Grace Archer death in 1955


As an 'everyday story of country folk, 'The Archers' is the World's longest-running radio soap opera.

A pilot series began on May 29, 1950, broadcast just to the Midlands. This 'farming Dick Barton', with educational aims and an old maypole dance (Barwick Green) as a sig tune, was re-commissioned for a new series on the Light Programme (Later Home Service) from January 1st, 1951.

It remains to this day on the successor network, BBC Radio 4, amplified by omnibus and podcast.

To dare to interfere with this national institution would make the HS2 debate seem like an isolated cross word.

It is recorded in Birmingham; and this note is my last-ditch attempt to secure an invitation to visit for a recording, in pursuit of a topical blog. I'd bring gravel and coconut shells.

Fearing the arrival of commercial television in 1955, a huge plot was conjured up. The glamorous Grace Archer was to die in a fire. As heard here from BBC Written Archivist, Jacquie Kavanagh, it was H Rooney Pelletier, BBC Home Service Controller, who floated the idea.

It is fitting that in 2016, even with the benefit of much more rival entertainment than a single commercial TV channel, this great radio soap was again able to hit the headlines through a brilliant plot, expertly delivered - and amplified using the sort of social media which was but a dream at the time of the inception of the series.

about 5 years ago