Country Life Every Week - - Opinion -

The Archers. In the kitchen, as sup­per is pre­pared, there is the same rev­er­en­tial hush you get in a con­cert hall when the con­duc­tor picks up the ba­ton.

My wife, who was born in London, was un­der the mis­ap­pre­hen­sion that the go­ings-on in Am­bridge con­sti­tuted a soap opera. Ha! Af­ter I dragged her to my farm in deep­est Here­ford­shire, then she un­der­stood that it’s a sear­ingly ac­cu­rate doc­u­men­tary about ru­ral life. I think the penny dropped for Penny when she was chair of the vil­lage fête and re­quired to ad­ju­di­cate in ac­cu­sa­tions that the tu­gof-war was fixed.

The Archers has been on the air­waves since 1951, be­ing first broad­cast on the Light Pro­gramme. Part of the stiff­en­ing the sta­tion gives to the na­tional fab­ric is that many of its pro­grammes have ex­isted for­ever, in the same way that The Queen, Ar­se­nal, Cad­bury’s Dairy Milk But­tons and bus queues are im­memo­rial and Bri­tish. Then, it’s back to work for the farmer’s night­shift of fod­der­ing and bed­ding down, the cab ra­dio on, fill­ing the long void with Front Row (7.15pm), the Arts pro­gramme that keeps you up to date with cul­tural de­vel­op­ments, from Olympic dres­sage to mu­sic to the lat­est film. There’s also Nat­u­ral His­to­ries (9pm)— a re­cent episode con­cen­trated on the great auk—plays, lively pol­i­tick­ing in Any Ques­tions (Fri­days, 8pm), and Book at Bed­time (10.45pm). The milk lorry hur­tles down the lane at 12.45am. On the trac­tor ra­dio, Ron­ald Binge’s Sail­ing By ush­ers in The Ship­ping Fore­cast. It is the slow, dreamy waltz that leads to bed.

There is the turn of the day, the cy­cle of the sea­sons, the on­go­ing story of the oaks and the cat­tle and the daily trans­mis­sion of Ra­dio 4: all of them are a ne­ces­sity for life in these isles.

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