Charlotte Higgins on The Archers: slavery, sex but no pandemicFebruary 2, 2021
Coronavirus is strangely absent. However, the scandal of modern slaver Philip Moss has galvanised the village
In 1665, a consignment of cloth from London brought the plague to Eyam in the Peak District. Bravely, the villagers quarantined themselves from the outside world. Over the next year, more than half of them died. I visited the village last autumn, when such exotic excursions were allowed. An odd choice for a 2020 holiday trip, but salutary.
Ambridge is Eyam in reverse. It continues to be the village that the plague forgot: the New Zealand of the Midlands. The mysterious force field that prevents all but a lucky few from arriving in, or departing from Borsetshire – I imagine entry and exit to be via a wardrobe hung with fur coats – has served it well. The borders are secured. No tragic outbreak has struck the Laurels care home. St Stephen’s has resounded to no melancholy funeral bell. The only respiratory disease doing the rounds is blue ear, something pigs get, and even that was a false alarm. There may be the occasional bark of “Mask!” from Jim Lloyd when some entitled, semi-Covid-denying capitalist like Brian Aldridge stomps into the village shop but otherwise, you’d barely know there was a pandemic on.