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Interrogating the networks in Ambridge can lead to a focus on kinship and familial relationships or various other forms of power and authority. This chapter focusses on…
Interrogating the networks in Ambridge can lead to a focus on kinship and familial relationships or various other forms of power and authority. This chapter focusses on the ways that civil society networks are mobilised in the village, exploring how far they are orientated towards social stability and maintenance of the status quo or towards social change. These motivations have been subjected through the collection of vignettes into an innovative social forces analysis through which the internal and external motivations of women in volunteer and informal roles are categorised as being characterised by, variously, self-reliance solidaristic activism as characterised by Lady Bountiful/NIMBYism and lastly benign (p)maternalism. These motivations are all seen in the high levels of subtly gendered activity undertaken in the informal realm (beyond the structures of family or contractual relationships) whereby community power can truly be viewed as a form of ‘women’s work’.
This chapter explores the queasy relationship between food and sex on The Archers. For listeners, food provides an imaginative reference point; consumption of food hints…
This chapter explores the queasy relationship between food and sex on The Archers. For listeners, food provides an imaginative reference point; consumption of food hints towards characters embodiment and occupation of physical space. To the extent that these characters have boundaries, the way they approach and react to food reveals their rigidity or permeability, and the tones in which characters offer, provide, prepare, coax and force food upon one another tells us a lot about the sexual politics at play in Ambridge. In The Archers, women cook and men eat. Characters who rebel against this norm often subvert traditional masculinity in other ways.
Through close reading (and obsessive listening), this chapter analyses the ways in which food allows the relationships on The Archers to act as foils to one another. It also explores: food as metaphor; food used both to sustain and fortify the boundaries of the self and to besiege the ego boundaries of others; how characters are given weight in acoustic space; female emancipation; male helplessness; the hunger/satiety/aural claustrophobia of listeners.
The Archers is a much-loved soap opera which relies entirely on audio outputs: on actors speaking and listeners listening. Despite this, many silent characters populate…
The Archers is a much-loved soap opera which relies entirely on audio outputs: on actors speaking and listeners listening. Despite this, many silent characters populate the drama. In fact, from Rosaline in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Godot in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, and not forgetting Tracey the barmaid in Eastenders, silent characters have long played a crucial role in dramatic productions, an influence all the more acutely felt if they are unseen as well as unheard. Therefore, using key examples of silent characters, and with reference to Freda Fry in particular, I discuss the expanding role and influence of the silent characters in The Archers. In addition, by invoking philosophies of language and silence, I will suggest they have an influence and potency in the storylines that speaking actors should envy, and that Freda Fry reigns supreme over all others.
Gossip is part of everyday life and can play an important role in society. It has been part of human communication since we started to talk and is common to communities…
Gossip is part of everyday life and can play an important role in society. It has been part of human communication since we started to talk and is common to communities around the world. Evidence of gossip adorned the walls of ancient tombs in Egypt, and advice against gossiping can be found in the words of King Solomon in the Old Testament, in the theses of Greek philosophers, and in proverbs from all cultures. Yet gossip continues to be all around us, and most of our conversation time involves some form of it. Despite this, those who initiate gossip are often derided for being gossip mongers, and not without good reason. At its worst, gossip can destroy reputations and businesses, be used as a form of bullying, and cause a great deal of distress. In this chapter, however, I focus on why and how gossip is used and the purpose it serves in village life. Ambridge resident Susan Carter is a renowned gossip with high, unsubtle output compared to other villagers. I look at Susan's gossiping at both a psychosocial level and in terms of benefits she may gain. I also discuss gossip at the village level from two perspectives. I explore the importance of gossip to village life based upon peer reviewed literature, and relate these findings to the comings and goings of the residents of Ambridge. I then also look at how gossip is needed to relay storylines to the listeners. Finally, social media has helped to bring together Archers fans who like nothing more than to spend hours gossiping about their favourite villagers and berating Susan for her tittle-tattle. Yet The Archers wouldn't exist without gossip, so maybe we should be grateful to Susan and carry on gossiping.
In this chapter, we consider how the character of Rob Titchener has been developed in The Archers, moving him from hero of the hour to villain of the piece. We draw on a…
In this chapter, we consider how the character of Rob Titchener has been developed in The Archers, moving him from hero of the hour to villain of the piece. We draw on a critical disability studies’ perspective to argue that ability and disability have been crucial in turning the character of Rob from the desirable and attractive man who first arrived in the village into a national hate figure, despised by all. We begin this analysis by introducing critical disability studies and studies of ableism as fields of academic inquiry. We then draw on these resources to offer an analysis of the ways in which ability and disability were used as a narrative device to develop Rob’s character. We question the ways in which ability and disability are used to denote ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in the development of characters in cultural texts like The Archers, and end with a plea to scriptwriters to engage differently with dis/ability and to consider the impact of the stories we tell on the everyday lives of disabled people.