Helen Titchener

I am frequently asked, what's Rob like to play? Well it sounds trite, but - it's a privilege. The old cliche that 'the villains are the most fun to play' is in part, true (although along with 'break a leg' and 'I'm not out of work, just resting', I've never once heard it said by an actor). But Rob Titchener is more than a 'villain'. He is arrogant, narcissistic and abusive psychopath. He is also - so he believes - charming, kind, loving and selfless. Very complex, in other words. And therein lies the challenge and the thrill to the actor.
For me, what is amazing about the programme's recent storyline is that it foreshadowed issues which resulted in new legislation in the UK at a time when the issue was not being discussed; the story line started in 2013 yet it was not until 2015 that the behaviour it depicted was criminalised in the England and Wales.
As the trial of Helen Titchener begins, if her plight makes you afraid for real-life survivors of domestic abuse - so it should. And if it makes you think and hope that those real-life women have a way to escape, then you should be even more afraid. I'm here to tell you that their escape route is in danger of being shut down. As actors Louiza Patikas (Helen) and Timothy Watson (Rob) have portrayed so compellingly in The Archers, the level of control a domestic abuse perpetrator can exert over his victim, over time, is total. Yet, it is also often invisible to those around her, even those who care most - or even to herself.
Like the other five million listeners to BBC Radio Four's "The Archers", I am gripped by the storyline which recently saw abused wife Helen stab her husband Rob Titchener... Once we learned that he'd survived, the next development was discovering that evil Rob had been given a stoma while he recovers from his life-saving bowel surgery.
I am glad that Helen's story on The Archers has highlighted the controlling dynamic of domestic violence. I hope women listening, who may be in similar situations, recognise Rob's tactics and reach out to an organisation like Refuge.