It may be a gentle tale of country folk but last night The Archers dramatically killed off one of its longest serving and most popular characters.
Betty Tucker, who has appeared in the Birmingham-made radio soap for 31 years, died of a second heart attack in last night's episode - less than a week after listeners were shocked by a first.
Producers decided to kill off the character after actress Pamela Craig announced she was leaving the Radio 4 soap and moving to New Zealand to be closer to her grandchildren.
She is one of the oldest serving characters since the series began in 1950.
Other veterans include Norman Painting, who has played Philip Archer since the first episode and June Spencer, who has been Peggy Woolley since the beginning, taking a short break to have her children.
Betty Tucker came into The Archers as a farmer's daughter on August 9, 1974. Married to Mike, she had two children, Roy and Brenda, and was best known for managing the village shop and an organic egg business with Neil Carter.
Mrs Craig said: "I joined the programme in 1974, expecting to stay two years. So, as you can imagine, it's a great wrench to be pulling out. I'm emotionally involved now, it's part of me. Being the cause of Betty's death feels like murdering my best friend - she was a good soul, always tried to live by the rules; she didn't deserve this.
"On one of those days when everything that can go wrong with a computer was going wrong my husband Patrick said how good it would be if we could just ring up the grandchildren and get them to come over and bale us out. This tends not to happen as they're in New Zealand and at their end it would probably be the middle of the night. So, from this simple exchange an idea was born.
"So, it's off to Christchurch in the South Island as soon as we can get away.
"Of course what I'll miss most are the people. A bunch of seriously talented actors, an editor with an unerring sense of what the programme needs to stay fresh and alive, plus a team of writers who can really deliver, not to mention the amazing crew of technicians.
"These ingredients all add up to what it is, a jewel among soaps, an institution I've been proud to be a part of."
Vanessa Whitburn, editor of The Archers, said the cast and crew were saddened by Mrs Craig's departure.
She added: "When Pam came to see me earlier in the year and told me that she and her husband were moving to be nearer to their grandchildren in New Zealand I knew instantly that we could never find another actress to play Betty.
"Over 31 years Pam has made the part her own and that distinctive voice and intrepid personality were hers and hers alone.
"And so a dramatic and sudden death seemed a fitting way to bow out. I knew Pam would relish and handle the final scenes with skill and sensitivity and so the die was cast.
"We will miss Betty and Pam but we wish Pam well in this exciting new venture in her life."
Julie Beckett, senior producer on The Archers, said it was a huge loss to lose Mrs Craig but it also gave them an opportunity to introduce a dramatic story line.
"Naturally, people are sad that Pam is going but we knew she would play the story line very well. Betty was a central character in the village, a real country woman at the heart of the community. You will find women like Betty in every village, or town."