Archers matriarchs use their money to control their children says Oxford academic

The Archers’ matriarchs “manipulate” younger members of their families with their money and the radio drama will be better when they have died, an Oxford academic has said.Dr Nicola Headlam, a research fellow at the University of Oxford who co-founded the group Archers Academics, argued that characters Jill Archer and Peggy Woolley, who are both in their 80s, have tried to influence their children’s decisions with offers of financial support.“I got into lots of trouble…I made a big speech about how Jill and Peggy are manipulative and they manipulate the younger generations with their money,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Feedback. “Is it an awful thing to say that I am looking forward to the matriarchs dying so that we can have some shift into the younger matriarchs?”Her comments come as a storyline on the long-running BBC drama sees Peggy running a competition for villagers to receive a grant for a local environmental project.The funds could otherwise have been part of an inheritance for her children Jennifer Aldridge, Lilian Bellamy and Tony Archer.Dr Headlam added: “This inheritance [of Peggy’s] has been held over everyone’s head.”In 2016, a domestic violence storyline between characters Helen Archer and Rob Titchener was widely praised for its slow-burning and chillingly realistic development, making the theme of coercive control a household debate.Dr Headlam questioned the timing of Peggy’s gifts to her grandchildren after she gave Helen money towards the beginning of her abusive relationship with Rob and funded Tom Archer when he is known for struggling to make his business ideas a reality.“[Peggy] approves of Rob so she’s giving Helen money, she thinks Tom is some business whiz so she gives him money, I mean they’ve both proved completely hopeless in those departments,” she added.Meanwhile, Jill was recently caught up in a family row after paying off her son Kenton’s debt to her other son David.  The Archers Academics hold annual conferences with papers presented from academics across various disciplines analysing the show. More than 250 people attended the last Archers Academics conference.Their group is an “experimental form of academic community which uses The Archers as a lens through which wider issues can be explored” according to Dr Hedlam. Over 1,800 people are involved with the academic group online.A book Dr Hedlam co-authored with academic Cara Courage found that female characters in Ambridge are often depicted as being obsessed with men.A study in the book, Gender, Sex and Gossip in Ambridge also analysed the dialogue in 128 Archers episodes broadcast between February and June last year and concluded that the show was more sexist than the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. read more