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Like father like son

Tuesday, 19 April 2022

With his mad enthusiasms and unquenchable optimism, Freddy Pargetter sounds ever more like dad, the much missed Nigel. In his youthful days Nigel spent a lot of his time running around in a gorilla suit. I wouldn’t be remotely surprised to hear that Freddy had dug it out from some forgotten Lower Loxley drawer and was now sporting it himself.

Nigel played a big part in my early Ambridge life. At…

Cider Shed Dreams

Sunday, 6 March 2022

With the relentless demands of modern life, many of us dream of a finding a secret hideaway somewhere, a place where we can escape to and be ourselves for a while. For some residents of Ambridge there’s already such a place – Eddie Grundy’s Cider Shed.

No one outside the village can say for sure what it looks like. What we do know is that inside there are couple of old sofas, a bottled gas cooker…

Pip Archer - My part in her story

Friday, 11 February 2022

In trying to come up with storylines for the teenage Pip Archer, a character I didn’t know particularly well, I found inspiration in the story of a woman who’d taken up farming more than 70 years earlier.

Young Elizabeth Henderson served with the Women’s Land Army in the final year of World War Two. On her birthday her mother gave her what had become a surprise best-seller of…

Thank-you Stephen Fry

Friday, 28 January 2022

            Huge thanks to Stephen Fry for his great endorsement of my book, Underneath The Archers. Here’s what he wrote about it:

            ‘Any fan of The Archers will down this book in grateful glugs, like Eddie Grundy necking cider. As hilarious, charming, eccentric, informative, addictive and delightful as the show itself. But there’s a truly fascinating social and agricultural history…

A forgotten wartime drama

Thursday, 20 January 2022

This country church, high on a hill-top in Worcestershire, England, has had a long connection with The Archers. Back in 1951 the carol service in the show’s fictional St Stephen’s Church was recorded here. Then at Easter, 1955, an even bigger event took place – the wedding of young Philip Archer and Grace Fairbrother. It was a marriage destined to end in tragedy. Grace was killed trying to rescue…

Joy at Bridge Farm

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

            Delighted to hear Natasha and Tom are expecting twins. It’s 25 years now since Tom’s brother John was killed in a tragic tractor accident on the farm. It happened on Tom’s seventeenth birthday and to this day he’s been carrying a fair bit of mental baggage from that terrible event.

            Nothing’s going to take away the pain of that memory obviously. It’s the same for all the…

Young love in Ambridge

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Back in the 1980s I got the chance to write a week's trial episodes for the radio soap that had enthralled me since student days. I didn't think there was much chance it would lead to a permanent job but I was determined to give it a go.

            My storyline for the week included the first appearance of a young teenage girl who was destined to become one of the show's leading characters. Somehow…

A new direction for The Archers?

Tuesday, 10 August 2021

If I were Controller of Radio 4 right now I'd be very worried by the success of Clarkson's Farm over on Amazon Prime. For all his trade-mark buffoonery, the ageing boy racer shows us the reality of farming today. We share the setbacks, the frustrations, the triumphs and the delights of life on the land. And we get to meet a cast of country characters who are engaging and interesting, all with their…

Farming's what counts

Sunday, 1 August 2021

            Just lately there's been a lot of media clamour about the Amazon Prime series Clarkson's Farm. The former Top Gear presenter has brought his unique, anarchic style to the running of a farm – his own, as it happens. He plays the rich but clueless landowner whose basic mistakes provide endless laughs for the cast of country characters he surrounds himself with. They include Kaleb, the farm…

Our home on the land

Sunday, 18 July 2021

Funny the places environmental writing can take you. For me it started with a series of whistle-blowing articles on the destructive impact of industrial farming, with its habit of ripping out hedges and flattening woodlands. These I exposed fortnightly in my column for the satirical magazine Private Eye. That was nearly 40 years ago. Today I'm working on a TikTok drama about a new generation of young…

Re-wilding the fields

Sunday, 11 July 2021

 

I've been visiting a farm with so much wildlife you could easily imagine it to be a nature reserve. How's this for starters – 137 bird species, 40 butterfly species, 740 moth species. All officially recorded by expert naturalists. Amazing.

            But it isn't a reserve or even some new location for rewilding. It's a working commercial farm whose owner has as much need of…

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