**SPOILER ALERT. DO NOT READ ON IF YOU HAVEN’T LISTENED TO SUNDAY NIGHT’S EPISODE OF THE ARCHERS**
Last night’s episode of The Archers sent shockwaves through the soap’s fanbase as its long-running domestic abuse storyline reached a dramatic crescendo with Helen Titchener appearing to stab husband Rob to death.
Sunday’s instalment focused entirely on the Ambridge couple as Helen made preparations to leave her spouse. But her plans to confront abusive Rob with news of her imminent departure were questioned by her friend Kirsty – and listeners back home who sat anxiously by their radios to hear how the storyline played out.
Kirsty was right, of course, and as Helen finally stood up to Rob, after more than two years of abuse, the episode took a dramatic turn with his vicious attack prompting her to stab him with a kitchen knife.
The episode concluded with Helen’s panicked phone call to Kirsty, revealing that her husband was dead. And Twitter couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Fiction writers are criticised for not writing a different story. The real question is how well did they tell the one they chose #thearchers
— Linda Grant (@lindasgrant) April 4, 2016
Whether you're a #thearchers regular or not, EVERYONE should hear tonight's episode. Abuse can affect anyone & help is always out there.
— Becka Gandy (@BooGandy) April 3, 2016
Hats off to all involved in tonight's #thearchers – powerful, emotional stuff. Shocking twist. Poor Helen!
— Jonathan Harvey (@JOJEHARVEY) April 3, 2016
The Radio 4 soap was trending on Twitter, generating scores of tweets from gobsmacked listeners.
Actually shaking #thearchers
— Linda Grant (@lindasgrant) April 3, 2016
— The Archers (@BBCTheArchers) April 3, 2016
I think #thearchers has killed Twitter…
— Catherine Esbester (@gingerfig) April 3, 2016
Meanwhile Helen found herself with offers of legal representation…
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 (@nigel_pascoe) April 3, 2016
… And fans speculated over whether Rob really had breathed his last:
— Trevor Hockin (@Bad4Tips) April 3, 2016
— Lady Lich (@LadyLich) April 3, 2016
And as viewers collected themselves following the dramatic events, many visited The Helen Titchener Fund, a JustGiving page raising money for women’s refuge charity Refuge in response to The Archers storyline – a campaign that, at the time of writing, has raised nearly £90,000.
The next episode of The Archers airs on Radio 4 at 7pm – leaving us hours to desperately question whether Rob is really dead? And what will happen to Helen? And whether we can we bear to do an afternoon at work while we wait to find out?