More than 100 academics will visit the tiny village of Rippingale today to research it as the inspiration for the world’s longest running radio drama The Archers.
Jim Latham, who lives in Rippingale and has done much research into the origins of the BBC Radio 4 drama, says he now has documentary proof that the original idea was born in the village and nearby Dowsby, which holds sway.
Inkberrow in Worcestershire has been reported by national newspapers to have been the inspiration but Rippingale residents have long maintained that their village is Ambridge.
The Archers has now become the subject of academic research into the social impact its had on this country.
Today, nearly 100 academics from British Universities are holding a conference at Lincoln University, organised by Carenza Lewis, Professor of the Public Understanding of Research.
Jim says the team are “fascinated” about where the original Archers idea came from, how it was developed and what kind of community inspired the launch of the programme.
Today, they’ll visit Rippingale Village Hall in two coaches for a lecture, film and audio show put on by Jim.
One event which captured the then 20 million listeners a day, back in 1954, with a massive impact on Britain, was of course the “death” of Grace Archer, broadcast on the day that ITV was due to launch its new service.
Jim added: “The video interview we have with actor Norman Painting, who played Phil Archer for 60 years and also wrote thousands of Archers scripts under the alias Bruno Milna, talking about that day is an utter tear-jerker.
“When the show’s over we’ll up sticks and walk up the village to our pub (The Bull of course) where landlord John Smith is putting on a special meal for them, based on favourite recipes of several Archers characters.”
Due to the number of academics involved, the lecture and show are private but John Smith and Jim are hoping to stage the same event later in the year at The Bull for villagers and interested parties.