Dear producers, commissioners, writers and other masterminds behind ‘The Archers’.
Your programme is a great institution. It keeps the cognoscenti from topping themselves over the state of British ‘continuing drama’ and it remains perhaps our finest regional accent safari outside of the RSC. I’ve been a committed advocate for years- I was even a founding member of the Eddie Grundy fan club, having been convinced by John Peel and his producer John Walters.
This in mind, why oh why do you choose to deal in archetypes, clichés and flagrant misinformation? Why must your 5 million (million) listeners be poisoned with a hackneyed view of the PR industry? This is a radio 4 show with a demographic over a certain age- line up your listeners and you’ll find more agency heads per square foot than you will in the Groucho Club. Yet the entire dairy storyline parodies and stereotypes the communications process, incorporating social media, public debate and crisis PR into its field of misunderstanding.
I’m talking, of course, about PR guru Rufus, whose agency Moynihan & Parker (a name which somehow suggests to me nefarious Big Pharma contacts- always background check your associates, Brian) is helping to quieten the buzz around Ambridge’s new ‘Mega-Dairy’. Rufus, to be fair to him, isn’t quite a champagne-swilling Patsy or Edina, but what he is is a little bit useless. He’s all talk. He’s the kind of person who consults the ‘water menu’ for longer than it takes to choose his food.
Much as it might pain some of the core audience to admit, your show actually enjoys a rich communications heritage. Conceived originally as an information resource for farmers in post-world war II ‘austerity Britain’, if introduced today it would be adorning the cover of PR Week and swamping Twitter for days.
My own professional concern aside, is it really helpful for your programme, which once took pride in dispensing helpful advice to beleaguered businesspeople, to advise against hiring a PR firm? Is it advisable to present entrepreneurs not only as part-dickensian megalomaniacs but as bullshit-merchants as well? When the British economy comes to its knees and we’re all living off roots and grubs in the woods, I’ll make sure I choose Ambridge as the site of my makeshift toilet. For shame.