Friday, 31 August 2012

Watch out here comes another 'Issue'- August in Ambridge

You wait for years for a gay man to appear and then five come along all at once. August has been a hectic time for Archers scriptwriters trying to cram a bundle of big issues into a programme only geared for a few small ones.

So let's kick off with all these gay men. When moody Adam Macy came back from his goat rearing activities somewhere in Africa he, much to his mother's utter delight, announced he was gay. This allowed him to form an almost immediate deep and loving relationship with the Happy Eater, chef Ian Craig, who chuckles his way through every eventuality and must be the least highly strung head chef in the universe.

But this month Adam has found another gay man in the earnest form of immigrant farm labourer, Polish Pavel, who yearns for a truly green farming agenda and a much closer relationship with moody Adam after a one night fling in an unspecified, but we trust indoor, venue.

And while all this was going on, Harry, without question one of the dullest creations since the mind numbing days of Ashok the Asian artist, went on holiday with Ambridge's most eligible young female only to find love with a former and previously entirely unmentioned boyfriend. Quite why he did not hang around a bit longer, save the petrol money for the car trip to Edinburgh, and find love in the mature but thoughtful arms of Polish Pavel can only be conjectured. But thankfully we appear to have seen the last of Harry so should not complain.

And while gay love was blossoming the extremely vulgar Vicky was doing her bit for those of a heterosexual persuasion discovering that husband, Mike Tucker, and she are about to have a baby despite Mike being only a very short tractor ride from his old age pension. No sensible book maker, or indeed listener, would have bet against there being a problem with the unborn child and within days of the announcement another one was made- the baby had Downs Syndrome. Listeners are preparing for the usual Archers 'Big Issue' spectacular, namely debates and interviews with female cast members on Woman's Hour, flurries of letters to Feedback, spooky sounding trailers and, of course, the obligatory BBC Helpline for those who have been affected by the storyline.

Some would say this is sheer cynicism by The Archers producers and editor to chime in with the courage of Para-Olympians. Although they will most certainly say, in that superior way they so often have, that they are merely tackling the tough moral issues of the day in a most realistic way. However as editor on vacation, Vanessa Whitburn, has said in the past that she would not employ an actor who had to play a wheelchair bound character unless they really were in a wheelchair, it will be most interesting to see if she is preparing to employ an actor with Downs Syndrome should the Tuckers go ahead with the birth.

And finally, the cosy, smug and downright infuriating Archers of Brookfield, having been threatened with dire physical violence, had a sheep killed and a barn set light by the bad boys of Ambridge will not have to appear in court because amateur arsonist, Keith Horrobin, and whoever else was involved in a burgle to order business have all thrown their hands up and confessed to a man. Such is David Archer's relief at this that he has shown just what sort of chap he is by arranging a celebratory picnic at his farm for his family with his mother doing all the cooking.

At least it will take our minds off the 'Great Autumn Dilemma' of Mike and Vicky, even if it will not generate nearly as much free publicity as this latest effort by the Archers production team to end the ever increasing number of listeners who are simply switching the programme off.

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