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Rob and Helen - the actors’ thoughts

Friday 28 February 2014, 19:10

Keri Davies Keri Davies Web Producer, The Archers

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

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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.

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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.

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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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  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    I must say that this has been --and continues to be--one of my favourite story lines of recent years and perhaps I'm unusual in that I want it all to turn out well, even though I've frequently had issues with Helen, I don't think she deserves yet another relationship that ends in disaster. More importantly, Henry deserves a father. I don't want Rob to turn out to be 'Mr Nasty'! I found Jess a very unlikeable character and wouldn't be surprised to find her undertaking some vicious revenge. As for Pat, she's hardly in a position to criticize Rob for being 'controlling'---Pat, in her feminist self-righteous mode has dominated Tony for years! Great stuff---keep it coming!

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    Comment number 2.

    As long as you're happy Helen, we're happy.
    You'd better make her happy, Rob!

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    Comment number 3.

    Go on, let Helen be happy. Its a great story line, because Helen has her history, and Rob has this mystery background and a bit of darkness. And they can really clash with Pat & Tony who are so sanctimonious. It will be great! Story lines for years and years and years! Does Rob make a pass at Keira when she's 15? Will he turn up with a "love child" for Helen to look after in some years time? Can Helen have a couple more kids? Can Rob & Tom go into business together and turn the farm into a mega-piggery? Or buy a new farm and desert the obnoxious Pat & Tony to wallow in their own misery and mis-management.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    Quote: "Pat’s feminist principles have been offended"

    Oh, so that's the problem? Silly me. I was under the impression that Pat was rather less concerned about feminist principles than about her daughter's having fallen in love and moved in with a man who was already married.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I'd say Pat's feminist principles have indeed been offended! She was very happy when Helen decided to have a baby without finding a man first, and I can't think that her feminism was an influence on her thinking in that situation.

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    Comment number 6.

    (Correction, 'I can't help thinking that her feminism was an influence on her thinking in that situation'.) Poor old Pat, living in her 1970s time-warp...on the other hand, of course, it may turn out that her fears are justified (although I hope not! Any self-righteous bleating of 'I told you so!' from Pat would make painful listening!)

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    Comment number 7.

    I wish them all the misery they both so richly deserve. Two deeply unpleasant characters get together, the moral vacuum and the sleazoid creep, well they won't spoil another couple. Now can they emigrate back to canada...tough on Canada but it is a big country...

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    I'm with the the "Please make this a happy story" brigade. I'm tired of stories that are dark and twisted and seem to occur in every drama now, whether on TV or radio. Whatever happened to "They all lived happily ever after"? (And it would be one in the eye for the sanctimonious Pat and Tony.)

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    Comment number 9.

    It would be such a soap cliche to have yet another failed relationship. I hope the archers can do better ... dare to be different !

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Whether or not Rob and Helen are happy long term I would hate to think that they have both learnt nothing from all of this and that they can continue to treat everyone as appalling as they do with utter impunity.
    I am sorry but in my book they have both behaved dreadfully and neither is deserving of lasting happiness.

    I thought Rob's comment about winning was very telling. He's an utter sleazeball and she is just desperate to be part of a couple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I think that Louiza's mother-in-law is right. Every now and then a wrong'un turns up to stir the soup

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Why is Helen so deserving.? She gets everything she wants by emotional blackmail and bullying and none of the usual effort and forces others to take the consequences like when she ran over Mike when drunk. She has a job and house provided for her, buys a baby as a pet when. She can't be bothered to make the effort to form a relationship then dumps him on her parents, decides she does want a man so drops her knickers for someone else's quicker than you can say adultery, all the time lying to the parents she runs rings round because all she has to do is go off her tucker for a few days and yhey will panic they will lose another child. She has no good qualities and I bet her cheese stinks!

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    Comment number 13.

    Rob is "slightly old-fashioned" according the actor? Gulp. Rob is a cheating, controlling liar with a nasty temper who moaned about his wife nursing her dying father instead of moving to Ambridge and then treated her appallingly when she did come to the village. Helen set her cap at Rob from the outset, even saying "why are all the good ones married?" Charming.
    I'd say they deserve each other, except for poor Jess - first deceived then bullied. Very unrealistic she's giving in to Rob's desire for a divorce ASAP. I was hoping she'd drag it out for as long as possible.
    And of course Henry - the child Helen wanted so much, and then palmed off on her parents at every opportunity. Not to mention the unknown (to her and Henry) dairyworker, just so she and Rob could make whoopee in his office. She really is a crap parent! Lots of people are worried about how Rob will treat Henry...

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I must say I find the above comment rather harsh, and it doesn't actually describe the episodes as I've heard them. I thought that when it became clear that Jess's father was dying, Rob rushed to her side to support her, and that it was because of them becoming closer during that time that he tried to repair his marriage and broke things off with Helen. Not once did we hear Rob complain that Jess was 'nursing her dying father', nor were there any scenes where a saintly Jess did anything of the sort. It was clearly stated, initially, that Jess's father was improving, and that Rob was puzzled by Jess's refusal to come to Ambridge. I think there were cracks in that marriage long before Helen came on the scene!
    I'd be very sorry if the story line developed into something unpleasant, but the jury's out as far as I'm concerned! Would the script-writers of The Archers really be so cruel as to write a scenario where Henry suffers at the hands of an unkind step-father? I don't think so.

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    Comment number 15.

    I am fed up with Nobby Winklemann and Helen. And bloody Hank...

    Please just let it end. As several have said they are both totally immoral. And bloody Hank...

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    No I don't want an unkind stepfather either - for I hate to have children suffer - even in soaps. However if it was possible to have the sleasy grownups suffer WITHOUT the child being hurt that would be fine!

    For I would agree with the posters who disapprove of Helen and Rob's behaviour. I think that Rob is immature and selfish and given he has admitted Jess's MH problems how DARE he treat her so uncaringly! No doubt the poor woman was browbeaten into signing the divorce papers - she didn't have the mental resources to stand up to him. I wonder what Peggy would say if she knew that far from Jess "not hurting" she was hurting very much indeed!

    And how dare Helen lie to her parents about seeing him. Then she engineered a row so she could move in with Rob before the marital bed had cooled. Helen acting as the fawning obedient wife is typical of her .. she was a "clinging vine" with her other lovers too .. Well she's moved from clinging to and leaching from her parents - to clinging to her new lover. Independent my ash tree! He may be an "old fashioned husband" but that doesn't mean he'll like Helen behaving like an air-head!

    So - they deserve each other I would say

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    PS I think this SL is a slow burner - and I'm enjoying it for that reason. At least Tony and Pat have got rid .. so every cloud has a silver lining

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I wonder if Jess is really 'hurting', though, or whether she's just annoyed that she's lost control over Rob? I never got the impression that she cared about Rob very much at all, she just seemed to want to boss him around and speak to him in a mildly ridiculing/mocking manner (that scene when they were out shopping. for example.) Unfortunately, many people do this i.e treat their long term partner with a kind of casual disdain/disregard and Jess fell into that category as far as I'm concerned. I think she's brought her misfortune, if indeed it is a misfortune, on herself. She sounded like a control freak to me; she ignored Rob for months and then expected him to dance to her tune! Yes--this is a good story line, because there are no clear cut 'answers' and we're still guessing how this will turn out. We may get some 'bunny boiling' behaviour from Jess yet!

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    Comment number 19.

    Personally, despite all the manufactured mystery, I find Rob a rather shallow, uninteresting character and I think we have heard far too much of him. Now that we hear from far fewer characters each week, it seems a shame that so much episode time is taken up with this character, at the expense of old favourites such as Mike, Vicky, Chris, Alice, Hayley, Usha, etc. If Rob is going to turn out to be Mr Normal who settles down with Helen, maybe we can hear less of him?

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    It was clearly stated, as Rob's opinion, that Dennis, was improving. Events rather prove otherwise. Jess followed Rob's career around thecworld for what ten, fifteen years? No doubt compromising her own on the way. Expecting him to be a weekly boarder for a few months isn't such a big ask in the context of a long relationship imo especially since Rob's family is nearby. Caring isxexhausting


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