I am writing this piece in two parts: now while thoughts are fresh in my mind and later this evening when hopefully I will have listened to the closing stages of the trial of Helen Titchener (nee Archer), and having just read a pretty convincing article (and there have been many), tilted: “The Archers trial: what could – and should – happen next”. This is also the second in a series, the first part I wrote yesterday, which was to reflect on what took place at the trial BEFORE the jury retired to consider the verdict.
I can honestly say I am not these days a follower of soaps. The sort of story line we are observing now regarding Helen, the victim of domestic abuse for nigh three years, is common place for soaps like East Enders and Coronation Street. But here I make an exception – I have been a loyal Archers fan for over forty years and while one of the reasons is I rather liked this escape to the country and listening to an everyday story about country folk, I have been riveted by this departure into areas we have come to expect from these other soaps. I have been impressed the presentation was realistic and sensitively tackled an immensely important under reported subject.
Like other Archers fans, my hope is Helen will get off, she will be reunited with her son, Henry, and get back to normal life (whatever that is), and Rob will get his richly deserved come uppance. But all that is in the future, for first we have to get the trial out of the way and before that the jury has to deliver its verdict. According to a straw poll, 70% of Archer’s listeners expect a Not Guilty verdict, 27% think she will be found guilty of Wounding with Intent (and hopefully be let off with a suspended sentence) and 3% think she will be found guilty of Attempted Murder (and this could carry a life imprisonment sentence, although most unlikely in this case).
While we know a lot of what the jury knows, having been able to listen into the trial, we don’t know everything. Pertinently, the jury doesn’t know a lot of what we, the long suffering listeners, know. Having tried to put myself into the shoes of a juror, I had to conclude that, based on the evidence, I might well be reluctantly inclined to find Helen guilty of wounding with intent, hoping that down the line Rob will have to account for far worse “crimes”. Even so, there is enough room for reasonable doubt to think “not guilty”.
As for what does happen, watch this space – we will soon know …
So back to the blog, writing as I listen, while the jury deliberates …
First reaction and first surprise – depression – because some of the jurors appear to be prejudiced, bigoted, ignorant cretins, but not all. Is this widespread among juries, I wonder. Can’t believe people can be so self indulgent when matters are so serious. May it get better.(Listening again though, things didn’t seem quite so bad – ed!)
So after the first negative impression, things improve marginally as we get to know better the jurors and their life experiences. Like the posh older lady’s wise counsel who so clearly sees through Rob. Wish she were the foreman; the guy who (Carl) is should not be, despite all the meetings he has chaired in his job, but c’est la vie!
But the majority are leaning to guilty though but with some dissent thankfully. Interesting, that Dennis (the nice Nigel Pargetter that got killed off a while back) is dead set on finding Helen guilty.
So Tristan is talking about her friend whose experience was not so dissimilar to that of Helen. Stroke of luck but should we rely on luck in a jury? Maybe by having 12 (now 11) jurors it increased the chances. Back to the posh lady, making the point that Helen felt she was in danger and needed to be given the benefit of the doubt – hooray! And now standing up to the “real man” (Blake) guy – well done Tristan, backed up by the girl (Parveen) real man fancied, and as for “common as muck” Lisa, I don’t like her point and her attitude even less, but her experience has some relevance.
Now we know why the foreman was so pro Rob and anti Helen, and such a misogynist; it was because of a bad experience he had, being taken to the cleaners by his scheming wife (his story). Just hoping this may be the turn around inside the jury we are hoping for.
Not sure if the gossip going on outside the jury room is helpful.
One funny thing to report, I hardly recognized the well known actors in this episode, even though some I am well familiar with, or recall some of the juror’s names – maybe a good thing.
That was quick given just a little earlier the jury was split! Jury is coming back now. Did Tristan’s argument convince? Did Parveen conciliate? Did Ms Posh (the amazing Jackie) sway the rest or did Messrs Prejudice have their way? Strange how many of the juror’s personal experiences had a bearing. We are about to find out.
NOT GUILTY – amazing! Didn’t expect that. Helen is discharged! Love to buy Jackie and Tristan a pint of Shires in the Bull.
Angry Rob storms out – what next!? Tearful family reunion – what next? Suspect there is drama to come. The family court hearing next. Hope Henry is ok. Story has not yet ended – will there be another twist in the tale? Rob is now threatening – but Helen on her own has withstood her nemesis and without the cavalry to help and give Rob a much needed punch in the face! Suspect this is not the last we are going to hear from Rob, but in the meantime it is champagne time!
And while the right verdict was reached, the jury system has much to be desired if this one is anything to go by! I strongly suspect there are enough loose ends here to tie up to keep us going for months. While a little disappointed with today’s episode, overall I have been impressed with the work of the scriptwriters and actors, and while this is not the end, the lead up to this milestone in this painful three year saga about such important matters has been well handled.
Really do hope that this will help victims of domestic violence! The story shows there is hope. Want to things get wrapped up soon though; Archers fans have been on tenterhooks for a long time!