The Archers will not become more like EastEnders, the acting editor of the world’s oldest soap opera has promised, after backtracking on comments which provoked concern from listeners.
John Yorke, who oversees EastEnders as Controller of BBC drama production, told the Radio Times that the BBC Radio 4 drama would get “bigger and darker”.
Yorke, who is sitting in for veteran Archers editor Vanessa Whitburn until her leave ends in July, added: “You have to put your characters in jeopardy because it makes you love them more.”
Although listeners are used to shocking storylines, such as Nigel Pargetter’s fatal rooftop fall, the suggestion that Ambridge life would echo the sensationalism of Albert Square disturbed long-term fans.
In a blog on The Archers website, Yorke moved to ease concerns. “The Archers has been in my family for three generations. It's as perfect as long running drama gets; why would I want to change a hair?,” he wrote. “Apart from anything else my Mum would probably kill me.”
He added: “The comment that was picked up was very clearly a specific reference to one storyline - the intimidation of Ruth and David (Archer). Ironically, this story was planned long before I joined the show.
“It is dark but in the very best traditions of a programme not scared to kill its leading lady in a barn fire, and it fits snugly I hope alongside everything Ambridge does best.”
The producer concluded: “Joe's ferrets, Lynda's hay-fever and cliffhangers built on whether Clarrie will finish her jubilee cake in time; all will remain and I hope live for as long as The Archers draws breath.”