Sunday, 22 May 2016

It’s Like Pulling Teeth, But Not So Enjoyable

Louiza Patikas (Helen Titchener)

I know that few people have a good word to say about lawyers, especially when they get their invoices, but I’m starting to think that Anna is really having to work hard in building up a defence case for Helen and is definitely earning her corn. It doesn’t help that Helen isn’t helping - she either ignores Anna’s questions or says that she cannot remember. It is certainly hard work for Anna and, to be honest, I’m finding it pretty tough and tedious as well.

At the end of the week, Anna asks her about Kirsty and why she gave Helen the phone with the Helpline number on it. “How would I know?” Helen counters, adding that Kirsty practically forced the phone on her and she won’t answer Anna’s question about whether or not she called the Helpline and why didn’t she throw the phone away if she didn‘t want it? Helen says “I can’t talk about it!” To be fair, the reason for this is that Helen’s waters have broken. “It’s really happening - the baby’s coming!” she screams, as Anna calls for help. And that’s where the week’s final broadcast ended, with young Lucifer poised to make his debut appearance in the world.

Let’s return to the subject of Helen’s defence, or rather the lack of it. In vain does Anna say things like “I need you to talk to me about your life with Rob” and tries to get to the bottom of Ursula’s baleful influence over the family. Does Helen not realise that Anna is, in fact, on her side and a defence based on ‘I don’t remember’ and ‘Does it matter?’ is unlikely to be successful, unless the jury is composed of Archer family members in disguise, of course.

I don’t know if it’s ethical, but cannot Anna subject Helen to a mild (but not that mild) electric shock every time that she prevaricates or cannot remember? Alternatively, perhaps the shock of seeing Lucifer’s cloven hooves and horns will shock her into remembering the years of abuse and manipulation at Rob‘s hands. Whichever, I hope it happens soon, as I’ve had more than enough.

While still on the subject of Helen, let’s look at the reactions of her mother and grandmother. Peggy is determined to go and see Helen in the mother and baby unit and Tony drives her. They have about the same amount of luck that Anna has had in trying to find out anything, but Peggy is determined, telling Tony that she is exactly where she ought to be and “as long as I’ve got breath in my body, I’ll do everything in my power for you and your family.” She suggests that they get Tony a whisky and, when he protests that he should be looking after her, she replies “I plan to outlive the lot of you.” I’d be a tad suspicious of that whisky if I were you, Tony.

And now we turn to Pat, who couldn’t visit her daughter, having made herself a witness for the prosecution. I thought that, when we had the saga of Johnny/Rich a year or two back, Pat proved that she could moan for the Galaxy, but her performance last week far surpassed that. By Wednesday, I thought ‘if I hear Pat utter the words ‘not fair’ or ‘injustice’ one more time, I will go to Ambridge and personally throttle her.’ The woman seems incapable of understanding that her daughter is going to be tried for a serious crime and, as a witness for the prosecution, she is not allowed to see her. “But this is different - she’s giving birth!” Pat wails. So she might be, but she’s still under arrest.

Nevertheless, Pat continues to grasp at straws, however tenuous, and gets excited when Anna tells her that there is a faint - a very, very faint - hope and Pat can enter a request to be with Helen. This hope is swiftly snuffed out when DS Madeley rings Pat and tells her that, while Pat has an absolute right to put in a request, DSM doesn’t believe that Pat could avoid discussing the case and that she (DSM) “would be minded to recommend refusal.” That’s a ‘no’ then, Pat. Cue mega-moans and cries of ‘unfair’ as Pat immediately conjures up visions of her daughter giving birth in shackles, or being beaten up by a team of policemen.

The following day, she, Tony and Adam are turning out the cows at Home Farm and Pat remembers how she helped with the difficult birth of one of the cows. “I can help with calving, but not with the birth of my own grandchild - where’s the justice in that?” she moans. Give it a rest woman! Presumably the mother of the cow that you helped into the world wasn’t found standing over the recumbent body of a badly-injured man, while holding a knife dripping with blood?

You will no doubt be pleased to know that that’s it about Helen this week, although it is worth noting that Ursula tells Pat and Tony that Rob is entitled to sick pay, thus adding buckets of salt into an already-gaping wound. Things are not going well at Bridge Farm, with Tom working all the hours God has given. Something’s got to give - the shop is still shut and money is tight, so Tom calls a family meeting. His suggestion is that they re-open the shop for Whitsun weekend but, if they do, then something’s got to go and that something will be the pigs.

This doesn’t go down a storm with Johnny, who suggests that they could continue with the pigs if they got Jazzer back to work on the farm. Tom intimates that it will be a cold day in Hell before he asks Jazzer back. No worries - perhaps Johnny could persuade Jazzer to apologise and ask for his job back? He tries, but it will be an even more inclement day in Hades before that happens and even when Johnny tells Jazzer about Tom’s plans to get shot of the pigs, the Scotsman is shocked (“My girls? They’re what make Bridge Farm Bridge Farm”). However, not shocked enough to bite the bullet, as Jazzer tells Johnny that, if Tom wants him back, he’ll have to ask him. “That’s not going to happen” says Johnny, morosely, “That’s it - the pigs are going.” “Not my problem, Johnny” Jazzer retorts. Johnny notices that Jazzer is drinking halves and doesn’t order any food (they are at The Bull) and remarks “It must be hard, living on fresh air and pride.”

Johnny’s attachment to the pigs stems from the fact that they were started by his late father, John and, although Tom assures him that the pigs could make a comeback if the financial situation improves, Johnny is not convinced. Actually, it wasn’t a good week for the Johnny/Tom relationship - not only was there the difference of opinion about the pigs, but Johnny keeps trying to persuade Tom to enter his scotch eggs in the Borsetshire Food and Drink Awards. Tom dismisses this - he hasn’t got the time to mess around with things like that - and he gets quite sharp with his nephew.

It gets worse later in the week, when Tom finds Johnny at the computer at 5am and he is filling in an entry form for the Awards. Tom goes ever so slightly ballistic and tells Johnny to go, not giving him the chance to explain or put his case. Later the same day, a contrite Tom apologises to Johnny, as he realised that Johnny was, in fact, entering Helen’s Borsetshire Blue cheese, as a sign of solidarity. John even says that he completed and sent off the entry form. I thought he was supposed to be busy? The way thinks are going, Helen might have the opportunity to enter some new cheeses - Cell Block Cheddar, or Bang-up Brie, perhaps.

Over at Home Farm, Brian and Jennifer are coming up to their 40th Wedding Anniversary. Lilian can’t believe that they have racked up so long together and I must admit that I find it strange too - you’d think the revelation of Brian’s lovechild, Ruairi might have caused some serious debate about marriage vows and fidelity, but it seems not. Perhaps Jennifer knows which side her bread is buttered (and not just butter, but spread thickly with jam as well). We get an insight into her attitude when an anxious Brian approaches Adam about what to do for the anniversary. It seems that the initial honeymoon was a modest affair and Brian is wondering whether a second honeymoon would be in order - does Adam think Jennifer will like it? Brian tells Adam what he plans is “exotic, quite restful and extremely expensive.” “I’m sure she’ll love it” Adam replies, dryly, showing that he knows a lot more about his mother than does her husband.

What else has been happening? Eddie has been trying to sell off some elvish tat at a boot sale, or similar (Ed and Emma have turned parts of the Millennium Wood into an elvish fairytale for the benefit of Kiera, much to the annoyance of Jennifer) and sales aren’t going well. Joe, who has accompanied his son on the task, takes the opportunity to go into full moaning mode (perhaps he could get together with Pat). However, Eddie has an idea! He goes to a fancy dress shop and comes back with two elf costumes. Joe immediately perks up (would you if someone asked you to appear in public, wearing a pair of outsize ears?) and it seems that the Borsetshire public are equally gullible, as the father and son elves return home in good spirits.

This mood is quickly dispelled, however, when they spot Lynda’s car outside the house. Clarrie meets them outside and tells them that Lynda isn’t a happy bunny, as she appears to be allergic to the unasked-for mushroom compost that Eddie spread on her garden. Clarrie says that Lynda claims that Eddie has made her allergic to Resurgam and she won’t be ready for the grand opening of the garden. Presumably Eddie doesn’t care overmuch about this, but Lynda isn’t going to settle his invoice until he has sorted the problem out.

Toby has yet another bright business idea and turns up with a drone to provide airborne footage of his and Rex’s (and Josh’s) hens roaming freely over the countryside. This will form the basis of a promotional film, but Pip, who appeared in the film as a farmer, complete with lipstick and nail varnish) objects when Toby says that he wants to film the operations of a rival, whose hens are cooped up. Pip says that a) she is a friend of the son of the farmer in question and b) you can’t do this sort of thing without the permission of the person being filmed, so if Toby does film it, she will not appear in his promotional film.

Toby can’t get his head round this and Pip is distracted by her phone - it’s Matthew, who is coming down for the weekend. Or rather, as Pip later tells her mother, he isn’t. In fact he’s never coming again. A tearful Pip says “He’s finished with me - he’s decided we’re over.” If it should turn out that Pip ends up with Toby on the rebound, my wrath will be terrible to behold - scriptwriters, you have been warned.


  1. Yes - Helen has always been annoying, but now she is annoying beyond belief. I keep wishing anna would just say 'OK, if you decline to take part in constructing a defence, then I've got better things to do with my life..'

    But Pat has SURGED past Helen in the annoying stakes - her theatrics are appalling. Time for Tony - or anyone - to say 'Stop being such a self-indulgent drama queen - this is not about YOU'.

    Am hoping the very splendid Peggy will give her what for in due course. I've never been that fond of Peggy, either, but boy does she know how to rise MAGNIFICENTLY to the occasion.

    Just as well, really, that someone has their wits about them, given that the rest of the family is being so pathetic.

    I've read that the programme has lost a lot of listeners in recent weeks, and am not at all surprised: I know they're trying to raise social awareness about Helen's type of trauma, but it's become very, very tedious, and I'm worried I may end up doing violence to my radio.

  2. Yes! - I agree with everything that Caroline has said above. I have to say that I have always found Pat to be the most irritatingly smug and annoying person on The Archers and for her to have surpassed even herself is a feat! (As an aside, could someone on the production front please tell her to stop stuttering at the beginning of her sentences - I understand that it's supposed to show emotion, but it makes me as stabby as Helen).

    I know that we are supposed to be heavily sympathising with a traumatised Helen who is feeling worthless etc, but, yes, if Anna doesn't end up yelling at her at one point the entire Archers audience will!

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