Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Archers and Private Passions

Since 1951 there has been a radio soap opera playing in Britain called The Archers. Every day, from Monday to Friday for 15 minutes, everything stops for a great number of people as they listen to the latest instalment on BBC Radio 4. My aunts and grandmother were very tied up in the farming saga of the little village of Ambridge. And so a few weeks ago, I was perusing the BBC Radio website and came across.... the Archers home page! I've been listening ever since and am getting quite caught up in excitement. I admit I'm 56 years behind, but even I trembled at the choice facing Jennifer: would she agree to raise her husband's child - the offspring of his affair now the other woman is tragically dying of cancer? Who will tell young Alice when her exams are over? Golly!

15 minutes is perfect. Enough time for a cup of tea and a Cardhu truffle. And why aren't there more radio plays? I love them! You can get on with other stuff while you listen. But they have to be good. The Archers isn't great radio theatre, but it's compulsive as most soaps are. What I do is listen once a week to the 75-minute omnibus edition on Sunday AND I have the episode synopses e-mailed to me each day. Yes... yes, you could say I'm hooked.

I also love listening to Private Passions on BBC Radio 3. The host is Michael Berkeley and each week he has an interesting guest come in to talk about their favourite music, their influences, etc. It's a bit like Desert Island Discs... except it's not. He had Liz Calder on last week, from Bloomsbury Press and she had all sorts of fantastic Brazilian music as her choices: mostly repertoire and musicians I'd not heard of. What a privilege to learn something new.

But now my guests are about to arrive (my place is finally clean!) and I'm going to hide the Cardhu!! Hee hee. Just kidding.... not.

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