Countryside Alliance Head of Media Charlotte Cooper writes: It’s interesting to mark the increased presence of the South Borsetshire hunt in the story lines of The Archers. For those of you who do not listen, The Archers is the Radio 4 soap set in the fictional village of Ambridge and the Countryside Alliance has remarked in the past that the Borsetshire is not a very representative pack, kept as it is at the periphery of rural life. In any village apart from Ambridge those who followed the hunt would be drawn from across the community, with more down-to-earth characters like Joe and Eddie Grundy at the forefront, and it would play a much larger part in the life of the village. The South Borsetshire appears to have just five followers – local squire Oliver Sterling and his aristocratic wife Caroline, the drama’s bogeyman Rob Titchner and his much put-upon partner Helen Archer and Shula Hebden-Lloyd – as a vet’s wife and riding school proprietor probably the most realistic portrayal of a hunt supporter. In the past the hunt has barely figured in the drama but its presence has grown in recent months and last night the Archers introduced a bona fide storyline involving the Borsetshire, surely no coincidence that it came in a week that saw the 10-year anniversary of the Royal Assent for the Hunting Act on Tuesday (18 November).(Read Tim Bonner’s piece in the Yorkshire Post about the anniversary.) In true soap style it is all of course rather dramatic – the Borsetshire hounds deviated from their trail and caught a fox and within hours the police were knocking on the door of joint-master Oliver. We shall of course be following this story closely. Perhaps they will use it as an opportunity to point out the unworkable nature of the Hunting Act, then again perhaps not.
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