Dark clouds hang over ‘Archers’ in story shift

The new man at the helm of The Archers has said there are some “darker and bigger” storylines to come in the long-running rural radio soap.

John Yorke, a former executive producer of EastEnders, stepped in as acting editor after the editor for 21 years, Vanessa Whitburn, took a break.

He told Radio Times: “You have to put your characters in jeopardy because it makes you love them more.

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“My thing has always been that every episode needs to have an arc and listeners should be left wanting more. You need a cliff-hanger to drive the story in a new direction.”

And he said there was “more to come” in Ruth and David Archer’s storyline, which has seen them receive threatening phone calls.

He said: “It’s going to get darker and bigger. Shows are always about triumph over adversity.

“But you can only afford to do something like this about once a year. Otherwise it would get implausible. The strength of The Archers is in its detail. The seasonal rhythms of agriculture, the floral competitions – those things are vital.”

The Archers is the world’s longest running radio soap, with more than 16,700 episodes. It is the most listened to non-news programme on Radio 4, with more than five million listeners.

It marked its 60th anniversary on 1 January last year with a special episode that saw character Nigel Pargetter fall to his death from the roof of Lower Loxley Hall. Billed as a storyline that would “shake Ambridge to the core”, it was widely seen as an unnecessary anti-climax .

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