Birmingham expertise has been called upon by the Archer’s Academic conference which brings together experts from a variety of disciplines to discuss how research and professional experience can cast a new light on the storylines of the BBC Radio 4 drama The Archers.

Rebecca Wood, Research Fellow in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham, will explore with Professor Katherine Runswick-Cole of Manchester Metropolitan University how disability is represented in the popular BBC Radio 4 series, with a focus on the character Rob Titchener and his experience of becoming disabled. This happened when his wife Helen, following months of sexual and emotional abuse from Rob, stabbed him numerous times.

Rebecca Wood, Research Fellow, School of Education said:

‘When disability does feature in the series, it is either temporary, or it is shown as representative of someone being 'bad' or 'evil'.  When Rob first arrives in the village of Ambridge he is portrayed as athletic, seductive and highly able, but after a stabbing incident leaves him disabled, he is presented in a state somewhat opposite to how he had been when he first arrived: disempowered and no longer sexually alluring.

‘We would like disability to be both more prominent in The Archers but also more naturally encompassed within the different storylines. Most of us will face disability to some extent at some point in our lifetimes and whist The Archers is only fictional, its storylines impact on real lives.’

The conference brings together academics, professionals and members of the public to explore how academic research and professional experience can cast new light on the storylines, character and contexts of The Archers on BBC Radio 4.

Through combining their knowledge and expertise with their passion for this iconic radio series, contributors from a wide range of disciplines and professions stimulate debate about the series and what it reveals about contemporary society.

This is the second Academic Archers conference, and features a special strand on the ‘Helen and Rob’ storyline alongside papers on subjects ranging from Forensic Science and Theology to Medicine and English Literature, all casting new light on the meaning of life in Ambridge and beyond.

For media enquiries please contact Rebecca Hume, Communications Manager, University of Birmingham on +44 (0) 121 414 9041.

For out of hours media enquiries, please call: +44 (0) 7813521270

  • The Archer’s Academic Conference runs until the 18th February 2017 and features over 30 academics from different countries across a variety of differing fields of expertise. 
  • Rebecca’s talk is at 9am on Saturday 18th February.