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Rob and Helen - the actors’ thoughts

Keri Davies

Writer, The Archers

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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.

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.

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.

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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