Saturday 17 March 2018

Court officials praise The Archers abuse plotline as 'intelligent and real'

The fictional storyline in The Archers has provoked controversy
The fictional storyline in The Archers has provoked controversy

The makers of The Archers have been praised for telling a story about domestic violence which shows how everyday country folk can find themselves in a family court.

Officials at a specialist organisation set up to safeguard the interests of children embroiled in the family court proceedings say the BBC Radio 4 soap opera's tale of Rob Titchener, Helen Archer and her five-year-old son Henry is intelligent and welcome.

Bosses at Cafcass - the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service - say the storyline will raise awareness of family, social and legal issues which affect many people.

Listeners have heard how abused and undermined Helen has been arrested after stabbing Rob - and how a family court judge has been asked to make decisions about what should happen to Henry.

Cafcass chief executive Anthony Douglas said the storyline had "got the country talking" and would raise awareness.

"It's not often we see the family courts portrayed in any detail in dramatic storylines," said Mr Douglas

"The players, proceedings and processes at play are complex and difficult to convey to an audience who largely will have had no experience of family proceedings, and are more interested in the emotional twists and turns between the characters.

"This storyline is therefore welcome as it increases public awareness of important family and social issues, as well as raising awareness of the dedication of the professionals working in this field.

"More importantly, it can show how children's safety and wellbeing are central to the decisions made in the family court, as this is not always well understood.

"The Archers' handling of Helen's abuse at the hands of Rob has been intelligent and real.

"It has got the country talking about domestic violence, which can only help those who are experiencing it."

He added: "There is great potential for television and radio to shape perceptions of professionals, like social workers.

"A negative fictional portrayal can have significant ramifications, so it's important for scriptwriters to talk to all professionals involved, to help them shape the characters they are portraying with as much correspondence to real cases as possible."

Press Association

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