I bought this tea towel from the BBC Radio Leicester shop. When I bought it, Radio Leicester had recently moved premises; the building was a few minutes from my office and if I ever needed to get away from the office the Radio Leicester shop was a place to go. The Radio Leicester new building was an Open Space with meeting rooms, gallery space, cafe and glass fronted recording studios where you can watch radio programmes being broadcast. In the front of the building was the BBC shop. It is one of those shops that I always want to spend time in, wandering around, seeing if there are any bargains or offers; if I was not strong willed I’d be spending a fortune. I love looking at the DVD collections of old BBC TV programmes like the Vicar of Dibley (a serious favourite of mine), House of Elliott (a great series), the Sweeney, Minder, Touch of Frost, Morse; there are those programmes that I had completely forgotten like George and Mildred and On the Buses. The BBC shop sells all the ‘Coffee Table’ books based on BBC programmes: David Attenborough series, Michael Palin series etc. They have a wide range of audio books; my favourites are always the Francis Durbridge series which are great on long journeys. But, of course, also on sale are the Archers Memorabilia including this tea towel.
The Archers tea towel is a ‘must have’ for me. The Archers is the longest running radio serial in the world; it began in 1951. Each episode is 15 minutes every weekday, with the omnibus edition on a Sunday. I have listened to the Archers for as long as I remember. There are periods in my life when I have not listened to it but always return. The Archers started as a means of encouraging the farming community to keep up to date with changes in farming, almost as a form of propaganda; it’s strap line was ‘everyday story of country folk’. Farming and agriculture were vitally important to Britain after the Second World War and in 1951 many goods were still rationed. The Archers was an important programme and in so doing became an institution.
The Archers tea towel reminds me of all the people I have shared a love of the Archers with – my grandmother, my father, Dave, John, Lynn and Liz. It’s no good, there is something special about having an Archers conversation, like we are talking about family or friends. People who are Archers fans are fans for life. Can you remember Grace dying in the fire? or Mrs Antrobus going into a residential home? or Jack gradually developing dementia? or Neil Carter getting Weill’s Disease? or Elisabeth Archer running away from boarding school? or Daniel Archer having Still’s Disease? or Walter Gabriel and his son Nelson who set up a wine bar? or all those characters, we thought the Archers couldn’t survive without, dying like Dan and Doris Archer, Sid Perks, Nigel Pargitter and all the others but it still continues. People ask whether the Archers can continue for the next 10 years. I can’t think of life without it.
When I look at the tea towel it has some great recipes reflecting the different story lines: there is Phil and Jill Archers’ Seville Marmalade (which I have tried making successfully), Ruth and David Archers’ Quick Pizza, Pat and Tony Archers’ Toad in the Hole (using the sausages they make, of course), Clarrie and Eddie Grundy’s Cider Cake (using the cider they have produced for many years), Lynda and Robert Snell’s Wassail Cup (they are the only people who would have a Wassail Cup), Sid and Jolene Perks’ Steak and Wine Pie (served in the Bull) and Roast Saddle of Venison from Brian and Jennifer Aldridge with venison reared on their farm. Each recipe is very tempting and I love a tea towel that teaches you something.
I have watched an episode of the Archers being recorded live at the Royal Show. I liked the fact that characters from the Archers went to the Royal Show in the series and then are there in real life recording the show. The nice thing about the Archers is that planes do not blow up in the village, there is no gang warfare, people don’t keep going to prison; people do things like milk the cows, go to school, get ill and get better. It’s ordinary and I like that. The Archers has taught me a lot, a lot about organic foods, keeping chickens, problem of rural social housing, wind turbines and biodigesters and now the tea towel teaches me about recipes. What more could you want? I love using this tea towel!!
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