View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Archers - Phil Archer's actor dies

To those in the UK, Radio 4's soap opera "The Archers" is an institution. First aired in 1950, the agrisoap is an almost daily companion after the 7pm news, with the strains of Arthur Wood's "Barwick Green" heralding the start of 15 minutes of trial, tribulations, love, hate and intrigue. The Archers is the longest running soap, nearly 60 years on radio. One of its principal characters was the patriarchal Phil Archer, portrayed by Norman Painting - and the BBC announced this evening that he has died at the age of 85, following a 9-year battle with bladder cancer. Painting wrote nearly 1,000 scripts for the series, and recorded his last episode on Tuesday. This will be broadcast on 22 November.

I have listened to the Archers for 26 years, and although "Phil Archer" had only rarely been making an appearance, I was sorry to hear that the actor, Norman Painting, had died.

Thursday 29 October

Overcast with only the odd drop of rain. Although it is only ten past four, it is already getting dark and in a minute, I'll have to put on the lights. The lighthouse across the bay is already working, as is the beacon in the shipping channel beside it. Temperatures are quite acceptable for late October, with the mercury at 14C.

A St Kilda centre is likely to be built in Lewis. A project group has researched three applications, from Leverburgh (Harris), Cleitreval (North Uist) and Mangersta (Lewis), for locations for such a centre. Placing it in St Kilda itself is not practicable, due to the remoteness of the archipelago - 45 miles away in the Atlantic, and more often than not inaccessible as a result of inclement conditions. Mangersta is a small township in the far west of Lewis, 40 miles west of Stornoway. On a clear day, St Kilda is visible from there. The island was evacuated in 1930, at the request of the population. At the centre, to be built at Mangersta, life and culture on St Kilda is to be celebrated.