So after all the ballyhoo it was dear, patrician Nigel that was bumped off. The event that was to shake Ambridge to its core, according to Vanessa Whitburn, The Archers' long serving editor, was no more than shoving a toff off a roof. And with poor Nigel Pargetter went Ambridge's last link with the landed classes. As well as giving us Ambridge's third fatality in a 12 month.
Ambridge, on Whitburn's watch, has become Britain's most liberal village. The daughter of the wealthiest man in the place becomes pregnant by a black guy and no one utters a word other than how good looking he is. A gay farmer moves in with his boyfriend and, not only does everyone offer congratulations, his step father ends up buying them a house. This is Archer-world where old stager and former colonial settler, Marjorie Antrobus, was fully au fait with and equally delighted to hear when one of the villagers was off to the Gay Pride rally in London. And, most preposterously of all, where an Anglican vicar ends up marrying a Hindu.
Critics of the programme have long maintained that Whitburn is more interested in promoted topical urban issues which she can spin off into discussions on Woman's Hour than she is about the veracity of life in the countryside. In Ambridge the bins always get emptied and there is not a peep from the hunting community about trying to get the ban repealed. There are no old estates, now that Nigel has gone, either.
While around the country owners of great houses are struggling to keep them going or considering selling them off to rock stars or Russian oligarchs in Ambridge the Archer family, a yeoman bunch of honest, if frightfully dull, soil tillers are now top of the heap. The young Pargetters, who were destined for private education whilst their father was alive, can now be packed off to comprehensive thus scoring some more points for Whitburn's proletariat.
What is absolutely certain is that the vicar's wife would never have perished, nor the gay farmer and his boyfriend. But Whitburn had no qualms killing off an aristocratic, likeable, chinless wonder. The programme is much the poorer for Pargetter's loss and for her continued politicisation of it. Perhaps it is time for a long overdue change of personnel at BBC's luxurious Mailbox studios in Birmingham. Starting at the top.