Archers scripts are ‘re-written by the actors’, says Charlotte Martin

Archers scripts are ‘re-written by the actors’, says Charlotte Martin

Actors on The Archers re-write the scripts because some of the shows' writers don't 'get your character', one of the drama's stars has claimed. Charlo

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Actors on The Archers re-write the scripts because some of the shows’ writers don’t ‘get your character’, one of the drama’s stars has claimed.

Charlotte Martin, who plays Susan Carter in the popular Radio 4 soap, said the first they know about upcoming story lines is when they are handed their scripts.

She said that while on the whole it was hard to fault the shows writers, some just didn’t understand the characters they were writing for.

Dr Martin explained that sometimes ‘you’ll read things or phrases or tiny little areas in perhaps history’ that don’t match the character in the way they should.

As a result, she added, they make change suggestions to the director following an initial read-through.

Charlotte martin said that actors on The Archers re-write the scripts because some of the shows' writers don't 'get your character'

Charlotte martin said that actors on The Archers re-write the scripts because some of the shows' writers don't 'get your character'

Charlotte martin said that actors on The Archers re-write the scripts because some of the shows’ writers don’t ‘get your character’

Dr Martin made the revelation at the Hay Festival, telling an audience: ‘Well the actors aren’t party to any of the script meetings so the first time we really find out about storylines is when we read our script.

‘Unless it’s going to be a massive story and then you get called into the office and told about plans for your particular storyline. So get the scripts, open the scripts [gasps] what?

‘And most of the time I can honestly say the script writers that we have now get all of the characters and write very well for them.

‘But it has happened in the past and it still happens occasionally that certain writers will write better for certain characters than they do for others and so that inevitably means that you get the script from a certain writer who doesn’t particularly get your character and you’ll read things or phrases or tiny little areas in perhaps history or whatever that you have to pick up on.

Dr Martin (right, with Louiza Patikas), who plays Susan Carter in the popular Radio 4 soap, said the first they know about upcoming story lines is when they are handed their scripts

Dr Martin (right, with Louiza Patikas), who plays Susan Carter in the popular Radio 4 soap, said the first they know about upcoming story lines is when they are handed their scripts

Dr Martin (right, with Louiza Patikas), who plays Susan Carter in the popular Radio 4 soap, said the first they know about upcoming story lines is when they are handed their scripts

‘What happens is directors often rely on actors, especially actors who have been in it for a long time who really have a good knowledge of their character and what they would do in certain circumstances. 

‘So we do the read-through and after we’ve done the read through we will then discuss any elements like that or possibly changes that we might want to make and then we have a discussion with the director and it’s quite collaborative but at the end of the day the director says yay or nay and that’s where the actors power finishes.

‘Luckily it doesn’t happen that frequently but it does happen.’

Dr Martin, when not recording the show, is a clinical psychologist and has previously said she uses her profession to help her understand her character.

One of her characters most famous story lines was when she was sent to prison for six months. Her crime was harbouring an escaped prisoner, her younger brother Clive Horrobin.

During a discussion with Co-author of Gender, Sex and Gossip in Ambridge: Women in the Archers, Dr Nicola Headlam, Dr Martin was asked about a theory that unlike other writers, the head writer – Keri Davies – writes well for Susan because he understands where she’s come from and what she’s been through.

Dr Martin responded: ‘I think again that’s then the role of the actor to actually bring out what I need in that character out of the lines that have been written for me and we all have to do that and sometimes that’s quite difficult.

‘Keri’s a particularly sensitive writer and as you say really understands Susan in particular but not everybody gets her.’ 

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