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Mark Hebden - Dan's blood father

Wednesday 30 April 2014, 15:08

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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Richard Derrington (Mark Hebden) Richard Derrington (Mark Hebden)

Mark Hebden

Dan has become the spitting image of his deceased father. We remember Shula’s first husband, Mark Hebden.

In 1980, Jill and Phil Archer were pleasantly surprised when their daughter Shula brought home her latest boyfriend. After a series of unsuitable men, sporty solicitor Mark Hebden was much more the sort of person they thought Shula should settle down with. And indeed she did, although the road both before and after marriage wasn’t the smoothest.

Mark was soon defending two hunt saboteurs, the Jarretts, on criminal damage charges. This caused friction with keen huntswoman Shula. And Mark wasn’t shy about publicly expressing his opinions of the local magistrates (one of whom was Phil) when they found the couple guilty – a verdict which was overturned on appeal.

Nonetheless, on New Year’s Eve Shula accepted Mark’s proposal and they bought a cottage in Penny Hassett. But by July Shula was having second thoughts and called the wedding off. Devastated Mark was so shaken he even considered a change of career to become a blacksmith.

As Mark recovered, Shula found herself jealous of his subsequent girlfriend Jackie Woodstock and fiancée Sarah Locke. In 1984, Shula visited Mark in Hong Kong, where he was working. It was a difficult encounter. But when she returned, he followed her back and proposed again.

Married at last

They were married on 21 September 1985, initially living in a flat in the Old Wool Market in Borchester and then in Glebe Cottage in Ambridge. Shula’s closeness to Nigel Pargetter, and Mark’s long days commuting to a job in Birmingham, put some strain on the young marriage.

But things improved when Mark opened his own practice in nearby Borchester. In 1991, Shula was bemused when he took on a female, Asian partner. But she eventually became friends with Usha Gupta (now Franks), at least for a while.

The couple hoped for a baby, but became unhappy and frustrated at their inability to conceive. In 1992, Shula was shocked when her younger sister Elizabeth aborted the child that they thought they might offer a home to. They started IVF treatment, although apparently without much success.

Death on the road

Tragically, in February 1994 Mark was killed in a road accident, swerving to avoid Shula’s best friend. Caroline Bone (now Sterling) had been thrown from her horse which had been spooked by a dangerous driver.

Mark was never to know that Shula’s latest round of IVF treatment had been successful. And he was never to hold his son. Daniel Mark Archer Hebden (now Hebden Lloyd) was born on 14 November 1994.

Mark was always a keen cricketer, for many years captain of the Ambridge team. His memory lives on in the annual single wicket competition for the Mark Hebden Memorial Trophy. And of course in the handsome bearing of his son.

Keri Davies is an Archers scriptwriter and web producer.

Learn more about Dan, Shula, Jill, Elizabeth and Caroline in our Who’s Who

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