What a remarkable place is Ambridge. In an England experiencing normal rather dry winter weather Ambridge is in currently in the grip of what one can only imagine is a monsoon that has escaped from the tropics and miraculously arrived in a very small part of the English midlands to produce the Great Ambridge Flood as the latest in the radio soap’s increasingly improbable storylines .
In its long history The Archers has provided ready satirical fare amongst which has been frequent imaginings of an end to the world’s longest running radio serial through some catastrophe such as the village being wiped out by bubonic plague or the entire cast of characters being abducted by Aliens. The Great Ambridge Flood has much the same improbable flavour as that generated by such scenarios, with central characters are placed in danger with reckless abandon. As I write a great swathe of characters are now homeless.
The Great Ambridge Flood comes on top of a growing mountain of wildly unconvincing plots, the biscuit being taken when the stronghold of the Archer family Brookfield farm was to be sold for no convincing reason and David and Ruth Archer plus their children moved 200 miles away to the North East of England. This was supposedly because of the road which was scheduled to divide the farm in two and because Ruth’s mother was becoming unable to fend for herself in Geordieland. This was a risibly insufficient reason for such a fundamental move, not least because the road going through the farm is still subject to appeal.
The sudden volte face by David Archer who decides to go back on the sale of the farm to the property developer Justin Elliott for £7 million after he has a Damascene moment when he imagines the ghost of his dead father is talking to him was even more improbable. Suddenly the fact that the farm might have a road running through it does not seem so bad and the chance of stopping the development changes from hopeless to possible. Nor is the fact that in real life the cancellation of the sale would have resulted in horrendous financial penalties seemingly of any great consequence.
A much more plausible and satisfying plot about Brookfield would have been David and Ruth fighting the proposed road to the end with its building being thwarted when Justin Elliot and his cronies are exposed as having bribed council officials and councillors to agree to the route for the road to further their development plans.
In amongst this dramatic carnage earlier story lines than the abortive sale of Ambridge have continued to make of Ambridge an ever swirling kaleidoscope of broken relationships, personal disaster and antisocial incidents. Shula Archer has perjured herself by lying to the police about an assault committed by the exceptionally controlling sociopath from central casting Rob Titchener, Helen Archer is pathetically interpreting Titchener’s comically controlling ways as just concern for her and her son, the Elizabeth Pargetter – Roy Tucker – Hayley Tucker triangle has reached the point of Hayley asking for a divorce from Roy and the politically correct flag has been waved vigorously with the introduction of a gay sex triangle as Adam Macey is working up to dump Ian for Charlie Thomas. Strangely, for such a monument to political correctness, there is yet to be some girl-on-girl action. Could it be that…no surely not…
Topping all the improbable stories is that of Lillian Bellamy and Matt Crawford. Crawford, whose last major appearance in the serial involved him getting involved with the Russian mafia in Russia, has suddenly done a runner with as much of Lillian’s fortune as he has been able to lay his hands on. This has occurred without any hint of trouble between the couple before Crawford fled and absolutely no explanation since.
What next for the Archers? How about a Midwitch Cuckoos visitation with all the females of breeding age giving birth to alien children? Well, that would be no more improbable than the tosh which has been served up for the past few years.