Oh hi there! I see you’ve ended up here, wondering what the Archers is. I’m so glad you asked, because it is straight up magic.
Before we delve into the intricacies of the personal lives of all the characters, let me cover the absolute basics. The Archers is a radio drama, it is on 6 days a week (every day aside from Saturday) on BBC Radio 4. Each day the episode is repeated twice. It is played at 7pm, then the next day at 2pm. (UK time, I have to listen to the 7pm option which is 1pm in Oklahoma). On Sunday there is an omnibus where they play the entire weeks worth of episodes back to back. In a horrific twist, due to Covid-19 The Archers is currently down to only 5 episodes a week, with no episode on Friday. I’m hoping this is temporary, watch thus space!
I grew up with the Archers on at home, and absolutely loathed having to whisper for 15 minutes to my siblings whilst our parents shushed us whilst they listened. 25 years later I am shushing my own children. It’s the circle of life.
So now you know there where and the when. Lets talk why. The Archers has been running since 1950, which frankly should be reason enough that anyone should tune in. SEVENTY years of episodes. Originally the BBC broadcast it in the hopes that it would teach farming techniques to the country as they lived through rationing. This educational purpose ran for 22 years, until in the 70s they dropped that as their major purpose.
I am absolutely convinced that, even with the major concept being teaching the British public how to plant a potato, those first years of episodes were phenomenal. However, once they dropped the educating, they could focus on what I really care about: the drama. The storyline still focuses around the same farming community in Ambridge, but now the major sowing of seeds is the wild oat variety…..
There have been some frankly WILD storylines over the years. Brian Aldridge’s affair in the early 1990’s is burned into my memory. Lynda Snell’s Christmas shows are BAFTA worthy. Emma Grundy married one brother, but slept with the other on her hen night. There are court cases where people are cleared of stabbings. All whilst people are driving combine harvesters and arguing over whether re-wilding the British countryside is in everyone’s best interests. It is riveting.
Whatever day you tune in on, there are always predominantly 3 story archs. There is a the big scandalous story (currently the discovery Phil is some sort of modern day slave owner) then there is a jovial pointless story line, a couple of months ago it was a missing cat that required the hiring of a pet psychic. Then there is the third strand: sticking with their roots with a farming storyline. Even though it’s 2020 Ambridge is very rural, most of the main characters are farmers, or come from farming families. I personally have answered many a quiz question correctly about breeds of pigs because of the Archers. 70 years on, it’s still educating.
To sum this all up: is it niche? Ridiculously so. Is it somewhat bizarre to stop my children from talking, in the American Midwest, so I can listen to British voice actors discuss whether moving to completely organic feed for the sheep is cost effective? Yes. Does this 15 minutes a day make me feel a little homesick? Also yes. Am I hoping you all start listening to it so I have tons of people to discuss the details of Philip Moss and his absolute skullduggery? Absolutely.