Even if you don’t listen to The Archers, or even Radio 4, you can probably hum the opening bars of the theme tune. One of the most instantly recognisable pieces of music in contemporary culture, it has heralded the start of this agricultural soap opera since it began in 1950. A particularly joyful ditty, Billy Connolly once suggested it should be adopted as the UK’s national anthem.
The original composition is called Barwick Green, written by Arthur Wood. It is taken from his suite My Native Heath where it features as a maypole dance. And perhaps that explains the enduring appeal: to have a jaunty country tune explode onto the airwaves immediately after a depressing news report can put the supposed ills of this world into perspective.