|Country of Origin:||UK|
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The Archers is a British radio soap opera first broadcast in pilot episodes in 1950, then continuously on BBC Radio 4 from 1951 to the present day, with more than 18,450 episodes to date. It is the longest running radio soap opera in the world, with around 5 million listeners and an additional million internet listeners internationally. Six episodes are transmitted each week, with an omnibus edition on Sundays. A spin-off programme, Ambridge Extra, is transmitted on Radio 4 Extra twice a week and has its own storylines and locations.
The show follows the lives of various characters in the fictional village of Ambridge, most notably several farming families including the titular Archers. It was originally conceived as a "painless" way of keeping farmers informed about new developments, but soon developed more plot. It's kept topical by incorporating real-world events such as football matches, agricultural conferences, etc., and has occasionally had to make drastic changes at short notice when real-world events (such as terrorist incidents, the death of one of the actresses, etc.) impacted the planned plot. On at least one occasion the plot has been manipulated to serve the interests of the BBC - in 1955 Grace Archer, a major character, was killed off on the evening Britain's first commercial TV network was launched, drawing a good deal of attention away from the new service. This was later parodied in the film The Killing of Sister George.
There are several on-line communities devoted to the show including usenet newsgroups and discussion boards. There have been occasional fan meetings but there do not appear to be many fan works.
- Mustardland is a general-purpose community which includes "Fantasy Archers," basically snippets of script for scenes that were not broadcast in the show, a rudimentary form of fanfic.
- @rchers @narchists is based on the idea that the Archers are real, not fictional.
- The Ambridge Reporter "a place for fans of and casual listeners to The Archers to chat about the programme, its cast and its crew, and for other topics they may find interesting."