Shakespeare meets 'The Archers'

The 'Archers' editor, Sean O'Connor, says Shakespeare's plays are the template for his scripts. Nicholas Lezard imagines how the bard's Ambridge might sound

Annoying fanfare

The Tragedie of Tomlet, Prince of Borsetshire

The Bull, Ambridge. Professor Jim Lloyd is discovered, doing the crossword. Kenton Archer polisheth the glasses behind the bar. Enter Jazzer

Jazzer Ho there! What news? And mine's a pint, I thank ye, good sirrah.

Prof Thou hast not heard? The Prince, young Tom hath his nuptials callèd off, and our Lady Kirsty doth the world forsake, and in Costa Rica doth her garments rend.

Jazzer God's wounds! The whoreson. When she returns, her hat will surely be with his knackers bedeck'd. Wherefore did he this?

Prof None know. Perchance the lady Brenda still his heart bestir; or maybe 'tis a ratings-gaining exercise.

Jazzer A what?

Prof Ne'er mind. But hark, here comes the Duke, Tom's father, Tony. Be gentle with him, Jazzer, for this news hath made him bitter sore, and now he speaketh with a moan and whine, as if each day were torment to his soul.

Jazzer But he talketh ay like that in every scene.

Tony Ah me, ah me! Was ever grief like mine? How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child. And to do this after all we've done for him.

Jazzer Too true, my liege, and mine's a pint, I prithee.

Kenton How now, good people. Be of good cheer withal. This remindeth me of a funny tale that once I heard, when...

All Shut up, Kenton.


Scene 2

The battlements of Bridge Farm. Enter Tom Archer, carrying a pig's skull

Tom To wed, or not to wed; that is the question. Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to "grow the brand" of Bridge Farm sausages, whate'er that meaneth, or keep organic status for the pigs? How can one marry at a time like this? But hark! Who comes?

Enter Ghost

Ghost I am thy brother's shade, John Archer, who underneath a Massey Ferguson was slain. Avenge my death! For David Archer is the one with hands incarnadine. Hast thou not noticed how everyone around him cometh to a sticky end?

Tom That cannot be!

Ghost I have but two words to say to thee: Nigel Pargetter.

Tom That doesn't scan.

Ghost This bit's in prose.

Tom OK, then. Well, we'll see.


Scene 3

A blasted heath, with pig arks. Three witches (Pat, Susan and Clarrie) stir a cauldron of vile-smelling organic yoghurt.) Enter Jazzer


Witches All hail McJazzer, that art pig man of Ambridge, and shalt be boss hereafter!

Jazzer The boss, youse say? And how will that befall?

Witches Poor Tom's a mess. And frankly, he's a bore.

Jazzer Cheers witches! Mine's a pint. (Peers into cauldron) But not o' that.

Ruth (off): "Oooah nooah!"

All What eldritch shriek is that? It makes our knotted and combinèd locks to part, like quills upon the fretful porcupine. We're off.


Exeunt, pursued by a cow. And so on, for the next 60 years.