Tag Archives: Kate

The Archers: Dodgy sexual politics in Ambridge?

Listening to The Archers omnibus this morning, I found myself getting increasingly incensed by the appalling mothering of Kate and loony behavior of pregnant Helen, having a right old go at a bewildered Tony, as she threw her metaphorical steriliser out of the pram (and since I imagine she plans to breastfeed, I was confused that she even bought one, especially since it sounded, via radio, to be bewilderingly huge). I even tweeted about it.

Then a friend, and fellow omnibus listener called, and said how cross she was that the writers are ‘presenting women facing difficult choices’ as being so crap and so mad. ‘Oh bloody hell yes, it’s not real,’ I reminded myself hastily, and deleted the draft emails to Social Services.

So I contacted the Diva of Archers blogs, Qwerty, (and the reason, after a ten-year absence, that I even listen to the show again) who gave me permission to trespass on her regular Pauseliveaction patch and have a rant. Please bear in mind I’m not as regular or attentive a fan as her.

But this morning, after pausing for thought, I did feel my friend has a point. Helen and Kate are characters created by the writers of the Archers, and hells teeth, if you cease to be annoyed by how whiny, selfish, narcissistic, passive-aggressive and ghastly they both are and remember we are hearing the voices of actors, speaking lines written for them, you do start to wonder if there is some misogyny afoot.

The character of Helen (or ‘Hell-en’, as Qwerty calls her) is pretty unrelentingly unlikable. Could we not have an over-arching storyline about either her, or single parenthood, that does not start from the basis that someone choosing to have a baby on their own is not stark staring bonkers and thoroughly unpleasant to boot?

I know this is supposed to be a traditional, conservative rural community, but I’m still hacked off that, when Brian Aldridge brought home the child of his dead mistress, Jenny not only had to put up with the humiliation, she also seems to do all of Ruairi’s childcare.

Then we’ve got the gruesome Kate, the most careless mother in the world, leaving her offspring willy nilly across the globe, all of whom are distraught at her inability to keep her children on one continent at the same time.

Come on Archers writers, will you stop writing storylines that kick women in the teeth? Can we muster something good, positive, constructive? If you need a really good example of a show where women, and particularly older women (Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt), are written fabulously well, with lots of character, lots of power, lots of sex and chutzpah, go and watch Boston Legal. Then do please, buck up.

Posted by Inkface              (more Archers reviews/rants here)

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The Archers: Tipping Point

So glad someone's finally applied my theory to something meaningful

Malcolm Gladwell described a ‘tipping point’ as a moment of critical mass. He used it to explain how crime dropped dramatically in New York in the 1990s, but here I will apply it to something far more important: The Archers. I fear my favourite programme is on the verge of a tipping point, from which there is no return.

It’s been flirting with danger for some time, but The Archers has now almost reached the point at which the number of staggeringly irritating plots outweigh the enjoyable story-lines. Soon the whole edifice will come crashing down. It’s not just me who feels this way. Only the other night this comment appeared on The Archers message board: ‘Could someone get my radio back please? It’s in the garden and I’d get it myself but I’m just phoning the glazier.’  This cri de coeur was triggered by the episode in which Helen discovers she is pregnant. Right there with you, glazier-pal. Hell-en is unbearable whether she’s happy or sad, but happy is definitely worse.

Here are eleven pieces of evidence to support my thesis that The Archers is becoming so utterly annoying, it’s only a matter of days before every listener turns off their radio simultaneously at 7.05 pm, producing a surge of power to the National Grid large enough to cause a tsunami or earthquake (or something – haven’t quite sketched this part out properly yet).

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The Archers: Enough advice, already

Uh, please can I have a choice of mother?

I picked up the radio and shook it, unable to believe my ears. Surely that wasn’t Kate giving Helen advice about having babies, was it? Wasn’t that a bit like Hugh Hefner guiding Peter Stringfellow in the ways of monogamy? Or, here’s a good one, like Emma giving Pip advice about choosing the right man… hang on a minute!

Yes, it was Implausible Advice Week on the Archers. Kate started it, by lecturing Helen on what a huge commitment it is to have children. You could hear a collective Radio 4 gasp of outrage. I bow to no man in my dislike of Helen, but even I had to applaud when she pointed out that Kate had abandoned her child and gone to live on the other side of the world.

But did this setback stop Kate? Did it heck as like. Just a couple of days later, she was dishing out advice to Alice about not settling down with Christopher. ‘You’re not going to marry him, are you?’ she sneered. (I bloody hope she is: Jenny at that wedding would be a sight worth seeing. Er, hearing.) Since Kate slunk in from Jo’berg, we’ve been dodging large, cumbersome, Bartleby-sized hints that all is not well with the Kate-Lucas ménage, Lucas presumably having finally woken from his trance. So this, too, was a piece of wisdom that Kate was not in a position to give. Especially as her first choice of baby-father was Roy, who’s got only two settings: boring as all get out, or committing acts of racism. Yes, Roy, I do have a long memory, don’t I?

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The Archers: Don’t kiss me, Kate

‘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.

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