Charlotte Higgins on The Archers: car-tastrophe in the Am!

Nothing happens in Ambridge for months, and then everything happens. Early in May, on a bridge just outside the village, two cars collided, exploding plotlines and almost drowning three characters. The erratically driven vehicle that caused the swerve that resulted in a car and its passengers in the Am? It was Alcoholic Alice’s. But she was not at the wheel at the time: that was George “he’s a good lad really” Grundy, who found her blind drunk in a layby and decided to drive her home. Swiftly at the scene were vet Alistair and vet nurse Denise, who had been on their way to consummate their forbidden love. During their rescue mission, George freed Fallon from the submerged vehicle. He also managed secretly to shift the unconscious Alice from the passenger’s to the driver’s seat, creating the impression that she had been the cause of the catastrophe.

And the crash’s consequences? Denise has developed a virus from the waters of the Am, which are presumably infused with raw sewage thanks to 14 years of the Tories. Will she be the first, and unexpected, casualty of The Events? Her love is a deadly secret from her son Paul, who also happens to work at the vet practice, and for whom an elaborate series of lies has been invented to explain that nocturnal car journey. I fear this will not end well.

As for Fallon: while in hospital she was found to be pregnant – and then had an early miscarriage. She doesn’t want children. But her husband, Harrison, spiralled into grief, blaming Alice for the “death of our baby”. Is Ambridge’s sweetest couple about to fall apart? Was the foetus conceived in a sex game in which they role-played Maid Marion and the Sheriff of Nottingham during a recent night at Grey Gables? Would you ever want to be with a man who uttered the words, “We’re pregnant”?

Alice has “gone to London” with her brother Ruairi, possibly to drink herself into the gutter. All the horses at the stables seem to be dying from something called strangles. One of the abattoir workers has been found out stealing steaks. The long-running faint air of mystery over Joy’s absent daughter, Rochelle, deepens. So Much Plot! Only the tedious D-day commemoration (organised by, inevitably, the Snells) has provided the usual dose of audio tranquilliser.

And George Grundy? He has been called a hero by his fellow villagers as frequently as Keir Starmer has uttered the word “change”. He is not embracing this role: but why? Is it fear of being found out? Or some feeble flickering of a conscience? I have my own thoughts. Time will tell.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply