The much-anticipated trial of The Archers’ Helen Titchener begins this Sunday 4th September on BBC Radio 4. Now, a special series of court illustrations have been released to accompany the storyline.
Helen (Louiza Patikas) faces two charges – Attempted Murder and Wounding with Intent – after stabbing her abusive husband Rob (Timothy Watson), as part of a domestic abuse storyline that has been gradually unravelling on air in Ambridge.
During The Archers Trial Week, the prosecution is expected to paint a picture of Helen as an unstable and volatile perpetrator, while the defence is likely to argue that she acted in self-defence, driven by months of abuse and the need to protect her child.
The court illustration shows Rob giving evidence against a fraught-looking Helen, who sits in the defendant’s dock.
The sketches have been drawn by real-life court illustrator Julia Quenzler, who has in the past covered infamous cases such as the Harold Shipman and the Soham Murders trials.
“I’m often asked if I make the accused look evil,” she said. “Generally murderers don’t look like murderers. I can’t presume anyone’s guilt, it’s not for me to do that. I’m not judging the case, I’m going strictly by what I see, and what the jury see. Somebody might look completely benign when they may have been accused of the most awful crimes. They just look like the guy next door.”
With this case, of course, she has prior knowledge of what really happened between Rob and Helen. However, Quenzler said that this didn’t impact on how she depicted the fictitious case.
“I can’t let that influence me at all. I was basing his appearance on the actor’s photograph but also the script. I was reading the script and noting his reactions, the tone of his voice, imagining what he would be doing with his hands while he was in the witness box.”
Listeners who have heard the sombre tale develop for the past three years have been showing their “solidari-tea” with those suffering from domestic abuse ahead of tonight’s show.
Listen to the trial on BBC Radio 4 at 7pm this Sunday 4 September