The Archers – BBC Radio 4

Everything in the Mind – BBC Radio 4

The Archers does not easily come to mind as a “must to listen” in my book.

But a current scenario turns out to be compulsive.

Alice struggles with alcoholism. Her husband Chris has had enough and brought their newborn baby Martha to his parents’ home with him.

There was the confrontation at the baptism where Alice got drunk and almost let Martha down.

There was another confrontation at the store where Alice tried to buy vodka and was turned down by her stepmother. The episode ends with the awful crash of broken glass. Alice threw a brick out the window.

No, her stepmom won’t file a complaint, but we end up with another snappy right when the phone rings and guess who’s on the other end… it’s social services.

Confession: I am now addicted.

When all of our worlds have shrunk to the size of a child’s snow globe, someone else’s fictional story can shake things up.

Particularly because of old Jazzer calling a big digging tool a shovel and telling Alice the morning after the brick episode through the window that she can put her sorry back to where it came from.

This brings us sharply to Everything in the mind, as presenter Claudia Hammond asks for soap operas like The Archers help us psychologically.

True die-hard fans blog, tweet, and even write college articles on The Archers.

There is a group called the Academic Archers who have Zoom meetings on this.

What do we gain psychologically from soap operas, was the question posed in Everything in the mind.

Contributor Callum’s nan has dementia. What she remembers are the characters and stories from the 1960s – but it’s a connection between them.

Jane turned to alcohol after a period of depression.

“It kept me from killing myself, which is why I drank,” she told Claudia Hammond.

“Alice wants to feel what she feels when she has a drink. Until she can resolve this battle, I don’t think she will know where she is going.

Helen wanted to turn off the radio because she couldn’t stand the misery… she too had a difficult relationship with alcohol at one point.

Psychology professor Dara Greenwood told the program that our brains are wired to be drawn to people’s stories … fictional or real.

Plus, the escape drew people in during the pandemic – it gives you another focus, another interest to get you going.

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