Get your message across

When The Archers became available as a podcast, I was excited, simply from a podcasting fan’s point of view. Then I started listening, and was intrigued by the way radio soap is put together. The little things fascinated me – having to say character’s names more than you would in real life because they’re not always distinguishable by their voices, managing to make an entire 13 minutes listenable, despite very little happening, and clearly doing plenty of research into current and potential farming techniques.

That interest wore off after a while, but I’m still listening. I have no excuse for that; I guess I’ll just have to admit that I like it.

Anyway, I was looking at the website, checking up on the Who’s Who for details on a character (it’s been going so long that a new listener can often miss out on some vital history), and I stumbled across the message boards. I had a quick browse around and wasn’t that bothered. I don’t really like forums that much.

One of the boards is called Notes and Queries, and it’s a space for listeners to question the story, the details, the writers. A recent example would be a premature baby storyline. Listeners are saying that she can’t possibly be as premature as they’re telling us, because the conception dates just don’t add up. And let me tell you something, these people are adamant they’re right, and they want an admission of guilt.

The boards are monitored by a BBC employee, I think actually someone quite high up at the Archers, script editor, executive producer, something like that. He goes off, finds out the information people are asking for, and gets back to them. But, unfortunately, he was on holiday.

This made people mad.

Mistakes happen – although I think it’s very sloppy not to get this particular calculation right as it’s CRUCIAL to the premature birth storyline – but hey, mistakes happen, we all make them. What I find unacceptable is that now it’s been pointed out by listeners and an explanation asked for, none is forthcoming. Utter radio silence on the matter.

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Enjoyment of storyline is already ruined, I’m afraid, for me, at least. I appreciate that it cannot really be corrected at this stage in the game, but an apology/explanation from whoever failed to count the weeks properly wouldn’t go amiss.

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Sloppy, shoddy, and an insult to our intelligence, I’m afraid.
Really really really poor show.

Finally, we got our answer. The writers held their hands up and said they’d made a mistake with the dates, but as the storyline was so entrenched currently and for future plots, we have to grant them some artistic licence.

And to that I have two things to say:

1) The whole thing is artistic licence. It’s a soap. I never even bothered to work out the dates. Why would you? It’s about the dialogue, not the realism.

2) How amazing to have a programme actually interact with its fans? If you wrote to Corrie and said: “Wait, you know what? You’re wrong.” Do you really think you’d get a response?

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