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Radio / The Archers

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"The Archers; a memorable theme tune, followed by fifteen minutes of ambient farm noise and sighing."
Sandi Toksvig,The News Quiz

The Archers is a popular BBC radio Soap Opera, set in the fictional West Midlands county of Borsetshire. It follows the lives of the Archer family, and the other families living in the small, rural village of Ambridge (based on Hanbury in Worcestershire).

It has been broadcast nationally since 1951 after starting its regional run in 1950, making it the longest running current soap opera in radio format and, since the cancelling of Guiding Light, the longest running soap in any format.

Not to be confused with the spy comedy Archer.


This show provides examples of:

  • Barsetshire: Borsetshire
  • Crossover: With Gardener's Question Time, of all things. Eric Robson and some of the panel appeared in The Archers, and on Easter Sunday 2011 several Archers characters asked questions on GQT. The odd presenter from other BBC series has turned up As Himself or herself to open the village fete or something as well And the occasional Royal has visited.
    • Sort-of appeared on Hancock's Half-hour as "The Bowmans".
  • Edutainment Show: Originated as an educational series about agriculture...
  • Genre Shift: ...but long since outgrew that.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: Pretty much a given, considering how long the show has been going on.
  • Long-Runners: 60 years and counting
  • Love Triangle: Ed, Will and Emma
    • This particular subplot is so long and convoluted that the nice people at The BBC provided a cheat sheet. It is still ongoing, and practically a Long Runner in its own right - when editor Vanessa Whitburn told an interviewer in 2001 that it would be a major long-term Story Arc she wasn't kidding.
      • She repeated this claim about the repercussions of the 2nd January 2011's double-length Wham Episode - only time will tell.
  • The Ghost: Sabrina & Richard Thwaite
  • Advertisement:
  • The Midlands: West Midlands
  • Ratings Stunt: one of the very first examples - the death of a major character was broadcast to coincide with the launch of ITV in 1955)
    • Nigel's death.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Julia's death was written in after her actress, Mary Wimbush, died at the age of 91.
  • Shown Their Work: Although the series' edutainment roots are very much a thing of the past, great care is taken to ensure that it presents an accurate view of the intricacies of farming.
    • There is an urban legend that farmers have been known to write in and complain if they used the wrong animal sound effect... although the BBC did realise quite early on that they were dealing with a listenership that had expert knowledge, and took pains to ensure the animal sounds were appropriate to the scene. The BBC's library of animal sound effects is now unparalleled, and a large proportion of this is down to the longevity of this show.
  • Spin-Off: Ambridge Extra, on Radio 4 Extra, explores storylines, characters and locations that don't get focused on in the main Archer's program. At the moment, it's only 2 episodes a week.
  • Tangled Family Tree: On the website
  • Variations on a Theme Song: The Archers always uses the same piece of music ("Barwick Green", a 1924 piece by Yorkshire composer Arthur Wood) as its theme tune; which passage is used depends on whether the episode is ordinary or dramatic.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Georgie Grundy


Example of: