The Archers? It's all coconuts to me, says baffled Radio 4 boss

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Radio 4's best-loved programme, The Archers, is incomprehensible to new listeners, the station's new head confessed yesterday.

Radio 4's best-loved programme, The Archers, is incomprehensible to new listeners, the station's new head confessed yesterday.

Helen Boaden, who was appointed controller of Radio 4 earlier this year, revealed that BBC research found that trying to woo new listeners to BBC radio by playing playing them the everyday tale of country folk was not working.

The new audiences could not make head or tail of it. And they thought the country sounds of horses and other animals sounded suspiciously like a man banging coconut shells together.

"The characters can all sound very similar, especially the women," Ms Boaden said. "New listeners can't work out who is related to whom.

"We know The Archers is loved by many of our core listeners. It gets 2 million listeners twice a day. We had thought that it might be a way of bringing in new listeners," she said. "After all, television soaps bring new audiences to the BBC. But we could not have been more wrong.

"Its long history, which is so loved by its core audience, makes it impenetrable to the new listener.

" The Archers - and most radio drama - only works for those people who have fallen for speech radio in the first place and are already practised in creating pictures and characters in their heads."

However, Archers fans need not fear that yet another new Radio 4 controller is going to mess around with their programme. Ms Boaden says she wants to bring stability to Radio 4 after years of unpopular changes.

Besides, one important listener is evidently very happy with The Archers, Ms Boaden revealed. "Greg Dyke, the director general, is an Archers addict. There's a club of them, and he's one of those."

Comments