I never thought I’d say this, but I’m hankering for more input from the agricultural story editor. I know he was taken out of mothballs the other day for a bit of ‘Oo-ar the Am’s gone brown, that’ll be the silt that will, oo-ar, I knew no good would come of that Justin Elliott and his city ways.’ But even that storyline eschewed pastoral calm in order to bring us yet another high-tension crisis – in this case the Am pouring into Linda’s marquee (Linda’s marquee is not a euphemism). Also – sidebar – how come they’ve got biblical rain showers in Borcestshire while the rest of this happily-united Kingdom is basking in the sort of sunshine that causes hardened hacks to type ‘Phew wot a scorcher’?
Anyway, I’m so over the high-tension crises. Back in the day (a few months ago), there would be four tomato blight-type plots for every Dan wanting to join the army story. I’m not saying that was quite the right balance. But lately we seem to be lurching from one damn thing to another. Roy and Lizzie have shagged! He wants to leave Hayley! Hayley’s found out! She’s being oddly good about it! Rob and Jess have shagged! Despite what he says! Jess has got a bun in the oven! Helen’s being oddly good about it! On the grounds that she has lost the little that remains of her tenuous grip on reality! The writers refuse to decide whether Rob is a sociopathic domestic abuser or just a decent misunderstood guy, so the ambiguity seems to be produced by whoever’s writing the script that week rather than any kind of actual plan! The stress is doing my nut in! As if that wasn’t enough, Mike and Vicki are abruptly upping sticks! I don’t want them to! I love Moike! Will there be an eleventh-hour reprieve? (Sidebar: There will, of course, because Bethany is the only child with a disability on the show and to get rid of her would smack of something most unpleasant.)
You’d think that’d be enough, wouldn’t you? So now we can have a little kettle-boiling pause while we segue clumsily into a story about ploughing, maybe the ploughing competition would be nice? I don’t care if it’s the wrong time of year, all right then how about a story about an orphan calf who needs to be hand-fed? But no, instead the writers hurl more discarded Eastender plots at us. Johnny randomly turns up because Pat and Tony are so careless with their children they need another one! He has a cute-yet-annoying accent! His arrival means Sharon swans in with her badly-acted sense of being constantly aggrieved! Johnny gets an interview at the local college literally five minutes later! I can’t pause for breath because Wayne, in a complete character-shift storyline so beloved of the acid-tripping Archers script-writers, is being done for drug-pushing and Fallon’s being even weirder with PC Harrison Birtwistle than she was before he nicked her old man! Which was already stressfully weird! Ed’s about to have a nervous breakdown/slash his wrists! Emma hasn’t noticed because she’s planning to get rich quick by knocking up a few fairy cakes! Leonie’s even more of a twat than usual but it’s not really her fault because the writers hate her! Linda seems to be losing her mind because of the marquee/Am/Leonie/Mary Mungo and Midge debacle!
And just when you thought, well flipping heck that’s well over this month’s quota for calamities, into the broiling slurry pit falls Ruth’s mother Heather with her whatever it was that put her in hospital, oh it was a fall was it, I literally can’t hold more drama in my head, which mean she’ll soon be bringing her horrid flat personality to Ambridge. And yet to happen, we have that crazer Freddie waiting in the wings to do something phenomenally stupid. You’ll notice I haven’t even mentioned Charlie bringing discord into the simplest trip to the village shop for a can of Heinz tomato soup.
Dear writers, please, we beg you: give us a bit of hush amidst the sturm und drang. Stories like Brian’s amused acceptance of Jenny’s totally un-needed legacy. Carol Tregorran slugging gin fizzes and being marvellous. We need a few more like that, so as he’s on the payroll, give poor old Graham Harvey something to advise on. Something boring. Poly-tunnels, strawberries, lambs, slurry, you know, the usual sort of thing. We just need a breather before you push us, screaming, onto the next roller-coaster.
Posted by Qwerty, whose new novel, When We Were Sisters, is out now