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to article startThis is the third in a series of documents that analyse manipulative writing techniques used by reporters, and others, in order to promote their own political agendas.

by guest writer, Robert Henderson

The longest running soap-opera in the world, The Archers, has just experienced its first homosexual kiss. Listeners to the programme will be surprised only by the fact it was so long in coming. Non-listeners who know only that The Archers is meant to be an “Everyday story of countryfolk” will be simply surprised.

Ambridge is supposed to be a small English village (with a population of a couple of hundred at best) set in farming country, the sort of place where the inhabitants have only just taught themselves not to point at aeroplanes, at least not when strangers are present.

Into this environment the BBC has introduced in the past ten years, a homosexual couple running one of the village pubs, an Asian solicitor (whose circle of Asian relatives and friends is currently being assiduously introduced into the cast), a female vicar, a working-class male vicar whose deceased wife was black and whose teenage daughter is in modish socialworkspeak of “dual heritage”. This daughter immediately became “best friends” with the youngest and very middle-class daughter of the richest farmer in the village, Brian Aldridge.

The grandmother of the vicar’s daughter, a particularly irritating caricature of a god-fearing black Jamaican, has been shoehorned into a story of drug abuse in the village, the drug abuse involving (natch) a white addict being supplied by supplied by white dealers.

One of the daughters (Kate) of Brian Aldridge, has married a black South African and has another “dual heritage” child. The stepson of the same farmer, Adam Macy, has returned and “come out” and has begun an affair with the new Grey Gables chef, a homosexual Ulsterman with a bizarre persona – think a young and mincing Ian Paisley.

The introduction of white characters into the serial in recent years has shown a new trend. A surprising number of them are not English. The homosexual Ulster chef is the most recent example. Before him was the beautiful Irish siren who seduced Brian Aldridge. Before him a handsome Hungarian agricultural student.

To these particular PC [politically correct] character developments may be added certain general PC rules of the series. Except in very special circumstances where they can act as useful idiots in the PC cause by moving temporarily out of character, all men are either bastards or wimps, all women are heroically struggling to tolerate their men, any ethnic character is a model of rectitude, vastly able and, if young, beautiful or handsome. No male character may criticise any female character unless a female character is available to correct them. No white character other than Roy Tucker (more later) has ever been known to criticise a black or Asian character and under all normal circumstances no mention will be made of the fact that they are not white. Indeed, Kate Aldridge’s black South African husband managed to appear for weeks in the serial without anyone commenting on the fact he is black.

There are also class and age rules. Increasingly, the higher the social status, the worse the characters behave. In any conflict of views with someone of a lower social status, the higher status person will be made to seem inept at best or wrong-headed at worst. Where the class of the characters in a scene is the same, the female dominance rule applies if the company is mixed-sex.

As for age, the older cast members are normally used to express non-PC views, for example, the matriarch of the Archer family, Peggy Woolley, refusal to accept the female vicar and the landlord of The Bull, Sid Perks, evinced a dislike of homosexuals. Very occasionally a younger cast member is allowed to express non-PC views, as was the case with Roy Tucker, who had a brief flirtation with the local racists. But old or young, the non-PC character is invariably nullified by large numbers of characters with PC views and frequently contradicted directly. The non-PC character is simply there to act as a theatrical device to amplify the PC message.

There is also great joy over the non-PC sinner who repenteth, which they almost invariably do in remarkably abrupt and unconvincing fashion. Roy Tucker went from support for National Front-style policies to being the shiniest of “new men” in a trice. That set a trend as all recent new fathers in the serial have had the same fate thrust upon them.

Hilarious as all this is to those of us with a weakness for agitprop - we just cannot resist the clankingly crude propaganda lines masquerading as fact and reality – I cannot help feeling that it may not be quite what The Archers’ audience generally favour. Indeed, they may be so unprogressive as to think that a small English village set in farming country might look rather different from the current very PC world of The Archers.

Their idea of the village could well be one where the inhabitants are uniformly white and English. Where support for country pursuits is perilously close to 100 percent. Where homosexual rights are not an issue because there are no overt homosexuals in the community. Where sexual equality is thought to be “damn nonsense”. Where a female vicar would be thought unworthy of the name of priest. Where the sight of strangers would be cause for frank and extended comment. Where the sight of a black or brown face would arouse the same sort of amazement as the aeroplanes going overhead.

Such a village would be a House of Horrors for The Archers’ producer and writers, a creation made all the more terrifying because somewhere in the remote recesses of their minds they will dimly know it represented reality, or at least came much closer to reality than their nightly bill of politically correct multicultural fare.

That The Archers is simply a vehicle for the more extreme PC propagandists within the BBC is self-evident. The question is should we lament its existence? I suggest the answer is no, because it performs the vital function of demonstrating beyond any shadow of doubt the institutionalised political bias within the [British Broadcasting] Corporation. That bias cannot be explained away for, unlike news and current affairs programmes where apologists for the corporation can fudge the issue of bias by pointing to such things as pressure of time or news priorities, The Archers shows the view of the world the BBC wishes to put before its audience. It is their articulated political dream, created at leisure and unmarked by any dissenting voice.

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