List of characters in The Archers


List of characters in The Archers

This is a list of many of the characters from the long-running British radio soap "The Archers".

A list of all "Archers" characters, and the actors who played them, can be found [http://www.azande.demon.co.uk/archers/castlist.htm here] , although the list ends in 1997. The credits which follow are not necessarily complete; actors who played the characters as children have not always been included. This is a link to an [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/archers/whos_who/characters//family.shtml Archers family tree]

The Archer family

Family tree: Phil and Jill Archer

Family tree: Jack and Peggy Archer

Senior Archers

Phil Archer (Norman Painting) is the current patriarch of the Archer family and a leading resident of the village. His first wife Grace died as a result of injuries sustained in a stable fire and, five decades later, he has never entirely recovered from the trauma. His second wife Jill was trapped in a burning house in 2004 [cite archers episode|date=2004-03-12] and this brought back many feelings. Phil handed responsibility for the family farm to his second son David, but still remains involved in Brookfield. Phil has had a number of health scares in recent years but is still a keen pianist and plays the organ for church services and the music for the village Christmas play. He has a living sister, Christine, widow of former gamekeeper George Barford, and a deceased brother, Jack, an alcoholic who ran one of the two pubs in the Ambridge, The Bull. Phil and Jill have retired to Glebe Cottage, which was previously home to their daughter Shula, and before that to Phil's parents Dan and Doris.

Jill Archer (Patricia Greene) is the second wife of Phil Archer and matriarch of the family. Together they have four children — twins Shula and Kenton, and David and Elizabeth. She is more active in village life and supports her children by taking on child-minding duties. Jill is an active member of the Women's Institute, opened up a holiday cottage business, and is teaching her granddaughter Pip how to keep bees. Unlike Phil, a former Justice of the Peace, Jill has a less traditional outlook on life, reflected in her opposition to hunting and private education.

Christine Barford (Lesley Seweard), younger sister of Phil. Married a gamekeeper, which was seen as a class transgression.

"(See also Peggy Woolley and Former principal characters.)"

Middle-aged Archers

Shula Hebden Lloyd, née Archer, for a while Hebden (Judy Bennett) is the elder daughter of Phil and Jill and twin sister of Kenton. Her first husband, Mark Hebden, a solicitor, was killed in a road accident in 1994 that also involved her best friend Caroline Bone (now Sterling). Shula and Mark's son Daniel was born after the death of his father as a result of IVF treatment after a long struggle with infertility. Some years after Mark's death, Shula had an affair with the village doctor (who was himself living with Shula's hitherto good friend Usha Gupta), thus two-timing her boyfriend Alistair (the local vet) whom she subsequently married. This was in the context of Shula's devout Christianity and membership of the local Parish Council. She owns and runs the riding stables which formerly belonged to Christine Barford, her aunt. She used to have great fun with her best friend, Caroline, but recently Caroline has become engrossed in her husband Oliver Sterling and their business activities. Since her marriage to Alistair, Shula has lost her lightheartedness and become rather dour, self-centred and even, at times, sanctimonious. Coping with the childhood arthritis of her son, Daniel, has not helped, and nor has her husband's gambling addiction, which nearly destroyed their marriage before he finally admitted to owing huge sums to Matt Crawford and others. [cite archers episode|date=2006-05-07] The couple resolved to stay together; they remortgaged the business to pay off the debts and Alistair started attending Gamblers Anonymous meetings.

Alistair Lloyd (Michael Lumsden), Shula's husband, is a vet. His father Professor Jim Lloyd (John Rowe) stayed with them at Christmas and New Year 2007-8 while his broken leg healed. A committed atheist he riled Shula, and antagonised his son, but indulged Daniel and contrived to get along with everyone else, except for Phil who saw through him.

Kenton Archer (Richard Attlee, formerly played by Graeme Kirk) is portrayed as the wastrel of the Archer family. Having turned his back on the family farm to join the Merchant Navy, Kenton tried his hand at a number of ventures, including selling antiques and running a wine bar. He disappeared to Australia and New Zealand for several years and was married (originally to gain a visa, though they subsequently fell in love), had a daughter (Meriel), and divorced before returning home. Kenton now manages Jaxx cafe in Borchester, but his staff often cover for him whilst he pursues various other interests. His fiancée, Kathy Perks, is the ex-wife of Sid Perks, the landlord of The Bull.

David Archer (Timothy Bentinck, formerly played by Nigel Carrivick) is the second son of Phil and Jill and, as the only child of the four to show any interest in, or aptitude for, farming, has assumed responsibility for Brookfield Farm. Over recent years he has become increasingly caring, for example driving up to Northumberland to bring his widowed mother-in-law to stay, and renting a piece of land to Joe Grundy to allow him to keep the barn he had erected without planning permission. Brookfield has suffered in recent years from bovine TB, but David is enthusiastic about his herd of Herefords. His cowman's heavy-handed advice (which he and Ruth reluctantly accepted) that they should dispense with the services of Shula's husband as vet for their dairy herd in favour of a specialist caused a serious family rift, and was followed by his near-affair with Sophie Barlow. Recently, he bought an old tractor, dubbed Rufus, which he has restored.

Ruth Archer, née Pritchard (Felicity Finch) is the wife of David Archer. Unusually the character comes from a real rather than fictional place, Prudhoe in Northumberland. She came to Ambridge as a Harper Adams student looking for agricultural work experience and promptly met David, who was keen to settle down: the couple married within two years. They have three children: Philippa (Pip), Josh and Ben. Ruth survived breast cancer which struck in 2000, undergoing a mastectomy operation. Ruth's utterance "Oh noooooo", spoken in her broad Northumberland accent, was frequently parodied on the BBC Radio Four comedy programme "Dead Ringers". In an unpopular and heavily criticised plotline Ruth teetered on the brink of an affair with farm employee Sam Batton in the autumn of 2006. Many listeners viewed Ruth's behaviour during this storyline to be entirely out of character, and therefore unbelievable. Others thought her immature self-centred shilly-shallying was entirely in character, and it was the largely off-air rehabilitation of the marriage and the family's 'blind eye' that was unbelievable. She has recently undergone breast reconstruction surgery, and is currently recuperating

Lilian Bellamy, née Archer (Sunny Ormonde, formerly played by Elizabeth Marlowe) is the twice-widowed, gin-soaked, chain-smoking second daughter of Jack and Peggy Archer. She spent time as a tax exile in the Channel Islands after the death of second husband Ralph Bellamy. On her return to Ambridge in 2003, she took up with Matt Crawford (then a married man); her exploits cause much gnashing of teeth from her respectable sister Jennifer Aldridge. Lilian was elected to the parish council in January 2006. More recently she has been taking dancing lessons from Mike Tucker after she discovered that Crawford's ex-wife was a much better dancer than herself. In 2008 she and Crawford were briefly separated, and Lillian was an unwelcome guest at The Bull, but with the connivance of Sid and Jolene they were reunited.

Tony Archer (Colin Skipp) is the youngest child and only son of Jack and Peggy Archer. In his younger days he romanced a string of girlfriends and led a laddish life before settling down to marry Pat, with whom he now runs a fully organic establishment at Bridge Farm. Despite owning an MG sports car, bought with a windfall from his mother, he is generally considered to be a rather dull man. His brother-in-law Brian Aldridge enjoys winding him up over farming matters, and dinner parties involving the two couples usually end in tears. Pat and Tony had three children, John, Helen and Tom. John was tragically killed in a tractor accident, [cite archers episode|date=1998-02-25] but Helen is still living with her parents, though Tom is renting a house with Brenda Tucker

"(See also Jennifer Aldridge and Elizabeth Pargetter.)"

The younger Archer generation

Helen Archer (Louiza Patikas, formerly played by Frances Graham and Bonnie Engstrom), Tony and Pat Archer's daughter, makes a cheese called "Borchester Blue" in the farm dairy and runs the organic farm shop, Ambridge Organics, in Borchester. After the suicide of her gamekeeper partner Greg Turner in 2004, [cite archers episode|date=2004-05-07] she suffered from anorexia nervosa, but recovered after a time at a specialist clinic. She recently dated a journalist who quickly rejected her; this subsequently threatened a return to her earlier problems. On New Year's Day 2007, whilst driving drunk, she knocked down Mike Tuckercite archers episode|date=2006-12-31] but Tom, a passenger in the car, took the blame. The shock of this event made her re-evaluate her life and she has since helped develop a new type of cheese with Oliver Sterling.

Tom Archer (Tom Graham) is the younger son of Tony and Pat. He took over his elder brother's pig herd after John was killed in a tractor accident, going on to produce organic sausages. Tom and his then girlfriend Kirsty faced criminal charges in 1999 for the destruction of a field of genetically modified crops on Brian Aldridge's land, but neither was convicted. Tom is highly ambitious for his sausage-making business, but his contract with a supermarket chain nearly bankrupted him, despite his disastrous affair with their buyer, Tamsin.

Tom was forced to throw in his lot with Brian Aldridge, husband of his aunt Jennifer, becoming a junior partner in the business. In the process, the sausage business lost its organic status, which created further tension between the families. In February 2006 he started dating Brenda Tucker, having provided support to her when her mother died suddenly two months earlier. Later the same year, Tom expanded his business and set up a new independent business, "Gourmet Grills", essentially a burger van albeit specialising in high-quality meat products. When Helen ran over Mike Tucker, Tom took the blame and unaware that it had been Helen driving, Mike turned against him, opposing his relationship with Brenda. Mike subsequently discovered the truth, Helen paid for the driving course that Tom was sentenced to attend, and Tom and Brenda moved into one of the holiday cottages at Home Farm.

Pip Archer (Helen Monks) Christened Philippa after David's father and Rose after Ruth's aunt, the eldest Brookfield child is universally known as Pip. She inherited some of grandfather Phil's musical talent, learning to play the piano and singing solos at carol concerts. She enchanted Phil so much so that he pushed David and Ruth into grooming Pip for Felpersham Cathedral School. Eventually the pressure of cramming and Phil's over-eager musical coaching proved too much for her. To general relief (except for Phil, obviously) Pip was directed towards the more local Borchester Green. But at first it wasn't a happy move. Pip had trouble making friends, until bubbly Izzy took Pip under her wing. Pip has a clear interest in farming.

The Grundy family

Joe Grundy (Edward Kelsey, formerly played by Reg Johnstone and Haydn Jones) is the oldest of the well-established local family, and often provides comic relief. Joe maintained for many years that the Archer dynasty had robbed them of their estate. After years attempting to keep the family farm afloat, they were made bankrupt in 2000 and were forced to move to a sink estate in Borchester. Joe took this especially hard and in one of the most harrowing episodes ever broadcast, bludgeoned his beloved ferrets to death with a hammer. The family moved back to Ambridge shortly thereafter. Lately he has begun to assist Oliver Sterling in the management of a new dairy herd at Grange Farm.

Eddie Grundy (Trevor Harrison) is Joe's son and Clarrie's husband. During their marriage he was unrequitedly enamoured of Jolene Rogers, now Perks, his partner in a country and western double act. Eddie's hopes of a career in music appear to have been permanently dashed. He has a history of involving himself in numerous dubious money-making schemes and at one point stood trial for unwittingly selling condemned meat. He mainly makes his living by laying patios and selling novelty garden gnomes. He makes cider and keeps a pig called Barbarella. Joe has participated in some of Eddie's money-making schemes; at other times he scolds his son: legality never dictates his response.

Clarrie Grundy née Larkin (Rosalind Adams, formerly played by Heather Bell and Fiona Mathieson) is Eddie Grundy's long-suffering wife. She became involved with him after her late father Jethro employed him to remove the range in their home. Clarrie spends much of her time sorting out problems created by her husband, sons and father-in-law. She works at the dairy at Bridge Farm, where Pat Archer is a good friend, and behind the bar at the Bull.

William Grundy (Philip Molloy) is the elder son of Eddie and Clarrie. He is gamekeeper for Borchester Land; his bosses are Brian Aldridge and Matt Crawford. In August 2004, he married Emma Carter and they had a son, George, but she harboured a dark secret. Whilst Will was engaged to Emma, she enjoyed two one-night stands with his brother Ed, including one on her hen night, leading her to believe that Ed was George's father. Eventually she left Will for Ed, taking George with her. Will's existing rivalry with Ed became even more intense: to Clarrie's despair, the brothers engaged in physical tussles and bitter arguments over Emma and George. In 2008 he was left £120,000 from a relative, and bought the Carter's former home from Matt Crawford, a property his friend Roy Tucker had been interested in.

Ed Grundy (Barry Farrimond) is the younger son of Eddie and Clarrie. A farm labourer, Ed secured a job in France and planned to move there secretly with Emma and George, but they were thwarted in November 2005 by Will. In May 2006, Ed mysteriously vanished after Emma left the caravan and moved into her parents' home, saying it was for the sake of her baby's health. He remained missing, despite a police investigation into his disappearance, until July 2006 when he was admitted to hospital after being beaten up while sleeping rough in Borchester. Whilst living as a vagrant, he had become addicted to alcohol and crack cocaine. On returning to the village, Ed at first sought refuge with mentor and past employer, Oliver Sterling, who did his best to help him face his demons and abandon his vices. With the additional help of family support and counselling Ed has made major steps towards recovery, demonstrated by his increased dedication to Oliver Sterling's dairy farm.

The Woolley family

Jack Woolley (Arnold Peters, formerly played by Philip Garston-Jones) is a self-made man originally from Stirchley in Birmingham who owns the village shop. Until recently he also owned local country-house hotel Grey Gables (now owned by its long-time manager Caroline Sterling and her husband Oliver), the cafe (managed by Kenton Archer) and the "Borchester Echo" (a local newspaper). He is now married to Peggy Woolley (see below). Jack has started to suffer from what is probably Alzheimer's disease and is receiving treatment for it, leading Peggy to take more responsibility for the day-to-day operations of his businesses. In 2005 Peggy tried to persuade her husband to agree to his affairs being governed by power of attorney. At the same time, Jack Woolley's adopted daughter Hazel (various actresses, on this occasion Annette Badland) came over from the United States, after some years of absence. Using the cover of an Internet business and an imaginary stepfamily, she failed in an attempt to con Jack and Peggy and gain control of the Grey Gables hotel and leisure complex.

Peggy Woolley, née Perkins, formerly Archer (June Spencer, briefly played by Thelma Rogers) is the widow of Jack Archer, Phil's elder brother. They managed (and later owned) the Bull. After many years of close friendship, Peggy married Jack Woolley. Peggy has two daughters, Jennifer and Lillian, and a son, Tony, by her first husband. She is indulgent of her grandchildren and has provided several of them with significant financial support. After Hazel's attempt to take over Grey Gables, she finally persuaded Jack to relinquish many of his business interests. She is a natural conservative and her views about her grandson's gay marriage could not be predicted.

The Aldridge family

Brian Aldridge (Charles Collingwood), considered by some to be the villain of the serial, is sometimes seen as one of the most interesting and subtle characters in the programme. Married to Jack and Peggy Archer's daughter Jennifer, he is primarily a farmer, but has interests in a number of businesses, including a partnership in Tom Archer's sausage business. Brian has had several extramarital affairs during his marriage to Jennifer, including at least one with (the then) Caroline Bone (1985) and more recently with the Irish-born translator Siobhan Hathaway, which produced his only son, Ruairí. He has an uncomfortable relationship with his gay stepson, Adam, which has been the source of some friction with his wife. He was once exceptionally close to his stepdaughter, Debbie — although this relationship has become strained in the aftermath of Brian's affair with Siobhan. Currently Brian is attempting to leave a third of the farm to Ruairí, a proposal which is being resisted by Jennifer, supported by her children and mother.

Jennifer Aldridge, née Archer (Angela Piper previously Ysanne Churchman) is the elder daughter of Peggy Woolley by her first husband, also confusingly named Jack. In early years her character was the hippy of the Archer family, her first child, Adam, being — sensationally at the time — the illegitimate result of a fling with a cowman, Paddy Redmond. She married a travelling businessman, Roger Travers-Macy, in the late 1960s and had a daughter, Debbie. She then divorced and married Brian Aldridge. With Brian she had two daughters, Kate and Alice. Jennifer has endured Brian's series of affairs over the years, partly by having one affair with her ex-husband, though Brian has long suspected John Tregorran as having rivalled him for Jennifer's affections at one time. Jennifer's current main source of worry is the behaviour of her gin-soaked, chain-smoking sister Lillian, who has moved back into the village. This concern has been shared with her brother Tony, whom Jennifer is usually keen to put down.

Adam Macy (Andrew Wincott) is the first child of Jennifer Aldridge, his presumed father being former Brookfield farmhand Paddy Redmond. Adam was adopted by Roger Travers-Macy, Jennifer's first husband. Adam lived abroad for many years, mainly in Kenya, helping breed goats, but came back to the family farm when a major relationship broke up. [cite archers episode|date=2003-03-03] After a year or so, he fell in love with Ian Craig, the chef at Grey Gables. Ian and Adam's liaison has elicited little moral outrage or criticism in the village, with the exception of Sid Perks, who briefly barred Adam from the Bull, now the village's only pub, and Adam's grandmother Peggy Woolley, who was distinctly uncomfortable with the relationship. Adam and Ian considered embarking on parenthood; Ian had plans to artificially inseminate his old friend, Madds, and share responsibility for the child they hoped to produce, but Madds then fell in love with another man and changed her mind. [cite archers episode|date=2006-09-17] The producers of "The Archers" maintain this was a very popular plot nationwide, although posts on the BBC's Archers message boards were mainly negative. Ian proposed to Adam and the pair entered a civil partnership on 14 December 2006.

Debbie Aldridge, formerly Gerrard, née Travers-Macy (Tamsin Greig) is the daughter of Jennifer and Roger Travers-Macy, but chooses to use the surname of her stepfather Brian. After a spell at the University of Exeter she returned home to get away from a relationship with Canadian lecturer Simon Gerrard (Garrick Hagon). Simon followed her to Ambridge and was turned away by Brian. Many years later, after a series of failed relationships, Debbie got involved with Simon again and in spite of Brian's forebodings they were married. However, Debbie subsequently discovered that Simon was being unfaithful, [cite archers episode|date=2002-11-22] and they divorced; Debbie then left Ambridge to work, temporarily, in France — much to Brian's dismay, for he had come to rely on his stepdaughter in the running of Home Farm. When Adam returned from Africa, a bout of sibling rivalry erupted: to a certain extent, this remains ongoing, although there are indications that Adam and Debbie are reaching an understanding. Debbie was devastated when, shortly after her split from Simon, she learned of Brian's affair with Siobhan and the birth of Ruairí. Her relationship with Brian remains strained and this strain, if anything, has become even more pronounced following the death of Siobhan and Ruairí's recent arrival in Ambridge to live with his father. Debbie is currently based in Hungary, where she runs the estate owned by a consortium to which Brian belongs. She often visits home; and the installation of a new webcam also allows Debbie to talk and appear to everyone via computer.

Kate Madikane, née Aldridge (Kellie Bright), is the eldest daughter of Brian and Jennifer. Kate inherited her mother's hippy tendency, giving birth to a daughter, Phoebe, at the Glastonbury Festival, by Roy Tucker, (with whom Phoebe lives in Ambridge), before disappearing to Johannesburg, South Africa where she has married Lucas Madikane (Connie M'Gadzah) and has another daughter, Noluthando ("Nolly") and, born July 2007, a son, Sipho (Xhosa for 'gift' [cite web
url= http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Appendix:Zulu_given_names
title= Appendix:Zulu given names
accessdate= 2008-01-02
date= 2007-02-02
publisher= Wiktionary
] ).

Alice Aldridge (Hollie Chapman), the youngest daughter of Brian and Jennifer, was studying at an exclusive private school, but left it to study A-Levels in psychology, maths, design technology and physics at Borchester College after getting excellent GCSEs. Her best friend is the vicar's daughter, Amy Franks. She likes horses, having progressed from a pony called Chandler (who had to be put down) to a horse, Spearmint. She is friends with both Adam and Debbie. After discovering her father's infidelity, she sought and gained sanctuary at the vicarage, but in considering joining the RAF; by whom she was recently accepted to train at RAF Cranwell; she came into conflict with Amy's pacifist views.

The Pargetter family

Nigel Pargetter (played by Graham Seed, formerly by Nigel Caliburn, now Carrington [cite web
url= http://www.spotlight.com/interactive/cv/cv.asp?ref=M2586&pub=1&pic=html&tab=3
title= Nigel Carrington CV
accessdate= 2008-01-02
publisher= [http://www.spotlight.com/ Spotlight]
] ) is the eccentric pseudo-aristocratic owner of Lower Loxley Hall, a mansion on the outskirts of Ambridge. He was once considered to be somewhat dim and irresponsible, wearing a gorilla suit at a hunt ball, inadvertently joy riding with Shula (his-ex) and driving an ice-cream van as 'Mr Snowy'. Now he is just considered dim. In 1984 he became involved with Elizabeth, finding her unlike Shula: she tricked him in to helping her abscond from school. On the death of his father a few years later, he strove to save his ancestral home, and involving Elizabeth, now also more mature, as his marketing manager, he saved the hall for his family. Now married to Elizabeth for some years and the reputed father of twins Lily and Freddie, he was convicted of drink-driving in 2003. Nigel had only intermittent help from his beloved mother, Julia; more often she was a source of anxiety and friction, but she died suddenly in November 2005.cite archers episode|date=2005-11-05] Recently, Nigel has been concerned about the environment, and is trying to become "green". He has also taken an interest in his family history, particularly in his late Uncle Rupert.

Elizabeth Pargetter, née Archer (Alison Dowling) is Phil and Jill's youngest daughter and, along with Kenton, at first rejected village life, attempting a career in publicity in London. She returned to Ambridge but endured a disastrous relationship with local businessman Cameron Fraser (which resulted in Elizabeth undergoing an abortion) before snaring Nigel Pargetter, the owner of a local manor house, Lower Loxley. Elizabeth and Nigel have developed the stately home as a conference venue. Elizabeth was born with a heart defect. She became pregnant and had twins, Lily and Freddie, but the strain of the pregnancy on her heart meant that she soon afterwards had to undergo a heart valve replacement operation. Elizabeth is highly critical of the way David manages the Brookfield estate, and is very concerned to ensure that her family receives its due portion of the estate. Elizabeth's mother-in-law Julia, who lived in the family pile until her recent demise, was highly critical of Elizabeth.

The Tucker family

Mike Tucker (Terry Molloy) lost an eye in a farming accident, for which Brian Aldridge was found responsible. He was regarded as one of the most humourless characters in the village, even before the death of his beloved wife Betty in December 2005. [cite archers episode|date=2005-12-16] Mike was unsuccessful as a farmer, having gone bankrupt in the 1980s, and now runs a milk round in Ambridge. He also undertakes occasional forestry work. On New Year's Day 2007, he was run over by Helen Archer, but rescued by Robert Snell. When Tom took the blame, Tucker forbade him from continuing a relationship with Brenda, his daughter. However, after finding out that Helen was driving he became more sympathetic and apologised to Tom. His plan to split Willow Farm in two, so that Roy and Hayley can have a separate home, was initially resisted by Brenda.

Roy Tucker (Ian Pepperell) was formerly part of a teenage gang which perpetrated a series of racist attacks on Usha Gupta; he gave them her address. Realising the error of his ways, he went on to gain a degree in business studies at Felpersham University and now works at Grey Gables, recently being promoted to deputy manager. He had an on/off relationship with Kate Aldridge, which resulted in their daughter Phoebe being born in 1998, but he is now married to Hayley. Roy, Hayley and Phoebe live with Mike Tucker in Willow Farm. Attempts to find an affordable home for his family have met with failure for Roy.

Hayley Tucker, née Jordan (Lorraine Coady, formerly played by Lucy Davis) comes from Birmingham and first appeared as John Archer's girlfriend. Initially her urban background led to her being unprepared for rural life. Hayley and John split up shortly before his death in a tractor accident in 1998. In 2001 she married Roy Tucker and became stepmother to Phoebe; she continues to find Kate Aldridge's visits from South Africa to Ambridge uncomfortable. Hayley works at Lower Loxley formerly as nanny to Freddie and Lily Pargetter, but now they have been at school several years, as a rather amorphous children's visitor specialist. Despite Betty's sudden death, Hayley remains unhappy at living with her father-in-law and wishes that she and Roy had a home of their own. After an 'informational' storyline of difficulty in conceiving, Hayley gave birth to a baby daughter, Abigail (Abbie) in March 2008. The birth was somewhat (the chronology as aired is contradictory) premature and Abbie is expected to remain in hospital until her original due date, although medical practice is 'until 2.5 kilos'.

Brenda Tucker (Amy Shindler) has had some controversial short-term relationships, with Debbie's husband, with Lilian's then (much younger) lover and with Lilian's son. For several years she worked at Radio Borsetshire, until leaving home in 2005 to pursue a media studies degree. She returned home when her mother died suddenly in December 2005. Feeling unable to return to university, leaving her father so soon after Betty's death, she decided to transfer to Felpersham University, planning to return to her studies in September 2006. She started dating Tom Archer following a Valentine kiss after they grew closer in the weeks after her mother's death. Despite her often-quoted intelligence and ambition, Brenda appears content to continue working for Tom's burger venture. She has now moved in with Tom.

The Carter family

Neil Carter (Brian Hewlett), is another business failure. Susan wanted him to be a white collar worker but he decided that he was a pigman at heart. He used to be Tom's partner in a piggery. The family lived in a caravan, after selling their house, until he finished a self-build house on his own land. He dislikes all Grundys but especially Ed, who, until his disappearance, lived in the caravan with Emma and George.

Susan Carter, née Horrobin (Charlotte Martin) briefly became the most notorious Archers character ever when her imprisonment at Christmas 1993 for assisting her armed-robber brother Clive Horrobin led to the launch of the "Free the Ambridge One" campaign. Questions were asked in the House of Commons of then Home Secretary Michael Howard. Her aspirational tendencies took a hammering when daughter Emma married into the Grundy family in 2004, but in 2006 she was approved by the Royal Mail for the position of sub-postmistress despite her criminal record. She had previously worked for several years at the village shop and post office, and as Tom Archer's assistant in his sausage-making business.

Emma Grundy, née Carter (Felicity Jones) is the daughter of Susan and Neil Carter, who were horrified when their daughter announced she was marrying into the Grundy family. When Will discovered her infidelity with his brother, she moved with Ed and baby George to a caravan outside her parents' home. A DNA test showed that despite Emma's certainty to the contrary, George was Will's son. She returned to living with her parents.

Christopher Carter (Will Sanderson-Thwaite) is the younger offspring of the Carter family. His mother had some difficulty bonding with him when he was born with a hare lip. Now a blacksmith by occupation, he recently had a brief relationship with Venetia, the daughter of a prominent Borsetshire family. His mother rather desperately encouraged this, to Neil's disapproval, but the couple soon found themselves incompatible, and Chris finished the liaison.

Other Ambridge residents

Matt Crawford (Kim Durham) of Nightingale Farm is the chairman of "Borchester Land", a property development company, one of whose (frequently reluctant) directors is Brian Aldridge. An outsider by birth, Matt often appears to work himself into positions of power, such as the parish council, but many villagers are suspicious of his motives. For example, when local vet Alistair owed him a gambling debt, Matt said that he would reduce the amount he owed in exchange for the administration of performance enhancing drugs to one of his racehorses. Alistair refused, and Crawford increased the pressure, forcing Alistair and Shula to take out a mortgage on the stables, which they already owned. Matt's estate manager Graham Ryder (Malcolm McKee) is often seen as his puppet and many suspected that Matt directed his unsuccessful parish council election campaign in 2003. In 2005, Matt divorced his wife Yvette and has since moved in with his new partner Lilian Bellamy (daughter of Peggy Woolley). In this late romance she calls him "Tiger" and he her "Pussy-cat". In early 2008, Crawford and Lillian were briefly separated when she suspected him of having an affair with a Borchester Land board member Annabelle Scrivener (Julia Hills); in reality Scrivener rebuffed him.

Rev Alan Franks (John Telfer) was appointed motor-bike riding vicar of Ambridge and neighbouring parishes in 2003, moving from Nottingham where he had previously worked as an accountant and a non-stipendiary minister. He was widowed before moving to Ambridge and is the father of Amy, currently studying midwifery in Manchester. In late 2005, his blossoming relationship with Usha Gupta, a Hindu, caused some unease to some of his parishioners, including Shula Hebden Lloyd. In March 2008, Alan and Usha became engaged, to the opposition of his former mother-in-law Mabel and Usha's Aunt Satya.

Amy Franks (Vinette Robinson formerly played by Natalia Cappuccini) is the vicar's spirited daughter who is — or was until recently — a friend to Alice Aldridge. Catherine, her late mother, was of African-Caribbean descent.

Bert Fry, (Eric Allan) husband of Freda Fry (a silent character), was employed for many years as a farmhand by David and Ruth until his recent retirement although he still does some casual work. The couple continue to live in a farm cottage. His portrayal is close to a stereotypical "yokel", like Jethro Larkin before him. He composes poetry and has won several ploughing contests.

Usha Gupta (Souad Faress, formerly played by Sudha Bhuchar) works as a solicitor in Felpersham and is one of very few ethnic minority characters in the series. On moving into the village, Usha was the subject of a harassment campaign by a racist gang which included Roy Tucker. To offer support and protection the local GP, Richard Locke (William Gaminara), then her lover, moved into her house, Blossom Hill Cottage, shortly afterwards. When she discovered that he had had an affair with Shula Hebden she ended the relationship and threw him out. More recently, some local parishioners made complaints to the bishop when Alan, the vicar, began a relationship with Usha (who is Hindu). Usha is also regularly on the receiving end of helpful advice about her unmarried status by her Aunty Satya (Jamila Massey), an occasional visitor to Ambridge from Usha's home town of Wolverhampton who has attempted to match-make for her on numerous occasions. The character is said to be based on Kamlish Bahl, sometime a leader of the Law Society. [cite news
last = Mendick
first = Robert
title = 'I was on the brink,' says former Law Society chief
work = The Independent
date = 2000-08-27
url = http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/article270921.ece
accessdate = 2008-01-02
]

Sid Perks (Alan Devereux) is landlord of The Bull, Ambridge's village pub. He first came to Ambridge from Birmingham where he had been sent to borstal for breaking and entering, which made obtaining his publican's licence difficult. He has previously been widowed and divorced, but his third marriage to country singer Jolene is happier. He displayed vitriolic homophobia towards Sean Myerson, also a professional rival, when the latter captained the village cricket team, and again when Adam Macy began a relationship with Ian Craig, the Grey Gables chef. In early 2006, Sid and Jolene were concerned that the decision of Caroline Pemberton to sell her controlling interest in The Bull would threaten the pub's future, but were relieved when Lilian bought her share.

Kathy Perks (Hedli Niklaus), formerly married to Sid, now lives at April Cottage with her son Jamie. She manages the café and shop at Lower Loxley and organises occasional film nights at the village hall. Kenton Archer started dating her, intermittently living with her, but they quarrelled when he brought his three year old daughter, Meriel, to Ambridge and expected Kathy to look after her. Miserable and alone, Kathy befriended Lower Loxley chef, Owen King (a.k.a. Gareth Taylor), but he raped her just before Christmas 2004. It has taken Kathy some time to trust a man again, and Kenton has shown uncharacteristic patience in enabling her to rebuild her self-confidence. She finally reported her trauma to the Police in September 2007, after being informed that King had attacked another woman. He was convicted in April 2008.

Lynda Snell (Carole Boyd) lives at Ambridge Hall with her husband Robert Snell. They moved to Ambridge from Sunningdale in 1986 and she is resented as an outsider, a do-gooder and incomer. She is a keen gardener, and is often involved in disputes with her neighbour Joe Grundy. In 2003 she acquired two llamas, Wolfgang and Constanza (named after Mozart and his wife) who have been known to roam around the village — (let's try to forget there's a llama in the room). In May 2007 Constanza gave birth to a cria which Lynda named Salieri, reassuring one acquaintance that the legend of Salieri murdering Mozart is a myth. She attempts to produce a play every Christmas (an Archers in-joke), and often drives villagers to distraction in her attempts to fill parts. In 2004-05 Lynda ran a campaign to renovate the former Cat & Fiddle pub. Despite recruiting the help of Griff Rhys Jones, the scheme failed and the building (may have) become flats. January 2006 saw Lynda elected to the parish council alongside Lilian Bellamy. According to a BBC survey, she is the most annoying character on the show.

Robert Snell (Graham Blockey) was employed as a computer expert. He has found work in this area hard to obtain recently and has capitalised on his DIY skills to set up a small business doing general building work.

Caroline Sterling, née Bone, formerly Pemberton (Sara Coward) moved to the village in the 1977, aged 22, when she was hired by Sid as barmaid in the Bull. Her career took off when in 1979 Jack Woolley offered her a job at Grey Gables and she eventually became manager. Upon Jack's retirement, she and partner Oliver Sterling managed to raise funds to buy the hotel and she is now proprietor. On her arrival she soon attracted the attention of many of the male villagers — she once had an affair with Brian Aldridge, and was romantically linked with former village Doctor Matthew Thorogood, and businessman and one-time estate owner Cameron Fraser (who disappeared with £60,000 of her savings), and she was engaged to non-stipendiary minister and vet Robin Stokes. In 1995 she married the new owner of the estate, Guy Pemberton, but after only seven months of marriage he suffered a fatal heart attack and left her the Dower House and a majority share in the Bull (which she sold to Lilian Bellamy, in order to raise funds to buy Grey Gables). When Oliver Sterling moved to the village she began an affair with him and they eventually moved into Grange Farm together. They were married in June 2006.

Oliver Sterling (Michael Cochrane) Gentleman farmer who bought Grange Farm from the estate. Employs Ed Grundy to manage his dairy herd, and has created new cheeses with Helen Archer. Married to Caroline. In March 2008 he had problems with the herd being infected by Bovine TB.

Recurring characters

Heather Pritchard (Joyce Gibbs) Ruth Archer's widowed mother who lives in Prudhoe, Northumberland. She is now a rare guest in Ambridge, but returned in 2008 to look after the family when Ruth had her breast reconstruction surgery. Also in contact with Professor Jim Lloyd, Alistair's father.

Satya Khanna ("Auntie Satya"; Jamila Massey) An occasional visitation upon long-suffering niece Usha Gupta. Forever trying to give Usha unwanted relationship advice or a welcome shoulder to cry on, and architect of numerous failed matchmaking ruses. Thanks to Usha's parents' disapproval toward their daughter's lifestyle, Satya provides the main link with her family. No mean cook, Sayta often arrives bearing food parcels for her culinarily inept niece.

Former principal characters

Over the years some of the original cast members have died, left the show or retired and their characters have had to be replaced or killed off by the scriptwriters.

Dan Archer (Harry Oakes, Monte Crick, Edgar Harrison and Frank Middlemass) was the first owner of Brookfield and the patriarch of the Archer family. The character survived the deaths of the first three actors before finally being killed off in 1986. Elizabeth witnessed his fatal attempt to rescue a sheep in difficulty, despite her pleading with him not to.

Doris Archer (Gwen Berryman), Dan's wife and mother of Phil Archer and his siblings. Her death was discovered by Shula in 1980.

Grace Archer (Monica Gray and Ysanne Churchman) was Phil Archer's first wife and the first major character to be killed off. The episode featuring her death was first broadcast on 22 September 1955. The previous night, which happened to be the night that ITV (now ITV1), the UK's first commercial television channel was launched, she received fatal injuries, trying to rescue her horse, Midnight, from a fire. This was seen as a ploy to keep loyal viewers and listeners away from the new station.

Aunt Laura (Gwenda Wilson and Betty McDowall), New Zealander in-law of the Archer clan who fulfilled a similar dramatic role to Lynda Snell who now lives in Aunt Laura's former home, Ambridge Hall. In 1985, Aunt Laura fell in a ditch and listeners were treated to her forlorn cries while owls hooted overhead. She was found alive and spent a week in hospital being treated for pneumonia, but died of heart failure soon after being discharged on St Valentine's Day, while her friend Freddy Danby read to her from "Moby-Dick".

Tom Forrest (George Hart and Bob Arnold) was Doris Archer's brother and a gamekeeper. He was a major character for many years and used to introduce the omnibus edition on Sunday mornings. In 1957, he was charged with manslaughter after shooting poacher Bob Larkin. He was cleared after being on trial.

Marjorie Antrobus (Margot Boyd), was from a colonial background in Kenya; she was the widow of Teddy. A breeder of Afghan hounds, Marjorie let out her flat at Nightingale Farm to Ruth and later to Roy and Hayley. She was an occasionally bossy, but well-meaning do-gooder in the village. After moving to The Laurels retirement home, she was a silent character for several years before her death was finally mentioned on the 13th August 2008. (Margot Boyd died on 20 May 2008. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7411468.stm Archers' Mrs Antrobus dies at 94] ] )

Sophie Barlow (Moir Leslie) a fashion designer who was once engaged to David and once involved much of Ambridge in her fashion shows. She reappeared in the serial in August 2006. [cite archers episode|date=2006-08-28] She flirted with David and made a play to have an affair with him. When the reality of her flirting dawned on the naïve David he backed away and she returned to London. David's wife Ruth had meanwhile in exasperation at David's seeming affair fallen in love with the farm's contractor Sam.

Tim Beecham (Tim Brierley and David Parfitt), an old friend of Nigel Pargetter. Once well known for persistently failing his law exams. Nigel and Shula found themselves in court in 1984 for taking a car they erroneously believed to be Beecham's. Now a silent and seldom mentioned character.

Colonel Freddy Danby (Norman Shelley and Ballard Berkeley) lodged with Laura Archer at Ambridge Hall. A widower he always wanted to marry her, but it was not to be. Affairs became difficult as when she died, her property was left to a New Zealand relative and the colonel was cut out.

Siobhan Donovan (formerly Hathaway, Caroline Lennon) moved in to Honeysuckle Cottage in 1999 with her husband, new local doctor Tim Hathaway. [cite archers episode|date=1999-03-16] Their marriage came under strain when Siobhan miscarried a much-wanted baby and Tim became close to Ambridge's vicar Janet Fisher. It collapsed completely after Tim discovered Siobhan's affair with Brian Aldridge. In November 2002, Siobhan gave birth to Brian's child Ruairí, [cite archers episode|date=2002-11-14] but she moved to Germany after Brian refused to leave Jennifer. Siobhan has made occasional appearances in "The Archers" when Brian made clandestine visits to Germany to see his son, while supposedly on business trips to Hungary. Siobhan's revelation in 2007 that she had terminal cancer, and her request to Brian to care for Ruairí after her death, brought another crisis to the relationship of Brian and Jennifer, who eventually agreed to Brian's request for them to raise Ruairí together. [cite archers episode|date=2007-05-25] She died from cancer on 31 May 2007. [cite archers episode|date=2007-05-31] and Ruairí came to Ambridge to live with his father, although much of his care falls, not without a struggle, on his father's wife, Jennifer. The circumstances of Ruairí's arrival briefly engulfed the village in gossip and, for some, scandal.

Janet Fisher (Moir Leslie), the former vicar of Ambridge and surrounding villages, was a close friend of Shula's. Ambridge was one of the first parishes to have a female incumbent.

Cameron Fraser (Delaval Astley) came to Ambridge in the late 1980s when he bought the Berrow Estate from Lilian Bellamy. Became quite the local villain during his relatively brief tenure which saw Mike Tucker lose an eye in an accident, Marjorie Antrobus swindled out of a sizeable portion of her savings, and a pregnant Elizabeth Archer abandoned at a motor service station as he fled overseas to escape arrest. He had also attempted to rape Shula Archer.

Walter Gabriel (Robert Mawdesley and Chriss Gittins), originally a smallholder, was a friend of the Archers' and provided comic relief in the years before the Grundy family were introduced. Walter continually tried to romance Mrs. Perkins, Peggy's mother, who he referred to as "Mrs. P". Walter Gabriel's phrase "My old pal, my old beauty" remains one of the most enduringly-remembered phrases associated with "The Archers", even among non-listeners.

Nelson Gabriel (Jack May), Walter's son, was for many years the most disreputable character in the village. He had a shady history. He was charged with the Borchester mail-van robbery in 1967, but was eventually acquitted. After spells in London and Spain, he ran a wine bar and later an antique shop (with Kenton Archer). Finally he suddenly disappeared to South America, where he died in strange circumstances. [cite archers episode|date=2001-03-18]

Jethro Larkin (George Hart), Stereotypical yokel. His tenure came to end in 1987 when helping David fell a tree using a chainsaw. So two Larkin family members, Jethro and Bob, have met their end at the hands of members of the Archer family (see under Tom Forrest). Father of Clarrie.

Julia Pargetter-Carmichael, mother of Nigel Pargetter and sometime entertainer, died from a stroke in 2005, shortly after the actress who played her, Mary Wimbush, died, also from a stroke, aged 81. [cite news
title = Archers star Wimbush dies at 81
url = http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/tv_and_radio/4396376.stm
publisher = BBC News
date = 2005-11-01
accessdate = 2008-01-02
]

Simon Pemberton (Peter Wingfield), Guy Pemberton's caddish son, inherited the estate after his father's death. Pemberton unsuccessfully attempted to end the Grundy's tenancy of Grange Farm following their farm fire in 1996. He had a brief relationship with Shula after Mark's death, but hit her after she confronted him with evidence that he was involved with another woman. (Many a listener cheered) Subsequently, he came close to having a relationship with Debbie Aldridge, but Pemberton assaulted her after she confessed that she could not love him. [cite archers episode|date=1997-04-17] (Many a listener cried) Pemberton then quickly left Ambridge after denying responsibility for his actions to Brian. [cite archers episode|date=1997-04-18] [cite web
url= http://members.tripod.com/~kat_troth/pages/simplot.html
title= Simon Pemberton: Plot Summary, March-April 1997
accessdate= 2008-01-02
author= Phillip Troth
coauthors= Catriona Troth
date= 1997-09-06
]

John Tregorran (Roger Hume, Basil Jones, Simon Lack, Philip Morant and Basil Jones) originally arrived in Ambridge in a gypsy caravan. Thoughtful and provocative, Tregorran was such a popular and charismatic character that listeners at Archers public events still ask about him — and about Carol Grey, whom he eventually married.

Betty Tucker (Pamela Craig) wife of Mike, mother of Roy and Brenda. Betty was a popular villager who supported the family even when Mike was violent and depressed. Betty managed the village shop and kept hens and gossiped. She died suddenly before Christmas 2005. She was written out of the series when the actress who played her retired and emigrated to New Zealand.

Silent characters

"The Archers" is famous for its silent characters, who often play important roles in the narrative despite not being played by actors. They are numerous, and most only "appear" once or twice. Some of the better known are:

Baggy, and Fat Paul — disreputable friends of Eddie Grundy. Snatch Foster was formerly also a friend of Eddie Grundy, but ended up in prison for selling condemned meat to him.

Mandy Beesborough — Brian missed his daughter Alice's birth because he was at the races with her. She has daughters including India, whom Oliver and Caroline's foster child Carly described (in an unfortunate bout of fat prejudice) as having "an arse the size of a continent".

Neville Booth (bellringer) and his nephew Nathan (clear skies enthusiast and parish council candidate).

Derek Fletcher — "incomer" (only been in Ambridge since 1979) who lives on the Glebelands housing development. He is currently chair of the parish council. Known for his 'NIMBY' views and collection of garden gnomes. In a standing joke, he is often described as excessively talkative.

Pru Forrest — Tom Forrest's wife. Originally Pru Harris, barmaid of the Bull. The part was originally played by Mary Dalley but fell silent during the 1970s. The character famously spoke once to Terry Wogan and was played on that occasion by Judi Dench

Freda Fry — wife of Bert Fry. Her cooking at The Bull is widely admired. Until she gave her notice in January 2007, she worked as cleaner at Brookfield.

(John) Higgs — Jack Woolley's chauffeur and handyman at Grey Gables. Often thought by Grey Gables staff to be rather sinister.

Jessica — buxom falconer at Lower Loxley. Has been known to attract Nigel's eye.

Trudy Porter — silent for 34 years, until 4 April 2006, when listener Christine Hunt played her in a charity special, after her husband paid £17,000 to Children in Need. [cite web
title = Christine plays Trudy — and wins!
publisher = BBC Radio 4
date = 2006-04-04
url = http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/archers/backstage/cin_2005_recording.shtml
accessdate = 2008-01-02
]

Eileen Titcombe (formerly Pugsley) — housekeeper at Lower Loxley. Known for many years as just 'Mrs Pugsley', until her marriage to Titcombe.

Edgar Titcombe — head gardener at Lower Loxley, who is married to the widowed Mrs. Pugsley. Noted for always wearing a battered hat. Known unversally as simply 'Titcombe'.

Bob Pullen — nonagenarian resident of Manorfield Close. His weak bladder is a regular source of amusement to speaking characters.

Animals

Numerous animals have been referred to during "The Archers"' run. They have of course been played by the "special effects department" as necessary.

Captain Jack Woolley's dog was a frequent nuisance to guests and staff at Grey Gables, and was regularly indulged by his owner. Captain died suddenly while Jack was on his honeymoon with Peggy.

Sammy Peggy Woolley's cat was always finding himself in scrapes and being indulged by his owner until he spent the last of his "nine lives".

Lone Ranger Freda Fry's stray cat who died in 2007 from a bite feared to be from an escaped snake. This led to stories of The Worm of Ambridge, a legendary monster, resurfacing — thanks to Joe Grundy's fertile imagination.

References


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