Abuse in designer middle England, the Titcheners
The slow burn storyline of the domestic abuse between upper middle-class Rob Titchener and his emotionally fragile and rather bland wife Helen is presently weaving it's way to what seems like a dramatic climax in Radio 4 's The Archers.
For nearly a year we have heard Rob chip away at Helen's self esteem, whether it be a simple comment on the suitability of her dresses for the Hunt Ball or the more moustache curling assertion to her family that she is becoming more mentally unstable before the birth of her second baby.
The pattern of abuse is well known to many at it involves isolation from family and friends and the gradual dominance of all decision making within the home and although the "pulling of wool over the eyes" of Helen's usually astute and somewhat cloying family seems a step too far down an unbelievable narrative, the storyline has been, for The Archers, somewhat of an earnest and realistic portrayal of domestic abuse.
Timothy Watson, brings a cut glass whispering menace to the damaged Rob ( recently we have met his equally soft spoken and manipulative mother Ursula so we know were he gets it from) and although the usually self righteous and whinging Helen ( played by Louiza Patikas) is not my favourite character , her decent into silent victim has been such a boost to the soap which in recent times has become somewhat stale.
Wisely The Archers' scriptwriters have brought back the ever chipper Kirsty ( Annabelle Dowling ) who has seen through Rob from the start. This week she has provided Helen with some practical support in the guise of a mobile phone of her own ( with credit!) , the number of an abuse charity, and most importantly the idea to discuss things with Rob's first wife, Jess, who went through all the same behaviours, and escaped, this has proved to be a valuable lifeline for the haplass Helen and in the case of the meeting of the two Mrs Titcheners, a surprisingly moving piece of radio.