Archers 'green propaganda' claim

MARCH 20, 2008: The Archers has been accused of spreading 'green propaganda' by some listeners.

There were claims that the popular BBC radio programme has been "brainwashing" and blindlypromoting the Government's green agenda with a plotline aboutenvironmentally friendly farming methods.Some listeners claim that the current storyline about whether Home Farmshould have a machine which converts waste into electricity is anendorsement of Labour's green credentials and is out of place in a BBCdrama.Others say that the level of detail required to explain the purpose ofan "anaerobic digester" is getting in the way of a good radio soap.However, Graham Harvey, the programme's agricultural story editor,defended the storyline, saying it was the job of The Archers to debatethe major farming issues of the day."One of the biggest issues in farming at the moment is what farmers cando to combat climate change," he told the BBC's in-house magazine Ariel.advertisement"We keep a very close eye on what's happening in the real world of farming and we're not afraid to go into some detail."Vanessa Whitburn, who has been editing the programme for 17 years,said: "It is a perfectly normal for the Archers to concern itself withsomething that is happening in the countryside."Asking why we are covering this debate is like asking why we are interested in sheep or bird flu."It is not the first time that a storyline in The Archers has upset Radio 4 listeners.The soap lost almost 200,000 listeners last year when two of its central characters were having marital problems.Ruth Archer's clandestine affair with herdsman Sam Batton, whichstopped just short of adultery, did not find favour with many of theprogramme's faithful.They complained that script writers had made Ruth and her husband Davidact out of character to produce a storyline climax for the 15,000thepisode in November.It also divided listeners two years ago when fictional Borsetshirehosted its first homosexual wedding, between Adam Macy and Ian Craig.A poll for the Radio 4 programme's website found that a fifth oflisteners thought same-sex marriages were an inappropriate topic.But others have praised the show's creators for tackling the subject of civil partnerships.