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I have listened to the long-running radio drama, The Archers, since 1985 when a former boyfriend introduced me to the pleasures of the Sunday morning omnibus. A roll in the hay and buttered crumpets - the programme has fond associations. For 25 years I have devoted minutes of my life to the soap operatic tale of pig-farmers, country hoteliers, organic yoghurt-makers and the painful annual village pantomime. Therefore, I feel perfectly entitled to ask ...
... Why, O why, O why, O why did the most boring character in the 60 year history of The Archers - dull, dependable David Archer - insist that he and his brother-in-law, Nigel Pargeter, go clambering over the roof of Lower Loxley in the dark, in gusty blustery conditions when they'd both had a few drinks?
It was an accident waiting to happen.
And happen it did.
Nigel Pargeter fell off the roof with a blood-curdling scream - which has become a popular download for mobile phone ringtones - WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE? - and I am in pieces. Twice now between 7pm-7.15pm, I have had to stop what I was doing to give way to shoulder-shuddering sobs. This is very irritating because the whole point of The Archers is that one can listen to it whilst doing something else. In fact, if one isn't doing something else whilst listening to it, the programme is almost unbearable. And sobbing does not count as doing something else.
Now my friend, The Editor, is very cross about this falling off the roof fiasco. After weeks of teasers, rumours and frantic gossiping on Archers' Addicts forums across the world, the body count of one came as something of a disappointment.
'I don't mind so much the half-witted toff dying, but to have to listen to him be coaxed and goaded into clambering about on an icy roof in the pitch dark, and blowing a force 40 gale BY THE MOST ARSE-ACHINGLY SENSIBLE, MOST RISK-AVERSE CHARACTER who ever drew virtual breath in Ambridge is an insult to my intelligence and a waste of the little time I have left on this planet. That is all.'
There are any number of characters I'd have preferred to have shuffled off their mortal coil. In joint first place: Shula, Helen and Susan. Horrid, judgemental, selfish harpies. Then, in no particular order: Kathy Perks, Will Archer, Lizzie Pargeter, Rooooooooooth Archer, Pip Archer, Tom Archer, Brian Aldridge, Tony Archer, Kate Aldridge, Brenda - that's thirteen characters who could have been dipped in batter and fried alive and listeners would have cheered.
Vanessa Witless, the programme's editor - insisted that she had to get rid of a popular character in order to have an impact. I cannot see the logic in that myself. Indeed, I tried to think of a political analogy to make my point, but couldn't. (For obvious reasons.)
My only hope now is that after a charity polo match organised in Nigel's memory, the mini-bus containing Kathy, Will, Lizzie, Rooooooooooth, Brian and the rest, will be run off the road by an out-of-control Mister Snowy van, and burst into flames. Then, and only then, shall I be soothed.