Charlotte Higgins on The Archers: is this the wildest month in Ambridge history?

<span>Heavens to Betsy! This must be a first for Ambridge.</span><span>Photograph: M-SUR/Alamy</span>
Heavens to Betsy! This must be a first for Ambridge.Photograph: M-SUR/Alamy

Sometimes The Archers is as ordinary, and reassuringly humdrum, as the tall nettles growing over the rusty plough in Edward Thomas’s poem – the very poem, in fact, that Emma Grundy studied in her literature class.

Not this month. A lot has happened. Jolene, the landlady of the Bull, is being threatened by the leader of a violent gang from the Black Country (which might as well be the hellmouth as far as Ambridge is concerned), after an American XL bully dog in the gang’s possession attacked her husband, Kenton, in the pub car park. Kenton, on crutches, discharged himself early and has been staying in the mysterious accessible B&B room at the Snells’ that has never been mentioned before. Alistair the vet is definitely in love with Denise the veterinary nurse, and has even told Jazzer about it. That’s all very well except for the fact that she is married to someone else. (Though: “separate lives.”) There’s also the small matter that her son Paul is a veterinary nurse at the same practice, and seems blithely unaware of, or in denial about, the state of his parents’ marriage. Even the fate of Hilda, Peggy Woolley’s former feline companion, seemed uncertain this month. Having infiltrated herself into the Bridge Farm dairy, causing a health and safety crisis, it was touch and go whether someone might actually wring her neck – or at least put her into the dock in some modern version of a medieval animal trial. Less cat, more demon in feline form, as Tony Archer said.

Most excitingly of all, though, Alice Carter’s too-good-to-be-true, Rory-Stewart-soundalike boyfriend Harry has turned out to be too good to be true with a vengeance: chaotic, nursing a drink problem, and manipulative. The nadir was when Harrison, the nice local copper, was called out to deal with some bloke making a nuisance of himself outside a club, and Archers listeners were treated (is this an Ambridge first?) to the mellifluous sound of Harry, for it was he, taking a drunken slash. Then Harry jovially greeted (one pities casual listeners here) Harrison: “It’s Morris, isn’t it – no, Morrisons,” causing the words “posh idiot” to rise unbidden to lips across Britain.

Young Brad and Mia made up, after his understandable refusal to take part in her fashion show briefly curdled their rather sweet relationship. Indeed, they declared their love this month – a love, unique in the entire history of Ambridge, forged in the filmography of Tarkovsky. I will leave you with the wise words of Alice, however. “The truth is really important right now. It’s always important: but at the moment, it’s crucial.”