For years, us die-hard Archers listeners have had to get our jollies from just one or two vaguely entertaining characters, their appearances doled out in meagre helpings across the week. We had to rely for light relief on the occasional dirty laugh from Lillian, or a gnomic interlude involving cider and Joe Grundy. Now, suddenly, the show’s been inundated with wall-to-wall personalities. We’ve got Vicky, Jim and Wayne going head-to-head in a consolidated attempt to turn the Archers from a soap in which there are seven dull characters for every interesting one, to the other way round.
Those of you who haven’t visited Ambridge since Nelson Gabriel popped his clogs won’t recognise the place. When you last saw Mike the milkman he was a steady sort, married to solid Betty who knew that no situation was so fraught it couldn’t be righted by one of her barm cakes. Now Betty’s buried in the garden (natural causes), and Mike is married to Vicky, who he only knew for two sex-drenched weeks before popping the question in a haze of testosterone.
Vicky is to Betty what Jordan is to Thora Hird. Vicky is big, brash, brassy, and yes, I’m going to have to say it, common. Vicky, who has infiltrated herself into village life faster than one of Eddie’s ferrets, has a swooping Brummy voice that could shatter Mike’s milk bottles. Numerous references have been made down the Bull to her fun-loving personality and womanly figure, which must make Jolene, classic barmaid with a heart of gold hidden under a large décolletage, and previous title-holder of most-mentioned bosom in the village, seethe into her Martini and coke. Vicky is everywhere, all the time, all over the place, like, well, Martini. We suspect even Mike must be getting fed up with her steam-rollering over everything in her jolly, loud, Bette Midler kind of way. I mean, just how good in bed must she be to override all other requirements of middle-aged companionship? Don’t answer that.
Now Vicky has struck up an unlikely friendship with Linda Snell. True, they are both outsiders whom no-one else can stand. But in every other regard, they are nothing alike. In a scene of exquisite excruciatingness, the sort the Archers does so well, a gushing Vicky invited Linda and Long-Suffering Robert (to give him his full name) to dinner in her newly tarted-up garden. You could tell from Linda’s sniff after being given the full tour that we weren’t just talking about a few pelargoniums. That sniff spoke volumes. That sniff told us there were fairy lights and baroque benches and screens and ornamental grasses and decking and water features, and poor old Betty turning in her grave under a tree in the middle of it all.
Best of all, there were patio heaters, and Linda, a long-time eco-warrior sat under them, perspiring with rage. Just as L.S. Robert reached to switch one off, along bustled Vicky in full fig, and, assuming her guests were feeling cold, turned it up. The ensuing social awkwardness was sheer heaven and one of the reasons why the Archers is right back on track.
Next time: Why Wayne Tucson is King of the Road (and a Man of Means by No Means)
Posted by Qwerty