Archers abuse storyline leads to spike in donations

Helen Titchener, played by Louiza Patikas, and Rob Titchener, played by Timothy Watson, from the BBC Radio 4 soap, The Archers. Credit: PA

Fans of the radio drama The Archers who listened in horror as a long-running domestic abuse storyline climaxed in a murder last night have started a fund to help real-life victims.

Listeners have been gripped as character Helen Titchener was cowed by her husband Rob, who subjected her to constant control, physical abuse and rape.

Helen finally stabbed her husband in front of their young son Henry last night as she tried to break free of the relationship in an episode broadcast on Sunday.

The soap began trending on Twitter as fans turned to the internet to discuss the hard-hitting plotline - with at least one eminent QC saying he would be"more than prepared" to represent her at court.

I know we are not allowed to tout, but I am more than prepared to represent Helen, along with most of the criminal bar.

Nigel Pascoe QC

Listeners left bereft by her plight have now raised nearly £90,000 on a "fundraising page" for the fictional character which will go to help real-life abuse victims.

Fan Paul Trueman, who set up the Helen Titchener Rescue Fund on JustGiving, said that all cash from the drive would be donated to the charity Refuge.

£100,00

Target fund of Archers fundraising page raising money for real abuse victims

Fans have been listening with growing horror as Helen has been psychologically bullied, raped and slapped by her controlling husband.

In a dramatic climax to the story, Helen stabbed her husband in a confrontation after she finally worked up the courage to tell him she was walking out of the relationship.

The hard-hitting plot has won widespread praise from charities who have credited the "Archers Effect" with helping to raise awareness that domestic abuse affects all sorts of people.

It coincides with the introduction of the new coercive controlling behaviour offence, which criminalises extreme psychological and emotional abuse which falls short of physical violence.

Sandra Horley, the chief executive of Refuge, hailed the storyline as raising awareness the realities of domestic abuse.

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

Sandra Horley, Refuge chief executive