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The Archers boss steps down after 22 years


The boss of long-running Radio 4 series The Archers is stepping down after 22 years.

Vanessa Whitburn is the longest serving editor in the show's history and will move on from the show at the end of May.

Under her lengthy stewardship, there have been a number of controversial storylines in recent years such as Ruth Archer's affair with herdsman Sam Batton which upset some viewers to the extent that it was said to have led to a drop in the show's audience.

Other notable storylines in the past few years have included Nigel Pargetter plummeting to his death from a roof in the 60th anniversary edition of the rural soap.

Whitburn said: "I have had a wonderful time running The Archers, always interesting and exciting. But I want to step down now in order to take a holiday, develop a project for TV drama and get involved in some more training overseas.

"I leave the programme in good shape with some strong storylines planned. The BBC is a great place to work and I've been privileged to work with some very creative people along the way."

Last year Whitburn took several months off from the show after being given long-service leave.

Gwyneth Williams, the controller of Radio 4, said: "Vanessa has been an excellent editor of The Archers over many years. She has kept the nation's longest-running drama at the heart of Radio 4 and we are very grateful to her.

"She leaves Ambridge in good health with almost five million listeners eagerly looking forward to the next episode."

Whitburn was responsible for the introduction of companion series Ambridge Extra, on the digital sister station BBC Radio 4 Extra. And in addition to her duties for The Archers, she has also been responsible for Asian Network series Silver Street as well as many plays and serials for Radios 3 and 4 in her role as executive producer of radio drama in the Midlands.

BBC bosses are to begin the recruitment process for a replacement editor shortly.