"The Archers" is a British radio soap opera on BBC Radio 4 (the BBC's main spoken-word channel) broadcast since 1951. It was initially billed an everyday story of country folk and now, a contemporary drama in a rural setting. Having aired over 18,950 episodes, it is the world's longest-running drama.

Five pilot episodes were aired in 1950 and the first episode was broadcast nationally on 1 January 1951. A significant show in British popular culture, and with over five million listeners, it is Radio 4's most listened-to non-news programme, and with over one million listeners via the internet, the programme holds the record for BBC Radio online listening figures.

"The Archers" is set in the fictional village of Ambridge in the fictional county of Borsetshire, in England. Borsetshire is situated between what are, in reality, the contiguous counties of Worcestershire and Warwickshire, south of Birmingham in The Midlands. Possibly based on the village of Cutnall Green, various other villages claim to be the inspiration for Ambridge; The Bull, Ambridge's pub, is modelled on The Old Bull in Inkberrow, whereas Hanbury's St Mary the Virgin is often used as a stand-in for Ambridge's parish church, St Stephen's.

A soap opera is a radio or television serial dealing especially with domestic situations and frequently characterized by melodrama and sentimentality. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.

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