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Childhood bereavement

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 10:08 AM, Tuesday, 11 January 2011


Liz Koole of the child bereavement charity Winston's Wish, writes on the challenges facing Lily, Freddie and Elizabeth, now that they have lost Nigel

The death of a parent is one of the most fundamental losses a child will ever face. Studies show that if childhood grief is not dealt with appropriately it can have a deep and lasting effect on a child's emotional well-being.

It's important to remember that Nigel's death will have come completely out of the blue for Lily and Freddie, and everybody, both children and adults, will be in a state of shock and disbelief. Both children were at home at the time and they will have been aware of what happened. Although they didn't see Nigel's body after the fall, they may know that Elizabeth did. They may want to avoid all discussion with her about this because they think it is too painful for her.

Elizabeth too may want to avoid talking directly with them about their dad's death, for similar reasons. She may feel that she is protecting them from the distressing detail. This will be difficult for the children, as they will not have participated in anything which will help them believe or make sense of what has happened. The difficulty is that Elizabeth and the children will find themselves in different places emotionally.

The challenges for Elizabeth will be to find room for her own grief while also supporting her children. This is difficult, as children grieve differently from adults, leading parents to worry about whether their children are grieving appropriately. Supporting children is difficult when you are not feeling very strong yourself, so it will be important for Elizabeth and those around her to find support for her as an adult, while also seeking to understand how the children may be feeling and how they may be affected.


The challenges for Lily and Freddie will be to gradually understand what has happened. To do this, they may want to know details of the accident so they can piece the story together so it makes sense when they remember it in the future. They will also need people to help them sort out their feelings about what has happened, and to know that it is all right to have a whole variety of feelings. So people may expect them to feel sad, but they may also feel angry towards their dad for climbing on the roof and not being careful enough. They may also feel anger towards other family members who, in different ways, may have played a part in the sequence of events - Kenton, for suggesting the banner on the roof; David for encouraging Nigel to take it down that evening.

Then they will feel guilty for being angry and confused as to what they do or should feel. Adults don't find it easy to talk about feelings. Children also find it difficult, so it is likely that they will express their feelings in their behaviour. Difficult behaviour is hard for a bereaved parent, but it's good to try and understand what it might be saying. It will be important for Elizabeth to allow the children space to talk about how they feel, and to know that it is okay if their feelings are different from hers.


All of us respond to the death of someone we love in different ways, but there are certain expectations in society as to how someone who is bereaved should feel or behave, so Elizabeth may find that the way she outwardly expresses her feelings is very different to the way she feels in herself. Bereaved people often say they are okay, even though they really feel terrible, because they know it is difficult for others to hear how they really feel.

Children often want to assume a more adult role when a parent dies. Indeed, in Freddie's position continuing the Pargetter name and reputation may lead him and others to assume he is now 'the man of the house'. Family and friends need to recognise that he and Lily need to grieve as children.

Children also worry about forgetting someone, so it's important for Elizabeth to find ways to help Lily and Freddie remember their dad. Children nearly always want to talk about someone who has died, so finding room to include their dad in everyday family conversations will be important. Having things to keep that belonged to their dad which have meaning for each of them will also be important.


The bigger picture will be for Elizabeth to know that, although the children will be deeply affected by their dad's death, they will also just want to get on with the business of growing up. So it can sometimes seem that they have forgotten what happened.

For her the task, together with those who are supporting her, will be to lay good foundations for the children to grow up with. Children revisit the death of someone important throughout their childhood, as the person who has died 'grows up' with them. With good information, things that help them remember, and knowing that how they feel is okay, Lily and Freddie will hopefully grow into adults who understand what happened to their dad and what he meant to them (and their mum).

When children are bereaved we cannot - and should not - take away their grief. But by helping them to engage with it, express it and share it, we can help them live with it, through it and beyond it, enabling them to face the future with confidence and hope.

Liz Koole is family services manager for Winston's Wish.

  • Picture supplied by Winston's Wish, which offers practical support and guidance to families, professionals and anyone concerned about a grieving child
  • The Child Bereavement Charity supports families and educates professionals both when a child dies and when a child is bereaved
  • The Way Foundation supports young widowed men and women in the UK
  • The Dying Matters Coalition promotes public awareness of dying, death and bereavement


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  • Comment number 1.

    What about listener bereavement?

    The Archers has been wrecked, many ask questions? Answers are there none

  • Comment number 2.

    This is too weird for words...you go to all this trouble to write about child bereavement when you the script-writers caused it (unnecessarily) in a fictional world. We already know about childhood bereavement because it was flagged up and discussed by your good selves with the death of Sid and bereavement of Jamie storyline.

    I agree with Brian, what about listener bereavement?

    I'm not getting personal am I and is this a viscious, vitriolic attack?

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm sorry, is this a joke? If so it is in extremely poor taste. Is this a case of the ventriloquist's dummy has taken over the ventriloquist? You, the writers and editor, created this "bereavement". Do you actually understand that?

    More words fail me!

  • Comment number 4.

    The storyline has raised some important issues that will unfold over the next few weeks and months. If we're interested in the issues, we can read this helpful and easily-understood article.

    If it's just a story to you, don't bother to read it!

  • Comment number 5.

    I am laughing at last! The Archers's production team has gone totally mad. I still want someone to explain to me the meaning of 'celebratory' as I obviously do not understand the dictionary.

  • Comment number 6.


    It is just a story... that has accompanied me throughout my life.

    I am not interested in "issues" nor do I want... If any of these issues affected you help line nonesense.


  • Comment number 7.

    Daft ain't it?

    Keri we've a surfeit of bereaved children in TA - must be the most unlucky small village in the country competing with Midsomer in the bonkers stakes.

  • Comment number 8.

    Radio 4 has plenty of serious programmes which deal with ishoos. Violence, drug addiction, death, depression - if we want to listen to a programme about such things then that is fine. And if they are discussed by professionals I am sure they are most helpful to those who feel they need information and support.

    But this is a 12 minute radio soap about country folk - and it has already dealt with the loss of a father in the last few weeks- we went through that with Jamie.

    But TA is not a documentary about bereavement; please spare us this sanctimonious twaddle.

    Oh my, they have all gone bonkers

  • Comment number 9.

    Yep, it does seem somewhat....let's just say strange. On the other hand, it could be an attempt to distract attention from what we're all still complaining about...

  • Comment number 10.

    This is all illuminating stuff, clearly based on long experience and very valuable in the right context.

    What I'm wondering right now is why it needs to be posted here, to answer concerns that wouldn't have arisen if the production team, editor and script writers hadn't convinced themselves that they would entertain us on such a special occasion, with a death.

    Where are the answers to our serious concerns about the programme? ... and I don't mean the identical response that everyone is now begging to receive, which really says the same 'we know best and you'll like it in the end' .... except I won't because I'm now an ex-listener .... or does that make my points completely invalid?

  • Comment number 11.

    Obviously that should have been ..... everyone is now beginning to receive.....! (It's the stress of it all)...

  • Comment number 12.

    This is strange to say the least. It's information I might choose to look for if I had to explain a bereavement to my child, but thankfully I don't have to. It stems from the culmination of the most hamfisted plotline in a piece of radio light entertainment.

    So I'm left wondering what was the point?

  • Comment number 13.

    Thank you for this good and helpful advice. It will come in useful for those who care for my grandchildren should anyone think it a brilliant idea to murder me as part of a 60th birthday celebration.

  • Comment number 14.

    I never write at number 11 I understand your stress!!!! We were BEGGING for responses! I sent at least 6 begs to the complaints dept. then other emails to PM, BH etc add to that all the BEGGING we all did to VW to reply to us.

    Raggedexile, hilarious!

  • Comment number 15.

    Raggedexile no 13 - thank you so much! The laughs help!

  • Comment number 16.

    I really don't know what to make of this!

    Presumably the script writers could have done with this kind of advice ..... but I can't find any mention of the word funeral so no advice for Lizzie.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hear, hear! Thanks Raggedexile.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ #13 HAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAAAA thank you so much for a good laugh! LOLOLOLOL

  • Comment number 19.

    Comment 13 Raggedexile - spot on !!! This is a farce. I am heart sorry for Graham Seed . . . I am also sorry, now, for the rest of the cast . . . . . TA have had some cracking story-lines over the years and dealt with some pretty hefty issues . . but it has been reduced to a joke I have no interest in listening now; very sad. VW if you think you can just steamroller on and everyone will forgive, forget and fall into step again . . well I am sorry but you are wrong

  • Comment number 20.

    The Archers as I know it is no more - what is the world coming to when a celebration consists of the death of a very popular cast member, god help us if there's cause for something awful to happen!

  • Comment number 21.

    Thanks Keri, but would not an article on Bereavement Counselling for 50+'s have been more helpful.

  • Comment number 22.

    As others have already observed, this blog seems to suggest that the editorial team is acting as if nothing negative was happening in other blogs, message boards, etc.

    The lack of a meaningful response to the many criticisms of the 'celebration' storyline and its aftermath (other than '... we will have to disagree on many of the points that have been raised ...') coupled with Ms Whitburn's own blog post which caused such outrage, and the standard responses to our complaints which we're beginning to receive from the BBC, suggest to me that the editorial team are paralysed like rabbits in a car's headlights.

    I believe this might be because they now realise that they've alienated a significant proportion of their audience through a major misjudgement and that they are trying to carry on as normal in the vain hope that we (the metaphoric car hurtling towards them) will just disappear.

    Such an approach would indeed be a mistake, because if all those, like myself, who have disengaged from the drama are representative of the audience (and I believe they are) the listening figures will take a hit soon enough.

    The editorial team could have largely recovered this situation had they responded quickly and meaningfully to the strength of feeling voiced by listeners. However, at this stage I believe that even a volte-face by the editorial team would not be sufficient to win back the customers now lost (many of whom have already found enjoyable alternatives) because the trust built up over many years has been broken.

  • Comment number 23.

    The Archers Team - LISTEN TO US!! (Sorry for shouting) but it seems that VW and the rest of the team have selective deafness.

  • Comment number 24.

    What a pathetic attempt to change the course of the discussions in the light of severe criticism. They put their heads in the sand, ignore all around them and try to carry on as if nothing has happened.

    Will we give up? I for one will not.

  • Comment number 25.

    Neither will I jdo!

  • Comment number 26.

    Oh Keri, you can't win can you... but I don't remember any

    "If any listeners have been affected messages"
    after Marks death, Pollys death, Jethros death, nothing when Jamie really needed help after Sids death... nothing when John went, helping parents whose children pre-decease them, something I have faced or at least contemplated recently, and that is a Pandora's box I never wish to open again... so why this, why now... we are left only to conclude, smoke screen... and a poor one, a very poor one... in fact it has evaporated like the morning mist already...

    So sorry Keri dear, so sorry

    Char x

  • Comment number 27.

    Liz Koole from Winstone's Wish (an excellent organisation in my experience) writes extensive advice for Lizzie, in dealing with Freddie and Lily in their bereavement following Nigel's death.

    Does Ms Koole understand that Nigel wasn't real? Lizzie and the twins don't exist either. This is not a real case for her to undertake, it is make-believe and she may have been led up the garden path in thinking otherwise. In an attempt to avoid answering our questions, it seems that the Prod Team are thinking of other ways to divert us, like reading about child bereavement.

    In any case, we don't need an article on child bereavement about fictional characters in order to cope with forthcoming episodes (many of us won't be listening anyway). If we 'have been affected by this' we can seek counselling.

    What on earth is going on?

  • Comment number 28.

    I can see where you are all coming from here and agree! But the Archers was originally conceived as having a 'public information' role and the website link is a logical extension of that. Bereavement often strikes out of nowhere and I am glad that so many fans have managed to miss out on that particular life experience but it will come one day. My own family recently had a funeral and for some reason all the grandchildren were expected to attend - and those that did not want to really had no choice. Many of the adults there wondered when it all changed - children never used to go to funerals. And they are so artificial too, at least for non-churchgoers. Many of us would rather have not been there. I am following Lizzie's story with interest - but I'm sure the children will have to go in the end (though it seems frankly unlikely that her Mum, being of the older generation, would really approve of them being there.)
    And I can never forget the Foot & Mouth Disease debacle in 2001 when the production team, having recorded a number of episodes, simply refused to amend or re-record to reflect FMD - that's when they lost me I have to say. Living in three overlapping infected areas I couldn't listen to the merry goings on in Ambridge with no smoke or soldiers in white suits or fear in the vicinity...
    That's all folks!

  • Comment number 29.

    Oh Raggedexile!
    I thought the twit-er count was slightly odd but now I do know I'm in a parallel universe.
    Thanks anyway but I won't be requiring this information as I won't be hearing the pretend bereaved children.
    I just really, really hope that some poor listner isn't really in this situation.

  • Comment number 30.


    I've just managed to access this board. This is sparked by my email to The Archers recently. I'm sorry to those of you who feel it is "just a programme" or "just a story". Some of us know that the current storyline is dealing with Real Issues - the totally unexpected death of a spouse, and being left with young children. The WAY Foundation - to which there is now a link and Winston's Wish were invaluable when I was widowed at the age of 38 and left with two young children - I hope that one family contacts them as a result of this storyline - in which case it would have been worthwhile.

    I must admit, I was disappointed that The Archers marked its Diamond anniversary with a tragedy, as I felt the arrival of Henry would have been enough. Still, life's not like that!!

    Thank you to all involved for highlighting the plight of those of us who have no choice but to be single parents through death - unfortunately, there's a lot of it about!

    I must admit, I was a bit surprised at the speed with which a post-mortum was organised and, presumably an inquest opened and adjourned during bank holidays!

    However, thank you also for the mention of Family Liasion Officers - I don't know how I could have got through without them!

    Thank you to all involved with the storyline


  • Comment number 31.

    Ms. Koole is not a member of the production team, and I'm sure she is just thankful for the opportunity to gain some exposure for what seems like a very worthy charity. Would it be too much to expect some charitable behaviour towards her?

  • Comment number 32.

    I have just received a response to my complaint to the BBC. Can't help thinking that others will have received a similar or identical response as it seemed such a stereotype. Any comments?

    It read:

    Thanks for contacting us regarding ‘The Archers’. Below is a response to your concerns from the Editor:

    “I’m sorry if you were unhappy with aspects of the Archers anniversary storyline. Of course, it is a tough one as Nigel Pargetter was and actually will remain an important character in influence and memory.

    The story was designed to show empathy around loss and to open up a new set of circumstances within the ongoing drama. Life has to go on for those close to Nigel, such as the business of running Lower Loxley.

    The main focus of The Archers has and will always be on the quality of the drama we offer. A big story may begin with a shocking event but then ripples through the programme with many other ongoing strands.

    Thanks again for your feedback on this storyline, I do appreciate it and I do hope you continue listening.

    Yours Sincerely
    Vanessa Whitburn
    Editor, The Archers”

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

    Kind Regards

    BBC Audience Services

    Dear BBC Audience Services

    A wholly inadequate, pat response. I expect you have sent the same response to everybody who has bothered to voice their anger and upset. As for a desire to show empathy round loss, haven't we had enough of that already (unavoidably) in the past year with Phil and Sid?

    All I would say is that I tuned into the omnibus edition in the vain hope that you would have had a rethink while you still had an opportunity to override the wrong you had done. You hadn't and, therefore, I switched off immediately after 'the fall' and Shula's pronoucement thereafter and shan't be tuning in again. And this after 36 years of faithful listening. This will probably mean that I will be listening to Radio 4 a lot less now, as TA was often a cue to turn it on in the first place. I doubt I am the only one. You have trampled all over a loved character and replaced him by what - Helen's offspring, who has irritated me already simply because you have replaced a rich, well developed character by a token baby (What did Ms Whitburn say? Something like... a birth and a death - that's iconic. What puerile rot). And there is absolutely no attraction in the idea of listening to the new, smug Helen, who will doubtless prove to us old hands that we never knew anything at all about child raising. How clever of Ms Whitburn to turn a silk purse into a sow's ear. Well done her.

    Unless you are going to give me a well argued, illuminating response, please don't bother to answer again. I don't want another standard, one size fits all communication. I still can't help thinking that your long term objective is to kill off the whole programme - and sadly now, I for one would not mourn its passing - an idea that would have been unthinkable only just over a week ago. Clearly no point wasting any more time on this, as you just aren't listening. Don't think you understand your audience at all.

    My congratulations to Ms Whitburn and her team for totally destroying something good and much loved.

    Yours faithfully

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't have a problem with your "informational" post above. Us Brits are usually closed books and bottle stuff up over such issues. It does no harm to be given access to information which some people may use well to positive effect.

    It is just wholly inappropriate timing to post the above, yet continue to ignore/whitewash/blank the thousands of complaints, very largely thought out and sincere and not rude. Frequently blunt, but often not rude. We're now receiving automated spam anti-complaint letters from Ms Whitburn (which interestingly are being moderated out).

    Keri - Please can the editorial team address the core issues being raised post-2nd January by loyal listeners. I've been tuned in for 18 years. I've lurked on the message boards for a few years on and off, but this lack of respect has prompted me to finally contribute. There are thousands like me. We all deserve better from the Editorial team as listeners and your wage payers. We're waiting and unfortunately for Ms Whitburn, we won't go away any time soon. The anger at SATTC has created is being massively underestimated by your colleagues.

    #13 Raggedexile - Beautifully written. V funny indeed. :-)

  • Comment number 34.

    I would like to thank Liz Koole for taking the time to write this. If it helps just one person/family it will have been worth it.

  • Comment number 35.

    #13 Raggedexile for the win!!

  • Comment number 36.

    If you've been affected by the issues raised on this blog (ie being talked down to by someone who's dropped an almighty clanger) then ring the BBC Flying Toff Helpline...

  • Comment number 37.


    I enjoyed your post. It's useful information. The points about grief tunring to anger and that anger being directed at individuals who might been seen as responsible in some tangential way is very evident in our listener community.

  • Comment number 38.

    I am very new at this and had not in the past seen these blogs so I am wondering if there was information for grieving elderly widows when Phil died? Was there information for children whose father had died or women who were widowed in mid life, or for women whose ex-husband died or whose step-father died when Sid died? Or for a little boy whose mother has died? (Ruari) Was there information on abortion when Annette had her termination? Or IVF when Helen got the baby cheesus? Or information on Alzheimers when Jack was diagnosed? Or adultery (Brian) Or near adultery (Roof). Or secret love children (Ruari again) or taking on your husband's secret love child when his lover dies? (Jenny). Or going to prison? (Matt) Or being the partner of someone in prison (Lilian)

    I could go on. And on. I won't. I just wondered ....

  • Comment number 39.

    The change of photo on the VW blog plus this blog being quickly placed above her blog in an attempt to divert readers away from the overwhelming mass of criticism of the 60th Bloodbath edition of TA , shows at least that the editors are reading what is being said here.

    What a pity that they haven’t the time to give us a reasonable response to the issues being raised.

    #13 Raggedexile How I wish I had said that.

  • Comment number 40.

    This is just getting surreal now.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why have I just had to read through a lecture on childhood berevement, I'm sorry Kerri, I find the whole tone of your blog quite patronising.

    I don't remember when other charaters died that such posts were written.

    Does this mean there's going to be months of listening to Lilly and Freddy having counselling ?

    Is the Archers going to be even more "Ishoo " lead now ?

    I'm so glad that after listening for years, I gave up after Jan 1st !

  • Comment number 42.

    ladyjemima, that confirms my suspicions. A form letter, failing to acknowledge that it is a response to a *complaint*, sent to everyone who has objected to this storyline. Could it *be* any more patronising?

  • Comment number 43.

    #21 Random Gardener: "Thanks Keri, but would not an article on Bereavement Counselling for 50+'s have been more helpful."

    I so agree! OK, yes, if the child bereavement article helps even one person, then I am glad, but you also have *a lot* of hurt, bewildered, angry bereaved listeners (& ex-listeners, obviously) here, and you are fobbing us off. How about some bereavement counselling for people facing the sudden, unexpected loss of their favourite radio series due to betrayal of trust by the BBC in general and the series editor in particular? Any loss can cause hurt - death, redundancy, theft, moving house, loss of trust in a friend, etc etc. So could you now offer some *help* rather than continuing to patronise us, tell us we are wrong, "hope" we will continue to listen, count numbers of comments but ignore content, and otherwise dismiss our genuine response?

  • Comment number 44.

    Te celebrate: (real world)To observe (a day or event) with ceremonies of respect, festivity, or rejoicing.

    To celebrate: (Archers world) throw devoted husband and father screaming in terror off a cold wet roof in the middle of the night, let wife see broken body and leave two children bereft and in need of counselling. Oh and have brother in law with guilt and pain for the rest of eternity.

    But at least we learn that childhood bereavement is difficult. Who'd have thought?

  • Comment number 45.

    Liz Koole's blog is most helpful and will be invaluable for families dealing with bereavement. It is very important to remember that young children often understand much more than adults realise and will certainly pick up feelings of other family members. If young children are kept at a distance so as to avoid upsetting them, this could actually make them feel even more isolated and bewildered.

    Winston's Wish is an excellent Charity and deserves recognition and support.

    Hopefully Liz will understand that some of the negative comments on this blog do not relate to her work, but rather the experience of bereavement being felt by many listeners as a result of this controversial stroyline.

  • Comment number 46.

    What on earth is an article about Childhood Bereavement doing the Archers blog? This is a soap opera not real life.

    Undoubtedly the Editor is trying to move away from the main issue that brought forth all the justifiable comments and complaints.

    VW should realise she will not succeed by laying smoke screens.

    Like other correspondents I received a stereotyped response by VW to my complaint to the Beeb. Perhaps not a surprise in view of their head in the sand approach.

    I think they will find this issue is not going away

  • Comment number 47.

    Keri, please do some research on listener bereavement and that post what you find out. I might actually read that

  • Comment number 48.

    I meant to say: Keri, please do some research on listener bereavement and then post what you find out. I might actually read that.
    With the opportunity of the second bite at the cherry, I wish to add that it is very poor that you did not think to write concerning the tsunami of criticism concerning the Nigel debacle from ex-Archers fans. Here's a suggested title for a future post: "Did we get it wrong? If yes, how can we put it right?"

  • Comment number 49.

    I can't quite believe what I am seeing, this whole situation is sick. If Vanessa was a politician and had lost the support of her constituency she would have to resign. What is going on here? Enough of this rubbish, please will someone, anyone, address what is going on here and admit you have made a huge mistake with a story line. You are not listening to your listeners!
    I am not just disgusted with the management of the Archers, I am disgusted with the management of the BBC - this is not what I pay my licence fees for!

  • Comment number 50.

    I am truly stunned , have the Archers production team gone stark raving bonkers? An article about child bereavement, are we going to have health and safety advice on climbing roofs too?
    How about a helpline for those of us who feel that we have been treated unfairly and who are becoming depressed because nobody in the BBC will listen to us?

  • Comment number 51.

    I actually find this post offensive.

    If I had just lost my husband and was trying to deal with the bereavement with my children, (which, thank God, I haven't) I suspect someone would have pointed me at Winston's Wish, and I am sure they do very good work.

    How do you think I would feel to find this heartbreaking issue used as a cynical ploy to cover up a monumental ..er .. mess up ... in a radio drama? And then found that because of what had gone before, a majority of posters found it hilarious.

    I think taste and decency requires that you take this post down, to be honest, and get on with dealing with the flak yourselves, rather than hiding behind *real* bereaved children.

    Classic FM. Bring it on.

  • Comment number 52.

    Okay, here's what I think. Liz Koole, I wish you and your organisation every success in your work, and agree that if just one person finds this article helpful, that would be excellent. I too am sorry if you feel your organisation or your article has been undermined by the responses here; I don't for a minute believe that's anyone's intention. Rather, I think it's reactions to another misjudgement by whoever at TA decided this was appropriate.

    I agree with OurFreda, and RaggedExile - brilliant!

  • Comment number 53.

    I trust the two children who play Freddie and Lily have been offered bereavement counselling. They have only recently been introduced into the programme and to their 'father' presumably when they recorded their scenes. I see too that they had a photo shoot with him. How did they take his loss? Were they allowed to say goodbye to Graham Seed? I hope the situation was dealt with care as they are very young and it must have been quite a shock.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'm fascinated by the idea that after the deaths of Siobhán, Betty, Julia, Margery, Phil, Syd and the slow living death of Jack, we suddenly needed a 'story ... designed to show empathy around loss and to open up a new set of circumstances within the ongoing drama.

    If the production team were unable to do that in any of the previous cases why do they think they'll be able to do it now?

    If they were able to do it in the past then why do they need to do it again?

    Syd's death was their chance to discuss all these issues - if they fluffed them, then why not move on and give us a story about life in a village for a change.

    At least the R7 stuff on January 2nd was billed as repeat broadcasts - we seem to be on a endless loop script rewrite at the moment.

  • Comment number 55.

    #45 DistantTraveller, I do not think we need to succumb to piety in the matter of bereavement charities. Winston's Wish has been preferred to other similar charities - the excellent Child Bereavement Charity, for example - for reasons not given. Winston's Wish, like any successful charity, is highly skilled in the arts of fundraising and publicity; it will be greatly gratified by this exposure.

    Ms Koole's discussion of the needs of the Pargetter children rings hollow because the suspended disbelief of listeners plunged to earth with Nigel, lay lifeless beside him and will be interr'd with his bones.

    The golden bowl is broken; the story has collapsed; the rest is jabber.

  • Comment number 56.

    @37 BoneyKnee "... anger being directed at individuals who might been seen as responsible in some tangential way is very evident in our listener community ...."

    I really don't mean to be patronising in return, but I think you're missing the point about what's going on here. If you mean that the majority of posters on here is misguided for being angry with the editor and script writers, who aren't really responsible for turning TA into a miseryfest, perhaps you can tell all of us who is?

    I'm an ex-listener because I simply can't bear to listen to more of the same dreary, repetitive stuff that we've had for more time than is healthy. And I'm angry that that is the case.

  • Comment number 57.

    As a bit of light relief from the current miserable state of affairs in Ambridge. Nigel's storyline has reminded my son of a certain Hancock's Half Hour episode 'The Bowmans - an every day story of simple folk', in which Hancock plays a character that is killed off to the dismay of the public. It is on untube in three parts, here is the first

  • Comment number 58.

    #45. I'm sorry but if your partner/husband/wife had died on the same night as Nigel and you had 2 young children to deal with, do you honestly think you would be following The Archers?!
    Oh yeh, lets tune in and see if Lizzie is at the same stage as me. Let's see if her kids are going to the funeral. Oh, could do with a bit of advice - I know, The Archers blog page will be helpful.
    It is simply breathtaking but has left a slightly nasty taste in my mouth.

  • Comment number 59.

    Having formally complained about the Nigel's unbelievable, contrived and almost universally unpopular,killing off, I wasn't surprised to receive a standard, stock reply which didn't address my main points. It would seem that it is of no consequence to the programme's editor, that I have listened to the Archers for 55years, having been introduced to it via my grandparent's bakelite valve wireless - they had tuned in from the begining. My children are listeners and I was about to introduce my grandchildren to the 'delights' of Ambridge. But now!?

    Like thousands (millions?) of other devoted listeners,I consider that Ms.whitburn has finally gone too far, destoying what is probably the BBC's most famous radio programme, which, thanks to her predessesors, had become a cherished cultural icon and national treasure. The 60th. anniversary programme was supposed to be a celebration. Some celebration!

    I believe that there is only one way that the BBC can redeem itself. That is by re-winding the storyline, re-writing and returning Nigel to the cast list. In doing so, the organisation's management would find favour with the great body of loyal Archers fans, many of whom have already stopped listening, or vowed to do so. Finally, the editor's manifest lack of judgement and disregard for listeners,must mean that her future association with the programme, is surely in doubt.

  • Comment number 60.

    #45, it might seem unlikely to you, but if someone says that this blog helped them (or would have helped them if it had been posted when they experienced their loss), is it appropriate for you or anyone else to question that? Just as no one can tell you how or what to think about the whole Nigel-death / SATTC storyline.

  • Comment number 61.

    This is unbelievable! - child bereavement advice on here! It just makes a mockery out of the whole fiasco and beggars belief!
    I, along with many others, I suspect, received the "round robin" reply from VW (really?)
    Short of an acknowledgement that a huge mistake was made in the "celebratory" episode and a re-write plus VW's resignation or sacking, my thirty plus years of devotion to what was once a daily uplifting dose of distraction from whatever ails in life I needed distracting from has come to an end.

  • Comment number 62.

    I thought I was going to remain a reader not a writer on these boards, but I have to contribute my utter dismay at this latest move.

    Of course this is a worthy cause, and perhaps it might help just one person, but in the process I believe it could do the absolute opposite to many more. Had my husband just died and I was comforting my children I would find it insulting beyond belief to know that "Elizabeth" was facing challenges in dealing with "Lily and Freddie".

    So if you were suffering a REAL bereavement and you had just lost your husband, your world had fallen apart and your children were sobbing, would you find it comforting if someone said to you "Oh I know just how you feel, I was just the same when Nigel died?"... and then said to you, "Oh but I know where you can get some help ..the Archers website!"

    Those posting angry or disappointed messages on all of these boards are not ranting about a real death. They are angry because the few minutes of escapism they enjoyed each day with a radio soap had become unbelievable, poorly scripted and unnecessarily sensationalist.

    There ARE no bereavements here. And although we here are dismayed at the slow destruction of a radio show, there is actually only one REAL fall guy and that is Nigel Seed. I hope he has been offered some form of counselling as he loses the job he loved for nearly 30 years, not to mention to income he depended upon. And that is not fiction, that is reality.

  • Comment number 63.

    @62 hoppingmad10 - hear hear!

  • Comment number 64.

    hopping mad - I have just posted something similar on Ms. Whitburn's blog - i.e. that the only real victim here is Mr. Seed and we need to remember that. The fictional children are not grieving because they do not exist, and while we are fed up with TA losing its integrity, grief is too strong a word for what we are feeling and of course we will recover and either forgive, or in most cases find something else to do at 2.00 or 7.00pm. But Mr. Seed is left out of work after I am sure believing he was secure for many more years in such a popular role. Just because an actor's life is a precarious one, does not mean that when they are shoved off a roof it doesn't hurt!

  • Comment number 65.

    Since the original purpose of the programme was to provide real, practical advice about farming, I see no issue with carrying on the tradition, albeit with a modern twist and an expanded mandate.

  • Comment number 66.

    But does a 'modern twist' now mean we may have practical real-life advice on running a country hotel, a village shop a fruit and produce show or a large country house? Maybe we could do with practical help with tractor maintenance, keeping poultry or dealing with the feud between our sons?

    The Archers is escapist fiction. Why on earth are they now trying to confuse it with real life?

    Oh, I know. It's to divert us from the REAL LIFE issue which currently exercises us : our dismay at the sad decline of the programme.

  • Comment number 67.

    This has always been a straightforward fun, occasionally scandalous, story, easy to listen to and entertaining. You are wrecking this story with your endless discussion of bereavement. Who needs it. Plenty of sadness in everyday life without you lot going on about sadness morning noon and night.

  • Comment number 68.

    neuebiene, the Archers began in the fifties and was part drama, part public information. Post-war Britain was still on food rationing and it was believed that a programme about "the everyday story of country folk" would be most helpful to the farmers.

    I don't remember with every broken tractor or low-yield wheat crop or indeed a farmer being trampled to death by a cow there being a help line for those affected.

    And yes willowherb I agree that this is a diversion and may I join many others in saying that it is most distasteful to use real life tragedy to divert us from the issue at hand. It is rather like when we were kids and you thought you'd throw up if you ate a cabbage leaf and your mum said "think of the starving children in Africa". Guilting us into thinking our complaints are insignificant and meaningless in the face of real tragedy is to stray away from the fact that this tragedy is fiction, our complaints are real.

  • Comment number 69.

    I am still reeling from the death of Nigel. I had comforted myself with the thought that perhaps Graham Seed wanted to leave the series but he is just as upset as the rest of us. This was not a 'celebration' of 60 years and I seriously considered giving up The Archers. Obviously I wont, but it is the worst storyline there has been in the 40 odd years I have been listening. Nigel was always a breath of fresh air and I will really miss him. I really think the children should go to the funeral.

  • Comment number 70.

    "Liz Koole of the child bereavement charity Winston's Wish, writes on the challenges facing Lily, Freddie and Elizabeth, now that they have lost Nigel"

    I believe someone mentioned this charity on one of the message boards a few days ago and all credit to the Archers team in following it up with this piece which I hope will be useful to someone.

    However, (and there had to be an however) The Archers is not "real" anymore. It's just a fictional story about fictional people who used to be close personal friends whose lives I was interested in. Which means the children don't need this advice 'cos they don't exist anymore; and oh how I wish they still did. The pathetic plot has destroyed Ambridge.
    I have stopped listening but am keeping in touch through the daily email, when I can be bothered to read it.

    I'll be back listening when there's some joy brought back into it.

  • Comment number 71.

    Neuebiene, we have every right to say that the chances of parents of real bereaved children would either find the charity themselves or be recommended it by other people.
    A simple search engine would yield results.
    I simply do not believe anyone in Elizabeth's position would be listening in to hear some fictional characters' fake grief whilst suffering their own.
    It's bizarre to use a real life charity to further this ridiculous story.
    No actually, it's disgraceful and disrespectful to those really in this terrible situation and displays somewhat poor judgement and taste.

  • Comment number 72.

    We do get it, really we do. You're hurt and you're angry and you don't want anything to do with this storyline.

    But I am dismayed that (most of) the comments here choose to pour scorn on the idea of asking an expert to comment on events in Ambridge and to give them a wider perspective.

    I thought it was a fascinating article. It will certainly inform my writing of these characters and I believe it will be of interest to those who are not so resentful of the story. (These people do exist, although I know they are very much in the minority in blog comments and message board posts.)

    And for those of you asking where is the similar treatment of previous storylines... Sorry to state the obvious, but we didn't have the blog then, although even on the old website we did have the occasional expert contribution.

    In the short time the blog has been established, we have run several explanatory posts. Here are some:




    And we will continue to do so in the future.

  • Comment number 73.

    Thanks, Mr Keri. That was a nice comment. :)
    I'm sure you'll do a good job of writing about them.


  • Comment number 74.

    I think that the majority of posts here Keri do not pour scorn on the idea of asking an expert to comment on events in Ambridge.

    They are being made by people who are very hurt and annoyed by the direction the editors have decided to take a much loved programme in, the ham-fisted way they have chosen to do it and the pure arrogance of the editorial team towards them.

  • Comment number 75.


    You say you get it. But you don't.

    It would seem to me that that idiotic episode has crystalized the decline in what the Archers has been for many over the years.

    Years and decades of listening and commitment have been scrapped as the scales fall from the eyes. Many ignored or forgave the growing poor plotting , diminished writing and growing sensationalism now see it for what it is.

    Many here say they will not listen for a time or even ever again, ( add my wife and 2 nephew 15 & 18 to that - dumbed down was their reaction). This is because the Archers is now perceived as broken a blasted landscape full of angst and issues.

    I just about remember the very begining and only gave up whe the CofE vicar of a middle England village married a Hindu. I was suckered back by the hype for "that" episode. Ghastly.

    What is to be done? You are in a very deep hole, certainly with long standing listners. That is, unless, your plan is to ditch us because we are now the wrong kind of listener ( code for too old in Ambridge speak)

    To exacibate the situation, as you have done, by what appears a mixture of denial and arrogance is just petrol on the fire.

  • Comment number 76.

    forgetmeknot: To be fair there were not nearly as many means of communicating with the audience back then as there are now. Serious question: Were there help lines in the fifties?

    On the matter of whether this blog is a diversionary tactic: This theory does not take into account the fact that the storyline, lumps and all, was clearly planned months in advance. As was the publicity campaign, including the use of blogs, twitter, and so on. I think it unlikely that the publicity plan only covered the period up to and including the day of transmission. Therefore, I would suggest that tie-ins such as this blog were almost certainly always part of the original plan, and thus not a reaction to the discontent on the part of a number of listeners.

  • Comment number 77.

    Nigel dies ok so what... many many people loved Sid, many of us loved John, but theirs was natural wastage...

    This This TRAVESTY was cooked up and deliberately chosen for effect, a la East enders / corrie...

    And it is that you do this to OUR Radio Programme that many here have been listening to longer than I have been breathing....

    You should be ashamed.

    Yes we know the blog is new... but there have been " IF anyone is affected by the contents of this programme" since time immemorial, and you are now choosing to use a different medium.

    I am really pleased that you will find the bereavement expert helpful to you in informing you and helping you to WRITE A RADIO SOAP... I still find it wholly inappropriate.

    I truly wish that we did not have this medium to complain as you would be in serious trouble by a large convoy of post vans heading your way...


    Good day to you


  • Comment number 78.

    "We didn't have the blog" ... when Sid died?

    Come on, Keri, this is an overworked trope and the 'bereavement' helpline is gratuitous and patronising.

    You say "they may want to know details of the accident so they can piece the story together so it makes sense when they remember it in the future." Because the accident made no sense, there is only one possible way for them to rationalise this. There is a capricious and unseen force that may, at any moment and without rhyme or reason kill them off. As Luis De Gongora observed back in 1581, "fortune presents gifts not according to the book." I am sure that the Archers will, in the fullness of time, make an excellent existentialist drama.

    Sadly, this will come too late for many of us. I was willing to soldier on after the shoddy manipoulation of the anniversary episode, but the continuing discontinuities and the absolute hubris of the 'offical' responses have done it for me. I have missed 2 episodes and leading up to my third, and no withdrawal pangs at all, just a lingering sense of nostalgia. Perhaps it is shock and perhaps in time I will need the bereavement advice to 'make sense of' the death of what was a wonderful show and the unifying thread for an amazingly diverse community of interest. Sic transit.

  • Comment number 79.

    #77 above, Charley Farley.
    Yes you're absolutely correct, what we are complaining about is not so much a death, we accept that deaths will occur, sometimes because the actor themsleves die or decide to leave, Phil being the former (RIP lovely man) or Sid being the latter. What we object to is the unnecessary death purely for sensationalism when a) the actor didn't want to go, b) most of the audience didn't want him to go, c) when it wasn't necessary for him to go to create a memorable event. If it had to be Nigel then he could have fallen and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair, Elizabeth could still have had a grudge against David, we would have seen how a family coped with a dramatic change in life and we could have kept that lovely happy go lucky charming Nigel. I was convinced that this is what was going to happen as lets be honest we don't have a disabled person in the Archers and I thought here it comes. But no we decide to borrow a script from East Enders, kill off Nigel, let Tony and Helen have a 'conversion' on the way to Damascus into the bargain and call it imaginative.
    We really must not let this rest even if some of us have stopped listening.....like me!

  • Comment number 80.

    Oh thank you Keri - just when I thought it couldn't get even more ridiculous, you've proved me wrong. I'm about to write a best seller "TA listeners are from Pluto, TA Scriptwriters are from Uranus"

  • Comment number 81.

    What is going on here? Is everyone who works with VW brainwashed, or are they all just terrified of her? Some of you must have an opinion of your own or are you all made tow the company line because you are all so scared?

  • Comment number 82.

    Keri, I don't think you do get it. You say, "You're hurt and you're angry and you don't want anything to do with this storyline." What has consistently remained unaddressed, and continues to fuel my anger, is:
    1. The lack of response to the question why, for a 60th anniversary celebration episode, the team "felt that the event had to be deeply traumatic." I quote from VW's blog
    2. The time it's taken to get any kind of response to complaints
    3. Why this once-great programme is rehashing SLs about death and bereavement
    4. Why complaints receive a blanket response which fails to address the individual issues raised

    You also say, "But I am dismayed that (most of) the comments here choose to pour scorn on the idea of asking an expert to comment on events in Ambridge and to give them a wider perspective." Firstly, I'm not sure I agree that the majority do pour scorn; secondly, even if they do, the fact that you seem surprised simply reinforces for me that you don't in fact get it.

    I note that on another thread Root4me has had very swift replies to their questions. I'd love to have whatever they've got, as I'd really like a swift response to the 4 points above.

    Another (misunderstood) ex-listener.

  • Comment number 83.

    Rumble@82....I have mojo only in short supply I'm afraid. I'm not sure that I have enough remaining in my pot to share out amongst the fellow distressed souls!

    But it was good to see direct responses can be received. I did the polite thing and have thanked Keri accordingly. I'm being optimistic and think we're getting through. I can feel something rumbling within my depleted mojo that suggests a proper response is being formulated right now to our voluminous and justified complaints. Time....give it time...

  • Comment number 84.

    @80 KatieLiza ........... thank you so much - I've been overdue for today's cry with laughter episode. Who's your publisher going to be? I'll buy it.....

  • Comment number 85.

    To rumble: You want quick responses? May I step in?

    "1. The lack of response to the question why, for a 60th anniversary celebration episode, the team "felt that the event had to be deeply traumatic." I quote from VW's blog"

    Failure of imagination, inability to distinguish engagement from shock.

    "2. The time it's taken to get any kind of response to complaints"

    Combination of contempt for audience (we only count via RAJAR) and sickening realisation that they've messed up. Sarah Palin fell silent for much the same reason, one suspects.

    "3. Why this once-great programme is rehashing SLs about death and bereavement"

    A novel and topical storyline would be too tricky to manage. Death is 'easy' esp. when the decedent was well-liked: it is a Bad Thing and grief can be used to unify people. Disability is much harder; people have different views and it is politically contentious (now that the mobility allowance is being axed). Of course, it depends on how disabled Nigel would have been; suppose, for instance, that Adam & Ian had been militantly or aggressively gay - or even camply flamboyant.

    "4. Why complaints receive a blanket response which fails to address the individual issues raised"

    Come on! It is a truth universally acknowledged that an empty CRM box must be in want of a tick.

  • Comment number 86.

    Root4me & Midwesterner in the Midlands - thanks to both of you. It's encouraging to know someone's listening to me! And I so, so hope you're right, Root4me, and the signs from your depleted mojo are accurate... :)

  • Comment number 87.

    and Keri, thanks for what looked like a promising opening line..... but then you had to go and spoil it all with that BUT.....

  • Comment number 88.

    @82 rumble - thank you for expressing how I feel. I have never poured scorn on anyone and do not intend to do so now, however, the bereavement item made me feel very uncomfortable on top of the "deeply traumatic" events of the 60th and I now feel I am living in a different place from the production team - surreal land?

    For my 60th I had a party and no-one jumped off the roof - we just had what I consider to be a celebration.

  • Comment number 89.

    I for one can reconcile hating recent events in the story and decisions about plots & thinking this expert contribution is a valid thing to post in the context of the SL we had.

    When there is a charity set up for those really really teed off with radio SLs I am sure Keri will post an article about it (winky whatever they are)


  • Comment number 90.

    btw what IS the picture at the top about? Did Nigel have children we don't know about? Henry? Why four random children pushing each other happily?

  • Comment number 91.

    The very existence of this thread is a offensive travesty. To appropriate the issue of childhood bereavement in the context of a shoddy work of fiction is an act of shameful opportunism. It is an insult to the intelligence of Radio 4 listeners and, much more importantly, to bereaved children in the real world.

  • Comment number 92.

    Apologies for distracting typo above. An offensive travesty, of course.

  • Comment number 93.

    'Lily and Freddie will hopefully grow into adults '
    I wouldn't count on it. :(

  • Comment number 94.

    ANd no disrespect to Winston's Wish btw, they coudln't have known they were going to walk into this, Although I do wonder who contacted them and why them rather than anybody else.

    See what you've done to me? I am simply suspicious of everything now.

    Perhaps as you've started on this you could do a blog on Post Traumatic Stress because, to my incredulity, I do hear Nigel's awful scream as I go to sleep at night. Is it just me? Don't forget - the pictures are better on radio. It horrified me. I do actually see it all in my head.

    It's just shown me it was time to leave anyway!

    P.S. @ whoever mentioned the Bowmen, yes I've been chuckling over that too!

  • Comment number 95.

    "Book of condolence" for a fictional character? What a STUPID idea!!

  • Comment number 96.

    From the short bio for today's characters (the twins): "The effect of the untimely death of their father at this critical time cannot be underestimated."

    Erm - or indeed OVERestimated??

  • Comment number 97.

    I'm sorry you are 'dismayed' Mr Davies but you are conflating criticism of the dislike of the story of Nigel's death with the criticism you have received for this rather tasteless attempt to merge real life with your story.
    I think that is a mistake.
    Real life bereavement, especially for children, is not the subject for a soap opera blog. That is what the majority of people here are pointing out.
    The reason is that although this small piece may 'inform' your writing, what Elizabeth's children do or do not feel is entirely down to scripts and storylines, already mapped out. This is not the case in reality; it can be a very unpredictable and heart breaking life event.
    I know because of the work I do and you should not presume that there are not others on here with a similar background who are uncomfortable for the same reasons and even those who have no professional background still find it inappropiate.
    We are not all wrong.

  • Comment number 98.

    Too right Charley me old chum.

    Keri if you [the prodteam] really understood you would offer a clear apology to people who have been upset by this crude rush for the ratings. There is no point denying this is the case as VW revealed this herself by going on about how much response she has got.

    Sorry is such a short word to write.

  • Comment number 99.

    Whatever the rights and wrongs of this storyline and the BBC's reaction to listeners' responses to it, this is nonetheless an excellent blog post.

    I only wish that all this had been understood when I lost my father as a child 40 years ago. Although I was aware of people's sympathy and concern, and of my mother's determination to keep the family going in difficult circumstances, a British stiff-upper-lip response to the whole situation was thought to be the best way to cope with it.

    I'm glad that children who lose parents nowadays have more support and understanding than I did. Liz Koole and Winston's Wish are doing much-needed good work.

  • Comment number 100.

    Well children, I'm going up on the roof now. I may gone be some time.


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