Tag Archives: Pat

The Archers: Nice day for a white wedding

There’s really ever such a lot that is irritating in the Archers at the moment. All right, there’s no need for that. I mean even more than usual. There’s the continuing story of Bridge Farm going down the toilet, in which it’s hard to say who’s more infuriating: Tom for insisting they have to re-brand (how many times can he say ‘re-brand’ before we must spear him with his own pitchfork?), Tony for being so dead set against the idea, or Pat for being sanctimoniously in the middle. Also super-irksome: Tom’s godawful pigs-playing-football youtube monstrosity. Please, pretend virtual people, don’t click on it any more, it only encourages him.  The only pleasing aspect of  the Bridge Farm yawn-fest is Brenda being pissed off about being left out of the planning meeting.

Then we’ve got the December romance of Jim and Christine, which is teeth-gritting not because I’m troubled by the thought of wrinklies having sex – just ask my 75-year old boyfriend! – but because it means we have  Jim being nice instead of his old irascible wind-up-Shula self and, more to the point, we have regular interludes with Christine whose acting is still as mahogany as a sideboard. And not to mention, though I will, because everyone else is, the tedious presence of Cloive ‘Orrobin, a man who is supposed to be menacing but who is merely nauseating, and whose performance makes Christine look like John Gielgud.

Nonetheless, in a wide ocean of irritation, the thing that winds me up the most every time I switch on, is this bloody wedding. WHY? I yell regularly at the radio, there being no one in earshot to yell at, everyone having evacuated the house at the first sniff of a ‘dum di dum.’ WHY ARE THEY SO BLOODY-MINDED ABOUT JANUARY 1ST? While Nic blathers on about invitation cards (how implausible was it to think that she might actually try and buy them in the village shop? Whoever wrote that line deserves a smack), and Will decides to have Roy as his best man again because it all worked out so well last time, I just keep hurling unanswered questions into the Ambridge ether. What’s the big deal about January 1st? Who’s going to cover the huge expense of people having to be paid time-and-a-half? Why’s Caroline being so sodding accommodating when clearly she’s already got a ton of other stuff going on? What about it traditionally being a nice quiet day after the excesses of New Year’s Eve, a buffer with nothing more than telly and left-over Quality Street before everyone has to back to work? What, in short, is going on with Will and Nic’s massive sense of entitlement that they’ve decided the day and that’s that; now everyone else must work their butts off to ensure it happens just as they have randomly decreed? And finally, and most puzzling of all, why is Nic even contemplating wedlock, when Will becomes more serial killer-esque with every episode?

In short, I’m not surprised Ivy chose now to peg it. ‘A wedding?’ she cried. ‘On January 1st? How incredibly narksome. Unplug the life support Susan, there’s a love.’

If only we could all be as blissfully un-sentient.

Posted by Qwerty

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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: 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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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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