In their delightfully naïve and blundering way the crazed feminists who control the Archers made Alice Carter, the daughter of Brian Aldridge (who is the richest man in Ambridge), an engineer. Feminist message: women can be engineers just like men. Wildly improbable as that was, they then had her scratching around for an engineering job for ages before she found one close to home. This job was portrayed as boring, frustrating and completely unworthy of Alice’s engineering talents from the word go.
Despite this undistinguished and very meagre work background, Alice is suddenly “head-hunted” by a company from abroad. She decides to go to an interview in Canada with a view to moving to that country. The fact that she is newly married to Chris Carter who has recently acquired his own farrier’s business with the aid of a huge bank loan is presented as inconsequential. What matters to the Archers’ creators is that she is a career woman who needs to pursue her career and to hell with any other consideration, such as what is her husband going to do?
Alice arranges the interview in Canada whilst swearing blind to her husband that she is not looking for a job abroad. When Chris learns she is going and is allowed to make some complaint about her selfishness (the only Archers character allowed to do so unambiguously) , Alice sweeps aside his objections by saying he can come to Canada as well. Outrageously (in feminist eyes) Chris points out that he wants to live in Ambridge and, even if he didn’t, it would be next to impossible to sell the farrier’s business at a price to clear his loan. All to no avail as Alice heads to the land of the Maple Leaf. Feminist message: a woman’s career is more important than anything.
Being a regular male character is a risky business in the Archers. If they are not going gaga like Jack Woolley, they are plummeting to their death from a roof (Nigel Pargetter) or topping themselves with a shotgun like the gamekeeper Greg Turner. No sooner is Alice on her way to Canada than Chris is felled by a horse kicking him and he presently lies unconscious on a ventilator in hospital. Will he be Ambridge’s first quadriplegic requiring Alice to be his life-long nurse, will he remain in a permanent vegetative state visited for years by Alice who cannot leave Ambridge to get the job she wants or will he have the decency to die thus allowing Alice to head for Mountie country unencumbered by a man to pursue her career?
But it has not all been extreme feminist fantasy in recent months. There are signs that the ultimate politically correct wet dream which could be conceived for Ambridge is about to made soap opera flesh. The latest ethnic minority addition to Ambridge is Iftikar Shah. He has become the maths tutor for Freddie Pargetter and has rapidly advanced to a sort of step father in waiting figure. Iftikar has long intimate talks with him and with his mother, Elizabeth Pargetter, the widow of the unfortunate Nigel, who was suddenly deemed too posh for the Archers and was so ruthlessly dispatched. Iftikar is appearing in this role ever more frequently and has accompanied Elizabeth and the Pargetter children (Freddie and Lily) on their first group outing. It is a sound bet that the we are heading for another multiracial coupling in the Archer family with Elizabeth and Iftikar getting spliced before the year is out to the sound of church bells …er…the cry of the Muezzin. Iftikar being a Muslim would of course require Elizabeth to convert to Islam. Elizabeth is still just of childbearing age so we could of course expect the odd Mohammed and Fatima to come along in due course. The marriage would give not merely another multiracial tinge to the Archers but would mean that the de facto lord of the manor would be a Muslim.
But it has not all been about romance amongst the young and middle aged. Lillian Bellamy (who is nearing 70 in the context of the series) and the ineffably wet Paul have been keeping the flag flying for geriatric sex . This they have done by behaving like teenagers in their first passion, with acting of an ineptitude startling even for the Archers. The only glimmer of hope is that Paul may turn out to be a nutter and suddenly go on a murderous rampage. There are signs that this may be the case as he has a suppressed childlike impatience under the Uriah Heap façade. The pc message is of course the anti-age discrimination one of sex is for the old as well as the young.
The BBC wound up the Archer’s message board on 28th February. Could it be that they realised that the ever increasing amount of pc tosh they are offering would result in an unceasing and ever growing avalanche of ridicule and complaint?