Custard, Culverts and Cake: Academics on Life in The Archers

Nicola Headlam
University of Oxford, UK

Product Details
05 Oct 2017
Emerald Publishing Limited
480 pages - 129 x 198mm
Leading scholars combine their love of The Archers with their specialist subjects, in Custard, Culverts and Cake - a sometimes serious, but most often wry look at the people of Ambridge. A group of Archers Academics take on subjects such as food, geography, social media, faith. There is, naturally, an entire section dedicated to the Helen and Rob storyline.  

With contributions from members of the Academic Archers network, the book blurs the line between fact and fiction - The Archers as a BBC soap opera, and Ambridge as a real place in a county called Borsetshire. Each chapter is ‘peer reviewed’ by a different Ambridge inhabitant. 

Custard, Culverts and Cake gives the reader a deeper understanding of the real life issues covered in the programme, an insight into the residents of Ambridge, and validation that hours of listening to The Archers is, in fact, academic research.
Introduction, The Archers Analysed: Academic Perspectives on Life in Borsetshire; Nicola Headlam and Cara Courage
Section 1: Genteel Country Hobbies?
1. My Parsnips are Bigger than your Parsnips: The Negative Aspects of Competing at Flower and Produce Shows; Rachel Daniels and Annie Maddison Warren
2. 'Big Telephoto Lens, Small Ticklist': Birdwatching, Class and Gender in Ambridge; Joanna Dobson
3. The Ambridge Paradox: Cake Consumption and Metabolic Health in a Defined Rural Population; Christine Michael
Section 2: Educating Ambridge
4. Ambridge as Metaphor: Sharing the Mission and Values of a 21st Century Library; Madeleine Lefebvre
5. We Don't Need No Education? The Absence of Primary Education in The Archers; Dr Grant Bage and Jane Turner
6. Educating Freddie Pargetter: or, will he pass his Maths GCSE?; Ruth Heilbronn and Rosalind Janssen
7. Phoebe goes to Oxford; Felicity Macdonald-Smith
Section 3: The Geography of Ambridge 
8. Get me out of here! Assessing Ambridge's Flood Resilience; Angela Connelly
9. After the Flood: How Can Ambridge Residents Develop Resilience to Future Flooding?; Fiona Gleed 
10. Locating Ambridge: Public Broadcasting, Region and Identity, an Everyday Story of Worcestershire folk?; Tom Nicholls
Section 4: Power Relationships
11. A Case Study in the Use of Genograms to Assess Family Dysfunction and Social Class: To the Manor Born vs Shameless; Louise Gillie and Helen M. Burrows
12. Kinship Networks in Ambridge; Nicola Headlam 
13. God in Ambridge: The Archers as Rural Theology; Jonathan Hustler
14. Some Corner of a Foreign Field /That is Forever Ambridge: The Archers as a Lieu de Memoire of the First World War in Britain; Jessica Meyer
Section 5: Ambridge Online
15. 'An Everyday story of Country Folk' Online? The Marginalisation of the Internet and Social Media in The Archers; Lizzie Coles-Kemp and Debi Ashenden
16. The Importance of Social Media in Modern Borsetshire Life: Domestic and Commercial; Olivia Vandyk
17. Being @borsetpolice: Autoethnographic Reflections on Archers Fan Fiction on Twitter; Jerome Turner
Section 6: The Helen and Rob Story
18. Understanding the Antecedents of the Domestic Violence Perpetrator Using The Archers Coercive Controlling Behaviour Storyline as a Case Study; Professor Jennifer Brown
19. Bag of The Devil: The Disablement of Rob Titchener; Katherine Runswick-Cole and Rebecca Wood
20. Culinary Coercion; Nurturing Traditional Gender Roles in Ambridge; Amber Medland
21. The case of Helen and Rob: An Evaluation of the New Coercive Control Offence and its Portrayal in The Archers; Elizabeth R. A. Campion 
22. Blood Pattern Analysis in Blossom Hill Cottage; Anna-Marie O'Connor 
23. Soundtrack to a Stabbing: What Rob's Choice Of Music Over Dinner Tells Us About Why He Ended Up Spilling the Custard; Emily Baker and Freya Jarman
24. Helen's Diet Behind Bars: Nutrition for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women in Prison; Caroline M. Taylor
Dr Cara Courage is a placemaking academic and arts consultant, writer/commentator, curator and project manager. She is author of Arts in Place: The Arts, the Urban and Social Practice, and works as an Adjunct at University of Virginia, researching and developing creative placemaking metrics and as a strategist at Futurecity, whilst running her own placemaking projects. She has been listening to The Archers for around 15 years and grew up with the programme on her grandmother's farm on Exmoor. She talks about the pleasure and pain of her Archers fandom in a talk My BDSM relationship with The Archers
Dr Nicola Headlam is the Urban Transformations & Foresight Future of Cities Knowledge Exchange Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. She is an adaptable urbanist with expertise in city governance, economic development and urban policy. She is passionate about role of universities in public policy and practice, knowledge mobilisation; transfer, exchange and co-production.
"To enjoy this collection, readers do not need to be experts on forensics, farming or flooding (though it helps if you like cake). Wearing their scholarship lightly, the authors lead us easily through topics as diverse as prison diets for nursing mothers, the psychology of domestic violence perpetrators and why Ambridge men don't make their own sandwiches.


The authors of Custard, Culverts and Cake approach their subject in the spirit of scholarship, and with a sense of fun that some would say borders on the unseemly. Clearly, academic research into Ambridge life is a rich vein." - The Ambridge Observer

“Custard Culverts and Cake involves the application of genuine research methodologies and concerns to the world of Ambridge and Borsetshire… This is a valuable book, with serious points to make about social sampling and effective research conceptualization; a ‘should read’ for research methodology.”

Brian Morton, Times Literary Supplement, 2018

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