'The Archers' set to address coronavirus in future episodes

The Archers will be addressing the coronavirus. (BBC/Gary Moyes)

The residents of Ambridge are set to be affected by the coronavirus as the topic is being weaved into The Archers in future episodes.

From May the long-running BBC Radio 4 soap will be including references to the pandemic, although editor Jeremy Howe has confirmed the show will still provide "an escape" for its audience.

He said: "For nearly 70 years Ambridge has been a haven for our audience, and so it continues to be. Whilst coronavirus might be coming to Borsetshire, listeners can still expect The Archers to be an escape, and the residents to be bickering and as playful and witty as ever.

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"We want this new approach to The Archers to still be the picture of the way we live now in rural England that it has always been. However, these are unprecedented times and the team has worked tirelessly to make sure we can continue to visit Ambridge. I am enormously grateful to the production team, the cast and the crew for all their magnificent efforts and creativity."

The Archers editor Jeremy Howe has said the soap will still be an escape for listeners. (Pete Dadds/BBC)

Among the changing circumstances, other alterations have also been made to the drama.

Although live action soaps including EastEnders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale have had to stop filming for the time being due to social distancing rules, The Archers is able to carry on with its cast working remotely.

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While the programme typically records in a Birmingham studio, the actors are now being directed and recorded from their own homes.

The Archers Jill Archer actor Patricia Greene. (BBC/Amelia Troubridge)

From Monday 4 May there will be four episodes of the programme per week from Monday through Thursday, starting at the usual time of 7.02pm. The podcast will also be published at its usual time on those days.

Furthermore, the structure of the episodes will be changing somewhat as they will focus on fewer characters per episode, giving listeners "an insight into more of their private thoughts".