The Archers: Nigel Pargetter is dead

Listeners' fears confirmed after character fell off roof in 60th anniversary episode

Nigel Pargetter is dead. The BBC has confirmed what millions of Archers fans suspected last night in a statement timed to coincide with the final seconds of tonight's episode of the world's longest-running radio soap opera.

Pargetter, played by Graham Seed for almost 30 years, was felled by the combination of a loose slate, a flapping happy new year banner on the roof of his home, and the need for a rousing climax to the special half-hour 60th anniversary episode, which the producers promised would "shake Ambridge to the core". It had been, the BBC said, "a tough decision".

Not nearly tough enough, many fans responded on websites: they had hoped for a gunfight between the feuding Grundy brothers, the death in childbirth of the dismal organic shop owner Helen, a conflagration at the Bull pub, or at least a mass outbreak of winter vomiting virus during Linda Snell's pantomime.

Instead listeners heard a piercing shriek as Pargetter slid off the roof of his stately home, after defying his wife's orders and yielding to the suggestion of his brother-in-law, David, that it would be a good time to take down the banner, in icy darkness in the middle of a family party.

The programme ended on a cliffhanger, or possibly a gutter hanger. However there was a clue to the outcome when the programme editor, Vanessa Whitburn, said on the Radio 4 Today programme: "There's a birth and a death – and that's quite iconic, I think." Then hastily corrected herself by saying there would be "a birth and a potential death".

Some fans, however, await a final, more inspired twist in the tale. "There is still a chance that Helen will die from MRSA," as Cagneystrilby posted hopefully on Archers Addicts, the BBC's fanclub site.


Maev Kennedy

The GuardianTramp

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