Age in Ambridge is a remarkably flexible quality. Take Lillian Bellamy. The character has a 40 year-old son whom she bore to her second husband when she was in her late twenties. In real life years she would be pushing 70 and be reduced by the depredations of age to at least a moderately sedate life and quite probably a distinctly slow one.
Not so in the Archers. In Ambridge being in one’s eighth decade is no bar to conducting sexual encounters in a way which would be deeply embarrassing in a teenager. Lillian has an affair with Paul, the half-brother of her partner, property developer cockney wide boy Matt Crawford. This involves innumerable lovers’ tiffs, making up and some heroically unconvincing sex played out against some distinctly disturbing sound effects.
When Paul conveniently dies, Matt Crawford, takes Lillian off to Istanbul. There he becomes involved with a Russian who claims to be a property developer. After a quarrel, Lillian leaves for home while Matt goes off to St Petersburg with the Russian. There the supposedly hardnosed businessman hands over virtually all his capital to the Russian as an investment in a large property development. The Russian later claims he has passed the money to another Russian who has made off with it leaving Matt broke. Crawford, whose age is never explicitly given but who presumably is in the same approximate age group as Lillian, implausibly proceeds to beat up the young Russian who lost or embezzled his money .
Around the same time as Matt is heading for Russia, Brenda Tucker, having broken up with Tom Archer, leaves Amside, the property company in Ambridge run by Matt and Lillian. Matt persuades her to come to St Petersburg to act as his PA while he is making the property deal which turns out to be bogus. She has barely set foot in the place when she finds herself the boyfriend of a billionaire Russian oligarch, Dmitri. He , remarkably for a Russian oligarch, is young and devastatingly good looking and could have his pick of any woman he wanted. Despite this he apparently falls head-over-heels for Brenda , who can’t be a day under thirty and has a terminally irritating perpetually whining personality.
The story at the moment has Matt and Brenda back in London with Matt shacked up in a cheap hotel and Brenda staying in a flat owned by Dmitri. Matt is still trying to track down his money. The Russian who supposedly has his money has been found murdered. What next? Ambridge’s first murder as either Matt kills someone or is murdered himself?
But implausibility does not have to be such high octane stuff in Archerland . In Ambridge age can be ignored in any number of circumstances. Joe Grundy is well into his nineties yet continues to drive his pony and trap, garden, scheme and drink copiously. Peggy Archer, approaching her nineties, is still sticking her nose into other people’s business with the same vigour she displayed thirty years ago; octogenarian Jill Archer still indefatigably races around organising all and sundry; men in their sixties such as Eddie Grundy, Neil Carter and Mike Tucker are still performing the type of heavy manual work which would be demanding of someone in their twenties; Jennifer Aldridge, nearer 70 than sixty is hands-on bringing up a young boy (the bastard son of her husband Brian) while Brian, who is older than her, is still taking his turn in the lambing shed and on the tractor and combine harvester in between arranging high pressure business deals revolving around agri-business.
As those of us at the more senior end of the age spectrum can vouch for the fact that drinking heavily becomes less and less of a viable proposition as one moves into old age. Not so in Ambridge. It is not only Joe Grundy amongst Ambridge’s senior citizens who indulges in regular drinking bouts without any seemingly ill effects. Lillian is an alcoholic, smokes likes a chimney, seventy-odd years old , but despite this is running a business, engaging in passionate affairs. Generally she is represented as being as fit as a flea. One might also ask where the poorer Ambridge characters manage to fund their drinking.
Along with their remarkable physical capacities goes a seemingly perpetual state of sexual attraction. The women of Ambridge whether teenagers or in receipt of their old age pensions are perpetually concerned with their looks (a grand irony in view of the control of the series having been in the hands of crazed feminists for yonks) and spend immense amounts of airtime worrying about their “relationships” as though they were in the first flush of youth. Strangely, again because of the crazed feminists, while there are male homosexual relationships in the Archers there has been no girl-on-girl action.
Ambridge is truly a remarkable place, resembling one of those remote Bactrian or South American parts where there are reputedly vigorous 150-year-olds.