Procrastinate Better

A Wonderful British Radio Soap About Livestock and Love Affairs

From time to time, a Slate staffer or critic offers up a favorite cultural pick for Procrastinate Better readers. Today’s endorsement is from Slate ‘s foreign editor June Thomas.

Lastsummer, I discussed the multi-paddock system for optimal livestock grazing witha gentleman farmer. I acquitted myself well, despite being an urban dweller whohasn’t visited an agricultural concern since Jimmy Carter was in the WhiteHouse. I could also have chattered about polytunnels , the economicsof organic pig farming, and the latest trends in hay robbery—all topics I spendquite a lot of time pondering, thanks to The Archers , theBBC radio soap that celebrates its 60 th anniversary on Jan. 1, 2011.

Setin Ambridge, an imaginary rural village in the British Midlands, there is a lotof farm talk on The Archers —the showwas originally intended as an entertaining way to pass along agricultural tips—butthere’s also the usual soapy goodness of feuding brothers, crooked businessmen,and unsuitable love affairs. Last year, when 17-year-old Pip Archer wasdistracted from studying by her first serious relationship (with foul, fecklessJude), I was more worried about her exam results than I was back when I tooksimilar tests myself. And since several of the characters have been on the showfor decades, the treatment of aging and bereavement is often heart-breaking.

Youcan listen to the 12-minute show, which airs Sunday through Friday, on the BBC Web site orvia podcast ( daily orin a weeklyomnibus edition , available every Sunday).