You can hear the pursing of lips all over Borsetshire

One thing to be sure of is Ambridge's first gay kiss won't be subtle. Subtle doesn't work on radio
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The Independent Online

Reliable sources close to Ambridge confirm that in less than two weeks, the everyday story of country folk to which millions of Radio 4 devotees tune in six days a week, and again on Sundays for the Archers Omnibus, will broadcast its first gay kiss.

Reliable sources close to Ambridge confirm that in less than two weeks, the everyday story of country folk to which millions of Radio 4 devotees tune in six days a week, and again on Sundays for the Archers Omnibus, will broadcast its first gay kiss.

Has anyone told Peggy yet? That's what's worrying me. You know Peggy Wooly, she prides herself on being au courant with what's going on in the village, but I'm pretty sure she has no idea that her grandson is about to embark on a torrid affair with the rugged, good-looking Irish chef her husband has just hired at Grey Gables.

What on earth do you mean you didn't realise Jean-Paul had left Grey Gables? Of course you did. He went off to France, remember, to look after his sick mother, leaving poor Caroline scouring Borsetshire for a replacement.

Archers addicts like me who have known Brenda Tucker since she was this high and can remember when Nigel Pargetter, now the squire of Lower Locksley, used to drive the Mr Whippy van round Felpersham selling ice creams, can remember with wistful nostalgia when Ambridge was less like EastEnders and more like Farming Today. I appreciate that soaps have to move with the times. I know that the lifestyles of the good people of Borsetshire must to some extent reflect those of real people in the Shires but isn't all this sex going a bit too far too fast? We've only just got over that unfortunate episode of David Archer being hauled in front of the magistrate for shooting a badger which he thought had infected his Herefords.

At least that was a bona fide farming story. There was a heated discussion on the Today programme not that long ago about badgers.

In the red corner they had a furious farmer who, like David Archer, reckoned that badgers are principally responsible for the numerous instances of bovine tuberculosis in cattle and as such should be regarded as vermin. In the blue corner we had someone from the Beatrix Potter Appreciation Society by the sound of it reminding us how sweet and endangered badgers are and how we should cherish them in the same way that we do toads and hedgehogs.

Ever since the famous shower scene, when Sid Perks, landlord of The Bull, got Jolene, Ambridge's answer to Dolly Parton, into a lather with a bar of Lifebuoy, The Archers, some listeners claim, has become overly obsessed with sex.

Certainly the affair that Brian Aldridge had with Siobhan Hathaway, the doctor's wife, became a national, and indeed international, cause célèbre. Listeners from all over the world wrote letters of support to Brian's longsuffering wife, Jennifer, advising her to chuck the bastard out.

Personally, I've always had a soft spot for Jennifer. Heaven knows it hasn't been easy for her, despite all the material comfort she enjoys in the way of swimming pools, shooting parties and unlimited money to spend on outfits at Underwoods.

Besides, if you've been listening to The Archers as long as I have, it's difficult to take Brian seriously as a lover when you remember that he once had the hots for Betty Tucker, the Brookfield cleaning lady.

There's no getting away from the fact that sex in The Archers, like the curate's egg, is a bit uneven. On the one hand you've got Sid and Jolene going at it hammer and tongs like rabbits under the power shower, and then only last week we had the unlikely story-line of Shula and Alistair trying to inject a bit more passion into their flagging marriage by - wait for it - redecorating their bedroom a nice shade of heather.

"Mmm, very nice," said Shula's brother Kenton. "What's that curtain for?" "We put our clothes behind it," said Shula. "It's so much softer somehow than a wardrobe." Softer for what? The mind boggles.

The precise circumstances in which dashing Adam Macy and Jamie Oliver lookalike Ian Craig plight their troth is still under wraps.

The clever money is on Borchester Farmers' Market, where Adam, flushed with success at having sold all his haunches of organic venison, will invite Ian round the back to look at his raised game pies and - wham.

One thing you can be sure of, Ambridge's first gay kiss is unlikely to be subtle. Subtle doesn't work on radio. If it isn't explicit and noisy, listeners could easily be left with the impression that all Adam and Ian were doing were slurping their pints at The Bull.

As for the shock value, Feedback, the Radio 4 programme to which listeners send their Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells, complaints, will doubtless be awash with furious e-mails, and there's bound to be a debate on Any Questions about the impropriety of introducing gay sex into Britain's favourite village.

Country cottages and country cottaging - welcome to the new switched-on world of Ambridge.

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