Britain’s longest running soap has enjoyed a rather sleepy existence in the 62 years since its pilot, but Radio 4 listeners can expect radio soap The Archers to become “darker and bigger” in the next few years.
The man responsible for this devilish new approach is EastEnders boss John Yorke, who is the boss of BBC drama production as well as acting editor of The Archers.
A big fuss was made over Nigel Pargetter’s fatal rooftop fall a couple of years back and the show has seen its fair share of action of late, with Adam Macy hospitalised in a violent attack and David and Ruth Archer subjected to violent phone threats.
“You have to put your characters in jeopardy because it makes you love them more,” Yorke told the Radio Times.
“My thing has always been that every episode needs to have an arc and listeners should be left wanting more. You need a cliffhanger to drive the story in a new direction.”
Yorke oversees the Walford soap as well as a host of medical-based programmes including Holby City, Doctors and Casualty, took over the Ambridge radio soap in March and spoke of the need to respect the show’s style while tweaking the formula.
“The fundamentals of character and storyline being vital is the same. But The Archers moves at a slower pace than EastEnders, which is absolutely right. It’s an extraordinarily important programme to a lot of people and you don’t want to break it,” he said.
“It needs to follow the rhythms of everyday life, but you have to balance that against the demands of drama that things happen. I want it to feel like The Archers, but be as good as it can be.”