Charlotte Higgins on The Archers: Ambridge gets her very own Rishi Sunak | Radio

Nwow characters! Inhabitants of Ambridge tend to gain the power of speech at about 16. So it is that George Grundy has burst on the scene, he who was the subject of an especially florid plotline as a baby owing to the fact that his mum, Emma Carter, had been shagging the Grundy brothers, Will and Ed, at the time of his conception. Perhaps this muddled paternity helps account for the fact that George is authentically awful, the Rishi Sunak of The Archers – hectoring, petulant and charmless. In the process of bullying another new character, Chelsea Horrobin’s little brother Brad, George proudly revealed how he loves to manipulate clueless old Oliver, wheedling a bit of cash out of him whenever he likes. I suppose we have been working up to this: George’s most famous recent act was to video the vicar pissed on cider and post the footage on the internet. Nice to have such a malevolent little shit in the village to shake things up a bit. Brad, on the other hand, is doing nothing to shake the saintly status of the Horrobin family. Sensitive and already rather adorable, Brad is a bit of maths genius and has been given a scholarship place at a summer school. But will he actually get there, in the midst of the cost of living crisis, when his poor mum has to toil at the Greek chicken factory to make the rent? My money is on yes; this is The Archers, not Shuggie Bain, you know.

Chelsea is still being marvelous in her role as Ambridge’s own Gok Wan, stepping in to lend Denise from the veterinary surgery a gorgeous shocking-pink dress she had picked up in a charity shop (I’m sure Chelsea could save the family fortunes with an online vintage boutique). That was to wear to the own awards that Denise had been nominated for. The zip of her original dress – a dowdy thing, we were led to believe – broke at the last minute. I thought this might lead to Alistair sexily using his own skills to sew her into it, but no. Alistair and Denise’s tenderness is operating at a very breathy, unspoken level, but I predict this will change.

The Ben, Bess, Steph, Beth snogging error is all resolved (it would never have happened, in my view, if they didn’t all have essentially the same name). And Tom has been overwhelmed by an avalanche of Welsh-speaking femininity after the birth of his and Natasha’s twins, Nova and Seren, owing to the fact that his mother-in-law, Caitlin, has moved in for a bit. Funnily enough, I just can’t seem to summon up any sympathy for him.

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