Those of us who’ve been puzzling over the purpose of Elona, the heavily-accented carer of poor witless Jack, let out a collective ‘eureka!’ this week. As with Archimedes in his bath, so the solution landed on our heads like an apple. You know, I’ve always wondered how Galileo managed to drop those two apples from the Leaning Tower of Pisa in such a way as to clobber Newton and Archimedes simultaneously, and why were they sharing a bath anyway? Those Greeks, what were they like? But back to Elona, who isn’t Greek so much as Albanian, and whose air-time has been steadily increasing to eye-watering levels since she first popped up to tell Peggy that, ‘Jack ‘as ‘ad a goo’ night Meesus Worrley’: finally we all understood her story-arc. Because till now speculation, which you can be sure has been rife in Qwerty-Towers, if nowhere else, has gone futilely along the following lines:
Why are they bigging up this here Elona considering she is playing exactly the sort of part generally occupied by the silent characters, viz. a member of the serving classes who is a complete treasure? (See Titcombes.) Is it simply because she allows the writers to tick the ‘ethnic diversity’ box? This box has hitherto been ticked by Usha, but obviously in these difficult days of budget cuts that kind of unthinking form-filling just won’t do. Presumably an alarming chap in braces and deceptively jovial manner has come in to run a compulsory equalities awareness workshop for the writers, shortly before the start of his three-year contract on Midsomer Murders. He has had to explain that just because a character is Indian doesn’t mean your cultural work is done. Particularly if that character is a lawyer and extremely middle-class and was born in the UK and is a vicar’s wife, albeit one with a statue of Ganesh on her coffee table. It’s rather like primary schools assuming they’re good to go re. cultural diversity because they’ve ‘done’ Diwali. All primary schools do Diwali because there are sweetmeats and candles and it’s near Christmas and they kept the display from last year. Tick. I’d like to see ‘em tackle something a bit more challenging, like Yom Kippur (no food or candles) or Ramadan (no food or candles).
So an Albanian woman with an unlikely accent, though I see from the Archers website that the actress is actually from Albania so what do I know, who has married a UK national and taken up lowly caring work even though she is doubtless an engineer back home, is definitely a notch up from Usha, diversity-wise.
But if that’s her raison d’etre, why give her so many Big Scenes With Peggy in which almost nothing happens? And yes before you say anything I know that almost nothing happens is the motto of the Archers but honestly, where was it all going I asked myself, there being no-one else to ask, all my friends having ditched me on account of my tedious Archers conversations.
This week all became clear. Elona is there to facilitate and nurture the tentative twilight relationship between Peggy and Ted, creepy husband of the bewildered Violet. In old Europe Elona might be called a shadchen, or matchmaker, but to bring it up to date, she is essentially a pimp. Peggy has gone all reticent with Ted since he interpreted her early pleasantries as flirting of the first order, but Elona has stomped into the fray with her blunt manners and inappropriate boundary-crossing. Peggy usually says no firmly to everyone but somehow falters when Elona tells her, ‘So won’ you speeek to Ted?’ and ‘You say Mr Worrrlley he frien’ly to ev’ryone? So he would vant you to be frien’ly yes?’
Instead of saying ‘bugger off dear,’ as she has many times to Lillian and Brian, though not always using those exact words, Peggy says, ‘Rightio, I’ll do as you say.’ Is it fear of being thought rude to an underling, and a foreign national to boot that makes her so compliant? Or more likely, is it that Peggy’s secretly keen to get down to a bit of, er, empathy and support with Ted but needs someone to tell her that Jack, were he compos mentis, would heartily approve?
And while on the subject of Peggy’s admirers, when is Con going to sweep in from America and try and fascinate her once again with nylon stockings and a fistful of gum? Is that where all this is heading? Ted and Con battling it out arthritically in the garden of the Laurels, while Peggy cries ‘Stop, I’m not worth it,’ and Jack potters about obliviously and Violet bumps into trees and Elona holds the combatants’ coats, yelling encouragement?
Ooh, I do hope so.
Posted by Qwerty