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The Archers 60th - bits and pieces

Keri Davies Keri Davies | 16:13 PM, Thursday, 6 January 2011

index page from YouTube, showing Archers 60th anniversary clips

A slightly random selection of notes and links following our 60th anniversary...

Mary Cutler
Following the huge audience reaction to the anniversary episode, this week's scriptwriter Mary Cutler will write on this blog soon, explaining the thinking that went into the storyline, and the implications for the future.

The anniversary episode was double length, at 30 minutes long. But the broadcast version of this Sunday's omnibus edition is the standard length: 75 minutes. Because of this, Mary wrote some scenes (for the episodes later in the week) with the intention that they be cut in the omnibus. These so-called "omnicut" scenes used to be a regular feature in the days before the 75-minute omnibus was introduced, along with six slightly shorter episodes every week.

However, if you want to hear all the events in Ambridge this week, the complete 90 minute omnibus will be available to listen here on The Archers website.

Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn and the actor Graham Seed were interviewed on BBC Radio 4's Today programme in connection with The Archers 60th anniversary. Both interviews are available on YouTube

YouTube also has a range of clips featuring famous Archers listeners talking about the place of the programme in their lives.

The BBC's head of audio and music, Tim Davie, writes about the anniversary.

'...The reaction has spanned many emotions: listeners are angry, supportive, underwhelmed, overwhelmed, shocked, sad and enthralled. Above all, what is clear is that they care, deeply, about what happens in Ambridge...'

There's an interesting analysis of the online activity surrounding the episode from blogger John Fox.

'...It was, indeed, absolutely riveting. Whether that's from the perspective of the unfolding plot or simply the level of interest in the programme and its general storyline, or the sheer fascination of the speculation as to what would happen...'

BBC History
Find out more about the history of The Archers with The BBC Story.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

  • The picture shows the YouTube index page for the clips
  • Follow @BBCTheArchers on Twitter
  • Or for fuller-length discussion of the programme try The Archers message board


  • Comment number 1.

    Hello? Hello? ..... Is there anybody there?? .... Are you listening to us?? .......

    Guess not. Another whitewash and Auntie knows best.

  • Comment number 2.

    Numerous people have now used the complaints procedure without receiving even an automated reply. The interview on the World at One about Eastenders complaints was enlightening. 6000 have complained about the sensationalism (babies swapped) rather than the underlying story (cot death). It was defended on the basis that more people have contacted them thanking the scriptwriters for dealing with cot death than have complained. So how many people have said thank you for the sensitive way much needed information has been imparted about unnecessarily clambering around on an icy roof on a windy night?
    The audience reaction is being totally ignored.

  • Comment number 3.

    Well!?! I think we've already worked out the implications for future story lines thank you. They're some of the reasons we are so angry.

  • Comment number 4.

    Are the Beeb so out of touch with their audience that they didn't expect a response? That Mary Cutler is to write soon suggests she is thinking up some story to cover their embarassment.

    Equally the blog by Tim Davie seems to be ignoring the comments on this site and Archers Addicts, the majority of which are totally adverse. Wake up BBC and listen to your audience!!

    I note from the broadcasts this week that at the end we are asked what we like about the Archers, in the current climate this seems crass. The answer is likely to be an overwhelming Nigel Pargetter. For balance shouldn't you be asking what we dislike or are you afraid the overwhelming response will be VW!!

  • Comment number 5.

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

  • Comment number 6.

    I can't quite understand why it was necessary to have a drama/crisis as a celebration. Perhaps the BBC have a different definition of celebration from the rest f us? But what's the point of discussing it we can't bring Nigel back can we?

  • Comment number 7.

    Saw this on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_9sQnjO7AeY. One listeners video tribute.

  • Comment number 8.

    As usual VW is pretending that an avalanche of comment means that we like it. She should try reading, if she can the thread on the MB about the way Tony is being shown as a feeble person without a relevant point of view. Nobody has apologised to him for treating him so badly (Helen) or failing to support him (Pat).

    As a listener since Christine got her job with the Milk Marketing board teaching farmers how to increase the butterfat content in the milk, I can say that this boring and commercial led rush for ratings is not being followed up by an improvement in quality of the series; ie witty dialogue, realistic storylines, some semblance of business sense in the village.

    Can we please have a new editor who wants the series to be good, not one who is chasing even more ratings among people who can barely understand dialogue, let alone talk radio.

  • Comment number 9.

    # 8 Rwth of the Cornovil

    Some people perhaps imagine that being 'good' and chasing ratings are mutually exclusive. Actually, a good editor should be able to do both!

    There may have been a temporary spike in the ratings due to all the hype, but many listeners are so disgusted with this slap in the face that they simply won't bother any more.

    This was a missed opportunity for a genuine celebration of 60 years. What we got instead was a fatuous piece of sensationalist tosh. I'm not blaming the writer who was obviously doing what she had been told. The problem lies with the editor who has so badly misjudged the situation.

    I don't think we really need to be told the 'thinking' behind the decision (as promised above). As we now know, Nigel was axed because he was popular. A crass and stupid decision!

  • Comment number 10.

    Given the general response to the 60th anniversary episode I look forward to Mary's comments. I am surprised that it has taken so long for The Archer's team to respond. It seems to me that there is insufficient appreciation for the strong feelings held may loyal listeners. Like many, I have never used a blog before in my life but having listened faithfully for 26 years I feel so disappointed and let down by the episode that I have felt obliged to add my comments.

  • Comment number 11.

    Now we know what to do. According to the Today programme, complaints about EastEnders have forced them to cut their sensationalist storyline short. let's hope the BBC will give in without insisting on 6000 complaints about TA. If you've not already done so: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/

  • Comment number 12.

    Well, Keri, I see you've ignored the statement printed on the front page of yesterday's Daily Telegraph i.e 'The Archers Boss should be sacked'!

  • Comment number 13.

    Thanks for the links to those interviews, listening to Vanessa Whitburn on the Today programme I've finally realised where the disconnect is between listeners and production team - she felt that "listeners feel let down" = "listeners wanted something even more sensational"; it's only my opinion, but I'm pretty sure the feeling of being let down is partly due to all the hype about a big event that night(so we're waiting for it right through the episode, rather than being engaged with what's going on, then shocked, and therefore moved), and partly because that episode just didn't seem to gell - lots of short exchanges, fast cutting between just two venues, and (I hate to say it), unusually clunky dialogue and acting in some cases). How, not what, in other words; we were treating it as a drama rather than a bodycount, and that's where it seemed a let-down.

  • Comment number 14.

    We can't believe that Nigel has been killed off because he was popular - this is outrageous and we will be starting or joining any campaign going to get this overturned & Vanessa Whitburn sacked. I have been so angry ever since I heard Vanessa Whitburn say on the Today Programme "a birth and a death, how iconic". There was nothing iconic about the 60th anniversary episode, my husband and I knew from the build up that either Lizzie or Nigel was going to die and it would also include Helen, Tony and the baby. I would say that we were underwhelmed except all pleasure from listening has now been taken away. Bring back Nigel, its all just been a bad dream from which we can move on!

  • Comment number 15.

    I work a lot in China and have to say that the review of the papers in this column about the media commentary on the ruination of the Archers is quite amazing for its twisted reporting and goes beyond Chinese censorship. There was an overwhelming majority of people expressing disbelief at the sheer awfulness of the way the editor chose to celebrate this Anniversary. My wife and i have now stopped listening. Please ensure a more honest reporting on what people really think of the appalling sacking and killing off of a normal guy. Sid Perks is gone and now Nigel - who's next to get media attention and apall listeners further?

  • Comment number 16.

    Does Vanessa Whitburn actually understand anything about TA and the majority of its listeners?

    Can you all please stop congratulating yourselves for the "publicity" and acknowledge that many people are outraged by the lazy writing and cheap sensationalism?

  • Comment number 17.

    The Archers seems to be in terminal decline. It appears that the writers are using soaps like Neighbours or East-enders as their template. I'm afraid that they have totally misjudged both the intellect of their listeners and their reasons for listening. A shame, but after more that 50 years, but I for one probably won't bother to switch one any more.

  • Comment number 18.

    Hmm: two positive articles so far: one written by a BBC boss and the other concerning the Twitter hype rather than the drama itself.

  • Comment number 19.

    What on earth has come over the BBC? I have supported the Ambridge community and the Archer famuly in particular, for as long as I can remember (I an 72 years old and have a good memory). I know you have to be topical in your storylines but to kill off Nigel in such a tragic way and at Christmas was totally barbaric. Why not lay poor Jack Wooley to rest? I cannott say too strongly that you were wrong!!!
    I will no be listening to the Archers again but I must say I miss my 15 minutes of pleasure. Thanks to your writer my pleasure has ceased.
    Sometimes realism disguised as entertainment can be just too painful.

  • Comment number 20.

    I am returning to this because it`s obvious from Mary Cutler that you just don`t get it, and you are not listening. It seems to me that people listen to the Archers differently to how they relate to soaps on TV. There is a consistency and relationships are formed. On the other hand it is not for extremes, but for "the everyday story!" The whole basis is
    shattered if you make it too exceptional, so that the deaths of two long standing characters is enough, the grief is still very much in the programme, you do not need a third! Then there is the Archer Family how many accidental deaths have to occur? This is simply not giving due attention to the kong term narative of the family itself. The death of Nigel is simply foolish, I am not a particular fan,(too much of a lefty!) but he was the only character who was consistently optimistic and successful, just count the sighs or spaces where sighs are heard, life is not easy in Ambridge Nigel`s voice was necessary.
    All in all I feel that the whole believability, consistency, and balance of the programme is damaged. The trust between the listeners and the creators damaged, for many killed, so that there were two deaths in this episode.

  • Comment number 21.

    Please tell me Nigel's death is just someone's bad dream and he will be resurrected next week when they wake up...

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't know if this has been said / expressed elsewhere - why when characters such as Sid / Nigel / Betty leave the programme don't the BBC or the team put together a tribute / memorial feature on them?

    I know this has happened before (thinking of course of the death of Norman Painting last year) but I for one would really be interested to hear how these characters have changed and evolved over the years, some of the storylines they have been involved with etc etc.

    I think this is particularly important when you have characters and actors who have been in the show for such a long time - contrast this with the way that passing of long term actors / characters in programmes such as coronation street / eastenders are marked with clip shows, interviews etc. In a way i also think that when an actor has given so much over such a long time it's the least they deserve?

    Just a thought..

  • Comment number 23.

    The story line on The Archers has been entirely predictable and weak. To make matters worse the quality of the acting has also been poor.


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