Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The Archers: Rob Titchener and Neville Heath

I have just read Handsome Brute, an account of the life and crimes of Neville Heath. Apparently a charming RAF pilot and playboy, Heath murdered two women in a way that horrified and fascinated the British public in 1946.

My defence of true crime books, and this is a very good one, is that they depict the details of everyday life - clothes, food, furnishings - in a way that no other books do.

Handsome Brute, for instance, paints a picture of genteel Bournemouth in Word War II that changes your view of the town. Piers dismantled; beach mined; the hotels filled with civil servants from evacuated ministries and recuperating servicemen before it became a centre of preparations for D-Day; severely bombed by the Germans.

Handsome Brute is written by Sean O'Connor, and if the name sounds familiar it may be because he has edited The Archers for the past three years.

And listeners to that radio soap will be familiar with another handsome brute: Rob Titchener. I wonder if by any chance he and Neville Heath are related?

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