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What's Jill Archer’s problem with Toby Fairbrother?

Hannah Ratcliffe

Assistant Producer, The Archers

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Jill has warned her granddaughter Pip about falling for Toby's charms, calling him a “chip off the old block”.

The words of Rex from the previous day must have been ringing in her ears. When he called round to say Toby would be the main contact at Hollowtree (while he’s away helping their father recover from a heart attack) he let out all his frustration with his brother to Jill. He told her that Toby was “an idle, conceited, unscrupulous leech”.

Understandably, as the caring grandmother that Jill is, she doesn’t want to see Pip get hurt but could her dislike for Toby go deeper than that?

First of all the “chip off the old block” comment: Toby’s father, Robin Fairbrother had a short relationship with Jill’s daughter Elizabeth in the 1980s.

Loved-up Elizabeth learned that Robin was in fact married but understood that he was separated from his wife. A month later, Robin told her their relationship had to end as he was trying to save his marriage. Elizabeth responded by pouring a glass of wine over his head. Jill saw how much upset the break-up caused for her daughter, who holed herself up in her bedroom to soothe her broken heart.

Pip knows about Robin and Elizabeth’s affair, she thinks it’s “ancient history”.


Biggest cringe: Love life advice from your grandmother

But there’s something more… Even before Robin broke Elizabeth’s heart Jill was wanted to keep him an arm’s length.

Robin Fairbrother is the half-brother of Grace Fairbrother who became Grace Archer when she married Phil. Five months after their marriage she died in a barn fire, and two years after Grace’s death Phil married Jill.

When Jill became aware of the connection between Robin and Grace, she told Elizabeth that she didn’t want Robin to visit Brookfield (much to Elizabeth’s indignation!).

Jill confided in her sister-in-law, Christine, that she had “lived with the ghost of Grace for all these years. How wonderful she was, how beautiful, how much Phil loved her, how tragic her death was…

“It’s impossible to live in Ambridge and not hear her talked about in hushed and revered tone. The lovely young Grace. The tragic Grace.”

When Elizabeth asked Peggy why her relationship with Robin was a problem for Jill, Peggy said: “I suppose she’s beginning to wonder what it is about the Fairbrothers that the Archers find so attractive.”

Now, another generation on, Jill must be wondering that more than ever!

Read more about the Fairbrother brothers

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