Occasionally Asked Questions

If a FAQ is a list of Frequently Asked Questions, then I guess this can, truthfully, only be called a list of OAQs .... (I pronounce it 'Oak' but you will have your own mind in these matters ;-)

There is some more up to date news at the end of this page

Bankruptcy Attorney
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"Why do you bother?"

I used to occasionally dip into Tim's summaries and when, back in 1996, he went away for the summer I volunteered to offer them a home. Silly mistake really! But, judging by the feedback and the number of accesses (over 100,000 per year for the last few years), it's a popular resource. One of my old bugbears was that the web was a triumph of image over content, so it is nice to be able to provide something almost unique. (I know that something is either unique or it isn't, but when I wrote that I was the only Archers summaries site on the web, while there are now three of us, I'm still the only one not officially connected to the programme, so it's a genuine "almost unique"!)

"When do you update them?"

Increasingly rarely. And increasingly less frequently by me.

I no longer have a radio by my desk, but I do spend my life here and there is such a thing as Real Audio narrowcasting of Radio Four, so the latest summary will normally appear at one of three times:

  1. 19:30-ish, immediately after the broadcast because I'm listening at my desk and type my notes up immediately.
  2. 10:00-ish the following morning if I've listened to the evening edition at home and will update the page when I get into work.
  3. 14:15-ish the afternoon after if I was doing something else in the early evening and was relying on the lunchtime repeat.

I used to promise to endeavour to have the page updated in advance of the following episode, whatever happened. This is no longer the case in all the time since I took over from Tim I've only missed a very few episodes completely, for which I heartily apologise! Nowaways this never happens because I can shameless nab the summaries from the Addicts' site.

Where's the last week's summary?

Sorry. I have a job. I have a sporting/social life.

I am not paid to maintain the site, I do it out of the goodness of my heart. I do it all in my spare time - and sometimes in my not so spare time. Things will get down. Badgering me and chastising me for letting things lapse will not speed me up. When people complain to me I complain back.

"My web access is really slow ....."

I've tried to avoid graphics so that the bulk of the information you have to pull from my server is text (and the few graphics that are around are tiny), which means that even servers a way away or accessing through low bandwidth connections should be as quick as possible.

I do e-mail the weekly page to a (small-ish) mailing list and would be quite happy to add anyone to it who would like to avoid the bother of having to connect to the web page, visit the mailing-list page for more information.

"What's happened to so-and-so/since blah/&c. ...."

Errrmmmm. Buy 'The Book'? Look in the FAQ? Post a message to the UMRA newsgroup? Try looking in Peter Hesketh's archer's chronology?

I can try and answer, but it's not easy! I'll quite happily field specific questions but general ones aren't really my bailiwick :-(

"Your summaries are good but ...."

"About that storyline ...."

I am not a scriptwriter! Nor are the scriptwriters summarisers. At the bottom of each week I list the scriptwriter credited by the Radio Times for that week, they nor the Beeb have any contact with me, so I have no means of influencing scripts nor do I have knowledge ahead of time. Sometimes I wish I did, but I don't.

Occasionally someone will cover for me, but when this happens they get full credit and are described as summarisers. It's an easy mistake to make.

Other bits of news

25 January 2000

Handles and flying off them

Yesterday I complained at the content of a couple of e-mails I received. Maybe I did fly off the handle a little so thanks to everyone who wrote to smooth the ruffled feathers!

Re-affirm

These pages are completely unofficial - I have no official connection to the BBC, the Archers Addicts or anyone else officially related to the programme. Summaries appear when someone gets around to writing them! Normally this is before the next one is broadcast ... sometimes it's not. "C'est la vie", I'm afraid.

December 2000

The 50th Anniversary Book ...

No, not some BBC-sponsored fluff ...

On January 1, TA celebrates its golden anniversary, dragging us kicking and screaming into the third millenium as it notches up its half-ton, raising its bat to the pavilion of British life ... but how will it acknowledge the crowd?

What are everyone's predictions? If you've any ideas, let me know - send an email to archers.predictions@lowfield.co.uk and I'll publish, those that are publishable at least, them on this site and we can see who's right ...

I've had some great responses ...

"Elizabeth will die on New Year's Day, or sooner if she likes."

Keep them coming - the best of 'em are published here. Seems like the nation sees this as a good time to get rid of Elizabeth, Phil's looking a little dubious but the villagers' lovelives are a little less obvious ...

Wednesday, November 22

Recording

A few people have emailed to ask about recordings and tapings and such. At the moment the BBC only stream the episodes live, as far as I know there are no plans to make the programme available on demand as they do with some of their news output. (Different departments, I suppose.)

I am reasonably sure that Auntie wouldn't like me (or anyone else) to make recordings available over the net (I'm also sure that my provider wouldn't appreciate that either).

That said, if anyone can make tape or MiniDisc (or other media) copies available the Beeb have said that they don't mind this. (They even tell you how to do it and the Addicts put people in touch with like minded folks.) Taking this on to the next, hi-tec, stage P2P exchange (via Napster, Gnutella or so on) is a natural progression .... But I cannot do this for people, so please don't even ask as I would only have to say no anyway.

Monday, November 13

With Thanks

Last month, in the face of an increasing workload, I decided that I had little option but to increasingly rely on my co-ordination of a group of summarisers to fill in the gaps which my own inability to listen was creating.

Thus far this new system seems to be working - we've had no major gaps in the summaries (although with an enhanced variability of their time of publication)!

The list seems ample for its current purposes but if you would like to offer your services, drop me a line!

Monday, September 19

Your views of the Future

Last week I suggested that

"After 4 years, more than a thousand episodes and several hundred thousand hits to this page alone, I'm giving some thought to the future of this site. With the BBC webcasting the programme as well as providing their own summary (and the Addicts archiving them), is there still a need for an alternative voice?"

Gratifyingly, and curiously, it seems that the world is singing from the same song sheet and that severe hexes will be chanted in my direction should I attempt to wind up the site. So, for the meantime, I suppose that I have little option but to increasingly rely on my co-ordinating a group of summarisers to fill in the gaps which my own inability to listen will create.

If you would like to offer your services, drop me a line!

Monday, September 11

I hope ...

... that you didn't notice any major differences while I was away on holiday, and many thanks to Brian Maskell (with help from Lesley Tulley, Rachael Reynolds and Paul Ansell) who covered so well for me. (Probably doing a better job, I suspect ....) Rest assured that a few pages of holiday snaps will appear as soon as I can find time to scan them in!

Guest Writers?

Every so often I can't be around every day to summarise and need a little help. While putting together my list of things to do for planning my summer holiday, adding a few names to the list of possible summarisers finds its way on.

If you listen to the programme at all and would be willing to be on the list of people that occasionally gets asked to provide cover for me (it doesn't happen very often!) could you drop me a line?

Anniversary

The Archers turned 50 (for the first time), the Queen Mum is about to turn 100 and the Archers Summaries have just celebrated their first year with their current host. So thanks to Peter for providing as stable a host as I could want, thanks to the programme for still being (just about) worth writing about and, mostly, thank you all for coming and reading my summaries (and for coming back), for writing to me about them and for satisfying the geek in me in providing lots of silly statistics.

Friday, July 14

Small Warning

It's been pointed out to me that The Addicts' web-site's summaries (pale imitations of what you'll find around here, naturally!) are, potentially, giving away spoilers - being official, they get all the synopses in advance and publish the links only when the episode has been broadcast. That doesn't mean that future summaries aren't there and it seems that they've been mucking the links up a little recently, making visible future storylines ...

Just a few words to the wise!

I wouldn't warn you off them, they are nice enough to buy advertising space, after all!

Monday, June 26

Doom-di-doom-di-doom-di-doom

Damn! I wish I'd thought of that one ...

"Sic transit gloria mundi" ... I can't remember exactly saying it, but I'm quoted in an article in last Sunday's SIndy. (The reporter also took up my plea to the SWs from below!)

Monday, June 19

Doom and Gloom overshadow anniversaries

A few important dates have just gone by - on the 29th May the programme celebrated its first 50th birthday (it's a bit like the Queen, it has two. The next will be on New Years Day, next year) and last Sunday we heard the 13,000th episode.

What a shame there's not much to celebrate. Barring Neil and Mike's strawberry fiasco (an annual event recently) and Lynda's feng shui ridiculousness (what next? comedy flower arranging?!) there's precious little light in the Grundy/Ruth/Sid`n'Kathy gloom.

(And, apart from anything else, that's not going to do my hit count any good!)

Wednesday, May 3

Advertising

As you can see, this page now carries an advert for the Archers Addicts. Hopefully this will benefit both parties - I get a little reward for the effort (which is secondary compare to the primary positivity I get from all the messages from happy followers unable to listen) and they hope to see an increase in traffic - and sale income, presumably!

I do, though, underline my comment in the disclaimer at the bottom of this page, that I am independent of the BBC, the Addicts and everyone officially connected with the programme.

So if you're after an Archers gift for someone, click through to their shop and nose around, make it worth their while to support me. If, however, you feel strongly that I've done wrong in taking, indirectly, Auntie's shilling - then tell me - I am more than willing to listen.

Tuesday, April 18

Grundy Accuracy?

Another punter points out a corking anomaly;

"How come the Grundys were allowed to run up feed bills of £8,000 when Neil left his job over the fact that they were chased for £1500?"

A fine point, I think you'll all agree.

Monday, March 13

"What's Eddie Grundy done to deserve this? "

I couldn't have put it better myself. It's a bit of an extreme way to get Brian and Eddie on the same team ....

An article, pointed out to me, from the online version of the Grauniad. (NB. There are a few plot spoilers in the article, so reader be aware.)

Tuesday, February 29

Thelma Rogers, RIP

News has broken that Thelma Rogers, who played a number of roles over the years, most notably filling in for June Spencer the original (and current) Peggy, died last month.

The BBC carry an obituary.

How to bolster The Grundy Fund?

A correspondent suggests;

If enough people e-mailed and telephoned Radio 2 requesting Eddie Grundy's old Country and Western record, could we get it on the playlist? And if we got it on the playlist, could we all rush out and ask for it in the record shops? And could somebody out there in advertising not use it to back a jeans advert or the like? And could we get him into the charts? And then, could he not expect a substantial royalty cheque to rescue him from all his woes?

(Maybe if it worked, the real money could go to a tenant farmers' benevolent fund.)

Well, it's an idea, isn't it?

Friday, February 11

"The Blair Watch Project" - A Clarification

It shouldn't be too difficult to work out - but I'm completely independent of the programme producers, of the BBC, of certain groups (plural) whose abbreviations are AA and of all major farming/countryside pressure groups.

I am not a personal friend of any of the scriptwriters, crew, characters, cast nor Mr Tony Blair, MA (Oxon).

I just run a website to keep people informed and, I hope, entertained as to the goings on in Ambridge - a strange village somewhere in a space-time anomaly a little out of our dimension, but in an existence which we're full able to appreciate. It's not real life, it's not fiction. If people take it seriously enough to report Borsetshire events in the newspapers then, look around you, I can hardly judge them, can I?

Tuesaday, February 2

The Listener

A correspondent writes;

Given that it's back, http://www.thelistener.co.uk/ (albeit for a short time), shall we lobby for the return of the 'Unheard Ambridge' Cartoon Script?

I was never a huge Listener reader, but it certainly sounds like the kind of thing that is worthy of resurrecting!

Monday, February 1

Developmental Delay?

Another correspondent writes;

As a health visitor i am really worried about Phoebe. she must be, what 19 months now (Glastonbury 1998 in a teepee)? and has no clear speech, only babbling. She is way behind on her milestones and should have been wheeled in for an assessment by the clinical medical officer for child health by now. But maybe i just missed the one she spoke in.

Tuesday, January 4

Y2K

The summaries have caught up, but the scripts suffered a little from the rollover. There are still a few niggles but most have been ironed out. Apologies for any you find and if you could let me know, I would appreciate it!

Wednesday, December 22

A Christmas Message

For a good proportion of the planet and, presumably, a higher proportion of my readers, it's time to celebrate Christmas. If you've been visiting this site for long enough you might remember that around Christmas I make a simple request, I've made this request for at least the last two years, so why break a habit?

Friday, December 17

Other Interesting Links

Looking for that slightly unusual Christmas present for an Archers fan who has everything? Try the 18-rated calendar at http://www.shambridge.com/. (Nothing to do with me, but I was sent the address and laughed.)

The Archers Addicts have relaunched themselves as http://www.thearchers.co.uk/. They even have daily summaries. Wherever might they have got that idea?

Thursday, December 9

Milestone

At about 1120 GMT this morning (09/Dec/1999:11:21:05 to be precise) this page received it's 100,000th hit of 1999. Wow, my gast is flabbered. When I took this page on in 1996 I was getting about 30 hits on a busy day - these days that takes less than an hour!

So on a day when the news was reporting on the dangers of too much personal information being available to track your movements on the web, congratulations (and thanks) to the user at Durham University (browsing with IE3.0 on Windows 95) - you don't win a prize, but you're definitely first amongst equals!

It's obvious but ....

If you write to me, please can you make sure that the return address on your email is valid? Several times in the last couple of weeks I've had emails which have bounced when I've replied and then had follow-ups acting as if the original had gone unheeded! Naturally this is frustrating for both sides!

Thursday, November 4

Sudden Surges

It seems that Tommy's fate is a popular thing, the hits for this site were up massively last week - 40% above normal for the week, with the day of the verdict being almost double the average! So a warm welcome to those who are visiting for the first time. Come in, take a look around and drop me a line if you've anything to say about the site.

Monday, October 25

Recordings

Over the years I've received a number of emails from people who are out of R4's range but want to listen and not just read my words. I've set up a page where I'll list people on the look out for helpful types can ask for help. So if you want a recording made or could offer help - maybe you already receive recordings from someone in this country and would be willing to forward them on when you've listened? Go here for more details.

Thursday, October 7

Korea

It's probably too late by now, but do you live in Korea or do you receive KBS TV (or can put me in touch with someone who does)? If you do, can you contact me? I really would be very grateful!

Friday, October 1

Another reason to dislike Daniel?

An article in the New Scientist has been pointed out to me. It claims that hedgehogs are incredible dangerous to humans. Under Daniel's insistence Shula and Alistair and flagrantly and recklessly endangering Ambridge life as we know it. The punishment should be severe. Unsurprising really, he is a wicketkeeper after all.

Monday, August 31

Changes

No sooner am I back, but I'm playing around with the format! I've tried it out under Netscape 3 & 4, IE5 and Lynx 2.8.1 , with and without stylesheets, different versions of javascript and under various resolutions and it behaves reasonably well - if you disagree, can you tell me? (Mentioning what browser/version you are running would be a help, too.)

Monday, August 24

Mailing-List Upgrade

The summaries mailing-list is now handled by the EZMLM listserver program, this means big changes for new subscribers (although no action is required of existing subscribers - your subscription has been manually transferred). This should make things much more stable and, more importantly, instantaneous (the new program lives on my ISP's machine - the old one was on my laptop, hence only worked office hours ....)

Read more about the changes.

Monday, August 16

Substitution

It might have been overcast in Cornwall but last week's eclipse was still an incredible experience. I've already started saving for Madagascar!

Many thanks to Brian Maskell who covered for me during my absence, a superb job and made my holiday sweeter!

Friday, August 6

Substitute Cover

From August 6th to 13th I'm going to be away (in Cornwall for the eclipse, as opposed to the other 51 weeks a year, when I spend my days looking at a different type of ECLiPSe).

During this time the summaries will be in the more than capable hands of Brian Maskell. Play nice with him and feel free to send him as many thank you messages as so many of you are kind enough to send to me! It does make us feel wanted and appreciated!

Monday, August 2

Relocated Site

Welcome to the newly relocated site. "Kinda like the old one, huh?"

Thanks to my new ISP, gradwell.com, for making the transition so painless!

Monday, June 6

Mastermind

Quite a few of you emailled me to say "well done" (thanks!) and several said that they'd would've listened if they'd known and/or been in the country. My appearance has even earned a mention on the programme's official web pages at the Beeb .... and after three years of summarising, I've finally been rewarded with a link!

And you can pit yourself against the same set of questions ... and if you'd have scored more, I don't want to know!!

Latest Updates

Monday, June 6

I know I'm not as unfailingly reliable in my routine as I could be, so to save you a little bit of trouble, the latest day for whose summary I've written is now displayed on this page.

Downtime

Tuesday, June 1

Another bank holiday weekend, another extended period of downtime. The engineers are looking into it but, apparently, on Saturday afternoon the virtual server inexplicably rebooted itself but didn't manage to complete the operation successfully and, it being a holiday weekend, this was not noticed for longer than normal. It's back up again now (obviously, you're reading it) - so apologies for the inconvience and all that.

Several of you mailed to enquire about the site during it's downtime - thanks for being so concerned! Rest assured that if I do plan to move the site (or, heaven forbid, consider stopping), it won't be without lots of warning and/or links to the new abode!

DEMONites

This site gets a mention in the current issue (issue 16) of Demon Dispatches - so welcome one and all if you read that article and this is your first visit.

Pity they didn't print the new address. The site has only been here four months after all.

Mastermind

Mastermind listeners might have heard a familiar name on the May 17 edition - I was competing in the first round with a specialist subject of, well, you should be able to guess. A high-scoring and tight contest ended with a runners-up spot - and a place in the semi-final, to be broadcast in a few weeks' time. I've asked the Beeb if it's possible to place a couple of short snippets here, so, copyright permitting, you might get to hear my *cough* glorious performance!

Jubilee 2000

In much the same as, inter alia, Bert and Susan, while I have to admit to having personal doubts about some of the aspects of writing off Third World debt, the publicity that the current storylines has generated has increased the number of enquiries being received by the organisers of the real event that the plot-line is based on. More information can be found at the national site or the one based on events in the Midlands.

In the interests of political balance, if anyone has a site outlining some of the economic discussions against debt cancellation or whether the Western banks and governments should pay for the corrupt dictators who frittered the loans that are being repaid (or whether, of course, it was the West's fault in the post-Imperial choices of boundary-drawing when giving independence to their colonies), then feel free to get in touch and I'll link to both sides of the story.

Please

I know that by posting these links I might be stirring up feeling. Let me say at the outset, I'm not interested in getting into a debate over the merits or otherwise of this situation. I have been asked by someone with a Jubilee 2000 site if I might publicise it so as to alleviate some of the pressure on their phonelines. This is an important issue but I've my own opinions and so long as people have access to all the information (hence my request for a balance) then that's as far as I go, don't try to convince me of your personal viewpoint - the emails will be deleted unread (unlike normally, when I reply to every email sent regarding this site).

Current Events

A frequent request has been for there to be a constant place for the current week's summaries, well now there is (again). I've managed to automate the process of producing HTML pages from my notes and this script now produces three files: last, this and next weeks. Links to which can also be found at the top of this page (before the table, those of you on slow links and with technical ken will be pleased to hear).

Automatic Pages

That same automation process that is mentioned above also creates the weekly pages on the fly. This doesn't make them look any different, but you must believe me when it says that it will make maintaining this site a darned sight simpler. Thus far only 1999's episodes are in this format, but the previous years will follow. It might make loading them in slightly slower, hence the recent pages - those which most people read - are still available as static files (see New I).

Money-Grabbing Cheek

The list of titles isn't long as yet, but I've started a page of reviews of Archers books. All of this is a thinly veiled ruse because, thanks to amazon.co.uk, if you order any of these books through the links on that page I'll get a (small) commission. ISPs aren't cheap, but PhD students are. You will get cheap books though, so it's not a total con.

ISP Problems

The disaster averted, but this site was in a slightly precarious position for a while.

Comments on changes

"Le plus ça change, le plus ç'est la même chose" .... while the address has changed and the title page looks a little different the summaries are still the same. Toward the end of last year I took the opportunity to ask what I might do to change the summaries for the better and while there were some good ideas (which I will include over the next few months) the general response was "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

Any Problems?

In the move I imagine that some of the links got broken and some of the pages fell out of the back of the van and have been left to be washed down the drain of the hard shoulder of the Information Superhighway (there's a phrase you don't, thankfully, hear so much of nowadays).

I think I've caught most of the problems, but if I haven't, please tell me. Thanks!

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