Louiza Patikas (Helen Archer) and Timothy Watson (Rob Titchener)

As Rob asks Helen to marry him, I spoke to the actors who play these two intriguing characters.

There’s obviously a massive attraction between Rob and Helen. What do you think is the basis for that?

Louiza: I think the basis is a sexual attraction.

Tim: They were definitely drawn to each other on that level immediately. But we’re finding out how they fit together – how they work together as a couple. It feels to me like Rob has found somebody who he feels that he can be with on a day-to-day basis. It seems he needs somebody to work for him, which I suppose shows the slightly narcissistic side of him.

There’s a lot suspicion about the motives of the characters. Clearly it started off as lust. Do you think there’s a basis for an ongoing and secure relationship?

Louiza: Helen said to Kirsty that Rob made her feel safe, that she doesn’t have the world on her shoulders any more. And whether or not we think he’s controlling, the good little wife cooking for him and busying around works for him.

Tim: There have been hints for months about a side for him which is slightly old-fashioned or controlling. I think he’s comfortable when he’s with somebody who he can – putting it kindly – “look after”.

It had looked like Helen was set on a future in which there was no man.

Louiza: Taking her history I think that was probably a good choice (laughs). And I think she was happy, she was fine. But this kind of attraction takes over everything. There’s no going back for her now, as long as he’s around and happy to be there.

Helen tells Pat about her and Rob (Jan 2014)


Pat’s feminist principles have been offended by Helen allowing herself to go into a
relationship with an ‘old-fashioned’ man.

Louiza: Helen’s been moulding her interest to suit Rob’s – like the rugby, and throwing the tuna dinner away. And I can absolutely see Pat’s point of view. It would pain me if I were her. However, her daughter is happy.

Helen always seems to do things the hard way.

Louiza: Yes, she does. As Tom said, she’s got this self-destruct button. She doesn’t seem to be able to find the easy, pain-free route in anything she does.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t going to be a success, of course.

Louiza: No. I’m sure we all know people whose relationships have got rough edges, but they work.

The Archers: Tim Watson & Louiza Patikas (Rob&Helen) on the appeal of a ready-made family

What are the characters like to play?

Tim:  Notwithstanding some local suspicion which you could attribute to anybody arriving in the village, initially Rob seemed to be just generally doing his best to minimise the impact of this very unpopular mega dairy arriving. His political skills were in evidence and that was lovely to play. But now there are some darker elements creeping in. There are very few actors who would not enjoy that.

Louiza, you’ve been playing Helen for a long time now. How long?

Louiza: (smiles) All right, Keri...

Nothing wrong with that.

Louiza: No, there’s nothing wrong with that at all. I’ve been playing Helen for 14 years. I love her. I think she’s a fantastic character.

What sort of reaction about the storyline have you had from friends who listen to The Archers?

Tim: Very positive.

Louiza:  People are really talking about it, aren’t they?

Tim: Yes, they do. It’s difficult when most of your friends are also actors, you don’t necessarily get a broad cross-section of the general Archers audience. But very good. The whole Christmastime thing was just great. The disastrous party and New Year and everything was really well received.

Louiza, what about your friends? Are they saying “nooooo, don’t do it?”

Louiza:  Well, I’m loving my mother-in-law’s tracking of the story because it’s changing a lot. I think she thinks he’s a wrong-un -

Tim: (Laughs)

Louiza:  But if Helen’s happy that’s ok. And I think there’s also an element of housewives’ choice about Rob. There are a lot of women of a certain age going “ooh, he sounds lovely. I can totally get the attraction”. So everyone’s very excited and invested in it, which is really lovely.

The Archers: Jess confronts Helen (Feb 2014)

 
Tim: People were worried about poor Jess and whether she was under the patio.

Louiza:  For a while, lots of people thought Jess might have been a man. It’s keeping people guessing, so that’s fun.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Learn more about Rob and Helen – and Tim and Louiza – in our Who’s Who.

 

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  • Comment number 49. Posted by RosieT

    on 13 Mar 2014 18:43

    I THINK I read that they actually kiss now, the back-of-the-hand stuff went a dozen or so years ago.

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  • Comment number 48. Posted by jacobsdot

    on 10 Mar 2014 15:22

    To all those who don't enjoy listening to radio smooches - cheer up, the actors are just kissing their own hands in front of the microphone !

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by wildforces

    on 5 Mar 2014 19:22

    Rob has got a bit of a temper and is manipulative. I get the feeling we are going to be listening to an abusive relationship developing.Helen will put up with it and cover it up rather than lose him.

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by Anne Knight

    on 5 Mar 2014 14:21

    My husband, Richard, says:
    I am very worried about Helen!
    She is very intense and would scare me to death. Can you remember when Grieg died, she became anorexic and Pat and Tony were terribly concerned about her?
    She hardly knows anything about Rob, apart from his body, yet in an incredibly swift move, settled in with him, whilst he is still married.
    Of course the scriptwriters can head off in any direction, and their characters can change their nature overnight, unlike most mortals who cannot change their spots.
    I’m inclined to think that Rob is very devious, though I cannot fathom out what his real intentions are. He is too smooth to be true and if he turns out to be an absolute bastard, Helen will need all the help from her family, friends and listeners alike. She may appear to be strong and determined, but is a very fragile person. (Unless the scriptwriters have other ideas.)
    Peggy made a grave mistake revealing her intentions regarding her Will and I have some sympathy for Tony and Pat. Nice to have some animals back on his farm, so I hope he makes a fair return on his Aberdeen Angus cattle.

    Richard has been listening to the Archers for 45 years and considers Tony as his brother; Richard started off in in farming and understands all that is going on.

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  • Comment number 45. Posted by beaver

    on 4 Mar 2014 23:43

    Does anyone else wonder where Rob was on Valentine's day?

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  • Comment number 44. Posted by julie siddle

    on 4 Mar 2014 21:38

    I love all the bridge farm scenes. I love the rob and helen story, rob sounds sexy to me, he'd better make helen happy. AND I LOVE LISTENING TO THE NEW TONY ARCHER. I know he likes his cricket and would find it amusing if tony would mention his real life son, jim, after all, ambridge is loosely based near warwickshire. Please, scriptwriters.............and don't make jess as revengeful as charity sharma...!!

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  • Comment number 43. Posted by stampcollector

    on 4 Mar 2014 14:21

    NO NO Claire! I love radio because you CAN'T see the actors! What the characters look like in my head are sadly so often totally different to how the actors look. I try so hard to avoid images of the actors on the website, but the BBC keep displaying them.......
    Whatever happened to imagination?

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  • Comment number 42. Posted by Claire

    on 3 Mar 2014 19:08

    I'd love to see some video clips of the actors talking about their characters. Although we get to see how they look, it would be nice to see them in action.

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  • Comment number 41. Posted by slackalan

    on 3 Mar 2014 13:01

    I have a large bet on with my other half about whether these two will see a happy ending. She thinks that despite some of the ambiguities and hints at deception, Rob is actually sincere about Helen. I on the other hand think Rob is too smooth and calculating and that there are more things to come out of his past. Although he always has a story to tell that puts him in a good light, I think his behaviour might be the reason that him and Jess have had to move out to Canada and back again!
    I just think he can't keep his trousers on! I found Jess was pretty annoying, but think Rob will find Helen won't remain the push over she is at the moment, once the mutual lust begins to wear off. I find Rob and Helen love scenes excruciating, but that's good writing to set us up for some drama later on.

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  • Comment number 40. Posted by Soozi Quattro

    on 3 Mar 2014 12:35

    I feel that Helen improved once she had Henry to look after. But she's been too quick to get involved with Robb, who's decidedly dodgy, even though we don't know quite in what way.

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