Knowing the love/hate relationship we have with those in Ambridge, the World Championship of Irritating Archers Characters 2018 caught our eye on Twitter this past week – so we asked its instigator, Andrew Camp (@arcamp1971) to blog on it for us.
At the time of posting, the Championship is into its second round – vote by following #wciac2018.
Although ‘The Archers’ has been, in some ways, part of my life since I was a small child, it is only since the digital age and the advent of podcasts, that I have been a compulsive listener. I loathe TV soaps and mini-series but radio drama often has me hooked and none so much as our daily visit to Ambridge.
However, it was only after discovering the Sunday morning ‘Tweetalong’ that I found like-minded people with whom I could discuss the programme. Without fail, I am reduced to fits of laughter by some of the irreverent Tweets made by various people about situations that arise in each episode. I love some of the put-downs of different characters, none so much as the following example on a recent show where Shula was asked where she would ‘be putting her cross’ in the forthcoming parish elections. A Tweeter, speaking on behalf of Shula responded with the delicious,
“I’m permanently nailed to mine.”
I also discovered the delightful weekly podcast, ‘Dum Tee Dum’ and eagerly await the often hilarious and mocking week’s review from the wonderful Lucy Freeman.
This got me thinking. ‘The Archers’ has a huge and loyal following of people of all ages and backgrounds. Yet the Tweetalong seems to prove one thing. So much of the show irritates us. We insult Lillian for her love of gin. We cringe every time Ruth speaks. We shake our heads in desperation every time Pip and Toby converse. Rarely an omnibus goes by without someone asking, ‘Is Peggy STILL alive?’ I made a list of characters I liked and disliked and the second column was almost twice as long. Yet, when I compared this to the opinions of others on Twitter, I found that just as many seemed to disagree with me as agreed. This then naturally led me to wonder which character irritated us the most.
The idea for the absurdly named, World Championship of Irritating Archers Characters came after seeing similar ‘events’ held by Richard Osman, of BBC1’s Pointless. He has run (for his several thousand followers) a number of ‘World Championships’ for subjects as diverse as crisps and Christmas songs. Shamelessly, I stole the idea and began this event. After a slow start, it now seems to be catching the Tweetalongers’ imagination and in just a few days, I have met some wonderful new friends and had some interesting conversations; not to mention being asked to write this article.
One thing that did concern me (and as such made me grateful to be able to write this blog) was that people may think I was having a go at the actors and the writers. This absolutely is not the case. I have nothing but total respect for everyone who contributes to ‘The Archers’ and wish I possessed even a tiny fraction of the talent they all display. This whole project is nothing more than an attempt at engaging with the wonderful people I speak to every Sunday morning, to embrace the irreverent nature of the hashtag group and maybe meet a few new people on the way.
Andrew R. Camp