Well, it's a funny old world on Facebook, I must say. After years of manful resistance I've finally succumbed, and so far I'm rather enjoying it. The Dabbler is there now, of course, which is the main reason I took the plunge (or 'leap in the dark', as the pro-EU lot would put it).
Today The Dabbler named its three current worst programmes on Radio 4 as You and Yours (agreed, though I do love Winifred Robinson's voice), any sitcom with Lenny Henry in it (to which I would only add any programme at all with Lenny Henry in it) and, er, The Archers. Hmm.
There's always a lot of anti-Archers talk around (mostly from people who don't listen to it), but I think it misses the point. Hard-core listeners like me (it's been in my life for six decades) know perfectly well that a lot of what goes out on The Archers is bad, even very bad, excruciatingly, infuriatingly bad - but that only adds to our listening pleasure. If ever there was a classic love-hate relationship, it's that between The Archers and its serious listeners. We love it because we hate it; we hate it because we love it. It's complicated.
How many times have I vowed never to listen again? After Nigel Pargeter's rooftop plunge, for sure (Wendy Cope has never listened since), and after John Archer's equally unnecessary death, after Ruth Archer's preposterous fling with a cowman, the ludicrous disappearance of Matt, further back the all-Ambridge coach trip to London for Gay Pride, led by Mrs Antrobus (anyone remember that?)... The list is endless, and sometimes I do actually stop listening for a while. But I always come back.
The Archers, unlike any other 'soap' (the term doesn't really apply), has a deep, felt continuity - nothing is forgotten; the past is always present. However ludicrously and inconsistently characters and plotlines swerve around, the gravitational field of this deep continuity always hauls them back. In musical terms, the 'ground' is so strong and persistent that the melodic lines can go where they will. They will come back. And so will we.