They have always been a special breed, and now Archers fans around the world listened to the show via the Internet a record 750,000 times last month, according to figures published by the BBC. The Radio 4 soap regularly tops the BBC’s online radio chart, but the 756,730 listens in May is the highest ever for a BBC programme.
The record was set by people catching up on missed episodes at bbc.co.uk, where they can hear programmes on demand for a week after broadcast.
The goings on in Ambridge during the month included Alistair finally admitting to his wife that he owed ?100,000 in gambling debts to the ruthless Matt Crawford; an accident with baby George leading to Ed Grundy’s mysterious disappearance; and Brain Aldridge, Ambridge’s richest farmer, causing turmoil amongst his family as he toyed with the futures of his step-children. The Archers contributed to a monthly total of nearly three million hours of Radio 4 listened to online, and 1.7 million unique user agents visiting their website.
The BBC Radio 2 website also attracted 1.7 million visitors over the course of the month – beating its previous unique user record – helped by on demand video clips of Eurovision entries which clocked up over 700,000 requests.
Digital-only network 1Xtra also experienced a big hike in users in May, thanks in part to the signed football boots of Steven Gerrard and Ashley Cole which daytime DJ Rampage offered as a competition prize.