Siobhan Donovan made a surprise return in The Archers tonight (November 12), with actress Caroline Lennon reprising her iconic role.

In tonight’s emotional episode, Ruairi (Arthur Hughes) celebrated his 18th birthday, and — amid the celebration — he received a surprise message from his late mother.

She told him: ‘I desperately want you to know how fiercely I loved you – love you – and I’m so sorry I’m not there’ 

Siobhan recorded the message to CD when Ruairi was only four years old, as she battled terminal cancer. She ensured it remained hidden untilthe young man’s 18th birthday.

Siobhan was something of a controversial character in her day, and ultimately made her final appearance in 2007, leaving son Ruairi — the product of an extra-marital affair — in the care of his dad, Brian Aldridge.

After Siobhan left, Brian’s wife Jennifer was faced with accepting the child. Yet on the night of Ruairi’s birthday, as Jennifer keeps him company while he hears Siobhan’s message, the bond between the two of them is clearly very strong, as is Ruairi’s love for his dear departed mother. 

Actress Caroline and Ruairi actor Arthur Hughes spoke about the unexpected connection they felt while recording this scene — in spite of them never having worked together before.

https://youtube.com/watch?v=LreifWt6zos%3Fversion%3D3%26rel%3D1%26showsearch%3D0%26showinfo%3D1%26iv_load_policy%3D1%26fs%3D1%26hl%3Den-US%26autohide%3D2%26wmode%3Dtransparent

‘It was quite extraordinary,’ remarked Caroline.

Jeremy Howe, Editor of The Archers said: ‘Possibly only The Archers would resolve a story after eighteen years – yes eighteen years – and with such a touching scene.’

The Archers continues Monday 16 November at 19:00 on Radio 4 and on BBC Sounds. Hear the omnibus edition this Sunday 15 November at 10:00.

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