The Archers: Whatever happened to all the stories?

I’ve been wondering: where have all the Archers storylines gone? Some of them of course are played out to their natural, often lengthy and tedious, conclusions. But many others just wither on the vine. Sure, some stories which seem to have died prematurely do reappear months or years later, for the Archers has its eye on the long game and thinks little of dragging a plot out over decades. But other have been quietly forgotten. Possibly because they have become a teensy bit embarrassing.

Here are my top five Archers stories which have petered out.

That kid was just a horse substitute, Maisie.

1. Caroline and Oliver fostering. One minute this was all over the programme like a dull but hard-to-ignore rash, the next: nothing. They fostered one kid, I think. Some sullen youth who naturally was brought out of herself (or himself? Stone the crows, my memory) by their upper-class values. Then silence, and no-one ever mentioned it again. 

Way to revive this storyline: Social Services take Hell-en’s baby away from her on the unarguable grounds of her sheer appallingness, and Caroline adopts it.

2. Usha being scared by a man while out running. I’m the only person who remembers this. Even Usha’s forgotten. It wasn’t that long ago, just a bit before she and Alan got married. Some bloke started coming onto Usha in a creepy way, telling her how gorgeous she was which seemed unlikely as she was in her joggers and sweat-bands. She managed to escape, and was terrified when she got home. And then… nothing. This is either a very slow-burning plot in which the creepy man reappears after lying low under a hedge in Eddie’s field, or it’s been ditched as being too similar to other creepy goings-on such as Josh leaving chocolates for Emma (yeugh), and Owen the Rapist. 

Way to revive this storyline: Creepy man can attack Kate while she is coming back from Felpersham College. Or he can attack Hell-en on her way back from maternity yoga. Or anyone else I don’t like on their way back from anywhere.

3. The mystery of the missing Simons. If you want a long-running career in the Archers, make sure you’re not called Simon. It’s obviously deliberate as Archers characters don’t usually have the same names as each other. Clearly to be called Simon is to be marked out as temporary. First Simon Pemberton popped up, annoyed Caroline and walloped Shula (so his brief tenure was not in vain), then disappeared without trace. Likewise the sexy-voiced Simon Gerrard popped up, married Debbie, shagged a student and vanished in a puff of sexy-voice. You’d think we would hear from him occasionally: to finalise the divorce or to tell Debbie how full of regret he was, or something. But no. Gone. 

Way to revive this storyline: Debbie realises she never got over Simon G and traces him on Facebook. He is reformed, they remarry, Jenny gets the big trashy wedding of her dreams, and we get to hear that voice again. It’s win-win. Meanwhile Simon P turns up as the creepy guy who terrorised Usha, thus causing Shula a dilemma: does she hate him for hitting her or like him for scaring Usha?

After this I have to go to bed with Shula.

 4. Alistair’s dark side. Ooh I do miss this. For a while Alistair was the most interesting character in the programme. Hard to believe now when his role is merely to encourage young lads to play cricket and put the odd cat to sleep, but while he was in the throes of his gambling he was completely wonderful, brooding darkly and teasing us with the exciting possiblity that he might actually leave Shula, or kill her. Then came that weird business when a guy he befriended at Gamblers Anon turned out to be a burglar for no particular reason, and somehow this cured Al of his depression and gambling for good. 

Way to revive this storyline: Alistair totally must fall off the wagon. He was so much more fun when he was doing online poker all night. Surely such an addiction isn’t so easily cured, especially when you’re living with Shula? The poor man needs an outlet.

5. Ian wanting a baby. This was the classic plot at which the Archers message board screamed ‘YOU’VE GONE TOO FAR SCRIPT-WRITERS!’ It became so vocal that the writers took heed. For weeks Ian banged on about his desperate urge to be a daddy, and then conveniently in stepped his dreadful friend ‘Mads’ who wanted to be a mummy. They planned and plotted, despite Adam’s vocal opposition, right up until the point where ‘Mads’ went, oh I’ve changed my mind. Actually what happened was that the sheer weight of complaining and moaning from the message board contributors derailed the fabric of the universe. God and all the presidents had to use their emergency red phone to call the BBC and tell them that for the sake of humanity they must put a stop to the storyline. That is why it was dropped so abruptly.  

Way to revive this storyline: We all thought it might be revived by Hell-en wanting to get preggers, but she achieved that simply by walking into a clinic and thus had no need of Ian’s juices. I don’t want this one revived as ‘Mads’ was one of my worst ever characters and that’s saying something in a world that contains Hell-en, Kate and Christine Barford.

Posted by Qwerty.      See all Archers posts here.

24 Comments

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24 responses to “The Archers: Whatever happened to all the stories?

  1. DrTrickCyclist

    Didn’t Simon P have some sort of swan-song dalliance with Debbie? She presumably squashed him as easily as a rat in the Brookfield barn and this might account for his continuing absence. Or possibly he went to jail. Though that wouldn’t be a reason for writing someone out. Quite the contrary if Matt is the model here.

  2. My memory may be worse than yours here, but I thought the Usha getting mugged plot was simply a way for her to be scared of running, find out Alan was useless on a bike let alone two legs, then reluctantly take up jogging with Annabel.

    That way, we all get to find out that Annabel is a) a human being who has feelings and can’t complete a marathon without help and b) not so bad as she really seemed so we don’t mind too much when she becomes a semi-regular.

  3. My, you are on top form today Qwerty!
    You are not quite alone in remembering the scary-Usha-man though. Probably because I was hoping something terrible was going to befall bloody Usha. I’ve only just realised that we haven’t been tormented by her for a while. Long may the peace reign!
    Here’s hoping Kate and Usha fall in love and bugger off to Outer Mongolia. They can take Hell-en with them to make goat’s cheese…

  4. Radio4

    I don’t like the way that The Laurels becomes some sort of blackhole, you go there and all memory of your past life is removed from everyone who knew you. Why for example did Marjorie Antrobus not have a funeral at the village church? I would have expected her name to have cropped up in the village shop at the time of her death. Surly a few non speaking parts could be kept open.

  5. inkface

    Excellent Qwerty.
    I loved Marjorie Antrobus. Instead of some goddawful plotlines, can’t we revive her, her girls and a few other choice characters. If Bobby Ewing can wake up in the shower, the late lamented Nelson Gabriel can return from South America, surely…

  6. constantine12

    What about the dark side of Kenton?
    I am thinking of his attempt to have a second bite of inheritance when Phil retired. Remember how hostile David was. Now David does not even bridle when Kenton calls him ‘Dave’.
    Kenton used to be selfish & feckless – more interesting than ‘good hearted’ and feckless.

  7. Qwerty

    Relieved other people remember the Usha scary-man. Thought I was starting to imagine things. Bit shocked by your vitriol about her though Jo-Hat; shouldn’t you be saving your fury for Shula? She’s much more deserving.

    Constantine12: I think a whole new post beckons, concerning characters who have changed personality.

    Inky, wouldn’t it be lovely if Nelson and Marjorie came back? Maybe even together?

    • In vitriolic mood! Partly caused by reading about a beeswax polish that ‘replaces nutrients’ in wooden furniture. How can dead wood need nourishing I ask you?
      But you’re right. Shula (and Kathy) are much more annoying. Perhaps we need to create some sort of graphic ranking characters by capacity to irritate? Kate and Will top of the list at the moment!

  8. inkface

    Maybe in a distant land, they *are* together, sharing an ambrosial G&T and walking the Elysian Fields with the Girls accompanied by Walter on a heavenly mobility scooter

  9. Fanoflinda

    Of course we remember the scarey man. It resulted in Usha suffering from agoraphobia for at least 2 weeks (see previous querty article about mental health problems). There are definitely a few missing people. What about the wonderful Hazel Wooley. We could do with another appearence from her.

  10. Paul

    I miss the Caroliver fostering – but why oh why oh WHY did you have to mention the horrible Madds storyline in a post about storylines that you want ressurecting! That’s just asking for trouble!

  11. Qwerty

    @Jo-hat: what sort of publications do you read where the top story concerns the quality of beeswax?

    @Inky, you are becoming more poetical by the day.

    @Fanoflinda: oh YES! Surely it’s time for Hazel to turn up and demand Jack sign a living will.

    @Paul, I know, I was worried myself about even mentioning it, but hopefully made it clear this one must never be revived on grounds of man’s inhumanity to man.

    • Woman & Home December edition. Apparently the polish smells of tangerines, cloves and other Christmassy things… I can well imagine Jennifer Aldridge polishing her furniture with it!

  12. inkface

    Or getting her cleaner to do it for her…

  13. How about Sam and his magnificent plate meter? Did he ever resurface? I listened to TA every day for 20+ years. Then things like Ian and Mads & more recently Pat & Helen’s mad baby scheme have made an amusing 15 mins just too unbelievable for me.

    • saffronatstudy

      Oh dear!
      We’re just about to drop a much longed for sproglet (well, my Civil Partner is) after this very nice gay bloke just gave us his sperm.
      And we don’t live in Manchester. Or Brighton.
      And we do follow the Archers.
      Unbelievable!

  14. Fanoflinda

    Querty
    might you need a little post script to reassure your readers that you do not condone violence to women? Rather concerned that Owen might
    be a reader.

    Also whatabout Matts stashed money which Chalky knows about? Might this be one of the slow burners do you think?

  15. Simon (not Pemberton nor Gerrard)

    And speaking of Kenton whatever happened to his 4×4 club that he was a member of (I believe that builder Jason was also a member) – this caused some tension with David.

    And where is Jason?

    Other lost storylines/ issues that need addressing

    The cricketing in schools initiative – surely the beneficiaries of this scheme will be gaining places in the England cricket team by now, or if not that Borsetshire County CC.

    The lack of jobs for the Snells – is Robert’s redundancy and failure to get a job not an issue anymore? And surely Linda has aspirations beyond being a receptionist at Grey Gables?

    The gays’ hot tub. In fact Adam seems to have disappeared totally.

    Kirsty’s employment. Surely she wants to move beyond bar maid and shop assistant

    The Grundys’ housing situation. Is their house still rented from Jack Woolley/ Peggy? Will they ever be in a position to buy another house? Surely their rent will need to be reviewed every so often causing problems with the consequent rises.

  16. Qwerty

    Fanoflinda: As you well know I most certainly do NOT condone violence to women. Unless it’s Shula.

    Ooh another Simon. You have clearly gone into some of the missing stories very closely. Like you, I am very keen for ‘the gays’ hot-tub to make its return.

    I had never before thought about characters wanting to improve their employment situations. Whenever they do it makes me want to eat the radio (eg Brenda and her Boring Career). Linda always seems v happy at Grey Gables, and Kirsty is never happier than when is some lowly and poorly-paid post, being let down by yet another man.

  17. MrB

    All very good points. I was wondering recently about Lilian and Matt’s brother, Paul. What happened there? It was building up for weeks to a major showdown, then Matt gets out of prison and it all fizzles out. Or did I miss that episode?

  18. Qwerty

    Yes, someone on the Archers message board reminded me of that extremely disappeared storyline Mr B. We were all SO SURE that something interesting would happen with the lovely Paul. Maybe it still will? [Holds breath, waits for months, is sorely disappointed.]

  19. The lovely Nicola

    Having never listened to TA I am unable to comment on any of the storylines or characters, of which there seems to be thousands. I am wondering if the reason for such a large cast is because it is radio and perhaps the cast consists of just three or four people who have a remarkable knack of putting on a huge variety of different voices? It would seem that Radio 8 (see told you i wasnt a listener) need to find someone with the ability to see a storyline through from start to finish, not a completely unreasonable demand in the entertainment industry? I did want to become an avid Archers fan but feared I may be lost with the plots and characters after all these years of it being on air. However after reading your piece makes me realise it wouldnt really make much difference!

  20. Excellent synopsis of lost story lines.
    I find I’m an intermittent listener these days, but can usually pick it all up pretty quickly… but miss the finer details.

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