Entertainment & Arts

The Archers: Helen Titchener's trial date set

Timothy Watson as Rob Titchener and Louiza Patikas as Helen Archer - BBC Radio 4, The Archers Image copyright PA
Image caption Timothy Watson and Louiza Patikas play Rob and Helen Titchener in the rural soap

The week-long trial of The Archers' Helen Titchener will begin on the BBC Radio 4 soap this Sunday.

The character is facing two charges - attempted murder and wounding with intent - after she stabbed her husband Rob in a long-running domestic abuse storyline.

The soap's editor, Sean O'Connor, promised "both a shocking and deeply moving trial".

It will run over next week's episodes, hearing the evidence from both sides.

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Media captionListen to what happened between Helen and her husband Rob

The trial will bring to a climax the controversial three-year storyline that saw Rob's (played by Timothy Watson) controlling and abusive behaviour towards Helen (Louiza Patikas) escalate, which culminated in her stabbing him in April.

The rural soap will portray the prosecution as hoping to paint a picture of Helen as an unstable and volatile perpetrator and the defence likely to argue that she acted in self-defence, driven by months of abuse and the need to protect her child.

Both Helen and Rob are set to testify, with Helen's best friend Kirsty, her mother Pat, her five-year-old son Henry, Rob's mother Ursula and PC Harrison Burns among the witnesses.

The plot has gripped listeners, with many backing Helen's actions, tweeting their shock and sympathy for her plight.

"Working with charities and legal advisors, we've been telling Helen's story as realistically as possible over hundreds of episodes, in all its detail and horror, and it's a kind of realism that only radio drama can achieve," O'Connor said.

According to Refuge and Women's Aid, in the month of February as the storyline intensified, there was a 17% increase in calls to the National Domestic Violence Helpline.

The storyline also prompted the Helen Titchener Fund - set up by a listener to raise money for domestic violence charity Refuge - which has raised more than £130,000 to date.

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