It is important that shows like The Archers depict story lines about modern slavery as it helps raise awareness of the issue and challenge stereotypes. This most recent plot line has the potential to really deepen our understanding of how someone might unknowingly be coerced and how others might be blissfully unaware.
There are many myths surrounding modern slavery which a show like The Archers can address. For example, modern slavery is often associated with female sex workers, migrant workers or city-based gangs. In reality, it is prevalent in every community, including rural ones like Ambridge, and British males make up a significant proportion of victims.
In the year ending December 2018, 61 per cent of referrals to the National Referral Mechanism were for males and 83 per cent were victims of labour exploitation as opposed to sexual exploitation. Almost a quarter (23%) of all potential victims referred in 2018 were UK nationals and almost a half were under 18. Scarily, slave masters can often appear to be normal, respectable citizens, known by many around them and not arousing suspicion.
If this plotline does evolve into a modern slavery crime, then it could help move the issue up the national agenda and perhaps expose the myth that something as hideous as modern slavery “wouldn’t happen in a nice little village in the countryside.” Hopefully, it will prompt a few more people to open their eyes and see what is happening in plain sight before them.