Tag Archives: Jack

The Archers: Pimp my Peggy

Yes, I think I can just about detect a small plot here.

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).

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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.

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