Here’s hoping we’re in for a gentler time in Ambridge | Elise Brewerton

Things are about to get exciting for fans of The Archers. Like most soaps, delays in production mean they’ve almost run out of episodes. So for three weeks, the Beeb will be broadcasting archive material.

Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:05 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th April 2020, 6:06 pm
The Archers is about to step back in time...

There have been some hard-hitting storylines. There’s no doubt the Helen Archer coercive control narrative, and Nic Grundy’s shocking death from sepsis, put those issues in the spotlight and saved lives.

But I know I’m not the only one who finds the current modern slavery scenario distressing. I long for simpler times – talk of herbal leys and Jill Archer’s flapjacks. Let’s hope we hear dear old Joe Grundy one last time, too. ​​​​

I’m sure snogging strangers isn’t in the lockdown rules

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Cast your minds back to Mother’s Day, March 22. It seems like a world away now but was actually only five-and-a-bit weeks ago. My parents, who are in their seventies, were already heeding government advice and self-isolating.

So I dropped mum’s present at the front door, unable to hug her in case I had the virus and passed it on to her.

It was all rather dramatic with mum crying, knowing she wouldn’t be seeing the children or grandchildren for a while. Meanwhile, dad beamed at me through the front room window and gave a thumbs up – no doubt relieved to have a break from the chaos of children and grandchildren for a couple of weeks.

At that stage that’s all we thought it would be. The severe lockdown was brought in the following day.

It has been really tough, but my family has stuck to it rigidly. My sister drops shopping to our parents during the week and I drop whatever they need at weekends so they don’t have to go out.

We miss each other desperately but we have Zoom quizzes with my brother and his family in Australia to keep our spirits up. That involves struggling with the internet cutting out, mum unable to switch off the mute button, and the children screaming in the background while the adults hazard a guess at the gestation period of an African elephant.

We’re all pretty fed up with it, but we’re doing what needs to be done and feel incredibly lucky that we haven’t lost anyone to this dreadful virus.

So it felt like a kick in the guts when I found out lots of people have been ignoring government advice and just… hanging out together. This I have learned through friends of friends, not headlines in the paper. Nice, normal people having friends over for barbecues, enjoying the sunshine together. I was flabbergasted.

One person I know has been meeting up with a guy they met online after lockdown began, and actually snogging them in the fields behind her house!

It’s almost as if 21,000 people in the UK – including more than 100 selfless health and care workers – have died for nothing.

I wonder if those flouting lockdown who clap the NHS on Thursday nights do so with a clear conscience?

With Sir Keir as the Labour leader we’ll all be better off

Did anyone else feel a huge sense of relief when Sir Keir Starmer made his debut as Labour leader at PMQs last week?

He was forensic, robust, but balanced when firmly holding Dominic Raab to account on coronavirus testing rates.

The PM wants cross-party cooperation to fight Covid-19 and with Sir Keir he will get it. ​​​​​​

For so long it felt as if Labour was drowning while its much-divided factions fought each other, almost tearing Labour apart in the process.

As has been said many times before, a strong government needs an even stronger opposition.

The Conservatives now have one, and the whole country will benefit.