Academic Archers Fifth Annual Conference 2020: Call for Papers

Dr Cara Courage and Dr Nicola Headlam invite the submission of abstracts to the fifth Academic Archers annual conference on the subject of BBC Radio 4’s The Archers.

Academic Archers are an established experimental academic community where a cornucopia of insights are explored by Research Fellows (qualifications: committed listener) and professional academics (qualifications: university affiliation or independent scholar, broadly defined or specialist practitioner, and committed listener.) The conference is expected to be held over a February 2020 weekend, at a university venue close to London.

Academic Archers are methodologically heterodox and welcome emerging ideas in experimental format, conventional and bids for keynote speakers and submissions are invited from any academic discipline.


For this, our fifth annual conference, we seek presentations - with the broadest possible interpretation - on the conference themes of:

1 – Family dynamics: the psychology and business of family relations

For example:

·         How family dramas, inheritance politics and reversals of fortune keep us all hooked.

·         Family and Kinship in Borsetshire.

·         How the case for family therapy/ grief counselling/couples counselling has become unanswerable.

·         Family (business) planning – how not to do it?

·         Macro and micro power; how national politics affect family politics

This conference strand will be curated into a 2021 edited collection for Emerald Academic Press.


2 - Fandom as a prism

For example:

·         Using The Archers in teaching and/or research.

·         The online tribes of the wider The Archers firmament.

·         Salience in listener lives: why listeners form intimate relationships with The Archers characters.

·         ‘I listen but I’m not a fan’ identity in The Archers fandom.

This conference strand will be curated into a 2020 edited collection for Emerald Academic Press.


The two strands and examples are of course not an exhaustive or exclusive listing and we seek papers on any and all aspects of life in Ambridge.

We welcome wildcards, flights of fancy and suggestions from leftfield. We have accepted papers as films, podcasts, posters, photo-essays, as well as the gamut of quantitative and qualitative approaches, archival and imaginative methods. These topic and format lists are meant to inspire you to think how your academic research, sector professional expertise or listener forensic knowledge of The Archers can illuminate and explain life of The Archers and Ambridge.


What you can expect as a presenter is the most committed and engaged audience of your life, listening avidly with curiosity, generosity and joyfulness and probing with the most penetrating of questions.

What we expect of presenters is to be an active member of the Academic Archers community of practice, contributing to media coverage, blogposts, podcasts and other promotional activity as appropriate.


If you are a fellow The Archers fan and/or academic please submit your abstract of 200 words with a short biography to and by 1st September 2019. Please indicate the type of presentation you are intending (Quick Pitch, 5 mins, plus Q+A; paper, 15 mins plus 5 mins Q+A; keynote, 45 mins to include Q+A.)

Programming will be determined by an Academic Archers peer review panel made up of our listener research fellows (who give the most detailed of feedback!!)

Decisions will be communicated to presenters by mid-October.


AmbridgeFM is live!

Emily Baker and Dr Freya Jarman, the academics that brought you the inspired paper, Soundtrack to a stabbing: what Rob’s choice of music over dinner tells us about why he ended up spilling the custard, have launched AmbridgeFM online and on Twitter to carry on the conversation about the use of music in The Archers and what this can tell us about the characters and storylines. 

With the strapline 'Please listen carefully to our village' Barker and Jarman 'continue to track, ponder and share ideas about what on earth might be going on over the ‘airwaves’ of the Borsetshire village.'

Both based at the University of Liverpool, Baker and Jarman are a PhD student and lecturer respectively, with research interests in voice and vocality; theories of identity, bodies, sexuality, race and gender; Anglo-American popular music; opera; music production and songwriting.

Cara Courage Archers talk podcast

Dr Cara Courage talks of her pleasure/pain fan relationship with The Archers, in a talk called My BDSM Relationship with The Archers. This talk was first given at Brighton's Catalyst Club  in 2016 and now features as a podcast from The Odditorium

BDSM is used as a metaphor in the talk for the often pained, but very pleasurable, experience Cara has as a listener to The Archers - it doesn't contain any explicit sexual references, but does contain swearing and lots of innuendo. 

Conference proceedings on YouTube

A huge thanks due to the University of Lincoln team for the livestreaming of the conference, the use of their radio station for down the line interviews, and for the films of the sessions, now all on YouTube. 

Genteel Country Hobbies?: In the first session of the Academic Archers Conference 2017 Professor Carenza Lewis, Dr Nicola Headlam and Dr Cara Courage introduce the conference followed by Rachel J. Daniels & Annie Maddison Warren, Joanna Dobson, and Christine Michael present the topic genteel country hobbies.

Educating Ambridge: In the second session of day one of the Academic Archers Conference 2017 Madeleine Lefebvre, Jane Tuner and Dr. Grant Bage, and Felicity MacDonald-Smith discuss Educating Ambridge.

The Geography of Ambridge: In the third session of the Academic Archers Conference 2017 Dr. Angela Connelly, Fiona Gleed, and Tom Nicholls discuss the Geography of Ambridge.

Helen'n'Rob: Session four, part one, of the Academic Archers Conference 2017 looks at the relationship between Helen and Rob. Speakers include Katherine Runswick-Cole & Becky Wood, Amber Medland, Elizabeth Campion, and Dr Freya Jarman & Emily Baker.

Helen'n'Rob: Session four, part two, Dr. Caroline Taylor and Keynote, Professor Jennifer Brown, continue the discussion of Helen and Rob.

Power Relationships: In part one of session five of the Academic Archers Conference 2017 Dr. Alastair Goode & Dr Cara Courage, Louise Gillies & Helen M Burrows, and Dr Nicola Headlam examine Power Relationships.

Keynote, presented by Hannah Ratcliffe (Assistant Producer, BBC Radio 4, The Archers) and Jenny Thompson (Producer, BBC Radio 4, The Archers).

Bereavement and Spirituality: Session Six sees Revd. Dr Jonathan Hustler, Rosalind Janssen & Dr Ruth Heilbronn, and Jessica Meyer discuss Bereavement and Spirituality in Ambridge.

Ambridge Online: In the final session of the 2017 Academic Archers Conference Professor Lizzie Coles-Kemps & Professor Debi Ashenden, Olivia Vandyk, Jerome Turner, and Dr. Nicola Headlam & Dr. Cara Courage discuss Ambridge Online.