” The Archers” is the longest British radio soap-opera that was originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4. The radio drama follows closely the Archers family while trying to face all the modern pressures of the rural life. Set in the English village of Ambridge, ”The Archers” has been created by Godfrey Baseley and since its first episode aired in 1951, the drama has quickly became one of the most popular radio shows in the British culture. According to the radio station’ s remit, ”The service should appeal to listeners seeking intelligent programmes in many genres which inform, educate and entertain.” (BBC Trust,2016)
This drama has put great emphasis on research, with a thin line between fiction and reality that makes the characters and the situations believable and on the whole, it enhances the listening experience. For instance, while making the episode about the sale of the Bridge Farm, the writer Carole Simpson Solazzo wanted to make sure that the scene is going to be as realistic as possible for the listeners. Therefore, ”As soon as our agricultural advisor Steve Peacock began talking about the Bridge Farm dispersal sale in our script meeting, I decided I needed to see one in action. I love this kind of research, and there is no way a writer could conjure scenes like this out of the imagination. You need to be there, in the thick of it, watching, listening, absorbing.” (BBC Blogs,2013) Her trip to Cumbria to see how an actual farm sale looks like and to discover their lifestyle, the warm atmosphere and the solidarity of people helped her greatly with the storyline and made her research be as accurate as it can be. ” It was as much about celebrating the lifetime’s achievement of one their own, as a business opportunity to buy a piece of kit or a cow.” (BBC Blogs,2013)
When she got to the writing part, Carole used the notes from her research and applied them to the auction episode they wanted to create for ”The Archers”, like what are the real sounds during an auction, the way people talk or behave, while still focusing on the main characters and their honest reactions in front of this difficult event. ”We knew our listeners would be interested in the authentic sound of the auction itself. But more importantly, they would want to follow our characters through what was a very emotional day, one way or another, for each of the principals. ” (BBC Blogs,2013) The use of a real world event in an fictional drama was crucial in creating audio content that it is going to attract the audience and to make them feel like they are in the middle of the action, fact which makes ”The Archers” a successful and compelling drama that deserves all the recognition that it gets.
- Bbc.co.uk. (2018). BBC – BBC Radio 4 – BBC Trust. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_work/services/radio/service_licences/bbc_radio_4.html [Accessed 25 Feb. 2018].
- The Archers. (2018). Researching the Bridge Farm sale. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thearchers/entries/0dbf3e94-efaf-345c-95c2-307d4f6243c6 [Accessed 25 Feb. 2018].