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The Archers

The Archers is the world's longest running radio soap opera, one fifteen-minute episode having been transmitted each week-day on BBC Radio 4 since 1 January 1951. An "everyday story of countryfolk", it is set in the fictional Midlands village of Ambridge close to Borchester, the county town of fictional Borsetshire. Other settlements often referred to in the stories include Lakey Hill, Penny Hassett and Felpersham. Its theme tune is Barwick Green, a 'maypole dance[?]' from the suite My Native Heath, written in 1924 by the Yorkshire composer Arthur Wood.

Originally a collaboration between the BBC and the Ministry of Agriculture, it was conceived as a means of disseminating information to farmers and smallholders to help increase productivity in the post-war years of rationing and food shortages. The programme was hugely successful; at the height of its popularity it was estimated that 60% of adult Britons were regular listeners.

A recurring theme over the years has been the resentment of the working-class Grundy family towards the middle-class Archers, but the series has moved inexorably with the times and now deals with a wide range of contemporary rural problems including illicit affairs and drug abuse.

The actor Norman Painting has played the character of Phil Archer continuously ever since the first trial series in 1950.

External links:

  • The Archers (http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/archers) (official BBC site)
  • Archers Addicts (http://www.thearchers.co.uk) (BBC-approved fan club)
  • Archers Anarchists (http://www.archersanarchists.co.uk) ("anti-Castist" BBC-free fan club)

In 1994, the BBC World Service in Afghanistan began broadcasting Naway Kor, Naway Jwand ("New Home, New Life"), an everyday story of countryfolk with built-in bits of useful information. Although the useful information was more likely to concern unexploded landmines than the latest modern farming techniques, the inspiration and model of Naway Kor, Naway Jwand was The Archers. [1] (http://www.guardian.co.uk/waronterror/story/0,1361,579231,00)

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