Help! Where to start with the archers?!(27 Posts)
My children are both in school and I am finally getting around to doing things I've wanted to do for ages.
This includes starting to listen to the archers. Where would you recommend I start? Will I pick up the characters easily?
Hmm. Well it's set in Ambridge, a village in Borsetshire and the nearest town is Felpersham and there's a bigger county town called Borchester. (Right so far). Not entirely shure of relative distance/size of Borchester and Felpersham.
It started off as an everyday story of country folk, but it's a bit more 'on trend' these days. There is lots of info on the Archers website about who is who. And maybe even a map.
Basically there are middle class people with posh voices who are usually clever and reasonable.
The lower class people with strange Mummerset voices are mostly stupid or ignorant and are persistent klutzes/ get things wrong a lot. These are the comedy rustics, mainly consisting of the Grundys and Jazzer.
The comedy middle class person is Linda Snell, who lives at Ambridge Hall, and who is often hoist on the pertard of her own ludicrous snobbery.
Apart from Linda, it is very rare that the middle class characters come across as unsympathetic. So it is perhaps refreshing for the fact that the huge domestic abuse storyline has occurred in the right-on organic epicentre which is Helen Archer/Tichener and Bridge Farm.
Apart from the big trial, there are a few storylines going on.
The main farming families are David and Ruth Archer and their children, Pat and Tony Archer (Helen's parents) and their children, and Brian and Jennifer Aldridge and their children. Jennifer, Tony and Lilian are siblings. David has three siblings - Kenton who runs the pub, Shula who runs the stables and who lied to protect Rob when he attacked the hunt saboteur, and Lizzy, who's late husband owned the local stately home.
Lilian is having an affair with a man called Justin, who has just employed Rob to run his farming business, which will involve being the boss of Adam, who is Helen's cousin and married to Ian, Helen's best friend.
Brothers Toby and Rex Fairbrother have recently moved to the village to set up a goose farm. Rex is responsible, Toby is a twat. We keep hearing about some mysterious way in which Toby cocked up 'in Brighton'. Rex is desperately in love with Pip Archer, the daughter of Ruth and David Archer who let the boys their land. Pip has been stupid enough to have a brief fling with Toby, but seems to have sent him packing.
The Grundy family are facing homelessness again (this happens to them about every other year). This is Eddie (chancer) and Clarrie (salt of the earth) Grundy, and Eddie's very elderly dad, Joe. There are also Eddie and Clarrie's son Ed, his wife Emma, and their children. Joe is determined to die in the place they're currently living in, which is the old farm they lost when they went bankrupt many years ago. (It was bought up by the wealthy Oliver Stirling, who has a fondness for Ed and so let them live their while it was empty for a few months.)
Both Clarrie Grundy and a woman called Susan Carter work for Pat Archer at her organic dairy, making yoghurts and ice cream. Susan is a terrible gossip and the fact that she's been in prison herself doesn't stop her slagging off Helen.
Kirsty, Helen's best friend, was engaged to Tom, Helen's brother, but he jilted her at the altar. Luckily, she appears to have forgiven him...
That should keep you going for a bit.
Thank you so much. Been reluctant to google too much as do not want to know result of trial yet!
Best get on to catch up!
Felpersham has a cathedral and a 'uni'.
Borchester is where "Underwoods" department store is, where Jennifer Aldridge and her sister Lillian Belamy go shopping - they are upper middle class and hobnob with the county-set, at social functions covered by "Borchester Life".
For those with cars, there is a supermarket, somewhere between Ambridge and Borchester, where the likes of Ruth Archer stock up on pizzas and frozen chips.
Those poorer or too old to drive villagers have to rely on the village shop or Bridge Farm farm shop.
Social life revolves around the Bull pub, cricket club, village fetes, WI, cafe at Bridge Farm, St. Stephen's church, Grey Gables hotel, local hunt, and country club and Grundy's cider club (by invitation only). Presumably there is a local young farmers, but won't get a mention until the Grundies need help with plucking their turkeys or Pip is looking for a new beau.
The nearest train station is Hollerton Junction, and people occasionally venture into the real world by going to Birmingham or Leamington Spa.
Oh, the important thing to know is that there was a flood about 2 years ago, which was made worse for the village by Rob deliberately blocking a culvert so that the river wouldn't flood the dairy farm he was managing.
Having caused the flood, Rob then made a great song and dance about rescuing people from it - but only when someone (PC Harrison Burns?) made him take the boat to rescue others rather than just escaping himself.
First mistake, don't try and learn who everyone is at once or the names of all the farms. That way lies madness. You have to accept that you'll spend a few weeks thinking 'who's that?' it doesn't help that there's a lot of middle-aged middle-class women who all sound the same.
The first thing you need to know is the extended Archer clan are like the Cosa Nostra in the village of Ambridge: they've got the whole village stitched up!
The 'core' family are headed by David(always sounds exasperated) and Ruth Archer (a Geordie)who farm Brookfield farm. David inherited the farm from his parents Phil (decd.) and Jill who is still alive. David is one of four siblings Kenton (loveable rogue who runs the pub) , Shula (uptight and self righteous, runs the riding stable) and Lizzie (runs and owns the local stately pile). David and Ruth have three children Pip, Ben and Josh. Ranging in age from mid20s to early teens. Pip (female) works on her parents' farm full time.
The Brookfield Archers are long established pillars of the community and their farm is successful but aren't as wealthy as Brian and Jennifer Aldridge who farm the much larger Home Farm . Brian is an interesting character, quite bluff and can be ruthless and Home Farm is a large scale agri-business. His wife Jenny (or JennyDarling as he usually calls her) is a traditional farmer's wife and can be snobbish and houseproud. Both characters have had numerous affairs and Brian fathered a child with another woman who now lives with Brian and Jennifer (now in their late 60s early 70s). Day to day running of home farm is overseen by Jenny's son from a previous relationship , Adam. Adam has a complicated relationship with Brian who was somewhat uncomfortable with Adam's sexuality. Adam lives with his husband Ian who is Irish and a chef and all round good egg. There are three other Aldridge children who tend to appear in fits and starts. Most colourful of whom is Kate ex ecowarrior and ageing trustafarian who turns up from time to time.
JennyDarling is an Archer by birth. Her father and David's father were brothers. Jenny has two siblings. Lillian, (likes a gin, likes a cig, has loved often but not well and is generally a bit if a bon vivant. Address everyone as dahling and cackles a lot.) Jenny's brother Tony is also a farmer, whose attitude to farming is very difficult to Brian's. Bridge Farm which Tony runs with his wife Pat is smaller than the other two and is fully organic and Brian and Tony often antagonise each other. Brian is gloomy and feels hard done to and Pat can be self righteous. Of their three children, the eldest John died and rhe surviving two are now in their early/mid 30s. Tom fancies him self as an entrepreneur and sells gourmet sausages, tends to speak in management clichés. His ideas are often at odds with his parents. Their daughter Helen has been at the centre of the current domestic abuse storyline has had periods of anorexia and low self esteem. She had a baby via a sperm donor called Henry (5 but sounds much younger) and became pregnant again after her husband Rob Titchener raped her after months of psychological torture. The baby John (Rob wanted to call him Gideon) was born when Helen was on remand in prison and the current storyline revolves around the custody battle for the two children.
Other residents of note. The Grundys local loveable rogues, ex tenant farmers and now casual labourers. You shall know them by their clichéd yokkel accents. Joe the patriarch is 90odd and lives with his son Eddie (odd job man) and his wife Carrie who works at the Bull and making Yoghurt with Pat Archer. Their sons (now in their 30s) Ed is a chip off the old block, but Will is Brian Aldridge's game keeper. A source of tension given his family's tendency toward poaching. Ed and Will don't get on and tension was made worse when Ed started sleeping with Will's wife Emma.
Emma is the daughter of Neil and Susan Carter. Susan is the village gossip and is good friends with Clarie. Susan's attempt to move up the social scale in Ambridge are the source of much comedy. In fact working class characters in the Archers are usually there for comic relief or to be all downtrodden.
There is a B&B run by the village busybody and organiser of the pantomime/Halloween/any village event Linda Snell who has a southern English accent and sounds just like. Small village busy body. There is also an upmarket hotel run by the vair posh Oliver and Caroline Stirling called Grey Gables.
Love this thread!
I grew up listening to the Archers, but haven't really listened to it for around 25 years. Started listening again recently because of the trial as I am interested in DV issues. Found myself strangely hooked. As iplayer has been invented since I last listened it is a lot easier to keep up now!
Thanks for this thread. Have just downloaded the last 4 omnibuses (omnibus'/omnibusi??) And wondered how on earth I was going to get up to speed. Looking forward to listening tomorrow whilst using this thread for reference. Thanks all!
Just dive in and listen to the next episode. You'll soon pick it up.
I agree with Random. The storylines will grow on you and as there's such a lie turnover of characters you just get to know them all so well.
I've listened all my life (I'm nearly 40) and it's never been as fast paced as it has been the last few years.
I listen accidentally all the time but can make no headway as everyone sounds like Lillian/linda to me
Can someone explain why Ian and his husband have fallen out over the trial? I gather someone has a 'roving eye' but who and why was it part of Helen's defence? !
There's a book called 'who's who in the archers' which is a bit out of date but includes most of the characters and has a family tree.
There's also a more recent 'for the love of the Archers ' companion.
I agree it's easy to pick up...but the family tree is useful for distinguishing who's who, initially.
Ian's husband Adam had a couple of extra marital dalliances. Nasty Rob Titchener (he that was stabbed) was the one who 'accidentally' told Ian, by congratulating him on his open marriage iirc
Ah thanks. And it was mentioned in court?
And a few years ago Ruth nearly ran off with someone right? But then didn't? What was that all about?
Yes Ian was character witness for Hellin, they were best friends (before EA Rob came along)
Ruth did a bit of snogging with Sam the Cowman a few years back. They talked of running away together but she decided to stay put in Ambridge with David.
That was about 10 years ago.Ruth nearly had an affair with Sam the farm's herd manager. She came to her senses at the last minute. Sam left Ambridge without her.
I felt very sorry for David. He was still saddled with Ruth and lost a bloody good cowman in the process.
Thank you for this it's very helpful.
Now if you could just pop over to my house around 7 most evenings and stand next to the radio saying 'that's David, that's Kenton, that's Lillian' then that would be most helpful too.
hi op...i started listening about 3 yrs ago...and just picked it up as i went along. the mumsnet threads are great, people will always help with questions about back stories if you ask nicely. I think it is like learning a foreign language you need to just immerse yourself in it !!!
The bbc archers website has some background to the characters as well.
oh and i still sometimes find it hard to work out who is talking ...esp adam and david sound alike
Thered to my ears at least David sounds slightly more defeated and worn down than Adam. Adam is slightly posher and more strident.
No particular info to add at this point, but love that becoming a TA listener was one of the OPs long-held ambitions.
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