So that's it then. On January 2nd, 2011, sweet, romantic lovable toff Nigel Pargetter fell to his death in what was, depending on your point of view, either a thrilling dramatic moment (and I must congratulate actor Graham Seed on that scream!) or a cynical piece of over-the-top and utterly unnecessary hype to 'celebrate' 60 years of The Archers.
I am devastated and not a little perplexed. Why celebrate the anniversary of the programme by killing an amusing character who loved his wife and children? Why Nigel some of us are asking? If anyone had to die, (and arguably no-one did) why not despatch self-obsessed, control freak, Helen Archer once she'd given birth? And what's going to happen to Lower Loxley now? If all the rumours about the hidden agenda behind The Archers are correct, then perhaps we will see the once-stately home turned into a birthing clinic for single women like Helen who have chosen to dispense with romance and relations with men altogether and have babies by artificial insemination.
Oh dear.....I am, as it happens, the same age as The Archers and the same age as Graham Seed (who was dismissed from the programme at such short notice, against his wishes), so perhaps I'm being over-sensitive, but I'm not the only person to feel outrage. The forums where this programme is discussed are incandescent with fury, in fact, the previously pleasant Archers Addicts site is seething with malcontents and there have been three letters of bitter complaint in the Radio Times.
On January 2nd 2011, Ambridge was due to be shaken to the core, and thus the makers of The Archers broke faith with their audience, shooting themelves in the foot in a spectacular fashion for the sake of publicity and ratings. They lost the plot with that clunky, contrived episode. According to Vanessa Whitburn, the imperious editor of The Archers, listeners were supposed to feel mixed emotions; sadness at Nigel's death, and 'relief that Helen was all right after developing pre-eclampsia. The problem was, no-one liked Helen much, so no-one cared about her, whereas Nigel's death prompted anger and disbelief. What did Miss Prism say about the good ending happily and the bad ending unhappily? Not on The Archers, I'm afraid. Helen's egotism and her unpleasantness to poor Tony (her kindly Dad whose only crime was to suggest it was a shame her baby wouldn't have a father) has been rewarded, and Nigel's been punished by being improbably pitched off the roof of Lower Loxley. It might as well be a tragedy by Thomas Hardy.
January 2nd 2011. The day The Archers died.