Blimey, I certainly didn’t see that coming. Peeling the potatoes, I was, and idly listening to Fallon flirting with Harry (pack it in, Fallon, none of us think you’re going to end up with Harry rather than Jazzer), when Jolene rang and dropped the bombshell. Two bombshells actually, the first being that she gets a better signal on her mobile when calling from New Zealand than I do when trying to speak to a chum up the road. Must find out what network she’s with.
And secondly, that Sid – Landlord of the Bull, erstwhile manager of the cricket team, and King of Homophobes – was dead. You could have knocked me over with a potato peel. I reeled from the sink and turned up the radio (laptop, actually – it was on Listen Again but ‘turn up the computer’ is a phrase that has yet to slip comfortably into the language). I felt sure if I listened hard enough, it would turn out to be a mistake. Lucy had smothered Sid with a pillow but he had been resuscitated; a rampaging herd of lambs had trampled him underfoot while out jogging (him, not the lambs), but he was now right as rain and suffering no more than hurt pride and hoof imprints on his stomach. But no. Heart attack and bam. Gone.
On reflection, some clues were there, if only I had been concentrating. Sid hasn’t been heard from for a while (apparently the actor who plays him is ill). And Fallon, a few days ago, expressed regret she hadn’t said goodbye to Sid before he went to NZ, then said, ‘Well, it’s not as if it’s the last time I’ll see him.’ Big chunky clue – no-one ever says that in soaps unless it is in fact the last time they’ll ever see them.
Damn, though. I liked Sid. He was a nicely rounded character, with great qualities (decent father, and what a rock he was when Kathy was raped), and interesting flaws (mild bigotry, could be an ass when managing the cricket team, didn’t always appreciate his luck in marrying Jolene). The Archers can ill-afford to lose characters who don’t automatically set off a vomiting reflex, and Sid was one of those.
For years, I have been expecting some exciting denouement to the Sid-homophobia thing. He had some bruising encounters (oo-er!) with Sean of the Cat and Fiddle, and later, some nicely played antagonism with Adam, particularly in Sid’s reluctance to promote Adam on the cricket field. But it never actually went anywhere. A lesser soap would have churned out a storyline in which an extremely worthy gay man rescued Sid in some way – saved him or Jamie from drowning for instance – which ended with hugs and learning as Sid realised what a silly old bigot he’d been and vowed to attend the next Pride march in Felpersham. But The Archers is too classy for that.
No-one ever really challenged Sid on his views, not even Jolene or Kathy, who are both fairly liberal-minded. There was one lovely, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it scene between Sid and Brian, after the latter had reluctantly attended Adam and Ian’s wedding. Brian, not usually a man to stand atop the moral high ground, nonetheless said something incredibly poignant to Sid, about how glad he was to have attended the wedding, and the deepening of his relationship with Adam, challenging Sid’s deepest-felt beliefs. It was beautifully done. But that was all.
Now there never will be a final end to that lengthy and believable thread. And this is why The Archers is just like real life. A key player shuffles off, not when the whistle has blown and they have completed all their tasks, but in the middle of the game, with many overs yet to play.
Posted by Qwerty