Matthew Steeples asks: Was Helen Titchener killing her husband in The Archers last night a plot too far?
The Archers – the BBC radio serial loved by the middle classes and most especially women named Penelope and Marjorie – used to be about farming. It started in 1950, in fact, as an educational series relating to agriculture, but last night when Helen Titchener stabbed her husband Rob not once, but in fact four times and killed him, the programme moved into the domain of sensationalist soap operas such as Eastenders and Coronation Street.
Some will argue that The Archers became melodramatic long ago – and many would suggest the 1998 death of John Archer at the hands of a tractor set the soap on that path. Real country issues, such as foot-and-mouth disease and flooding, have only in recent years been covered as sidelines whilst affairs, gay marriage and armed sieges have become the staple.
The abuse of Helen (played by Louiza Patikas) at the hands of Rob (played by Timothy Watson) has dominated the programme for long enough but, sadly, there’ll only be much more of the same to come. With the knife-wielding Helen likely to be arrested in the coming days, expect questions in Parliament and the hashtag #FreeTheAmbridgeOne. Many, I imagine, will instead follow the advice of Patricia Routledge about the BBC in general and instead simply switch off.
Listen to ‘The Killer Episode’ by clicking here.
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