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'The Archers': Acting editor John Yorke denies revamp claims

By and Daniel Kilkelly
The Archers

© BBC

The Archers' acting editor John Yorke has dismissed claims that he is planning to revamp the Radio 4 soap.

Recent press reports have suggested that the rural programme will become "darker and bigger" in the vein of BBC One's EastEnders as part of a change in style.

Yorke - executive producer on the Albert Square soap between 1999 and 2002 - is currently overseeing The Archers while editor Vanessa Whitburn is on leave.

Writing in a BBC blog post today (June 6), Yorke denied suggestions that he is plotting to "smash up Ambridge like some bloated property developer and turn it into Albert Square".

He commented: "It's a great story - but it isn't true. The source was a fairly innocuous interview with Radio Times about what's coming up on the show.

"A few months ago, Radio 4 had very kindly asked me if I'd consider looking after the programme for four months while its long standing editor Vanessa Whitburn was away. I agreed straight away - on one condition - that it stayed exactly as it was and that I didn't have to change anything.

"The Archers has been in my family for three generations. It's as perfect as long running drama gets - why would I want to change a hair? Apart from anything else, my mum would probably kill me."

John Yorke
Yorke (pictured left) continued: "The comment that was picked up was very clearly a specific reference to one storyline - the intimidation of Ruth and David. Ironically, this story was planned long before I joined the show.

"It is dark but in the very best traditions of a programme not scared to kill its leading lady in a barn fire, and it fits snugly I hope alongside everything Ambridge does best.

"Joe's ferrets, Lynda's hay-fever and cliffhangers built on whether Clarrie will finish her jubilee cake in time; all will remain and I hope live for as long as The Archers draws breath."

Yorke is also the controller of BBC drama production.

The Archers is the BBC's most popular radio programme on iPlayer. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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