The Week in Radio: Murder must be handled with great care

I was recently told, by someone who ought to know, that The Archers is ruminating on its own greatest taboo. When, if ever, should the everyday story of country folk stage its first murder? There have, of course, been deaths aplenty in Ambridge.

We've had tragic accidents and rape, and Clive Horrobin's career of violent crime. You always know when adultery is underway in the Borchester area because the BBC trails it like a major news event. But an actual murder? Leading characters may drop like flies on TV soaps, but in Ambridge, that Platonic ideal of real life, wouldn't it be like doing in one of your neighbours? Could the listeners take it? "Yes!" I hear millions yelling, but I'd advise caution. Once Ambridge is steeped in gore there's no way back. Not to mention the tricky business of who should be eliminated. Should it be dear, conflicted Pip, with her annoying voice, forever silenced by Jude? A drive-by shooting at Grey Gables? Or Kenton in the kitchen with a carving knife?

Archers Cluedo, though a pleasant diversion, reflects on an important issue – which is trust. Like one of those Chinese vases in A History of the World in 100 Objects, radio has its own sacred artefacts, including The Archers, that have to be handled with exquisite care. Without wanting to come over all sociology lecturer, change can be a dangerous, erosive force. A murder here, a rape there, snip away at the ties that suspend disbelief.

The anxiety over change can be seen everywhere in radio right now – witness 6 Music, which now looks like being saved, or the agonising debate over whether, crazily to my mind, we junk FM radio and 100 million analogue sets in favour of a DAB standard that is not shared by the rest of the world.

At a time of great change, moral dilemmas abound, The Greed Imperative informed us. This fascinating programme, produced by Glass Mirror and presented by Catherine Cowley, who has been both a nun and a city worker, questioned whether the recent meltdown in the city was due to greed, and why indeed we cling to the idea of endless economic growth. After all, thinkers like Karl Marx envisioned a time when growth would come to an end, and we would all "hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon and discuss poetry in the evening".

According to Talitha Stevenson, a banker's ex-wife, city workers are suffering from a psychological condition. "It's a fascinating and exciting computer game and they're addicted. It's all consuming and the goalposts constantly shift. Like anorexia where you never reach the desired weight, you never make enough money." Dr Edward Skidelski, lecturer in philosophy at Exeter University, suggested we might be in need of a total moral overhaul. "Moral categories have fallen out of existence, the primary task has to be reinvigorate moral language," he says. "There have to be ideals of simple living, and the good life, which does not involve vast wealth."

If all of this left you yearning for a retro experience, then hurray for A Vision of Loveliness, this week's Book at Bedtime, by Louise Levene, which is as light as a chocolate éclair. It is the Sixties, a time of exciting change that has not yet reached Norbury, where Jane Jones lives with Aunt Doreen, a wonderful creation who serves tinned potato salad and can be "cheered up by a fresh grievance". One day Jane meets the glamorous Susie who has a flat "ankle deep in shoes" and finds herself caught up in a life of catwalks and nightclubs. But wealth and glamour are not, of course, all they seem. Perfect on period detail, the story is studded with quotes from Jane's etiquette bible, Lady Be Good, which is full of timeless gems. "Want him to think you mysterious and sophisticated? Don't whatever you do order corn on the cob!" Now that's the sort of advice that really stands the test of time.

Arts and Entertainment
Cillian Murphy stars as Tommy Shelby in Peaky Blinders

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of The Big Bang Theory in a still from the show

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Rupert Murdoch and Rebekah Brooks in 2011

Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandal

books
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian Jack Dee has allegedly threatened to quit as chairman of long-running Radio 4 panel show 'I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue'

Edinburgh Festival
Arts and Entertainment
Director Paul Thomas Anderson (right) and his movie The Master featuring Joaquin Phoenix

film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

film
Arts and Entertainment
There are no plans to replace R Kelly at the event

music
Arts and Entertainment
<p><strong>Laura
Carmichael- Lady Edith Crawley</strong></p>
<p>Carmichael currently stars as Sonya in the West End production of
Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya at the Vaudeville Theatre. She made headlines this autumn
when Royal Shakespeare Company founder Sir Peter Hall shouted at her in a
half-sleepy state during her performance. </p>
<p>Carmichael made another appearance on the stage in 2011, playing
two characters in David Hare’s <em>Plent</em>y
at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. </p>
<p>Away from the stage she starred as receptionist Sal in the 2011
film <em>Tinker Tailor Solider Spy</em>. </p>

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Zoe Saldana admits she's

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off contestants line-up behind Sue and Mel in the Bake Off tent

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Mitch Winehouse is releasing a new album

music
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Beast would strip to his underpants and take to the stage with a slogan scrawled on his bare chest whilst fans shouted “you fat bastard” at him

music
Arts and Entertainment
On set of the Secret Cinema's Back to the Future event

film
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pedro Pascal gives a weird look at the camera in the blooper reel

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Public vote: Art Everywhere poster in a bus shelter featuring John Hoyland
art
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judd Apatow’s make-it-up-as-you-go-along approach is ideal for comedies about stoners and slackers slouching towards adulthood
filmWith comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
Arts and Entertainment
booksForget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Arts and Entertainment
Off set: Bab El Hara
tvTV series are being filmed outside the country, but the influence of the regime is still being felt
Arts and Entertainment
Red Bastard: Where self-realisation is delivered through monstrous clowning and audience interaction
comedy
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
    Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

    Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

    Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
    Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

    Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

    Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
    Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

    Spanx launches range of jeans

    The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
    10 best over-ear headphones

    Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

    Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
    Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

    Commonwealth Games

    David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

    UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

    Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
    Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

    The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

    A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

    Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain