There was a distinct whiff of Thomas Hardy about the Archers last night, writes Paul McCann. John Archer had given up his wild ways - by Archers standards - to propose to his loved one Hayley. A happy ending looked in the offing. And then it was John himself who was offed by a tractor.
Being a member of the Archer family itself is usually a safe bet. They are, after all, the franchise, and the last one to go to the green room in the sky was Dan Archer in 1986.
A young soap actor should be able to look forward to years of therapy trying to sort out his fictional character from his typecast self. Not so now. The Archers' four million listeners demand drama and death at an increasingly frequency.
Sam Barriscale, 23, the actor who played John Archer, at least had the luxury of requesting his own demise. "There have been lots of ominous quotes like 'have you repaired that tractor yet?'," he said yesterday. "But no one has guessed. Even my mum doesn't know yet."
The death scene was recorded on 2 February, since when the scripts were shredded.