Sunday 25 September 2016

Jury to deliver Helen Titchener verdict on Sunday in The Archers

Published 09/09/2016 | 19:21

A court artist drawing illustrating defendant Helen Titchener (played by Louiza Patikas), listening to evidence from her husband Rob (Timothy Watson) (BBC/PA)
A court artist drawing illustrating defendant Helen Titchener (played by Louiza Patikas), listening to evidence from her husband Rob (Timothy Watson) (BBC/PA)

The Archers will be extended to an hour on Sunday for the first time in its 65-year history, as listeners finally discover the fate of Helen Titchener.

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The 60-minute special will also see former Archers actor Graham Seed return to the BBC Radio 4 show five years after his character Nigel Pargetter was killed off, to take on a role as part of the jury deliberating in Helen's trial.

Other famous jurors include Dame Eileen Atkins, Nigel Havers and Catherine Tate.

They will be joined by Skins star Aimee-Ffion Edwards, EastEnders actor Rakhee Thakrar, stage star Tam Williams and Wolfblood actor Cerith Flinn.

Listeners will hear the jury debating whether to find Helen guilty of the attempted murder of her husband Rob, and of wounding with intent. The verdict will then be delivered at the end of the hour.

Archers editor, Sean O'Connor, who will be leaving the show after two and a half years at the helm, described the jury selected as a "fantastic cross section of British acting talent from radio, TV, stage and film".

He added: "Everybody we approached agreed to take part with such enthusiasm - some without even reading the script - wanting to be part of this unique moment in the history of the programme.

"It was a particular delight for me to ask Graham Seed to take part."

"I know many Archers listeners still miss Nigel Pargetter and it seemed fitting that in my last ever episode of The Archers as director and editor, I could offer Graham an appearance in the programme - without him actually turning up in the shower like Bobby Ewing in Dallas."

Seed's character died in January 2011 during a special episode to commemorate the programme's 60th anniversary. He had been a part of the show for 27 years.

At the time of his departure, an official statement released said he was "shocked" to discover from the editor at the time, Vanessa Whitburn, that he had been written out.

Talking about his return as a jury member, he said: "How lovely to be asked back to be in this special episode. An honour!

"A very different character to play of course, and the challenge was not to sound like lovely old Nigel Pargetter. We had a busy day in the studio with a script hot off the press. And what a great cast of actors to work with."

The trial of of Helen, played by Louiza Patikas, is the climax of a storyline that saw the character suffer increasing domestic abuse at the hands of husband Rob (Timothy Watson).

A rollercoaster week of episodes has included evidence from Helen's five-year-old son, Henry, who was present when the stabbing happened.

Helen also revealed - publicly for the first time - that she had been raped repeatedly by Rob.

Defence barrister Anna Tregorran has sought to convince the jury that Helen acted in self-defence.

Rob has argued that his life with Helen in Blossom Hill Cottage has been nothing short of traumatic, and that he is the victim.

A total of eight jurors will be heard on air during Sunday's special episode. Three will remain silent while a 12th juror has already been dismissed for contempt of court.

Chariots Of Fire star Havers said starring in the radio soap opera was one of three things he had wanted to do in his career as an actor.

Thakrar, who plays Shabnam Masood in BBC One's EastEnders, said working on the jury special was "an absolute joy".

She said: "Being part of such an iconic and important story for The Archers was an honour. Especially getting to work with the phenomenal cast, some of who I've been a long-time fan of! I'm very grateful to have been involved."

The last time an extended episode of The Archers featured a jury deliberation was in 1999, when a 45-minute special focused on whether Helen's brother, Tom Archer, was guilty of destroying crops.

:: The Archers jury special will air on BBC Radio 4 on Sunday September 11 from 7pm.

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