|Genre||Reality wireless show|
|Running Time||For ever and ever, Amen|
|Air dates||Since 1848|
|Home Station||BBC Wireless 4|
|Language(s)||Mummerset, Gibberish, Brummish, Why-Aye, Pluminmouth|
|Time zone||Sometime in the 1950s|
|National anthems||Camberwick Green, Underneath the Archers|
The Archers is a pioneering reality wireless show which has been running on the BBC since 1951, although it does seem much longer. Broadcast twice daily as a series of audio diaries, it chronicles the lives of the inhabitants of a rural village in Middle England. In order to protect the privacy of residents, this village is code named Ambridge and is said to be in the fictional county of Borsetshire.
The History of The Archers
The Archers was introduced by British Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel (inventor of the potato) in 1846. When he repealed the Quorn Laws (a controversial act which made vegetarians illegal) he became unpopular with farmers, and sought a strategy that would suggest he cared about rural issues whilst actually ignoring them. This policy remains an important element of British politics, but his solution was unique: he would provide Middle England with daily reports on life in the country as seen through the eyes of real bumpkins. Peel appointed government officials (known as "Peelers") to find the ideal location and eventually "Ambridge" was chosen and the area sealed off from the prying eyes of the public.
Village inhabitants were then offered a small stipend (a place to house pigs) for keeping diaries which would be published nationally in periodicals such as The Middle England Mail, The Daily Torygraph and Razzle. These articles were originally known simply as "An Everyday Story of Country Folk."
By 1848 the whole country, from High Wycombe to Chalfont St Peter, was buzzing with the latest news from Wimberton Farm and the exploits of the notorious Archer family. When young Seth Archer failed to stand during a rendition of "God Save the Queen" by the Ambridge brass band the number of protest letters sent to the Times exceeded those received regarding the Seige of Sebastopol.
The popularity of the columns continued into the twentieth century, and thanks to the omnipresence of the Archer clan in the daily report, many referred to it simply as "The Archers."
The Archers Riots
The Archers Riots occurred in September 1912 when a leaf on the railway line from Brumingham caused the Archers' stories to be delayed for a whole three minutes. Middle England voiced its protests outside parliament, waving placards proclaiming "This simply isn't good enough" or "Why, oh, why, oh why?" Several protesters arrived via the Clapham Omnibus and the police felt it necessary to deploy plates of scones in order to disperse the rabble. No Britons were hurt.
The Archers on the Wireless
Prime Minister Attlee was responsible for transferring the chronicles of the Ambridge community to the airwaves in 1950. It is now broadcast twice daily on the wireless and never ever ever on the radio. It started on the Light Programme, but due to the villagers' fondness for pints of Shires had to move to the Heavy Programme until it ended up at in its current home on BBC Wireless 4. Wireless transmission was not popular with some of the villagers, and many still refuse to feature on this new-fangled medium. Such village rebels include Fletcher Christian, Captain Pugwash, Fat Snatch and Edgar Titcombe
Unknown to many listeners, Phil Archer has never appeared on the wireless, but his voice is provided by a painting believed to be of Norman origin.
The Archers Controversy
The BBC has on many occasions been accused of manipulating the lives of Ambridge residents to suit their own whims. For example, it has been suggested that potential newcomers to the village are subjected to careful vetting by an all powerful figure, known simply as The Editor. Archers supporters maintain that such scrutiny is no worse than that suffered by newcomers to any other Middle English village. What is known is that any newcomer must have an accent that is completely different from any other resident, so that it remains impossible to work out where Ambridge actually is. For added effect, it is highly desirable for this accent to be totally unconvincing.
Detractors often cite the death of Grace Archer as typical BBC interference. Her death spookily coincided with the advent of a rival to the BBC and has never been properly investigated. The BBC simply says that detractors should plough another furrow and have produced inconsistent evidence supporting the various claims that she was either a) burnt to death b) fallened-off-a-building to death or c) bored to death.
It is rumoured that Ambridge residents are discouraged from leaving the village by tales of strange creatures that roam the surrounding countryside. Known simply as "the Outsiders" or "damn townies", the villagers keep them at bay by colouring everything a disturbing shade of mustard and performing strange rituals around the communal stocks of Village Green. These include a "May Poles be kept out" dance, the sinister "Usha Gupta" festival and an annual "Pantomime". The latter is particularly disturbing, as it involves cross-dressing, dancing cows and mass incantations such as "He (presumably the Townie) is behind you", "Oh yes he is" and "Hello Buttons!" Those who refuse to participate are "Snelled", a punishment consisting of fervent brow beating and possible deployment of specially-trained attack llamas.
Some audio diaries have allegedly been broadcast from outside of Ambridge, but many believe that these are faked. Residents do provide reports from locations as diverse as Dorchester, Tuppence Gottit, Chigley and Nempnett Thrubwell, but there is no firm evidence that villagers are actually allowed to visit such far-flung lands. When an Ambridge resident leaves the village they are usually described as being "In Hungary."
The Archers Omnibus
Although the real location of Ambridge remains a closely guarded secret, it is possible to visit the village by catching the Archers Omnibus (previously the Archers charabanc). Leaving from Brumingham on Sundays, fans of the broadcast are first put into a coma by 2 hours of religious programming so that they will be unable to recall the route taken.
Once in the village they receive a 90 minute tour, sampling a pint of Shires, Tom Archer's organic sausages and Linda , etc until they are returned to the omnibus.
Although attempts have been made to discover the whereabouts of the village from the lucky visitors, any attempt at getting an answer results in replies such as "Just a minute", "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue" or the even less elucidating "".
The Archer Family: Gimmers
Phil Archer was, for many years, the only gay in the village. In order to avoid gossip he married and lived with his best friend, Grace. Phil and Grace lived happily together until in 1955 some crazy boffin invented ITV and Grace died by "falling off the roof whilst adjusting the aerial" - see The Archers Controversy. Phil was devastated for at least a month then married Jill and together they began a cottaging business. He is interested in campanology and camping, although his exploits with the First Ambridge Wolf Cubs have remained largely unreported on the wireless due to legal disputes with Baden-Powell's estate.
Jill Archer a former greensman named Pat who underwent gender reassignment in order to marry Phil. She holds the title of Lieutenant in the Ambridge Women's Institute (Military Division) and oversees the division's stockpiles of rock cakes, sharpened cheese straws and Molotov marmalade to see off the "outsider" threat. She also bakes Village Green which, when fed to villagers at church fetes and the like, removes any ambitions they may have to leave the area. Jill guards the secret recipe closely, but has revealed that her adopted children and grandchildren often help her in the kitchen. These offspring then disappear only to reemerge a few months later with a completely different voice, causing some listeners to suspect that they are different people. These rumours obviously originate from Sal Acon, whose scaremonger's shop occupies the secret passageway between Annie Oldiron's ironmongers and Phil Ettakod the fishmongers.
The Archer Family: The Middle Years
Phil and Jill have adopted many children over the years, several of whom have made it to adulthood, despite Jill's best efforts.
Dayveed Archer the boring one. Daveed (born David, but rechristened by his wife) is the only Archer interested in farming, which fortunately gives the series many fascinating storylines involving bovine TB, mastitis, milk yields and shagging in the lower pastures. David married Ruth in 1989 in the hope that her dulcet cries of "Oooooh Nooo" would keep birds off his crops. Their marriage has been threatened recently when Ruth had an intimate liaison with a "cow hand" - a common countryside marital aid - and considered eloping to escape David's tractor obsession.
Kenton Archer the feckless one. Kenton fecked around a lot in his youth and was "in Hungary" for a while until he returned to run Jaxx Off, a cafe specialising in very frothy coffee, milk shakes - and shandy. He has the attention span of a gna
Shula Hebdem Lloyd née Archer the stupidly named one. She is Kenton's saintly twin and is so bland that she bleeds beige and so vacuous that friends invite her over for dinner because she hoovers the carpets as she passes over them. In a 1997 poll to determine the most boring character she came 17th, but only because most people forgot she existed. Her husband, Alastair, frequently attempts to inject some spice into their lives by losing all their money at shove ha'penny.
Lizzy Pargetter née Archer the posh one who married an idiot so she would seem less stupid. She now lives in Foxy Loxy mansion with husband Nigel, a man full of ambition - he one day hopes to own a chin. True to their surname, both Lizzy and Nigel are skilled exponents of the ancient art of pargetting, ie. only partially forgetting a story so that they have to provide entirely fictitious details to make it seem believable on subsequent retellings. Most folklore arises as a result of many years of hard work by skilled pargetters.
Marble Archer the made up one. There were once several Marbles, but Woolley Jack appears to have lost them all.
Geoffrey Archer How did he get in here?
The Archer Family: The Next Generation
The Archer family has continued to breed, producing offspring like there was no tomorrow, which unfortunately there is, and will be for years to come with the likes of Joshy, Lily, Freddy and Tommy cluttering up the airwaves with their banal drivel. Tommy in particular demonstrates a peculiar aptitude for mediocrity, and his Gourmet Grill sausages seem to be another attempt to keep Ambridge residents in check, having been produced entirely from meat untainted by modern farming methods.
The Archer Family: Future Archers
Jonathan Archer A gypsy at the village fete once predicted that in the future Jonathan will get a job as a Star Ship Captain and will never be heard of again - which probably means that he will end up presenting a show on BBC Wireless 3.
The Grundy Clan
Joe Grundy the patriarch of the clan, Joe has an opinion on everything and a solution for anything. Or so we assume, as he is completely unintelligible, due largely to the fact that he keeps ferrets in his trousers, which can play havoc with the diction. Like most Ambridge residents, Joe is unaware that the 50's are over - but in his case it's the 1850s.
Oh-Eddieee Grundy a lovable rogue, which is a Middle English term for criminal who can be quite handy if you need some chippings for the drive but don't want to pay an arm and a leg for them. As a fan of country music he is no stranger to suffering, but since the loss of his farm he has had to seek out any job that will keep Clarrie-Love off his back (at his age he should refrain from such exertion). To date he has been employed as a cow poke, a chicken sexer (much less glamorous than it sounds), a village idiot, a muck raker and a Sun journalist - clear evidence that he will stoop to any level.
Clarrie-Love Grundy long-suffering wife of Oh-Eddieeeeee and a fine turkey plucker. A self-confessed snacker, her exact mass is unrecorded, but is considered to be somewhere between half a Feltz and Mount Etna.
Bartleby Grundy the scrivener of the Grundy clan who is apparently hung like a horse.
Solomon Grundy a mysterious character who featured on the show for just a week, with each episode recounting a significant event of his life. His last appearance coincided with his death, on a Sunday, and that was the end of Soloman Grundy.
Alana Dale mother of Emma and would be Archer, having once been in Kenton. Mrs Dale was in fact the first of the Ambridge residents to achieve fame on the wireless, but her diary programme was entirely fictional, focusing largely on her adventures with Robin Hood who, despite claims to the contrary was not a true Archer, as the following exchange proves:
|Alana Dale||So Robin, shall we to Nottingham?|
|Robin Hood||Ay, lass, for there is much plunder there I warrant.|
The correct answer is, of course, "What!? But that's on the other side of Felpersham!" It is not known whether Alana's other friends, eg. Friar Puck, Scarlet O'Hara and Richard Littlejohn, are merely figments of her imagination, but the group's fondness for Lincoln Green suggests her accounts may have some autobiographical influences.
Emma Dale caused uproar when she left Ambridge to appear in a version of the Archers on the television. To add insult to injury, this programme was set in the North. Outraged Countryside Dalliance members made several attempts to return Emma to Ambridge, but when these failed they resorted to violence, culminating in them crashing a plane into her village. Emma escaped largely unscathed, although she now suffers from recurrent and irritating bouts of Dingles.
Chippen Dale Alana's husband and former male stripper. When a poll showed listeners considered Chippen Dale somewhat "wooden" he was put on a daily diet of helium and now sounds like a chipmunk on speed.
Woolley Jack a sheep, former owner of Grey Stables, rumoured to be romantically involved with Peggy. This sort of thing goes on all the time in the countryside and nobody bats an eyelid. Woolley has recently been diagnosed with mad sheep disease, making him think he is a human Ambridge resident. The associated reduction in intelligence is a worry to the whole village, apart from Tom, who is considering expanding his sausage range to include mutton as well as
The Angel Gabriel often visited Ambridge to make important announcements, for example "To the Archers there will be born a son, and he shall be called David, me old pal, me old beauty."
Jolene landlady of the Old Bull and Bush with beauty beyond compare, flaming locks of auburn hair and ivory skin and eyes of emerald green. Her affair with landlord, Perky Sid, caused outrage across Middle England when their explicit sexual liaisons were recorded in the shower, where the water might easily have damaged the recording equipment.
Tiger and Pussycat drunken felines often heard cavorting together in Ambridge late into the evening. Having been subjected to the "Hot Tub" experience listeners tuned in in their droves in the vain hope that they could write yet another whingeing letter to "The Editor" to request less (or more) of such outrageous behaviour. Pussycat has recently been promoted to the Village Council of Elders, so Middle England pens are poised as we speak...
Slobodhan (pronounced Say-rah) Hathaway Slobodhan (prounced Shee-la) came to Ambridge from Ireland with her husband, whom nobody remembers any more. She immediately rebelled by suggesting that Apintofshires should be replaced with Aguinness as the main currency in the village. Her vehement protests brought her to the attention of Brian Loverat who seduced her with his suave English accent and the promise of a guest spot on "Just A Minute". Brian and Slobodhan (pronounced Mare-ree) had a son named Rory McGrath (pronounced Mer-grrrr) which forced Slobodhan (pronounced pffftttt) to move to "Hungary." Slobodhan (who cares how you pronounce it?) subsequently revealed that she was born under the sign of cancer, forcing Brian to accept another bastard into the family.
The Archers Trivia
- The theme tune to the show is Camberwick Green, the national anthem of Middle England and it is traditional to stand to attention when played.
- The official supporter's group is known as the Countryside Dalliance, who regularly gather together in London to celebrate the programme.
- the study of educated homosexuals
- A farming term associated with burning stubble and crop rotation