Premature news of Nigel Pargetter's Ambridge death confirmed

Nigel Pargetter, one of best-known characters in The Archers, has died after accidentally falling from the roof of his stately home, Lower Loxley, listeners of the long-running BBC radio soap were told yesterday.

Millions of fans were broken the tragic news after Nigel, played by actor Graham Seed for nearly 30 years, lost his footing at his home while trying to take down a New Year's Eve banner at the end of a special 60th anniversary episode broadcast on Sunday night.

Also in the episode, which had been billed as having a storyline which would "shake Ambridge to the core", Helen Archer gave birth to a baby by emergency caesarean after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.

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Listeners were supposed to be kept in suspense as to whether Nigel had survived his fall, but the outcome was accidentally revealed by editor Vanessa Whitburn early yesterday in a radio interview. Fans officially heard of Nigel's death at 7pm.

Ms Whitburn said that it had been a "tough decision" to kill off one of the show's leading characters.

There had been an outcry among Archers' fans on Sunday night when the "shake Ambridge" storyline failed to impress many veteran listeners.

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