My 2018 Archers diary

I intend to update my Archers diary from time to time, especially when there has been a significant happening in this the world’s longest soap operate (began 1950), which has been going longer than I have and from what I can make out is still going strong.

Anyone interested in my latest entries (31/12 is the latest) need to scroll to the bottom and work their way upwards.

While my heavier political etc. blog posts get ok readership, I find looking at the stats my Archers blog posts top the list in terms of number of hits. The Archers is a soap I began to follow in my teens and fifty years on I still follow. Forget about Coronation Street and Eastenders, there is only soap that has captured my imagination this past 50 years. The Archers has stood the test of time and is the only soap I follow these days, either live or on catch up via the Internet.

The recent memorable story line to capture my imagination (and others) is the domestic abusive relationship between Rob and Helen, which I have blogged about, and which headed my popularity list:

  1. The Archers, Rob Titchener and Domestic Violence
  2. The Archers: the Saga of Rob and Helen continues

It was compulsive listening, having all the ingredients of great drama, relating to real life issues, as we witnessed the story unfold, hoping the baddy (Rob) gets his just dessert and all the people he wronged, headed by his longsuffering wife (Helen) being either vindicated or compensated at the end. When that story came to an end after running for a few years, I was wonder what will replace it and captivate my interest. I then began my “The Archers – post Rob Titchener” blog, which I now draw a line under.

Besides recording many of the significant goings on in Ambridge and its surroundings, I was on a constant look out for but not finding story lines, like the Rob and Helen one, to keep me on tenterhooks. There have been many interesting story lines, as we might expect, and some more in keeping with the original “every day story of country folk theme” but nothing as yet to take over from where Rob and Helen left off. I am not convinced that what can now be better described as “contemporary drama with an edge in a rural setting” is for the better, with all sorts shenanigans taking place, is a change I would favour but as an Archers loyalist I take it on the chin. Story lines like Adam and Ian’s attempts to have a surrogate child or assorted scams or hanky panky going ons don’t quite fit the bill. I would have liked to see more substance in Oliver coming to terms with the death of his beloved Caroline but the one that comes closest is what happens next as a result of Pip’s unplanned pregnancy. Great Pip is keeping the baby and not great Toby is not interested. Now many know, Jolene’s advice is right – tell the family!

We will wait and see of course and all that remains is to wish my fellow stalwart Archers fans interesting listening for 2018.

Update 07/01/18: Now David and Ruth know and while Pip’s pregnancy is a shock the big annoyance is the identity of the father: Toby – the least favourite person in David’s book. But in fairness they look like they are going to be supportive and now look forward to welcoming their first grandson into the world. The other big story, relating to Adam and (even more) Ian’s desire for a baby, has taken a new turn with Roy angry Lexi has been approached by Ian to be a surrogate mother. Of the two story lines, it is the implications concerning Pip’s pregnancy that interests me more (although I am not impressed with Ruth entertaining the termination option) and, as for the surrogate story, I would rather it just fades away.

Update 09/01/18: So it is two stories vying for our attention (besides the story of Joe’s cider) and both are to do with babies. Lexi is thinking seriously about being a surrogate and Roy is confused! Now Jill knows Pip is carrying Toby’s baby and after the unpleasant shock has come round to what is happening doing the good great grandmotherly thing – well done Peggy for talking sense into her.

Update 24/02/18: A reoccurring theme in my Archers related blogs is finding a storyline to replace that of the intricate going ons involving Rob and Helen. Last time I posted there were two that appeared promising: Pip’s pregnancy and Ian’s surrogacy, with the former intriguing and the latter irritating. Both have moved on – now everyone knows Pip is pregnant and the wonder of it all Toby is trying to be responsible. Ian’s hopes to have a child where he is the biological father has received a boost with Lexi agreeing to be the surrogate mother. It is now a matter of wait and see. Besides the normal sort of fare we are dished on the Archers there is the story of Brian’s contaminated land that looks to have a further twist. But out of the blue has come the sad, rapid and unexpected passing of Nic, William’s wife, having developed sepsis, which I found especially touching and well scripted and acted. The tragedy and human element with actors playing their characters well to type was well covered, especially Will, Eddie and Joe Grundy, and reminds us that life can never be taken for granted with how things can change so unexpectedly. While I liked it that Nik could say good bye to her children and tell Will she loved them all, I was sad about her torment at the end that she had been bad and wondered what it was she felt bad about and whispered to Joe. I look forward to what comes next, including finding out more about sepsis and reflecting on some of the whys and wherefores, mourning despite the fiction.

Update 05/06/18: All good intentions and all that … my idea of regularly updating my Archers diary hasn’t quite materialised but hey I am updating now. The stories I featured in my last Archers update have all moved on between “not a lot” to “a lot”. Other than Toby getting responsible and Pip’s pregnancy coming on nicely, there has been little other development and one awaits the outcome. As for the Adam and Ian (and Lexi of course) surrogacy story, not much has happened other than what has not happened – Lexi is still not pregnant, although not for want of trying, and the story has gone to the back burner for the time being. As for poor Brian – things have gotten worse and every time clear sky can be seen there is a set back. One wonders where it will all end and I can’t help feeling Brian has already paid a heavy enough price for his foolishness 40 years prior and it is about time for him to have a break. The most intriguing storyline is that involving Will, now without his beloved Nik and how he is coping (or not). I find Will to be an annoying character and his actions following Nik’s death has been true to character as he seeks to cope as a father of three children with the danger that the two he is not the biological father to will be given over to be looked after by the man who is. What is clear to all (but Will) is, despite a supportive family, he is not coping and as good a dad as he is those who suffer are the children. Lots of other stories that could well develop into something interesting, like the former love of Jazzer’s life coming back as the pig lady to the new pig unit at Barrow Farm. But there are two developments that I find particularly interesting and it is still not clear where all this will end. There is the separation of (fallen out of love) Shula from (don’t understand what is going on) husband Alistair. Then there are the two entitled youngsters, Freddie and Lily, with no Nigel (dad) to guide them any more. Freddie with his drug habit and getting in with the wrong crowd, and Lily falling in love with a right creep – her college lecturer. The time is nigh for the proverbial to hit the fan – fingers crossed, it won’t end in tears. I hope Pip will give birth and be a happy mum; Shula and Alistair will be reconciled; Brian will get get back on his feet; Will  gets enlightened; the strawberries get picked; the Ambridge cricket team win the league and pigs will fly.

Update 17/08/18: I must confess I have missed a few episodes since last posting (how sad is that). It is worth mentioning Brian is still having it tough (i.e. selling off Home Farm to raise needed cash to pay the heavy costs incurred by his error of judgment / greed decades earlier and I feel for him) and of course the arrival of Pip’s baby (Rosie) with Toby the perfect dad and Rex the doting uncle (or does he have designs on Pip) – more to come methinks especially as the baby’s middle name (Grace) is a blast from the past. But the two stories that have moved on and especially intrigue are to do with Alistair and Shula and Elizabeth, Lily and Freddy. While I get it that Shula may have good reason to part from Alistair (he isn’t  a particularly attentive husband after all) it is a two way street. Besides having to come to terms with Shula’s sanctimonious pronouncements, I am really cross at Anisha who has stitched him up over the business, putting ambition ahead of loyalty and honour. My sympathy is with Alistair who would have been in his rights to tell Jill where to go after her sanctimonious scorning. What to say about the Pargetter family, that hasn’t been said already, starting with how they could have done with dad Nigel on the scene to steer them through troubled waters. The actors have played their part superbly. I am finding it difficult to find any sympathy with entitled brats Lily and Freddy and as for Elizabeth, she really has not took to lone parenting well at all. Her redeeming feature is she is a decent sort who loves her children and while it looks dire: Lily and her creepy lover and wilfulness; Freddy with his drugs and lack of contrition. Finally, mention has to go to Fallon and Harrison and despite minor dramas earlier on like a missing Lama (and who would have guessed Susan was the culprit) and Jazzer’s wedding suit, the wedding went off well and we wish the happy couple well!

Update 06/09/18: I suppose things continue to tick over with the Archers. Tom and his business ideas and the girl he fancies, Alistair and Jazzer training for a half marathon, the selling of Home Farm, Helen’s cheese and her darling Henry, Poppy starting off at school (went well) etc. are interesting but … The story that continues to captivate involves Elizabeth and her two wayward children. Things have gone quiet with Freddy as he awaits trial at the Crown Court. It seems to divide village opinion, with the latest being Fallon falling out with Lily and Kenton. While I don’t want Freddy to be banged up, contrition and abandoning his entitled behavior wouldn’t come amiss. But it is the developing story line between Lily and Russ that is captivating. Russ now making himself at home at Lower Loxley looks like he could even be filling the void left by Rob Titchener as the man we love to hate. Creep doesn’t say it all and that he is a slime ball is confirmed by each episode – yukk! As for Lily, she would have been described by two of my late relatives as a spoiled brat and a silly cow. Silly cow is exactly what Elizabeth is and while I want to sympathize being a single mum while wanting to keep the family together and trying to do her best, I do find it difficult. Lily and Russ will end in tears no doubt, but the question is how?

Update 13/09/18: The biggest development as far as I can make out since last posting is the Lily and Russ story, which is mainly annoying. Spoiled brat, entitled Lily and waste of space, creepy Russ with indulgent mother Elizabeth wanting to support her darling daughter while looking on with motherly concern as Lily is looking like she is going to throw her life away. And hardened Archers fan simply love it. Freddy has featured more and it it nice he is mates again with Johnny. Freddy is even showing maturity beyond his years and signs of becoming a decent grown up, one who might follow in his late father’s footsteps. It has been nice though there has been some boring episodes, reminding us that the Archers was originally billed as an every day story of country folk. So what else to report: Helen is back to being a pain mode (probably never left it) with darling Henry the centre piece and her besotted brother Tom enthusiastically promoting his big idea. So who will win: bring back dairy farming so the cheese business can take off again or plan for the distant future with Tom’s planting trees idea? We know what mum and dad prefer. It is nice to see Alastair having a great party, thanks to Jazzer’s creative thinking. My highlight is listening to the banter between Joe (the country yokel) and Jim (the prof).

Update 24/09/18: There is no doubt that centre stage at this time is the Pargetter family, and right now it is Freddie. Tensions are beginning to run high as we await his trial, now imminent, with the possibility he could go to prison. It seems other plots like Jazzer managing to upset folk over his views, the fall out between Fallon and Kenton and even Alistair and Shula coming closer despite earlier acrimonious exchanges, all have a Freddie element attached. I have made it clear, I dislike entitled and spoiled youngsters, which Freddie and Lily are. Lily is temporarily out of the picture, having gone away with lover boy, communicating with her disapproving mother only to get cash to help support loser Russ. But Freddie fascinates me as he contemplates with foreboding his fate. While he is a mixed up kid that does himself no favours by shielding his suppliers, I can see redeeming features. and something of his late dad, Nigel, in him, as he shows a sensitive side and even signs of contrition. I do hope he comes good as do his Ambridge well wishers. Whether all this will stop him going to prison is anyone’s (who doesn’t do spoilers) guess as we wait to find out!

Update 19/10/18: I have just been catching up on recent Archer’s episodes, and while Lynda’s play, Jill’s hens, Tom’s love life, Jazzer’s smoking and any number of other titivating story lines keep one’s interest going, this has been overshadowed by Freddie being incarcerated (even though he has been silent of late) for drug dealing and now with his fretting mother trying to pull out all the stops to get him out, but with little support or hope for the outcome she desires, given the consensus is Freddie has received his just desserts and may even have got off lightly. Ever since the Rob and Helen epic petered out I have been looking for something to get my suspense juices flowing and this may be it and, as for Freddie’s sister’s relationship with creepy Russ (also gone a bit quiet at least for now), this if anything only augments the plot. So kudos to the writers, producers and actors for the part they have played. While entitled Freddie may have got his rightful come comeuppance, with his time being banged up fitting the crime, one cannot help feeling a certain sympathy given prior to the sentence he showed a certain contrition and other redeeming features, hoping good might come out of this sad affair, including Elizabeth accepting the facts of life even though understandably wanting to be the protective mum.

Update 12/11/18: As an Archers Addict for over 40 years, I reflect sometimes on characters I liked during that time. I suppose my favorite was Walter Gabriel and Nelson Gabriel, followed by Nigel Pargetter (pertinent now given what the family he left behind is going through) and these days it is a toss up between Johnny, Jim and Jazzer. Then there are a number of characters, probably the majority, that come somewhere between like a bit and prepared to tolerate. And then there are the characters I disliked (more in number than those I liked). Rob Titchener heads that list followed by Simon Pemberton and Clive Horribin, plus a good number I found annoying. But after last night’s episode, I can happily add lying, manipulating Hannah to the list. The way she is doing the dirty on Duncan is despicable. All credit to the script writers and actors of course, because if it was not for how good they are, I wouldn’t be expressing these strong feelings. While there are all sorts of plots developing and some ready to explode, Elizabeth and her children remain at the top of the list, even though as far as the script writing goes Freddie and Lily aren’t saying too much.  As I have said before, Elizabeth is firmly in what my mum would have called the silly cow camp. Yet she means well, is a decent sort and has had a string of misfortunes, the latest being the Halloween Special going somewhat pear shaped, stirred on by the likes of Emma. All of which is enough to keep my interest going (although being hooked, it doesn’t require much). I hope Elizabeth gets some good luck, her children come good, and Hannah is revealed as the scheming, amoral bitch she appears to be. And pigs (literally) may fly. In the meantime we could speculate on which is the next story line to take off – as for me, I hope it is Lynda’s production, with maybe the Grundy’s winning the lottery as the icing on the cake!

Update 25/12/18: Well the year has almost gone and o how so quickly. This is my pen-ultimate diary entry. After all there is New Years Eve to look forward to and who knows what bombshells will hit us then, and of course the long anticipated Lynda’s play! I reflected at the beginning of my diary that I am still waiting for something gripping to replace the Rob and Helen story line, and while not quite in the same league, various goings on in the Pargetter family (Elizabeth, Lily and Freddie) have been absorbing and we still don’t know how this is going to pan out. Another ongoing plot that has interested concerns how the mighty have fallen, Brian, now forced to sell up home and eat humble pie, but like the phoenix I hope he will rise again. Perhaps the biggest shock of the year is Niks sudden death and kudos to the script writers and actors for the way this was dealt with. The Lexi surrogacy for Ian and Adam has still to run its course but has been fairly lack luster. I hope it just peters out. Still feel sorry for Alaistair and Shula – and something in me hopes they will fall in love again. The drama at the beginning regarding Pip’s unexpected pregnancy seems to have nicely unfolded and mother, baby and (surprisingly) father are doing well. Sadly, the script writers have not taken me up on my suggestion regarding Oliver (my number one decent guy) and his mental health. There are things I could add on the rest of the Archer’s clan and the Grundys and assorted others of the supporting cast, as well as look forward to 2019, so watch this space.

Update 31/12/18: This is my final entry in my 2018 Archers diary. Last episode, bit lack lustre, featuring Roy (worse for wear for drink and feeling sorry for himself), Helen (on the fidget) and Brian (on the move) but with Ben and Ruairi, and their under age drinking plans not quite fulfilled but then comes this house party offer – maybe the highlight of the evening. I haven’t got too much that is profound to add other than earlier I quite liked Lynda’s version of Canterbury Tales, which we were able to follow in full thanks to a special hour long edition. If I have any criticism it was a bit too polished and a bit too risque. I think I have listened to most Archers episodes this year and overall I have enjoyed it, including some surprises, despite not getting a gripping Rob and Helen storyline type replacement. But there is a lot going on and many loose ends to be tied up as well as surprises to be had. Fifty years on and I remain an Archers fan, amd I will no doubt continue to follow the Archers in 2019 and hope to maintain a diary. All that remains to wish fellow Archers fans a happy new year and thank the cast for brightening up our lives and giving us fans something to talk about and ponder.


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