The Archers: the Saga of Rob and Helen continues

Note: I am updating at the end of this post from time to time as significant new developments come to light.

Amazingly, this story line that features domestic violence and coercive control by Rob toward his wife Helen has been running for over three years, and this in the only soap that interests me, the Archers, that was once billed as an every day story about country folk, with stories that include farming matters, jam making, village pantos, gossip in the village shop, cricket on the green, banter in the Bull and the odd ferret cherished and pheasant poached. For those who want to know the story up to September last, read my blog.

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During 2016, I blogged posted well over two hundred times on all sorts of important subjects, giving my well thought out and articulated thoughts. But the post I discovered to have been most read by far was the one titled: “The Archers, Rob Titchener and Domestic Violence”. I suspect a significantly sized group of Archers fanatics accounts for many of the hits, but it has also become clear that many have been touched by the underlying domestic violence narrative and the two main characters in the story: Rob and Helen. In my small exposure to the issues, including with a DV victim last week in my homeless night shelter, I can see how devastating DV can be, how this mucks up lives, how difficult it is to escape, and how getting good understanding, offering safe places and appropriate help is a greater challenge than it should be.

Since Helen was acquitted of charges of wounding with intent and/or attempting to murder her husband, she has returned to live with her parents at Bridge Farm and is gradually getting back to being her normal self, with the support of family and friends, like Kirsty and Ian, having been traumatized due to two years of (mainly psychological) abuse from her husband. She has been reunited with her darling son, Henry, and her new born son, Jack, is coming on nicely. As for Rob, the Family Courts have given their verdict: he is not allowed any access to Henry and as for Jack, his biological son, he has restricted access but only under strict supervision. Besides landing a managerial job for Borchester Land, the main Rob interest besides being a villain, is him getting access to Helen’s children.

The Archers, has begun to return to normal too, if indeed that state ever existed, and I have to resist the  temptation of commenting on Elizabeth’s love life, whether Tom and Kirsty would get back together, Lillian and Justin’s illicit love affair, and that between Pip and the man disapproved of by all her family, especially grandma Jill, Toby, a right loser, along with the customary village life and farming matters. Like most Archers listeners, I have been most captivated by the occasional appearances of Rob, in much the same way as one does when the Pantomine villain walks onto the stage.

Sometime soon, all this will have to come to an end and we will be, hopefully, shot off Rob forever, and Helen, Henry and Jack will live happily ever after. But maybe that is expecting too much. The script writers have done a good job, helped by brilliant acting, but I do hope there will be a fitting ending and all, not just some, of Rob’s past shenanigans will come to light and he will get his just desserts. Already that is happening as gradually the rest of the village see for themselves his true colours as a …, who amazingly sees himself as the innocent party, and have been able to return some of Rob’s snide put downs, led most recently by Debbie and Susan and some twelfth night mischief undertaken by the Button girls that was successfully aimed at annoying Rob. I must admit I did feel a tinge of guilt enjoying this and wanting to add my own. I wonder if I should be supporting Alan, Ambridge’s vicar, and his peace keeping efforts instead. But then on the other hand – nah – Rob has to go!

But, as they say, watch this space …

Update 18/01/17: The plot thickens. Having fallen out with almost every Ambridge resident (except the vicar), been banned from the village shop for abusing the shop volunteers, following being excluded from the Hunt and the Village cricket team, and earned a black mark from his disapproving boss, Justin, now Stefan, the one person who knows about Rob’s mischief at the time of the Ambridge floods, turns up in blackmail mode (to be later spotted by Jennifer who has an inkling of the significance, along with her Miss Marple like sister, Lillian), likely to be the key to Rob’s final demise.What is now apparent – Stefan won’t release his hold on Rob until he gets what he wants and Rob may have met his match. Rob is in a quandary as to his options and how to respond – suspense indeed.

Update 20/01/17: we are almost there – the final demise of Rob, that is: thanks to some nifty detective work by Miss Marple (aka Lillian) Justin now knows that it was Rob who diverted the water, which was to cause so much damage in Ambridge at the time of the floods, and he is promptly sacked. Rob of course is full of excuses as one has come to expect. We are now just waiting for the final nail to be placed in the coffin before Ambridge is rid of Rob forever!

Update 27/01/17: so Stefan has been paid off by Justin (damage limitation for Demara) and sent on his way, and Rob has gone to America. Or has he? A good thing for Helen maybe – who is coming on nicely hopefully. If this is the end of Rob – my main thought is disappointing ending (often is in my experience) but maybe NOT!?

Update 01/02/17: didn’t see that coming but maybe I should have. Rob going absent without Ursula knowing his whereabouts should have made us realise something is afoot, with Rob biding his time before doing his dastardly deed. Now we are on tenterhooks about the surprise he is about to spring on Helen!

Update 02/02/17: O no but not surprised – things have moved so quickly and that has been surprising – Jack kidnapped and a bemused Henry left behind – suspense grows! This latest twist is imo a bit weak and am still hoping for a fitting ending.

Update 03/02/17: “It’s over mum, the boys are safe and Rob has gone; he is out of my life forever“. That was quick and as far as ending go a little disappointing – it has been a long haul for us long suffering Archers fans. Rob really out of the way – so is that it then?

Update 05/02/17: After the episode was aired we were treated to an interview with the actor who played Rob (who unlike his character seemed a nice chap), no doubt indicating that a line has now been drawn under the whole Rob and Helen story line. I commiserate with my fellow Archers fans who have had to endure four years of suspense maybe taking in some extra excitement in our otherwise ordinary every day routines on the way. Rob has had his  comeuppance although some would have wanted more and one can only pity to residents of Minnesota where he has gone or perhaps more charitably hope for his redemption. All’s well that ends well as they say and Helen and the boys seem to have come through it all better than ok. Now is looks like we have to look forward to life after Rob and more traditional village exploits. A final thought: the script writers and actors have done a great job overall and an important issue, that of Domestic Violence, has been sensitively aired.

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