One of my favourite 'soaps' on Radio Homeward is the long running serial 'The Arcadians'.
It is an everyday story of urban farming folk who till the soil above Arcbridge Flats on the top of a fictional tower in Homeward called "Barchester Tower".
Originally produced with collaborative input from the farmer Butterskin Mute, The Arcadians was conceived as a means of disseminating information to farmers and smallholders to help increase productivity and to help them recapture an Edenic form of life, contrasting to the progressive nature of Utopian desires.
Over the years agricultural storylines have given way to ones concerning the relationship between past and present and between order and disorder and the certainty of knowledge. Agricultural instruction has generally been replaced with advice on the production of musical theatre - with many episodes detailing the work of the Arcadian Players.
I am usually a fan of the serial but I am very unhappy with the events of the 60th anniversary edition. I don't listen to The Arcadians for the drama, I listen to it for the feelgood factor.
It has descended into using the kind of shock tactics more commonly used in soaps such as the Badgertown Broadcasting Company's Consternation Sets and Badfort TV's Badenders.
It was not even particularly exciting! It had been billed as “..the storyline that would shake Arcbridge Flats to its very core”, but in actual fact last weekend’s 60th anniversary was slow-moving and extremely disappointing.
The storyline featured Nigel Crookball attempting to remove a banner, that Beaver Hateman had erected on the tower, which read "Down with Unc!"
The whole thing was marred by the slapstick manner in which this was realised - with Nigel constantly commenting about how slippery it was, what with all the banana skins that had been discarded by 'a certain corpulent elephant' !!!
The worst aspect of all the anniversary programmes, that these three 'soaps' have transmitted this year, has been the callous disregard for the way in which they have engendered fear in the community over health and safety issues.
I know that Noddy Ninety, who as we know has a keen interest in steam driven transportation, was dismayed at how commuters would react to the Consternation Sets storyline involving a tram, on the Homeward Switchback Railway, derailing and hitting the Badger's sets.
The story in Badenders did little to allay viewers fears over the danger of fires. It featured the Badfort Crowd's Black Tom dump afire and outrageously suggested that the Badgertown Fire Brigade deliberately failed to turn up - on my orders!
I fear that the dwarfs, who live in my many towers, will now demand rent decreases to cover the supposed 'dangers' of high rise living!
The story line was, of course, nonsense. There are trampolines based around the bottom of all my towers to counteract the consequences of the occasional unexpected plummet.