Helen and Rob: The full story
The dramatic story of Helen and Rob Titchener has had listeners gripped through every twist and turn. Find out here how it all began: how they met, what they've been through, and when it all went so wrong.
Tall, dark and handsome
To begin with, Rob Titchener seemed like the perfect man. A successful dairy farmer working in Canada, he also found favour on this side of the Atlantic when he arrived in Ambridge in early 2013.
'You're not to tell a soul...'Helen confides in her friend Kirsty
He soon hit it off with Helen Archer – and with her son Henry. Rob enjoyed her company and her support when he was going through problems with his wife Jess. It was while Helen was comforting him that they ended up in a passionate embrace.
Their affair began, which Rob called off in October 2013, but they reconciled in time for the New Year bells to chime on the 31st of December. However, alarm bells were ringing for Helen’s mum Pat and Helen’s friend Kirsty. Pat didn’t approve because Rob was a married man, and Kirsty didn’t like the way Rob spoke to his wife.
In January 2014, Rob declared that he was divorcing Jess for Helen, and in March he proposed. Jess was now out of the picture or was she?
The hints that Rob wasn’t entirely the person Helen thought he was slowly started to become more evident. One day in February, Helen spent a long time preparing a meal for Rob which he then refused to eat. He doesn’t like tuna.
Helen was upset because she wanted everything to be perfect. But as Rob said, they didn’t know each other fully yet.
Helen’s engagement ring was a stunning vision of three stone emerald-cut diamonds, set in platinum. She loved it – but she didn’t choose it. Rob did.
It was surprising how quickly Helen settled down into domestic life in their new family home, Blossom Hill Cottage. A shock revelation in the summer of 2014 burst their bubble: Jess was pregnant, and insisted the baby was Rob’s. Rob accused Jess of being “delusional”. Of course, Rob could take a paternity test, but that would suggest that Helen didn't trust him? Helen backed down.
Helen wanted her first proper Christmas with Rob to be special. To that end, she chose a special dress for the New Year’s Eve Ball. A couple of days before the Ball, Rob decided the dress was too revealing.
Well, have I stopped you in your tracks? It's new.. what do you think? Do you like it?Helen shows Rob her new dress for the Hunt Ball
As everyone speculated about what 2015 might hold, Helen's friend and cousin, Adam heard wedding bells for Helen, but Rob was hoping to hear the pitter-patter of tiny Titchener feet. (And not the pitter-patter of Jess’s baby, who was born in November, and whom Rob continued to ignore.)
The devastating flood that hit Borsetshire in March 2015 secured Rob’s status as the local hero. Not only did he save Shula, Alistair and Christine from the flooded stables, he even sustained a minor head injury in the process. Some Ambridge residents still see Rob as a lifesaver as a result.
Something's not quite right
In August, a date night for Helen and Rob got steamy. When Helen suggested they move to the bedroom, Rob was firm that he didn’t want to wait. The morning after, Rob was buoyant and Helen was flat. Helen’s brother Tom noticed a bruise on her wrist. Shortly after, Helen found herself pregnant.
Meanwhile, Rob’s influence continued to reach out, causing problems at Berrow Farm, rubbing Tom up the wrong way at The Bridge Farm Shop, turning around Pat’s negative opinion of him and more. Lots of villagers started remarking on how strangely Helen was behaving, which was quickly attributed to pregnancy hormones.
Doubt creeps in
This led to a series of ‘accidents’, which – Rob was always clear to point out – were Helen’s fault: a minor car accident that led to Rob stopping Helen from driving; Henry suffered a burn to his hand from a sparkler on Bonfire Night; there was a muddled-up stock order for the shop.
By this time, Rob had taken on official parental responsibility for Henry. Henry had been calling Rob 'Daddy' for a while, anyway. Rob showed himself to be a doting father, perhaps a little too doting at times. He regularly took it upon himself to discipline Henry.
Friends and Foes
By early 2016, Rob had fully tightened his stronghold on Blossom Hill Cottage. He even invited his mother to stay. When Ursula Titchener arrived, she proved she had the same talent for persuasion as her son. Rather than help Helen, she only made matters worse.
Elsewhere, Kirsty was trying to help Helen, but her on-going feud with Rob got in the way. Kirsty was partially worried for Helen because of Helen’s relationship with food, as she suffered from an eating disorder several years ago.
Rob often made it clear that he wanted Helen all to himself, and Kirsty had always been wary of his moods. They eventually had a huge argument and Kirsty found herself thrown out of Blossom Hill Cottage.
Rob’s mask slips further
He was responsible for getting Helen to see a psychiatrist, who recommended anti-depressants. A few nights later, as he got into bed, he commented that Helen was cold. He said he knew a way to warm her up.
With both of them perilously close to the edge, Rob lost control, and the scales started to fall from Helen’s eyes. Helen finally opened up to Kirsty, who rang a helpline on Helen’s behalf. She encouraged Helen to ring them herself.
Meanwhile Rob, not content with merely disciplining Henry himself, was hatching plans to send him off to boarding school. When Helen found out she snapped, and in a moment of rage, swore she would kill Rob.
The next day Helen rang the helpline, but she was still very conflicted. She maintained she felt like she should be grateful for what she had. When the helpline woman offered support, Helen clammed up and ended the call. But Rob then surprised Helen by relenting in the debate over whether to have a home or hospital birth. “Darling, I’m not a monster,” was his smooth claim.
By now, Helen was physically frail, mentally dazed and almost completely submissive to Rob, but few people were helping her.
Why? Because Rob assured everyone that he was looking after her.
With Helen at such a low point, it is hard to remember a time when Rob seemed the perfect man.
The final straw...
One person who knew something wasn’t right from the beginning was Kirsty. Helen baulked at Kirsty’s suggestion of talking to Jess but later, when she had the chance, she looked up Jess’s number on Rob’s phone.
I'm leaving and I'm taking Henry with me.
The two women met and shared their experiences of Rob. Jess urged Helen to get away from him telling her that if she didn’t he would “crush you until there’s nothing left”.
A few days later, Helen decided to leave to get some space but first, she wanted to explain this to Rob. When Rob got home from work, he found Helen’s packed bag upstairs. She bottled it and said it was for when she would go to hospital to have their baby.
Tension between the couple simmered as they ate the tuna pasta bake Helen cooked for dinner. Rob denied every saying he didn’t like tuna and told Helen she must have imagined it.
Henry called from upstairs and Rob went to see to him. When he returned he caught Helen with the phone Kirsty gave her. He forced Helen to speak to Kirsty and to tell her she was fine.
Helen hung up and she told Rob she was leaving. Their argument escalated, waking Henry, and in front of her son Helen stabbed her husband.