The Archers

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The Archers is a long-running British soap opera
Soap opera
A soap opera, sometimes called "soap" for short, is an ongoing, episodic work of dramatic fiction presented in serial format on radio or as television programming. The name soap opera stems from the original dramatic serials broadcast on radio that had soap manufacturers, such as Procter & Gamble,...

Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 on the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

's main spoken-word channel, Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

. It was originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk", but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as "contemporary drama in a rural setting". With over 16,550 episodes, it is both the world's longest running radio soap and, since the axing of the American soap opera Guiding Light
Guiding Light
Guiding Light is an American daytime television drama that is credited by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest running drama in television and radio history, running from 1937 until 2009...

 in September 2009, the world's longest running soap opera in any format.

The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, with over five million listeners, and holds the BBC Radio
BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...

 programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners.

On 11 May 2010, after an indecisive General Election, with the possibility of a hung parliament
Hung parliament
In a two-party parliamentary system of government, a hung parliament occurs when neither major political party has an absolute majority of seats in the parliament . It is also less commonly known as a balanced parliament or a legislature under no overall control...

 and during urgent negotiations between parties trying to form a coalition government, the BBC dedicated almost all the air time from 17:00 to 22:45 to post-election news coverage. The slots thus pre-empted included the 18:30 comedy or quiz slot, and the 19:15 Arts magazine, Front Row. However, at approximately 19:02 The Archers was broadcast as scheduled.

BBC Radio 4 Extra broadcasts the twice-weekly spin-off show Ambridge Extra
Ambridge Extra
Ambridge Extra is an extension of the long-running radio drama The Archers. It began in 2011 and will run for at least two series. The show features a number of new or previously silent and minor characters from the main series, in particular focussing on younger characters...

, featuring previously silent and minor characters, on Tuesdays and Thursdays with an omnibus
Omnibus (broadcast)
An omnibus is a compilation of daily television or radio episodes that is re-broadcast during the following weekend. The term has been most frequently used in the United Kingdom, though it has also been used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa...

 on Sundays following The Archers omnibus on Radio 4.


The Archers is set in the fictional village of Ambridge in the fictional county
A county is a jurisdiction of local government in certain modern nations. Historically in mainland Europe, the original French term, comté, and its equivalents in other languages denoted a jurisdiction under the sovereignty of a count A county is a jurisdiction of local government in certain...

 of Borsetshire
Borsetshire is a fictional county in the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers. Its county town is the equally fictional Borchester.Other places in the county include Ambridge, where The Archers is mainly set, Lower Loxley, a nearby village and Felpersham, a cathedral city which appears to be larger than...

, in the real English Midlands
English Midlands
The Midlands, or the English Midlands, is the traditional name for the area comprising central England that broadly corresponds to the early medieval Kingdom of Mercia. It borders Southern England, Northern England, East Anglia and Wales. Its largest city is Birmingham, and it was an important...

. Borsetshire is situated between the (in reality contiguous) counties of Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

 and Warwickshire
Warwickshire is a landlocked non-metropolitan county in the West Midlands region of England. The county town is Warwick, although the largest town is Nuneaton. The county is famous for being the birthplace of William Shakespeare...

, south of Birmingham in the West Midlands
West Midlands (region)
The West Midlands is an official region of England, covering the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains the second most populous British city, Birmingham, and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley,...

, although it has been occasionally misinterpreted as Dorsetshire in South West England
South West England
South West England is one of the regions of England defined by the Government of the United Kingdom for statistical and other purposes. It is the largest such region in area, covering and comprising Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. ...

. Various villages claim to be the inspiration for Ambridge: Ambridge's public house
Public house
A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

, The Bull, is modelled on The Old Bull in Inkberrow
Inkberrow is a village in the district of Wychavon, Worcestershire that is often thought to be the model for Ambridge, the setting of the BBC Radio 4 long running radio serialisation or soap opera The Archers. In particular 'The Bull', the fictional Ambridge pub, is supposed to be based on a very...

, whereas Hanbury
Hanbury, Worcestershire
Hanbury is a small rural village in Worcestershire, England near Droitwich Spa and the M5 motorway.- History :Although some flint tools of indeterminate date have been found in the parish the main feature surviving from prehistory is the iron age hill fort on Church Hill...

's St Mary the Virgin is often used as a stand-in for Ambridge's parish church
Parish church
A parish church , in Christianity, is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches....

, St Stephen's.

Other fictional villages include Penny Hassett, Loxley Barrett, Darrington, Hollerton, Edgeley, Waterley Cross and Lakey Green. The county town
County town
A county town is a county's administrative centre in the United Kingdom or Ireland. County towns are usually the location of administrative or judicial functions, or established over time as the de facto main town of a county. The concept of a county town eventually became detached from its...

 of Borsetshire is Borchester
Borchester is a fictional town in the BBC Radio 4 radio series The Archers. It is the county town of the fictional county of Borsetshire. According to series tradition it is located 6 miles north-east of Ambridge in the Am Vale and is an historic market and wool town...

, and the nearest big city is the cathedral city of Felpersham
Felpersham is a fictional city in the BBC Radio 4 radio series The Archers. It is probably the largest town in the fictional county of Borsetshire....

. Anywhere further from Ambridge may be referred to humorously with comments such as 'that's on the other side of Felpersham!', but characters do occasionally venture further: several attended the Countryside Alliance
Countryside Alliance
The Countryside Alliance is a British organisation promoting issues relating to the countryside such as country sports, including hunting, shooting and angling...

 march in London, there have been references to the gay scene in Manchester's Canal Street
Canal Street (Manchester)
Canal Street, the centre of the Manchester Gay Village, is a street in Manchester city centre in North West England. The pedestrianised street, which runs along the west side of the Rochdale Canal, is lined with gay bars and restaurants...

, and a number of scenes have taken place abroad or in other places around the country, with some characters resident overseas in South Africa and Hungary, and other characters have visited Norfolk
Norfolk is a low-lying county in the East of England. It has borders with Lincolnshire to the west, Cambridgeshire to the west and southwest and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea coast and to the north-west the county is bordered by The Wash. The county...

. Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 is a favourite destination for shopping.

Since Easter Sunday 1998 there have been six episodes a week from Sunday to Friday, at around 19:02 (preceded by a news bulletin). All except the Friday evening episode are repeated the following day at 14:02, and all of the week's episodes are re-run as a Sunday morning omnibus
Omnibus (broadcast)
An omnibus is a compilation of daily television or radio episodes that is re-broadcast during the following weekend. The term has been most frequently used in the United Kingdom, though it has also been used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa...

 at 10:00.


  • Many of the storyline
    Narrative thread
    A narrative thread, or plot thread , refers to particular elements and techniques of writing to center the story in the action or experience of characters rather than to relate a matter in a dry 'All knowing' sort of narration...

    s concern the title family, the middle-class Archers, who own and manage Brookfield Farm. The farm has been passed down the generations from the original owner Dan (now deceased) to his son Phil (until his death on 13 February 2010 the oldest surviving cast member), and is now co-owned by three of Phil's four children: David (who manages it with his wife Ruth), Elizabeth and Kenton.
  • the prosperous Aldridges, portrayed as money-driven practitioners of agribusiness
    In agriculture, agribusiness is a generic term for the various businesses involved in food production, including farming and contract farming, seed supply, agrichemicals, farm machinery, wholesale and distribution, processing, marketing, and retail sales....

    . Brian, the head of the family, is a serial adulterer,
  • the rich and elderly Woolleys, with Jack now badly affected by Alzheimer's disease
    Alzheimer's disease
    Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

  • the Grundys, formerly struggling tenant farmer
    Tenant farmer
    A tenant farmer is one who resides on and farms land owned by a landlord. Tenant farming is an agricultural production system in which landowners contribute their land and often a measure of operating capital and management; while tenant farmers contribute their labor along with at times varying...

    s who were brought to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s as comic characters, but are now seen as doggedly battling adversity,
  • the urban, nouveau riche
    Nouveau riche
    The nouveau riche , or new money, comprise those who have acquired considerable wealth within their own generation...

     "incomers": pretentious and domineering, Lynda Snell is the butt of many jokes, although her sheer energy makes her a stalwart of village life. She is partnered by the long-suffering Robert,
  • the perpetually struggling Carters,
  • the newly remarried milkman and casual farm labourer Mike Tucker, his kind-hearted and stunningly attractive much younger wife Vicky who divides opinion like a knife, his on-site son, Roy, daughter-in-law Hayley and two granddaughters, and his daughter Brenda, an Archer-in-waiting as Tom's intended,
  • the pseudo-aristocratic Pargetters, owners of Lower Loxley Hall in Ambridge's outskirts. Nigel, the deceased former head of the family, was keen on environmentalism
    Environmentalism is a broad philosophy, ideology and social movement regarding concerns for environmental conservation and improvement of the health of the environment, particularly as the measure for this health seeks to incorporate the concerns of non-human elements...

     but was sometimes seen as goodlooking but dim.

Many plots involve the teen and twenties offspring of these families, so new nuclear families
Nuclear family
Nuclear family is a term used to define a family group consisting of a father and mother and their children. This is in contrast to the smaller single-parent family, and to the larger extended family. Nuclear families typically center on a married couple, but not always; the nuclear family may have...

 come into existence over time. Other distant relatives also reappear. Some characters are well known but never heard on air. Over the years, some silent characters
Unseen character
In fiction, an unseen character is a character that is never directly observed by the audience but is only described by other characters. They are a common device in drama and have been called "triumphs of theatrical invention". They are continuing characters — characters who are currently in...

 become real, or vice-versa (for example, Mrs Antrobus, "the Dog Woman").

The village

Main sites in the village are:
  • Arkwright Hall is a large Victorian mansion with a 17th Century atmosphere. The building served as a community centre for many years, containing a soundproofed room and field studies centre. Later it fell into disrepair, but was renovated when Jack Woolley leased the mansion to Landmark Trust
    Landmark Trust
    The Landmark Trust is a British building conservation charity, founded in 1965 by Sir John and Lady Smith, that rescues buildings of historic interest or architectural merit and then gives them a new life by making them available for holiday rental...

    ; Architect Lewis led the restoration of the building to its Victorian
    Victorian era
    The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

  • Bridge Farm is a 168 acres (68 ha) farm previously on Berrow Estate, but now owned by Pat and Tony Archer. The farm became a wholly organic
    Organic farming
    Organic farming is the form of agriculture that relies on techniques such as crop rotation, green manure, compost and biological pest control to maintain soil productivity and control pests on a farm...

     dairy in 1984, in a storyline inspired by a script writers visit to Brynllys farm in Ceredigion
    Ceredigion is a county and former kingdom in mid-west Wales. As Cardiganshire , it was created in 1282, and was reconstituted as a county under that name in 1996, reverting to Ceredigion a day later...

    , the home of Rachel's Organic
    Rachel's Organic
    Rachel's is an organic dairy products company based in Aberystwyth, Wales. Founded by local farmers but now a subsidiary of French company Lactalis, it was United Kingdom's first certified organic dairy.-Background:...

    . In 2003, Tom Archer began producing his own brand of sausage out of Bridge Farm.
  • Brookfield Farm is a 469 acres (189.8 ha) farm that was run by Dan Archer, and then by his son Phil Archer for many years. After Phil's retirement in 2001, David Archer took over the farm, and began focusing production on his livestock
    Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

    . High-quality beef is now sold at the farm gate and elsewhere.
  • Grange Farm was a working farm run by the Grundys until their eviction in 2000. The farmhouse, along with 50 acres (20.2 ha) of land, was sold to Oliver Sterling, who then began "hobby farming".
  • Grey Gables, once a country club, is now a luxurious hotel in Ambridge, run by Caroline Sterling, née Bone. The hotel boasts a pool, spa, health club, and golf course. Ian Craig serves as the executive chef in the hotel's upscale restaurant.
  • Home Farm is a 1585 acres (641.4 ha) farm, by far the largest in Ambridge. In recent years, Home Farm became partners with Brookfield in producing high-quality lamb and expanded into soft fruit and deer farming.
  • Lower Loxley Hall is a 300-year-old building located just outside Ambridge. It serves primarily as a conference centre, but also features other attractions which bring in many hundreds of tourists a year. As well as an art gallery, falconry courses and a café, Lower Loxley also boasts a garden and a museum.
  • St. Stephen's Church, established in 1281, dates back to Saxon
    The Saxons were a confederation of Germanic tribes originating on the North German plain. The Saxons earliest known area of settlement is Northern Albingia, an area approximately that of modern Holstein...

     times. The church has undergone many changes over the years, including a number of different vicars. Its eight bells are rung by a band led by Neil Carter
  • The Bull, the village's only pub
    Public house
    A public house, informally known as a pub, is a drinking establishment fundamental to the culture of Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. There are approximately 53,500 public houses in the United Kingdom. This number has been declining every year, so that nearly half of the smaller...

     following the closure of The Cat and Fiddle, is perhaps the most recognisable structure in Ambridge. It now opens at 10 A.M. and boasts a coffee cart and two computers. Having leapt into the 21st Century, The "Bull Upstairs" has become a hotspot for many Ambridge locals.
  • Ambridge still has a village shop and post office, originally thanks to Jack Woolley's philanthropy
    Philanthropy etymologically means "the love of humanity"—love in the sense of caring for, nourishing, developing, or enhancing; humanity in the sense of "what it is to be human," or "human potential." In modern practical terms, it is "private initiatives for public good, focusing on quality of...

    . The business is now a community shop managed by Susan and run by a team of volunteers.
  • Willow Farm is the spacious residence of the Tucker family. After Betty's death in 2005 the house was split into two to accommodate their son Roy. Its farmland is also home to Neil Carter's pigs.


Unlike some soap operas, episodes of The Archers portray events taking place on the date of broadcast, allowing many topical subjects to be included. Real-life events which can be readily predicted in advance are often written into the script, such as the annual Oxford Farming Conference
Oxford Farming Conference
The Oxford Farming Conference is an annual conference for the UK's farmers that takes place in Oxford, United Kingdom, in the first week of January.The 63rd annual conference was held 5–7 January 2009...

 and the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

. On some occasions, scenes recorded at these events are planned and edited into episodes shortly before transmission.

More challengingly for the production team, some significant but unforeseen events require scenes to be rewritten and rerecorded at short notice, such as the death of Princess Margaret (particularly poignant because she had appeared as herself on the programme), the World Trade Center attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

, and the 2005 London bombings. The events and implications of the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis required many "topical inserts" and the rewriting of several storylines.


Unlike television soaps, The Archers actors are not held on retainers, so most do other acting and can disappear if they are working on long-term projects such as films or television series. For example, Tamsin Greig
Tamsin Greig
Tamsin Greig is an English actress principally known for two Channel 4 television comedy parts: Fran Katzenjammer in Black Books and Dr. Caroline Todd in Green Wing...

, who plays Debbie Aldridge, has appeared on television comedy shows such as Green Wing
Green Wing
Green Wing is a British sitcom set in the fictional East Hampton Hospital. It was created by the same team behind the sketch show Smack the Pony, led by Victoria Pile, and stars Tamsin Greig, Stephen Mangan and Julian Rhind-Tutt....

, Love Soup
Love Soup
Love Soup is a British television comedy-drama produced by the BBC and first screened on BBC One in the autumn of 2005. It stars Tamsin Greig as Alice Chenery and Michael Landes as Gil Raymond . The series is written by David Renwick of One Foot in the Grave fame, and was produced by Verity Lambert...

 and Black Books
Black Books
Black Books is a British sitcom television series created by Dylan Moran and Graham Linehan and produced by Nira Park, first broadcast on Channel 4 from 2000 to 2004...

. As a result, Debbie manages a farm in Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 in which her family has an interest while Greig is filming these shows, and then returns to Ambridge when Greig's commitments allow. Because of this, and by the nature of the storylines focusing on particular groups of characters, in any week the series comprises between 20 and 30 speaking characters out of a regular cast of about 60. Greig's situation was similar to that of Felicity Jones
Felicity Jones
Felicity Jones is an English actress from Birmingham. She is best known to television audiences for her role as the school bully Ethel Hallow in the first series of The Worst Witch and its sequel Weirdsister College...

 who played Emma Carter in the series; Jones, after a period studying at Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College, Oxford
Wadham College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, located at the southern end of Parks Road in central Oxford. It was founded by Nicholas and Dorothy Wadham, wealthy Somerset landowners, during the reign of King James I...

 has moved into large TV parts, such as a starring role in Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey (2007 TV drama)
Northanger Abbey, an adaptation of the classic Jane Austen novel of the same name, premiered on 25 March, 2007 on the United Kingdom channel ITV at 9pm, as part of their Jane Austen Season. The drama ran for 120 minutes in the UK, and 93 minutes without interruption in the United States...

. Emma Carter is now played by Emerald O'Hanrahan.


Starting on Whit Monday
Whit Monday
Whit Monday or Pentecost Monday is the holiday celebrated the day after Pentecost, a movable feast in the Christian calendar. It is movable because it is determined by the date of Easter....

, 29 May 1950, and continuing with five episodes through that week, a pilot series created by Godfrey Baseley
Godfrey Baseley
Godfrey Baseley , was a radio executive, who is most famous as being the creator of the soap opera The Archers....

 was broadcast to the English Midlands in the Regional Home Service, as 'a farming Dick Barton
Dick Barton
Dick Barton - Special Agent was a popular radio programme on the BBC Light Programme. Between 1946 to 1951 it aired at 6.45 each weekday evening and at its peak it had an audience of 15 million listeners. Despite popular belief, it was not actually the BBC's first daily serial...

'. Recordings were sent to London, and after some discussion the BBC decided to commission the series for a longer national run. In the five pilot episodes the Archers owned Wimberton Farm, rather than Brookfield.

Since 1 January 1951, five 15-minute episodes (since 1998, six 12½-minute episodes) have been transmitted each week, at first on the BBC Light Programme
BBC Light Programme
The Light Programme was a BBC radio station which broadcast mainstream light entertainment and music from 1945 until 1967, when it was rebranded as BBC Radio 2...

 and subsequently on the BBC Home Service
BBC Home Service
The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.-Development:Between the 1920s and the outbreak of The Second World War, the BBC had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme...

 (now Radio 4
BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...

). The original scriptwriters were Geoffrey Webb and Edward J. Mason
Edward J. Mason
Edward J. Mason was born on May 8, 1912 in Birmingham, England and died on February 3, 1971. He was a script writer for radio, television and movies for both the British Broadcasting Corporation and its rival Radio Luxembourg.-Brief biography:Edward J...

, who were also working on the series Dick Barton
Dick Barton
Dick Barton - Special Agent was a popular radio programme on the BBC Light Programme. Between 1946 to 1951 it aired at 6.45 each weekday evening and at its peak it had an audience of 15 million listeners. Despite popular belief, it was not actually the BBC's first daily serial...

 whose popularity partly inspired The Archers and whose slot in the schedules it eventually took. Originally produced with collaborative input from the Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was a United Kingdom government department created by the Board of Agriculture Act 1889 and at that time called the Board of Agriculture, and then from 1903 the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and from 1919 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries...

, The Archers was conceived as a means of disseminating information to farmers and smallholders to help increase productivity in the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 years of rationing and food shortages. It was originally formulated around the lives of three farmers; Dan Archer
Dan Archer
Daniel G. "Dan" Archer is a former American football offensive tackle in the American Football League. he played college football at the University of Oregon, and then professionally for the Oakland Raiders in 1967 and for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968. He currently lives in Mill Valley,...

, farming efficiently with little cash, Walter Gabriel, farming inefficiently with little cash, and George Fairbrother, a wealthy business man farming at a loss for tax purposes (which one could do in those days). The programme was hugely successful; at the height of its popularity it was estimated that 60% of adult Britons were regular listeners. The programme's educational remit and the involvement of the MoA ended in the 1970s, but it still contains many storylines and discussions about farming, and has a separate 'agricultural story editor', Graham Harvey.

Tony Shryane
Tony Shryane
Anthony Joseph Shryane was a long-serving producer of radio programs for the British Broadcasting Corporation.He was born in Harborne, Birmingham....

 MBE was the programme's producer from 1 January 1951 to 19 January 1979. Vanessa Whitburn has been the programme's editor since 1992. Since 2007, The Archers has been available as a podcast
A podcast is a series of digital media files that are released episodically and often downloaded through web syndication...

. , the omnibus podcast on iTunes
iTunes is a media player computer program, used for playing, downloading, and organizing digital music and video files on desktop computers. It can also manage contents on iPod, iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad....

 in the United Kingdom was at 37 while the daily podcast was at 89.

Death of Grace Archer

One of the most controversial Archers episodes was broadcast on 22 September 1955, the evening of the launch of the UK's first commercial television station, ITV
ITV is the major commercial public service TV network in the United Kingdom. Launched in 1955 under the auspices of the Independent Television Authority to provide competition to the BBC, it is also the oldest commercial network in the UK...

. Phil and Grace Archer had been married just a few months earlier, and their blossoming relationship was the talk of the nation. However, searching for a story which would demonstrate some real tragedy among the increasingly unconvincing episode cliff-hangers, Godfrey Baseley had decided that Grace would have to die. It was explained to the cast as an "exercise in topicality." The scripts for the week of 19 September 1955 were both written, recorded, and broadcast on each day. On Thursday evening of that week, listeners heard Grace trying to rescue her horse, Midnight, from a fire at Brookfield stables, and the crash as a beam fell on her.

Whether the timing of the episode was a deliberate attempt to overshadow the opening night of the BBC's first commercial rival has been debated ever since. It was certainly planned some months in advance, but it may well be that the actual date of the death was changed during the scriptwriting stage to coincide with the start of ITV. Deliberate or not, the episode attracted widespread media attention, being reported by newspapers around the world.

This controversy has been parodied twice: in The Bowmans
The Bowmans (Hancock)
"The Bowmans" is an episode of the BBC television situation comedy programme Hancock, the final BBC series featuring Tony Hancock, first broadcast on 2 June 1961...

, an episode of the television comedy programme Hancock, and in the play and film The Killing of Sister George
The Killing of Sister George
The Killing of Sister George is a 1964 play by Frank Marcus that was adapted as a 1968 film directed by Robert Aldrich.- Stage version :Sister George is a beloved character in the popular radio series Applehurst, a nurse who ministers to the medical needs and personal problems of the local villagers...

. On the 50th anniversary of ITV's launch, Ysanne Churchman
Ysanne Churchman
Ysanne Churchman worked as an actor and narrator on British radio, TV and film for over 50 years . She achieved national fame as 'Grace Archer' in the long-running BBC drama series, when Grace died in a fire on the night when ITV launched in 1955.Ysanne Churchman was born on 14 May 1925 in...

, who played Grace, sent a congratulatory card to ITV, signed "Grace Archer".

In 1996, William Smethurst recounted a conversation with Baseley in which he reveals his real motivation for killing off Grace Archer: Churchman was encouraging the other actors to join a trade union
Trade union
A trade union, trades union or labor union is an organization of workers that have banded together to achieve common goals such as better working conditions. The trade union, through its leadership, bargains with the employer on behalf of union members and negotiates labour contracts with...



The actor Norman Painting
Norman Painting
Norman Painting, OBE was an actor who played Phil Archer in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers since the pilot episodes were aired on the BBC Midlands Home Service in summer 1950. The series went national on 1 January 1951...

 played Phil Archer continuously from the first trial series in 1950 until his death on 29 October 2009. His last recording for an Archers episode was recorded just two days before his death and was broadcast on 22 November. He holds the title of longest-serving actor in a single soap opera in the Guinness Book of Records
Guinness World Records
Guinness World Records, known until 2000 as The Guinness Book of Records , is a reference book published annually, containing a collection of world records, both human achievements and the extremes of the natural world...

. As a script writer, he also wrote around 1,200 complete episodes, credited as "Bruno Milna", culminating in the 10,000th episode. June Spencer has played Peggy Archer/Woolley from the pilot episode onwards, though not for all of the period since. According to Who's Who in The Archers 2008, episode 15,360 was to be broadcast on 1 January 2008. Episode 15,000 was broadcast on 7 November 2006.

Sixtieth anniversary

The Archers reached its 60th anniversary on 1 January 2011 and to mark this achievement, a special half hour episode was broadcast on Sunday 2 January on BBC Radio 4 from 7pm. The episode had been advertised as containing events that would 'shake Ambridge to the core'. This phrase even gave rise to the initialism #SATTC trending on the website Twitter
Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, informally known as "tweets".Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July...

 during that weekend as listeners speculated about what might happen, and then reported their views as the story unfolded.

The main events in the episode were Helen Archer giving birth to her son Henry and Nigel Pargetter falling to his death from the roof of Lower Loxley Hall. Elizabeth is now struggling with the death of her husband and the family are milling around not sure what to do for the best.

The writing out of the character of Nigel caused much controversy among Archers' listeners, with a large number of complaints variously expressing dismay at the death of a popular character, concerns over the manner of the dismissal of the actor, belief that the promise to 'shake Ambridge to the core' had been over-hyped, criticism of the credibility of the script and acting for the anniversary episode, and a perceived unwillingness of the editorial team to engage with these listener complaints.


A recurring theme has been the resentment of the working-class Grundy family towards the middle-class Archers. Labour
Labour Party (UK)
The Labour Party is a centre-left democratic socialist party in the United Kingdom. It surpassed the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929-1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after...

 politician Neil Kinnock
Neil Kinnock
Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock is a Welsh politician belonging to the Labour Party. He served as a Member of Parliament from 1970 until 1995 and as Labour Leader and Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition from 1983 until 1992 - his leadership of the party during nearly nine years making him...

 in the 1980s jokingly called for The Archers to be retitled "The Grundys and their Oppressors". The series, however, now deals with a wide range of contemporary issues including illicit affair
Affair may refer to professional, personal, or public business matters or to a particular business or private activity of a temporary duration, as in family affair, a private affair, or a romantic affair.-Political affair:...

s, drug abuse
Drug abuse
Substance abuse, also known as drug abuse, refers to a maladaptive pattern of use of a substance that is not considered dependent. The term "drug abuse" does not exclude dependency, but is otherwise used in a similar manner in nonmedical contexts...

, rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

, and civil partnerships, inviting criticism from conservative commentators such as Peter Hitchens
Peter Hitchens
Peter Jonathan Hitchens is an award-winning British columnist and author, noted for his traditionalist conservative stance. He has published five books, including The Abolition of Britain, A Brief History of Crime, The Broken Compass and most recently The Rage Against God. Hitchens writes for...

 that the series has become a vehicle for liberal
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

 and left-wing values and agendas, with characters behaving out of character to achieve those goals. However, one of the show's charms is to make much out of everyday, small concerns, such as the possible closure of the village shop, the loss and rediscovery of a pair of spectacles, competitive marmalade
Marmalade is a fruit preserve made from the juice and peel of citrus fruits, boiled with sugar and water. The benchmark citrus fruit for marmalade production in Britain is the "Seville orange" from Spain, Citrus aurantium var...

-making, or nonsense such as a 'spile
A spile is a small wooden peg used to control the flow of air into, and carbon dioxide out of, a cask of ale.Cask ale is served without externally-supplied carbon dioxide or nitrogen...

 troshing' competition, rather than the large-scale and improbable events that form the plots of many soap operas. However, there are some dramatic storylines, such as the rape
Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent. The...

 of Kathy Perks.

Sometimes mocked as a comfortable middle-class series with stereotypical comic yokels, the programme has nonetheless tackled many serious social issues. There have been, for instance: rural drug addiction; inter-racial relationships; direct action
Direct action
Direct action is activity undertaken by individuals, groups, or governments to achieve political, economic, or social goals outside of normal social/political channels. This can include nonviolent and violent activities which target persons, groups, or property deemed offensive to the direct action...

 against genetically modified
Genetically modified food
Genetically modified foods are foods derived from genetically modified organisms . Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques...

 crops and badger culling; family break-ups; and civil partnerships.

According to some of the actors, and confirmed in the writings of Godfrey Baseley, in its early days the show was used as a conduit for announcements from the Ministry of Agriculture
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food was a United Kingdom government department created by the Board of Agriculture Act 1889 and at that time called the Board of Agriculture, and then from 1903 the Board of Agriculture and Fisheries, and from 1919 the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries...

, one actor reading an announcement almost verbatim to another. More recently the show has reacted within a day to agricultural emergencies such as outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, which affect farmers nationwide when livestock movements are restricted.

Cameo appearances

Many famous people have made cameo appearance
Cameo appearance
A cameo role or cameo appearance is a brief appearance of a known person in a work of the performing arts, such as plays, films, video games and television...

s on the programme:
  • Princess Margaret and the Duke of Westminster
    Gerald Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster
    Major-General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, 6th Duke of Westminster, , is the son of Robert George Grosvenor, 5th Duke of Westminster, and his wife Hon. Viola Maud Lyttelton. He is the owner of property company Grosvenor Group...

     appeared in 1984 in connection with a fashion show to commemorate the centenary of the NSPCC
    The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is a United Kingdom charity campaigning and working in child protection.-History:...

  • Dame Judi Dench
    Judi Dench
    Dame Judith Olivia "Judi" Dench, CH, DBE, FRSA is an English film, stage and television actress.Dench made her professional debut in 1957 with the Old Vic Company. Over the following few years she played in several of William Shakespeare's plays in such roles as Ophelia in Hamlet, Juliet in Romeo...

     made an appearance as the (hitherto usually silent) Pru Forrest in 1989 for the 10,000th episode. Terry Wogan
    Terry Wogan
    Sir Michael Terence Wogan, KBE, DL , or also known as Terry Wogan, is a veteran Irish radio and television broadcaster who holds dual Irish and British citizenship. Wogan has worked for the BBC in the United Kingdom for most of his career...

     was featured and Esther Rantzen
    Esther Rantzen
    Esther Louise Rantzen CBE is an English journalist and television presenter who is best known for presenting the BBC television series That's Life!, and for her work in various charitable causes. She is founder of the child protection charity ChildLine, and also advocates the work of the Burma...

     was responsible for the sound effect
    Sound effect
    For the album by The Jam, see Sound Affects.Sound effects or audio effects are artificially created or enhanced sounds, or sound processes used to emphasize artistic or other content of films, television shows, live performance, animation, video games, music, or other media...

  • Radio presenter John Peel
    John Peel
    John Robert Parker Ravenscroft, OBE , known professionally as John Peel, was an English disc jockey, radio presenter, record producer and journalist. He was the longest-serving of the original BBC Radio 1 DJs, broadcasting regularly from 1967 until his death in 2004...

     appeared as himself in 1991.
  • Celebrity gardener
    Celebrity gardener
    Gardeners who have achieved fame through their pioneering innovations, writing or, more often, their television personas, may be classed as Celebrity Gardeners.The writing of C. Z...

     Alan Titchmarsh
    Alan Titchmarsh
    Alan Fred Titchmarsh, MBE DL is an English gardener, broadcaster and novelist. After working as a professional gardener and a garden journalist, he established himself as a media personality through appearances on gardening programmes...

     judged Ambridge's entries in the National Gardens Scheme
    National Gardens Scheme
    The National Gardens Scheme, was founded in 1927 in England with the aim of "opening gardens of quality, character and interest to the public for charity". Originally, the money was raised to provide pension support for district nurses; 609 private gardens were opened and £8,191 was raised.Over...

     open gardens competition in May 2003.
  • Radio presenter Chris Moyles
    Chris Moyles
    Christopher David Moyles is an English radio and television presenter and author, who currently presents The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 and Chris Moyles' Quiz Night on Channel 4....

     appeared in June 2004 as a random customer—and suspected National Pub of the Year
    National Pub of the Year
    The National Pub of the Year is an annual competition held by CAMRA in February that finds the best pub in the UK. Established in 1988, the competition helps to highlight quality pubs around the UK that are worth seeking out and visiting. Each year, each local CAMRA branch nominates one pub in...

     judge—in The Bull.
  • Comedian and presenter Griff Rhys Jones
    Griff Rhys Jones
    Griffith "Griff" Rhys Jones is a Welsh comedian, writer, actor, television presenter and personality. Jones came to national attention in the early 1980s for his work in the BBC television comedy sketch shows Not the Nine O'Clock News and Alas Smith and Jones along with his comedy partner Mel Smith...

     appeared as himself in July 2004, when he was drafted into Lynda's campaign to restore the Cat and Fiddle pub.
  • Stephen Fry
    Stephen Fry
    Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

    , although not appearing in an official episode, took part in Victoria Wood Goes to Ambridge, a series of five mini-episodes written by Victoria Wood
    Victoria Wood
    Victoria Wood CBE is a British comedienne, actress, singer-songwriter, screenwriter and director. Wood has written and starred in sketches, plays, films and sitcoms, and her live stand-up comedy act is interspersed with her own compositions, which she accompanies on piano...

     for Comic Relief
    Comic Relief
    Comic Relief is an operating British charity, founded in 1985 by the comedy scriptwriter Richard Curtis and comedian Lenny Henry in response to famine in Ethiopia. The highlight of Comic Relief's appeal is Red Nose Day, a biennial telethon held in March, alternating with sister project Sport Relief...

     in March 2005. Also making fleeting appearances were Ewan McGregor
    Ewan McGregor
    Ewan Gordon McGregor is a Scottish actor. He has had success in mainstream, indie, and art house films. McGregor is perhaps best known for his roles as heroin addict Mark Renton in the drama Trainspotting , young Jedi Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy , and poet Christian in the...

    , Ian McKellen
    Ian McKellen
    Sir Ian Murray McKellen, CH, CBE is an English actor. He has received a Tony Award, two Academy Award nominations, and five Emmy Award nominations. His work has spanned genres from Shakespearean and modern theatre to popular fantasy and science fiction...

     and Liza Tarbuck
    Liza Tarbuck
    Liza Tarbuck is an English actress and television and radio presenter, and daughter of comedian Jimmy Tarbuck.She trained at the National Youth Theatre and RADA graduating in 1986 alongside Clive Owen, Rebecca Pidgeon and Serena Harragin.-Acting:...

  • Zandra Rhodes
    Zandra Rhodes
    Zandra Rhodes, CBE, RDI, is an English fashion designer.Zandra Rhodes was introduced to the world of fashion by her mother, who was a fitter in a Paris fashion house and a teacher at Medway College of Art, now the University for the Creative Arts. Rhodes studied first at Medway and then at the...

     played herself in an episode in September 2006 in connection with a charity fashion show.
  • Robert Winston
    Robert Winston
    Robert Maurice Lipson Winston, Baron Winston is a British professor, medical doctor, scientist, television presenter and politician.-Early life and education :...

     appeared as a fertility
    Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

     specialist consulted by Hayley and Roy Tucker in January and February 2007.
  • Mike Gatting
    Mike Gatting
    Michael "Mike" William Gatting OBE is a former English cricketer, who played first-class cricket for Middlesex and for England from 1977 to 1995, captaining the national side in twenty-three Test matches between 1986 and 1988...

     appeared as himself in September 2007 at the centre of a misunderstanding between Sid and Jolene Perks during the npower
    Npower (UK)
    RWE Npower plc is a UK-based electricity and gas supply generation company, formerly known as Innogy plc. As Innogy plc it was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index...

     Village Cup final at Lord's Cricket Ground
    Lord's Cricket Ground
    Lord's Cricket Ground is a cricket venue in St John's Wood, London. Named after its founder, Thomas Lord, it is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club and is the home of Middlesex County Cricket Club, the England and Wales Cricket Board , the European Cricket Council and, until August 2005, the...

  • Crime novelist Colin Dexter
    Colin Dexter
    Norman Colin Dexter, OBE, is an English crime writer, known for his Inspector Morse novels which were written between 1975 and 1999 and adapted as a television series from 1987 to 2000.-Early life and career:...

     made a cameo in 2010.
  • Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall appeared on 16 February 2011 in connection with the National Osteoporosis Society
    National Osteoporosis Society
    The National Osteoporosis Society, established in 1986, is the only UK-wide charity dedicated to improving the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. It is based in Camerton, Somerset, England. The income of the charity was about £3.5 million in 2010...

    's 25th anniversary as well as the show's 60th anniversary.
  • Others who have made appearances include Britt Ekland
    Britt Ekland
    Britt-Marie Ekland is a Swedish actress and singer, and a long time resident of the United Kingdom. She is best known for her roles as a Bond girl in The Man with the Golden Gun, and in the British cult horror film The Wicker Man, as well as her marriage to actor Peter Sellers, and her...

    , Humphrey Lyttelton
    Humphrey Lyttelton
    Humphrey Richard Adeane Lyttelton , also known as Humph, was an English jazz musician and broadcaster, and chairman of the BBC radio comedy programme I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue...

     (1956), Anneka Rice, Dame Edna Everage
    Dame Edna Everage
    Dame Edna is a character created and played by Australian dadaist performer and comedian, Barry Humphries, famous for her lilac-coloured or "wisteria hue" hair and cat eye glasses or "face furniture," her favorite flower, the gladiola and her boisterous greeting: "Hello Possums!" As Dame Edna,...

     and Antony Gormley
    Antony Gormley
    Antony Mark David Gormley OBE RA is a British sculptor. His best known works include the Angel of the North, a public sculpture in the North of England, commissioned in 1995 and erected in February 1998, Another Place on Crosby Beach near Liverpool, and Event Horizon, a multi-part site...


Theme tune

The theme tune of The Archers is called "Barwick Green
Barwick Green
"Barwick Green" is the theme music to the long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. It is a "maypole dance" from the suite My Native Heath, written in 1924 by the Yorkshire composer Arthur Wood, and named after Barwick-in-Elmet....

" and is a maypole dance
Maypole dance
Maypole dancing is a form of folk dance from western Europe, especially England, Basque Country, Sweden, Galicia, Portugal and Germany,- History :...

 from the suite My Native Heath, written in 1924 by the Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

 composer Arthur Wood
Arthur Wood (composer)
Arthur Wood was an English composer and conductor, particularly famous for "Barwick Green", the signature theme for the BBC Radio 4 series The Archers.-Life:...

. An alternative arrangement, played by The Yetties
The Yetties
The Yetties are an English folk music group and take their name from the Dorset village of Yetminster which was their childhood home. In 2007 The Yetties celebrated 40 years as a professional folk band....

, is used to introduce the Sunday omnibus
Omnibus (broadcast)
An omnibus is a compilation of daily television or radio episodes that is re-broadcast during the following weekend. The term has been most frequently used in the United Kingdom, though it has also been used in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa...

. In 1992, having used the same recording for many years, the theme was re-recorded in stereo
STEREO is a solar observation mission. Two nearly identical spacecraft were launched into orbits that cause them to respectively pull farther ahead of and fall gradually behind the Earth...

. The original orchestral arrangement was used, but the slightly different mixing and more leisurely tempo led many listeners to consider the new version inferior.

Robert Robinson once compared the tune to "the genteel abandon of a lifelong teetotaller who has suddenly taken to drink". On April Fool's Day 2004 both The Independent
The Independent
The Independent is a British national morning newspaper published in London by Independent Print Limited, owned by Alexander Lebedev since 2010. It is nicknamed the Indy, while the Sunday edition, The Independent on Sunday, is the Sindy. Launched in 1986, it is one of the youngest UK national daily...

 and The Today Programme claimed that BBC executives had commissioned composer Brian Eno
Brian Eno
Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno , commonly known as Brian Eno or simply as Eno , is an English musician, composer, record producer, singer and visual artist, known as one of the principal innovators of ambient music.Eno studied at Colchester Institute art school in Essex,...

 to record an electronic version of "Barwick Green" as a replacement for the current theme, while the (Scottish) comedian Billy Connolly
Billy Connolly
William "Billy" Connolly, Jr., CBE is a Scottish comedian, musician, presenter and actor. He is sometimes known, especially in his native Scotland, by the nickname The Big Yin...

 included in his act the joke that the theme was so typically English that it should be the national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...


English doctors are taught that the tempo
In musical terminology, tempo is the speed or pace of a given piece. Tempo is a crucial element of any musical composition, as it can affect the mood and difficulty of a piece.-Measuring tempo:...

 of the tune is the rate at which to apply cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency procedure which is performed in an effort to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person in cardiac arrest. It is indicated in those who are unresponsive...

 (CPR). An alternative tune is "Nellie the Elephant
Nellie the Elephant
Nellie the Elephant is a song written in 1956 by Ralph Butler and Peter Hart about a fictional intelligent elephant of the same name.-Original version:...

", which has the same tempo.

Serious occasions

In the past, a cliffhanger involving a death of a major character or disaster was marked by the traditional closing theme being replaced by the final dramatic section of Barwick Green
Barwick Green
"Barwick Green" is the theme music to the long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. It is a "maypole dance" from the suite My Native Heath, written in 1924 by the Yorkshire composer Arthur Wood, and named after Barwick-in-Elmet....

 involving trombones, cymbals and the closing bars of the signature tune. However, this tradition has been dropped in recent years, notably after the death of Nigel Pargetter when the normal closing music was played despite the gravity of the incident, and after the death of John Archer when no music was played at all.

Fan clubs

Two organisations dedicated to the programme were established in the 1990s. Archers Addicts is the official body, run by members of the cast. The club has five thousand members and an online shop where Archers memorabilia is sold under licence. It also provides a message board where fans of the show can give their views on the programme. Archers Anarchists was formed some time later, objecting to the "castist" assumptions propagated by the BBC, and claiming that the characters are real.

Overseas parallels

In 1994, the BBC World Service
BBC World Service
The BBC World Service is the world's largest international broadcaster, broadcasting in 27 languages to many parts of the world via analogue and digital shortwave, internet streaming and podcasting, satellite, FM and MW relays...

 in Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 began broadcasting Naway Kor, Naway Jwand ("New Home, New Life"), an everyday story of country folk incorporating pieces of useful information. Although the useful information was more likely to concern unexploded land mine
Land mine
A land mine is usually a weight-triggered explosive device which is intended to damage a target—either human or inanimate—by means of a blast and/or fragment impact....

s and opium
Opium is the dried latex obtained from the opium poppy . Opium contains up to 12% morphine, an alkaloid, which is frequently processed chemically to produce heroin for the illegal drug trade. The latex also includes codeine and non-narcotic alkaloids such as papaverine, thebaine and noscapine...

 addiction than the latest modern farming techniques, the inspiration and model of Naway Kor, Naway Jwand was The Archers, and the initial workshopping with Afghan writers included an Archers scriptwriter. A 1997 study found that listeners to the soap opera were significantly less likely to be injured by a mine than non-listeners.

In Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, the BBC World Service's Rwanda-Rundi
Rwanda-Rundi or Ruanda-Rundi is a Bantu language, actually a dialect continuum, of Central Africa. Neighboring dialects are mutually intelligible, but more distant ones may not be. Two dialects, Kirundi and Kinyarwanda, have been standardized as official languages, of Burundi and Rwanda...

 service has been broadcasting the Archers-inspired soap opera Urunana ("Hand in Hand") since 1999.

The Archers was also the model for the Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n radio soap opera Dom 7, Podyezd 4 ("House 7, Entrance 4"), on which the former UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

, once made a cameo appearance.

The Japanese national radio and TV network, NHK, offers a "morning drama" (asadora) that runs for 15 minutes from Monday to Saturday on television. This slot was established on radio in the early postwar era and moved to television in 1961. Each series lasts six months, i.e. approximately 150 episodes. All centre on a heroine, usually a young girl facing challenges (usually in Japanese traditional social ways) to realize her dream. Programmes have often been used as vehicles for discussion of matters of social concern, such as the foster-child system, and to celebrate the locales around Japan where the series are set.

Reference works

The most recent Archers reference books are Who's Who
Marquis Who's Who
Marquis Who's Who, a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc., is the American publisher of a number of directories containing short biographies...

 in The Archers by Keri Davies
Keri Davies
Keri Davies is a radio producer and playwright, best known for his work on the BBC radio soap opera The Archers.Davies was born in Treherbert, Rhondda, Wales, but grew up in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. He gained his A-Levels whilst at John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge...

, senior producer and scriptwriter. This has been published by BBC Books
BBC Books
BBC Books is an imprint majority owned and managed by Random House. The minority shareholder is BBC Worldwide, the commercial subsidiary of the British Broadcasting Corporation...

 since 2003 and is updated annually for the Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

 gift-giving season
Christmas Present
- References :*...

  • Forever Ambridge — 25 Years of The Archers (1975) by Norman Painting
    Norman Painting
    Norman Painting, OBE was an actor who played Phil Archer in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers since the pilot episodes were aired on the BBC Midlands Home Service in summer 1950. The series went national on 1 January 1951...

     ASIN B0012UT8XM
  • The Book of The Archers (1994) by Patricia Greene
    Patricia Greene
    Patricia Greene MBE , is a British film and radio actress.-Early life:She was born in Derbyshire, England. She attended the Parkfield Cedars Grammar School in Derby . She also calls herself Paddy...

    , Charles Collingwood
    Charles Collingwood (actor)
    Charles Henry Collingwood is a British actor.Born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, and educated at Sherborne School in Dorset, England, he trained at RADA. He is best known for playing the role of Brian Aldridge in the long-running BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers since March 1975...

     and Hedli Niklaus ISBN 0-7181-3849-X
  • The Archers: The True Story (1996) by William Smethurst ISBN 1-85833-620-1
  • The Archers Encyclopaedia (2001) by Joanna Toye and Adrian Flynn ISBN 0-563-53718-3, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of The Archers
  • Who's Who in The Archers 2008 by Keri Davies
    Keri Davies
    Keri Davies is a radio producer and playwright, best known for his work on the BBC radio soap opera The Archers.Davies was born in Treherbert, Rhondda, Wales, but grew up in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England. He gained his A-Levels whilst at John of Gaunt School, Trowbridge...

     ISBN 1-84607-326-X
  • Who's Who in The Archers 2011 by Graham Harvey
    Graham Harvey
    Graham Harvey is an Australian actor, best known for his roles in television soap operas.His credits include: The Sullivans , The Young Doctors , Return to Eden , E Street and Neighbours .-External links:...

    ISBN 978-1-849-90015-7
  • The Archers Miscellany (2010) by Joanna Toye ISBN 978-1-846-07754-8
  • The Road to Ambridge (2010) by June Spencer
    June Spencer
    June Spencer OBE is an English actress best known for her role in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers....

     ISBN 978-1-907532-25-2
  • The Archers Archives (2010) by Simon Frith & Chris Arnot ISBN 978-1-849-90013-3
  • Borsetshire Life (2011) The county magazine ISBN 781-1-902-68514-4 see borsetshire-life


  • The Archers by Jock Gallagher
  • Ambridge Summer by Keith Miles
    Keith Miles
    Keith Miles is a writer of historical fiction and mystery novels. He has also written children's books, radio and television dramas and stage plays. He is best known under the pseudonym Edward Marston, and has also written as Martin Inigo and Conrad Allen.-Career:Miles was born and educated in...

     (1975) ISBN 0855230657
    • The Archers: To The Victor The Spoils (1988) ISBN 0-563-20599-7
    • The Archers: Return to Ambridge (1988) ISBN 0-563-20606-3
    • The Archers: Borchester Echoes (1988) ISBN 0-563-20607-1
    • The Archers: Omnibus Edition (1988) ISBN 0-563-36001-1
  • The Ambridge Chronicles by Joanna Toye
    • The Archers 1951-1967: Family Ties (1998) ISBN 0-563-38397-6
    • The Archers 1968-1986: Looking For Love (1999) ISBN 0-563-55125-9
    • The Archers 1987-2000: Back to the Land (2000) ISBN 0-563-53701-9
    • The Archers 1951-1967: Family Ties (1998, audiobook, narrated by Miriam Margolyes
      Miriam Margolyes
      Miriam Margolyes, OBE is an English actress and voice artist. Her earliest roles were in theatre and after several supporting roles in film and television she won a BAFTA Award for her role in The Age of Innocence .-Early life:...

      ) ISBN 0-563-55714-1
    • The Archers 1968-1986: Looking For Love (1999, audiobook, narrated by Stella Gonet
      Stella Gonet
      Stella Gonet is a Scottish theatre, film and TV actress.- Career :Gonet trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and is known for playing Beatrice Eliott, one of the two lead roles, in three series of the television drama, The House Of Eliott and Chief Executive Officer Jayne...

      ) ISBN 0-563-55813-X
    • The Archers 1987-2000: Back to the Land (2000, audiobook, narrated by Stephanie Cole
      Stephanie Cole
      Stephanie Cole, OBE is an English stage, television, and film actress, best known for playing characters a great deal older than her actual age.-Early life:...

      ) ISBN 0-563-55818-0
  • In 1975, Tandem published a prequel
    A prequel is a work that supplements a previously completed one, and has an earlier time setting.The widely recognized term was a 20th-century neologism, and a portmanteau from pre- and sequel...

     novel about Ambridge in the early 1900s
    • Spring at Brookfield by Brian Hayles
      Brian Hayles
      Brian Hayles was born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England. His body of work as a writer for television and film, most notably for the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who, lasted from 1962 to 1978....

       (1975) ISBN 426165209

Published audio episodes

  • Vintage Archers
    • Vintage Archers: Volume 1 (1988) ISBN 0-563-22586-6
    • Vintage Archers: Volume 2 (1988) ISBN 0-563-22704-4
    • Vintage Archers: Volume 3 (1998) ISBN 0-563-55740-0 (contains several "lost episodes" which have been digitally restored)
    • The Archers: The Wedding Jack and Peggy tie the knot
    • Vintage Archers: Volumes 1-3 (2001) ISBN 0-563-38281-3
  • Ambridge Affairs
    • Ambridge Affairs: Love Triangles (2007) ISBN 1-4056-7733-3
    • Ambridge Affairs: Heartache at Home Farm (2007) ISBN 1-4056-8785-1


In addition to books and audiobooks, purported maps of Ambridge and Borsetshire have been published.


An episode of Arena
Arena (TV series)
Arena is a British television documentary series, made and broadcast by the BBC. It has run since 1 October 1975, and over five hundred episodes have been made. Arena covers all manner of subjects, from profiles of notable people such as Bob Dylan to the Ford Cortina car...

, broadcast on BBC Four
BBC Four
BBC Four is a British television network operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation and available to digital television viewers on Freeview, IPTV, satellite and cable....

 on 1 January 2007, focused on The Archers. It was narrated by Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry
Stephen John Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter and film director, and a director of Norwich City Football Club. He first came to attention in the 1981 Cambridge Footlights Revue presentation "The Cellar Tapes", which also...

 and included interviews with current actors and scriptwriters.

External links

  • The Archers programme on the BBC Radio 4
  • BBC Archers message board
  • Archers Addicts BBC-approved fan club
  • Archers Anarchists "anti-castist" BBC-free fan club
  • independent chat site
  • Mustardland independent alternative to the official message board
  • The Archers Plot Summaries unofficial summary of each day's events (1995–present)
  • Peter Hesketh's Chronology key events 1896–1994
  • newsgroup
    A usenet newsgroup is a repository usually within the Usenet system, for messages posted from many users in different locations. The term may be confusing to some, because it is usually a discussion group. Newsgroups are technically distinct from, but functionally similar to, discussion forums on...

     (via Google Groups
    Google Groups
    Google Groups is a service from Google Inc. that supports discussion groups, including many Usenet newsgroups, based on common interests. The service was started in 1995 as Deja News, and was transitioned to Google Groups after a February 2001 buyout....

  • The FAQ the Archers newsgroup wiki
    A wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a WYSIWYG text editor. Wikis are typically powered by wiki software and are often used collaboratively by multiple users. Examples include...