IN PRAISE OF … SILENT ARCHERS CHARACTERS.
AFTER 60 years, the scriptwriters of the world’s longest-running soap opera have realised the silent characters in The Archers have all the best lines.
Two additional episodes, involving temporarily absent inhabitants of the village of Ambridge or those who have not been heard on air, will provide parallel storylines that will “zip along” at a faster speed than the daily pace, which often matches that of Joe Grundy’s pony and cart.
Rhys, the new barman at The Bull, hitherto judged capable of being in charge of the pub but not of engaging in direct conversation, will gain the voice of 21-year-old Scott Arthur, a graduate of the Welsh College of Music and Drama.
The arrival of a more melodiouslyaccented rival to Jazzer, the roughdiamond milkman, whose thick-asa-black-pudding-supper Glaswegian accent has mysteriously survived spending his teenage years to the south-west of Birmingham, offers a rich prospect of storylines unrelated to the current agricultural cliffhanger of the extent of Johne’s disease in the Brookfield dairy herd.
Despite being a cross between Casanova and Rab C Nesbitt, Jazzer is a hit with Home Counties ladies of a certain age. They presumably relish the silence of his conquests.
There are several silent women in Ambridge. Most famously, Pru Forrest spoke for the first time in decades – in the voice of Judi Dench – to mark the 10,000th episode in 1989. Her successor as chief mute is Freda Fry, known for her steak and kidney pie and other traditional dishes at The Bull. In her case, silence is golden because it rules out dialogue with her husband Bert, whose conversation is peppered by homespun homilies. An exchange between Sabrina Thwaite, who has no need of words to attract (male) attention and Fat Paul, unsuccessful scholar of the racetrack, offers more entertaining possibilities.
If only the insufferable Lynda Snell could be mute.