Joanna Toye, Scriptwriter for ‘The Archers’ and author of ‘The Ambridge Chronicles’ at Hay Festival Winter Weekend
The journey to Hay from south west Birmingham is like a bullet train through Borsetshire. Hooped polytunnels, their sheeting removed for winter (a job for Adam…), signs luring me to ‘Jumble Sale at Village Hall’ and ‘Local Honey’ (call Jill… or perhaps, Sabrina Thwaite…), and a tractor fast approaching on a narrow lane, its bale-humping spikes fortunately sheathed (‘David! Watch out!’).
I’ve been to Hay before with a previous book, ‘The Archers Miscellany’, that time to the pop-up village. Winter Weekend takes place in town, with Richard Booth’s bookshop temptingly close, and the corridors of the Swan Hotel a Chinese puzzle packed with eager readers. Some things don’t change. The mix in the Green Room is just as eclectic: a wheelchair –bound world traveller; a crime novelist; the writers of ‘QI’… and me, representing a world as quirky as QI, as full of intrigue as a crime thriller and smaller in size but no smaller in ambition than The World: Ambridge.
A packed room of ardent Archers fans listens as I explain the intricacies of scriptwriting from commission to delivery and tell anecdotes from the book which are Ambridge through and through. What other soap/serial drama (thereby hangs a debate) would engage listeners in the episodes we called ‘Marmalade Wars’? Again, as ever in Hay, questions from the audience are pin-sharp and afterwards the signing queue moves slowly as we share favourite ‘Archers’ moments and I answer the questions we didn’t have time for in the session.
A few years ago the Archers Addicts fan club produced some merchandise with the slogan ‘Make Hay with The Archers’.
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