Monday, 12 September 2016

Helen In The Dock 7 – The Verdicts Come In

We began the hour-long Sunday evening special with the jurors milling around in the jury room, with one man saying that he’s got plans for the evening and trying to hit on a female juror. Another woman says that she feels confused – when JB was talking, she was convinced Helen was guilty, but when Anna spoke, she changed her mind. A man puts himself forward as Foreman, on the grounds that he’s CEO of a local housing association and used to chairing meetings. His offer is accepted.

Outside the room, Pat and Tony are, understandably, on edge and Tony can’t sit down. Surely after what the jury heard, they must believe that Helen acted in self-defence? Cut to the courtroom, where a ‘once round the table’ discussion reveals a 5-I split so far, in favour of guilty. One comment, which would not have pleased Tony, was: “Let’s get this over and done with. It would be crazy if she’s not locked up for something.”

The jurors are a diverse bunch – Jackie is a well-spoken, middle-aged lady who is level-headed and practical, while Lisa seems willing to convict Helen on the grounds that she’s “posh”. Dennis has a short fuse and Tristan is quiet. Dennis managed an abattoir for years and he knows how much force it takes to penetrate muscle, so he cannot believe that Helen acted with reasonable force. The discussion carries on, with jurors talking over each other and their prejudices being aired.

Meanwhile, Anna goes to see Helen and Jack in Helen’s cell. Helen says that she’s OK and just wants to make the most of whatever time she has left with Jack. Anna says that she did her best for Helen, who says that she knows that but “I won’t give Rob the satisfaction of not being prepared for the worst.”

Back with the jury, the squabbles are getting angrier and it is suggested that they take a coffee and toilet break. Tristan tells a girl about a friend of his who was abused by her fiancé for two years before he threw her down the stairs. The Foreman tells them that they shouldn’t be discussing things in twos or threes, which is a bit rich, as he was trying to influence another juror a bit earlier. When all the jurors are back together, it seems obvious that agreement is no nearer and the Foreman suggests asking the Judge for advice as to where do they go from here?

Judge Loomis consults with JB and Anna and says that he’s minded to accept a majority verdict, but the majority must be 10 to 1 (one juror was dismissed for tweeting). On receiving this news, one juror asks what would happen if they didn’t agree? The answer is a retrial, with a different jury. This leads to many comments about fat cat lawyers and the waste of tax-payers’ money, not to mention moans about how much time the jurors have had to give up to be at the trial.

Tristan is encouraged to tell more about his abused lady friend and he says that so much of what Helen said about the way Rob operated, chimed with his friend’s experience. Here, the Foreman says that “Domestic abuse can be a grey area,” causing quizzical remarks from Jackie. The Foreman goes on: “It’s always the man’s fault, isn’t it? Women can behave how they like – they can demean, humiliate and use their children as blackmail, but if a man should see red with them for just a few seconds, well God help him!” In an emotional voice, Tristan says Rob got exactly what he deserved. Dennis’s solution to Tristan’s friend’s problem would have been to go and sort the man out.

Jackie continues to be logical and reasonable and the Foreman becomes agitated, as she seems to be persuading people of Helen’s innocence. Speaking of Rob, the Foreman says: “Does he look like the type of man who’d do something like this?”
Jackie (astonished): What does a man like that look like?
Foreman: Well, not like him.
Jackie: What? Not well-spoken and middle class – not someone like you?
Foreman: Women are always the victims – there are no excuses for us when we reach the end of our tether.

The squabbling gets louder and louder and one female juror makes an appeal for quiet, saying “We’ll never get anywhere if we don’t listen to each other.” Jackie continues to stress that she believed Helen was in great fear and that’s why she acted as she did. The Foreman is not happy and says “No-one else is being fooled by this, are they? All Rob wanted to do was to try and take care of his family. The woman is sick – you just want to blame him because he’s a man.”

Jackie says “And why do you want to blame her?” The Foreman’s answer is telling; he says: “Because I know how he feels. I haven’t seen my two boys for six months – I’m not allowed within 500 metres of my own home because of the lies my tramp of an ex-wife told about me in court. These women are all the same – Helen Titchener brought this on herself – she needs to be punished.” There is a stunned silence.

And that’s the last we hear of deliberations in the jury room. I was reminded strongly of the scene near the end of “12 Angry Men” (in fact, much of Sunday’s episode contained elements similar to the film). The scene is where Lee J Cobb, who is the only juror remaining who wants a guilty verdict, tears up the photo of his son in front of the others and then breaks down in tears, saying ‘Not guilty; not guilty’.

Back in the courtroom, we await the verdicts. Attempted murder? ‘Not Guilty’ Wounding with Intent? (This was a big worry for Tony – would they acquit Helen of the more serious charge and convict her of the lesser one?) No need to worry – ‘Not Guilty’ was the answer. Cue delight in the public gallery (well, the non-Titchener part of it) as Helen is discharged.

While they wait for the paperwork to be completed, Pat and Tony take and make calls, spreading the good news. Peggy tells them that celebrations are already taking place at Home Farm and Brian has opened a bottle of champagne – I’m willing to wager that he had some encouragement from Lilian on this.

Helen asks Pat to look after Jack, while she tries to find Kirsty. Rob suddenly appears and, says “Did you think you could tell those lies about me and I’d just disappear?” Helen has been taking the brave pills and says in a strong voice “They weren’t lies.” “As long as we have a child together, you’ll never be rid of me.” Rob says, adding that he’s got to get back to Henry. Helen hasn’t finished and says “Rob, I’m sorry – sorry that it took me so long to realise what you are. The whole world knows what you are now – I’m free.” Rob gives a little laugh and says (and I have always thought that his voice is a little creepy, but never more so than now) “Darling, I still can’t take my eyes off you.”

Helen returns to Pat and Tony. She is, understandably, subdued but tells them she’s OK and just wants to get out of there. “Let’s get you home – to Bridge Farm!” Tony says triumphantly. “There’s nothing to be scared of” says Pat. Helen says quietly, but confidently “No, there isn’t. It’s over. Take me home.”

And that was it – years of plot building and intrigue over. Or is it? Rob’s final words were disturbing, but there are lots of loose ends to tidy up, not least of which is how this episode will slot into the weekend omnibus programme. What will happen to Henry? Surely Helen can have him back now? Will Rob get visiting rights to see Jack? Surely Rob realises he’s a pariah and cannot stay around Ambridge now – is the cricket team preparing a drumming-out ceremony for him? Will Helen realise that Rob has spent the £10k that Peggy gave them. And what about Rob’s new job with Damara? I cannot believe that Justin would want a lying, manipulative, wife-abusing rapist in charge of his estates, however good he is at his job. So, is this the end of the road for Rob? Somehow, I don’t think so – his capacity for self-delusion is matched only by Susan Carter’s (and I look forward to hearing her explain away her former hero-worship of Rob) so I reckon that he’ll be around for a while yet, although surely even he will get fed up of people ignoring him, spitting whenever his name is mentioned and leaving whenever he turns up anywhere?

We hope you have enjoyed this week’s Bonus Postings and we look forward to resuming normal service from next week on.


  1. Can I say thank you for your excellent report on what happened on the Archers this past week. I have to admit to being one of those who couldn't listen when it was live. So thank you, it was really worth the effort.

  2. Surely having said that Rob raped her and having a similar statement from Jess the police should now be following this up or will this be conveniently forgotten by all including useless Anna. That's Anna who made nothing of Robs sudden need for sticks after numerous cricket matches and visits to the pub when he didn't need them. I'm glad its over, I stopped listening after Nigel died and only started again a few months back out of curiosity, I shall now regain 15 minutes of my life doing something far more interesting if only watching paint dry.

  3. There should be a spin off series with Ursula, Bruce and Rob.

    Thanks for all your sterling work. Much appreciated.

  4. this summary is a tour de force, you must have spent ages with the recording. Congratulations

  5. Thanks so much the blogs have been brilliant

  6. Seriously, you guys deserve a medal for the work you have done in keeping us all up to date -- and keeping us all laughing through some of the really tough parts, whether we just could not bear to listen because of the ghastliness or could not bring ourselves to listen because it was too close to home. I think you have some readers who have said they felt the latter. That's pretty awesome work and, even if The Archers fanbase has dwindled, I think you have gained a huge following. Thank you -- oh and I hope you did not get the sack during the Trial Week by the way... :-) Your boss must understand you were doing sterling work for the good of the country.

  7. I can't reply anywhere else as I'm not on Facebook but why don't Rob and Helen just swap children.?!! Henry is nowt to do with Rob.
    Radical but it might work! :)

  8. Thank you so much for your excellent summaries, I've been reading them for some time even after listening to the programme because they are very witty and it's nice to see other people getting annoyed with Pat! I thought Anna was shocking and I actually don't think the trial was very well done, after all this is the culmination of a plot that's been going for a good couple of years and it all seemed a bit meh. I can't believe Henwy is still with Rob either. I hope Rob and Ursula don't disappear, we all need someone to hate... Anyway thanks again you guys, you do an excellent job!

  9. Regards another contributor saying we need someone to hate, surely Pat fits that role?

  10. I echo the many comments of praise for your comprehensive, accurate, funny and perceptive blogs. I've been a listener since 1975. I found the Rob-Helen storylines, in fact any scene involving Rob, too painful to hear. Your blogs have kept me in touch and just about preserved me as a listener. Well done, you two guys. Terrific work.

  11. I've enjoyed listening to each episode and reading your excellent summaries. Many thanks.

  12. I always liked Pat as a character from those early days when she first came to Ambridge from Wales; she was strong, spirited and courageous, but in more recent times she seems to have lost a lot of her mettle and became this annoying, whining character who failed her daughter in her hour of need. But I suspect she might return to her previous persona and be the strong mother and friend that Helen needs. It's not the first time that the script writers alter someone's personality; look at Peggy, sometimes strong and fair and a tower of strength whilst Jack slowly descended into dementia, but at other times downright nasty and spiteful, as she was with Tony.
    Ursula will be my 'someone to hate'. It's not too difficult to see how she and Bruce made Rob the messed up character that he is - he could hardly avoid it growing up in a family like that!
    But since it's all fictional, I think we should spare a thought for Timothy Watson and be amazed at his talent. It can't be easy to play a character who is hated by millions of people, even if it's only radio drama. I remember Tim Pigott-Smith saying in an interview in the 1980s (when he was playing the nasty character in the TV drama 'Jewel in the Crown') that people would move away from him at the bus stop! - zoe

  13. I too found it hard to listen to the Helen/Rob scenes - mostly because I wanted to give her a good shaking to bring her to her senses - but your blogs have made it easy to keep up with the stories. I agree that it would be a pity if Rob and Ursula now disappeared as we need villains and that ever-present threat will be wonderful as long as it's not overplayed. Failing that perhaps they could bring back Matt Crawford and the question of the dodgy business with the racehorse he had Alistair put down - am I the only one who remembers that?
    Anyway please please keep up the good work, you really make me smile.

  14. Fabulous piece of work. Thank you. I haven't been able to listen to the programme because of the harrowing events particularly involving a small child,Henry.