18 February 2020

The '80s Archers Part Two: The Creation Of Lynda Snell

The 1980s saw Ambridge bidding farewell to several legendary old favourites - Doris Archer (1980), Aunt Laura (1985), Dan Archer (1986) and Walter Gabriel (1988) - but the decade saw the arrival of some new favourites, one of these being a certain Mrs Lynda Snell. Snobby Lynda was, at first sight (or rather on first hearing!) frankly quite unbearable - she would interfere! - but over the years moments of kindness and sensitivity and the enjoyability of her being a character we could at times love to hate, saw us listeners taking Lynda to our hearts.

Actress Carole Boyd was no stranger to BBC radio soap, having been in the Radio 2 saga Waggoners' Walk, as miserable Shirley Edwards, wife of the fiery Cliff. But Lynda was absolutely nothing like Shirley (she was rather common, old Shirl!) and I was very impressed at Miss Boyd's acting skills in playing two such widely differing characters so convincingly.

Interviewed a few years ago by the BBC, Miss Boyd revealed the origins of Mrs Snell...

'It was back in the mid-'80s, 1986, and the producer then was Liz Rigbey... she was new to the programme and she wanted, I think, to reflect the mid-'80s, the time of yuppies going off into the country and teaching people - TRYING to teach people - how to run their lives, etc. So, she invented this couple called the Snells and not a lot was known about them. I mean, we all auditioned, there was myself and probably about a dozen other actresses and the letter that came to say "This is what we want to do, this is the sort of people they are," was very uninformative really. It just said in the letter Robert is a thrusting computer whizz kid and Lynda's probably a doormat. And I thought, hmm, I don't want to be a doormat! But at the same time, of course, everyone was watching the television soaps, so we were all watching Dallas and Dynasty and Neighbours, I think, had come in, so suddenly there was a frenzy in the nation for more and more soap operas and I think people suddenly realised that we had our own home-grown one ticking away for years-  and the publicity that went with that - suddenly the interest rocketed as a spin-off from the television interest. 

'So I went into the audition thinking "I'm going to make her unpleasant" and the audition scene was between Eddie Grundy and this woman, unknown at the time, who pops up from behind a hedge to see Eddie doing something disgusting to a small furry creature, you know, disembowelling, something really countryish, and is horrified and takes him to task. And so I did it like that, bearing in mind that there was JR, who everyone loved to hate, and there was Alexis Carrington in Dynasty, who everyone loved to hate, and I thought "that's what we need in Ambridge", and they said, "Oh, you've made her unpleasant," and I said "Yes," and they said, "Oh, we quite like that," so that's how it happened. 

'And then her voice. Well obviously it's radio so there were no shoulder pads or big hair to reflect the period so I thought "Well, I'm going to make her really obnoxious-sounding and irritating," and I just feel that you only have to hear her voice and you just want to run a mile which is rather nice for the character.' 

And WHAT a character! Lynda Snell - Ambridge legend!

No comments: