The Archers in Fact and Fiction

Academic Analyses of Life in Rural Borsetshire

by Cara Courage (Volume editor) Nicola Headlam (Volume editor) Peter Matthews (Volume editor)
Edited Collection VIII, 166 Pages


If you have ever wondered about the ethical implications of Dr Richard Locke’s affair with Shula Hebden Lloyd, or whether the ergonomic design of tractor seats could have prevented Tony Archer from getting a bad back, then this book is for you. Leading academics from across the United Kingdom use storylines from BBC Radio 4’s The Archers to examine life in rural Borsetshire, bringing their academic research to new audiences. Is Lynda Snell a middleclass warrior? Can Rob Titchener be compared to Iago? The irreverent but thought-provoking contributions
will have you laughing and thinking.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Figures
  • Introduction to Academic Archers: The Birth of a New Academic Community (Cara Courage / Nicola Headlam / Peter Matthews)
  • The Archers and its Listeners in the Twenty-First Century: Drama, Nostalgia and the Rural Everyday (Lyn Thomas)
  • References
  • Review by Rob Titchener, Blossom Hill Cottage, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • Rural Voices: What Can Borsetshire Tell Us About Accent Change? (William Barras)
  • Borsetshire’s Place in English Dialectology
  • Hyper-rhoticity: A Last Gasp of Traditional Borsetshire Speech?
  • Tracking Accent Change Over an Individual Speaker’s Lifetime
  • Future Research
  • References
  • Review by Shula Hebden Lloyd, The Stables, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • Tony Archer the Farmer: The Toll of Life as an Agricultural Worker and Changing Technology in Modern Farming (Neil Mansfield / Lauren Morgan)
  • Tony Archer’s Tractor
  • Farm Health and Safety
  • Technological Developments in Agriculture
  • References
  • Review by Ed Grundy, c/o Neil and Susan Carter, Ambridge View, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • Seeming, Seeming: Othello, The Archers and Rob Titchener (Abi Pattenden)
  • Introduction
  • Iago and Rob: Perceptive Exploiters
  • Reputation
  • Unforeseen Consequences
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
  • Revenge as Motivation
  • Manipulation to the Last
  • Reference
  • Review by Pat Archer, Bridge Farm, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • An Everyday Story of Dysfunctional Families: Using The Archers in Social Work Education (Helen M. Burrows)
  • Introduction
  • The Role and Structure of Social Work Education
  • So What Can The Archers Teach Social Workers About?
  • Learning from Narrative
  • The Role of Discussion in Developing Learning
  • A Final Point
  • References
  • Review by Kirsty Miller, Willow Farm, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • Dig The Archers: What Community Archaeological Excavations Can Achieve in Places like Ambridge (Carenza Lewis / Clemency Cooper)
  • Digging Ambridge
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Review by Jennifer Aldridge (transcript of interview conducted via Skype)
  • The Medieval World of The Archers, William Morris and the Problem with Class Struggle (Philippa Byrne)
  • Introduction
  • William Morris’s Middle Ages
  • Meaningful Labour, Meaningless Work
  • Rome and Route B
  • References
  • Review by Professor Jim Lloyd (University of Stirling, retired), Greenacres, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • Mapping Ambridge (Chris Perkins)
  • The History of Mapping Ambridge
  • Using the Maps
  • Missing from Ambridge …
  • Conclusions
  • References
  • Review by Jennifer Aldridge, Home Farm, Ambridge
  • Lynda Snell, Class Warrior: Social Class and Community Activism in Rural Borsetshire (Peter Matthews)
  • Community Activism as Classed Practice
  • Lynda Snell is Middle Class
  • Lynda Snell as Place-maker
  • Lynda Snell as Class Warrior
  • References
  • Review by Lynda Snell, Ambridge Hall, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • The Death of Heather Pritchard: An Everyday Story of Inadequate Social Care (Jo Moriarty)
  • Social Networks and Ageing
  • Social Care: What It Is and Who Pays For It
  • Joe, Heather and the Care Act 2014
  • ‘Ageing in Place’
  • Discussion
  • References
  • Review by Ruth Archer, Bridge Farm, Ambridge
  • From Dr Locke’s Boundaries to Carol’s Confession: On Medical Ethics in The Archers (Deborah Bowman)
  • Whither Medical Ethics in The Archers?
  • Dr Richard Locke and the Problem of Boundaries
  • Carol’s Confession
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Review by Dr Richard Locke, Keeper’s Cottage, Ambridge
  • Cider with Grundy: On the Community Orchard in Ambridge (Samantha Walton)
  • Cider with Grundy
  • Romanticism
  • Georgic
  • Save Our Orchards!
  • Pastoral
  • New Traditions
  • References
  • Review by Professor Jim Lloyd (University of Stirling, retired), Greenacres, Ambridge, Borsetshire
  • The Dis/appearance of Disability in The Archers … or Why Bethany had to go to Birmingham (Katherine Runswick-Cole)
  • An Introduction to (Critical) Disability Studies
  • Enter Critical Disability Studies
  • Cultural Studies and Narrative Prosthesis
  • Narrative Prosthesis and The Archers
  • Darrell Makepeace
  • Dan Hebden Lloyd
  • And so Bethany had to go to Birmingham …
  • Conclusion
  • Acknowledgements
  • References
  • Review by Vicky Tucker, Birmingham
  • Conclusion: Academic Archers as a Fine-Detailed, Open, Cross-Disciplinary Space (Nicola Headlam / Cara Courage / Peter Matthews)
  • Twitterati
  • Podcasts
  • Editors and Scriptwriters
  • Helen and Rob
  • References
  • Review by Elizabeth Pargetter, Lower Loxley Hall, Am Vale, Borsetshire
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index of Archers Characters

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Figure 1 A comparative vowel plot generated from recordings of Judy Bennett playing Shula Archer/Shula Hebden Lloyd in 1975 and 2015. Plot generated using the NORM online suite (Thomas and Kendall 2007).

Figure 2 A modern 110 HP tractor (left) and a farmer attaching an implement to the PTO (right).

Figure 3 The ‘Land Girl’ posture is still used in modern tractors where controls are still located behind the driver.

Figure 4 Fatalities in the agriculture, forestry and fishing sector 2010/11–2014/15 (data from the HSE).

Figure 5 A survey of expert opinion on back pain in agriculture: shaded areas indicate where less than 40 per cent of experts predicted discomfort under the different exposure combinations (Posture Experts (PE), n = 35; Vibration Experts (VE), n = 13; Operator (Farming) Experts (OE), n = 22). Figure reproduced from Morgan and Mansfield (2014) with permission.

Figure 6 Expert opinion of common recommendations for reducing risk for lower back pain from occupational exposures with trunk rotation and WBV exposure: (Operator (Farming) Experts (OE), n = 23; Vibration Experts (VE), n = 13; Posture Experts (PE), n = 9). Figure reproduced from Morgan and Mansfield (2014) with permission.

Figure 7 Ambridge test pits 2016.

Figure 8 Prehistoric (800,000 BC–43 AD) finds in Ambridge (left). Roman (43 AD–410 AD) finds in Ambridge (right). ← vii | viii →

Figure 9 Early Anglo-Saxon (mid-fifth–eighth century AD) finds in Ambridge (left). Late Anglo-Saxon (ninth–eleventh century AD) finds in Ambridge (right).

Figure 10 High Medieval (twelfth–mid-fourteenth century AD) finds in Ambridge.

Figure 11 Late Medieval (mid-fourteenth–mid-sixteenth century AD) finds in Ambridge (left). Post-Medieval (late sixteenth–late eighteenth century AD) finds in Ambridge (right).

Figure 12 Victorian finds in Ambridge.

Figure 13 Ambridge in 1975 from Jock Gallagher’s Twenty-Five Years of The Archers: Who’s Who in Ambridge (London: BBC Books, 1975).

Figure 14 Ambridge in 2000 from Ambridge & Borchester District: The Definitive Map of the Archers on BBC Radio 4 (Dorchester: Magnetic North for the BBC, 2000).

Figure 15 The Ambridge floods of 2015 (montage of mapping from the BBC website).

Figure 16 The sheep on Lakey Hill (extract from map frontispiece to William Smethurst’s The Archers: The First Thirty Years (London: Eyre Methuen, 1980).

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Introduction to Academic Archers: The Birth of a New Academic Community

On Wednesday 17 February 2016, around one hundred people met in a lecture theatre in central London for an academic seminar with a difference. The first difference was that most of the day was spent laughing uproariously. The second difference was the conference stopped at 2pm to listen to the broadcast of The Archers – the world’s longest-running soap opera – on BBC Radio 4. In fact the whole day was devoted to this ‘everyday story of country folk’, or the ‘contemporary drama in a rural setting’ as it is more recently described.


VIII, 166
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (October)
Radio drama, soap opera and media Research communities and impact The Archers, Radio 4 and listenership radio drama Radio 4 The Archers Radio
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien, 2017. VIII, 166 pp., 2 b/w ill., 14 fig.

Biographical notes

Cara Courage (Volume editor) Nicola Headlam (Volume editor) Peter Matthews (Volume editor)

Cara Courage is an urban arts and placemaking researcher and practitioner. Nicola Headlam is a Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Peter Matthews is a Senior Lecturer in Social Policy at the University of Stirling.


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176 pages