Dame Jenni Murray defends The Archers over domestic violence plotline


Dame Jenni Murray has defended The Archers' controversial attempted murder storyline, insisting it is "not a step too far".

The BBC Radio 4 soap shocked listeners when Helen Titchener (voiced by Louiza Patikas) stabbed her abusive husband Rob (Timothy Watson) in front of her young son Henry.

However, Dame Jenni, a longtime fan of The Archers, told the Radio Times that the hard-hitting plot was spot on and is "bringing into the open what a vile, destructive, and often hidden, crime domestic abuse is".

Dame Jenni Murray at an awards show

"The audience, I know, is divided on whether the editor has gone too far in telling the long, drawn-out, painful story of Rob's coercive control and his sexual and physical violence, culminating in Helen striking out with the knife he placed in her hand and now being held on remand, charged with attempted murder," said the broadcaster.

"I couldn't disagree more with those who object.

"The Archers has always covered important social issues, from Jennifer's unmarried pregnancy and Adam and Ian's homosexual relationship to anorexia, violent suicide and Pat's depression after her son, John, died. But none has been as revealing as this one."

Dame Jenni, 65, said some of her Woman's Hour listeners have tweeted to say that they cannot bear to listen, but that there have also been emails from women saying that they have understood for the first time what has happened to them. Men have also been in contact to say that Rob's behaviour made them realise that they too control their partners, she said.

"The shocking attack with the knife was not a step too far," she said.

"Real women have been provoked to such a degree that they've attacked and even killed, and we can now follow the story through the complex legal system."

This week's Radio Times is on sale from Tuesday April 26.