Lost 'Archers' recordings are found on a dusty shelf

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The Independent Online

Lost recordings of The Archers have been discovered in the archives of a radio station. Tapes of 28 omnibus episodes from 1977 were discovered sitting on a shelf in the gramophone library at BBC Radio Wiltshire.

Lost recordings of The Archers have been discovered in the archives of a radio station. Tapes of 28 omnibus episodes from 1977 were discovered sitting on a shelf in the gramophone library at BBC Radio Wiltshire.

A local woman, Dr Barbara Carter, who recorded the serial faithfully for her elderly mother, donated the tapes to the radio station six years ago. They include some pivotal moments in the history of The Archers, such as the plot line that saw Shula Archer lose her virginity in a haystack.

A broadcast assistant at the station, Gerry Hughes, found the tapes. Mr Hughes said: "On the spine of the boxes, I saw the words The Archers and the date 1977. I was quite excited to have found something that might have been gold."

It is apt that Mr Hughes should have discovered the recordings. While The Archers holds the Guinness World Record for the longest running radio drama series, Mr Hughes holds his own world record for the longest running one-man radio drama, Acrebury, which he wrote, produced and starred in from 1994 to 2000. The Archers has been running since 1951, but up until 1994, the BBC did not have enough room to store every episode of the radio drama. In 1996, The Archers office at Pebble Mill launched the "Archers Archive Appeal", asking the public to help it track down vintage episodes. The new discoveries, which run from January to August 1977, will help to fill in gaps in the collection.

Vanessa Whitburn, the editor of The Archers, said: "It's wonderful to get these tapes, part of Ambridge's history. Now we can store episodes in a more compact way; the more of these we find the better."

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