The Archers

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The Archers is a British soap opera broadcast on the BBC's main spoken-word channel, Radio 4. It was originally billed as "an everyday story of country folk", but is now described on its Radio 4 web site as "contemporary drama in a rural setting".[3] With more than 16,000 episodes, it is both the world's longest running radio soap and, since the axing of the American soap opera Guiding Light in September 2009, the world's longest running soap opera in any format.[4]

The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme,[5] and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the Internet, with over one million listeners.[6]

The importance of the show to BBC listeners can be measured by the following fact. On 11 May 2010, after an indecisive General Election, with the possibility of a hung Parliament and during urgent negotiations between parties trying to form a coalition government, the BBC dedicated almost all the air time from 17:00 to 22:45 to post-election news coverage. The slots thus pre-empted included the 18:30 comedy or quiz slot, and the 19:15 Arts magazine, Front Row. However, at approximately 19:02 The Archers was broadcast as scheduled.[7] There are currently plans to broadcast new episodes directly on digital radio station BBC Radio 7 after the transmission of the original episodes on Radio 4.[8]

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