The BBC has appointed Sean O’Connor as Editor of its long-running rural soap opera The Archers.

O’Connor has worked on television shows such as Footballers Wives’, EastEnders, Hollyoaks and Channel 5’s short-lived revival of Minder in 2009. O’Connor was a producer on fellow BBC soap EastEnders between 2002 and 2005 and was a script writer on the saga prior to that. It’s likely therefore some sections of the media will claim that O’Connor’s EastEnders’ credits will mean he will try and beef up the storylines of The Archers.

O’Connor will take up his appointment of editor on the BBC Radio 4 serial from mid-September and will be based in Birmingham where episodes continue to be recorded.

I’m honoured to take the reins of our national epic drama and to build on the extraordinary achievements of Vanessa Whitburn who dedicated much of her career to this unique cultural institution – O’Connor

BBC Radio 4’s controller Gwyneth Williams said “Sean is steeped in story-telling… so I am extremely pleased to be welcoming him back to Ambridge

The new editor replaces Vanessa Whitburn who announced her retirement from the rural soap earlier this year after 22 years at the helm. The BBC Radio 4 soap is the world’s longest-running soap opera still on-air having launched in 1950.

In America radio soap operas made the transition to television in the 1950s with Guiding Light being the most notable; when it was cancelled in 2009 it had been on-air for a staggering 72 years if its radio years are included.

The Archers never made the transition to television but its likely to have inspired other rural sagas such as Weavers Green and Yorkshire Televisions’ Emmerdale Farm.

The Archers continues to remain a fixture of Radio 4’s schedules with six episodes airing each week including an omnibus on Sunday mornings. The audio drama continues to attract 5 million listeners per edition.

  • You can catch up with The Archers on the BBC iPlayer.
  • You can listen to daily episodes (Mon – Friday) at 2pm & 7pm on BBC Radio 4.
  • On Sunday’s an weekly omnibus airs at 10am with a new episode at 7pm. 

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