Wednesday 29 July 2009

Loving It, Loathing It

In a fine post, Gaw ponders the peculiar nature of Radio 4 and of the hold it exerts over us listeners (to which Brit responds with a brilliant alternative schedule). Yes, it's a love-hate thing all right - and, in the case of The Archers, to which Gaw is almost literally allergic, the hatred is, I think, an integral part of its power to grip and addict. I've been listening to The Archers since I was at my mother's knee - more precisely my grandmother's, she being an addicted listener. I would overhear the goings-on at Ambridge thoroughly bemused, since I'd assumed a programme called The Archers must be about those medieval bowmen who were to be seen raining death on the enemy in many of my childhood drawings. Eventually, though, I began to get the hang of it, and by my teenage years I was a regular listener (how cool is that?). So The Archers and I go way back - and yet I utterly loathe so much about it. Or is it precisely because I loathe so much that I'm so hooked on it? The excellent organisation (too strong a word) Archers Anarchists is built on the assumption that all sane people loathe a great many of the 'characters' (who are of course real) and a great deal of what The Archers is about. This distinguishes them starkly from the nauseating official fan club, which is built on the assumption that everyone and everything in Ambridge is oh so cute and lovable. The Anarchist line is far closer to the truth of the matter. For myself, I've come to realise that I enjoy the scenes where I'm groaning, squirming with distaste and hurling (usually) silent abuse at the likes of Shula, Ian and Usha, as much as those which are genuinely rather good and even affecting (the recent episode built around Mike and Vikki's wedding, for example, was brilliantly done). That is no doubt why I remain addicted, even though in the past I've been so disgusted that I've given up listening for weeks on end. I always come back. Damn it, I care.


  1. I've often thought I'd like to be into the Archers, but instead I always get a Gaw-like allergic reaction in the five minutes of exposure before Desert Island Discs.

    There's just so much sighing in it.

    "Oooooooooh, what a day I've had...."

    "Hahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Haven't we all? Here you are, have a nice cuppa and get your feet up."

    "Ooooooooooh, thanks darling, you're an absolute life saver... (sips) .... Aaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh."

    Didn't Stephen Fry say that the Archers was the only thing keeping him from emigrating?

  2. Brit: 'The only thing...' You may have given me another reason to dislike the Archers.

  3. I can't really handle the Archers. It's always left me feeling that if all life has to offer is Ambridge, then it's get out while you can or curl up, die and exit via the Ambridge Crematorium which has ever so nice chintz curtains and a tape library of funeral orations by that ever so nice gentleman, Mr Fry.

    Wanderlust, I suppose. Besides, the programme reminds me of some of the farmers of my childhood: red-faced, boozy, rough men who looked as if they'd be just as happy shooting a cow as milking it. There must be more to life than this!

  4. Ah yes Brit - but the funny thing is that they never ever drink tea, only coffee. The sheer weirdness of this kind of detail is another of the things that keep some of us hooked... On the other hand, if it made Fry emigrate, I'd pull the plug tomorrow.

  5. archers - awful. Its the very embodiment of twee british whimsy. So many things on radio 4 are so self reverentially mired in a warm fug of their own tweedy, homely farts they make me want to rip my ears off

    Much like 'Kingdom' - a programme starring Stephen Fry, a man who has become a modern prometheus of lazy whimsy, a lumpen golem fashioned from wet tea bags and broken bits of bath oliver biscuits, stumbling blindly across the icy wastes of our barren culture

  6. He was good as Jeeves, though....