Thursday, 2 August 2012

Farmageddon- A dark July in Ambridge

Well that's got one more nasty piece of work banged to rights! And let no one say Keith Horrobin didn't have it coming, if only because his name was Horrobin. The Horrobins of Ambridge make the workshy Grundys look like bluebloods although it does seem odd that Keith and his brother Clive both favour arson as their preferred violent act of choice. Were they deprived heating as children? And, if this runs in the family, can it be long before hapless drudge Neil Carter starts to fret when his wildly aspirational wife, Susan (nee´ Horrobin) decides the only thing lacking in the family dream home is a nice, wide open fireplace?

As audiences for The Archers slump by some 400,000 efforts to make the show grittier and appeal more to young people seem doomed to failure. If anything the storylines have got far more fragmented so the listener is not entirely sure if this is geared to perceived shorter attention spans or if the script writers have simply forgotten about things. There certainly is not much farming to be had and, despite awful weather for the last three months, no one in Ambridge has had any problems with hay making or with their potato crop.

What we have had has been far fetched and the basic staple of TV soaps. The continuing threats on life and limb on all those at Brookfield, oh if only some one would actually carry these out, ceased as soon as Keith Horrobin was arrested although sister Tracy continues to protest his innocence and maintain he is 'in bits'. Susan, being clearly no brighter than her sister, has been accusing daughter Emma of fabricating evidence on the bizarre basis that, having slept with both Grundy brothers, she was unsure of who the father of her first born was.

Elsewhere, Adam Macey is in a sulk which comes as no surprise as he is pretty much always in a sulk, because wicked step father Brian, who paid for the house he shares with his boyfriend, and also pays his wages is not prepared to farm just the way Adam wants. While Adam has embarked on his latest sulk we have seen the appearance of another Eastern European, who certainly appear to be all the rage in Ambridge at the moment. The latest one is a Polish migrant worker called Pavel who is a walking encyclopaedia of best green farm practices who also seems to have taken a shine to Adam. Thus we are faced with the thorny prospect of three making Adam's gay marriage to jocular chef Ian a little crowded.

And finally, just to allow those crossover moments in radio programming of which BBC radio is so fond, the adenoidal Vicki Tucker, is pregnant. Thus, given that Vicki is certainly well past her first and second flushes of youth and her husband, boorish Mike, is almost at pensionable age, we seem destined to have a mature woman's view of pregnancy foisted on us by, not only The Archers, but also Woman's Hour which regularly picks up on the female side of life in Ambridge.

Ambridge is always at its best when little happens and the seasons roll by interspersed with planting, harvest and horticultural shows. Vanessa Whitburn brought a political and urban agenda to Ambridge and interim editor, John Yorke, wants to make things 'darker and bigger.' But the only thing that appears to be getting bigger is the cast-list and rather than look at the dark side of farming and the struggle many have to survive we are being delivered sensationalist, short term scripts  that are neither credible nor satisfying. It looks as though listeners will continue to jump ship and who can blame them?


Wil Davis said...

Brilliant! Well written and hits the nail smack on the 'ead!!! Thanks!

- Wil Davis (a.k.a. Sturmey Archer)

amanda white said...

Excellent analysis, Squire.
The horny prospect at Honeysuckle Cottage is alone enough to give me the heeby jeebies, but The Willow Farm Babe could well push me over the top.