BBC's The Archers is the longest-running drama in the world. But it's never had to cope with a pandemic before. For the first time, The Archers will be switching to repeats for a three-week period, with what the BBC dub 'classic' episodes running from the 3rd of May to the 24th of May. New episodes are being written and produced, but the process of setting up recording studios in all the cast's homes, and keeping the production going has taken longer than expected. A relatively older cast is one reason being given for these delays, one can imagine the instructions about what button to push or how to connect the broadband may be getting a little tedious. However, the plotlines will see all the characters of Ambridge dealing with the coronavirus shutdown and the impact on their lives and businesses at this time.
Until then, expect a lot of weddings and funeral episodes, changes in homes and business and the big village shows, from the seventy years that The Archers has been running. As a radio-only show however, The Archers is in a much better state to keep broadcasting during shutdown, something denied the TV British soaps such as EastEnders or Coronation Street. Unless we start to get episodes filmed on Zoom – which may be what they end up doing. In five years time when all the current TV like Have I Got News For You is repeated on Dave, it's going to feel like a surreal hangover.
The Archers is a British radio soap opera running first on the BBC Home Service and now on BBC Radio 4, and broadcast continually since 1951. Partly established with the aim towards educating farmers following World War II, The Archers soon became a popular source of entertainment for the population at large, attracting nine million listeners by 1953. It was initially billed an everyday story of country folk but is now a contemporary drama in a rural setting. Having come close to 20,000 episodes, it is the longest running drama in the world by far. With a current regular audience of 6 million, it is Radio 4's most listened-to non-news programme. Current episodes can be listened to here.