Thursday, 23 December 2010

The 60th Anniversary of 'The Archers......'

....and not a Catholic in sight!

An everyday story of Anglican folk....

Now, I am not an Archers fan (for those from beyond the shores of Cambria and Albion, this is a radio soap, a story about country folk) but I have noticed that it is the 6oth Anniversary of their first production. Congratulations to the Producers and the BBC, an all time winner.
But.....where are the Catholics? To my knowledge (and please correct me if I am wrong, I know you will), There has never been a Catholic character featured in this diary of rustic life. There have been Indian Solicitors, Geordie wives with the most appalling Geordie accents (but, then, all Geordie accents are appalling), there have been drunks, cheapskates, thieves, adulterers, fraudsters, homosexuals (yes, even the odd homosexual), women vicars, name it and they have all put in an appearance in the last half century plus ten; but never a Papist.
So what's wrong with us Romans then? I know we can't be king, queen or prime minister in Great Britain, or married to same, but surely there's room in Anglican Borsetshire for an odd RC or so?
Apparently not.
Never fear...I have a cunning plan. I am going to draft a new character(s) specification for the producer.....Beeb style. That way they could not possibly refuse to incorporate a Catholic element along with the harvesting, pig slaughtering and general serial flirtations that normally take place.

Here it is:-

New Character Profile:
From Producer to Casting Director:

"We need a Catholic presence, not overwhelmingly so, just a faint breath of Romish air filtering through the sileage fumes. I suggest the following.
Main character to be female, middle aged and of county stock. Dress style to be large voluminous blouses, flowing Laura Ashley skirts and straw boater. The sort of person I am looking for is an Auntie sort of figure, someone that the whole of Ambridge can relate to and confide in. She needs to be forthright and outspoken but firmly set in the chintzy, olde worlde English mode.
Maybe even referred to as "Auntie" possibly "Auntie Flo" or something a shade more upmarket; "Auntie Bee" has better connotations (bee in the bonnet type, get it?).
Auntie Bee needs to speak in a cosy, twee fashion, maybe leaving out the primary part of her sentences so she might say:
"To Borchester today to purchase provender for hubbie, snow flakes on the carriage windows minded me of icing the Christmas cake..... (more of the same). Sang carols to self throughout journey.....loved town decorations of neon reindeers errant over a luminescent Santa Claus..."
She needs to temper her Catholicism with a love for the C of E, especially gets on well with female vicar and they organise 'knit ins' together to provide native children in Zambia with woolly hats. Lots of ecumaniacal activity indulged in. Possibly should be a dog breeder, maybe pugs? Should speak in loud, strident tones, a bit like Mrs Antrobus on speed!
Husband to Auntie Bee needs to have a lesser profile, maybe a retired Army Major type...pipe smoker...still hankers after the military life. Often to be seen (heard) in The Bull holding forth. Tends to pause mid sentence, gaze into the distance and murmur..."When they come they'll advance up main street and storm the vicarage". (Has a hang up about Fundamentalist Muslims and how to deal with full frontal attacks). Still not sure how we stitch Ambridge into this scenario but it's topical."

Ah me, when will we ever see a Catholic influence in this series? Is it just too fanciful to let one's mind wander (maybe, in my case, rather too much!).
Trouble is, it just ain't that important - we can get along fine without any form of mandatory representation...but it would be rather  fine to have an Auntie Bee and, maybe an occasional cameo appearance of a Catholic Bishop - that would certainly be mind boggling!


  1. You are not the first to observe the absence of Catholics in The Archers and it is quite remarkable. Ambridge is set in the fictional county of Borsetshire which is supposed to be vaguely south of Birmingham between Worcestershire and Warwickshire- an area with a not undistinguished recusant history including both Gunpowder Plotters and heroic martyrs. It is the land of Shakespeare and Elgar....

  2. Patricius, yes, it is an area very rich in Recusant history with some fine examples of priest's holes in places such as Baddesley Clinton, my favourite and Coughton Court.

  3. Ruairi Donovan , Brians son by Siobhan Hathaway, is Catholic as was his late Mother (although as an adulteress not a role model!)
    Its not that suprising that the Catholic Church isnt a main part of the programme, neither are any of the other chapels and denominations.The Archers represents a fantasy England but is typical of many places and families (mine for instance before our conversion) were we knew very few practising Catholics and village life has always revolved around the church, the pub and the farms.It is typical of many places.