The Archers: Show me the money

Child's pocket money, or Ambridge salary?

In these times of economic hardship, with stock-markets making regular wall-of-death plummets and unemployment levels making regular, uh, Eiffel Tower climbs, one can’t help but wonder: how do people in The Archers manage for money? Storylines that ring true in financial terms are rarer than hens’ teeth, which Hayley can tell you are pretty rare. This is why I fainted several months ago when Lillian and Matt actually mentioned a figure when discussing house prices; normally The Archers are on the far right of coy when it comes to talking cash.

How are Eddie and Clarrie managing for instance, now Clarrie’s resigned from the dairy? (How clearly you can hear in Pat’s voice her despair that it was Clarrie rather than Susan who’d brought the lergy to Bridge Farm. Her impatience with Susan isn’t thinly disguised so much as out, proud and having a good old day trip.) Anyway, when E&C lost the farm back in the day they were barely clinging on, and Clarrie’s many jobs surely only pay tuppence ha’ppeny. Eddie’s patios and casual work aren’t going to keep the fox from the bin, and nor are Will-yum’s  patronising handouts. ‘Oooh Will-yum! That’s too much.’ HOW MUCH IS IT, I cry in vain. From Clarrie’s gasp-levels I estimate maybe £200? But could be anything from a tenner to a grand. Will-yum’s swimming in loot from some legacy so I don’t need to worry about how he copes on his doubtless minimum wage gamekeeper’s salary and Nic’s pin money from the Bull. Talking of the Bull, anyone remember that a few short months ago the pub was on the verge of a precipice, with Jolene planning to sell up, and a campaign to support it and t-shirts and everything? But since Jolene’s been shagging Kenton all that worry seems to have faded away. We’re supposed to imagine that the punters have been brought back by Jolene’s happy post-coital glow. No wonder Kenton’s so blinking smug.

Your correspondent listening to Alice talk about money, or anything

A couple of characters have realistic conversations about money, such as Alice and Christopher for instance, with all this stuff about bank loans and selling extra strawberries and houses as guarantees. I’m sure it’s all very true to life. However I always fall asleep with terminal boredom whenever Alice opens her mouth so I can’t be completely sure. And heavily-accented Elona is having to move out of the area because she can’t afford to rent a three-bedroomed house. The only surprise to me is that on a carer’s salary she has hitherto been able to stump up for a two-bedroomed one. I imagine her two girls are involved in some dubious business to make ends meet, which is why they need separate bedrooms.

But mostly people’s income is a mystery. Take Harry and Jazzer. No, go on, take them. Am I mistaken or are they spending like lords while doing little more than a couple of hours a day on the milk round? Clearly I am in the wrong job. I suppose Jazzer’s signing on actually, so that explains his situation. And we still don’t know what Harry’s Secret is yet, so maybe it’s escort work, or drugs-running, or managing a Costa Coffee franchise.

Tom sells a few sausages, and Brenda, well I have no idea what she does at Lillian’s pretend playhouse of a business. Makes coffee and tells everyone she has a marketing degree, I guess, but is there hard cash in that? I think not.

Pat, Tony and Helen: even before the Great E. coli Debacle I was puzzled as to how they not only made a living but also did rather well. How much moolah, truly, can there be in cheese? But now – when every other episode is about how much produce they’re not selling – there should at least be a hint that their supper beans are Tescos value rather than Waitrose organic.

Neil messes about with pigs, and Susan has the same kind of village-based portfolio career that served Clarrie so well till recently. I estimate N&S make about 25p a week, so how does that work?

The biggest mystery of all are Linda and Robert. Yes, she has a receptionist job in Grey Gables, but surely that’s only part-time and isn’t going to pay much more than, what, £10K? And Robert used to earn well at some blokey computery thing which allowed him and Lindy to live in fine style with lamas and gazebos and a whopping great mortgage. But since he’s been unemployed I think he’s only put up one set of shelves in his new incarnation as handyman, yet they live the life of bloody riley. How are they managing?

Don’t get me wrong, I’d be bored senseless if the characters all started to reveal their economic mojos. But very occasionally I’d like to hear someone other than Matt put a price to something; like to know the amount Will-yum considers a suitable parental bung; and I’d love to know what Hell-en’s going to do when she can no longer afford organic baby-wipes for Henry’s little botty. Suicide must surely be a possibility?

 Posted by Qwerty.                      See all Archers blogs here.

8 Comments

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8 responses to “The Archers: Show me the money

  1. arialbold

    I love these pedanty rant reviews. Exactly the kind of thing which goes through my head when I listen to the Archers (which I also notice hasn’t exactly been Shaken to the Core – seems to sound much the same as it ever did before the Nigel-Roof-Slide-of-Death: am I wrong?)

    What has nagged at me most on any recent listens is the paucity of references to most normal aspects of 21st century life. They exist in some timeless (for which read 1950s-1970s) bubble – where modernity intrudes only in the most clunky “we’re now discussing the internet” type ways.

    Still these lovely Qwerty reviews always encourage me to head back for a listen – and I continue listening right to the point when I get shouty (managed 7 mins once).

  2. I can only assume that everyone in Ambridge has what people in the real world only dream of these days: savings. Either that or they’re all growing cannabis in a spare barn somewhere and flogging it down Felpersham high street on a Friday night.

  3. arialbold

    Qwerty – did you write this before the episode broadcast today? It’s positively obsessed with unquantified shortages of money (and references to “the internet”).

  4. Qwerty

    arialbold: it’s been the same for weeks.

  5. Fanoflinda

    Yes, I was a bit shocked to hear that people on the Archers actually worry about mortgage payments going in. And how does one ‘find’ 10.000 pounds for goodness sake, I struggle to find the money for a pint of milk these days.
    Talking of these days – has anyone mentioned any cuts to services on the Archers? One presumes that the Laurels is privately owned and funded – do we ever hear of any council run services? Where is the local library? Has meals on wheels been cut or is just that Jill Archer got bored with running it?
    Also talking of businesses going under – wasn’t Grey Gables meant to be feeling the pinch, or has not employing a Roy-replacement solved all Caroline’s money problems?

    Also what’s happening to Brenda and Tom’s wedding plans? Do you think they can no longer afford to get married? Could we have a realistically priced wedding on the Archers to set a new fashion amongst the chattering classes?

  6. Qwerty

    Hey @archelina, good to see you on here. Yes, the cannabis hypothesis is strangely plausible, and would explain a lot about some of the characters. As a library person maybe you can answer fanoflinda’s enquiry as to what has happened to the Ambridge library (indeed, was there ever one?)

    Arialbold: I feel a bit guilty that my blogs make you go back and listen. But you’re right; Nigel’s death has not yet SATTC. In fact Clarrie bringing germs into the dairy has SA much more TTC so far.

  7. JAL

    You are all taking this far too seriously. I would however like to put Alice forward for the Most Whiny Voice Award at the …er, relevant awards ceremony.

  8. Pingback: The Archers – August 2011 – mrschristine.com

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