Tiring of the BBC's hyper sensitivity over its message boards where even the word 'moron' is considered far too coarse for its contributors' delicate senses, I have waved goodbye to The Archers boards after many years of good fun amongst delightfully witty posters who see the idiocy of the programme in all its fatuous glory. Sadly, they too are now in the minority as the boards seem to be increasingly populated by those who would far sooner attack individual contributors rather than hear any ill of the Archers and others who may have nothing to say but are nonetheless determined to say it and at length.
But for those who remember the halcyon days of the message boards when tiresome soap characters were invariably bumped off in the most savage and bloodthirsty fashion and well before the present trend of 'Well you would not think it funny if one of your relatives was tarred and feathered' response, here are the Golden Marrers, 2011 awarded for what undoubtedly has been a year to remember in Ambridge for nearly all the wrong reasons:
The 2011 Golden Marrer Awards:
The Brideshead Flyte person of overwhelmingly know-all tedium memorial chalice.
Every year serial Archers listeners ask themselves 'Can anyone be duller than Ashok?', a man who raised the bar of tedium to such heights it was insurmountable by anyone other than a truly Olympian bore. Each year we meet new characters whose dullness startles us and 2011 has been no exception with the arrival of stereotypical Welshman Rhys Williams and the spectacularly uninteresting Spencer, Pip Archer's hapless love interest who, strangely for a teenage boy, is far happier talking at length about arable farming than attempting to get his girlfriend's kit off at every conceivable opportunity.
The weird and seemingly multi-talented Harry is still around to numb the senses and to appease older listeners who may feel left out of things there is Professor Jim who sets pub quiz question about Greek classics with barely a murmur of discontent from any save the hard pressed listener.
But this year's effort to out-Ashok the master is a joint award to without doubt the most tedious, unamusing and downright bloody annoying couple to have graced the Ambridge scene for many a long year. Step forward those two serial bores, the far fetched, contrived and utterly ridiculous James Bellamy and Leonie Snell.
The first Mrs Rochester- woman who should be locked in an attic salver.
It is rare that an award usually so keenly fought over should turn out this year to be so totally one sided. In any regular year poor neurotic Kathy would have embarked on at least four relationships of a wholly unsuitable nature, had moved house twice and had her son arrested but this year she has had to make do without the frightful Kenton Archer which seems to have had a calming effect on her. Perhaps she is enjoying working at a golf club that only appears to have two members.
Loopy Debbie Aldridge has also enjoyed a stable year, or more accurately a milking parlour year, and has been consulted on a regular basis. Debbie loses it big time when she is not consulted. This year she has rejected dreary males with odd names and embraced milk cows in a rapacious fashion. The Magyar Milker Mark III, a bovine lactating Hungarian behemoth, has occupied her every waking hour and kept her out of the psychiatrist's chair for a whole 12 month.
Ambridge's resident nutter, and the woman once described by mumsnet.com contributors as the world’s most unpopular pregnant person, Helen Archer, finally gave birth to super babe, Henry, who responds in a Disneyesque fashion with gurgles and goos to every daft question posed him. This also helps to fill in a good deal of time so is a lot more popular with script writers than listeners. Helen has concentrated this year on getting other people to do everything for her which has prevented her more usual psychotic side coming to the fore and rarely have we seen the manic, control freaky, obsessive neurotic we have come to know so well.
The same cannot be said of her mother. From the very start of the year the once resilient feminist that was Pat has morphed into a veritable blancmange of quivering idiocy. Now she seems to speak almost entirely in given names: 'Oh Tony, Tony, look at Rich. Can't you see John? It's John, Tony, John!'
Always obsessive about her late son who met his end whilst fatally trying to guess the weight of a Massey Ferguson, Pat's mental downward spiral has been rapid. She insists her two extant but equally awful offspring dress a Christmas tree in their dead brother's memory each year forgetting that both is well past the toddler stage. She rejoiced in her daughter being artificially inseminated and was quite brutal to poor simple, fat Clarrie who always walks around carrying more germs than the average dung heap, so shouting health & safety dicats long after e-coli had been found in the strawberry ices was as daft as it was belated.
The discovery of her dead son's love-child has finally pushed Pat clean over the edge. Mysteriously known as Rich although his name is John the only good news for the Fitz-Archer lad is that he does not know who his paternal grandmother is. Well at least not yet.
She richly deserves her award and will surely be taking up full time residency in the secure wing at the Convent of the Sacred Part, Prestatyn, where she has already woven many a basket.
The Charlotte Corday please murder me in my bath rather than subject me to any more of this storyline rose bowl:
Idiotic storylines and the Archers are no strangers. The centre of tedium as well as barking madness has very much been Bridge Farm. Plunged into something approaching bankruptcy until sister Lillian produced her cheque book and bankrolled the organic losers (see John Harvey Jones award for economic miracles below) to the tune of £10,000, Tom Archer who is completely obsessed with sausage meat in the same way his sister is nuts about cheese decided to go it alone and save 'the Tom Archer'.
'The Tom Archer', as well as being a cocky little squit with a Nottinghamshire accent, is also a sausage and possibly a burger, presumably a pork one, as Tom never talks about anything other than pork products. Quite what he does with the more succulent cuts of his pigs is a mystery and it would not surprise listeners if he only kept the heads and burnt the rest of the carcass.
Assisted by his powerfully built girl friend who has been on an advertising and marketing course, Archer junior came up with the inspired idea of advertising his sausages on YouTube showing a clip of pigs playing football. Such was the delight amongst the Borchester sausage eating community of seeing the animals that went into their sausages that the Tom Archer sales boom whilst the rest of us wonder, despairingly, about just how many more sausage links we must endure.
In second place, and how can we endure many more moments of wild excitement such as these, is the annual invasion of highly literate and wildly glamorous fruit pickers who enjoy nothing so much as a night watching a Shakespeare play rather than getting off their faces in their caravans on home made vodka. The love duel between brain damaged milkman, Jazzer, and chipper, ever helpful and utter pain in the arse milkman, Harry, over fruit picker Sofia, a woman named after a Bulgarian city and who spoke like a Meerkat from the TV advertisement added a milk float sized slice of tedium to our early evening listening.
But there has to be a winner and for this year, the beatified corpse of Ivy Horrobin being transformed in death to a figure comparable only with Mother Theresa of Calcutta with perhaps a dash of Joan of Arc thrown in is our worthy recipient.
In life, Ivy was one of those women who have been so much in the news for refusing to move from their Basildon caravan park. As a family the Horrobins have always been an under, under class who even the workshy Grundys could sneer at and look down on. They are the sort who still use newspapers as lavatory paper in the outside bogger.
Susan, having endured only a short term encarceration and who not only knows the name of the father of her two children but is actually married to him is very much the Kate Middleton of the Horrobin brood. But following Ivy's death it has been 'Mum this' and 'Mum that' and how she always did wondrous works for her utterly wastrel, villainous spouse and offspring. Suspicions linger that yet another ghastly Radio Four Extra Archers style offshoot may be planned called 'The Horrobins, an every day story of non-travelling travelling folk.' It is just the sort of thing Vanessa Whitburn and her ever so liberal urban based employers would love.
The Lucretia Borgia award for the dinner guest one would most like to poison:
Incredibly Ruth Archer does not even figure in this contest which shows you just how tough the competition has been this year. Mind you Ruth still deserves some kind of long service award for being such a perennial smart arse combined with prurience and hooting insensitivity. For her a very special, The Sir Bruce Forsyth chalice for minimum ability combined with maximum ability to irritate.
In third place is another speaker of fluent Meerkat, Elona, a former Albanian sex worker who fled her home country when prostitution was nationalised and who offers occasional relief to the aged inmates of The Laurels, Borsetshire's most luxurious care home for those of a forgetful disposition.
Peggy Woolley, Ambridge's first and foremost venture capitalist, and no stranger to the oldest profession herself has taken Elona as a personal maid providing her with a house, no questions asked, on the basis she is the only carer allowed to tend her addled husband Jack, who currently thinks he is the Crown Prince of Bohemia. This has resulted in an outpouring of interminable conversations along the lines of, 'Kom now Jeck, you hef not eaten zendvich. Vair good zendvich vair nice' or 'Pikkay, you zo kind. Zuch kind vooman, I rilly do not deserve zuch, ow you zay, kindnezz.'
Second, is the truly frightful Professor Jim Lloyd. Parachuted into Ambridge to fill the role of upmarket single old bloke with a pension previously occupied by Freddie Danby and more recently by Guy Pemberton and Oliver Sterling before Caroline Bone, the black widow hotelier, got to go grips with them. To start with Jim was tolerated because he was so rude to his sex crazed daughter in law, Shula.
Now he is simply irritating, quoting classical Greek texts, and having admitted being totally useless at everything save the classics he now takes to DIY with a will in order to get his hands on the hand knitted underwear of septuagenarian, twinset wearing megabore Christine Barford. Sadly Caroline does not appear interested otherwise Jim's days would be seriously numbered. Perhaps his pension is just not big enough.
But the blue riband award goes to another of Ambridge's bi-polar females who becomes the first ever double winner. She always sounds as though she is reading from a particularly tedious travel brochure and this year she really did read from a particularly tedious travel brochure extolling the virtues of the Croatian coastline. A know-all prig of the first order she has now found a wimp of a boyfriend for no one with any back bone could stand more than a minute of her high pitched, condescending whine. She is without doubt appalling. She is also Pip Archer, the apple of her smug, insufferable parents' eyes.
The John Harvey Jones trophy for economic miracles:
Only white anglo-saxon protestants are villains in Ambridge. Even a renegade Taliban member bristling with home made explosives would be welcomed into the village by Jill Archer with a casserole and would doubtless become a regular at St Stephen's before the month was out. And only WASPs are ever bumped off. The chance of gorgeous, intelligent, wise and caring Lucas Madikane falling off a roof in Johannesburg are nil, but this year editor Whitburn turned to class warfare when she wiped out Ambridge's last real toff, the likeable if startlingly dim Nigel Pargeter.
However despite only having two people, and one of those Roy Tucker, to run it along with aged Mrs Titcombe and her retired spouse, Lower Loxley, the conference centre without any accommodation for delegates goes from strength to strength. Ditto the Bull which apparently is getting even busier because of the bright ideas that erupt from the Neanderthal cranium of serial wastrel, Kenton Archer, a man constantly on the look out for a woman of mature years with more property than sense.
Presumably Kenton has tapped into a thick, with thick being the key word, seam of punters for whom the sophistication of the whoopee cushion or a button hole that squirts water is the pinnacle of communal entertainment.
But once again we must return to the Bridge Farm asylum for dysfunctional miseries that once again has held onto the Harvey Jones award. With the deepest recession since the Great Depression and organic food sales bombing, the Bridge Farm team, already mortgaged to the armpits, managed to poison its customers with e-coli. Only in Ambridge would an e-coli outbreak have kept off prime time television but the locals were probably far too busy watching Tom Archer's condemned pigs play football.
However, with a swift wave of sister Lillian's cheque book all fiscal problems seem to have been solved thus allowing Pat to pursue her manic interest in her dead son's child, who could have no crueller trick played on him than to be told who his paternal grand parents are, let alone his barmy uncle and aunt. If Bridge Farm remains bailiff free during 2012 then the moon really is made of Helen Archer's disgusting cream cheese, known to Archers' congnoscenti as mankwold.
Congratulations to all our winners!