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.
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?
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.