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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

If they must have teenagers in Ambridge...

First it's the policemen who get younger, then it's the casts of soap operas. On the occasions I accidentally watch Coronation Street these days it looks like an episode of "Footballers' Wives" set in a terraced house, so short are the skirts and sticky is the gel. Meanwhile, over on the radio, The Archers has gone youth-crazy and Ambridge is now the only rural community in Britain's pastoral wasteland where there seems to be a net inflow of young people, all busily occupied making their own cheese, launching marketing campaigns for the local milkman and looking for jobs. I keep waiting for one of them to say 'sod this, I'm going to the big city to get a telesales job and blag my way into a reality series'.

The most problematical of this gaggle of texters and bottled beer drinkers is Pip Archer, the teenage daughter of David and Ruth, the current occupants of the series's central farm. Because Archers writers are stranded between their desire to equip her with the plausible characteristics of an adolescent and their equal need to say the right things about wimmin and youngpeopletoday, they have made her bright enough to go to Oxford but timid enough to want to stay at home and run the family farm into the ground by pursuing the sort of loony tree-hugging policies that would make even Al Gore take her for a walk and give her a stern talking-to. They have given her a boyfriend but made him the sort of unbearable prude who elbowed her because she shows too much leg. I'm sure we've all met loads of 17-year-old boys like that.

If the Archers really want to depict a plausible teenager they should add her to the category some cartoonist used to call "Unseen Of Ambridge". She should be, like Pru Forest and Mr Pullen, a character who is referred to but rarely seen. That, in my experience, is the true defining characteristic of a teenager.

7 comments:

  1. forgive my lurid imagination but I had half a mind that she was being set up to be ambridge's token lesbian, boy friend trouble, mentions of best friend , late night lifts it was just a thought. Still better than the tedious jailbird Lillian story line or susan whining about the shop. Curiously after all these years the only truly likeable characters are the older grundies , linda snell and brian aldridge!!

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  2. Except, course, everyone is "Unseen of Ambridge" and when they are seen, in the Radio Times, it's a real shock because the actors NEVER look like the real people.

    What you meant was "Unheard of Ambridge" by Merrily Harpur, a work of imaginative meta-fiction genius!

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  3. I think the travails of Ambridge's teenage population would be best dealt with in a spin-off show called: 'The Archer's: After Dark,' to be broadcast after the watershed on Radio One.

    It would be like an audio version of 'Skins' where you have to imagine the nudity and the drug taking.

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  4. That's a very good idea. Starts with the Archers theme done by Pixie Lott. Lots of fumbling sounds. Script built around the word "like".

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  5. it would solve the problems at the shop as cider/alcopop sales would increase with endless sessions on the green, St Stephen's graveyard and if my friend who grew up in the country is to believe the roof of the electricity substation.

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  6. I can easily believe the roof of the substaion, as the warmth being beamed out to ease your drinking comfort outweighs any risk in a teenager's mind.

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  7. Thank goodness someone mentioned the title of Unheard of Ambridge - my memory is not what it was (and it was never much). Threeminutetheologian is right - it was genius and only spoilt when Jean Paul started actually appearing on the programme. And I'm afraid the idea of Snatch digging up bodies for Dr Thorogood's experiments beats most other ideas for a late night alternative Archers.

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