I’ve been having serious doubts about The Archers. Originally set up to inform people about farming, it has long since outgrown that first remit. Yes, it’s a soap, but this ‘everyday story of country folk’ has always seemed to be rooted in the lives of characters who, though not actually real, appear to be real. There was a sense of heightened reality but sensational plot-lines were well-spaced enough to give the illusion of listening to an ‘everyday country’ story. We felt that these characters were a part of our lives, rather than some group of celebs and misfits giving us a window into their shattered existence.
The Archers has always had the ability to shock, but it never felt gratuitous or sensationalist. Not until recently. Nigel’s sudden death was bad enough; but it has been followed in fairly short order by Tom’s jilting of Kirsty and subsequent disappearance; Roy and Elizabeth’s affair, Jess’s pregnancy bombshell and Rob’s perfidy – and, the final straw, the road-planning threat to the very heart of Ambridge itself, Brookfield.
Any one of these story-lines would have made a fitting high-point in the narrative, but to have them all come together makes it look as though the producers are scared – scared that if they don’t keep up the level of drama, people will lose interest.
Well, I’m losing interest right now. The series has lathered itself into such a level of soapiness that you can’t see the flesh for the froth. Let’s have more fun stories like Susan’s hair and Jennifer’s kitchen – and fewer bombshells, please. The Archers used to manage to be both entertaining and comforting, but it’s starting to feel like living in a war zone.
Have a listen to the Omnibus and tell me what you think: