Monday, May 02, 2016

I've been robbed

The BBC used to call it "An everyday story of country folk." Now they call it "Contemporary drama in a rural setting." The radio show I've been listening to for 45 years - the longest running radio soap in the world - has changed, and I don't like it. I'm not the only one. Hundreds of thousands of listeners are grumbling, complaining, ranting, or just not listening any more. 

For those of you who don't know anything about The Archers, it used to be a gentle way to escape the world. Yes, awful things would happen. Every ten years someone would be crushed by their tractor, or commit suicide, or fall off a roof. There would be realistic emotional consequences, and the storyline would move on.

Since the current editor came over from the dark side (i.e. the grim TV soap East Enders) to take charge of The Archers, it has changed horribly. Now you have to brace yourself before you switch on the radio. And it's not just wusses like me who don't like it. I know this, because my sister Jen and brother Pete are also complaining.

For those of you from overseas, the current storyline has been in the media spotlight, and been praised for bringing general attention to the problem of domestic abuse, and specifically what is called coercive control. One listener started a JustGiving page and has raised more than £125,000 for the charity Refuge, which helps women escaping domestic abuse. 

Obviously both of these things are good. Of course I care about social issues. So how can I be angry?

One problem is that the story has been played out in real time, so it has been going on so far for about 14 months, and it is set to continue for another year. 

The real problem, though, is that I don't (didn't) listen to The Archers for realism. I listen (ed) to it to escape a world that's becoming nastier every week. Now that's been stolen from me. 

Why couldn't the BBC have the same storyline on a programme that is known for being grim? 

Now all I have left as escapist entertainment is Neighbours. I heartily recommend it, folks. Channel 5. 

Sally from Plotting for Grown-ups agrees with me:

I really haven’t known him long enough to tell him the truth: that Neighbours is fab, that I love all the stupid plotlines – the amnesia, disputed paternity, blackmail, on-off love affairs, business wars, mistaken identities, manipulative ex-girlfriends, violent ex-boyfriends, people stuck down mine shafts, plane crashes that kill off half the street. And the characters – Paul Robinson, Karl Kennedy, Lucas, Jade – they’re like family. One day I’ll confess to him, but not just yet.


Anonymous said...

Nothing is sacred, Sue. They did the same to my beloved Emmerdale Farm, turned it into Emmerdale and made it a hot bed of all sorts of nastiness...such a shame! You have my sympathy and understanding...

marmee said...

And I do so agree re The Archers ! I do question myself...but I take interest in politics and serious matters and need somewhere to relax! I also have a theory...we are so inundated by the ugly, by people so often choosing to not take the higher path that we no longer value the ordinary, the day to day good in people. I recently read a lovely book called Ice...and was so enjoying the stark world it described, people striving to live and love and then wham! out of the blue it became a tragedy...and I know from the blogoshere that I alone found this discombobulating and distressing but is there no beauty or value in a life lived simply without high drama or deep tragedy?

Sue Hepworth said...

Yes yes yes.
The beauty of the quotidian.
I have just finished reading Eventide, the second of Haruf's Plainsong trilogy. A beautiful book weaving dark and light in ordinary lives. I am going to blog about it this week.