From Aylesbury Grammar to Ambridge: Arthur's delight at Archers role

Arthur Hughes, a former pupil at Aylesbury Grammar School, is currently starring in The Archers
Arthur Hughes, a former pupil at Aylesbury Grammar School, is currently starring in The Archers

A former Aylesbury Grammar School pupil says it is a privilege to be part of the world's longest running radio drama The Archers.

Arthur Hughes, 26, joined the soap in the autumn as the character Ruairi Donovan, the illegitimate son of long-running character Brian Aldridge, who has been played by Charles Collingwood since 1975.

The Archers has been broadcast since 1951, and more than 18,000 episodes have aired.

It is set in the fictional English village of Ambridge and follows the everyday lives of country folk.

Arthur, who landed his first major acting role earlier this year in Netflix series The Innocents, said he was enjoying his role in the soap.

He said: "The Archers is the pinnacle of radio - I was delighted to get the part.

"I had an audition for one role with The Archers which I didn't get and then I auditioned again for the part of Ruairi, and was successful this time."

Arthur has already made a foray into radio as earlier this year he starred in BBC Radio Four's drama based on World War One Home Front.

He also had a six month contract with the BBC's radio drama department where he provided voiceovers on trails and voiced characters in various radio dramas.

Arthur said: "I love working in radio - it is such an intimate medium.

"With theatre acting you have an audience, with television you have a crew, but with radio it is just your voice.

"You don't have to worry about your appearance and in radio you have the script in front of you - so you don't have to learn your words off by heart!"

Having only been a part of the soap for a couple of months, Arthur is voicing one of the newer characters in Ambridge, especially in comparison to Jill Archer, who has been played by Patricia Greene since 1957.

Arthur said: "There are some characters who have been in it for a long time and it is great to be able to learn from people like Patricia who are so experienced.

"The whole cast and everyone behind the scenes is like one big family - I still haven't got round to meeting everyone yet!"

The programme is recorded at a BBC studio in Birmingham, and around four episodes are recorded per day with each episode of just under 15 minutes typically taking a couple of hours to record.

Arthur said his opening scene in the show was one of the most enjoyable to be a part of.

He said: "I was caught joy-riding with Ben Archer (played by Ben Morris).

"Me and Ben were sat on two chairs in the studio pretending we were in a car that was going up hills and through mud - that was a high energy scene which was a great introduction.

"There was another episode that I was a part of where we had to rescue a cow from a stream."

The recording studio in Birmingham is kitted out to make the environment as realistic as possible - it has sofas and beds that are used to recreate scenes in those locations and there is a special room to record scenes that take place outdoors.

With millions of listeners each week and a very devoted fan base, The Archers is a programme that is always under scrutiny and some of its storylines inevitably divide the audience.

Arthur said: "The Archers does have its darker storylines but it has to move with the times and the storylines have to keep people excited and wanting to listen to the next episode.

"I have yet to meet any real avid fans but it is great that people love the programme so dearly.

"I am hopeful that my character will be in the show long term but we will have to wait and see.

"What is great about The Archers is that you can do other acting roles around it - the production team are very flexible and are happy to work around what else you are doing.

"It is a really well-oiled machine which is great to be a part of."

The Archers airs on BBC Radio Four each evening from Sunday through to Friday at 7pm with an omnibus edition on Sunday mornings at 10am.