I don't listen to the Archers anymore

Picture from the fabulous Plarchers on Twitter
I'm 50 years old, I've been listening to the Archers since I was about 18. When I was in my 20s a friend of mine went to Africa to do VSO and I recorded the Archers omnibus for her on tape every week to send out so she wouldn't miss it. You might say I'm a fan.

And then Rob happened.

The story line around Rob and Helen has had all the press coverage. It has been described as well written as 'a gripping drama' as 'realistic portrayal of domestic abuse' etc etc and all of that may be true, but I have had enough.

Rob has succeeded in making listeners sit up and take notice, his slow burning take on domestic coercion and control of first Helen and then her child, and now it seems even her family, made people think about relationships. His creeping control not only of Helen but of other people, his lying, his cheating (who can forget the cricket match) has probably enticed new listeners to the show.

But while he has been doing that the Archers has lost something, it has lost the story of other people, the country folk, the cows, the humour, all has taken a back seat. In every scene Rob enters the listener is on tenterhooks (much like Helen) what will he say?, what lie will he tell? where will his devious and malicious nature take us now?

He has, as a character, taken over the Archers. No one is safe from his meddling and his deceit.

I stopped listening because it's gone on too long. Arguing that real abuse goes on for a long time too is, I think, not the point. The Archers is not real life (ducks as eggs are thrown form the cheap seats). Rob has fulfilled his prupose, he has moved on from a subtle abuser and is not a fully fledged pantomime villain, to the extent that I want to hiss and boo as he appears stage right. He has shown what abuse is like, he has raised 'awareness' he has even spurred people to donate thousands of pounds to women like Helen. But enough is enough.

What started as a curious tale of growing control, has moved into what feels like voyeurism. To be forced to sit and listen each Sunday, helpless, has gone beyond entertainment, well beyond. I now feel complicit in Rob's treatment of Helen and I've had enough. So I have walked away. I'm lucky ot to be Helen, but I refuse to be Rob either.

I haven't listened to the Archers in over 4 weeks now, and it feels better but sad. I'm sad because I miss my Sunday morning tweet-along, and I'm angry that a program that used to be balanced between 'issues' and 'an every day story of farming folk' has turned into a drama ridden, over the top, soap of the worst kind.

Do you still listen? Pop over to my facebook page to chat about it!

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