Louiza Patikas (Helen Archer)

Darrell’s attempt on his life will have brought back memories for several Ambridge residents. Tragically, Helen’s first proper relationship culminated in the suicide of her partner.

In August 2001, Pat and Tony Archer were perturbed when their daughter Helen (then 24) revealed that she was in a relationship with a much older man, Greg Turner. The gamekeeper for Home Farm and the Berrow Estate, Greg was a reserved and secretive man. It was some time before he confessed to Helen that he was divorced. His estranged ex-wife Michelle and two daughters, Sonja and Annette, were living in France. It was even longer before he admitted that he’d had a vasectomy.

Despite these bombshells, Helen persisted with the relationship. She supported Greg when Annette got in touch, leading to Greg visiting them in France on a few occasions. His instinctive secrecy led to problems when, on his return from the first visit, he didn’t mention that Michelle had spilt up with her boyfriend. But nonetheless Helen moved into Greg’s cottage in October 2002.

Life with moody Greg wasn’t easy. He was in constant conflict with his bosses, Brian Aldridge and Matt Crawford, and brought his problems home. And despite Helen’s best efforts he badly mishandled things when Sonja and Annette visited over Christmas 2003.

Things worsened when Jack Woolley was injured at a shoot the following March. Greg’s dour mood sank into a genuine depression but he refused Helen’s suggestion that he see a doctor.

The situation came to a head in April. Brian wouldn’t allow Greg’s request for time off so he could try to mend things with his daughters. In the middle of the row, Greg summarily quit his job. In an angry altercation about it, Greg pushed Helen, bruising her back.

Greg pushes Helen (Apr 2004)



Despite this, while Greg was in France, Helen pleaded with Brian to keep the job open. But when Greg returned, things were even worse. Michelle wanted him to have no more contact with the girls. And, furious that Helen had interceded with Brian, Greg nearly became physical again. It was too much for Helen, who moved out.
As isolated Greg went into a decline, his fellow gamekeepers George Barford and Will Grundy did their best to support him. And for a while it looked like their efforts were working. Greg eventually tidied up his place and claimed he’d applied for a job in Suffolk. He gave Will his blessing over applying for Greg’s old job.

Helen's last message to Greg - which he never heard



But these actions were Greg putting his house in order before he put an end to his troubles. On 7 May 2004, Will found the cottage locked. Greg’s dog Mitch was inside, as were two notes, one for Will and one for Helen. Fearing the worst, they searched the area.

Brian found Greg in the nearby shepherd’s hut. He had shot himself.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Sources of support for depression and suicide

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by Pauline

    on 16 Dec 2013 17:42

    My son, too, has problems with anxiety and lack of self esteem. He too tried to end his life twice. Darrell is a frustrating character but it is true that a person has to accept they have a problem and accept help. People who do not understand where such people are coming from see them as weak, whereas they are possibly simply very sensitive. For them, it is not weakness to battle on in what they see as a hostile world - on the contrary, it takes a lot of courage.

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  • Comment number 5. Posted by Nemo399

    on 15 Dec 2013 17:11

    (Correction, 'Mike Tucker'...)

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  • Comment number 4. Posted by Nemo399

    on 15 Dec 2013 17:08

    Please don't personalize this discussion, amethyst1! You know nothing of my circumstances. I'm discussing a drama, not real life, and I've praised the way the depression of both Greg Turner and that of Mike Turner was handled on The Archers. The fact that I feel differently about the Darrell story line, and the choice of this character as a focus for this issue may have everything to do with my real life experiences for all you know.

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  • Comment number 3. Posted by amethyst1

    on 15 Dec 2013 15:53

    I only hope that Nemo399 never suffers the tragedy of dealing with serious depression destroying the life of someone he/she cares about.

    Then perhaps a little sympathy for 'weak' people would be there. Not everyone in the world is as stong as evidently Nemo399 and his friends/family clearly are.

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  • Comment number 2. Posted by tothepoint

    on 9 Dec 2013 19:08

    Sadly, some while ago I knew that this is how Darrell's story would go. It would be great to have him survive, but more likely is that he will have done some lasting damage and may not make it.
    I particularly recognised the signs of how he was feeling - not wanting to get out of bed - having trouble thinking about almost anything - his panic attack about going to a hostel. These were all symptoms of our own Son's struggle with anxiety and depression. We all went through years of trying to help him. It is true, however, that unless the person wants to help themselves, there is little you can do to persuade them to do it. Even though our Son had "professional help", it couldn't help him in those moments when someone had said something to upset him and make him feel unwanted and so alone and isolated. Tragically, his struggles came to end a few months ago - but now he is at peace - and we are trying desperately to come to terms with his loss.
    I hope there is a happy ending for Darrell. Peace.

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  • Comment number 1. Posted by Nemo399

    on 9 Dec 2013 18:37

    The depiction of Greg's depression and suicide on The Archers was, indeed, a piece of powerful drama, and highly effective at exploring this issue, in my view. It almost had the momentum of a Greek tragedy, if that doesn't sound too pretentious and the repercussions have continued, with the effect on Helen, who's never seemed like an entirely stable character since. Similarly, the depression of Mike Tucker, back in the early 1990s was well handled, with Betty fleeing the family home, not understanding his behaviour and with Mike finally breaking down. This was very moving and startling.
    Alas, sorry, I feel very differently about the Darrell story line. No disrespect to the actor who played him and the (I assume) non-Archers listener professional who advised on the story line, but for me, Darrell's decline made tedious listening because Darrell was never a character I could care about. He was weak from the outset, a poor husband and father, easily led, a semi-criminal with no redeeming features. Yes, we should care when useless, unattractive people get ill, and in real life, we might be charitable, but drama doesn't operate by the same rules as real life.

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