Wednesday November 13 2019



Village History

Village inspiration

Posted on November 02 2015 at 10:26:58 0 comments

Paul Queen outside shop

Village butcher Paul Queen shares the history of The Archers creator, Alvechurch lad Godfrey Baseley.

Godfrey Baseley, creator of the world’s longest-running radio soap opera, was born in Alvechurch on October 2, 1904 at 3/4 The Square, where his family lived and ran a butchers’ shop.

Today the building is home to EJ Crow & Son Ltd, with current butcher Geoff Crow’s father having bought the shop in 1960.

In The Square in 1904 were Bolton’s general store, the bakery, Granny Williams’ sweet shop and William Foster’s blacksmith shop. As a boy, Godfrey helped his father deliver the meat on his horse and cart.

He attended the local school before going on to Quaker boarding schools, Sibford and Bootham. Although he was from a farming and countryside background, he also trained for the stage!

Later on he married Bessie Hartwright and had two daughters.

Godfrey became a radio executive for the BBC, and in1948 he was producing agricultural programmes when a farmer suggested that there should be a regular serial programme covering the problems faced by country folk in general.

Godfrey enlisted the help of Geoffrey Webb and Edward Mason – the Dick Barton writers – to write some trial episodes.

The Archers was first broadcast in the Midlands at Whitsun 1950, and went national on New Year’s Day 1951 – and within two years Dan and Doris Archer had 9.5 million listeners. Within the programme there was a percentage of practical farming advice; this was given to Godfrey by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Godfrey was still writing for The Archers right up until 1972. He even took part in the soap himself as an actor, when he played the part of Brigadier Winstanley.

The people in Inkberrow will say that the “home” of The Archers is there, and it’s a well-known fact that Godfrey did like the local pub, The Bull – but in 1946 he had been to Rippingdale to interview a farmer about his unusual farming methods, and there was a pub called The Bull there as well!

Years ago, there was a suggestion of creating an Archers theme park at Milton Keynes, but the people of Hanbury thought it should be there instead as the show’s fictional setting of Ambridge is thought to be based on Hanbury.

So when Godfrey next came into the shop I asked him what he thought and he said, “If it’s going to be anywhere it should be here in Alvechurch.”

During his life Godfrey also wrote several books: A Country Compendium, Country Calendar, The Archers: A Slice of Life, and A Village Portrait – pictured below with its cover depicting Alvechurch before the First World War.

Godfrey died on February 2, 1997 in Bromsgrove.

The original theme to The Archers is Barwick Green (a maypole dance) by Arthur Wood, played by Sidney Torch and his Orchestra.

Pictured top: Paul Queen outside the shop today, and (inset) Godfrey Baseley.

Book cover

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