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Archers abuse storyline concludes

BBC News BBC News 4/04/2016

WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS SPOILERS

The controversial Archers domestic abuse storyline involving Helen Titchener and husband Rob reached its climax on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday.

Listeners heard Helen (Louiza Patikas) stab her husband Rob (Timothy Watson) in front of her young son Henry.

The storyline has been building up for the best part of two years, with Rob's behaviour escalating from controlling emotional abuse to physical harm.

The long-running soap began trending on Twitter after the episode aired.

Many listeners backed Helen's actions, tweeting their shock and sympathy for Helen's plight.

Timothy Kirkhope, the Conservative MEP for Yorkshire and The Humber wrote: "At last, Helen has cracked and turned on Rob in the Archers. Massive sympathy all round."

"Just made everyone in the pub jump with my scream," tweeted FurnessGirl.

"This is one of the most disturbing, unsettling pieces of radio I've ever heard. Heart-stopping," wrote Chris Neill.

"All this episode *proves* is that it is really difficult to leave, not encouraging women at all. Disastrous outcome," Bernadette Hawkes added.

"If only real domestic violence was given the same attention as The Archers," wrote LeeLeeBee.

Although some felt there had been too much coverage of the episode: "What is @Radio4Today trying to hide by talking about The Archers instead of real news?" tweeted Kim Harding.

The storyline prompted a Helen Titchener Fund, set up by a listener to raise money for domestic violence charity Refuge.

More than £89,000 has been raised so far, just short of the £100,000 target.

Refuge chief executive Sandra Horley said: "Refuge is as shocked as everyone else by the dramatic turn of events in The Archers on Sunday evening.

"This episode tells us that a victim of prolonged abuse may one day fight back when she is in great danger.

"Helen's situation mirrors what so many abused women feel and experience every day. It is important to remember that research shows an abused woman is at most risk at the point of separation.

"This storyline simply reflects the reality for many women today and I congratulate the script writers for highlighting a much ignored issue."

The Archers audience has remained steady over the past decade - the latest weekly reach covering the last quarter of 2015, was 4.84 million listeners.

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