Showing posts with label BBC Radio 4. Show all posts
Showing posts with label BBC Radio 4. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

It's sad life and then you die- September in Ambridge

THE YOUNG OF AMBRIDGE have a throughly miserable time of it. Firstly there is the heated debate, usually chaired by aged left wing earth mother, Jill Archer, about the sheer iniquity of receiving a private rather than state education. Invariably secondary school education is at Borchester Green comprehensive before the really gifted head for the University of Felpersham which appears to offer everything from sandwich courses in sandwich making to masters' degrees in Canadian Studies.

Of the great Archer clan only Debbie Aldridge went to a university listeners would recognise, and even she dropped out of Exeter before her final degree, in order that she could take up with the lecturer in Canadian Studies at Felpersham University. For the rest it is agricultural college or nothing. Having completed their studies none of the young ever move away from the place but remain in the open prison that is Ambridge with only the occasional new inmate to socialise with as well as the inevitable long term lags and trusties.

This month has seen the young of the village experiencing desperate times for widely varying reasons. Fallon Rodgers, a young woman who seemed set to make something of herself despite having parents who would convince most that being an orphan was preferable, seems to have jettisoned her musical aspirations in order to find love with whatever pitiful Ambridge male she can.

Harry, the grey and wearisome young barman she went on holiday with to Edinburgh, decided that he was really gay despite never having shown any signs or mentioned it previously. This month we have seen her fretting over what to wear when treated to a night out with Rhys, another barman who makes Harry look like riveting company. Rhys is so Welsh that any minute now we expect him to shout 'Oggy, oggy, oggy' and break into a selection of ballads by Max Boyce. Different accents are helpful to identify characters in radio drama but the Archers is turning into a farcical league of nations.

Elsewhere Ed, who seemed to be on the verge of achieving what no Grundy ever seemed capable of namely making a success of himself through hard work, is for some reason plunged into economic misery. His dairy herd seems to be incurring huge losses whilst the Archer clan have no trouble at all in making money from their milk. He and his young wife Emma are getting increasingly fractious with one another, often over the fact that they seem to be unable to afford even a loaf of bread.

And then there is the dynamic, work obsessed duo of Tom Archer and his long suffering girl friend and fiancee, Brenda Tucker. These two only speak about business to one another and the bulk of their conversation merely concerns how busy they constantly are. Brenda is another apparently bright girl who turned her back on a sensible career outside Ambridge in order to drudge secretarially for spiv property dealer, Matt Crawford, when not serving burgers from her boyfriend's van.

Tom Archer seems to have access to a line of credit that most of us, and especially Ed Grundy, can only dream of. This month he is gearing up to launch a huge order of ready made meals without anything as tedious as premises or distribution networks. He is the Borchester equivalent of Blackadder's Baldrick, always with a cunning plan that will transform any tricky situation. He is arrogant, far fetched and thoroughly unlikeable which should certainly make him a major hit with all the hard up, under achieving and lonely young women of Ambridge.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Ambridge Round up- The Archers in January

It's Marketing month in Ambridge

January has seen another strange turn in the ever changing face of Ambridge. Whereas we have become used to serial personality changes this month saw an outbreak of ad-speak in the oh so weird enclave that is this tiny, inter-related farming community.

Sausage obsessed, Tom Archer, and his grill friend and girl friend, Brenda Tucker, have long since rejected traditional speech structures popular amongst civilised races for the verbal emoticons of the marketing think-tank. They routinely urge one another to 'Think outside the box' and speak of 'Once in a lifetime opportunities' and all this about sausages. Brenda has also made the rapid transformation from downtrodden, clerical underling of a convicted criminal and his alcoholic partner to the Nigella Lawson of Borsetshire's culinary world, albeit specialising only in pork products. Her recipes have been seized upon by a local supermarket chain who have no doubt, 'Run her pork lasagne up their flagpole and seen how many saluted it.' It is hard to imagine these two crashing bores ever talking about anything else other than minced pork and griddles.

The shrill, know-all teenaged prig that is Pip Archer has been doing what she does best, namely lecture anyone who will listen and bizarrely this month a village hall full of grown men and women seem prepared to. Pip is no stranger to ad-speak cliche and stridently told her gormless parents they 'had taken their eye off the ball' when it came to selling  Hassett Hills products. Whereas Tom and Brenda are cornering the ground pork market, Hasset Hills is the lamb equivalent, hawked round to anyone willing to express vague interest in the stuff. No one ever turns up at Brookfield and asks to buy any, mind you with Pip ready and all too willing to give a potted lecture to anyone in earshot, who can blame them?

Even randy old agri-baron Brian is into marketing parlance having had a meeting with a cartoon cut-out ad-man figure called Rufus and used a most un-Brian like phrase when he told the velvet voiced, if desperately wooden, lawyer, Annabelle Shrivener that something had come at them unbidden 'Out of left field.'

All this ad-speak has led to an outbreak of two things: websites and leaflets. The Archers is just as wild about websites as the BBC is and one can only wonder if that is entirely co-incidental. But just as the Beeb urges us to download endless podcasts and sign up to its vast array of Twitter and blog pages so Archers characters routinely turn their businesses round in a nano-second  simply by posting a web page.

Bridge Farm, the near bankrupt centre of an e-coli break out has been transformed simply because Tom Archer put up a film of pigs playing football on his website. Pip extolled the poor unfortunates in the village hall how a website will get sales of Hasset Hills scrag end soaring, whilst Rufus has delivered a wonderful website for Brian's new mega-dairy with a hunky milkman on the front, so planning permission is doubtless a formality provided the majority of the planning committee hanker after a hunky milkman.

Then there are the leaflets. I must make an admission here and say that I religiously, and without hesitation, throw away each and every leaflet I receive. In Ambridge they are treated like tablets brought down from Mount Sinai by Moses. Even Jo Grunday, 91 this September, has prepared leaflets advertising his latest money making scheme. Mind you even he cannot beat uber ad-man, Rufus, who had leaflets prepared and ready for Brian and Annabelle to approve before he had even received Brian's brief. A talent indeed. Especially as, in Ambridge, no one ever bins a leaflet.