have remarked above and elsewhere, there are numerous alternative storylines that could have had just as much long term impact.
    I echo the sentiments of Eggnut, Rumble, INW and galrita, when they say we have had enough death in the programme in recent months. Surely something else could have been produced for the celebration? What now? Are we going to have a misery fest of weeping widows, with Jill, Kathy, Jolene and Elizabeth all competing to be the most devastated and distraught? Will Jamie, having been cruelly trumped in the recently bereaved troubled child stakes, spontaneously recover from his delinquency and provide stalwart support for the twins? Grrrrrrrr if he does, but it’d be no more unlikely than that both Jill’s daughters would lose their husbands to accidental deaths.
    You admit The Archers has already done this storyline with Shula, “We killed Mark Hebben leaving poor Shula a widow and subsequently a single mother, splitting up, in collateral damage, Caroline and then Vicar Robin Stokes.” It’s been done once, why do it again and so closely following the deaths of Phil and Sid?
    I would be grateful if someone from the production team could answer this point. Why did it have to be a death, when an identical storyline has already been written for Elizabeth’s sister and when some of the most significant developments in recent months have involved responses to the deaths of first Phil and then Sid?

  • Comment number 20.

    Mary, I would like to ask you a serious question. Did you originally envisage Kenton being on the roof with Nigel for the fatal accident? I ask because it seemed to me that David's actions and especially his words ('Are you a man or a mouse, Nigel?') were completely and utterly unbelievable for his character.

    Was it decided that there were more future dramatic possibilities if David, and not Kenton, was on the roof? If so, I really wish that you had written more convincing and in-character dialogue or better still, another situation altogether. Nothing will convince me that David would have gone onto that icy roof, after drinking, in the dark and during a gale - merely to get a banner. Kenton, yes, at a pinch. Or maybe even David, if there was an emergency repair to make, or to save someone. But a banner? It's too silly. Such a shame.

  • Comment number 21.

    Mary - last year you had to write in two deaths and the subsequent fall out. Jill's sadness at the loss of her husband - and of course the four children plus grandchildren grieving. You had no choice but to put this in the script of course and the sadness was real both for the character and the actor. Later in the year you had to script another death. That of Sid when I am led to believe the actor wished to retire. Again you had no choice but to write scripts for Jolene and Cathy and Jamie reflecting their grief.

    Jack Woolley is in the late stages of Alzheimers and sooner or later you will have to script his death and give his widow grieving episodes. The fabulous June Spencer (Peggy) is 91 and although she looks to be in fine shape, one could imagine that she might want to retire soon. Joe Grundy's character is 90 this year.

    Do you get my drift? There are times when you have no choice but to give us sad stories and create widows and orphans, but why oh why did you write an unnecessary death? Nigel would have made an increasingly funny character as he got older. The actor was longing to become a daft old duffer. I could have sent you some wonderful stories for him as he became increasingly eccentric if you were running out of ideas. He was blissfully funny and Distant Traveller's inspired idea (post 3) of leaving him overnight dangling from the gutters while we all wondered what had happened to him only for us to discover the next day that he was rescued by the Fire Brigade was funny, dramatic and utterly in keeping. Scripting Lizzie's subsequent fury/relief would have been fun for you and for us. A character who no longer exists is not an interesting character.

    And my final point. The Archers was "celebrating" being sixty. Graham Seed is also sixty. What hateful bad taste to wrench them apart when they should have been celebrating this milestone together.

  • Comment number 22.

    It is ridiculous to make blanket statements about "everyone" disliking the Nigel storyline.

    I liked the anniversary episodes, and I look forward to the ramifications as they unfold over the weeks, months and years to come. Thank you Mary and colleagues.

    Full disclosure: I have no connection whatsoever to the production team or cast of The Archers, or to the BBC.

  • Comment number 23.

    Tigerina you are so right, why did it have to be a death? I need this point answered. This is a fictional script after all and you writers can play God and choose, so why choose dramatic and unrealistic death. Why, why, why, we need to know!!!! Because of ratings? What an insult, WE are the listeners who follow these characters and spend 15 minutes with them every day not new people who might (highly unlikely) start listening just because they heard someone fall off a roof. That is ludicrous isn't it and anyway, why do you need ratings?

    Mary, this is so frustrating and we are grateful for your answer but it isn't enough, we need Vanessa to say something, actually we want the whole thing re-written, Graham Seed re-instated as Nigel and carry on with some jollier storylines to counter-balance all the misery of the past year. Why couldn't Usha become pregnant?

  • Comment number 24.

    Mary, I have read your comments but you have not changed my mind. As far as I am concerned you have not only killed off Nigel Pargetter, but have successfully killed off the entire Ambridge population. Nothing seems to make sense any more and I certainly don't want to wait 60 years till it does. Till now, all the 'downs' that were thrown at the residents of Ambridge were surmountable for them and the listeners but, for this listener, the latest 'down'is too much to bear. Can't face any more. After xxxxxxx years, it's goodbye

  • Comment number 25.

    Neuebiene - Of course not everyone disliked the storyline - someone posted on another board that she had enjoyed the follow up episode enormously and was in "floods of tears". (not really my idea of enjoyment but each to her own)

    But I think if you look at blogs, message boards and comments on numerous sites, you will see that the huge majority of people did dislike the story (and I used the word dislike as understatement).

    If death is the only drama a writer can come up with to shake us to the core, or whatever it was supposed to do then I might suggest a new profession. I too have jumped ship after many years of listening. More widows, more disturbed fatherless kids. Oh perleeeze.

  • Comment number 26.

    Neuebiene, what a stupid comment. You are the only person who does not agree and people have been posting on these pages in their hundreds for the last 5 days. Okay, I will do the honorable thing and RE-WRITE it for you...."Everyone, apart from Neuebiene, disliked the death of Nigel storyline".

    There! It can be done, it CAN be re-written; how therapeutic!!!

  • Comment number 27.

    It seems the Archers Team only have one tool in the toolbox. Misery.

    Why not let Linda Snell take over as acting Series Editor? At least she would inject some light-hearted relief....

  • Comment number 28.

    I liked it Rebecca, and so did most other people I know. I too am not a member of the Archers production team or have any connection with the BBC. I've been listening for 24 years. One of the people who told me she liked is a retired teacher who heard the first episode.

    Thanks to Mary Cutler for her thoughtful response.

  • Comment number 29.

    Just as an extra point ... I think one of the reasons that Nigel's death has made us all stop so much in our tracks is because although we did know it was scripted and they were all actors, to become engaged in a long running soap one has to believe the characters are real otherwise there is no point in listening. We have to close off that part of our minds which says they are just reading a script, they are not really farmers or shopkeepers or whatever. To do that the stories have to ring true, the characters have to be scripted true to their natures. When they are not we shake our heads and say "but he would never have done that" and at that moment we realise they are just puppets, they do not exist, they are at the mercy of their creators.

    This whole debacle has brought into focus the NON reality of it all. Nigel dies at the same time as the actor who plays him is in a studio saying he wishes he could still be in the show, and the scriptwriter is trying to explain why she so callously and needlessly pushed him off the roof. This reminds us over and over again that the characters have no power over their own destinies, they are in the hands of writers and hey presto they cease to have any depth - they cease to be real.

    And for me that is what killed TA. I can only visualise actors at the mikes now reading their lines. Somehow all the characters died last week.

  • Comment number 30.

    Mary Cutler says it's possible TA listeners don't like change much. It's just occurred to me that this is the problem with the production team. Totally unwilling to change what's been done so badly and unacceptably, or their current attachment to storylines that revolve around death or tragedy. Though if Helen's totally implausible changed persona is how up-beat stories are written, I can see why they don't...

  • Comment number 31.

    I have experienced anger that can only be described as incandescant since the Fateful Sunday,and have to add my voice to all those who have already commented. For me TA has now been destroyed - by an unnecessary accident to an actor who had no reason to quit- who has been sacked because his face didn't fit. TA is now going down the route of the TV soaps - doom, gloom and trajedy in spadefuls. TA is no longer original and unique,inspiring or uplifting - the TA team have totally lost the plot and their remit as entertainers dismissed in their pursuit of power over their audience, over which they seem to take great satisfaction in torturing. Fortunately there is an Off button on your warped and mean imaginations. It is time for you too, to leave, you have been doing this job too long.
    The repercussions from this Big Mistake will be felt for a long time, as you point out with obvious delight,Mary, I will not be listening to the further unhappy scenarios you will have to concoct, Ambridge will be an unhappy place for a long time.
    I mostly enjoyed TA for its farming and environmental bits - thats what made TA unique - I shall miss these - I am angry that you have taken this away from me - but I shan't miss making sure I record an episode that I can't listen to live(don't have my own computer)
    I wish the miserable New Year you are giving to Ambridge to the TA team.

  • Comment number 32.

    Disappointing that the massive reaction to the SATTC story, and in particular the way Mr Seed was treated by VW, is not addressed here. Just a continued glorification of the storyline.

    That is what's particularly annoying me. The utter, utter lack of response to, and regard for, your listeners. It's no good buttering us up with a nice comment ( "intelligent and creative listenership" ) then effectively telling us to accept change and shut up.

    For heavens sake - respond to the reaction and the very specific and thought out objections to the episode and sacking of Mr Seed. RESPOND DIRECTLY TO YOUR WAGE PAYERS!

  • Comment number 33.

    I have considered Mary Cutler to be one of the senior writers of the Archers; I was extremely surprised at the poor writing of the murder of Nigel Pargeter. I have been a listener to the Archers since its inception, if I were someone who could not accept change I would be campaigning for Blossom and Boxer to be reinstated. I worked away from home for some years and my family faithfully recorded the programmes for me many of which I still have. I took comfort in listening to some of the scripts by the legendary Bruno Milna rather than what has been broadcast this week. I think, in all honesty, that the editor, VW, is out of touch with the faithful listeners and should re-establish that. We have recently heard of a number of 'heads rolling' from senior members of staff because of blunders, perhaps the honourable thing would be for her to offer her resignation.

  • Comment number 34.

    I am so disappointed with Mary Cutler’s response. She has failed to explain why a death was decided the best way to ‘celebrate’ 60 years of The Archers’. It certainly is not the way my family or the rural community I live in would choose to celebrate an anniversary. But having made this bizarre decision why did they choose Nigel. Nigel was a much loved character and very different to the other male characters. I have always felt that it was the elderly eccentric characters which added so much to The Archers – Nelson, Julia and Joe in particular. As I look at the middle aged characters left, it is only Kenton and Eddie that are likely to provide a bit of fun in their old age the others are a bit samey and a little mundane and even poor old Eddie has been made more boring in the last few years. Nigel would have been a fantastic elderly man and although you have the opportunity to bring in new characters they are unlikely to provide a more interesting and lovable character than Nigel and certainly will not have the history of lovable acts that Nigel had. There was really no need to remove Nigel from the cast. I had hoped for more imagination from The Archers editor.

    The production team should also look at and provide an explanation of why the deaths of Mark Hebden and John Archer were extremely moving but acceptable to the audience, whereas Nigel’s death has just left us with very angry.

    I am surprised though to find that Grace Archer was infertile did they do fertility tests in the 1950’s. I am sure the script writers could have created a family for her!

  • Comment number 35.

    Thoughtful1 at number 28, you are in a minority and if this were to go to a vote you, your friend and the two other people who 'liked' the death of Nigel would be vastly out-numbered.

    Okay, I will do the honorable thing and RE-WRITE it for you again...."Everyone, apart from Neuebiene, Thoughtful1, her friend, a retired school teacher and that woman who cried buckets on Wednesday, disliked the death of Nigel storyline".

    There! It can be done, it CAN be re-written again; how therapeutic!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    Of course the writers have the right to kill off whomsoever they choose and it does open up certain storyline possiblities (although I do agree that the 60th birthday episode was an ill-judged choice for the event). But what Mary Cutler has failed to explain is why she chose to do so by using a plotline that was so totally and utterly out of character and unbelievable.
    If they wanted to kill off Nigel, why not have him fall from the treetop walk - he's much more likely to have been up there than on the roof. David could just as easily been with him. Or an accident with one of his greenwood knives - a dozen possiblities, all more believable than the ridiculous melodrama to which we were subjected.

  • Comment number 37.

    They must have wanted the impact of that awful scream, which was good and very realistic and chilled me to the bone at the time and still does, but now it has been made into a ringtone.....is this what The Archers is all about these days?

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm very disappointed in Mary Cutler's piece. I was willing to accept that she had been bullied into this preposterous storyline by the editor, Vanessa Whitburn, especially as Ms Cutler has delivered so many excellent scripts over the years, and this one was just clunky and amateurish.

    It's made me stop listening, and I really think it's now time for the BBC seriously to review how The Archers is run.

    Family feuds are largely artificial and lazy writing: I'm sure it's going to be nice and easy for the writers to do some copy and pasting from previous feuds. A real life family feud wouldn't make good radio, as I know from my own experience they tend to involve the participants simply ignoring each other for years or decades, and if they do have to come into contact, it's very forced politeness.

    I know the programme is called "The Archers" but the production team have missed an excellent opportunity to allow listeners to follow the development of Nigel into his mother. There would have been a natural split between Broofield and Lower Loxley when Jill dies, so Nigel's death wasn't even needed in those terms. But I also agree with others above that it's not really Nigel's death that is the biggest problem, it's the implausible way in which it was done and the lame explanations that have followed.

  • Comment number 39.

    I can't write loads like the other posters here but I wont be listening much anymore. I liked Nigel - I like a lot of the characters - I don't want to be upset by losing more 'old friends'.
    A real shame ......

  • Comment number 40.

    Suzie, I share your sentiments exactly. It is a real shame.

  • Comment number 41.

    Like so many others, I was hoping for a celebration and, like so many other, feel really upset by the decision to write out such a popular character. I alos agree with the comments about loosing touch wiI have been a life long listener, inherited this from my mother. I have to say I feel very upset to see Nigel go - he was a lovely character and I will miss him.

  • Comment number 42.

    Like many contributors I had to re-register to express my thoughts on the anniversary edition of The Archers - or should it now be re-named 'The Widows'?

    I have listened to the Archers for over 30 years, admittedly less so in recent years as there seems to be less fun than before and more greetin. (Note to Moderators - a Scots word meaning complaining.)

    I tuned in to the Anniversary Edition mainly due to the hype in the Newspapers but I was sadly disappointed by the content of the programme. My wife and I turned off the radio about five minutes from the end since it was obvious that David and Nigel were going on to the roof, one would fall off and David - as the Archer would survive.

    Although I have not been a regular listener recently I did keep in touch with the programme through parts of the omnibus or occasionally in the evening. Nigel's character was always cheery and made a great contast to some of the others who always seem to be moaning (or greetin!).

    I also wish to deplore the way in which Graham Seed has been treated by the Editor. I offer him my best wishes for the future. I hope that his future career, whether or not he is resurrected as Nigel, is fruitful.

    I cannot offer my good wishes to the programme editor and shall be unlikely to tune in again to The Archers unless there is a change for the better.

  • Comment number 43.

    Here's a suggestion.

    You chaps rewrite the script completely ... perhaps Elizabeth could come out of the shower and say she's had a dreadful dream?

    And we'll all agree to pretend it never happened.

    Then we can continue to enjoy Nigel's character and his enviromental concerns.

  • Comment number 44.

    "It's only a show".

    Yes it is. But life is full of "it's onlys". I am on holiday from work until next Monday and my days are rather wonderfully lazy. Last week my typical day was a bit of a lie in, some coffee and a croissant, a walk in the snow by the river, a trip to the local shops for a newspaper and some necessities and then perhaps a visit to the cafe for a bite to eat while reading the paper. Back home for The Archers and a cup of tea. Well I won't go on because it is boring for everyone else, but those were my days and each of those things gave pleasure. So it's only coffee and a croissant, and it's only a little walk, and it's only a browse through the paper and it's only a radio show but if any of those things were missing my day would be poorer.

    And now my day IS poorer. Because one of those things is glaringly absent. The Archers has gone from my day and from my life. I have no desire to listen to the misery and I'm afraid the whole Helen story was boring from day one.

    Yes, my day is poorer. But it was only a show.

  • Comment number 45.

    To those people saying "everyone hated it" -- I refute you thus! I loved it. There have been a number of deaths in the last few years, but the real-time nature of the Archers, the slow evolution of the cast and the actors who play them and the large number of long-term characters makes the emotional impact much greater than a traditional TV soap. The ensemble playing I've heard this week, from the rest of the family - even including those lacking tear-jerkingly intense scenes - has been superb. Well done VW and everyone else involved.

  • Comment number 46.

    I was interested to read Mary Cutler's apologia for Sunday's episode, and the Nigel's death storyline more widely. And also the views of listeners expressed above, which have helped me crystallise my feelings. I've been surfing the message boards this week, and have been reading them for seven or eight years before that, and I don't think I have ever seen the contributors there so united. Yes, I know that some liked the storyline, and probably those who did are less likely to say so than those against - but the overwhelming reaction appears to be negative, and I would like to ask Mark and the team if this was anticipated?

    I don't think that most of that negative reaction can be put down to SATTC hype, nor to poor scriptwriting. In my view the script was rather good, given the constraints - ie that a well loved character had to be killed off suddenly. However, it wasn't anywhere near as moving as John's death under the tractor, which I consider to the the high water mark or Archers deaths, and I think that asking why gets closer to the heart of the problem - John's death wasn't "celebrating" anything. It was a random, shocking accident.

    I agree with those above who think that the idea of "celebrating" by killing someone off is just sick. A massive error of judgement, which I hope the programme will recover from, but which will take years to live down.

    It's strange to note that we have already had a sudden death in the past 12 months, of a figure at the heart of the community, with massive repercussions - Sid. I would have thought that created enough space for all the new plotlines, characters, and stories, that Mary welcomes above, without having to sacrifice Nigel. Instead, those opportunities seem to have been pretty wasted, with sympathy for Jolene draining away fast as she ran the Bull into the ground.

    I'm not demanding the resignation of Vanessa W or the overthrow of the entire team - I don't think you can run a programme like that. I'm not sure it's reasonable for them even to admit they got it wrong. But I do think there needs to be an internal recognition that this was a big mistake, and that steps need to be taken to avoid another. This won't kill "The Archers" but if it happens again, who knows?


  • Comment number 47.

    (Sorry to follow up with an immediate second post, but) -- am I being too cynical to wonder whether the overwhelming majority of the posters above read certain daily newspapers, those which elevate the lives of soap characters and "slebs" above real news, and love to work themselves up into a righteous lather over some perceived wrong? I've been listening since 1984. If any of the previous commentators really are long-term listeners, I'd be amazed if 90% aren't regular listeners again this time next year.

  • Comment number 48.

    Mary, I appreciate that you are suggesting that the story line will have a long term impact; and I'm sure that's true.

    The problem as I see it is this: the implausibility of David and Nigel being up on that roof has suspended our suspension of disbelief. It felt like a clunky plot device, rather than a psychologically convincing and appalling accident. It's the kind of ridiculous caper Kenton would have come up with and Nigel might have gone along with - but David? Never.

    So now those of us who have been listening for decades feel a sense of betrayal, as if we have been manipulated - as you can see from the responses to all the postings on this blog and others. I don't know what process of decision making led to the Fateful Episode, but it's certainly an interesting reflection of the power of radio drama.

    For me, 7pm just seems a bit pointless right now and I have to say I'm quite shocked at how bereft I feel.

  • Comment number 49.

    Very surprised you have stuck your head above the parapet given the tidal wave of dissent from the very listeners who pay your wage.
    The shocking thing is the seeming lack of acknowledgement of what makes the Archers stand out. You and the editor have not only failed to see it but actually clubbed it to death in full public view.
    As a regular listener of 40 years + ( I am 40 years +) ....Thanks for that.

  • Comment number 50.

    Mary, your post hasn't answered any of the questions that *really* need answering or addressed the real grief that so many listeners have been feeling, not grief about Nigel's death but that linked to the ending of our relationship as listeners with the programme. I suspect someone else should be posting that blog response, not you.

    I'm a writer and I understand how frustrating and challenging it can be to have to write to other people's instructions and plotlines when you don't agree with them. I also know that, everyone working on the programme will have bills and families and financial pressures in these credit-crunch times like anyone else. Nobody will want to be putting their money-earning jobs at risk at this point in time by rocking the boat. This question is rhetorical since I am sure you will not answer it in public, but surely some of the wider production team, if not all - bar Vannessa, must have felt that the decisions about the 60th Anniversary plot development were wrong?

    Putting aside the awful storylines you had to work to, when I heard Sunday's programme I was very surprised at the quality of the script. It sounded like a first draft: clunky, over-signposted, predictable. Again, I don't expect an answer, although I'd love one, but I've been wondering, were there signisficant last minute plot changes made so that a polished script was not possible? Did you have to settle for second best due to lack of time? Did editorial decisions override your original script? I can't make sense of the fact that you, as such an experienced writer who has come up with some really good scripts in the past, were willing to let this one go forward for broadcast.

    After 35 years of listening I am yet another person who has now switched off my radio. I won't be around to catch 'the ripples', marvel at the 'infinte possibilities', or 'listen to this space'. And, even with the wonders of modern medicine and the longevity of my family I really don't think I will be alive in 60 years to see everything 'all come right'.

  • Comment number 51.

    I take your point that many deaths and unexpected plot twist have happened in the past ep's but I think what has really riled people here is the uncharacteristically poor writing and cheap trick of 'someone falling off a roof'..its all a bit sad and uneccesary really.

  • Comment number 52.

    Surely the aim of any script, particularly in this listener figures obsessed age, is to keep people hooked with the story as many of your stated plot twists did . The next few weeks will show just how shrewd you have been with your 60th anniversary script. I for one will be one less for your count though...at laest until the dust settles

  • Comment number 53.

    Listeners I suspect enjoy a "safe pair of hands" when it comes to the Archers and I suspect that many listeners such as myself tune in for a bit escapism for me this has been destroyed in one slip of pen

  • Comment number 54.

    I found Mary Cutler's post annoyingly cynical ignoring as it did the ground swell of bad feelings about the Archer's 60 year 'celebration' plot.
    How patronising to suggest that we'll just have to learn to like Helen over the coming weeks and months...No thanks! I have no intention of being educated by Mary Cutler! I wanted some light entertainment - not a programme of brain washing!
    This is me quitting The Archers.
    And reading the comments, there are many of us feeling this way.

  • Comment number 55.

    Thank you for posting Mary. I am not devastated at the loss of Nigel - it is only a story . Neither am I calling for anyone to be fired / resign / be ritually disembowelled because I don't like the direction TA took for the 60th Anniversary. But I am really disappointed.

    Can a major landmark of 60 years really only be dramatically commemorated in a tragic death that feels so shoe-horned in? Other major storylines have had lead ins, background and denouement (Siobhan / Owen / Clive / Ruth's near affair). This had a clumsy and unlikely comment by David about mice and men. I am also disappointed at such a volte-face on Helen - (to provide the plot counterpoint? Contrived if so - "and with one bound, she was free"...)? Implausible. Nigel going onto a roof instead of helping the family toast their relief at Helen's wellbeing? Unlikely. David going onto the roof in poor weather? Very unlikely.

    To sum up my concerns about TA's direction:

    1) slow burn plot development seems to be out of favour at the moment

    2) tragedy and misery seem to be the major plotlines (is this a nod towards TV soaps or do the script team believe the only news is bad news?)

    3) characters like Helen, David and indeed Nigel act out of character - and indeed turn 180 degrees in Helen's case

    4) there seems to be an assumption of a much shorter attention span in listeners so that they need sensation, don't notice incongruity and can't follow a longer storyline.

    5) Older sensationalist storylines (Ruari being taken in by Brian and Jenny) simply die away.

    I don't mind change, but I do like logical plot development and good characterisation!

  • Comment number 56.

    Imipak (message 47)
    If any of the previous commentators really are long-term listeners

    So you are now implying that other posters are lying about being long time listeners?

    You also suggest that we are pathetic followers of "sleb" culture?

    Your post insults other posters and contravenes the rules Imipak. It should by rights be removed but I won't bother as your message is so far off the mark as to be risible.

  • Comment number 57.

    I certainly grew up listening to The Archers, and have been doing so for many years. I don't watch TV, I get my news from R4 and the internet, and the only magazine I read is New Scientist. I don't know anything about 'celebrity culture', other than that it exits. (I assume that is what you meant by the term 'sleb').

  • Comment number 58.

    Imipak (47)

    I agree with Willowherb. I respect everyone's opinion whether or not it is the same as mine. The fact that most of us here agree is quite rare; the common ground is that we were unhappy with the execution (in both senses) of the story. Because we hold similar opinions you make assumptions that each one of us reads "certain newspapers" or is "pathetic" or liars - and this is most insulting. Most posters make the point that the last thing one would want is for TA to emulate Eastenders, and the whole "sleb" culture is anathema.

    I agree that the post should be removed

  • Comment number 59.

    Thank you for coming on and explaining the writer's point of view, Mary. Your blog was really interesting. It must be a very rewarding yet immensely challenging job. especially when there are so many conflicting expectations, and media politics cannot be ignored. I'm sure that over the years you have written many episodes that I've enjoyed very much, so whatever I felt about the 60th anniversary episode, I'm grateful for your work, and I hope you continue to enjoy your job.

  • Comment number 60.

    I think the fact that a SW feels the need to ask listeners to bear with the storyline only days after the editor gave out the very same message, says it all really. They surely know they've gone too far and now they want time to dig themselves out of the hole they've dug for themselves.

    In a world where millions, if not billions, is spent in the name of customer engagement and brand loyalty, the short sightedness of the 60th beggars belief. In one fell swoop VW has stretched credibility and broken trust. It's not suprising TA loyalists are dejected, disengaged and switching off.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm afraid its all over for me. I havent listened since Nigel fell off the roof. I too felt it was unlikely and uneccessary. the remark about shaking Ambridge to the core, well as far as I'm concerned the core is in the bin. I've put up with a few silly sotrylines in the past, and there were some very sad and moving ones, ...but this is just contrived, and I cant help feeling that its all in competition with trams falling out of the sky and dead babies being swapped. Perhaps there's a clandestine soap writers competition going on. Sorry BBC and all Vanessa's henchmen and women, you can keep TA from now on.

  • Comment number 62.

    Taking on board what Mary has said, I'm now bracing myself for 60 years of the other half shouting about the ridiculous storyline (of course David and Nigel wouldn't have been up on the roof at night in a gale) and the loss of Nigel and all he represented within not just the community but also the family.
    For myself, I'm disappointed that the writers had to drag TA down to the gutter with such a cheap sensationalist story to join the TV soaps I strive to avoid. How sad that the production team felt this was the way to celebrate such a milestone when there were so many other alternatives, and how patronising to imply we don't like change. If it ain't broke don't fix it, or should I say if it ain't broke don't break it! That doesn't mean things can't change - in real life change is constant. Please concentrate on what should be happening in TA, ie relevant agricultural & environmental stories woven with humour and compassion in to REALISTIC family & community life. We love TA because it's not like a TV soap - if I want to feel really depressed I can watch Eastenders.
    Our sincere thanks go to Graham Seed who has entertained us for nearly 30 of the 50 years we have been listening. We are outraged at your departure and wish you all the best for the future.
    Finally to Vanessa Whitburn - we are not 'fans' as you maintain, we are listeners. Please afford us that much respect.

  • Comment number 63.

    To Mary...... 32 years of writing the Archers, well its time to pack it in if the best you can manage for a special 60th anniversary episode was that rubbish. Over hyped and then crass it has done nothing but unite everyone in saying how dissapointing it was. You may not have been responsible for the pre publicity but you should have realised how terrible that scene was. To set up Helen's popular demise and then make it obvious that someone was going to fall of the roof instead was worthy of Jackanory, Bill and Ben the Flower Pot Men or some such kids show. But what I suspect VW was aiming for was a TV Soap style headline grabbing story to improve ratings, what next a plane crash? Its all very sad, very sad.

  • Comment number 64.

    Mary, You don't seem to appreciate that we are ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS.

    We are angry because at a stroke, you've removed the fun from listening to the Archers.

    Nigel brought enterprise, energy, optimism and fun. He was a constant that could be relied upon to raise our spirits when we were dealt gloom by other plot lines - and we've had a lot of gloom haven't we?

    Almost to a listener, we feel that you've taken advantage of us. Not 'shaking Ambridge to the core' but simply damaging something that millions of us hold so dear.

    I'm sure you can't have failed to notice that all of the posts are saying much the same thing and that so many of them are from really long serving audience members. They're not switching off in a huff, but like me are just heartbroken that this ludicrous 'celebration' has snatched away something that we’ve been enjoying for decades.

    There’s no credit to be had by ‘toughing out’ this mistake, it just compounds the disregard that you’ve already shown us. I’m afraid it’s time to make the headlines again – complain if you like about what an eccentric bunch we are and about the passions that The Archer’s stirs. ‘Goodness me’, you might say, ‘it was a tall order but we managed to write Nigel back in’.

  • Comment number 65.

    My family and I won't be tuning in again after the 60th anniversary episode. This was no way in which to celebrate an anniversary. Anniversaries are happy, celebratory events, not simply an opportunity to create grief and misery within a dearly loved show.
    I am 17, the same age as Pip and my family and I have been through many of the same things as The Archer family members as we have grown up, effectively side by side. If it helps to show the comparison, we do very similar subjects at A level, right down to the exam board. I have found it helpful to have a fictional character to "grow up" alongside. And now I won't, simply because of an awful storyline that was written. I don't want to listen to grief, fictional though it may be. It's intimate and it's a family thing, that may have been appropriate at another time, but certainly not for an anniversary episode.
    Please don't assume that as an "Archers listener" I don't like change - this has nothing to do with that. In fact, I quite like change. But what I don't like is inappropriate story lines, that are completely unrealistic and contrived. Nigel himself said that he had been "clambering over these roofs since [he] was a lad".
    Perhaps a change in the storyline is needed with a total wiping of these last few days. David could wake up after too many glasses of wine, having had a bad dream. A much better alternative to your simply nasty plot.
    If you wrote the script thinking you were going to get a boost in numbers, then I beg to differ. All the comments I have seen posted on the website have been negative, and stating that they won't be listening. Please LISTEN to your listeners, and change the Archers, just like the Eastenders storyline will be changed. We will not be listening unless the storyline is changed.

  • Comment number 66.

    Mary suggests Archers listeners "don't like change".

    Perhaps it IS time for a change after all. All these characters who have been there for years... perhaps it is now time for them to move on. But I'm not talking about members of the cast... the listeners are very happy with them!

    Perhaps it is time for certain members of the production team to make way for some new blood - people who actually understand the meaning of entertainment.

    The relentless train of human misery now set in motion is NOT what licence fee payers want. Time to put on the brakes, reverse back up the track, change the points and take a different route.

    People DO want change. They want a programme that is enjoyable listening. The unremitting torment and anguish just chips away at the emotional wellbeing of the audience. Why would anyone want to listen to more of this depressing tripe?

    For Radio 4 to admit it had made a terrible blunder and reinstate Nigel would obviously be unusual - but it would also make radio history. A worthy 60th Anniversary!

    If La Whitburn isn't able to admit she has got it badly wrong, this only goes to show how out of touch she is.

  • Comment number 67.

    Oh I so agree with most postings here. And it's not like everything was fabulous and then one shock thing happened. You've been testing our staying power with idiotic stories about boring one-dimensional Helen etc but we've stuck with it. However this is the final straw - stupid story, unnecessary sensationalism - but worst, a betrayal of trust with us listeners. Someone wrote elsewhere that this has destroyed a small daily moment of pleasure for them, and that's how I feel - I have not listened since last Sunday and have no intention of doing so again. There was always a pleasurable minute of anticipation as 7.00 approached but now it is a cue to switch to R3 if I am not already there, or stick a CD on. How mean of you all!

  • Comment number 68.

    Well, I agree with 99 per cent of what's being said here, but I dont hear ANYTHING from the BBC. Has anyone actually counted the negative comments, and complaints?

  • Comment number 69.

    I too agree with the majority here, especially posts 64, 65 and 66 who have said everything I would like to say, but better.

    I haven't listened since Nigel's death was confirmed on Monday and I don't intend to again. I feel insulted and patronised to be told that that any objections I might have are because I don't like change. You have destroyed The Archers for me. A lovely way to start 2011.

  • Comment number 70.

    To Mary

    I share what most people seem to feel about the 60th Anniversary episode:

    1. It was poorly written. I honestly thought as I was listening that the roof scene was a comedy spoof included to contrast with the emotional birth of Henry and that a wonderful trick had been played on us all. Until the very last second I was laughing and expecting them to come down with the banner. Sadly not.
    2. Characters behaved, well, totally out of character and seemed to do so only so that the plot could progress.
    3. There are several characters that we love, several that we love to hate, and several that are annoying and make us switch off. It is extremely frustrating to have a character we loved written out in such an unbelievable way.

    Most importantly though, I am dreading the next ten years. In your blog you wrote:

    "Mourning as a beloved building falls, and then being fascinated by the beauty of the landscape behind - the new perspective and fascinating possibilities".

    You may find beauty and fascinating possibilities in writing for the next ten years about the destruction of a family and the guilt and angst that will follow from Nigel's death, but I certainly don't relish the prospect of listening to it. Why are you and Vanessa Whitburn relishing the prospect of depressing your listeners so much for so long?

    Finally, I find your attitude to us listeners extremely patronising. We do not dislike change. We dislike lazy storylines and change purely for the sake of change. Mistakes have been made, if there is any respect at all for the listeners, this should be acknowledged.

  • Comment number 71.

    Although most of us have been horrified by Mary's latest offering she has offered up good scripts in the past. I wonder if she were to be fired now with a few weeks notice after over thirty years of service she would feel angry or ill-treated? Would she seek legal advice? Call a tribunal?

    And yet this is what she has done to Graham Seed. He gave loyal service for nearly thirty years - almost half of his life - and then when he was as popular as ever and his character had matured into one that could only get better and funnier with age, when he was clearly loving what he did and must have felt pretty secure, he was fired for no better reason than to upset listeners and give them a shock.

    An actor's life really is precarious if the reasons you get fired are because you were so popular, so loyal, so established and so good at your job.

  • Comment number 72.

    Ms Cutler, I'm sorry, but I think you miss the point. Most of the feedback on this blog about Nigel's death has been negative. To many of us, he was a unique character. He was funny, and kind - a ray of sunlight. To me, getting rid of Nigel, after 27 years, is like killing off Walter Gabriel in 1972 - because it would make great ratings, or Mrs Antrobus in 1989 - ditto. Fortunately, those two things never happened. The production team had more sense. Like those two past greats, Nigel was a real CHARACTER. They are few and far between. The production team should cherish them, as the audience do. Ambridge is now a much greyer place. And I don't belong any more.

  • Comment number 73.

    Thank you buzzbuzzybuzz for saying so eloquently what I (and I'm quite sure lots of others) feel.
    Sad to 'leave' Ambridge behind - I won't be tuning in again.

  • Comment number 74.

    Mary’s piece was a well written and gentle comment on the goings on in the Archers. However, it wasn’t really a direct response to the uproar and distress being expressed on this blog. I would still be keen to hear answers to the following points:

    • Poor script writing
    • Poor storyline – you can almost hear the writer pushing the unwilling actors up on to the roof!
    • Poor characterisation - David is the last person to say “are you a man or a mouse?” and climb on to an icy roof (Kenton maybe)
    • Too many widows already in recent months – repeating storylines that are only a few months old
    • Is killing off a popular character ‘celebratory’?
    • Informing Graham Seed of Nigel’s demise over the phone after 27 years on the programme

    These questions register the genuine distress and anger felt by many and I feel these points should be addressed publically by both editor and writers.
    The Archers relies upon its loyal fan-base, made up of people who have been listening for many decades. This makes for a dedicated and unique group of people who not only tune in, blog, subscribe to the fan club, buy merchandise AND holiday on Archers cruises. The Archers prides itself on the strength of our dedication. A great proportion of these dedicated fans, myself included, feel extremely let down and disappointed by the turn of events in Ambridge. Regular listening over the decades means characters become ‘friends’ which means sacrificing characters to whimsical, gratuitous plot devices is upsetting and I think, disrespectful to the listeners.

  • Comment number 75.

    On Sunday I was simply annoyed at the weakness of the writing and the ludicrous storylines. On Monday morning after the editor gave away the fact that Nigel had died I began to get angrier and throughout the day that anger grew and by 7.00pm I was livid!

    I lasted about two minutes and then I switched off.

    I stopped smoking 18 years ago after 20 years of puffing. This week I have had a similar kind of feeling as when I kicked that particular habit. A memory of something which had once given pleasure, but the knowledge that it was in the past. I have not listened to The Archers since that moment of switching off and as we are promised ten years of gloom and despair I will not listen again. Looking for something else to listen to at 7 I discovered Radio 7 which has many dramas and comedies. So I suppose it is an ill wind ....

    and yet ....there are words used in these messages like heartbroken, bereft, disappointed, furious, saddened, outraged. These seem extreme reactions and yet I feel all those things too I do feel absolutely bereft as if something I love has betrayed mea nd I am surprised at the depth of that feeling.

    Nigel's character had so much mileage. I had imagined him becoming like one of the old boys in Last of the Summer Wine as he got older, increasingly batty, mischievous and rather badly behaved, but always charming and sweet natured. As his children had got older he would have been an adoring but permanently bewildered father. Lizzie's patience would have been tried and tried but they would have remained deeply happy. I would have loved the chance to have been a writer on the series giving him stories for years to come because he is surely a writer's dream - that rarity that pops up every so often in a show, an absolute treasure of a character, nearly thirty years in the making - developing, perfecting and maturing. And two seconds in the destroying.

    Madness. Sheer madness.

  • Comment number 76.

    For how long will Queen Canute try to hold back the tide?

    Let's hope normal service is resumed soon.

    Meanwhile, here is some music


  • Comment number 77.

    Its really time for the Archers team to face facts- no storyline will be universally popular but the 60th anniversary episode was almost universally unpopular. Maybe its time to say we got this wrong- we're sorry. It seems that day after day the comments of a very loyal and longstanding listenship are largely ignored.

  • Comment number 78.

    Well written? Hm... yes, I suppose Mary Cutler's musings were - but then they darn well should be. She's a senior script writer on the world's oldest and (until recently) most prestigious show.
    What I find dismaying is her complacent, not to say dismissive attitude of the listeners. At no point has she addressed the points made over and over here on the posts about the tastlessness and lack of imagination displayed over Nigel's badly scripted death. That the LAST thing the Archers needed this year was the loss of yet another major character. And her last comment - stick around, it'll all come right in another 60 years is outright patronising.
    No. I won't. Not if you are going to be so cavalier with the characters I've come to care about, who inhabit my home. If you insist on treating them like Eastenders actors, then - no thank you. You and your show can spread your misery elsewhere. My radio will be tuned into something less toxic...

  • Comment number 79.

    What a waste. What a waste of an opportunity to do something interesting, rather than just rerun a lazy old soap trope. What a waste of a good character: Nigel was funny, kind & decent, and all those things made him uplifting listening. What a waste of your relationship with the audience: you make much of how long you've been writing for the programme, and dear Vanessa's every media appearance has stressed that she's been editor since God was a boy, but you value your own longevity and relationship to the show far higher than those between the characters and listeners. What a waste of the responsibility you and dear Vanessa and the others are lucky enough to enjoy, in tending and looking after this soap. That includes nurturing and developing its characters. Above all, what a waste of a fine and loyal actor, in Graham Seed, who was cast aside in dear Vanessa's rush to ensure that she got herself an interview with every middle-market Middle-England paper going.

    I've a good idea to Shake Ambridge To The Core. Get rid of some long-serving characters. How long did dear Vanessa say she's been doing this? And I hate to say it, but 32 years (much the same as Graham Seed?)... What's sauce for the goose...

  • Comment number 80.

    I started to listen to The Archers before around 3 years when I could download the episodes by the website.
    The Archers makes me feel the charcters of The Archers as if they real and I remember how I felt so deeply sad when we lost Phill, Sid and now Nigel...
    Thank you for those who make The Archers alive along 60 years..

  • Comment number 81.

    To everyone that read my earlier post - apologies for the self-indulgent tantrum, but having hoped for some insight from MC I was disappointed by the lack of anything constructive..... Silly me.

    Still angry about lack of response of any kind from VW, but have calmed down slightly by looking round the Net for info on listening figures (how sad am I?) and it seems that whilst TA's most recent figures were 5,050,000 (Neil Midgley, D Tel in Aug 2010) the last time there was a flurry of articles about the prog before that it was because listener numbers dropped by 200,000 when Roof - so sorry! - Ruth had her potential fling with SamSam the Dairy Man.

    Interesting - the messageboards were heaving with opinions of all kinds and I'd have expected numbers to rise. .... I can't help wondering, with feelings running the way they are and the number of people not prepared to be depressed by any more death and doom, what will happen this time.

    [Ex-listener of 5 days now and counting...]

  • Comment number 82.

    I confess to being an on-again-off-again Archers listener, so I have not been as distressed/angered by the anniversary episode as more loyal listeners have been. They have my heartfelt sympathy. They also have my admiration - blogs are not usually so articulate!
    As a less engaged follower, I sat listening with my other half, having already played the game of imagining what outlandish and ridiculous scenarios the editorial staff may have planned to shake us to our very core. Our imaginations went wild, from the sublime to the ridiculous.
    As the extended episode unfolded, exposing its red herrings, we wove them (tractor accident, car accident on way to hospital, loss of baby and/or loss of mother, Nigel and/or David falling off the roof) into our own ridiculous plotline, and it became more and more hysterically funny. In the end, we listened to the wonderfully executed deathfall scream of the adorable Nigel, and we howled with laughter at the nonsense of it all. No, surely not, it couldn't be so banal, so weak, so nonsensical... and surely not Nigel? Had he survived? That was answered before the next episode - so much for leak-proof Archery.
    I broke spontaneously into a chorus of Tommy Cooper's "Don't fall off the roof, Dad, you'll make a hole in the ground..." Was that really it? The earth-shattering development? Killing off one of the likeable characters who leaven the stodgy bread of Ambridge? Oh deary, deary me.
    It was utter nonsense. The contract between listener and writer was broken. You write well, and we'll believe and engage and care, and listen. You write poorly, disrespect us, and the spell is broken. And the radio switched off.
    If you cannot do better than this, shame on you. I certainly won't be listening to weeks and months (60 years? not on your life) of hushed tones, self-flagellation of characters with guilty consciences, the grieving process, etc etc.
    My sympathy to the loyal listeners who have been so disappointed.
    Brickbats and yah-boo-hiss to those responsible for this decision.
    But I don't think for a nanosecond they'll take a blind bit of notice of any of the protests which have been written by all you very erudite licence-payers.

  • Comment number 83.

    If this plot is going to send 'ripples' out for the next ten, (or is it sixty years?), they can do it without me as a listener. I made the mistake of listening to all the episodes this week to see if it got better. It didn't, it got worse. I was either bored out of my skull with the vacuous conversations or in deep depression. I was a true addict and used to listen to every episode twice and the bumper Sunday edition, no one dared phone me when it was on, but I think this week has now cured of my addiction. RIP Archers.

  • Comment number 84.

    Ms Cutler, you have missed the point.Doesn't it concern you that there is such a massive groundswell of indignation among long standing Archers listeners ? Whose idea was it to "celebrate" the sixtieth anniversary by killing off one of the best loved members of the Archers cast in such a ridiculous fashion? Since when did death become the only way to entertain ? The Archers is a family show , and because it is radio, your listeners engage with the characters in an intimate closeness which is rare in television. The extreme longevity of the actors' roles in the Archers is unique. We have all "known" Nigel for many years - to us he was a truly unique man of great moral stature.The Archers lacks strong male figures -it is now being dominated by whining self centred women like Helen and Kate . Nigel was always a breath of fresh air. And because we loved Nigel, we felt we knew Graham Seed. He was one of the family, because the Archers is supposed to be all about family. So how should we feel when we discover that Graham wanted to stay with his character but was told on the phone that the job he had given 28 years of his life to, was over. Do the writers feel proud of that decision? Well, I don't! This is not the Archers I have followed for over 40 years. Death comes naturally to characters in any long running programme- you don't have to deliberately seek it out and destroy someone's career or deprive loyal listeners of one of the best characters. I don't want to listen to any more grief stricken widows on the Archers. We have already had Jill, Jolene, Kathy and all the attendant fatherless children in Ambridge. Now there will be Elizabeth, the twins, David racked with guilt -it doesn't bear thinking about! As a widow myself at a young age, I can tell you it is not in any way "entertainment". Since Nigel died, I have not listened to the Archers and will not do so again.
    Finally, the patronising way the listeners have been ignored by the powers that be, is the final nail in the coffin. No one from the BBC seems to be in the least bothered . What a tragedy for such a much loved programme.As TS Eliot once said" This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper " .

  • Comment number 85.

    What a lovely, thoughtful post from Mary Cutler.

    Her point about the death of Mark is well taken. Much as I am sad at losing the character of Nigel, I can see how his death will echo through the years. Sunday evening saw me and my children - age 11 and 13 - huddled together in the kitchen listening as the tension built. My girls have never shown more than passing interest in the programme before, but they were gripped and I am now confident that a new generation of listeners has been captured - in my house, at least. In 30 years time, when they are listening with their own children, I expect the consequences of Nigel's death will still be felt.

    This is why the accusations of short-term sensationalism are wrong. Nigel's death will have the sort of rippling consequences that, say, the death of Helen would not have had. When John died, however heart-stoppingly moving the episode was, his place was effectively taken by Tom. There were consquences for the family - mainly the mental health toll - but they did not extend much beyond the boundaries of Bridge Farm.

    I feel like a lone voice here, but bravo Mary Cutler and the team.

  • Comment number 86.

    Did Timothy Bentink just give it away? I try to avoid celebrity culture. Pop Stars in Lower Loxley!!! It's definitely Bye!

  • Comment number 87.

    Dear Mary

    I was deeply disappointed with your attempted justification for writing out Nigel Pargetter.

    Your article is high-handed and ignores the points raised by many listeners who have taken the trouble to express their feelings on the various blogs, many of whom, like myself, registered for the first time specifically to record their negative view of the 'celebration' storyline.

    The article seems to imply that the clearly negative reaction of your listeners to the death of a much-loved character is because they 'don't like change much'. This is not only patronising, it is also illogical. The very reason why people engage with the drama is because they DO like change: that's what makes the stories interesting and maintains listeners' loyalty. However, I'd suggest the overwhelming majority prefer change with a positive, uplifting outcome, rather than a devastating negative one, a fact which you seem to have failed to grasp. It's not that listeners to The Archers cannot accept negative change: they're mature enough to know that sometimes sad storylines are necessary because of an actor's death, or retirement or a wish to leave the drama. It's the gratuitous 'killing off' of a much-loved character, against the actor's wishes, to which your listeners object, so please don't insult them by suggesting there is something inherently wrong with people who feel this way.

    Your article also re-opened a personal wound for me. I disengaged from the The Archers several years ago when, following the death of Mark in a car crash, Caroline pulled out of her impending marriage to Robin. I was so much enjoying the Caroline/Robin storyline, looking forward to the marriage and all the rich storylines which would ensue as a result of the union between these two contrasting characters. Then, suddenly, the writers blew it all away, and reading your article I now know why: you relished 'all the hours of fun we've had from that'. This explains everything - the writers like to 'have fun' with listeners' emotions, something which I suspected at the time, but which you have just confirmed. I decided that I didn't want to have my emotions toyed around with, so I stopped listening.

    The whole tone of the article implies that the writers see suffering (be it death, grief, rape, injury or whatever) as a good thing for a drama. This clearly explains why The Archers was 'celebrated' with a death - it's the only way you know. It also explains why the writers seem incapable of understanding the feelings of hitherto loyal listeners who simply don't wish to engage with all the negative fall-out of Nigel's death and, like I did so many years ago, have now switched off.

    I send my very best wishes to Graham Seed, a fine actor and a gentleman who has been treated so shabbily in this whole sorry episode.

  • Comment number 88.

    The BBC has been reading these posts - here's another attempt to placate us. Evidence, i'm afraid' that they are hearing but not listening, or even worse, failing to understand.


  • Comment number 89.

    Were those responsible for this bleak moment in Archers history in any other business, then surely that business would fold. Customer satisfaction is essential to success but in this case with (at a modest estimate) at least 80 percent of us appalled at the service we have received we are almost told it is OUR fault.

    I have a small business. Were 80% of my customers telling me I had done a poor job and were leaving I would go bust. And more to the point I would try to make amends and I would be upset!

    Mary do you and those who made this decision now go to sleep with a smile on your faces thinking "Ah great, I have made everyone miserable, alienated my core audience and put a thoroughly decent actor out of work"? Are you really all that callous?

    Is there no conscience at all, or are you all secretly moonlighting bankers?

  • Comment number 90.

    Buzzbuzzybuzz, I read that too and am shaking my head at the screen.
    Can't someone set up one of those on-line polls for us here? Nobody is listening to us, I am STILL waiting for a reply from the BBC complaints department and all we get is this annoying response from Mary and the even more aggravating collating of our responses from Tayler. I don't need to see her lists I have been enthralled by these posts for the best part of a week now; far more scintillating that the 'real' Archers script.

    I also take umbrage at being accused of not being a long-term listener, I have been listening since my early teens (early 80s)even though my Mum was a Radio 2 listener!!!!! (far too modern for me Mum!)I rarely watch TV.

    I loved Nigel, he was so romantic and that never seems to be shown as serious these days; men seem to be depicted as smarmy, cold or philanderers and this is not realistic. Archers men tend to moan a lot (like many men) but Nigel was SO romantic and rubbed off very well in our household I can say!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 91.

    (just accidentally posted this on the blog above so apologise for repeat)

    It seems that The Archers addiction was far milder than I suspected. It is now almost a week since I listened after decades of barely missing an episode, and already the habit is broken.

    Actually I feel rather free! I have always boasted about never watching soaps on the TV and I justified listening to The Archers by thinking it was a cut above the usual sensation seeking dramas. But that is no longer true and I realise I was only holding on out of a sentiment for what it once was.

    As with many habits, once broken one looks back and wonders why one indulged at all. Last week's fiasco made me realise that I had not really enjoyed it for quite some time. I am now a permanent ex-listener and to my surprise I don't mind that at all. So Thank You Mary, you liberated me.

  • Comment number 92.

    Did Mary Cutler really have carte blanche to decide as to what the 60th anniversary episode would be about? was it actually her idea Nigel's character was to be killed or was she simply told kill the character off? I would have thought it should be the member of the Production team whose actual idea it was that should have been writing the justification.

    Lets face it , most of us guessed it was always going to be the death of either one of those on the roof or to do with Helen and baby - so no suspense really

    Now if the BBC had really wanted to be different they could have had 4 or 5 possible endings for New Years eve as players were all in place, they could have used those interviews and rest of anniversary hype to encourgae people to lsiten and then vote (after last of the endings had been broadcast on connsecutive nights) on a special site as to which would form the final outcome:
    Nigels Death
    Nigel survives as he grabs ivy or handhold or the end of the banner snags on something and his fall is much shorter distance
    David's death
    Helen and or baby dies
    Pat & Tony in accident with Helen on board

    - Oh dear using Grace Archer as an example - sureley its been part of broadcasting history now for years that they cynically killed off Grace to grab headlines in the press the next day to eclipse the launch of ITV. By the way if Grace hadn't been killed I am sure Shula, Kenton, David and Elizabeth would still have existed in some form unless the scriptwriters of the day decided Phil & Grace could't have children

    If I was really cynical I would assume Ms Whitburn & Co beleive all publicity is "good" publicity and all the critcism the actual storyline has received is simply water off a ducks back.....

  • Comment number 93.

    Let's not blame Mary Cutler too much for this - although her attempt to make us feel better by saying it will all work out in sixty years made me furious. I can just remember Dick Barton and will probably not be around in thirty, let alone sixty, years. No satisfaction for me, then! The episode was poorly crafted, and a crass way to "celebrate" an anniversary. Why do we not hear from Vanessa Whitburn herself? The responsibility (and accountability) for deciding on this storyline must finally rest with her. I have lost interest in listening to TA now, and certainly don't want to have to wade through the inevitable fall out that is apparently going to be with us for years and years.....

  • Comment number 94.

    The Archers, Graham Seed and I have something in common. We are all sixty. I started listening at about the same time Nigel joined and I finished listening on Sunday so our span was about the same. Now all three of us go in different directions. Mr. Seed I hope to better things (and better treatment) - at least he has been thrust into the limelight which is a good thing for an actor seeking work. I will listen to Radio 7 at 7 pm because as shortjennifer says, sixty years is a long time to wait for things to improve and I'm not sure I'll make it to 120. Amd the Archers? Well those who are 60 in 2071 I think will recall The Archers the way my generation recalls Mrs. Dale's Diary. A blurry kind of childhood memory which one's parents and grandparents enjoyed which came off soon after a terrible decision was made in 2011.

  • Comment number 95.

    I, too, am sixty something and share the sentiments of forgetmeknot above and so many others. My sadness at the beginning of the week has now turned to anger as Vanessa Whitburn remains silent and the BBC do not even acknowledge our complaints. A huge mistake has been made. We all make mistakes but most of us will acknowledge them. Not the BBC Archers Team, I fear. Far too arrogant and self obsessed.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    I’ve been a faithful TA listener for over thirty years, accepting all other tragic events, even when sad, as part of both change and entertainment, so despite being both sad and very angry, I’ve tried to carry on listening this week, too, but it’s impossible! Especially with the Tony/Helen dribble!

    Something so good for so long is gone, so please won’t you consider the marvellous idea of dananddoris (43) to turn the event into Elizabeth’s nightmare and resurrect Nigel again? Offering Graham a substantial bonus, of course!

  • Comment number 98.

    Mary - what a load of patronising, la-la-la-I'm-not-listening guff. And I mean that most sincerely.

    A bit like the 60th episode, too many words to say nothing.

    The analogy with Birmingham? Really? To the many, many disappointed listeners, you have pulled down Villa Park for the sake of press coverage.

    Maybe you should extend your love of eavesdropping into the cyber world and get an understanding of the 'zeitgeist', to quote Ms Whitburn. Or listen to last night's most excellent Friday Play 'Bad Memories' - a wonderful exammle of suspenseful, atmospheric drama.

    And while I'm here, may I pass on my thanks to the BBC complaints department for the fullsome explanation of the ongoing Eastenders storyline in response to my complaint about, erm, The Archers.

  • Comment number 99.

    What can we do next? We are STILL complaining and it is nearly a week and now we have Mary on the new blog explaining about how they edit 90 minutes down to 75. These people are simply ignoring us, I feel so terribly frustrated because we are the only ones affected by this and we are almost unanimous in our anger and desire to change the script.

    I am still undecided as to whether I stop listening or not, I know it sounds ridiculous but I think I will wait until they bury Nigel and then give up; one last good cry at the radio before I leave for good.

    On a lighter but relevant note, Kenny Dalgleish is back at Liverpool, who would have thought it??? Shocked but in a good way eh!! People CAN turn things around in real life so why can't these script-writers re-write the death of Nigel and bring him back to life?

  • Comment number 100.

    I posted the following message below on the other blog so sorry for the repeat but wanted to get it out there. If we complain to the BBC we should get a reply, they have a tick-box to request a reply so why are they not replying???? Perhaps we should start calling the telephone complaints line, at least we could speak to a human.

    I have just emailed Broadcasting House begging them not to ignore us like the rest of the BBC and bring this up in tomorrow's show. Please do the same and maybe they will bring the subject up, I have directed them towards this site and the blogs just so they know I am not exaggerating.


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