BBC Radio 4’s The Archers has lost one of its most popular characters. Betty Tucker died of a second heart attack, less than a week after listeners were shocked by the first.
As well as the rest of Ambridge, Betty will be missed most by her husband Mike, daughter Brenda, son Roy and his wife Hayley, as well as her granddaughter, Phoebe Aldridge.
What with managing the village shop, the organic egg business she runs with Neil Carter – not to mention coping with her cantankerous husband, Mike! ? things do seem to have got on top of Betty lately.
She’s been convalescing since her first heart attack on Sunday 11 December.
Just as the family were relaxing a little as they began to come to terms with what had happened, Mike gets the shock of his life when he finds his wife sprawled out in bed having suffered a second, fatal heart attack.
Pamela Craig says: “I joined the programme in 1974, expecting to stay two years! So, as you can imagine, it’s a great wrench to be pulling out: I’m emotionally involved now, it’s part of me.
“Being the cause of Betty’s death feels like murdering my best friend: she was a good soul, always tried to live by the rules; she didn’t deserve this?
“On one of those days when everything that can go wrong with a computer was going wrong, my husband Patrick said how good it would be if we could just ring up the grandchildren and get them to come over and bale us out.
“This tends not to happen as they’re in New Zealand and at their end it would probably be the middle of the night!
“So, from this simple exchange an idea was born. So, it’s off to Christchurch in the South Island as soon as we can get away. Let the grand adventure begin.
“‘Life is what you make it’, I can hear Betty saying!
“Of course, what I’ll miss most are the people. A bunch of seriously talented actors, an editor with an unerring sense of what the programme needs to stay fresh and alive, plus a team of writers who can really deliver, not to mention the amazing crew of technicians.
“These ingredients all add up to what it is, a jewel among soaps, an institution I’ve been proud to be a part of.”
Vanessa Whitburn, Editor of The Archers, says: “When Pam came to see me earlier in the year and told me that she and her husband were moving to be nearer to their grandchildren in New Zealand, I knew instantly that we could never find another actress to play Betty.
“Over 31 years Pam has made the part her own and that distinctive voice and intrepid personality were hers and hers alone.
“And so a dramatic and sudden death seemed a fitting way to bow out. I knew Pam would relish and handle the final scenes with skill and sensitivity and so the die was cast.
“We will miss Betty and Pam but we wish Pam well in this exciting new venture in her life.”