Charlotte Higgins on The Archers: the hot tub scenes are radio at its most icky

Agonising double entendres such as ‘You look like a man with a large adjustable wrench’ make you yearn for turnip content, frankly

Well, there we are: with considerable dignity, and after much agonising, Chelsea Horrobin has had a termination – the first in Ambridge since dastardly Cameron Fraser abandoned a pregnant Elizabeth Archer at a motorway service station in 1992. On the other hand Ben Archer, with whom Chelsea had sex at this summer’s “Ambridge rave”, has exploded (cue actual sounds of smashing crockery) from the psychic contradiction of being a fundamentally nice guy who’s caused everyone around him a world of pain. He’s chucked out his girlfriend Beth (doesn’t deserve her, etc) and I fully expect him to break up with his similarly named collie, Bess, on related grounds.

At Brookfield, Jill and her paramour, Leonard, decorated the spare room ready for its first B&B guests, thoughtfully furnishing it with a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, a novel strongly deprecated by Pip Archer, who believed it might be by the author of that “depressing” one with Cathy and Heathcliff in it. No, Pip, it’s an early feminist classic by Emily Brontë’s sister, Anne, about a woman living in a village with her young child in seclusion from the dissolute father. I’d pop it on your reading list if I were you.

I wish I did not have to mention the icky goings-on around the hot tub on the Beechwood Estate, recently installed by Joy and her new (and in my view untrustworthy) squeeze, Mick. Poor Helen Archer and her boyfriend Lee found themselves awkwardly sharing said tub; we are led to understand that Mick is large of girth and small of Speedos. There has been much in the way of painful double entendres. “You look like a man with a large adjustable wrench,” etc. This makes one long for turnip and silage content, on the whole.

What is Clarrie Grundy’s favourite ever film? Shaun the Sheep? Good try. Could she be a fan of Days of Heaven, the Terrence Malick masterpiece set among seasonal workers on a Texan farm? Or God’s Own Country, that tale of gay passion in the frozen lambing sheds of rural Yorkshire? I am afraid to break it to you that it is, of course, Love Actually, and I can just see Clarrie snivelling into her hankie as Emma Thompson bravely smooths the marital bedspread so foully besmirched by a philandering Alan Rickman.

Over at Lower Loxley, a man who you knew was wearing a bow tie just from the sound of his voice bought Russ’s portrait of Lily Pargetter for a grand. It’s hard to tell what Russ’s art is like from the radio, but if he’s a “genius” as claimed, the Borsetshire art market is stuck in another millennium, let alone a parallel universe.



Contributor

Charlotte Higgins

The GuardianTramp

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