Radio review: A month in Ambridge

Now and then, there are those who dare to suggest that The Archers is boring. But what about the hitmen? And the incest? And Lilian's tempestuous interior decor choices?

Matt has taken Lilian on holiday to Montenegro, having thought better of his earlier plan to take her to Istanbul. Look out for them sharing cocktails for two in some secluded rendezvous. You can't miss them. He will have his hands round her throat.

It's a gripping story. Gather round. Lilian has been having a clandestine affair with Matt's brother, Paul, who died quite suddenly after a menacing visit from Matt's hitman Mikey. "Wot!" said Matt, spilling his whisky with surprise. "I told you I only wanted him scared!" Mikey may have only been supposed to blow the bloody doors off, but Paul is a write-off, right enough.

You seem surprised. You thought Ambridge was a haven of peace, particularly since the church organ broke down. On Channel 4's Cooks recently Simon Hopkinson, showing us how to make a crème caramel, specified perfect calm on the part of the cook. "Don't," he urged, "get too excited by The Archers!" I am afraid it was a dig at Ambridge's legendary dullness. Little does he know it is a sink of incestuous sex and fratricide. Little does Lilian know that Matt was always aware of her affair. Little did Matt know that Paul had a dicky ticker. There is a lot of little-did about.

It would, indeed, be difficult to concentrate on crème caramel without curdling it. What with Lilian sobbing inconsolably on Jolene's ample and, increasingly, damp bosom and Matt cruelly twisting her tail and wringing her withers. Their stormy mood is reflected in the colours Lilian has chosen for the flats she and Matt are developing ("Cloudy Day" and "Angry Sky"). It makes you increasingly grateful you didn't buy one off-plan.

People who annoy Matt tend to die suddenly, slightly to his surprise. Paul was one; old Arthur, a troublesome tenant, another. If you want to follow the palpitations of Matt and Lilian's holiday, you'll find them on Ambridge Extra (Radio 4 Extra) next Tuesday. Don't pretend you're not tempted.

Contributor

Nancy Banks-Smith

The GuardianTramp

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