Archive for January, 2011

Educating Archers

Sunday, January 2nd, 2011

Although The Archers fan club has suggested ‘We don’t think that any character has studied with The Open University’, in recognition of the special interest group at the online Village Hall, Ambridge, where OU students meet, this blog is marking sixty years of the broadcasting of the soap by suggesting a connection.

As other postings have noted (eg 15th December 2010) many countries ran their own radio-inspired discussion groups for farmers and connected broadcasting to learning in ways upon which the OU could build. In the UK, however, the BBC opted not only for discussion groups but started to broadcast a radio soap, The Archers, in order to provide advice for farmers. In 1948 a farmer proposed to a Ministry of Agriculture meeting (held, according to one source, in Birmingham Council Chamber pictured) that a daily radio serial could help increase food production. BBC agricultural producer Godfrey Basely developed the notion and in 1951, the first episode of The Archers, including material from the Ministry of Agriculture, was broadcast. For an account see here. (more…)