Tag Archives: alistair

The Archers: Whatever happened to all the stories?

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.

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The Archers: The Odd Couples

I'd rather be at Jax

So Kenton and Kathy have split asunder eh? Well, you might say you were surprised they’d lasted so long, and you might be right. But in the Archers even the most implausible couples plod on and on for all eternity; there’s rarely any call for mediation. So although in the real world Kathy and Kenton wouldn’t have lasted five minutes, there are plenty of other couples whose continuing existence ought to bring a large delegation from Relate to look and marvel and maybe give out certificates.

Alistair & Shula – Frankly they’re an incredible couple, and I use the word in its old sense, meaning it defies credibility. Poor old Alistair has had several chances to make it out of Shula’s gnarled clutches, including before their ill-fated nuptials when she shagged Richard Lock. That was a perfect opportunity for Alistair to pack his possessions in a large spotty hankie and make merrily for the open road but like an oaf, he forgave her. A mere couple of years later she had turned him into a sulking, misanthropic gambler.      Real-world relationship rating (RRR): By now he’d have had an affair with the receptionist at his vets practice, twisted the will in his favour, and buried Shula beneath the stables. And there ain’t a jury in the land that would convict him.

Eddie and Clarrie – Given that Clarrie is resourceful, respectable and earns her own income, her mystifying willingness to stick around can only mean one thing: that this is fiction. Not that I was in any doubt, obviously (ahem). Eddie has settled down a bit lately, but he has always been and always will be a wastrel, a chancer, a ne’er-do-well, whose only contribution to the household is to make Clarrie wail, ‘Ohhh EDDDDDDIE!’ at regular intervals.     RRR: Clarrie would have quickly remarried an estate agent called Roger, and be having a nice middle-class life with a hostess trolley. Occasionally she would think of her brief sojourn in Meadow Rise, and shudder. Eddie would be living in a static caravan with some drunken trollop who’s no better than she oughta.

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The Archers: Driving me Mental

I was chatting to my friend Fanoflinda the other day, and she said something extraordinary. She said she had changed her mind about something. As this had never happened before, I bade her speak on.

‘You know how I’m always complaining about the mental health storylines on the Archers?’
‘Yes, you never stop.’
‘How everyone with a mental health issue – Mike, Helen, Pat, Alistair, Eddie – has a few weeks of a problem in its most clichéd form, before it abruptly disappears following a magical radio-land intervention of a very brief therapy course, or a couple of tablets, or simply having realised that things aren’t so bad after all?’
‘I do remember you mentioning this, yes.’
‘And how I lamented that these things should be more realistically portrayed? And how terrific it is on the rare occasions when they are?’
‘Such as Jack’s Alzheimers’, we chorused together.

Fanoflinda is, as you may have guessed, a mental health professional herself. Her dearest wish is to be employed by Vanessa Whitburn as the Archers psychiatric story-editor. ‘Frankly I’d have a lot more to do than that cushy number, the agricultural story editor. He just has to remind them about beets every so often, then goes back to eating cheese and reading Playboy’.

Betty will tell you: it's no joke working in a pub.

‘So what have you changed your mind about?’
‘It’s Jolene. She’s in the throes of post-bereavement depression. Very natural, very well-played, very accurate. People take months, years, to get over something like this.’
‘And?’
‘And it’s boring the bejesus out of me. It would be better if she’d got over it by now.’

Ain’t that the truth. Someone being permanently depressed doesn’t make good radio. Yes, I know you’re going to say what about Marvin in Hitchhikers, but Marvin wasn’t trying to run a pub. Listening to Jolene being depressed as she pours Shires onto the floor and breaks glasses and forgets to greet people is about as much fun as listening to one of Bert’s poems.

It’s no wonder punters are leaving the Bull in droves. I just hope Jolene doesn’t drive us listeners away too. What she needs now is a session of CBT, or a couple of Prozac, or alternatively just realising how much everyone loves her via Harry’s Facebook group.

Posted by Qwerty.           See more Archers posts here.

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Come Dine With Me: Barking in Brighton

Jason Smith's Brighton Beach

Brighton was once described as a town that looked like it was ‘helping the police with their enquiries’. Well this is the first group of diners I’ve seen on Come Dine With Me that frankly didn’t need Dave Lamb narrating. They’re an odd lot, which is making it very entertaining viewing. So far this week it’s been like an Edinburgh Fringe performance.

None of the names are quite what you’d expect in Sheffield, say. The roll call includes: DJ Melody Kane (whose tweets I’ve been following, being quite local myself), ‘visual artist and rude food aficionardo’ Pasha du Valentine, transvestite Ana, Pie Club member Alistair, and belching expert and stand-up comic John.

Much to the annoyance of everyone else (especially Ana, but I’m with her on this) John takes his squeezy Helman’s mayonnaise to every dinner party. He also held a belching contest at his own retro 70s food night (as well as using loo roll for napkins). Alistair seems a good cook, other than having a nasty habit of trying his marinade by sticking his tongue into it (and it’s never encouraging to see someone gag after they’ve tasted their own food – I was shouting from the sofa -‘add salt and pepper you fool’).

Melody’s Caribbean food looked delicious, but it was her rum shots served in egg cups that amused me. I feel so old, using plain old glassware to get drunk. Melody was going for the CDWM ploy of ‘getting your guests so hammered they might love you’. Ana saw through this immediately, but since noone drinks her under the table, she just asked for another. I rather like Ana.

I was less impressed, on the next evening, at Melody’s last-minute professed food allergy to Alistair’s fruit cous-cous. Highly dodgy given that half the things she claimed to be sensitive to she’d served and eaten at her own meal (and if people genuinely have allergies, they should tell their hosts in advance. Call me Miss Manners, but honestly. The youth of today).

Melody and Pasha loathe each other’s guts and this antipathy got very much worse after Melody asked Pasha to remove her high-heeled boots before entering her house. I have some sympathy to delicate floor covering issues, but on balance think forcing people to remove shoes tends to make them feel very exposed and vulnerable, and if they don’t feel safe enough in your home to do it, you shouldn’t make them. Continue reading

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