I was interested to hear yesterday morning that BBC Radio 7 is being rebranded as BBC Radio 4 Extra, although I can’t help thinking it will dissapoint some people new to the station who might expect it to be ‘more of the same’ – unless the programming changes, it won’t be.
Then this morning, catching up on Archers Twitter chat, I saw someone’s cooked up an Archers sister show called Ambridge Extra, which will be on 4 Extra, possibly as a means to drawing people to the new station? The first thing I thought of was Eastenders E20, which was an interesting idea, but a little painful to watch as an obvious attempt to hit a youth market. It even had a non-diegetic soundtrack, with the tracklisting posted on the website. The fact it was run in series of a handful of episodes at a time implied it wasn’t assumed to be that successful as a long term idea, more a way to reinvigorate the brand. E20 focussed on new younger characters, and whilst Ambridge Extra promises to ‘go further afield with Archers-related characters’ both of the photos I’ve seen used in the publicity have been of younger characters e.g. Alice’s life at Uni. There’s the introduction of a new character, Rhys the barman at the Bull. Sounds a bit too Hollyoaks for my liking.
So is Ambridge Extra a good idea? Well I’m likely to say more Archers is always a good idea, and I’m glad to see @KeriDavies is involved, as he’s well switched on to the Twitter audience. I can’t see this at all messing with the existing Archers shows, this would be too dangerous and I’m sure the BBC wouldn’t risk turning away their listeners.
I’m also glad to see it’s going to be podcast, as it’s on at unusual times, at 10 in the morning and 2.15 in the afternoon. I’d rather see it on at 7.15pm but I’m guessing this would clash with Front Row – I’m guessing Archers and Front Row listeners are often the same. Anyway it’s being podcast, so no worries.
Oh and someone asked what the new appropriate hashtag might be for Ambridge Extra discussion on Twitter… Although AmbridgeExtra returns more hits, I’d suggest ArchersExtra. It’s one less character, easier to spell without that clumsy double e, and easier to remember.