Friday, January 01, 2021


I admit it, I love listening to The Archers, particularly in these difficult pandemic times and was delighted some years back when I was invited into the BBC Studios to learn how the programme was made. Fascinated with the sound effects team.  Then later still, our SWWJ supremo, Pamela Payne organised the actor, Sunny Ormonde (who plays the character Lilian Bellamy) to give us a talk about her life and times working on this amazing radio programme, and of course, I loved interviewing her and posting on my blog at the time (September 2016).

Now the programme has reached its 70th birthday.  As well as broadcasting episode number 19,343 of the world's longest-running serial drama, stars from
The Archers - are currently appearing on the programmes. The Archers, set in the fictional village of Ambridge, began in 1951 and the plan was to educate farmers on modern agricultural methods. So far, more than eighty actors have appeared on the programme. 

The show's editor Jeremy Howe, said its achievements over the years, coming up to the modern day, are incomparable. Almost daily and in real time The Archers has tracked life in the village of Ambridge across years and more than 19,000 episodes. "No work of fiction or drama can truly compare to that. As I look back on this incredible legacy, I am looking forward to the next 70 years of The Archers."

Back in May 2020, the programme returned to BBC Radio 4 with a "new style" forced upon the show by the coronavirus lockdown. Large cast recordings with interaction between multiple characters were scrapped in favour of monologues recorded at the actors' homes.

The storyline of Friday's anniversary episode remained a secret, but celebratory programming on Radio 4 included a special edition of With Great Pleasure at Christmas, where cast members from the series shared their favourite prose and poetry. Russian listeners would have enjoyed this programme.

Tomorrow, on Saturday 2 January, historian David Kynaston will delve into the history of the programme with a further documentary feature entitled A Social History of The Archers.

I loved the character of Joe Grundy. Actor Edward Kelsey played the role for the  last 34 years of his life. 

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