The Archers' Cameron Fraser played by Delaval Astley
Pushing thesoaps out
'l‘hom Dihdin joins a host ofcelehrities to tell the everyday story of soap operas hunt for young ezirs.
.\nd now tor the eight million listener question. ‘What do the Princess Royal. .lohn Peel. Wendy Richard. the ls'innocks and .lohn Selw y n ( iummer have in common." Stuck'.’ \Vell here‘s another clue. ‘l)um-de-l)um—de-l)um—de-l)um‘. Yes. that‘s it. they all regularly turn on. tune in and drop hy at Amhridge. home of the Radio lour soap. The .-lrchers.
Depending on which BB(‘ puhlicist yot. helieve. the ‘everyday story of l country folk either has more listeners than any ('hannel lc‘our programme has viewers. or has around the same nurnher of fans as Brno/(,Vlt/e. But the listening figures for the network's flagship do not really matter. as Radio l’our‘s puhlicist Marion (ireenwood recognises. ‘You thought we got into trouhle over Womans llour‘." she asks. ‘You start messing around with The Archers mate. and that‘s it. you‘re dead.‘
l'nlike The A rchers — 4“ years and still going strong A- (Title/IS. the story of everyday South London folk. is headii.g for the hin alter three and a half years and will he pulled when the Radio l’our rescheduling takes
place next .lutie. (ireenwood. diplomatically. hlames its ‘strike rate' r goingout only twice aweek. with no repeat apart from the omnihus edition on Saturday evening althoughothertheorics ahound.
(‘live Brill. Director olSeries and Serials at Radio Pour. who has worked on hoth soaps. hlarnes the press. firstly for lahelling it as a soap for young people. ‘It is a disaster for a soap to target itself at one groupf he points out. ‘By definition. soap is supposed to appeal to everyone. right across the age and class spectrum .‘ 'l'hen he claims the programme simply hecame the press's whipping hoy. ‘lt has hecome a hunword for had soap. People think of it as had even ifthey have never listened to‘it.‘
(title/1.x" regular half million listeners do not agree. Where The Archers provides a slice of rural linglish liden which does not. and
_ . FIVE ALIVE
Just as the Liberal Democrats were recently accused at being a ‘dustbin' tor protest votes, so Radio 5 was initially condemned as a dump tor other networks‘ throwaways. But just over six months on, Radio 5 could be justified in sounding as smug as Paddy Ashdown. Market research suggests that the station has tour and a hall million listeners—good by any broadcasting standards.
So who and where are these tour and a halt million? Athird olthem, it transpires, are at school listening to programmes specially designed to complementthe new curriculum. The rest are tuning lnto programmes on sports, health and Open University, as well as children's magazine shows.
But, since radio controllers are lorevercomplaining about channel-hopping and ‘promiscuous Iisteners‘, is anyone expected to stay with Radio 5 all day? That’s not the idea, says the network's Sophie Toumazis, pointing out that you cannot
Patricia Ewing. Controll r BBC Radio 5
reasonably expectsportslans to wax lyrical over learning-to-count programmes lorthe under-3s. She describes it as a ‘dip in and dip out network‘, but concedes that lixing an identity tor the station has been a problem.
Planned changes in programming will give the station a more consistent feel, with some at the Radio 4 and World Service coverage being dropped in favour at more programmes tor children and young people. These will include dramatisations of The Secret Garden and Roald Dahl’s BFG as well as a new drama series set in a co-ed residential summer school and aptly titled Fifteen Love. (Miranda France)
_, BASIS .L..1_Sf 1‘,
prohahly never did. exist. Citizens earnestly tackles real life issues. ‘We aim to provide good drama.‘ says current liditor. Adrian Bean. ‘while looking at contemporary social 1
the way that people live in an urhan community.‘ lhis attitude is most popular with those who are isolated from the community. Letters from prisoners and ex-pats make up a large proportion of the programme's mail hag.
Perhaps ( 'I'Iizerzs' had press was initially well deserved. liven Adrian Bean thinks it had a tendency to preach. ‘11 was kind of unrelenting.‘ he admits. "l'hat has changed very dramatically now. Although we are focusing on the cosmopolitan nature of South London. the programme over the last two years has hecome more of a soap than it ever was.‘
James MacPherson. of ’l‘uggart fame. who plays the yuppy Scot. llugh Hamilton. helieves that ( ‘1‘11‘1ehswas really the right programme on the wrong station. ‘lt would have heen perfect as a ten minutes a day daily soap on Radio ()ne.‘ he says. ‘I think that Radio One is going to have to do something like that in the future. With the three new independent networks coming along. they are going to have to do something more than play pop music all day.’
Whatever the rights or wrongs of Citizens" pitch. it has certainly managed to gain popularity outside the usual Radio Four audience. The listening profile is more hiased
towards "(QUIZ males‘ than the usual straight ‘ABt‘l . slightly more female than male' listenership of the station as a whole. according to (ireenwood. Mael’herson also points out that while he ‘tends to attract the Jason Donovan end of the market for fan mail.‘ when he semis out his Citizens photo to Tuggurt watchers. ‘the response hack is “l have listened to Citizens and I really enjoyit.” ‘
Despite the still increasing popularity of The x'lrchers'. which now runs to a fan cluh. ‘Archers Addicts‘ ( I confess I am addicted to The Archers and promise to tell all my neighhours and friends ahout the programme). for now. the higgest cliffhanger on Radio hour is how ('I‘Iizens‘ will end.
‘(crtainly not with an alien space
ship taking all the cast away.‘ is the ._
stock answer. Although the clever money is reputed to he on a wedding. I favour some catastrophic event at Jo Sweeny‘s suspect recycling plant. Whatever the outcome. it will surely he the suhject of many a conversation down at the Bull over a pint of Shires.
The A rchers, wee/(claw a! 7. ()5 pm, with a repeat tlzejOl/uwmg (lay a! 1.40pm. Omnibus edition: Sunday. 10.157021. Citizens, Tueuml Thurs (1! Hum. ()rrznrhus on Saturday at 025/)"1. A rchers Addicts: [’0 BOX I‘D—l. .Ume/y. Birmingham. BI} 91)/). (
IAM THE DJ
Fiona Shepard namechecks live olthe mostexclting Central Beltradio MS.
I Billy Sloan (Radio Clyde) Which came first ~ the radio show or the tahloid eolumn'.’ Along with fellow Radio (‘lyde DJs Paul (‘oia and Bryan Burnett. the uhiquitous .\lr Sloan proves that it is possihle to juggle your multi-mcdia undertakings and still have time enough for a hit of serious ligging. I Paul Welsh (Radio Clyde) A man ahout town in a different sense. As well as occupying the prime-time Saturday evening slot on Clyde. Paul W'clsh has heen known to venture into the precarious world of cluh l).l-ing. Before the demise of The (‘hampion he ran their Saturday diet of fruggerama. and guested at lhelty! l.A (iear party in 'I‘in Pan Alley last year.
i * . Mj-f .
, l Allan Campbell (Radio Forth) l le ofthe permanent wide grin and ohtrusive eyehrows gives NH cohort Bryan Burnett (again) a run for his money with an eclectic
l I Dougie Campbell (Radio
| Scotland) Dougie's
l weekdayeveningshows encompass Radio Scotland's mainstream pop output — a hefty responsihility considering he hroadcasts for Britain‘s largest local radio station. In fact he's almost as hardworking as his
producer. the tireless Stuart (‘ruikshank
lJan Falrley(Radio Scotland) Weird and wonderful sounds from around the world are unearthed in l’airley's weekly’lhursday [furl/thew!show. l-airley. who studied ethnomusieology at the School ofSeottish Studies and spent time living in (’hile. is particularly hot on South American sounds. hut covers music from Africa. lturope and anywhere else that takes herfancy,
The List 32 March — 4 April 199175