The Archers? If I want a story of dysfunctional felons I’ll watch Jeremy Kyle, thanks!

Not Guilty! Foreman reads the verdict to relief all round . . . now can we get back to rural tales?

CAN I come out, now? Is it all over? The years of belittling, confidence-sapping abuse of a foolish, feckless female by a monstrous bullying male that drove her to plunge a knife into his hideous hide and led me to seek solace among the sports chat on Radio Five.

Is Ambridge back to its normal, dozy daily tale of country folk with only the occasional rape, roof plunge and adulterous dalliance to trouble the listener and upset the animals?

If so, I’ll be heading happily back down to the farm; if not it’s midweek football on Radio Five for me, or an Archers-free Radio Four Extra instead of R4’s endless lunchtime-and-evening harping-on about Helen’s release from clink, followed by Classic FM as a Sunday morning alternative to the Archers Omnibus.

Yes, I’ve hated the last couple of years of the pension-age everyday tale of country folk which turned into a candidate for the psycho-criminologist’s couch soon after the arrival of the Titchener-Helen plotline.

In court: bullied wife Helen was on trial after plunging a knife into her husband's hideous hide
In court: bullied wife Helen was on trial after plunging a knife into her husband’s hideous hide

I actually gave up listening six months ago or so, just after mad Helen the DIY Inseminator started wielding a knife as effectively as she once did a semen-filled Fairy Liquid bottle. If that’s the sort of life (and death) lesson you learn living among the agriculturals then it’s back to the Big Smoke for me, pronto!

It has, by the sound of it, been great drama, I’ll grant you. But in Ambridge?

I live in just such a north Northumberland village (Godzone, we call it) and you can take it from me that the most dramatic moments that have ruffled feathers in the last ten years came from the fox that loped brazenly down the road in broad daylight with one of Farmer Cairns’ chickens clamped in its grinning jaws, my falling through the greenhouse and demolishing £140 worth of newly-installed glass and the quad bike that went missing from the farmyard opposite my local pub.

And that’s about it. No systematic social abuse, no rape, no baby-making with a squeezy bottle. At least, none of that stuff that anyone was owning up to.

My colleague Julian Cole calls it, approvingly,  “clever writing, a story of cruel intimacy and Helen’s misery [that might] put some people off The Archers for ever”. True! I might well be one of them!

And I certainly draw the line at my learn-ed fellow columnist Barbara Dinsdale who believes that in “putting the problem is high on the agenda” The Archers has “done the country an incalculable service”.

She is correct in one way: this was a story that needed telling, a wrong that requires rooting out and dealing with.

But not by way of destroying a gentle, enjoyable listen like The Archers. Isn’t that what care services, the courts and Jeremy Kyle are there for?

Did you, unlike David Banks, stick with The Archers through this gritty BBC plotline. Or did you quit? Will you return?

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