Friday, January 7, 2011

a vital medium

For completely selfish reasons, we are obsessed around these parts with contemporary audio drama. As we branch out (with fits and starts, mostly fits) into multi-character scripted podcasts (you'll hear them someday, we promise...) any news about radio dramas created after 1960 fascinate us.

Which makes our belated discovery into the Archers, BBC Radio's 60-year-plus-long serial all the more shocking on multiple counts. To begin with, Anglophiles though we are, we had no idea this existed. Additionally, their bombshell of an anniversary program has come across as a bit of a damp squib:
We were promised controversial storylines that would "shake Ambridge to its core" for the 60th anniversary double-length episode of The Archers.

Flabbers, we understood, would be well and truly gasted, as the world's longest-running soap finally revealed the plot developments in the fictional village of Ambridge that had been so carefully guarded against spoilers or leaks.

Speculation was rife on Facebook, Twitter and the programme's messageboard about possible twists and shocks. Some fans had a lighthearted wishlist of maddening characters they would like wiped out or abducted by aliens.

But most sieved through clues and likely red herrings in the weeks leading to the landmark episode of Radio 4's most popular non-news programme, and came up with some core-shaking likely options: a fraternal shoot-out between the Grundy brothers; a devastating fire or building collapse; the death of Helen Archer or her donor IVF baby during labour; the demise of stressed Tony Archer, possibly under a tractor like his eldest son, John; or the wiping out of one of the key couples in the rural drama. In the end, a woman had a baby and a man fell off a roof.

Online discussions instantly roared "Is that it?" and it was hard not to concur.
That's even more shocking. Yes, it's amazing that you're still on the air -- especially since here in the states radio drama fans have been reduced to Suspense reruns on satellite radio or execrable contemporary content.

But the fact that people are outraged, let alone paying attention? There's some life in the old filly yet.

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