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Jennifer Aldridge

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Jennifer Aldridge
The Archers character
JenniferAldridge.jpg
Portrayed byAngela Piper (1963–2023)
Duration1951–2023
First appearance1 January 1951 (1951-01-01)
Last appearance22 January 2023 (2023-01-22)[notes 1]
ClassificationFormer; regular
Created byGodfrey Baseley
Introduced byGodfrey Baseley

Jennifer Aldridge (also Archer) is a fictional character from the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. The character first appeared in 1951. The role was played by a variety of actresses, until Angela Piper joined the cast in June 1963. Piper was on the show for almost 60 years and was the second-longest-running cast member, until Jennifer died during the episode broadcast on 22 January 2023. The Telegraph had called Piper's voice "somehow sharp and yielding at the same time, like a scone topped with homemade jam."[1]

Jennifer was the daughter of Jack Archer (Denis Falwell) and Peggy Woolley (June Spencer) and the mother of Adam Macy (Andrew Wincott), Debbie Aldridge (Tamsin Greig), Kate Aldridge (Perdita Avery) and Alice Carter (Hollie Chapman). Jennifer featured in some of the show's most high-profile and controversial storylines, mainly involving her family or her relationship with husband Brian Aldridge (Charles Collingwood).

Throughout her almost six decades on the programme, Jennifer experienced what some consider the usual ups-and-downs of soap opera characters. During her teenage years in Ambridge, she had a dalliance with the local cowman and later the birth of their son out of wedlock, a divorce, her marriage to wealthy landowner Brian Aldridge, coping with his numerous affairs, the loss of her Home Farm farmstead and many financial woes.

Newspaper, The Derbyshire Life, called Piper one of the "most recognisable and distinctive voices in Britain",[2] while Piper herself called Jennifer "capable, caring, family-oriented, well-groomed and more intelligent than many are prepared to admit".[3] The Archers official website described the character as someone who enjoyed "bragging about her children's successes" and disliked "anything that endangered her social status".[3]

The character's widespread popularity also led Piper to write Jennifer Aldridge's Cookbook, selling more than 40,000 copies.[3]

Discover more about Jennifer Aldridge related topics

BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 is a British national radio station owned and operated by the BBC that replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. It broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. The station controller is Mohit Bakaya.

Soap opera

Soap opera

A soap opera, or soap for short, is a typically long-running radio or television serial, frequently characterized by melodrama, ensemble casts, and sentimentality. The term "soap opera" originated from radio dramas originally being sponsored by soap manufacturers. The term was preceded by "horse opera", a derogatory term for low-budget Westerns.

The Archers

The Archers

The Archers is a British radio soap opera currently originally broadcast on BBC Radio 4, the corporation's main spoken-word channel. Broadcast since 1951, it was famously billed as "an everyday story of country folk" and is now promoted as "a contemporary drama in a rural setting". Having aired over 19,500 episodes, it is the world's longest-running present-day drama by number of episodes.

Angela Piper

Angela Piper

Angela Piper is an English actress who is best known for her portrayal of Jennifer Aldridge in the BBC radio drama The Archers, a role she played from 1963 to 2023. Piper had not appeared in the programme for some months before the character died on 22 January 2023, as Piper had decided to retire from the role.

Peggy Woolley

Peggy Woolley

Margaret "Peggy" Woolley, is a fictional character from the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. Portrayed by June Spencer for over 70 years, Peggy has served as the core family's – and by extension, the village's – matriarch. Until July 2022 Spencer was the only remaining member of the original cast.

June Spencer

June Spencer

June Rosalind Spencer CBE is an English actress best known for her role as Peggy Woolley in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. Spencer played the character from 1950 to 1954, and again from 1961 to 2022.

Tamsin Greig

Tamsin Greig

Tamsin Margaret Mary Greig is an English actress, narrator and comedian. She played Fran Katzenjammer in the Channel 4 sitcom Black Books, Dr Caroline Todd in the Channel 4 sitcom Green Wing, Beverly Lincoln in British-American sitcom Episodes and Jackie Goodman in the Channel 4 sitcom Friday Night Dinner. Other roles include Alice Chenery in BBC One's comedy-drama series Love Soup, Debbie Aldridge in BBC Radio 4's soap opera The Archers, Miss Bates in the 2009 BBC version of Jane Austen's Emma, and Beth Hardiment in the 2010 film version of Tamara Drewe. In 2020, Greig starred as Anne Trenchard in Julian Fellowes' ITV series Belgravia.

Charles Collingwood (actor)

Charles Collingwood (actor)

Charles Henry Collingwood is a Canadian-born British actor.

Derby Telegraph

Derby Telegraph

The Derby Telegraph, formerly the Derby Evening Telegraph, is a daily tabloid newspaper distributed in the Derby area of England. Stories produced by the Derby Telegraph team are published online under the Derbyshire Live brand.

Casting

Various child actors played the role of Jennifer Archer from the show's inception right through to the early 1960s. Angela Piper was in her mid-20s when the chance arose to join The Archers in 1963. The actress who was playing the role of Jennifer was leaving to join British medical soap opera Emergency – Ward 10. Piper was offered the role, after some years working in Repertory Theatre.[3] "It was then on an amazing level, The Archers. The characters were an intrinsic part of everyone’s home. And there they were, which was really exciting," Piper said in a 2013 interview with the BBC.[4] Piper recalls receiving notes from the directors to make the character more "couldn't care less" and "a bit of a tearaway" in those early years.[4]

Character development and impact

Early years

In her fictional backstory, Jennifer was born on 7 January 1945 to Peggy Perkins and Jack Archer. Despite having a small role in the series through the 1950s, it was not until the early 1960s that the "rebellious" Jennifer became prominent in the show. At 16, Jennifer worried her mother by returning from a ski trip early with a boyfriend called Max.[5] Her father Jack bought her a moped to travel to her teacher training college in Walsall. Her Aunt Laura then appointed a chauffeur, young Roger Patillo. Jennifer began dating him, only to discover his real surname was 'Travers-Macy'. The next year, Jennifer qualified as a teacher and began work at Hollerton Primary School and achieved some success as a writer.

Illegitimate child controversy

Jennifer evolved from "rebellious" teenager to a loving member of the Ambridge community over her time on the programme. In 1966, Jennifer abandoned plans to become a teacher and a writer[6] and slept with the local cowman, Paddy Redman, which led to the birth of her son Adam, out of wedlock. Piper recalled the "fabulous"[4] storyline enabled Jennifer to be the "representative of a rebellious generation".[4] Shortly before Christmas Day in 1966, Jennifer told her sister Lilian she was pregnant.[7] At the time, Jennifer turned to Jill Archer (Patricia Greene), who urged her to come clean to her parents. Her grandmother, Doris Archer (Gwen Berryman) told Jennifer she must immediately marry Paddy upon finding out, and her alcoholic father Jack threatened to throw her out of home.[7] "One of my press cuttings says: Jennifer expects – by kind permission of the Director General," Piper recalled in a BBC interview. A banner was also held over Waterloo Bridge at the time with the line "Doris Archer is a prude" scrawled on it. The shockwaves from the birth were so great on the show, the character departed temporarily, but returned - with baby in tow - to face the village. "I got a letter written on lined notepaper from an elderly brother and sister living together in Plaistow (in London’s East End)," Piper recalled. "They said they were very upset that I (Jennifer) might be thrown out of my home, Peggy being as she is, so they said they would take me in. I thought 'how sweet' and ignored it. But then I got another letter saying the brother had redecorated their front bedroom ready for me to come with the baby. And I thought 'ha ha' and ignored that one. And then I got a third letter, some time later, saying 'my brother has been sitting at Paddington station waiting for the trains coming in from Hollerton Junction'."[4] In 2016, The Guardian journalist Susannah Clapp named the storyline of the "10 best Archers storylines", saying "Jennifer once had the waywardness of her daughter Kate, and the romantic spirit of her youngest, Alice".[8] In an interview for the program's 70th anniversary, Piper revealed the storyline somewhat imitated her own life. "It was extraordinary because I was reading my scripts and Jennifer was feeling a bit queasy and was rushing off to the loo and I thought I wasn't feeling too well myself and joked I was taking my part a little too seriously. Then, I also discovered I was expecting a baby at the same time."[9]

Marriage to Brian Aldridge

In 1974, Jennifer moved in with her aunt, Christine Barford, after separating from Roger after he became a travelling salesman.[10] Fresh from the divorce to her first husband, Roger Travers-Macy, Jennifer met the Sherborne-educated Brian Aldridge at a dinner party hosted by Carol Tregorran. Not long after, the couple wed on 29 May 1976.[11] The official Archers website says this began "Jennifer's ascendance to the social pinnacle of Ambridge" and developed the character into "the elegant, capable pillar of the community".[11] "She suddenly latched on to someone who had a fair amount of money," Piper says. "I don’t think it was knowingly done but she assumed the position of a wealthy farmer’s wife and she’s grown into that".[4] In an interview, Charles Collingwood said Brian was worth "millions" upon his introduction into the show in 1975.[12] Jennifer moved into Home Farm and continued to work part-time at Grey Gables. In 1978, Jennifer and Jill opened the Two Jays craft studio within a converted barn at Home Farm. But it was short-lived, closing within months of opening.[10]

Affairs of the heart and the "mind"

Jennifer was working on a collaborated history of Ambridge with antique expert John Tregorran when the pair had an "affair of the mind". He wanted it to go further, but Jennifer let him down gently.[10] Jennifer and Brian's marriage was rocked in 1985, when Brian's affair with Caroline Sterling (Sara Coward) was discovered. "There had been the Caroline Bone thing, and the Mandy Beesborough thing. Up to a point I think she’s felt quite flattered that her husband can still pull these younger, good looking, stylish women. And of course, she’s had her moments in the past," Piper said.[4]

Brian's affair with Siobhan Hathaway

Out of all of Brian's affairs, his dalliance with Siobhan Hathaway (Caroline Lennon) was one of the show's most high-profile storylines. Church leaders and newspaper columnists debated the fling,[13] which saw Brian start up an illicit affair with Hathaway, a much-younger married doctor's wife between 2001-2002. The episodes leading up to Brian's admission to Jennifer were heard by 4.75 million listeners, and more than 6000 people sent emails to the BBC over the so-called "hayseed porn".[14] Brian and Siobhan's son, Ruairi, was born in 2002, and brought back to The Archers in 2007 upon the death of Siobhan from cancer.[14] Jennifer, deciding to forgive Brian, took pity on his son and welcomed him into her home. "Seeing him when Jennifer went out to Ireland. That was the point where she decided she had to take Ruairi on. Even though he was her husband’s lovechild," Piper says.[4]

Departure from Home Farm

After 40 years of living at Home Farm, Jennifer and Brian were forced to sell the farm house in 2018 to cover the financial fallout from the toxic contamination that leaked from his land. The couple downsized, much to Jennifer's dismay, and moved into Willow Cottage in 2019. The Aldridges got off on the wrong foot with neighbour Kirsty Miller (Annabelle Dowler), first by a loud birthday party and then Jennifer accidentally cutting her phone line while trimming a bush. Brian got his court papers in January 2019 and told his wife he would plead 'not guilty' to the charges, and would fight any hefty fine he was handed.[15]

Death and aftermath

In the episode broadcast on 22 January 2023, Jennifer is spending a weekend away with her sister Lillian (Sunny Ormonde) at a spa in Stratford-upon Avon. While Jennifer is alone at the hotel she goes into cardiac arrest.[16] Lillian calls Jennifer's husband, Brian, and tells him that paramedics have taken her to Warwick Hospital, and he rallies the family to be around her. As Kate, Adam, Alice, Lillian and Justin wait outside Jennifer's hospital room, Brian emerges and announces that doctors did "everything they could, but her heart just wasn't strong enough." Brian ends the episode saying: "I'm so sorry, your mother, my Jenny, she's gone." Subsequent episodes dealt with the family, and the larger community, coming to terms with the character's death. It was also revealed in later episodes that Jennifer had been diagnosed with a potentially fatal disease called aortic stenosis.[17] Brian and Tony were the only family members who knew about her diagnosis, which angered those who had been left out of the loop. In the episode broadcast 27 January 2023, Kate finds a journal her mother had been keeping shortly before her death. As she and siblings Adam and Alice read it they discover the reason their mother didn't want them to know about her condition was because she was "putting the good things first". In the same episode, Jolene Archer (Buffy Davis) leads drinkers at The Bull in a toast for Jennifer, calling her "one of Ambridge's most remarkable and beloved residents".

Fans of the show had speculated on social media for months about the future of the character[18] due to Piper's long absence from the series. Piper was last heard on the show in an episode broadcast on 15 February 2022[19] but had been noticeably absent thereafter, only being referred to by other on-air characters. After the broadcast of Jennifer's death, the BBC confirmed Piper had "retired" from the show after 60 years.[20] Fans of the show flooded social media with tributes following the episode, calling it "sad and unexpected."[20]

The Telegraph's Charlotte Runcie called Jennifer's death "the end of an era for an Archer's icon", adding while she wasn't easily likeable "over 60 years she certainly had her share of dramatic storylines".[1] "Jennifer’s death came at the end of an episode that was otherwise quite mundane, blowing everything apart. Despite the trauma of her end, not least for Lilian, it was good of the writers to give her a wonderfully fitting final weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, spent at the spa and visiting the Shakespeare’s Birthplace museum. Maybe for Jennifer, heaven was a place on Earth, too," Runcie wrote.

In a blog post on The Archer's official website, editor Jeremy Howe paid tribute to the character and the actress, saying: "Jennifer was fabulously snobbish, fabulously judgemental but sharp as a tack, very funny and rarely wrong. You might well cross the Village Green to avoid coming under her fire, but if you were in harm’s way she would be the first to rescue you. There will only ever be one Jennifer Aldridge, and Angela Piper has played her magnificently.”[21]

Discover more about Character development and impact related topics

Jill Archer

Jill Archer

Jill Archer, is a fictional character from the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. She has been portrayed by Patricia Greene since 1957. Writers for the show paired Jill with Phil Archer, their marriage lasting until Phil's death in 2010. Greene is one of the world's longest-serving actors in a soap opera, in any medium. In 2018, Jill was featured in 38 of the show's almost 300 episodes for the year and continues to play a prominent role in the show.

Patricia Greene

Patricia Greene

Patricia Honor Greene is an English radio actress who is best known as matriarch Jill Archer in radio serial The Archers. She has played the role continuously since 1957, making her the world's longest serving actor in a soap opera in any medium. Greene was briefly acted in television and film.

List of The Archers characters

List of The Archers characters

This is a list of many of the characters from the long-running British radio soap The Archers.

Plaistow, Newham

Plaistow, Newham

Plaistow is a suburban area of East London, England, within the London Borough of Newham. It adjoins Upton Park to the north, East Ham to the east, Beckton to the south, Canning Town to the south-west and West Ham to the west.

Peggy Woolley

Peggy Woolley

Margaret "Peggy" Woolley, is a fictional character from the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers. Portrayed by June Spencer for over 70 years, Peggy has served as the core family's – and by extension, the village's – matriarch. Until July 2022 Spencer was the only remaining member of the original cast.

London Paddington station

London Paddington station

Paddington, also known as London Paddington, is a Central London railway terminus and London Underground station complex, located on Praed Street in the Paddington area. The site has been the London terminus of services provided by the Great Western Railway and its successors since 1838. Much of the main line station dates from 1854 and was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Christine Barford

Christine Barford

Christine Barford is a fictional character from the British BBC Radio 4 soap opera, The Archers. The character was introduced as the sister of Phil Archer in 1951, and the daughter of Dan and Doris Archer. The character was a skilled horsewoman, who for many years ran the Ambridge riding stables. British actress Lesley Saweard has played the role since 1953, making her one of the longest-serving soap opera actors in the world.

Sherborne

Sherborne

Sherborne is a market town and civil parish in north west Dorset, in South West England. It is sited on the River Yeo, on the edge of the Blackmore Vale, 6 miles east of Yeovil. The parish includes the hamlets of Nether Coombe and Lower Clatcombe. The A30 road, which connects London to Penzance, runs through the town. In the 2011 census the population of Sherborne parish and the two electoral wards was 9,523. 28.7% of the population is aged 65 or older.

Charles Collingwood (actor)

Charles Collingwood (actor)

Charles Henry Collingwood is a Canadian-born British actor.

Annabelle Dowler

Annabelle Dowler

Annabelle Dowler is an English actress. She was born and raised in Formby, Merseyside, and attended Holy Family High School.

Aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis

Aortic stenosis is the narrowing of the exit of the left ventricle of the heart, such that problems result. It may occur at the aortic valve as well as above and below this level. It typically gets worse over time. Symptoms often come on gradually with a decreased ability to exercise often occurring first. If heart failure, loss of consciousness, or heart related chest pain occur due to AS the outcomes are worse. Loss of consciousness typically occurs with standing or exercising. Signs of heart failure include shortness of breath especially when lying down, at night, or with exercise, and swelling of the legs. Thickening of the valve without narrowing is known as aortic sclerosis.

Jeremy Howe (radio drama editor)

Jeremy Howe (radio drama editor)

Jeremy Howe is the editor of long running radio drama The Archers for the BBC since 2018. From 2008, Howe was previously BBC Radio 4's Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction.

Source: "Jennifer Aldridge", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 30th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jennifer_Aldridge.

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Notes
  1. ^ The character's death took place on 22 January 2023, but she was last heard on 15 February 2022.
References
  1. ^ a b Runcie, Charlotte (25 January 2023). "Jennifer Aldridge's sudden death was the end of an era for an Archers' icon". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  2. ^ "Angela Piper's Derbyshire Childhood". Derbyshire Life and Countryside. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d "BBC Radio 4 - The Archers - Jennifer Aldridge". BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "Angela Piper – 50 years as Jennifer". The Archers. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  5. ^ "BBC - The Archers Blog: Six diamond decades - the 1960s". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  6. ^ Davies, Keri (2010). Who's Who In The Archers, 2010. BBC Books. p. 13.
  7. ^ a b Frith, Simon (2010). The Archers Archives. Random House. p. 47.
  8. ^ Clapp, Susannah (22 January 2016). "The 10 best Archers storylines". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  9. ^ A Social History of The Archers 210102 (2 January 2021) [Archers_ 2020-01-02], retrieved 26 September 2022
  10. ^ a b c "BBC - The Archers Blog: Six diamond decades - the 1970s". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  11. ^ a b "BBC Radio 4 - The Archers - The story of Brian and Jennifer". BBC. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  12. ^ Graham, Natalie (29 April 2012). "The Archers: 'Brian obviously has millions'". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  13. ^ Payne, Stewart (31 May 2007). "The Archers' Siobhan bows out to cancer". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  14. ^ a b "Soap fans in a frenzy as Archers cad comes clean". 16 December 2002. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  15. ^ Milward, Charlie (18 January 2019). "The Archers spoilers: Brian Aldridges’ EXIT revealed as character drops bombshell?". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2019.
  16. ^ "The Archers - 22/01/2023 - BBC Sounds". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  17. ^ "The Archers reveals Jennifer Aldridge's cause of death". Radio Times. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  18. ^ "https://twitter.com/judethegooner/status/1608447726600994817". Twitter. Retrieved 27 January 2023. {{cite web}}: External link in |title= (help)
  19. ^ "The Archers | As many of you have said you would like to hear Jennifer's last speaking episode, I am reposting the podcast episode which was posted in the group by ..." www.facebook.com. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  20. ^ a b Palmer, Katie (24 January 2023). "Angela Piper has left The Archers as Jennifer Aldridge after 60 years". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 27 January 2023.
  21. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Archers - A light goes out in Ambridge". BBC. Retrieved 30 January 2023.

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