Notebook: Speechless at Ambridge

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The Independent Online
TO ALL Archers fans looking forward to another year's Ambridge antics here is a surprise. Mark Lewisohn, a journalist from Berkhamsted in Hertfordshire, has carried out a painstaking survey of the series during 1992 and found a whole bunch of characters - 108 to be exact - who are named but never heard. There are twice as many of these silent characters as those who actually speak.

For those who can remember 1989, the most famous omission is Tom Forrest's wife Prue (played then by Judi Dench). Prue swore at that time she would never again speak in public and the BBC has remained true to her word.

Among those who were silent but whose characters were slandered or praised by the Ambridge mob were Higgs (Jack Woolley's driver) who they said looks like a cat burglar; Freda (wife of Bert Fry) who is an ace cook; Mrs Potter, a dreadful woman and born troublemaker; Pat Archer's friend Margo, who we all know has driven a trouble-free Nova motor car for years. Then there was Cyril Hubbocks who tends Brian Aldridge's trout lake and was a milkman for 30 years and Julia Pargetter's gambling friend Fariday, who we learnt was an Iranian princess.

The main victim of abuse was the unheard-from Asty, Julia Pargetter's interior designer whom she met in Barbados. He was first mentioned on 31 August, was said to be 'very sensitive' and came from Minnesota. Elizabeth Archer called him a nasty little freeloader, Nigel Pargetter said he was a nasty little toad, Nelson Gabriel, courtesy of Ginny, his unspeaking confidant in the antiques business, said Asty had diddled Julia on behalf of a very rich Texan. He is becoming an important character, but hasn't said a word - yet.

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