On being a writer...

A celebration of the writing process, of being a writer, of all the weird things that pass through a writing brain...

Sunday, 8 July 2012

Wimbledon versus The Archers

How we love a bit a drama.  The roof being used on Centre Court caused endless chat and speculation (partly to fill time) partly because it all added to the tension.  And of course in fiction, drama is what makes the book tick along.  I'm reading Hollinghurst's The Stranger's Child at the moment, which I love, and is a series of tiny dramas and unravellings of plot and revisiting and rediscovery.  It's been described as a kind of Middlemarch and so it is.

But these dramas have to be earned, which is why, in my humble opinion, The Archers has gone so sadly adrift and is likely to implode.  You cannot impose dramas from the air, as it were.  They have to be grown and nurtured and paced, because if you have too many, you just get sick, like eating too may chocolate bars - or seeing Murray play a final every day.  And there's as much drama in a slug eating a prized cabbage, if the moment is well enough earned, as there is in all this implausible stuff about giving evidence in court.

So give us a break, earn the drama.


  1. I guess by virtue of the fact that you posted this on a Sunday that you have listened to the omnibus edition of the Archers, Katherine? Whilst I agree with you that drama has to be built, allowed to smoulder and then sometime burst into life I think that is a problem for the writers of soap dramas (yes I include the Archers in this description nowadays) in that they have to hold their audience over a series of daily broadcasts that incentivises them to tune in for the next episode. The need to provide their audience with instant gratification becomes ludicrous on occasions. The better example is Coronation Street where last week a 'taxi war' started and was all over in a week. If you watched it in one run instead of six episodes it was little more than shallow farce - but of course the writers are building to a mini drama at the end of each epiosode. I think we can forgive the writers given these pressures providing they also include the 'slow burners' that build in intensity and excitement. Actually I think the Adam/David/Ruth story is building quite nicely in the Archers except that when you listen to it in one omnibus edition you can't help noticing the gaps and implausibility. I mean, would the Police be so 'hands off' in such circumstances? And would Ruth do such a 180 degree turn on the basis of something Kenton said? You can cover all this in a book or play or even a film but it's so much more difficult when you've got less than 15 minutes broadcasting. Maybe I am being too apologetic for them. I do think the quality of their writing has diminished and we are beginning to lose the identity and compass of these long running 'soaps'. I hope not.

  2. Yes, but somebody said to me about Wimbledon that she has no interest in tennis the rest of the year but there's something awfully restful about watching that ball for a couple of weeks, in a contained space. And so with The Archers. The whole point is, we don't need high drama all the time, we need little blips and the odd surprise, a joke, a sadness, and then, maybe cumulatively, something extraordinary.