The Archers show has come a long way since its inception in 1950 by Godfrey Baseley. It first began as a pilot series comprising five episodes, and it ran for a week starting from 29th May 1950. Initially, it broadcast to the English Midlands. Once BBC got hold of the recordings, they decided that they wanted to run with it nationally.
There were some changes to the series. At first, the farm went by the name Wimberton which has since changed to Brookfield. The program also went by the name ‘A Farming Dick Barton’ which later became ‘The Archers.’ The inspiration from the name change came from the realization that the adventures of Dick Barton, a series that ran at night at the time, was doing quite well. BBC moved the timing of The Archers to 6:45 in the evening to allow more people to tune in to the program. Baseley stayed on to help with the editing for 22 years.
The show began again under BBC’s leadership in January 1951 on the BBC Light Programme. The airing then changed to BBC Home Service, which now goes by the name BBC 4. Back then, it ran five times a week, featuring episodes that were fifteen minutes long. The time got cut to 12 ½ minutes in 1998. In 1964, BBC realized that the demand for the show was huge and they began airing repeat shows on the subsequent afternoons to help people catch up on the dramatic episodes(check some of the best episodes). Before then, there was an omnibus edition that took place weekly.
When The Archers first began, the aim behind the show was to spread information to farmers on how they could increase their productivity following the rationing and food shortages that were taking place at the time. It revolved around the lives of three farmers. There was Dan Archer who managed to be productive, yet he had very little money. There was Walter Gabriel who also had little money but was unable to practice efficient farming with what he had. Lastly, there was George Fairbrother who farmed with the aim of making a loss. In this way, he ended up paying little taxes, a scheme that many people used in those days.
The program did well as listeners got to learn a few things about farming which they could use in their ventures. Though radio began to decline owing to the popularity of television in the fifties, BBC still managed to attract millions of listeners to the show. They began airing it to other regions such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada and even there, they found a ready audience.
In the seventies, it became clear that there was a need for change if the programme was to survive the changes in attitudes among listeners. There was even talk of axing the show to make room for more exciting programs. Developments at this stage included new direction in acting and writing, and the result was an increase in listeners.
There was also the inclusion of things happening in real life to resonate with the audience. Other changes included making the show available as a podcast as time went by, allowing people to catch up with missed episodes. You can now catch up on The Archers at any time and take a walk down memory lane as you keep up with the drama.