티he scene: a spare bedroom in Amy Franks’ flat, Nottingham. At first we do not recognise who lies immobile beneath the duvet. The air is thick with the stench of stale alcohol. Detritus lies around the bed, Tracey Emin-style: empty bottles of corner-shop vodka, take-out cartons crusted with half-consumed food, jeans and underwear tangled in a grubby heap. 그때, with a sigh, the figure turns and we see that it is Ambridge alcoholic Alice Carter – asleep or, more properly, passed out.
Cut to a montage of images as they pass through her mind in dizzying progression: in one crazed vignette, Shula Hebden Lloyd screams as she’s tossed from her pony. A moment later, the heavy figure of Neil Carter lumbers towards her prone body and cradles her mournfully. 다음, Shula is back home from hospital, her arm in a sling; Neil has arrived, bearing a dish of lasagne, but testily she sends him away. A third hallucination: Shula receives another visitor, this time her recent ex-husband, Alistair Lloyd, in whom she confides she is in love with her erstwhile rescuer, Ambridge’s premier pigman, Neil Carter himself.
예, the only explanation I can offer for Shula’s frankly unbelievable confession is that it will next month be revealed to have been a fetid torsion of one of Alice’s drink-addled fever dreams. The same goes, I fear, for the bizarre notion that stolid, slightly dull Roy Tucker has embarked on a thrilling career of nightly Tinder hook-ups.
The celebrity cameo at the village fete this year – Ambridge traditionally inviting someone from the World Beyond to open proceedings – came from Jackie Weaver, the breakout star of that real-life drama, Handforth parish council’s Zoom meeting, which went viral in February. The interesting thing about that actual parish council meeting was that it out-Archered the Archers – its dialogue was punchier, its narrative arc more exciting, its characterisation crisper. Bringing Weaver herself on to the Archers – where she acquitted herself just as confidently as one would expect – only reinforced that impression.
Friendly advice: the inhabitants of Ambridge should probably consider going farther afield than sodding Grey Gables for their sexy night away/urgent relationship reconnection.
The Aldridge family continues its slow and painful unravelling. Adam is leaving Home Farm for a new job at the ends of the earth, AKA mysterious north Borsetshire; Ruairi, alienated by Alice, has gone off to Ireland to reconnect with his birth mother’s family. “Remember – you’ll always be a part of this family,” Jennifer told him at the train station. Not so much a promise, one feels, as a curse.