I’ve been a faithful listener to The Archers for decades. I got hooked when I would visit my grandmother in England in the mid-1990s. Then I used to have to catch it in mid-afternoon online, and since there were no download or listen-anytime options I couldn’t always keep up. The Archers became available as a podcast in 2007, so I haven’t missed a single episode in eight years now.
Nearly every December, the denizens of the agriculturally inclined village of Ambridge stage a show. The pushy, snooty Lynda Snell is invariably the director, but the show itself takes many forms, from pantomime to . Last year the town did Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, and the results were broadcast as a separate program on the BBC Radio 4, a Boxing Day theater special. (It’s listed, but not available for listening, here; you’ll see that the actors are listed with the names of both their Archers characters and the roles those characters are playing in Blithe Spirit.)
Lynda Snell’s choice for this year’s Ambridge theatrical is not likely to be broadcast outside of The Archers, as it would make for a pretty weak radio drama. It’s Calendar Girls, the stage play based on the film about women of a certain age who decide to doff their garden hats and other duds to create a saucy calendar that will raise money to build a visitor’s lounge at their local hospital.
So maybe we won’t get a twofer like last year, with all the drama leading up to a stage production and then the opportunity to hear the actual production itself. But all the giggling among the townsfolk about who might be auditioning for Calendar Girls is entertaining enough. In Monday’s episode, set after a bracing sermon at St. Stephen’s church and just before the Ambridge Harvest Festival, Carol Tregorran (played by the great Eleanor Bron, of Bedazzled and Women in Love and Help! fame), is asked whether she’ll be auditioning.
“I’m afraid my days of baring my bosoms are long gone,” she responds. “…fond though they were.”