THE editor of long-running radio soap opera The Archers revealed the death of a major character ahead of last night's broadcast.
One of the programme's best known characters, Nigel Pargetter, met an unexpected tragic end in a nail-biting climax to
the show's special half-hour 60th anniversary episode when listeners heard the character, played by actor Graham Seed for nearly 30 years, accidentally fall from the roof of his stately home at Lower Loxley while taking down a New Year's Eve banner.
Listeners were kept in suspense until the episode before hearing for sure that he had died but the programme's editor Vanessa Whitburn appeared to give away the cliffhanger ending during a promotional radio interview earlier in the day.
When asked about the plot by presenter Evan Davis on Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Whitburn said: "Obviously, there's a birth and a death and that's quite iconic, I think."
Told by presenter Evan Davis that she had given the plot away, Ms Whitburn backtracked, saying: "There is a birth and a potential death – that's what I said."
Later, following the show's broadcast, she said: "We thought long and hard about a storyline that would befit a landmark
anniversary like the 60th and
one that would reverberate through Ambridge well into the year.
"For that sort of impact we knew it had to be a major event involving a significant character.
"It is a tough decision to kill off one of the show's leading characters, especially Nigel who, thanks to Graham Seed's subtle and spirited performance, will go down in soap opera history."
Earlier in the episode Helen Archer gave birth to a baby by emergency caesarean after being diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.
However, listener reaction proved mixed with one fan posting a message on The Archers' message board saying: "I thought it was supposed to 'shake Ambridge to the very core?' I have to say I am truly disappointed. I've been waiting for that episode for ages, and I am desperately gutted!"