Digital Literacy in The Archers

The Archers

There’s an interesting storyline in the long-running Radio 4 rural drama, “The Archers” at the moment. The local nascent dairy business has taken on a young ex-banker, Harry, as a milkman (sic). Harry has breezed into the business full of new ideas, including that of establishing a blog as a means of making personal contact between the milk deliverers and the customers, most of whom who are tucked up in bed when the deliveries are made. Harry’s approach is seen as a severe irritant by Jazzer McCreery, the existing milkman and village wide boy, who sees it as a threat both to his position in the business and to his position in the affections (and bedrooms) of the local bored housewives.

Business-owner, Mike Tucker, has thus thrown down the gauntlet to Jazzer, challenging him to write his own blog with the words “that’s the sort of thing you young people are into, isn’t it”.

Ryan Kelly as Jazzer McCreery

Ryan Kelly as Jazzer McCreery (from BBC Website)

So, Jazzer sits down at his computer, and it quickly becomes apparent that the major obstacle to achieving his objective is his poor literacy skills.

I think this story line is interesting for two reasons. One is that it is one of the first examples I am aware of of blogging featuring in a mainstream (and what might be considered very traditional) drama serial. Secondly, it demonstrates something that lots of people seem to have missed, that one of the principal barriers to digital literacy is traditional literacy. You can give people as many digital tools as you like, but if their reading and writing skills are inadequate, they will be of little use to them