For the last three weeks, in lieu of fresh material, Radio 4's The Archers has been rebroadcasting a number ofclassicepisodes lifted from the last two decades. I have of course continued to count the number of episodes in which each character appears, despite this now being based on editorial selection and hence intrinsically meaningless.
Eddie and Jennifer have been the most-heard characters, at six episodes apiece, with their spouses Clarrie and Brian as runners-up. Brookfield power couple David and Ruth made four appearances each, along with matriarch Jill and the inimitable Lynda.
3: Tony, Pat, Tom, Adam, Ian, Kenton, Shula, Ed, Emma, Joe 2:Jack, Peggy, Helen, Rob, Henry, Lillian, Siobhan, Debbie, Alice, Neil, Will, Kirsty, Alan
Bridge Farm doesn't register until the rundown reaches three. Here too we find the first of the no-longer-present characters (whose departure I've signalled by underlining), in this case Joe Grundy. Peggy's long-dead husband Jack appeared in two of the selected episodes, as did serial baddies Rob and Siobhan.
I've split the single appearance category into two lists, one for current characters and one for those no longer heard. Hearing Phil and Nigel again will have been evocative for many listeners, not to mention former Bull stalwarts Sid and Kathy. Given that no episodes from 2003-2005 or 2011-2013 were included in the selection, many other one-offs will have missed out.
Several of these classic episodes contained a much larger cast of characters than would usually be included today, in one case as many as fifteen. However when present-day Ambridge returns this Monday a new monologue-heavy format means that the entire week's episodes will feature only four characters, thereby distorting these statistics even further. I'll keep you updated.