The Archers: Beyond an Artichoke

Waaaah! I just found out that Hell-en is my mother.

I have a strange sense of déjà vu from when Shula was preggers with the uncharming Daniel. During that time, which surely went on for considerably longer than the regulation nine months, my default position was to yell, ‘That’s just TOO MUCH SODDING INFORMATION’ at the radio. I now find myself doing exactly the same, whenever Hell-en pops up to tell us earnestly about the triple-test, the pros and cons of water birth, or the position she fancies giving birth in (I guess she feels she’s owed an interesting position, having missed out on one to conceive the sprog). At least I can shout at the radio or pop outside for a brief sob. Poor Kirsty, Hell-en’s main confidante, has no option but to listen. It’s no wonder something snapped the other day and she came over all sarky and abrasive.

‘I had to talk to the midwife about a birth plan’, simpered Hell-en. ‘Ooh, a plan’, sneered Kirsty, her voice dripping in contempt, ‘Bet you liked that!’

Hell-en laughed uncertainly, then started banging on about tests for Down’s Syndrome.

‘What would you do if the tests showed up positive?’ Kirsty asked, bluntly. ‘It’s very unlikely’, Hell-en blustered.  ‘Yes’, insisted newly stroppy Kirsty, ‘But what if it WAS?’  ‘I’d have the baby anyway of course’, smarmed Hell-en.

As this exchange took rather a long time, and seemed to be sign-posted in big purple capital letters, it made me suspect the Hell-en pregnancy storyline will be filled with uncertain test results and all the resulting issues of the day: what if your result is a bit iffy? Should you have an amniocentesis? What are the stats for younger women having babies with Down’s? Will Hell-en be more or less insufferable if her baby has a disability?

Poor us. Poor baby. And poor, poor Kirsty.

Of course, Hell-en’s doubtless completely-healthy-but-what-a-scare-it-gave-us baby isn’t the only foetus in the village. Emma has achieved a fine Ambridge double by getting up the duff from both Brothers Grimm. Good heavens, she just needs to work on Eddie with some feminine wiles and a few pints of cider to achieve an extraordinary Guinness Record shaking hat-trick.


I worked out that her children would not only be siblings, but also first cousins. Then I thought about Will’s reaction to the news and had to lie down with a cold flannel over my eyes. The Emma pregnancy storyline has been mired in complete and utter murky nonsense, to distract us (unsuccessfully) from the image of Emma in bed with both Grundy boys, and probably Eddie in there too, wearing nothing but his Viking helmet. First we had Josh (or Ben? Kids in the Archers are all the same to me), leaving Emma pathetic little presents on her door-step. Then we had the Quest for Artichokes – surely one of the Archer’s most tedious storylines ever, a hotly contested field. Has there ever been anything more pointless or dull in the history of script-writing?

You had to feel for Ed. What had he done to annoy Vanessa Whitburn, I wondered? He normally sounds embarrassed anyway when delivering any line that isn’t ‘Pint of shires please Fallon’, so having to spend his entire time on set talking about effing artichokes must have destroyed him. The whole thing was clearly sponsored by the Artichoke Promotion Society. When Emma finally got her artichokes and was smacking her lips and saying, ‘yummy!’, well honestly. I was yelling at the radio again. Whoever in the world went ‘yummy’ when eating artichokes? No-one, that’s who. And don’t give me that pregnancy craving excuse. Do coal-scoffing pregnant women say yummy? (No.) Did I say ‘yummy’ when Thing One was a bun in the oven and I was guzzling crate-fulls of cheese? (No. Too busy eating.)

Anyway, what with posh vegetables, Cain and Abel rivalry Grundy-style, and Susan imploding with joy when she realises that not only is she now related to Jennifer but she’s going to be a grandmother again, the next few months look super-grim. Add into the mix Hell-en receiving bad test results and I predict I’m going to be shouting at the radio rather a lot.

Posted by Qwerty


Filed under The Archers

11 responses to “The Archers: Beyond an Artichoke

  1. inkface

    Never mind yelling, I found myself unconsciously crossing my legs reading this!

  2. Anne of Green Gables

    Qwerty — please, please never leave us! You are sooo funny! Even if you are also sooo rude about my young friend, Hell-en as you call her. (Helen why haven’t you posted any comments recently? Too absorbed with your pregnancy, maybe?) Ahhhhh – sweet Helen!

    About the artichokes… didn’t this storyline begin with some artichoke containing items being appreciated at a party? A concoction by Jennifer for the wedding party?

    I was a little disappointed in how this story developed. So much fuss was made about the artichokes that I wondered if there might have been a potentially highly embarrassing – and possibly dangerous – mistake. They were not artichokes at all, but something else which has accidentally (or maybe deliberately!) got substituted for artichokes. They looked and tasted a little like artichokes, but had an added ‘zing.’ Maybe they were the roots of an ancient plant once used by a particular tribe in secret ceremonies. Maybe they had a very… very… **strange** but certainly not unpleasant effect on people who ate them?

    This would raise the question: who is most strongly motivated to sabotage the wedding party? And who would seek to do so in this strange, esoteric – and possibly weirdly funny – way? Or were they just trying to help the party go with a swing?? Who in Ambridge would do such a thing?

    There you are, Vanessa Whitburn, that would make a *much* better storyline wouldn’t it? I am available as a scriptwriter whenever you would like me to start. Hell-en can be my assistant, until she gets too tired or too busy with motherly duties after the baby arrives. And – by the way – of course Helen is not having a Down’s baby – what a ridiculous suggestion (though I did predict drama in a previous post).

    A footnote: What *are* artichokes anyway? I am sure I would recognise one if I saw and tasted it…? Are they those shiny purple things you put in Moussaka? In that case, I’m having Ambridge-style moussaka for my supper!

    • I too was sure that artichokes were going to turn out to be fatal to pregnant mothers or first trimester foetuses. I’m still not sure she should have been having Hollandaise sauce – hasn’t that got raw eggs in it? Either way, someone should explain the whole Chekhov’s gun thing to the writers. In this case, if there’s an artichoke hanging on the wall in the first act, someone should have been killed by it in the third…

  3. inkface

    Ah such literary readers (and writers) we do have…

  4. Fanoflinda

    Dear querty you speak for all of us – have we any story lines to look forward to? Perhaps more will come from son of horrorbin living on Aldridge land.
    Have to say that I had a thing about globe artichokes as a child so may have uttered yummy on more than on occasion. Also I think Kirsty actually said ‘too much information’ to hellen so the script writers obviously read this blog.
    A of GG I suggest your script ideas might fit in better with midsommer murders. The Archers if you hadn’t noticed is about simple country folk doing mostly boring things. (also the quiche was at the millenium wood party not the wedding party).

  5. Qwerty

    Jo the Hat is quite right – this artichoke better go off soon. In fact someone just emailed me to suggest that the most likely outcome of too many artichokes is severe wind.

    Fanoflinda: of course, if there was anyone in this world who might have said ‘yummy’ upon crunching into an artichoke, it would have been you.

    Anne of GG: As to what artichokes are, I helpfully put a little photo of one into my blog post.

    Inkface: I have long found the Archers to be a reliable contraceptive. You just need to listen to Daniel or George or Phoebe, god help us, and your legs cross automatically.

    As an aside, I have just been tweeted by Eddie Grundy, who assures me that nothing is going on between him and Emma. However, he adds darkly, ‘Brenda Tucker is another matter.’

  6. Anne of Green Gables

    To Fanoflinda: The Archers — boring? With all those confusing parties *and* artichokes… how could that be boring!!

  7. Bartleby

    Loved your comments about artichokes. I didn’t realise how bad this storyline was until you pointed it out. I have been known to say “yummy” to top quality chocolate brownies but artichokes…never.

  8. Frankly I’m still getting over last week’s omnibus in which Will turned up his annoyingness to ten (semi-stalking his own girlfriend) and Mia proved that Archers writers have never encountered a real child in the real world. Will:”What did you do at school today?”. Mia:”I drew a picture of [whatever].” I ask Junior Hat every day what she’s done at school. Replies range from “nothing”, through “I can’t remember” to “We didn’t do anything.”

  9. Qwerty

    Hello, Bartleby – good to hear from you! When did you last have a top-notch chocolate brownie then?

    Jo-the-Hat: Nor have they encountered any real teenagers. Every time Jamie speaks, something in me dies. If you’ll pardon me mentioning death so close to Sid’s demise.

  10. Fanoflinda

    Dear querty
    I fear you may be mixing your globe and jerusulam artichokes globe artichokes – Ive never heard a globe artichoke go crunch in my life – well possibly an uncoiled one. They are the vegetable in which you peel leaves – dip them in some delicious sauce and scrape off the insides. Eventually you come to the heart which simply melts like a chocolate brownie in the mouth. Really yummy. Also it’s jerusulum not globe artichokes which give you wind. And no I’m not up the duff..