Charity advises on Archers storyline

Plunkett Foundation helps village shop become a community enterprise in BBC Radio 4 soap

Villagers in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, believed to be the world's longest-running radio soap opera, are to join the third sector by starting a community enterprise.

The parish council in Ambridge, the fictional village in Borsetshire where The Archers is set, decided last week that because the owner of the local shop, Peggy Woolley, was selling up, the premises should be bought by the community and run as a cooperative.

The characters in the show have already been heard receiving advice from a real-life charity, the Plunkett Foundation, which helps community enterprises to get started.

Ema Murphy, a spokeswoman for the foundation, said it had been giving advice to scriptwriters for two months. "We've taken writers to shops where this is happening," she said.

She said 27 community-owned shops had been started in the past year: "This is a very popular idea at the moment."

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