Vanessa Whitburn is to step down as editor of BBC Radio 4’s long-running farming serial The Archers. Whitburn will leave her role as editor in May following a long stint in charge of the popular oral production.
Vanessa is the longest serving editor in the history of the programme, the beeb note, having held the post for 22 years. Under her leadership, the programme has maintained strong figures of between 4.6 to 5 million listeners. She has introduced storylines that have captured the headlines and the programme has gained many awards including The Sony Gold Award, two Television and Radio Industries Club (TRIC) Awards and three Mental Health in the Media Awards.
“I have had a wonderful time running The Archers, always interesting and exciting. But I want to step down now in order to take a holiday, develop a project for TV drama and get involved in some more training overseas. I leave the programme in good shape with some strong storylines planned. The BBC is a great place to work and I’ve been privileged to work with some very creative people along the way.” – Vanessa Whitburn
From 1995, as Executive Producer of Radio Drama in the Midlands, Vanessa was also responsible for Silver Street, the long-running serial on the BBC Asian Network, as well as single plays and serials for BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4. Most recently, Vanessa initiated Ambridge Extra, The Archers companion series on BBC Radio 4 Extra.
The Archers is a model for radio dramas in several developing countries where radio is a powerful tool in educating through entertainment, and Vanessa has facilitated radio drama workshops in Kenya, South Africa and in the USA. She has also lectured on radio drama and script writing and has produced and directed for television. In 2012, Vanessa received an honorary doctorate from The University of Hull, for services to broadcasting.
“Vanessa has been an excellent editor of The Archers over many years. She has kept the nation’s longest-running drama at the heart of Radio 4 and we are very grateful to her. She leaves Ambridge in good health with almost five million listeners eagerly looking forward to the next episode.” – Gwyneth Williams, Controller of Radio 4