Entertainment & Arts

Archers domestic abuse plot prompts calls to support line

Helen and Rob Titchener
Image caption The domestic abuse storyline featuring Helen and Rob Titchener came to a dramatic conclusion this year

A domestic abuse storyline in The Archers is thought to have prompted many of the thousands of calls received by the BBC Action Line in 2016.

Listeners to the BBC Radio 4 drama heard Ambridge resident Rob Titchener abuse his wife Helen earlier this year.

Almost 25,000 people sought online help on the BBC website for domestic violence, while 1,350 people called the support line.

BBC One documentary Behind Closed Doors also prompted calls to the phone line.

The BBC's online support pages were visited 264,000 times in total by people looking for help or advice with a variety of issues.

What effect has The Archers domestic abuse story had?

'Challenging topics'

Louiza Patikas, who plays Helen in the radio drama, said: "As part of my research into this storyline I met victims of domestic violence and coercive control, and soon learned that abuse can happen to anyone.

"The BBC Action Line is so important, both for victims of abuse and for the people who support them, so they have somewhere to go for advice and help."

Listeners heard Helen stab her husband in April after suffering months of abuse, but she was found not guilty of attempted murder in a trial five months later.

Keith Jones, from BBC audience services, said: "2016 has been a very busy year for BBC Action Line, providing an important public service by supporting our viewers and listeners affected by the huge range of social issues that are highlighted in our programmes.

"The BBC is committed to covering challenging topics and bringing them to the attention of our audiences, but it's also vital that we provide the off-air information to help them, in partnership with the many organisations around the UK that can provide support and are willing to do so."

Nearly 4,000 people phoned the BBC's support line after the issue of emotional distress was covered on programmes such as Panorama, EastEnders and BBC Radio 4's PM.

More than 1,400 people called about sexual abuse, while the BBC's dementia season prompted nearly 700 calls.

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