Timothy Bentinck and Felicity Finch (David and Ruth Archer)
As David and Ruth celebrate their silver wedding anniversary, we played "Mr and Mrs" with the actors Tim Bentinck and Felicity (Flick) Finch.
What initially attracted David to Ruth?
Tim: Well nothing at all at first, she was a pain in the backside. But after a while he couldn’t help admiring her tenacity, practicality, refusal to be brow-beaten and her sense of humour. Mainly though of course, she was as sexy as hell! What initially attracted Ruth to David?
Flick: Hmmm, it was a long time ago... As he behaved like a sexist pig (insulting to pigs I know..) from the moment Ruth set foot on the farm; resenting her presence, seeing her as being completely superfluous and making his feelings very obvious, it took a while for Ruth to acknowledge to herself that there could possibly be any attractive qualities in David. That said she certainly wasn’t blind to the fact that he was tall, rugged and there’s definitely something attractive about seeing such a ‘brute’ gently coaxing ailing calves and lambs back to health! Tim and Flick on joining the programme, getting together, radio kissing and much more:
Felicity Finch (Ruth Archer) and Tim Bentinck (David Archer) reveal the secrets of radio kissing and the enduring appeal of The Archers.
Do you think they are well suited as a couple and, if so, why?
Tim: Opposites attract. Despite her passion for farming, physical ability and no-nonsense approach to most things, she’s still much more emotion-led than David, and has a great deal more empathy for other people’s feelings.
David is honest, hardworking, generous and kind. But when Brian comes to him to unburden his soul, David is really pretty useless and would much rather be changing the oil on the tractor. He won’t take being hen-pecked, though. When Ruth goes off on one, he is more likely to give her the quiet treatment than indulge in a full blown confrontation, but he’ll stand his ground, as will she. The fact that this hasn’t led to divorce means that their mutual respect and love will overcome most practical disagreements. Also of course, they’re extremely good in bed!
Flick: Yes, they’re definitely well suited. They are both very capable of becoming highly emotional if something riles them but thankfully they tend to react to different things. So, often one will be able to calm, soothe and support the other through most crises. Or at least provide some kind of balance to a problem. There was a significant change in Ruth after she had breast cancer. She’s definitely mellowed, has become less forthright and can appreciate what really matters to her in life ie her family and the farm.
Most importantly, Ruth and David really enjoy each other’s company, they’re best mates... most of the time! Any couple who after 25 years still love going out for meals together, having the occasional break away without the kids and the odd roll in a haystack are doing pretty well I reckon.
If David could change one thing about the relationship, what would it be?
Tim: Get her to do a cookery course.
If Ruth could change one thing about the relationship, what would it be?
Flick: Nothing, she loves him as he is.
What do you think was the high point of the relationship?
Tim: Their shared coping with Ruth’s breast cancer. When David thought he might lose her, it brought them together in a way that he had not anticipated. It made him really realise how much he loved her, and couldn’t bear the idea of losing her.
Flick: There isn’t one, otherwise the best would be over. There have been lots of highs and there will be many more. (Well... if you’re twisting me arm, maybe it was that roll on a very high haystack where Ben was conceived.)
What effect did Sophie’s flirtation and Ruth’s near affair have on the relationship?
David goes a step too far - but is Sophie bothered?
Tim: Well of course the Sophie flirtation was as nothing to Ruth’s Great Betrayal. If it hadn’t been for David cooking spag bol for the kids, she’d have been 50 Shading away in the hotel like crazy and now be Mrs Batton.
It has taken a long time for David to get over it, and personally I think that even now there are aspects of their relationship that need addressing. His trust was absolutely shattered, his security in her love was broken and for my money he still needs something more from her to be entirely sure that there isn’t something wrong at the very root of their relationship, which could still surface again.
Sam has been waiting for Ruth - but she has made a decision.
Flick: Well, at the time it very nearly resulted in divorce. But it says a lot about them both, and David in particular, that it didn’t. I think he realised, although he never admitted it, that he had not been nurturing their relationship. He’d been oblivious to Ruth’s feelings of low self esteem connected to feeling physically unattractive following the breast cancer - even though her mastectomy had happened several years ago. He also knew in his heart (as did the listeners) that he was definitely enjoying more than ‘polite conversation’ with Sophie. Given half a chance, he might well have let that relationship progress further - without actually jumping into bed with her.
What would David and Ruth’s ideal day out together be?
Since that time Ruth and David’s relationship has become stronger and stronger. They appreciate, respect and love each other on lots of levels, are so thankful that they rescued their relationship and are now closer than ever.
Tim: Sunday at an agricultural show, followed by a slap up dinner and the movies. Then bed, and I don’t mean sleeping.
Flick: Moochin' around a truly traditional agricultural show in the middle of beautiful countryside, a huge brunch with friends followed by more moochin' and a drink and meal a deux in a great pub in the evening.What are your hopes for the future for your characters?
Tim: I don’t want them to stay as they are. There’s a lot of “still waters run deep” about the pair of them, and there’s a lot of sub-text that would be great to play out. Their relationship still has a lot of development to go. They have not reached a point in their marriage where everything is rosy and trusting. It needs testing again, and I think to the point where, like the breast cancer story, they are forced to confront emotional realities and find a really true, honest, deep affection, trust and openness. There’s an elephant in the farm and they need to talk about it.
Flick: That together they will embrace new ways of farming where appropriate and succeed in making Brookfield a truly thriving farm again; one that the kids will feel proud and confident to inherit and continue to farm. Allowing David and Ruth to gradually relax into semi-retirement; still lending a hand here and there and offering pearls of wisdom when required. I trust that their relationship will stay strong and weather the inevitable hiccups along the way.Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.
Learn more about David and Ruth (and Tim and Flick) in our Who’s Who