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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Zoe Williams on The Archers

If you like The Archers - or if, like me, you have less a liking for it than a strange fascination about where on earth the writers will next shoehorn in their socio-political directives - this Guardian piece may interest you. It also contributes to the recent slew of exposes of the BBC's biases.

One interesting paragraph is this:
Now, naturally, this assumes that the Radio 4 constituency is homogenous. Not only is it not that, but the division within its audience is almost comically binary and possessive. As Anthony Wall, who has made an episode of the arts programme Arena about The Archers, puts it, "There are two wings to Radio 4's audience - you notice it with Any Answers as well. Half the audience is literary, left/ liberal type; the other half is strongly conservative; and they both feel that it belongs to them. A tiny, silent, very British war is being fought through the aegis of its calming tones."

(I presume that I'm in the 'strongly conservative' half (and may I say that I object slightly to the implication that this makes me non-literary - and does this mean I'm illiterate, or just have bad taste?). Three points occur. (1) No one I know who shares my sorts of opinions is under any illusions that Radio 4 'belongs to us.' One might like to think that Radio 4, as probably the least unintelligent strand of the BBC's output, would not demonstrate such obvious, blanket liberal attitudes; but it generally does, and that's that. (2) It is nonetheless interesting that the left-liberal crowd (insert usual disclaimer for wild generalisations here) thinks that conservative forces are prominent enough to be threatening. (3) I wouldn't have described myself as 'strongly conservative' - partly because of the possibly misleading political implications, but partly because adherence to traditional social morality does not in fact (I think) put one on the outer fringe of any sort of continuum. This is no doubt another example of media-itis, and a false perception that the Westminster-cum-BBC village is in any way representative of wider public opinion. It also probably represents a relatively recent acceleration in changes in acceptable public opinions; though I never know how accurate my perception of this is, owing to, well, not being very old. Or wise, for that matter.)