Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

At one time I used to listen regularly to The Archers. That was long ago when I was living alone in a flat in Birmingham, working on my PhD. I knew I had to get out more when I found myself listening to episodes for the third time in the Omnibus edition. Then there were long periods when I didn't listen at all. Then when I was settled into a domestic routine of often cooking in the early evening, I picked it up again. For several years I used to listen regularly when I was doing my weekly commute from Cambridge to Sheffield. As I was driving up the A14 I heard the dramatic episode when John overturned his tractor and died. These days I don't usually go out of my way to listen, but I catch it often enough when I am driving or cooking to have some idea of the plot-lines. So it was that on Sunday I was chopping up cabbage and listening with half an ear when I was all at once aware of something strange. It was a scene between that rather tedious couple, Pat and Tony Archer, but who was this that Pat was talking to? She was acting as if this man were her husband, and he was responding in kind, but it definitely wasn't Tony. Then their daughter turned up and started talking to him as if he were her father - but I knew he wasn't. I was reminded of that fine 1950s film, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Somehow Tony Archer had been spirited away and a stranger substituted and no-one except me had noticed. Only of course they had. I went on line and discovered what I expected to find: the actor who had been playing the part had retired and had been replaced. This hardly ever happens in The Archers, and it made me realise, that though I don't count myself a fan, it has become in a small way part of the background of my life and just for a few moments I was a tiny bit disturbed by this break in continuity.

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