ONE of the newest stars of Britain’s most popular and longest-running radio drama has visited a Cumbrian farm to experience first hand the sights, sounds and creatures of rural life.

Helen Longworth, who plays Hannah the ‘punchy pig person’ on BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, swapped Ambridge for the Duddon Valley when she visited a rare breeds farm owned by her friend and Archers fan Jonathan Denby.

Home to around 150 pigs, all of which are reared outdoors in the traditional way, High Lowscales Farm, near Millom, provided the perfect setting for her to get to grips with her character’s lifestyle.

“I had a really great day,” said Ms Longworth. “I am not from a farming background but on The Archers they have great researchers who can give you advice when you have to talk about technical things.

“However, there is nothing quite like coming and having a look for yourself and speaking to people who are actually rearing pigs.”

Mr Denby, who has owned High Lowscales Farm for three-and-a-half years, said he thoroughly enjoyed giving the actress an insight into the world of pig farming.

“We showed Helen all the different types of pigs we breed here and what sort of food we feed them. She was really interested and very pleased to pick up one of the piglets,” he said. Originally from Preston, Ms Longworth attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, in London, and splits her time between Lancaster, where she is a singer in a local band called Heroes of She, and Birmingham, where The Archers is recorded.

She also regularly performs in London and has appeared in numerous plays, radio dramas and television shows over the years.

Speaking about her latest role, she said: “I was not a regular Archers listener but it was something that I always wanted to do as it is such an institution. The team is lovely and I have been working with a lot of the regular characters, who have all been really welcoming.”

The Archers goes out on BBC Radio 4 at 7pm Sunday to Friday, with the omnibus edition aired on Sundays at 10am.