Warning: this article contains spoilers for Radio 4’s The Archers
No fictional story has got people talking about domestic violence – or about The Archers – quite like that of Helen Titchener.
And, as expected, millions of listeners tuned into the BBC Radio 4 soap opera to find out whether Helen (Louiza Patikas) would be found guilty of the attempted murder of her abusive husband Rob (Timothy Watson).
The high-profile domestic abuse plot first made headlines back in April, when Helen, after being subjected to two years of emotional, physical, psychological and sexual abuse by Rob, attempted to leave him for good.
Their standoff came to a brutal climax when brutal climax when Helen felt so threatened by Rob, she stabbed him front of their five-year-son, in an act of self-defence.
Read more: why everybody's talking about The Archers
The plot culminated in the first hour-long episode in the show’s 65-year history, as a star-studded cast of jurors – including Catherine Tate, Rakhee Thakrar, Nigel Havers, Dame Elileen Atkins, and Graham Seed – deliberated Helen’s fate.
After a week-long trial, the jury at Borchester Crown Court found her not guilty of attempted murder.
They also found her not guilty of wounding with intent over the incident.
Discharged from the court room, Helen was overjoyed that she was finally free – but she soon found herself face-to-face with Rob.
“You might have fooled everyone else, but you haven’t got rid of me,” he warned her.
“And as long as we have a child together you never will.”
Helen, buoyed up in her elation over the not guilty verdict, responded: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry it took me so long to realise who you are.
“The whole world knows what you are now, Rob. You’ve failed…. and I’m free.”
However there is a chance that Helen could still find herself losing to Rob, as a family court hearing has been set for 14 September.
It is at this point that the custody of Helen's two sons - Henry and baby Jack (not Gideon, as Rob insisted on calling him) - will be decided.
Speaking about what’s next for her character, Patikas hinted that there may be more turmoil to come.
She said: “I think it will take her some time to process the verdict and its implications.
“On top of all this she is also suddenly exposed to everyone else’s feelings and how to manage them.”
The storyline has been praised by both Women’s Aid and Refuge, with Sandra Horley, the chief executive of the latter, reminding listeners that Helen’s story is far from over.
“The trial of Helen Titchener may now be over, but the impact of The Archers’ storyline will continue,” she told The Telegraph.
“By broadcasting such a realistic portrayal of abuse, the BBC has shone a light on the insidious, controlling nature of domestic violence and raised unprecedented awareness of an issue that has long been considered taboo.”
Women’s Aid chief executive Polly Neate, meanwhile, pointed out that government plans to cap housing benefit could mean that more than two-thirds of specialist domestic abuse refuges in England and Wales will be forced to close.
“If Helen had access to specialist domestic abuse support in Ambridge, perhaps she would not be on trial,” she said.
Julie Walters, a patron of Women’s Aid England, agreed, saying that “domestic abuse is a human rights issue”.
“Women and children need the specialist support that refuges provide to reclaim their dignity and strength.”
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) said that a review into the housing benefit cap is currently being conducted “to ensure it is sustainable in the long-term”.
“We fully support the valuable work carried out by domestic abuse refuges and other supported accommodation providers,” he said, adding: “We will continue working with providers to ensure the right protections are in place and will set out our plans in the autumn.”
The Archers airs weekdays at 7pm and is repeated again the following day at 2pm on BBC Radio 4.