Archives for June 2012

I feel sorry for Amy. Help me!" - listener discussions to 20 June 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 17:30 UK time, Tuesday, 26 June 2012


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Amy's departure from the vicarage on Thursday raised a cheer and a "good riddance" from Usha's many supporters. There was some sympathy for her after she met with Carl on Tuesday, but most felt that "she deserved every mean-spirited, materialistic, cruel syllable that Carl spat at her."

Over at Brookfield, Open Farm Sunday's stampede had listeners shocked and amused in equal measure. Some were surprised at Jill when she asked David to reconsider giving testimony against Adam's attackers. "Where did the principled, stout-hearted person we have all known go?"

And finally, what's up with Vicky Tucker?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 13-20 June 2012

The debate rages on - should Amy be banished from Ambridge for her "stupid" behaviour and unkind treatment towards Usha? Should Usha celebrate the peace and quiet at the vicarage now she's gone? Some reluctantly felt sorry for Amy after she confronted Carl at work on Tuesday, but others said that she got what she deserved.

'Karl, loony in reception for you.' #thearchers (@TreacleToo on Twitter)

Wow, Qarl's workplace has proper space-age Star Trek whooshy doors! AWESOME! #thearchers (@Mudkipstoat23 on Twitter)

Oh, no, this is the part where I feel sorry for Amy. Help me! #thearchers (@ellespeller on Twitter)

poor Amy... it took you longer to meet a rotter than it does most of us...#thearchers (@Kate_Dancingcat on Twitter)

Thank God he did it. If he was any less cruel the stupid girl would still be begging him to take her back. Let's see if she can woman up enough now to stop acting like the biggest brat we ever had the misfortune to know and actually apologize to Oosha (Kristine Bolt on Facebook)

She broke so many relationship rules, ignored so many warning signs that she deserved every mean-spirited, materialistic, cruel syllable that Carl spat at her. (peter-francis)

So, is the piece of humble pie that Amy is about to eat the size of Ambridge? Or will she just blame Usha? (@MartinMcMame on Twitter)

Do you sorry for Amy? Add your thoughts to the No matter how naive Amy is thread on the message board.

Brookfield planned to open its gates to the public for Open Farm Sunday, but would it be, in David's words, "a day to remember?" Some listeners imagined (perhaps even hoped for) the worst...

Take a long, last look at that view, David and Ruth! By Sunday, it will look like a smoking ruin....#thearchers (@archerslisteneron Twitter)

Earthquake, thunderbolt from Zeus, large meteor, large piece of space-junk, errant ICBM wiv nucular war-head! Any others? (Sturmey Archer)

Read more on the A day to remember? thread on the message board.

Sunday's episode had hearts racing - and a few listeners admitted laughing - as panicked visitors screamed and bullocks rampaged across Brookfield's carefully planned event

Ambridge goes all Pamplona: 'the bullocks are out!' #thearchers (@Denise_E_C on Twitter)

One of the most alarming episodes of #thearchers ever, all that screaming! Had to stop washing up & have a sit down #letthebullssquashamy (@missy_t_k on Twitter)

Husband laughing uncontrollably. He walked in the kitchen just as Deeevid shrieked "THE BULLOCKS ARE OUT!!! on @BBCTheArchers (@eltbusglob on Twitter)

Actually I found that a bit upsetting, poor little George #thearchers (@SredniVashtari on Twitter)

Jeez. Emma's going to have an absolute field day. Just when I thought she couldn't moan any more than she does already. #thearchers (@fairy_with_hair on Twitter)

Perhaps I'm displaying my ignorance of country ways here (and just how scary bulls may be), but from the screaming the crowd did, I'd have expected Godzilla to be descending on the farm! (charmingAnnielynn)

Maybe next year they could charge people to stay in caravans and "run with the bullocks" after they've drunk some of Joe's Extra Inflammable Cider. (Minihohum)

Join the conversation on the Stampede! Don't panic! and Hahahhahahah threads on the message board

In the wake of the stampede, Jill cautioned David over testifying against Adam's attackers. Many listeners felt she'd acted out of character, others that she was right to worry that David may be putting her grandchildren in danger.

Jill's bottled it! Where's ya bulldog spirit girl Bring on the AWPP, Ambridge witness protection programme (@johnno663 on Twitter)

No! David! Stay the course! Don't give in! #TheArchers (adventuresofboz on Twitter)

I am really cross - they are now making out that Jill would even suggest that David not give evidence. Where did the principled, stout-hearted person we have all known go? (damsonjamqueen)

Jill is spot on! These thugs are too dangerous for David to testify. He should put his family first, not Adam #TheArchers (@Stickings90 on Twitter)

I think faced with real threats against her grandchildren that Jill may very well strongly question her principles. How will David feel about his principles when Ben has been shot in the leg with an air gun, or Josh forced off the road on his bike, or worse. (RobinAFromSway)

Was Jill right? Add your thoughts on the Character change thread.

Listeners share their suspicions about Vicky Tucker's health after she cried off attending the fete committee meeting. Suggestions ranged from MS and diabetes to ME, a thyroid problem or perhaps she's about to put Brenda's nose out of joint?

#thearchers This is the second time Vicky's been suddenly fatigued. Nasty chronic illness of some sort approaching? (@SteveBrooks13)

Tired all the time? Mention of hungarian translations with Mike in recent episodes? A baby would put the kibosh on her plans to travel the world... (dondy)

Now that would really give Brenda something to moan about a second family for Mike (butterfly09)

But Vicky will give birth to an ikle Teddy Bear with a tartan bowtie. Bubbles Jnr, pass the bucket. (mademoiselledecompost)

On the other hand she must just have thought 'Do I really want to hear Lynda loud-mouthing and bullying for an hour - or shall I give it a miss and just fall asleep on the sofa?' (returnmigration)

Add your suspicions to the Vicky - she's not is she? and So is Vicky actually ill? Or just workshy threads.

Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

"Open Farm Sunday is just another way of saying Armageddon, isn't it?" - listener discussions to 13 June 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 12:04 UK time, Tuesday, 19 June 2012


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Has David make a terrible mistake deciding to go ahead with Open Farm Sunday at Brookfield? After Ben's horrific discovery, many thought so. But surely that was nothing compared to Lynda and Susan's terrible discovery of Will and Nic getting "jiggy" in the woods.

It's Team Usha all the way as Amy goes too far - but as Amy sat outside Carl's empty flat on Wednesday, a few admitted they felt a little bit sorry for her.

In other news, suspicions arise after Matt is nice to Darrell - what's he after?

And as Danny Boyle's plans for the Olympic opening ceremony are unveiled, there's an urgent question: has he booked Joe Grundy for a guest star appearance?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 7-13 June 2012

News of Ben's "horrific discovery" had listeners guessing before Friday's episode. And they debated whether David was courageous or plain stupid to go ahead with Open Farm Sunday. Isn't he putting everyone at risk?

@BBCTheArchers @BBCRadio4 Ben's horrific discovery - He's not adopted :( #thearchers (@singhdasa on Twitter)

Ben makes an horrific discovery. He's not fictional and that is his sister #thearchers (@40lucyjordan on Twitter)

There is no way they should go ahead with bl**dy Farm sunday and if any of the others on the farm - Ed, Emma, Bert, Freda or whoever get hurt then they should sue him for every penny he's got! (NewEssexWoman)

He should certainly not hold an event which (a) puts unsuspecting members of the public at risk (b) gives free access to the thugs to come and case the joint without being observed - does he think they all be wearing stripey jumpers and carrying bags marked 'Swag'? (waslantana)

Should he succumb to threats and refuse to give evidence? That is exactly the same as paying ransoms. We must have the guts to stand up to threats, not give way... (Organoleptic Icon)

Open Farm Sunday is just another way of saying Armageddon, isn't it?#thearchers (@psalotti on Twitter)

Courageous or stupid? Have your say on the Three cheers for David thread on the message board

The other horrific discovery of the week was made by Lynda and Susan. But will they keep the news - and the evidence - to themselves?

It's a sight that would terrify both pheasants and rogue foxes alike, and far more unsettling than any of the supposedly scary nonsense going on at Brokefailed at the moment. The wood must have been full of traumatised wildlife that night. (Liquoricey)

Sex tape? In #thearchers? Brilliant-never thought I'd see the day! (@GoodEggFoodie on Twitter)

At last! Some actual jiggy jiggy has happened in Ambridge sans interruption. Champagne everyone! #thearchers (@connorkindella on Twitter)

I think it's funny that Susan and Linda, of all people, came across this! I wonder how long it will take before Emma hears about it? (charmingAnnielynn)

Read more in the What in the world? thread

There was a sharp intake of breath on Thursday as Amy traded harsh words with Usha. Will there or should there be a reconciliation? Some think Alan should throw Amy out but others disagree. She is his daughter after all

Thank goodness, Alan has spoken up at last. I still find it hard to forget the image of the two of them curled up on the sofa watching Toy Story (siriol)

Amy was so far out of line in throwing this insult at Usha that it's hard to imagine that she'll ever be forgiven. It made my jaw drop (soobeehere)

... it's a hurtful and dreadful thing to throw her childlessness in her face... Amy is a cruel girl, If I were Usha I would not speak to her ever again, stepdaughter or not! (Angela Stepney)

Amy is young and inexperienced... She feels like a 'motherless' child and has no-one to confide in. She really believed Carl. Step mothers can't do right for doing wrong though... (Rosemary Forrest on Facebook)

I think Usha will decide that she's had enough and she will move out. Alan might well make Amy apologise. Why do people always think that making someone apologise will right a wrong? Only a SINCERE apology will do that. I wouldn't want to live with Amy any more. (chris murray)

Usha deserves better, a nice tomboy like Iftikar or Harry (tho,she needs to get her skates on if it's the former now that Tracy's got an eyeful of him) (nesta vipers)

Add your views on the HE FINALLY SAID IT! thread

By Wednesday, as Amy waited in vain outside Carl's empty flat, there was a teeny tiny bit of sympathy for her...

Aww... after weeks of irritation, feeling a bit sorry for Amy now #thearchers (@BeckylBe on Twitter)

Her blubbing inspires not one iota of pity. Stalk on, Amy #TeamUsha #thearchers (@opheliaknee on Twitter)

"I'm outside Carl's flat and he's not here, why's he not here?!" Because he's at home with his wife and child you stupid, stupid, stupid 23 year old teenager! (Gigglemahanaz2)

Love Amy listening to 'Beautiful' as she waits outside Carl's flat. Has she had it on repeat since she got there at 6.00 ??!! #thearchers (@ruggerlad on Twitter)

How do you feel about Amy? Have your say on the message board: I'm outside Carl's flat and...

Is Matt up to something? There are quite a few listeners hoping for a shady deal or two at Amside

Matt has been nice to Darrell two scenes in a row. Does he need a kidney or something? #thearchers (@headlunging on Twitter)

Hope it really is something, I've missed his schemes. (Swedey)

He's up to something this time - if only driving a wedge (take note, Amy, this is how it is done) between Darrell and Elona on the 'by the book' issue. (JustJanie - Fairweather Jogger)

He doesn't have to be up to something specific, I suppose, just storing up favours, Godfather like. I've always liked Matt. He's dodgy but interesting. (Skyebird)

At some point in the future, Matt thinks, Darrell may be useful as someone who doesn't mind hard work and can keep a secret... he certainly can spot vulnerability as skilfully as he can spot a ransom strip of land. (Jacks Parakeet)

Add your suspicions to the What's Tiger up to? thread

And finally, as Danny Boyle unveils his vision of the British countryside for the Olympic opening ceremony people think of Ambridge

I'll be disappointed if Danny Boyle's bucolic Olympic opening-ceremony doesn't kick-off with a full live rendition of #thearchers theme tune (@molesworth_1 on Twitter)

Urgent question: has Danny Boyle booked Joe Grundy for the Olympics opening ceremony? #thearchers (@PrueBray on Twitter)

Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

New Archers scriptwriter - Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti

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Keri Davies Keri Davies | 14:00 UK time, Friday, 15 June 2012



This week's scripts are written by a newcomer to the team, the award-winning drama writer Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti. She writes about joining this intimidating institution.

Before I embarked on writing my trial script for The Archers last year, I studied the show as if it were a science, I took notes, drew diagrams and listened and listened. As the Bridge Farm E coli story unfolded, I recall being devastated for Clarrie when she went to sign on. When David read out the letter in which Elizabeth took guardianship of the twins away from him and Ruth, I gasped in shock in my kitchen.

These heartstopping, heartbreaking moments were taking their toll. I was falling in love with the programme and desperately wanted to write for it.

Consequently, I was delighted to receive the email which invited me to join the writing team. I had listened to the show on and off for many years and was always amazed at how drawn in I immediately felt whenever I tuned in, I was impressed by the way stories felt rooted in truth and were given space to breathe and develop.

So, I was on. Very quickly the nerves set in. There had been no deadline for the trial script and I knew the turnaround for actual scripts was incredibly tight. Yes, I had written extensively for theatre, radio and television but this...this was The Archers. An institution, not just a show, which had more than 60 years of history and a fanatical following. Could I really do it?

Script meeting

When I came to my first script meeting in January, I was instantly struck by how down to earth and friendly everyone is. There is a genuine and no-nonsense feel to proceedings, a strong sense of stability and care for both characters and stories.

Having been accustomed to the jeopardy and craziness of television, it's hard to believe that a programme with such a huge output runs so effectively and smoothly.

I also got to meet a few of my writing heroes, in particular the legend that is Mary Cutler. Meanwhile Julie Beckett, the senior producer, handed me a picture she had drawn of the table, setting out everyone's names and where they were sitting. I can't imagine that ever happening in telly.

First scripts

In March I wrote my first scripts. I have been a drama writer for 13 years and can honestly say that writing a week's worth of The Archers in about ten days is one of the hardest things I've done. The sheer volume is huge. Moreover I was conscious of needing to get the characters' voices right and trying to make my words sound as if they belonged in the show.

I'm still nervous and doing my best to get the hang of the meetings so I can contribute usefully. I expect I'll probably feel like the new girl for a long time, but I really am enjoying myself, learning loads from the other writers, and I feel very lucky to be part of something so significant in British culture.

I've had some real highs (and lows!) during my career. I remember the joy (and fear) I felt when my first play was produced, the shock when I got my first commission for television and my family's pride when they watched a film of a screenplay I had written in their local Cineworld.

Listening to my first episodes of The Archers will definitely be up there.

Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti is an Archers scriptwriter

"I had visions of an uneven, edible pavement..." - listener discussions to 6 June 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 17:06 UK time, Thursday, 14 June 2012


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As the jubilee preparations got underway, listeners struggled with the enormous cake Clarrie was organising. Was this to be a gravity-defying "leaning tower of sponges?" Perhaps the WI should have stepped in to take control?

Over at Brookfield, there's some anticipation about whether the children are to suffer at the hands of David's mystery caller. But far more serious is the threat to listeners' radios as they risk being hurled through kitchen windows as Amy's meltdown continues. Some wonder if Amy is pregnant - or will it be Carl's wife who turns up at the hospital needing the services of a midwife?

And as Mike and Vicky Tucker talk retirement, listeners debate the pros and cons. Is Vicky too young to give up work? Can they afford it? And why is Brenda so upset?

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 31 May - 6 June 2012.

As Ambridge prepared to celebrate the Jubilee with a cake made of 60 sponges, listeners scratched their heads wondering what it would look like. Many were very impressed to hear that Jill had baked an extra six sponge cakes, just in case...

Is it supposed to have 60 layers? Won't it be like the Leaning Tower of Sponges? (Minihohum)

I had visions of an uneven, edible pavement, sort of yellow-brick road, but done as a square. (Gnome de Plume of Dun Lissnin)

The best I could manage was a single bed, covered in a candlewick bedspread. (Dirigibles)

Why for heaven's sake is the WI not in charge? They would have enlisted the right number of people, planned the finished article to the last crumb and nobody like Jean Harvey would have got away with letting anybody down. (cherrytree)

Hurray Jill saves the day, but who has 6 spare cakes just in case I ask you? Only in #TheArchers (@marob23 on Twitter)

Just roasting chicken for Sunday dinner. But I'm doing an extra half dozen 'just in case' #thearchers(@BeckyIBe on Twitter)

Make yourself hungry by reading The cake crisis! and Call me stupid but ... threads about cake-making on the message board.

There's some debate about the Brookfield children as Ruth and David step up security at the farm. Listeners wonder what's in store for them, and most agree that they shouldn't be left in the dark about the threats.

Mr Knuckles and his henchman pal are going to kidnap one of the brats. PLEEEEEASE let it be Pip! (The Famous Eccles)

No ~ it's definitely going to be *Ben* ~ I feel it in my bones. (ooo--Misty ---ooo)

I think David and Ruth should tell them what's going on. I know it will probably frighten them, but at least then they'd understand why their parents are being so neurotic about them going out and about (Roots)

Every time David says " Where's (Ben, Pip etc) I get excited. #TheArchers (@Airscaper on Twitter)

Fun & games at Brookfield Farm! Ben Archer: "Who are those scary looking men outside??" David Archer: "Sausages" #TheArchers (@nigenet on Twitter)

Read all about it on the message board: Something's gonna happen

By far the most conversation has been about "bonkers" Amy, with listeners crying "enough!" But where is this storyline heading? Will Amy harm Carl's wife, Rochelle, their pets or even herself?

Oh waaah, waaah, waaah Amy. Change the bleeding record. #thearchers (@janewright on Twitter)

If #thearchers continues to feature Amy & her arrested development heavily, all the radios in the house will end up in pieces. (@Jo_dB on Twitter)

It isn't only Carl who needs a thump-so does Amy! (Deborah Collett on Facebook)

yay! The hunt for Carl's wife is on! #thearchers (@MrsDench on Twitter)

I'm wondering if it's going to turn out that Rochelle a) is pregnant and b) the baby was conceived while Amy wasn't yet sleeping with Carl (Miriam Moules on Facebook)

Oh please make Amy pregnant. Please oh pretty... (Carole Bressington on Facebook)

Trouble is - I am finding this all too scarily real.... That awful, dull, self-obsessed whine - it fair freaks me out ... I believe that such people are called toxic friends - so watch your back Alice! (Vicki's Bra)

Add your thoughts on the message board threads: Amy is bonkers and SHUDDUP YOU BLUDDY LUNATIC

As Mike Tucker talks of retirement, some think Vicky is living in cloud cuckoo land when it comes to her dreams of giving up work at the same time. And when it comes to Brenda's reaction - calling Vicky selfish - perhaps this is more about her looking ahead to a life playing second fiddle to Tom than any fault of Vicky's.

#TheArchers So Vicki intends to retire when Mike does. How is that anything to do with Brenda? (@nottsKath on Twitter)

This is about winding Brenda up - realising her life with Tom is ruddy dull and will remain so. Stand by for big friction between her and Tom (hopefully). (returnmigration)

Brenda is bang out of order. It's not up to her how her step mother lives her life... Or maybe she was just in a really bad mood because she had been trapped in a metal box, flipping stinky burgers and onions with the awful Pip. That would be enough to do send my naturally sunny disposition heading for the hills! (Marmalade Drizzle)

Why shouldn't Vickoi retire early? I think it's a good think for her and Mike to be able to enjoy life together. (Perkin Warbeck)

Let them have fun skiing - as in (Spending the kids' inheritance) (careen)

She's 46ish. Bit young to think of retiring. She wouldn't have much of an occupational pension even if she worked until she was 65. She must think Mike is loaded. (Auntie Molly)

I cannot believe that Mike as an ex-bankrupt farmer with presumably no capital and a tiny pension (if any) from his forestry work can possibly hope to retire (snarklehound)

Does anyone else think Vicky might be pregnant? Too tired to help build the jubilee Beacon? Looking forward to spending more time with Mike when he retires?? (Sue Linin on Facebook)

Have your say on the Pension fairy? and Why shouldn't Vicky retire early? threads.

Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

"Time to launch Exocet Mabel at Amy" - listener discussions to 30 May 2012

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Tayler Cresswell Tayler Cresswell | 14:53 UK time, Wednesday, 13 June 2012


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As Usha gives it to "Blamey Amy" with both barrels, there's a resounding cheer (and some relief) from listeners. As one put it: "that was utterly, splendidly cathartic."

We've had debates about Brookfield's mystery caller, Tony Archers' sandwiches and Adam and Ian's future.

And as republicans appear in Ambridge, listeners reveal their true colours...

Here's my pick of listener discussions on The Archers message board, Twitter and Facebook between 24-30 May 2012

"Blamey Amy" is still raising listeners' blood pressure. There was a loud virtual cheer as Usha told Amy some home truths on Monday.

Amy sounds like a stroppy 13 year old, even Feeby is more grown up! (Daniel Piggins on Facebook)

Anyone else think Qarl faked his entire marriage because Amy's father issues were doing his head in? #thearchers (@Mudkipstoat23 on Twitter)

I'M HIS WIFE!!! ... unlike you love, that were nout but a bit of fluff on the side, and thrown aside like a crumpled empty crisp bag when he was done with ya! Oh, that was good, so good, on soooooo many levels :- ) (bruxilda)

that *was* utterly, splendidly cathartic. Poor poor Usha--she'll be exhausted and fraught after that. (RedRepublicanBookish)

I hope she doesn't get a case of the guilts and apologise, I LOVED it. (maggiesaes)

Time to launch Exocet Mabel at Amy in #thearchers, I think... (@dustshoveller on Twitter)

Join the Team Usha crowd in the I'M HIS WIFE!!! thread on the message board.

As fear grips the inhabitants of Brookfield Farm, Ruth and David's judgement has been called into question. Why didn't Ruth call the police herself? Are they putting the children in danger? And will their mystery caller turn out to be part of a quite different story?

Now THAT's what you call a threatening phone call! #thearchers (@boorach2 on Twitter)

Archers is getting scarey. Call the cops David. (@TheRealJackDee on Twitter)

Why not tell the kids? They must know about the attack on Adam, and that David is going to be a witness. I would have thought that keeping them in the dark about the threats just makes them more vulnerable. (Freda Fry)

I have worries about matey on the telephone. The fact that he didn't fall into the cleverly laid trap when David and Ruth both asked him 'who is this?' shows he is intellectually superior to most of the denizens of Ambridge. (peter-francis)

I bet the badgers have paid him to do all this and it's nothing to do with the low-loader people at all! (Marmalade Drizzle)

It's David!! Hasn't Ruth seen Dial M for Murder?? Or Gaslight?? #thearchers (@Slanky71 on Twitter)

Add your thoughts on Ruth and David to the Why not tell the kids? and The caller threads.

Bridge Farm relationships came under the spotlight after "vile" Pat and Tom turned their noses up at Tony's sandwiches. Then again, some listeners weren't too keen either

Brie and mushroom sandwich? Did I hear this correctly? Why would people who are meant to produce saleable food think this would be a good combination in terms of texture, colour, taste, well, anything really. (waslantana)

The sneer in sausage boy's voice as he said brie and mushroom made me want to drown him in rancid yoghurt. (Phostoxin)

Moany is not a complete fool. He gets full marks out of ten from his vile family for being ever so thoughtful, but in the process, he makes sure that they are all eager to make their own sarnies in future, so he can go tinker with his MG. (Dr Toad Leg)

@BBCTheArchers Please can you confirm that the Tony Archer cookbook will be in the shops in time for Christmas #beefandavocado (@SkyuserUK on Twitter)

Would you eat a brie and mushroom sandwich? Join the debate on the message board.

On Wednesday, with Adam brooding about what might have been if he'd stayed in Kenya, listeners debate Adam and Ian's future. Should they make a break with Home Farm and start their own business?

#thearchers Adam is having a mid life crisis. Cue much soul searching and general whining. (@Jen2012 on Twitter)

I so wish Adam and Ian realise they could run a restaurant/market garden and move out of area. Bit of turmoil and up-heaval for Brian and Jenny. (El Shambo)

fear that if Ian were to run his own restaurant he would insist on making frequent front of house visits which would ensure that no-one ever booked a second time for fear of being bored almost to death again. (Polly Tunnell)

But money isn't everything is it and they are unlikely to have any heirs to leave it to. Maybe Adam could start to sound a bit happier if he got away from Brian and his smothering mother. (Pahnda)

I wondered if Ian was going to suggest developing a farm shop and upmarket cafe at Home Farm and a make all the fruit pick your own rather than have the bother of taking them to local farmer's markets.. (Sixties_Relic)

Should Adam move on from Home Farm? Have your say on the Adam and Ian moving on? thread.

And as republicans arrive in Ambridge, listeners show their true colours...

Hooray for Jim! (and about time too). Signed A, Republican. (mike)

I am not a republican but I am absolute monarch of my front garden and I would tell [Lynda] what to do with her vulgar and obvious planting. Not changing my soft pinks and lavendery blues for anyone. (Ginslinger Jubilant)

I can see the headline village of the damned plants yellows in the jubilee planters arrrgh #thearchers oh those commuters at no.8 (@satnav2012 on Twitter)

'Lynda Snell: My Yellow Flower HELL' #TheArchers (@grimbletweets on Twitter)

Nail your colours to the mast in The jubilee thread.

Tayler Cresswell is host of The Archers message board.

Vaccinating badgers against TB

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Steve Peacock | 12:30 UK time, Thursday, 7 June 2012


Steve Peacock on badger patrol

Ed Grundy is learning how to vaccinate badgers against TB. Steve Peacock explains why.

As early shifts go, this wasn't bad. Four o'clock on an August morning saw me driving from Birmingham to a village in the Cotswolds, to join a group from Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust as they set out to inspect badgers in the cage-traps they'd set the night before.

Why would an organisation which uses the badger as its emblem be catching the animals in traps?

This is all to do with bovine tuberculosis - an infectious disease which was once well-controlled in Britain but is now rife in cattle on the western side of England and in Wales. It causes a great deal of inconvenience and misery to farmers and has cost taxpayers £500 million in the past ten years. 25,000 cattle were slaughtered in 2010 as part of the Government's disease control strategy.

Ambridge has not been spared. The disease has affected three farms there - Brookfield, Grange and Willow Farm.

Badgers to blame?

Badgers (and other mammals) can also be infected by the bacterium M. Bovis, which causes the disease, and infection spreads easily once it gets into a herd. Most of the efforts to control the disease are focussed on cattle and biosecurity on farms. But, because it can also be passed from badgers to cattle and vice versa, farmers have long campaigned for badgers to be culled as well.

In England, Defra has approved pilot badger culls in Gloucestershire and Somerset. This decision is currently subject to a legal challenge but the Government hopes to go ahead in the Autumn.

Shoot or jab?

In Wales, a decision to cull was reversed earlier this year. Badgers will now be vaccinated against the disease instead. Farming unions were - and are - furious. They say that while there may be a place for vaccination, it is no substitute for culling badgers in areas where the disease is rife in both cattle and the wildlife.

But the decision by a group of farmers in Ambridge to invest in a badger vaccination programme should not be viewed in that context. Even if the pilot culls in England are successful and rolled out to other areas, Ambridge would not be included because it is not in a bovine TB "hotspot", despite past outbreaks there.

So their vaccination programme is not an alternative to culling. It is the only option that could be directed at badgers.

Defra has been experimenting with vaccination for a number of years. But outside official circles it was Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust who were ahead of the game, and they have published a detailed report on their experiences. Which is why I went to the Cotswolds to see how it was done.

Clippers at dawn

The vaccinators are all trained by FERA - a Defra agency (this is the course that, in The Archers, Ed is attending). They set the cage traps in the evening and bait them with peanuts. At dawn they'll visit all the traps and inject the badgers with the same BCG vaccine as is used on humans.

They'll mark them by shaving a patch with electric clippers and spraying a dye. This is so if they catch the same animal twice they'll know not to give it another dose. Then they set the badger free and it scuttles off at speed to its sett. By law, because badgers are nocturnal, it must all be done before 8 am.

This must be repeated every year for five years. The chances of success are debatable but for farmers outside cull areas it's got to be worth a punt.

Steve Peacock is The Archers agricultural adviser

Is The Archers going to get 'darker and bigger? No.

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John Yorke | 09:51 UK time, Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Vanessa Whitburn and John Yorke

Has recent press coverage made you worried that The Archers is going to take a lurch into EastEnders territority? Well, worry not, because it isn't. Acting Archers editor John Yorke explains the truth about this story.

A few months ago I was asked by a national newspaper if EastEnders would ever consider doing a live stage musical. I answered with a categorical 'No'. Two weeks later, I was slightly taken aback to read: 'EastEnders to stage musical'.

Perhaps I shouldn't have been shocked then to read a flurry of headlines yesterday, cataloging my plans to smash up Ambridge like some bloated property developer and turn it into Albert Square...

It's a great story - but it isn't true. The source was a fairly innocuous interview with Radio Times about what's coming up on the show.

A few months ago, Radio 4 had very kindly asked me if I'd consider looking after the programme for four months while its long standing editor Vanessa Whitburn was away. I agreed straight away - on one condition - that it stayed exactly as it was and that I didn't have to change anything.

The Archers has been in my family for three generations. It's as perfect as long running drama gets; why would I want to change a hair? Apart from anything else my Mum would probably kill me.

The comment that was picked up was very clearly a specific reference to one storyline - the intimidation of Ruth and David. Ironically, this story was planned long before I joined the show.

It is dark but in the very best traditions of a programme not scared to kill its leading lady in a barn fire, and it fits snugly I hope alongside everything Ambridge does best.

Joe's ferrets, Lynda's hay-fever and cliffhangers built on whether Clarrie will finish her jubilee cake in time; all will remain and I hope live for as long as The Archers draws breath.

John Yorke is the acting editor of The Archers

Picture shows Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn and acting editor John Yorke. Vanessa returns in July after a period of long service leave

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