I watched the first episode of this a while back, after reading Jo the Hat’s excellent post on it, thought it was wonderful, then weirdly forgot all about it. Then remembered! Thank the lord for Channel 4 OD. I’ve just caught up with all the episodes I’ve missed. Fantastic treat. Like discovering a box of chocolates in a drawer you’d forgotten was there (it’s a terrible analogy since this could not actually happen to me, ever).
By golly it’s brilliant. Still so subversive and amusing. You can tell, I think, that the creator is a woman (Darlene Hunt) because the female characters are all so beautifully observed. I love the way Cathy’s relationship with husband Paul (Oliver Platt) is portrayed. He thinks getting her back is all about grand gestures, like dumping a ton of sand in the living room with deckchairs to recreate their first meeting, which just pisses her off because she knows he’ll never get round to cleaning it up.
What she really wants is a grown up man for a husband, not a needy, irksome child. Someone who doesn’t leave cupboard doors open after getting things out, who picks up his dirty clothes or wet towels from the floor and who changes the toilet roll when it runs out. Ok, some of those were my gripes, but it’s truly the cause of many failed relationships I know.
What we see in Cathy, who of course knows she going to die soon, is a woman who doesn’t want to waste her precious remaining life feeling like house-mother in a frat house.
I’ve been wondering: where have all the Archers storylines gone? Some of them of course are played out to their natural, often lengthy and tedious, conclusions. But many others just wither on the vine. Sure, some stories which seem to have died prematurely do reappear months or years later, for the Archers has its eye on the long game and thinks little of dragging a plot out over decades. But other have been quietly forgotten. Possibly because they have become a teensy bit embarrassing.
Here are my top five Archers stories which have petered out.
That kid was just a horse substitute, Maisie.
1. Caroline and Oliver fostering. One minute this was all over the programme like a dull but hard-to-ignore rash, the next: nothing. They fostered one kid, I think. Some sullen youth who naturally was brought out of herself (or himself? Stone the crows, my memory) by their upper-class values. Then silence, and no-one ever mentioned it again.
Way to revive this storyline: Social Services take Hell-en’s baby away from her on the unarguable grounds of her sheer appallingness, and Caroline adopts it.
2. Usha being scared by a man while out running. I’m the only person who remembers this. Even Usha’s forgotten. It wasn’t that long ago, just a bit before she and Alan got married. Some bloke started coming onto Usha in a creepy way, telling her how gorgeous she was which seemed unlikely as she was in her joggers and sweat-bands. She managed to escape, and was terrified when she got home. And then… nothing. This is either a very slow-burning plot in which the creepy man reappears after lying low under a hedge in Eddie’s field, or it’s been ditched as being too similar to other creepy goings-on such as Josh leaving chocolates for Emma (yeugh), and Owen the Rapist.
Way to revive this storyline: Creepy man can attack Kate while she is coming back from Felpersham College. Or he can attack Hell-en on her way back from maternity yoga. Or anyone else I don’t like on their way back from anywhere.
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.
‘No! No!’ cries Mr Qwerty, backing out of the kitchen, hands clamped over his ears. Kate, who is back in Ambridge for a relentlessly long visit, was the cause of Mr Q’s permanent exile from The Archers. In the fifteen years since her troubled youth drove him to despair, he’s heard only snippets of the programme, commenting occasionally as he flits past, ‘What’s happened to Richard Lock?’ or ‘That doesn’t sound like the real Hayley’.
No, I said DON'T
Last week, I had to break the terrible news that Kate was back. He went quite pale. Now as soon as there’s so much as a whiff of dum-di-dums, he, like many a spouse, high-tails it out of the house, in terror of hearing Kate’s nasal whine. Fair enough. She is appalling. I’m only able to tolerate her myself if I have a large gin and tonic to hand, and if she’s counter-balanced by Hayley, saying sweetly, ‘Oh look! Phoebe must have liked that Mother’s Day card a lot, to get it for both of us.’
The script-writers must be in a particularly mean mood, for the other day they jammed both Kate and Helen in the same episode. Together. All that was needed for them to move seamlessly into the opening scene from Macbeth was for Pip to stroll in carrying a cauldron. Under the pressure, I finished one vat of Bombay Sapphire and cracked open the next. Helen was a-quiver with un-expressed resentment over Kate’s negligent uber-breeding. Kate meanwhile had come rather late to the notion that leaving her daughter on the other side of the world might have one or two minor repercussions.
I was surprised to find Continue reading