The Archers is BBC Radio 4’s “longest running drama” (Independent, 2011) and has been providing entertainment of real stories for over 67 years. It fits the radio 4 remit by providing a “wide range of other speech output including drama” (BBC Trust, 2016) but why has it been running for so long and what makes this drama engaging for its listeners?
The episode I listened to was from back in 2013 when Bridge Farm’s dairy herd was sold. This programme was grounded in factual research to ensure the programme sounded realistic for the viewers. The writer for The Archers visited a farm’s cattle sale because there is “no way a writer could conjure scenes like this out of the imagination” (Solazzo, 2013). This quote shows that in every detail of the programme, in-depth research has been done to immerse the audience in as much realism as possible.
The Archers covers a wide range of topics from “domestic violence and dementia to robotic cow milking” (Telegraph, n.d.) which all affect us in some way shape or form in reality. The “storylines impact of real lives” (The News, 2017) and reaches out into the real world but keeping it fictional at the same time to keep the listeners hooked and wanting more. The use of actuality and sound effects throughout each scene immerses the listeners into the world of The Archers giving atmosphere to the programme making it seem like real life. In one episode I have heard was set in a church. The sense of location was created by using the sound of a church organ and echoing voices as if the characters are within a large church this bring the realism of the programme to life.
So in conclusion, The Archers may be a fictional drama but without grounded factual research and thought it would not be a success with its listeners.
BBC Trust. (2016). BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 22 February 2018, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/services/radio/service_licences/bbc_radio_4.html
Independent. (2011, 1 January). 60 things you never knew you wanted to know about The Archers. The Independent. Retrieved from http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/tv/features/60-things-you-never-knew-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-archers-2173365.html
Salazzo, C. S. (2013). Researching the Bridge Farm sale. Retrieved 22 February 2018, from http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/entries/0dbf3e94-efaf-345c-95c2-307d4f6243c6
Telegraph. (n.d.). Umbrage in Ambridge over Archers STD storyline. The Telegraph. Retrieved from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/08/15/archers-sexual-health-storyline-help-fans-talk-children-stis/
The News. (2017). Portsmouth academics ask: What can The Archers tell us about real-life crime?. Retrieved 22 February 2018, from https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/our-region/portsmouth/portsmouth-academics-ask-what-can-the-archers-tell-us-about-real-life-crime-1-7824932