Once again The Archers (sorry overseas readers, see explanation below) is tackling the topic of miscarriage. In 2014 it was Ruth Archer with a baby conceived at age 46. This time it is Kirsty, left-at-the-altar but nevertheless pregnant by ex-fiance Tom, who loses her baby in the second trimester. The storyline beautifully follows the heartbreak and devastation of both Kirsty and Tom and how the ripples of sadness are felt by both families. Miscarriage is an event that is often brushed aside with an assumption that there is little to grieve for as the child had not yet had a life to mourn, but as Kirsty and Tom’s reactions show, the loss of hopes and dreams, of ‘what might have been’ are very hard to deal with. This baby had been very real and important for both of them, despite it having been unplanned, and particularly in their slightly unconventional circumstances, where there may not be a chance of another pregnancy.
So The Archers is handling this twist in it’s long running saga very well. What we need now is the same sensitive attention paid to letting six year old Henry know that he is donor conceived. It is another complex situation as Henry was conceived at a clinic by donor sperm when his mum Helen (Tom’s sister) was a solo mum. She subsequently married the coercive and controlling Rob who when he finally departed for America (long, long, long story) told Henry that he was not his ‘real’ father. For Henry, Rob was the only dad he had ever known, so he was very upset and has understandably been ‘acting-up’ as a result. The question is, when is Henry going to be told the truth about his beginnings.
I have written to The Archers new editor Huw Kennair-Jones explaining how important it is that the script-writers and editors get this right as it will be setting the tone for every donor conception family in the UK where parents have yet to ‘tell’ their children (yes, The Archers is that influential). I have explained about the importance of starting to tell when children are young and that it is entirely possible to do this in a way that is appropriate for their age. I have of course told him about the resources that DC Network offer to support the telling. Slightly to my surprise I had a swift response thanking me for my interest and for letting them know of the availability of support with this story-line. All I can do now is wait and hope that the Archers team will take up the offer. If anyone else feels like adding their voice to the call for Henry to be ‘told’, the email is firstname.lastname@example.org or there are various Archers feedback and Facebook pages etc.
Watch this space or tune in…
For overseas readers: The Archers is a v e r y long running radio soap opera ostensibly about farming families that takes place at 7pm for a quarter of an hour six nights a week. EVERYONE in the UK knows about The Archers, even if they don’t listen to it, or won’t own up to listening to it.