I can only imagine that it must have been a bewildering month for Archers listeners of less than, oh, a decade’s standing. Who is this woman, they would be justified in asking, who has declared herself the longstanding manager of Grey Gables only, in fact, to announce her intention of quitting that defunct institution to fly to Alaska?
Ah yes, sigh the Archers old-timers. Kathy Perks. Last uttered a word in 2015 – since when, notwithstanding events such as Gray Gables’ explosion, she has lurked in the stationery cupboard apparently on an extended silent protest. Back in the day, she was married to the landlord of the Bull, Sid Perks, before he had an affair with Jolene (the occasion of a “sexy” game of hunt-the-soap, one of the ickiest moments in the history of Radio 4). Kathy herself had an affair with the village copper – no, not Harrison, the one before, Dave Barry. Then she went out with Kenton, who’s now with Jolene. Keep up, won’t you?
As Tammy Wynette so wisely opined, “I wish that we could stop this D-I-V-O-R-C-E”. Chris and Alice’s uncoupling continues painfully, with the rapidly degenerating relations between the parties flavoured with greed, class resentment and regret. Neil, Chris’s father, is framing it as a battle between value systems. Is baby Martha best raised among the overprivileged polluters, adulterers and narcissists of Home Farm? Or by decent, hardworking folk such as the Carter-Horrobin dynasty? Things aren’t so black-and-white, though: Adam and Ian are all right, sort of, and Jenny Aldridge, though she has her blind spots, is surely tinged with saintliness.
Things are going pretty badly for Tracy Horrobin: Grey Gables’ closure has put her out of a job, along with the rest of the workforce except Roy, a fact that has earned his car the thoughtful inscription “Judas”, applied by a mystery graffitist. Now Tracy’s car, though ungraffitied, is on the blink, and she’s even less likely to find work till she can get hold of the money to fix it. Jazzer’s sold his tarantula, Webster, so he can move into Casa Horrobin and share the bills. Why hasn’t vicar Alan already set up a food bank in inflation- and cost-of-living-crisis-hit Ambridge? Tracy’s going to need one – in the short term, anyway. My crystal ball tells me that divorce will mark the breaking up of Home Farm, and the end of the hegemony of the Aldridges. The wheel of fortune will turn, the mighty will be cast down, the humble raised up, Chelsea will become a celebrity hairdresser with her own haircare range and lo! Mia will be the first of the Grundys to go to university.