If you follow me on Twitter, or have every come along to one of my workshops, you will be well aware of my love of The Archers. An everyday tale of country folk, but it is the domestic abuse storyline between Helen and Rob Titchener that has hit the headlines over the last few weeks.
You may well have heard that large bolt of lightening and thousands of people let out an audible scream at 7:14 this evening following some of the most disturbing drama involving homemade custard I think I have ever heard.
You can hear me here, on the Lorna Bailey show BBC Coventry & Warwickshire completely failing to predict how the story would play out.
I feel compelled to point out that I loved The Archers before it was cool (honestly, it is cool) from Susan going to prison, to Ruth nearly running off with the stockman – and there is very little I don’t know about block calving. There is something about radio drama, which comes into your house every day, for 15 minutes in the background that makes it more intimate somehow than consciously watching something through a screen.
More than that, it was The Archers that really got me into Twitter. The Sunday morning Tweetalong is a glorious collection of like minded individuals pleasantly chatting about sausages, village hall plays and Jennifer Aldridge’s new kitchen. Over 20,000 tweets have been sent in the last 24 hours.
Although I spend my days teaching people how to grow their business through social media, this is really the heart and soul of it; people coming together over collected interests, sharing stories, opinions and ideas – not auto-tweeting sales offers.
It is putting people in touch with others who they would never meet in real life, because they share a common goal.(There’s also a lot of chat on The Archers Facebook page but it’s more moany and not as funny)
Some of the wittiest, most entertaining people I follow are on my Archers list.
Rob: “I made Henry throw away his script” Helen: “But he loved that script!” Rob: “He doesn’t need it, Helen. He’s pre-recorded” #TheArchers
— Jon Reed (@jonreed) April 3, 2016
You could argue that the account that recreates every scene in Playmobil has too much time on their hands but I beg to differ
— Ambridge Synthetics (@ThePlarchers) April 3, 2016
The storyline of domestic abuse has been a controversial one. This is The Archers, a nice middle class gentle place – not Albert Square. Even before tonight’s shocker, people have been ruing the hints of Eastenders.
A part of me longs for the Village Flower & Produce show. This is like Eastenders, with scones.#thearchers
— Mrs Trellis (@theonlywayisup) April 3, 2016
Powerful acting. Edge of seat stuff. But not the storyline I wanted. I wanted her out and him gone. Didn't want eastenders #thearchers
— Jeanette Campbell (@JC753) April 3, 2016
Personally, I think this makes The Archers the perfect place to raise emotional abuse and coercive control.
It also proves that social media, does have a real purpose. The awareness raised by the storyline, and people’s reaction to it has been good to see. There has been a general online hand holding and wine passing that has made listening bearable. For every person tweeting that it was unbelievable, or unrealistic, many many people have responded with their own all too real life experiences.
— Helen Walmsley-J (@TheVintageYear) March 29, 2016
Domestic violence charities consulted on the script and have also been on hand to offer help and advice to people throughout.
— Refuge (@RefugeCharity) March 29, 2016
Most notably, is the wonderful @paultrueman74 who was so moved by the storyline, that he set up a Just Giving page for Helen, with all proceeds going to Refuge. To date, it has raised £85,000.
— Paul Trueman (@paulwtrueman) April 3, 2016
Now that the storyline has taken a violent turn, conversations will run on and on.
I for one am very cross it has gone this way. There was an opportunity for The Archers to show how a woman could leave safely, with support from her friends and official services, especially given the recent changes to the law. This was PC Harrison’s chance to shine.
All is not lost – several lawyers have already offered to represent her and he might not be even be dead.
Can we have a #thearchers show of hands please? Do we think Rob is …
— Louise Dillon (@armadillosocial) April 3, 2016
However nobody is going to be serving tuna bake any time soon.
All I can say is Helen, you should have listened to me when you had the chance.
I'll say it again RUN HELEN RUN #thearchers
— Louise Dillon ❄️ (@louloudillon) March 2, 2014