Beth Miller: For the Love of the Archers
Beth Miller, author of For the Love of The Archers, describes the challenge of writing a book about the nation’s favourite radio soap opera…
Carefully, holding my breath, I dipped my quill into the ink* and formed the following words: ‘Brown Owl once had to “have a word” with Tilly Button.’ Sweat beaded my brow, but now there was no stopping me. On I went, tongue sticking slightly out of the corner of my mouth to aid concentration. ‘Honeysuckle Cottage has its own hot-tub,’ I wrote. And ‘Shula and Usha still struggle to be civil to each other.’ Days passed, but I barely noticed. At last, I pushed the parchment away. My work was done. Now all that remained was to face the scrutiny of thousands of Archers devotees.
Writing a book about an institution as loved (and venerable) as The Archers is a potential minefield. You can get facts wrong and you can inadvertently diss someone’s favourite character – and people will be quick to tell you when you do. It was great fun doing the research, though. A handy friend of mine remembers the details of all the major plotlines since Nelson Gabriel cut a dash in The Bull, and we had many a happy hour firming up facts. I still have the diagram she drew for me to explain Ed and Oliver’s complex business arrangements. The most difficult thing to find out was details of the ownership of the Dower House now that Matt has scarpered – and it turns out even the BBC aren’t clear about this.
So, the book’s out there now, and I’m excited to hear what readers think. I hope that reading it provokes plenty of debate (Is new Clarrie really old Clarrie? Why is Jill really so uncomfortable around the Fairbrothers? Just how many girlfriends does Kenton have in common with the late Sid Perks?). And I hope that reading it gives Archers fans as much enjoyment as I got from writing it.
* all right it was on a laptop but this sounds more romantic.
Join us on Twitter and Facebook for our Archers Week, 9-13 November! You can read more about Beth and her writing at her home page.