When did the programme start?
It all started when Godfrey Baseley came up with an idea for an interactive yet educative show. Before his work on The Archers, he had worked on agricultural programs, and he hoped that by including some stories, farmers would be more attracted to the programme. It first aired as a pilot series in 1950 towards the end of May. From then on, it got picked up by BBC who took on Baseley to help with the editing. See the full history of the show here.
Is it educational?
While most of its focus is no longer on farming tips, listeners get to learn a thing or two about how to cope with real-life situations. The lessons now go into social issues, rather than agricultural challenges — however, the show boasts of high-quality research work which enables the cast to pass on messages that resonate with the audience.
What’s with the tune?
The interesting tune heard in the show is a maypole dance which goes by the name Barwick Green by Arthur Wood. It’s quite catchy.
How many episodes does the show have in total?
Based on the most recent count, the number of episodes stands at 18740. This number is bound to rise fast given that new episodes are coming out each week. Before we know it, there will be 19000 episodes. And here are some of the best we think there are.
What goes on during the production?
The production process takes place under the watch of Jeremy Howe who is the editor. He is in charge of a large production team as well as writers who work together to come up with the storyline for the show. These meetings take place biannually where they plot the future of the cast, thinking months and years ahead. From here, they hold monthly meetings at least two months ahead of airing the show. They then leave the work to writers who come up with weekly scripts in two weeks. The cast can then work on bringing the stories to life.
How does the recording take place?
Once the writers come up with scripts, they distribute them among the actors who then familiarize themselves with the tasks ahead. The recording takes place every four weeks at the BBC premises. The production team works on recording 24 episodes in 6 days. It means that they only use two hours of studio time to get one episode right and the process is quite intensive.
What happens if something exciting takes place after recording?
The recording takes place three to six weeks before airing to give way for changes. If something significant occurs, some rewriting and recording take place on the day of airing to intrigue the audience.
Do the actors work full time?
No. The cast comes in once every four weeks for a week of intense production, and after that, they go on to work on other projects. Most of them have careers in film, radio drama, theatre, television and other areas in which they can showcase their skills.
How can I catch the show?
You can tune in to BBC Radio 4 at 7:02 pm if you live in the UK. If not, you can stream it on BBC Sounds or listen to it on the podcast. If you have more questions about the show, you can catch up with the team on Facebook and Twitter.