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The Archers kill off domestic abuser Rob Titchener

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The Archers kill off domestic abuser Rob Titchener

BBC Radio 4’s The Archers has confirmed the death of Rob Titchener, who began a relationship with Helen Archer in 2013 not long after his arrival in Ambridge.

After Rob’s character was diagnosed with a brain tumour this summer, there was much speculation that the diagnosis was a further lie intended to manipulate his former wife and gain access to their seven-year-old son. Listeners have heard about the difficult mental and physical deterioration of Rob’s health over the past few weeks, raising conflicting emotions amongst some residents of the village.

Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers:

“Ambridge breathes a sigh of relief tonight as one of its most notorious villains is laid to rest. It’s been a privilege to work on a storyline which has had such great impact, and I hope Rob’s legacy will be one of increased awareness and understanding of the reality of coercive control. Thanks to Timothy for his brilliant performance of this complex and sinister character.”

Rob Titchener, played by Timothy Watson, played a central role in the high-profile domestic abuse storyline between 2013 and 2016. Audiences listened in horror as Rob abused Helen and used coercive control to alienate her from family and friends. The relationship culminated in Helen’s arrest after she stabbed Rob with a kitchen knife following an explosive confrontation when she tried to leave him.

Following the dramatic events in Blossom Hill Cottage, villagers were shocked to learn the full extent of the abuse during Helen’s trial at Borchester Crown Court, whilst Rob continued to manipulate people with his version of events. Helen was cleared of attempted murder on 11 September 2016, to emotional cheers in the court room, during a special hour-long episode.

The Archers team worked with domestic abuse charities to develop the storyline, which was widely praised for raising awareness of the issue. The storyline created real-world impact as MPs referenced the story during the creation of new legislation to criminalise this form of abuse, and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline saw an increase in the number of calls it received. Survivors of domestic abuse shared their stories in the media, and one Archers listener started a fundraiser which raised nearly £175,000.

Titchener made a shocking return to the programme earlier this year, causing turmoil for Helen’s family and friends. In the episode, listeners heard Helen receive news of Rob’s death via a text from his brother, Miles. The text, read out by Helen’s brother Tom Archer, revealed that Rob died at 9.09pm on Saturday night, causing Helen to remark that she couldn’t tell whether to cry, laugh or throw up.

Timothy Watson:

“Being inside Rob Titchener’s head over the last eleven years hasn’t always been the most comfortable place to be! But I’m immensely proud of having been part of such a powerful storyline and have loved every minute of my time with the wonderful Ambridge family, cast and production team alike. I shall miss them all terribly!”

The Archers has entertained audiences with its portrayal of rural life and family dynamics for 72 years and 20,000 episodes. Originally envisioned as an educational programme for farmers about contemporary agricultural issues, the show has evolved into an everyday story of country folk, mixing village gossip with explorations of pressing topical issues, including teenage pregnancy, mental health and modern slavery.

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