As fans of BBC Radio Four’s ‘The Archers’ fear for the show’s gentle, bucolic nature becoming “darker and bigger”, a set of ten scripts coming up for sale act as a reminder of the early days.
Cuttlestones will offer the scripts - including episode
one - at their Wolverhampton saleroom as part of the Specialist
Collectors' Sale on September 7 and, with such items rarely coming
to auction rarely, the firm hopes for a significant sum.
Five of the typeset working copies
from the world's longest-running soap opera relate to the first few
episodes following the January 1951 launch. As of July 2012, over
16,780 episodes have aired. The other five scripts are thought to
be from the pilot series.
News of the sale comes hot on the
heels of remarks by John Yorke, controller of BBC drama production
and acting editor of The Archers - who also oversees
the rather harder-hitting EastEnders - that there should
be shocking storylines and cliffhangers, so old-school fans will be
intrigued by the 1951 vintage.
These scripts were addressed for the
attention of Harry Oakes, who played Dan Archer, patriarch of the
middle-class farming family at the centre of the show. They include
corrections and amendments in black and red pencil showing how the
actors were involved with character development.
The lot includes a photo card signed
by cast members, shown below.
Cuttlestones auctioneer and valuer Dan
Eglington said: "These scripts are a piece of true broadcasting
history and what I feel makes them especially interesting are the
annotations - there are even phonetic notes in the margin to ensure
that actors used the local vernacular, like switching 'yes' for
The last time a script for episode one
came up for auction, at Sotheby's in July last year, it fetched
£5500 (estimate £2500-3500). It was used by Gwen Berryman (Doris
Cuttlestones say the fact that Gwen is
only billed as Doris on some of the scripts they are selling from
the first series, while the others bear the name of a Marriott
Watson in the role, suggests the latter are from the pilot series.
Gwen filled the role from 1951-1980. She was born in Wolverhampton,
making the location of the September sale somewhat apt.
Other material includes a book,
Doris Archer's Diary, signed by the complete cast and crew
- a unique item that was presented to Jeremy Witticase, grandson of
author/scriptwriter Edward J. Mason. He was aged three and was the
youngest actor to have been in the series.