Tag Archives: Lilian

The Archers: Things that are currently baffling me

Obviously there are many long-term and ongoing baffling things about the Archers, not least of which is, what is the point of Christine Barford, and why am I still listening after all these years. But over the last few months there have been so many baffling plot elements – considerably more than usual, I warrant – that most episodes end with me shaking my head in confusion. Which, to be fair, makes a nice change from shaking it in anger/despair, as is usual. So here we go. As at 19th June, 2014, these are the key things I don’t understand.

Image1. Why have all the younger generation been summarily dispatched?
It’s like Logan’s Run in reverse, down Ambridge way. No-one’s allowed in under the age of forty. First Pip was sent to Yorkshire, and nary a (Pip) squeak out of her thereafter (believe me, I’m not complaining). Next, Amy vanished into the NHS underworld. Then Brenda, after dumping Tom and having crazy Russian adventures that only happened on Ambridge Extra, not in real life, shacked up with some fancy-pants new boyfy down in that London. She reappeared briefly, and pointlessly, to show off her Liz Taylor-style rock and set tongues a-wagging that she caused the collapse of the Tom/Kirsty ménage.
Which brings me to Tom and Kirsty, who looked for some time like the inheritors of the series, and who fell apart so spectacularly that I imagine the Archers writers are gutted that they wasted the ‘shocks Ambridge to the core’ strapline on that posh bloke, can barely remember him now, who slid off the roof a few years back.
Phoebe’s been struck dumb, Will’s largely AWOL apart from the Obligatory Conversation With Charlie (see 4 below), and even Emma, who was previously never more than three whines away from popping up in a storyline, has gone shtum. Whither Alice, Christopher and Jamie, eh?
My bafflement is this: when the old guard dies, who’s going to be left? I’m with the Archers through thick and thin – sick and sin – but even I might struggle to stay with a showcase for Ed, Jazzer and Fallon.

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The Archers: Why Pusscat and Tiger mustn’t split

Image SPOILER ALERT: If you’re an Omnibus listener and you haven’t yet heard the one on Sunday 2nd December, there is a spoiler in the first paragraph. Though you probably won’t be that surprised by it, tbh.

So after months (or years? It felt like years) of Lilian and Paul meeting clandestinely in little tea-rooms for tete-a-tetes in which NOTHING whatsoever happened, they finally shagged. I’d like to say it was a surprise but the only surprise was that it took so long. Though when it finally happened, it was kind of abrupt.

  • Lilian: “Usual dreary chit-chat hinting at unhappiness with Matt.”
  • Paul: “ Usual dreary platitudes hinting how much better it would be with him instead of Matt.”
  • Listener: “Zzzz”
  • Lilian: “Let’s go to your hotel room.”
  • Listener, waking up and spilling tea: “Hey what?!”

Anyway, once the relief of a plot having moved forward was over – a relief so rarely experienced by Archers listeners – the panic set in. OH LILIAN! What about Tiger?? Matt and Lilian are by far and away my most favourite couple on the Archers. Whenever they share airtime you know you’re in for a treat. He growls away, tiger-ishly, like a middle-management Reggie Kray, alternately treating Lil like dirt or whisking her off to Lower Loxley when she needs to be distracted from some naughty thing he’s done. She, purring or letting rip her filthy forty-a-day laugh, tells Matt exactly how she feels, all the time. Both actors sound like they’re a gnat’s crotchet away from bursting into giggles. I love them so much. If they split up (NO!) and Lilian gets together with the too-good-to-be-true Paul, one of the great soap partnerships will be crushed, like Nigel after he messed up his Chim-Chim-Cheree roof routine.

More to the point, it will be the demise of the only couple in which I properly like both partners. There aren’t any others. Look!

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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: A riot of ennui

And cut! Grandma, can you tell us how you did that pattern on the top? Wake up, Grandma.

Everyone’s got their favourite. I’ve got loads. My most recent is from just the other day. It’s the one where Josh films Jill making steak and kidney pie. He might just as well have painted a wall and set the camera to record it for fifteen minutes. If I tell you that the only vaguely interesting thing that happened was Kenton referring to the pie as ‘snake and pygmy’, it’ll give you some idea.

Boring episodes of the Archers. Lord knows, there’s an embarrassment of riches to choose from. All which feature the flower and produce show, for instance; and there’s so many of those, is it any wonder that Bert Fry has taken to phoning in his surprise at being awarded a rosette for the biggest marrow? All which centre around harvest festival, Easter or other Anglican red-letter day, and their counterpart, any based round a service in St Stephens, can be added to the teetering mound of mundanity. And naturally, any one in which Tom reveals that his sausages are organic. The presence of Tom alone counteracts any other possible excitement. He neutralises heists, earthquakes and Lilian’s giggle at a stroke.

Fanoflinda recalls fondly a particularly soporific episode in which Phil (god rest his soul) and Jill were showing holiday snaps. ‘Look at Jill in that hat!’ the poor actors were forced to cry. You could hear the sounds of their careers being flushed down the toilet – or you would have, if the flushing loo sound effect hadn’t been deemed too interesting.

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The Archers: Stray pusscats strut

Get real, Lilian. No-one believes in this ‘platonic’ interest in Paul nonsense.  Even Jennifer, never the sharpest nail in the manicure, has seen through your flannel. As will Paul at this rate.

Rather than be judgemental, however, I would like to offer Lilian a handy guide as to how the half-brothers compare.

Matt, I can't believe you've got to wear... trainers

Availability: Matt being banged up, Paul wins hands down. While Paul can happily contrive implausible-sounding work opportunities which bring him within a gnat’s crotchet of Felpersham, Matt’s obviously not at liberty to wine and dine Lilian. Even when Matt comes out, he’ll be on a curfew. Which is kind of mystifying, isn’t it? As Paul himself has pointed out, fraud’s not really the sort of crime that’s only committed outside the home during the hours of darkness. Anyway, the only thing tying Paul down right now is a couple of kids, but they don’t seem too irksome. Less irksome than an electronic tag, in fact. Score: Matt 0, Paul 9 (includes extra point for smart observation regarding ridiculous curfew storyline). Verdict: No contest. Sorry Matt.

Sexiness: There’s obviously a familial resemblance, but I guess Paul is younger. Not that that necessarily has anything to do with sexiness. He doesn’t yet have a bedroom nickname for Lilian in the ‘Pusscat’ mould, but he does have the immense advantage of the thrill of the unknown. And the way he says ‘Lilian’ is rather phwoar-some. Score: Matt 5, Paul 8. Verdict: The younger brother strikes back. It’s the oldest rivalry in history. It’s Cain and Abel, it’s Christopher and Peter Hitchins, it’s Will and Ed Grundy.

Family involvement: Matt famously can’t stand family life. Even when he grudgingly agreed to meet his birth mother, it was only at Lilian’s shrill insistence. Later, on hearing his mother was dead, he said, ‘Oh.’ He’s not much better with Lilian’s family, regarding Jennifer, Brian, Peggy et al as necessary irritants. Hmm. Good point. Paul, meanwhile, has clearly been the good son, doting on his cold-hearted mother and spawning some sprogs of his own. He even asks after the appalling James, which Matt has definitely never done. However, I haven’t forgotten how good Matt was when Jack was at his pre-Laurel’s worst. So it’s not a complete whitewash. Score: Matt 4, Paul 9. Verdict: Gotta say, my sympathies lie with Matt here.

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The Archers: A man who knows the price of everything

It’s never a good idea for soaps to stray far from their usual arena. At present we have the continuity announcer saying gamely, ‘and in just a minute, we’ll be heading off, not to bonnie_clyde_465x402Ambridge, but to Costa Rica’, and our hearts sink.

Dodgy Matt’s done a runner, dragging a reluctant Lilian in his wake. For every cockroach the size of a terrier that terrorises Lilian, Matt sees only a nice little pastry shop. He is as determinedly upbeat as she is down. It’s like two sides of a bipolar personality in one fractious relationship.

The long-distance phone calls between Lilian and her anxious sister Jennifer are splendidly done. Jenny’s primary role is to say, ‘Oh, LILIAN!’ and she can imbue this simple phrase with exasperation, sympathy or horror. Some yokel asked Jenny where Lilian and Matt were, and rather than admit to a country in Central America – soap opera code for ‘bail-jump’ – Jenny rather wonderfully found herself murmuring, ‘Oh, they’ve gone to one of the Costas.’

Poor Lilian hates the Costa she’s in. She’d rather be in Costa Coffee, as Matt pointed out, when she said she had nothing to do all day. ‘Do what you do at ‘ome!’ he snapped. ‘Go to lunch! Get your ‘air done!’

‘Twice a day’, retorted Lil, ‘Given this humidity.’ She sounded for a moment as if she would rather like to have her hair done this often.

Lilian’s been so stressed and shrill, she has managed to force Matt into doing something that Archers characters absolutely hate doing: namely, reveal the cost of something. Prices are never specified. It’s too vulgar. Even in the shop, when Susan dourly rings up purchases, we are not privy to exactly what the items were in the wire basket which led to the sum of £5.21. Generally, no sum beyond a tenner is ever mentioned. Which is why it was so shocking when Matt finally admitted to Lilian how much he was paying for their flea-hole in an insalubrious barrio. He hedged and flannelled in usual Archers style for a while. ‘Less than what we’d pay in England’, and ‘He’s charging a fair sum.’

I was barely paying attention at this point, toying with my tea and wondering if it was too early to pour in a slug of gin. Then, with a final push from Lilian, he suddenly said, ‘800 dollars a month.’ You could have knocked me down with a cockroach. I pushed my tea aside and grabbed the gin bottle. I don’t know what this means for the Archers, but I suspect it’s the beginning of the end for Matt and Lilian.

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