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9th January 2017, 2:41pm  (updated 21st February 2017, 11:21am)
BBC Radio 4 producers to speak at Academic Archers 2017
Life and death in Ambridge – Academic Archers conference returns in 2017 Almost 150 fans of The Archers will come together at the University of Lincoln, UK, this weekend (Friday 17th and Saturday 18th February) to hear from academics from across the UK as they shed light on the people, places and plot-lines of the cult Radio 4 soap opera.

The University will host the second Academic Archers conference over the course of two days, which will include a field trip to the village Rippingale to hear how it inspired the creation of the show.

Thirty-two specialists will deliver research papers from a wide range of disciplines, and will be joined by special guests, BBC Producer for The Archers, Jenny Thompson, and Assistant Producer Hannah Ratcliffe, who will be exploring 66 years of The Archers archives.
The Archers in Fact and Fiction: Academic analyses of life in rural Borsetshire in 2017 takes an academic look at life in Ambridge and Borsetshire, with research from many fields covering themes including social media, education, religion, flower and produce shows, birdwatching, class and masculinity, eating disorders and dietary health, flood resilience, perceptions of physicality and family dysfunctionality.

The 2017 conference is dedicating a whole strand to the Helen and Rob story line, with papers covering coercive and controlling relationships, the disablement of Rob Titchener, nurturing traditional gender roles in The Archers, music and the ‘soundtrack to a stabbing’ and forensic Blood Pattern Analysis at Blossom Hill Cottage. Other 2017 conference strands are ‘Genteel country hobbies?’, ‘Educating Ambridge’, ‘The geography of Ambridge’, ‘Power relationships’, ‘Bereavement and spirituality’ and ‘Ambridge online’.

The symposium is organised on a voluntary basis by long-time fans of the programme, Dr Cara Courage and Dr Nicola Headlam, of the University of Oxford, joined this year by Professor Carenza Lewis of the University of Lincoln, who is hosting the conference.

Carenza said:  “I’m delighted to host Academic Archers 2017 at the University of Lincoln, both as a fan of The Archers of 30 years standing and also because in casting new light on this iconic BBC series, the conference will make expert research accessible, exciting and relevant to wider audiences, which is a high priority for universities today.”

Cara added: “We are doing this out of a love for the programme, and of our subjects; the conference is intended to link the two to illuminate and explain life in Ambridge and use this to throw an interdisciplinary light on wider social issues too.”

Nicola continued: “Radio 4 is the natural habitat for academics when writing from home - and more than you might imagine are obsessives! This is reflected by the extraordinary breadth and quality of papers that we received - all were subjected to a novel co-produced peer review process which included a panel of 15 listeners - who proved extremely harsh reviewers indeed. Part of me thinks we must be mad to cram all the organisation of another conference and book around our day jobs - but the enthusiasm of The Archers fandom is infectious!”

Those who were unable to attend the event can still enjoy the conference by watching each session at

A book of papers from the first conference in 2016 is available, published by Peter Lang, and news on Academic Archers can be found on its Facebook page:

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