Fear, Fecklessness and Flapjacks: Imagining Ambridge's Offenders

Charlotte Bilby*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Our perceptions of real crime, law and justice can be manipulated by fiction. This chapter addresses whether The Archers helps us better understand today’s offenders, their crimes and its policing. Some of Ambridge’s known offenders are split into three categories to help explore whether usual criminal story lines and characters, seen and heard elsewhere, are perpetuated or subverted in Borsetshire. If they support usual tropes, this tells us howwe view the management of crime in the twenty-first century rural idyll: outsiders are not to be trusted, the misdemeanours of the pastoral poor are tolerated, and the actions of elites brushed aside. In Ambridge, we regularly hear examples of reintegrative shaming supporting desistance from crime. Those propping up the Bull’s bar might disapprove of criminal actions, but they recognise people’s roles in village cohesion. Sgt. Harrison Burns preserves his identity as a dedicated police officer. Being a rural copper often means having to deal with a wide range of crimes - from attempted murder to anti-social behaviour - but on a less frequent basis than those based in Felpersham. While Harrison might not have great detective skills, he regularly supports colleagues from specialist units, and as the only officer in the village, should use his social networks and tea spots to help maintain Ambridge’s mostly orderly conduct. It is questionable to what extent he does this, being at times perceptive about and dismissive of clues to significant criminal activity going on under his nose.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFlapjacks and Feudalism
Subtitle of host publicationSocial Mobility and Class in The Archers
EditorsCara Courage, Nicola Headlam
Place of PublicationBingley
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781800713864, 9781800713888
ISBN (Print)9781800713895
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2021

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