The Archers is the world’s longest running daily radio drama serial, having been on the air since the '50s and today, is set to hit a major milestone.
This evening's (Friday 9th June 2023) episode, which will be broadcast at 7pm on BBC Radio 4, will be the programme's 20,000th episode, and it seems as though it's only the beginning for the long-running drama.
Speaking about the milestone, The Archers editor Jeremy Howe said: “When we despatched the scripts for the 20,000th episode of The Archers I wrote a note to the cast saying this milestone is both exhilarating and humbling.
"In that time, we have lived whole lifespans with our characters, seen births and deaths, marriages and break-ups, farms prosper and farms go to the wall.
"It is like life with its sorrows and happiness, but unlike life, the 20,000th episode of the Archers is just the beginning. Here’s to the next 20,000 episodes.”
The show was created by Godfrey Baseley and is set in the fictional county of Borsetshire, where the titular Archer family work on their farm and the drama giving us a window into the daily life of Britain’s favourite village.
It's safe to say that The Archers continues to enthral audiences as much today as it did when it was first heard back in 1951.
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Over the years, the drama has tackled multiple thought-provoking storylines, so there's no guessing what could be in store for listeners in the future. It's become known for its authenticity and knack for delving into the gritty side of things, with some of The Archers' most talked-about moments including Helen Archer and Rob Titchener's domestic abuse storyline.
The plot ran between 2013 and 2016 and culminated in Helen stabbing Rob and giving birth to their son Jack while on remand in prison. The story led to the ‘Solidari-tea’ campaign and made national news headlines but of course, Rob’s return just this past April is still a pressing storyline today.
Other notable storylines include Jim Lloyd’s historic sexual abuse and his recovery in 2019, as well as the modern day slavery plot which featured Philip Moss and his son, Gavin, from 2019 through to 2021. Lest we forget the more recent "off-screen" death of Jennifer Aldridge (played by Angela Piper) that left many fans devastated by the development.
While the series has historically been dedicated to reflect the realities of agricultural matters, more recently The Archers still employs a Farming and Countryside Advisor (Sybil Ruscoe) to ensure that the farming community and its concerns, both locally and nationally, remain at the heart of the show, with many of the storylines continuing to reflect this.
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Of course, the show has also been home to a famous voice or two with the likes of Dame Judi Dench and Queen Camilla having appeared, as well as more recently, Rylan Clark to mark Eurovision 2023.
The Archers is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 7pm Sundays to Fridays, with an Omnibus edition on Sundays at 10am, and is available to listen on BBC Sounds.
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