June Spencer, who voices Peggy Woolley on the BBC soap, has divulged an important truth she learned when she began the role.
“At the time, we were told that it wasn’t a drama programme, it was ‘real life overheard’,” the 98-year-old revealed to Radio Times. “Which is why, of course, the cast list is never read on air.
“We’re anonymous voices. So, although Peggy is well known, the present generations have never heard of June Spencer.”
While the lack of credits is down to bringing an air of authenticity to the programme, the actress expressed some dissatisfaction with the format.
June was involved in an emotional long-running storyline as Peggy’s husband Jack Archer (played by Denis Falwell) suffered with Alzheimer’s disease before he died in 2014.
The nonagenarian was able to draw on her own experiences for the role as her husband in real life, Roger, also had the illness.
“It would be nice to be acknowledged, actually. Particularly when you have an emotional episode, such as Peggy’s goodbye to Jack.
“I worked a lot on the line where Peggy says, ‘Goodbye, my darling.’ And, at the end, they read out who it’s been written by and who the editor is, but there’s no mention of the actress.
“But if listeners want to know, they can look in Radio Times.”
June first lent her voice to the show when it began in 1950, before taking a break for a few years in the same decade.
She went to reflect on how long she would like to remain on the programme.
“I want to continue for as long as I can turn in a decent performance – I wouldn’t want to go downhill. But I’d like to turn 100 [in June 2019] and still be in The Archers.”
“I’m afraid I can’t wait to retire until Peggy’s 100 because she’s five years younger than me.”
June has received several honours for her radio work, including a CBE in last year’s Birthday Honours list for her services to drama and charity.
The Archers airs Monday to Friday at 2pm and 7pm and Sunday at 7pm on BBC Radio 4.