The Guardian today carries an entertaining trundle through the history of The Archers.
As we look to the new year, The Archers will turn 70 years old on 1 January 2021. Advancing in age, the appeal of the show is not diminished, with 5 million people tuning in each week.
Though the characters of The Archers exist in a parallel universe that appears to be somewhat shielded from the vagaries and challenges of our lives (indeed it seems the R-number of Ambridge remains consistently below 1 and they are in some tier unknown to any local authority we may live in) the storyline does integrate real life issues.
This has been most obvious in some of the character stories but there have also been issues of farm diversification, new generations taking over businesses, new methods of farming (robotic milking sticks in my mind), and the usual mixture of challenges rural life and communities face.
With many of us finding solace in natural rhythms this year, the article's conclusion is apt:
There will always be cows to milk, there will be lambs born in the spring, there will be harvest in the autumn... The Archers is still there , embodying its own ideology, by itself continuing and enduring
(Though I remain curious to see how Ambridge fares under the government's new ELM system...)
Brexit is exactly the kind of unstable, real-world event that will affect the characters’ futures; it needs to be accommodated within the story-world of The Archers, not least because the exit from the EU will have such a significant impact on British farming. But so far it has been recognised through only minor motifs, such as the difficulty of finding seasonal fruit pickers.