Beauty And The Priest: Father Jack and his tortured soul.

From the moment that Jack Callahan, previously ‘John Doe’ regained his memory and knew he was a man of the cloth, viewers recognised that it spelt trouble ahead for him and would-be lover Paige. The official Neighbours line is that no-one guessed that Jack, played superbly by the excellent Andrew Morley, was a Catholic Priest, but I’m afraid it’s not strictly true! I nailed it, albeit just one day before the reveal. And I wasn’t alone, because I had a Twitter conversation about it. Andrew was included in that Twitter thread, so he knows that I (and a few others) worked it out! Nevertheless, I think it’s one of the best revelations in the show for some while.

Jack was initially known as Jon Doe, the guy with no memory, who had somehow been caught up in the boiler explosion at the hotel. Viewers fast became irritated by Paige’s obsession with this tall dark-haired stranger. Some felt, quite reasonably, that Paige might be using him as a rebound romance, after her non-wedding drama with former boyfriend Mark Brennan. Paige is an impetuous creature, who tends to rush into situations without thinking them through. She pushed and pushed to persuade ‘John’ into a relationship when he repeatedly and painstakingly explained that he couldn’t date her when he wasn’t even sure who he really was. Paige, however, wasn’t about to give up. Her headstrong personality served to compel her to push even harder, and she flatly refused to listen to family and friends’ words of caution.

When ‘John’ was finally about to give in to his physical attraction to Paige – accompanied by apparently genuine love – we knew something big was about to happen. He’d told her on several occasions that he had a feeling being with her was somehow ‘wrong’. Was he gay, we wondered at first? Surely that would be too obvious. Did he have a girlfriend already? Seemingly not. We’d already seen one woman turn up and claim to be his partner, only to find the writers had led us on a wild goose chase. The poor woman was emotionally unstable following the tragic death of her actual boyfriend. What else could stand in Paige’s way? John’s potential involvement in the tampering of the boiler? Whilst viewers may have been bored by Paige’s pursuit of John, they were now very curious about his identity. Neighbours chat groups on social media were full of it, and fans were loving the intrigue.

Paige had often said she ‘just knew’ John was a good man, and not someone who would do harm to others. He wasn’t convinced, as his counselling sessions had given him odd flashbacks of being in the boiler room. Thankfully though, he was finally absolved of any wrong-doing. He was apparently heterosexual, so what could stop him from jumping into bed with a beautiful single girl like Paige? The lightbulb moment for me was in the scene where Paige randomly suggested that he speak to someone from the church. This had to be it! John still hadn’t remembered everything at that point, but nevertheless decided to go ahead and spend the night with Paige. He concluded that he might not fully regain his memory, so he had to build his life anew. We saw Paige prepare for the ‘big night’ – setting the scene for a romantic meal and post-dinner delight. Then came the moment when ‘John’ discovered the final piece of the jigsaw. No matter how annoyed I felt with Paige for her relentless pressure, I did feel a little sorry for her when she was summoned to the police station after John remembered the events leading up to the explosion. And, the truth about his profession. Neighbours drama at its very best. Kudos to the writers, the production team and cast.

Suddenly, when John became Jack Callahan in that instant, the story turned into one of forbidden love, a modern-day soap-land Thorn Birds scenario. Father Jack seemed all the more appealing than plain old John Doe. A good, wholesome man of God who, by the fact of his Catholicism and vow of celibacy, is unavailable. Thus far. We might have known that Paige wasn’t going to give up easily, and as it stands, viewers are divided between those wanting to see Father Jack remain in the priesthood, and those who’d like him give up his dog-collar for the love of a woman. Many people have remarked that perhaps he could convert from Catholicism to another branch of Christianity where celibacy is not a requirement. He’d then get to carry on serving his God and love Paige at the same time. Whilst this sounds very straightforward, I’m not sure that it actually is. The saga, therefore, continues. Paige initially made a half-hearted attempt to keep her distance from Jack, and has been doing the ‘friends with benefits’ thing with Tyler Brennan. Rather unfortunately, sleeping with Tyler has hurt her half-sister Piper. Piper blotted her own copybook by acting immaturely and going behind her parents’ backs in seeing Tyler in the first place. Tyler’s torn between the girl he wants and the girl who has made herself available. In short, it’s a bit of a mess, and a typical Neighbours mess, to boot!

As is the norm for Neighbours, they managed to bring some humour to the whole situation regarding Jack’s new status. And typically, Sheila provided a comic moment when declaring ‘Oh God’ before she heard the revelation. By then, others already knew, and she wasn’t best pleased not to be first to spread the word. But she was thrilled to realise that she’d been landlady to a man of faith. If Father Jack had lodged with her for much longer, he’d probably be spoilt rotten with Sheila’s culinary delights, and his girth would have expanded rapidly! Then there was the moment Paige just ‘accidentally’ appeared poolside in a bikini. Jack tried not to gawp. But failed. Taking a nervous backwards walk, he managed to crash into the patio chairs in his haste.

Since making the decision to be married to God, Jack has been busily running a group project for disadvantaged and homeless people. Suddenly Paige has taken a keen interest in volunteering for the centre and, now, in religion, by joining a Bible Study class. Recently, we saw her smiling and chatting as she handed out free food and coffee to the homeless at a pop up kiosk, appropriate background music setting the scene. Not exactly the same Paige who snaps and snarls at the customer’s in Harold’s, then. Quite the Mother Theresa overnight! Did Lauren really have the Bible on her bookshelf prior to this Paige-getting-God thing? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an actual bookshelf in her house, let alone any reading material. I also don’t think viewers buy into Paige’s transformation from flirtatious tease to Miss Goody-Two-Shoes. She’s still hung up on Jack, and it isn’t his crucifix she’s interested in. I might be overly cynical, and maybe the girl is really deeply in love, but at times, it feels as if the more Paige is told she can’t have something/someone, the more she’ll pursue it. As in her latest plan to become a professional boxer. Er, okay Paige, but it’s only a short while ago that you were excited about your university course. Remember that?

It would be no surprise if Jack and Paige were somehow to end up together. I wouldn’t bet against it being what the writers have planned all along – similarly to the way they brought Lauren and Brad together. I’m currently enjoying this tale of struggle and angst for Jack and Paige. Jack isn’t dealing with the situation well, either. He hasn’t exactly pushed Paige away, but rather, encouraged her curiosity about his beliefs. Whilst he might tell himself (and God) that it’s his duty to spread the teachings of the Good Book when required, there has to be an element of self-interest going on. He even admitted as much to Paige from his own confessional box. Paige might similarly convince herself that she is really interested in Jack’s religious convictions but we all know that, had Jack been a married physics professor, she’d have been at the front of the class in her skimpiest crop-top vowing to be enthused by Einstein.

Even putting aside Jack’s strong religious faith, I can’t help but have my doubts whether Jack and Paige would really make a good couple. Some viewers have recently remarked that Jack and Amy seem to have a better rapport. However, that may just be because neither has any romantic feelings towards the other, and so their connection is platonic and uncomplicated. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Paige isn’t entirely happy about seeing them with their heads together. Jack felt duty-bound to stick around Erinsborough after the elderly priest, Father Vincent, died. Before his death, Father Vincent told Jack he wanted him to take over the parish. Is this Jack’s true calling? Moments of doubt are not, apparently, that unusual. Jack is still young, and he seems especially suited to a rôle as some form of youth worker. He’s shown us already that he isn’t perfect – getting wasted on a night out and fearing that he may have hit Tyler in a jealous rage probably wasn’t the best idea if you’re behind a pulpit the following Sunday!

So, will we see another twist to this story, and furthermore, if Jack leaves the Catholic church for Paige, is it the right decision? I actually like him as Father Jack, and if I’m totally honest, I’m not sure I want to see the two of them get together. If things turned sour, or even just dull, would Jack start to resent Paige because of what he’d given up for her? How much do the two actually have in common? Does Paige acknowledge the enormity of such a decision for Jack? That said, there’s a lot more women than Paige who would love to tempt Jack away from God and get him hot under the dog-collar! Andrew, keep on doing what you’re doing – the queue for confession stretches long and wide, you may be in there some time!

© Carol Ann Wood
August 2016


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Love Thy Neighbour: Kyle Canning 

Kyle Canning, school bully, partly responsible for a canoeing accident in which classmate Zeke Kinsky went missing and suffered amnesia; blackmailer of brainy pupil Sunny, to get her to write his English essays; class clown. Whilst newer Neighbours fans might easily believe in a past as class clown, the rest is harder to digest. Because Kyle, played superbly by Chris Milligan for eight years, is generally an affable bloke, even if he is stubborn and sometimes makes stupid decisions. It’s taken a while, and the firm guidance of gran Sheila, to change Kyle into a responsible adult. Sheila arrived on a visit to her grandson to keep tabs on him, but ended up staying, and with hindsight, it’s probably a good thing she did. She’d already played a big part in Kyle’s formative years, due to his erstwhile father Gary’s disappearing act, and flighty mum Sharon’s preoccupation with her string of boyfriends. If it wasn’t for Sheila’s presence, who knows if Kyle would have gone down the same dodgy route as Gary! As with all characters whose stay in the street has been lengthy, it is impossible to collate his every storyline into one tribute. Instead, I’m going to look back at some of my own favourite moments with Dial-A-Kyle.

Kyle first appeared as a guest character, rather like present day Jayden Warley. His early scenes saw him in trouble for school Muck Up Day offences and other misdemeanours. Kyle didn’t excel academically, and we assumed his behaviour was related to feelings of inadequacy. That was all we had to go on, as it would be some time yet before we could piece together his familial backstory. By the time he became a regular, his character had started to change. Young Kyle morphed from being a bit of a bad lad, into a laid back, down-to-earth bloke whose heart is in the right place. A good looking guy, he was never short of girlfriends, initially mainly brief flings and one-night hook ups. Playing the field was part of Kyle’s teenage lifestyle – and there’s nothing uncommon in that – but it was annoying to realise that whilst he prided himself as being a bit of a babe magnet, he tended to expect his girlfriends to be sweet and innocent. His tenure in the street has since included several brief romances, an inadvisable fling with Kate Ramsay, a girlfriend’s pregnancy (ending in a miscarriage) a marriage, a break up, a new romance, and a reconciliation.

Friends with benefits

Kyle is a home bod, and whilst he has successfully fulfilled his dream of setting up a handyman business, that’s the extent of his horizons. A good, honest living and a few cold tinnies with his mates suits him fine. As he got older, it was clear that he also wanted to find the right girl, and settle down to raise a family. His first serious romance was with Jade Mitchell, Sonya’s younger sister, with whom he shared a house with at one point. They were just friends, then gave in to their passions and spent the night together. Kyle, however, ran scared, and decided he didn’t want anything heavy, so suggested they become ‘friends with benefits’. Like Kyle, Jade had never had a serious relationship before, and she agreed to this arrangement. It was soon clear, however, that the two had deeper feelings for one another than they cared to admit. When they finally acknowledged their love, it was met with opposition from Sheila, who saw Jade as a bit of a bossy boots. (Just who was the family dog named after, again, Sheila?) As it turned out, the relationship came to its own natural conclusion. Jade’s ambitions were bigger than Kyle’s and she left, following a lucrative job offer in America. This big career break happens a lot in Ramsay Street; clearly Erinsborough is a stepping stone to great things!

Enter nurse Georgia, who was engaged to country boy Scottie, before it was discovered that Scottie had been secretly gay all along. By then, Georgia was harbouring feelings for Kyle, and those feelings were reciprocated. The two had an on-off relationship. Scottie had been Georgia’s only previous boyfriend, and she was emotionally traumatised by the break-up. Georgia and Kyle blew hot and cold, and at times you wanted to yell, for goodness sake, just get it on! Even when they did, the path to marriage was full of obstacles. Sheila, despite approving of Georgia in a way that wasn’t the case with Jade, continued to interfere in her grandson’s life. Meanwhile, Kyle had attracted the attention of Georgia’s friend, Kate Ramsay, a girl he had briefly dated, now a teacher at Erinsborough High. (Study, qualifications and securing a job take around half the time in Ramsay Street as they do in the real world.)

In a dark place

Kate was at an especially complex emotional stage of her sadly-short life. Neighbours fans all knew that she was in love with ex, Mark Brennan, whom she believed to be dead, until he made a shock return to the street. (As you do in soap-land.) She projected those confused feelings onto Kyle, who was on one of his ‘breaks’ from Georgia. Kyle had stupidly ignored advice and looked directly at the sun during the total eclipse, so was temporarily blinded. Doctor Karl told him that he had to wear protective glasses, and what with the Georgia situation, and losing business while incapacitated, he was in a dark place in more ways than one. And, apparently, he was also incapable of resisting the charms of pretty Kate. The deed done, both felt remorseful and agreed it should never have happened. They kept the moment a secret, but we all know that secrets in Ramsay Street have a habit of jumping out of the closet at the most inopportune moments.

Kyle and Georgia reunited, and Kyle proposed. We sensed trouble ahead, knowing what poor Georgia didn’t. Meanwhile, secretly jealous of Georgia’s happiness, her mentally unstable cousin Gemma blew the secret wide apart, with malice aforethought. Having discovered the truth of Kyle’s infidelity, she chose to print out an e-mail in which Kate told Kyle that they should forget what happened between them, and then slip the print-out in with the engagement congratulation messages that Georgia was reading out to party guests. Oops. Georgia had been betrayed by fiancé and best friend in one fell swoop. The engagement was off, and Kyle had a face like a puppy who’s chewed his owner’s shoes.

Fearing that Georgia would never forgive him, Kyle started openly dating Kate. It was evident that, deep down, their hearts weren’t really in it, but they clung together for comfort, each continuing to try and reconcile their differences with Georgia. Sheila’s interference may have served to prolong their romance, as she made it clear that she preferred Kate to Georgia. Although Bossy the dog didn’t agree, refusing to accept Kate’s affectionate tickling, and turning her head away. Dogs tend to pick up vibes!

And then, Georgia discovered that she was pregnant. This gave Kyle some hope that she would eventually forgive him for the indiscretion. Keen to show how thrilled he was to be a dad, and his desire to be involved, he concentrated on mugging up about pregnancy and restoring a traditional rocking horse – one suitable for the still unborn child at the age of three. But hey, he meant well. And who wouldn’t smile at the tiny ‘Dial A Kyle’ babygro presented to Georgia? Even my husband, who knows little about the characters or plot, remarked on it with an ‘Aw.’

Kate was devastated to learn of Georgia’s pregnancy, as she’d just been diagnosed with premature menopause symptoms, and told that she was unlikely to conceive children, although she kept the news from Kyle. By then, Kyle realised he wanted to end things with Kate, which he did. Shortly afterwards, Georgia miscarried. That was when you felt genuine compassion for all three characters. Kyle had messed up, but the prospect of being a father had shown him what he really wanted from life. In one of his sweetest, most tender scenes, we saw him and Georgia plant a tree in memory of their lost child. I cried buckets, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Tragedy and a reunion

It was in the face of further tragedy that Kyle and Georgia were finally reunited. Kate and Mark reconciled, and Mark proposed. As Georgia learnt of their engagement, Kate’s last words to her friend would resonate with her. Do what makes you happy, she said, follow your dreams. Moments later, Kate was gunned down, leaving Georgia to reflect on the frailty of life.

After Kyle’s brief absence from Ramsey Street – in Thailand to rescue a cousin in a pickle – Kyle and Georgia got together again, properly. They married and settled down to the life that Kyle had always wanted, and all seemed rosy until we saw signs that Georgia might have regretted the union. She wanted to travel, she said. She didn’t want children yet, partly because she was scared that she’d miscarry again, and needed time to heal. Then her mum’s cancer returned, so she was off to Germany to be with her throughout the specialist treatment unavailable in Australia. We sensed that this would be the end for the newly weds, as Saskia Hemple (Georgia) had left the show. Lo and behold, Amy Williams appeared. Not only was she attractive, she was a fellow tradie looking for work, and a feisty single mother. Oh, and the long-estranged daughter of Paul Robinson, which was bound to be a bit of a hurdle for Kyle to overcome. But, give him his due, he eventually got Paul onside. No mean feat.

The predictions of the viewers were correct, and Georgia reappeared briefly only to tell Kyle that she had things she wanted to do in life, effectively setting him free and giving him license to get together with Amy. This romance took time to get off the ground, with Kyle devastated by Georgia’s decision, and Amy wary of men after a bad relationship with the father of her son, Jimmy. However, Sheila encouraged Kyle and Amy from the off,  believing her to be the perfect antidote for Kyle’s broken heart. I didn’t want to see Kyle and Georgia split up but, after a while, I got used to him and Amy together. Indeed, many fans argued that they were better suited. Amy is down to earth, sensible and level-headed. She isn’t really into heels and dresses, but more of a shorts and tee-shirt kind of girl. Sadly, happiness doesn’t usually last long in Ramsay Street. Georgia had physically left, but perhaps her memory always lingered. And, we learned, she apparently regretted leaving Kyle. But, we cried, you can’t just hurt Amy and Jimmy like that, Kyle. Amy’s good for you, she loves you unconditionally. Kyle was torn, but in our hearts, we knew that as Chris Milligan was leaving the show, Georgia would be the winner who takes it all.

Poor old Kyle, locked in the lavatory

There have been so many amusing moments involving Kyle, and I have loved them all. My favourite has to be when, during the tornado, he went missing, only to turn up the next morning trapped in a portable toilet cubicle. Georgia, relieved to have found him alive, swept in for a hug,  but gagged in horror, wishing she had waited. Kyle’s expression was hilarious. What do you think I’d smell like, I’ve been in here all night, he reasoned. Fair point, Poo Boy! Another scene which had me in stitches, was Kyle dressed as a naïve Bell Boy to fulfil one of Georgia’s sexual fantasies. I also remember with affection the time Sheila caught her grandson about to bathe in the spa, starkers. Well, go on then, she said, it wasn’t as if she hadn’t seen it all before, as she’d powdered his bottom many a time as a baby. To which Kyle’s response was that he might have changed a little since then. Again, fair point!

Kyle is one of those characters who reminds you of someone you know in real life; the bloke at the bar of your local pub, the everyday grafter, scratching a living and being content with his lot. He’s had a lot of knocks, not least inadequate parenting, and having to face the truth of his father’s criminal activity. Latterly, Kyle discovered that he had a younger half-sister, who shared the same dad, and although he was initially resentful of rebellious drama queen Xanthe, you could tell that he realised she wasn’t dissimilar to himself. She may have had more of their father, Gary’s, attention than him, but they share the background of a dysfunctional upbringing. And who better than gran Sheila to help make Xanthe’s life more stable?

For Kyle, the love he had for Georgia had never died. After her brief visit to talk things through, and with the hotel explosion having left some Ramsay Street residents devastated, Kyle made his bold decision. We waved him off to join Georgia in Germany. It was an odd feeling; we felt desperately sorry for Amy, so gracious and dignified in the loss of her man. We felt sorry for Jimmy, as he and Kyle had developed a father-and-son relationship. We felt for Sheila, who had already lost daughter Naomi to the American Dream. We felt for Xanthe, who might have benefited from a bit more plain speaking from her new big brother. But in another way, we understood that Kyle wanted one more chance to make it work with his wife. Even if it did mean moving away from his comfort zone.

Bye-bye, Bossy

This article would not be complete without a special thank-you to darling Bossy, the pooch who fans have loved since she was a puppy. Even though Sheila sometimes cursed her for making a mess, or for causing problems in the neighbourhood by going on a bra-stealing rampage, she’s going to miss that dog. We will miss her too. We worried when she started uncharacteristically biting folk and we learned that she had a life-threatening brain tumour. We were relieved when she survived an operation. Somehow, Bossy always seemed to convey what the viewer might be thinking about a character, but which the character didn’t always see. That dog has that air of ‘knowingness’ about her. It was obvious that Kyle wasn’t going to leave his best friend behind, and so it was a case of bye bye Bossy and a lot of tears.

Chris, thank you for playing Kyle Canning, and for making us laugh and cry so much over the last eight years. Dial-A-Kyle may be somewhere in Germany – enjoying a lager – but I know he’ll always think of Ramsay Street as his home. And as he thankfully survived Hotel Death Trap, I know many fans would welcome him back at the tap of a hammer. Just as long as he brought Bossy with him!

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2016


Index of Posts:

Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


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Love Thy Neighbour: The marriage of Daniel and Imogen

We all love a Neighbours wedding, and there have been a fair few over the years. Unfortunately, many of them have had disastrous or tragic consequences. However, with Daniel and Imogen’s nuptials being arranged in the aftermath of the Lassiter’s explosion, we knew that this union would not only go ahead, but that we would be waving the pair off, tissues at the ready, to their exciting new life in America. Granted it was rushed, to the point of being somewhat unrealistic: just how quickly can you arrange a marriage licence, book (and then re-arrange) a celebrant, and flights and visas to the States? However, as this was a happy event after much sadness, we were ready to suspend disbelief. Besides, we already knew that both Ariel Kaplan (Imogen) and Tim Phillips (Daniel) were to be leaving the show, so why not make it a joyous exit, with scenes reminiscent of Daniel’s young parents Scott and Charlene so many years before.

Daniel and Imogen’s path to marriage has been typical of the Neighbours young: rocky, fraught with tension and, at one point, including the ubiquitous love-triangle. As soon as the nephew of Paul Robinson arrived on Ramsay Street as a carefree hippy, we saw Imogen’s eyes flicker. Initially, with anger, over a misunderstanding involving a vintage dress, but that’s Imogen for you. She’s a strong-minded girl who likes to feel that she’s in control of situations. Beneath her apparent dislike of Daniel was an instant attraction that she was trying to keep at bay.

Career oriented Imogen is the opposite of best friend Amber in so many ways. Although both might have romantic notions of love, Imogen always kept hers in check and was not about to settle for anything less than the real thing. Including taking things to ‘the next level’. We saw a hint of love to come when, after the tornado – 2014’s disaster – Imogen and Daniel rescued a baby wombat whom they named Erin. (Yes, we did all get the name-play!) Daniel had a fear of wombats and managed to overcome it with Imogen’s help. They also bonded over academic texts. Daniel might have been a hippy back then, but like Imogen, he is a deep thinker, whereas Amber is less scholastic. Daniel and Imogen have a shared love of nature and of eco causes. (There were much in-joking text messages between them about ducks.) Daniel admired Imogen’s strong belief in justice and her unwillingness to be anything less than her own woman. It was only a matter of time …

As we know, though, it was Amber who first caught Daniel’s eye. Sensing that she was unhappy with the then-nonchalant Josh, twin brother of Imogen, he befriended her and took an interest in her ambitions as a photographer. We watched as Imogen struggled with her feelings for Daniel, her idealistic notions of love shattered as her parent’s marriage fell apart, and sensing her pain as the complexities of the Willis and Turner clans grew ever deeper. I felt very sad on Imogen’s behalf when, after discovering that her best friend was cheating on Josh with Daniel, she still kept her feelings for him to herself. And it must have hurt her to see her friend openly dating the man she loved. She later had to watch as Amber and Daniel planned their wedding, and in order to distract herself from the pain, she set about being chief wedding planner, in true Imogen style. Imogen definitely inherited her mother’s organisational skills!

A well of emotion

Of course, Daniel and Amber’s wedding was a non-event, because of Erinsborough’s notorious well. Imogen and Daniel just happened to be the latest characters trapped therein, in the pursuit of a family ring that Daniel learnt was down there. Imogen had already been barred from the wedding, having been confronted by Amber, after her true feelings for Daniel had been uncovered by Paul Robinson. Imogen insisted that she would never have stood in her friends’ way, which was obviously the truth but, once down the well, and fearing they might not get out alive, she asked Daniel if he could ever feel the same about her as she did about him. No, he said. Liar, we thought! And even though Daniel and Amber eventually reunited when Amber realised that her fiancé had not eloped with Imogen after all, you could tell that this was not how things would end. After Amber’s ‘comforting’ from ex, Josh, on what would have been her wedding night, there was a pregnancy. Josh and Daniel had come to an uneasy truce after Amber had left the former for the latter, but this new situation only fired up the animosity again. Daniel was delighted when told about the pregnancy. He had no reason, at that point, to suspect that the baby wasn’t his. But in true soap style, despite Imogen counselling Amber against telling Daniel of her night with Josh, she blurted out the truth. A paternity test ensued. It was pretty easy for fans to guess ‘Who’s the daddy?’

For Amber and Daniel’s relationship, it was to be downhill thereafter. Daniel was insistent that he wanted to play a rôle in the baby’s life, despite not being the biological father. Josh was excited about being a dad, and thought that there might be a chance of reconciliation with Amber. Stress mounted as the unborn baby was found to have a life-threatening condition which needed surgery, either in vitro, at great expense, in America, or after birth. Of course, Josh was on the side of Amber who wanted to go to America to give the baby what she thought was the best chance. Daniel didn’t. Clearly, Daniel and Amber’s hearts were not in this relationship any more, and Daniel bowed out without much fight. It wasn’t long before he and Imogen finally got their act together and he acknowledged his true feelings for the feisty law student. Imogen worried that dating him might have a detrimental affect on her friendship with Amber, but Amber was fully focused on her baby, and went around in a sort of daze. She didn’t even react adversely to her mother Lauren shacking up with Brad Willis so soon after her father, Matt’s, death. Daniel and Imogen were given the green light.

Intellectually matched

I have always felt that Imogen was a better match for Daniel than Amber, although other fans are entitled to their own opinions. For me, Daniel and Imogen are intellectually and emotionally matched. He might have started out as a hippy with no particular career goal, but since then, he has realised that he needs to have more of an aim in life. He has learnt from Imogen that you don’t have to compromise your ethics for ambition, and that you can have a career and still be an honest-living person. This is in contrast to Paul, of course, and there were moments that we felt alarm for Daniel, and worried that he was becoming a younger version of his uncle. Being with Imogen has ensured that this will not happen.

It was Imogen who pulled Daniel back to base recently. Her attentions had wandered towards Tyler’s hot bod, as Daniel worked long hours at Lassiter’s. The revelation that his girlfriend was attracted to a mechanic with a man-bun caused Daniel to insist that he and Imogen have a break for a while, even though Imogen argued that she hadn’t acted on her attraction and that Tyler hadn’t encouraged it. Daniel wasn’t sure of Imogen’s feelings any more. But after knowing that Josh died in order to save him, Daniel recognised the truth: Josh knew his sister was most definitely in love, and had even gone to the hotel prior to the blast, to reiterate the fact to Daniel. Daniel had been rather horrible to Josh, and yet, Josh bore no grudge, only wanting his twin sister’s happiness. Life is sometimes cut cruelly short; there was a strong need for viewers to see happiness to come out of such profound sorrow. Imogen had not only lost her brother but her beloved Pop, Doug. Her eulogy at Josh’s funeral was heartbreaking, and whilst she wasn’t the only family member to suffer such pain, the loss of a twin was expressed with brutal honesty. Well done to the writers for making this point.

So what else was there to do for Daniel but to propose, when Imogen was offered the chance of an internship in America? Daniel is currently under the impression that his uncle Paul may have been responsible for the hotel explosion, and he knows how difficult this is for Imogen and her family to deal with. He understands that she needs to get away from Erinsborough, and that it would be good for him too. So, we snivelled as Daniel discarded a post-explosion crutch and went down on one knee at Lassiter’s lake. (Where else?)

An open window – and an exit

We laughed as Scott and Charlene sent Daniel’s sister Madison to check on Daniel’s state of mind before he tied the knot. We saw her attempt to climb in through an open window just as her mother had done before her, only this time it was her brother, not a future husband, on the receiving end of a smack in the face when he mistook her for a burglar. Yes, writers, it amused those of us old enough to remember the first time. Predictable, but a nice touch. Madison Robinson (you wonder whether Charlene named her when under the influence of gas and air, it’s such a mouthful) was there and gone in the blink of an eye, but I get the impression she will be back at some point. We need a new Robinson. Her brother has not only departed, but chosen to take Imogen’s surname, Willis. His choice, we’re told, but one of which we knew feminist Imogen would wholeheartedly approve!

Whilst we can understand the bride and groom not wanting to cause any fuss after two bereavements, a wedding was just what was needed to galvanise everyone and give the family something to smile about. Thankfully, Daniel and Imogen’s hastily planned original ceremony was put on hold following Brad and Terese’s frantic dash to the registry office – with Terese clad in nightdress, dressing-gown and slippers – once they got wind of it. We were happy that Amy and co transformed chez Willis into a reception room – complete with fine tableware and a few hundred cupcakes in less time than a TV makeover programme – for the two families to witness the ceremony. Miraculously, Terese still had her wedding dress stashed in the spare wardrobe, in pristine condition (well, you can’t imagine Terese spilling the jam from a Lamington down it) and looking more 2016 than anything I remember from 1994. Equally miraculously, the dress fitted Imogen perfectly, unless we are to assume that the women of Ramsay Street had her safety-pinned, stitched, and vow-ready in minutes. We were relieved that Terese was able to play her rôle as mother of the bride in her finery, rather than her recent daytime attire of nightdress and slippers – probably concealing a wine-glass in her dressing-gown pocket. But, like I said, we’ll suspend disbelief, and Imogen looked beautiful. Of course the pair had learnt their vows off-by-heart in one day, and of course Susan had no essays to mark that afternoon and was free to be the celebrant. Sorted in minutes, in true Erinsborough style!

As this article is a tribute to Daniel and Imogen as a couple, it’s not possible to look in depth at both characters’ noteworthy moments. However, the comic episode when Imogen, mistaking alcohol for fizzy pop, became drunk at the dinner table, stands out. Terese wondered: ‘Imogen! What has got into you?’ And the frantic baking marathon, when she developed a bit of a crush on the recently-bereaved Mark Brennan, left us unconvinced that she was cut out to be a domestic goddess. But what she may have lacked in expertise, she certainly made up for with enthusiasm! We’ve seen her extreme vulnerability when she developed an eating disorder, leading us to realise that she wasn’t quite as self-assured as she made out. But she’s matured a lot since then and, as with her late twin, she arrived as an adolescent but has left as a grown up.

And as for Daniel, he’s definitely changed a great deal during his Ramsay Street stay. He frustrated many of us at the start: admirably idealistic, but so laid-back he was horizontal. Whilst we felt that his presence was good for his uncle Paul, who had a lot to learn about putting family before fortune, we could see that Daniel needed to go through a process of self-evaluation and change, too. He alluded to a time when he was shorter-tempered and troubled, which presumably had led him to move towards his hippy existence with ex-girlfriend, oddball brainwasher, Rain. But perhaps he had gone too far down the route of day dream believer, and it was just a phase of his life which wasn’t meant to last forever.

I’m going to miss both Imogen and Daniel, and want to wish Ariel and Tim the best of luck in their respective careers. We are losing two more prominent and popular characters. Coming so soon after saying goodbye to Doug and Josh, it’s rather hard to take. But, for now, it’s enough to know that the newlyweds are alive and, for once, they got their happy ending, a rarity in soap land. Let’s hope they follow in the footsteps of Scott and Charlene. Here’s to the next generation of Willis-Robinsons.

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2016


Index of Posts:

Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


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Let’s Hear It For The Boys! Nate and Aaron

When Nate Kinski (Meyne Wyatt) first turned up at the Kennedy’s house, no one was sure how his character was going to develop. A nephew of Susan’s from her previous marriage (to his late uncle Alex) Nate seemed rather evasive about his past. What we did know, however, was that he had toured Afghanistan twice with the Australian infantry, and that he was openly gay.

Initially, Nate presented as a very defensive person; he didn’t trust others, finding it hard to open up and express his feelings. He had seen terrible atrocities in war, and lost several soldier friends. Indeed the initial reason he visited Erinsborough because he was in the area to attend a serviceman’s funeral. Despite Nate seeming so unwilling to talk, the one thing he did seem to be confident about was his sexual orientation. There being only one other gay character in Ramsay Street, we could guess, once it was clear he was sticking around, he would soon be involved in a relationship with Chris Papas.

Chris, unlike Nate, had not been out of the closet for very long, and was struggling to gain his father’s acceptance. The relationship between he and Nate was destined to be short-lived. Having agreed to be a sperm-donor for single-but-broody Lucy Robinson, Chris realised that he wanted to be actively involved in his child’s upbringing. It was obvious that Nate wasn’t on board with the idea of having a child in their lives. After Lucy became pregnant, Chris suggested that they both move to New York, Lucy’s home. Nate declined the invitation, and Chris’s desire to be a father proved to be a stronger pull than the love he felt for Nate. Chris bid farewell, and the two, sadly, albeit fairly amicably, split up.

By this time, viewers had started to warm to the lighter side of Nate’s personality, which was emerging little by little. His interactions with Sheila when first learning the ropes of working at Lassiter’s were amusing. The two developed a competitive friendship, with one always trying to outdo the other. In contrast to Nate’s early personality, when he seemed only to scowl and answer questions in monosyllables, he began to reveal his dry sense of humour. This new side to Nate became more apparent when Tyler Brennan (Travis Burns) – brother of Mark – arrived in Erinsborough. Tyler proved to be a good friend for Nate, who started to let his hair down. The pair bonded over activities like racing remote-control cars, and from that point, you felt that Nate was finally one of the lads. We also guessed that Nate wouldn’t be left single for long.

Chris leaving the scene created the cue for another gay character to rock up. This was in the shape of Mark and Tyler’s brother, sunny-natured Aaron Brennan (Matt Wilson). And in true soap love-story fashion, Nate and Aaron took an instant dislike to one another, despite Tyler’s numerous attempts to match them up. We all saw through the dislike, of course, but it makes a nice scenario and builds up the suspense.

Intrigued by infamous eyebrow-waggling

Bit by bit, Aaron became intrigued by Nate, wanting to find out what made him tick. Nate, though, continued to scowl, waggle his infamous eyebrows and growl one-word responses to Aaron’s tentative flirting. However, Aaron was not going to be easily dissuaded. The whole ‘boys-in- a-box’ scene which Naomi set up to promote the Lassiter’s romantic weekend package was Neighbours humour at its best, even if a little far-fetched. Was the kiss just an act for the audience, or was it for real? Nate reverted to his grumpy self and declared it the former. After that highly-charged moment, there was much embarrassment and tension between the boys, which seemed to last an age. Some viewers remarked that, as it was fairly obvious the two fancied one another, it was about time the writers moved the story forwards.

Aaron and Nate have had several false starts, with an abundance of silly misunderstandings. Nate was reluctant to let Aaron know that he was the knight in shining armour who rescued him after he was beaten up. Aaron, being a romantic, was determined to uncover the truth. He thought that it might be fate, and that whoever recused him could be the love of his life. When he realised that Nate knew the identity of the rescuer, Aaron badgered him until Nate admitted that it was he himself, just to shut Aaron up. Aaron was delighted to know the truth, but Nate simply shrugged off Aaron’s admiration and put up his emotional barrier again. It made the ‘all-knowing’ viewer want to bang their heads together.

Eventually, the two started dating, although this wasn’t without trials and tribulations. Even now that they’re officially together, the two still sometimes misinterpret each other’s likes and dislikes. This is not helped by the ‘Sheila Canning advice service’. (For ‘advice’, read ‘meddling’!) Nate thought that his dancer man, Aaron, would love cocktails. Arranging a cocktails-and-fancy-food night at Karl and Susan’s, Nate was out of his depth with the mixers. Poor Aaron, believing that it was Nate who loved making cocktails, did his best to convince him that he was doing fine, albeit the strange taste of the drinks proved too much for him to fake enjoyment. The boys began to talk more openly, saw the funny side of things, and Nate confessed that he much preferred a beer and a burger. Bingo! I like the humorous side of Nate which Aaron has helped tease out. Only Aaron could get away with calling Nate ‘eyebrows’. Others might not want to try it!

Fine dining seems to figure high on the list of Nate and Aaron’s social activities. Thinking that it was time for Susan and Karl to get to know Aaron better, Nate invited him over for dinner. Again, a misunderstanding nearly ruined the evening. Karl had been advised not to mention his music, and given that it’s his favourite topic, it was no easy feat for him! Uncomfortable silences prevailed until an unsuspecting Aaron begged Karl to talk songs. The temptation was too much for Karl, much to Susan’s and Nate’s dismay. Especially as Aaron was genuinely interested and he and Karl engaged in deep in conversation. Eventually, the Kennedys were badgered into going out for dessert, with Nate practically ushering them out the door. You had to smile at Nate’s cheek. Whose house it it, again?  And whoever goes out for dessert? But presumably, Susan and Karl are just happy that this once-difficult stranger they’d taken under their wing, was blossoming in life and love. After all, if we evaluate the relationships which have recently imploded on Ramsay Street, Nate and Aaron are becoming one of the most stable pairings!

Currently, Aaron sometimes stays overnight with Nate at the Kennedy’s house, and all is well in romance. I hope that this remains the case, as I think they make an interesting, maybe more dynamic match than did Nate and Chris. Nate needs someone like Aaron, happy-go-lucky, upbeat and positive, to keep him on an even-keel, because PTSD doesn’t just disappear. Stressful situations can be a trigger, and Aaron has the personality to pull his boyfriend back from any such occurrence. Nate is probably equally good for Aaron, who tends to jog along without too much thought for the future. He never worries about work, so long as he make enough to get by. He is currently recovering from an injury and so cannot dance. Nate might be able to convince him that it’s always a good idea to have a plan B. That said, Nate needs to guard against his jealousy when Aaron performs. If he wants to be with Aaron, he has to accept that dancing is something he enjoys. Perhaps Nate and Aaron will put their skills together into a business enterprise, in time to come. Who knows?

Decryption – and exposure

The storyline involving Nate and Aaron in their quest to expose Erinsborough Mayor, Paul Robinson’s underhand dealings is intriguing, and poses interesting questions about Nate and Aaron’s developing relationship. Asked by their friend Josh Willis, Aaron’s former dance-partner, if he could retrieve files from an encrypted hard-drive – the one which Naomi stole from Paul before she left for America – Nate agrees help, gleaning the techniques from a former colleague in the military.

Whilst Josh is looking for evidence that it was Paul who was behind the planting of drugs on him – to set him up, as revenge for sleeping with Paul’s ex, Naomi – Nate uncovers something else. He is furious when he decrypts emails which reveal that Paul has been in favour of the closure of Erinsborough High School, likely for his own financial gain. This is a potentially far more serious matter, in the light of the recent near-fatal fire at the school. Nate is angry on behalf of his aunt, Susan, Erinsborough High’s principal, but is cautious about how to handle his discovery. However, once he reveals the discovery to Aaron, the genie is out of the bottle.

Aaron doesn’t hold back, and sends the incriminating emails to the newspaper. When Mayor Robinson’s nephew, Daniel overhears his friends’ disagreement about how to handle what they have found, events spiral. Daniel, long disgusted by his uncle’s dodgy business dealings, wants his uncle exposed. Working with Nate and Aaron, they discover even more. Paul has established a number of property companies which, seemingly independently of one another, have been buying up swathes of Erinsborough to provide space for a luxury housing development.

Since his exposure in the West Waratah Star, Paul claims he has received death threats, and has asked Aaron to be his bodyguard. Nate and Aaron fret about how things are turning out. Viewers might be wondering if Paul suspects their involvement in uncovering his dodgy dealings. Aaron is in a dilemma; he’s currently unemployed and needs the money, so if he declines Paul’s offer, it will look suspicious. But if he accepts, can the boys be sure that this isn’t part of a plan for Paul to set Aaron up? I only hope that whatever the outcome, it will not put too much strain on Nate and Aaron’s relationship.

If the writers choose to keep Nate and Aaron as a couple, it would be great to see the two of them set up home for themselves in the street. I have greatly enjoyed watching them become in involved with – and bringing out the best in – one another. In short, the boys are cool. Let’s hear it for the boys!

© Carol Ann Wood
November 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Love Thy Neighbour: Amy Williams

A fellow neighbours fan remarked recently that it’s amazing how level headed Amy Williams is, given that her parents are Paul Robinson and mentally unstable man-eater Nene. When Amy, played by the delightful Zoe Cramond, first arrived in Ramsay Street with young son Jimmy, she presented as a fiercely independent woman. And it’s hardly surprising. She’d had little contact with father Paul over the years, and was understandably still resentful of the fact that he’d once dipped into her trust fund, to obtain money for one of his business dealings. She wasn’t impressed, either, that her father failed to recognise her upon her arrival. To be fair, he hadn’t seen her since she was seven, and possibly had no photos of her since that time. That said, he still had a lot of making up to do and, when he finally admitted to wanting one more chance to prove his worth, father and daughter began tentatively to build a relationship. But it hasn’t been without rocky patches!

Amy had largely raised Jimmy single-handedly, as his father Liam hadn’t been around much. She has strong beliefs about teaching Jimmy the value of money, something which goes against Paul’s ethos of making as much of it as quickly as possible, and not always in legitimate fashion. Paul struggled with not being allowed to lavish Jimmy with material gifts, but father and daughter seem to have met in the middle. Paul doesn’t want to upset Amy, and so he has had to rein in his indulgences, and place more emphasis on time-richness. Amy has come to realise that she might have been over-protective of Jimmy, and possibly a little over-strict, too. Compromises have been made, with Amy recognising that Jimmy is benefiting from having his granddad around, even if she still gets infuriated with Paul’s behaviour at times. And it’s been good for Paul to have to listen to Amy’s point of view on occasions.

Romance brewing

Amy quickly became a popular character with viewers, but there was one nagging doubt for some of us: before anyone could scream ‘romance brewing’ Amy was working for Kyle Canning. Kyle’s wife Georgia had gone to Germany to be with her mother – who was receiving specialist cancer treatment – and most of us didn’t want to see Kyle and Georgia split up, and certainly not because of an illicit affair. But after Georgia’s admission that she regretted marrying Kyle and wanted to travel before settling down, any misgivings about Amy were forgotten. No one wanted to see loveable Kyle with a broken heart for long. Amy ticked all the boxes; she’s a fellow tradie, she’s attractive, warm-hearted and down to earth. And Kyle, luckily, bonds well with children, swiftly establishing a fatherly relationship with Jimmy. There were, of course, the usual Neighbours style pitfalls and stop-starts to their union for entertainment purpose. Kyle dated the somewhat mysterious Shay for a while, which made Amy jealous, even though she hid it well. Amy was harassed by some builders on-site, Kyle got protective, and Amy rejected his gallantry. She wanted to deal with it on her own, as she was used to doing, so she found Kyle’s interference, though well-intentioned, unnerving.

Amy and Kyle’s budding relationship was also met with opposition from Paul. Typically for him, he envisioned the perfect partner for his daughter as being a professional man, comfortably off, someone who could provide. Amy, however, doesn’t see a man as a ticket to prosperity. She has an entirely different outlook on life to that of her father, and Paul has had to grudgingly accept that Amy has fallen in love with Kyle. And the main objective for Paul is that Amy and Jimmy stay in Erinsborough, so he’s backed off and seems to have stopped meddling. Of course, that might have more to do with the fact that he’s been distracted by his own problems of late, not least the loss of his empire!

Spanner in the works

We could guess that it would’t be long before Amy’s ex, Liam, would turn up and throw one of Kyle’s spanners into the works. Whilst Amy is undoubtedly a strong woman in many respects, she is not without her frailties and insecurities. Liam almost convinced Amy that they belonged together, firstly by getting Jimmy onside and leaving Kyle stomping around with one of his grumpy scowls that makes him look about twelve. Amy eventually succumbed to Liam’s advances, but viewers sensed that he was not to be trusted. It was with much relief, then, that we saw Liam finally outed as the person who stole Toadie and Sonya’s benefit fund, and who trashed Harold’s after breaking in to see if there was money in the till (there wasn’t, even Lauren isn’t that careless.) On finding no cash, Liam took advantage of the feud between the warring Turner and Willis families, thus hoping that Terese Willis would get the blame for the ‘home wrecker’ message he left behind. Paul, typically, paid off debt-ridden Liam, with the agreement that he leave Erinsborough and have no further contact with Amy and Jimmy.

When Amy discovered Paul’s pay-off, she was furious. As much as she wanted Liam gone, she felt that it wasn’t for Paul to decide whether he have contact with Jimmy. It was probably a bit too much pot and kettle for her liking; Paul wasn’t exactly squeaky clean and yet she’d given him another chance. Jimmy became aware of a rift between his G’Dad and his mum. (G’Dad is not a term that sits well with most viewers I’ve spoken to, though. Take note, producers!) It was some time before Jimmy learnt the whole truth about Liam, and why Amy was mad with Paul. You had to feel for the kid when Kyle blurted out the truth. Jimmy sensed that something was being kept from him, and badgered Kyle for answers. Once again, Amy was angry, but Kyle had his reasons. He had been badly let down by his own father, and he didn’t want Jimmy to idealise a man who was cut from the same cloth.

Amy swiftly established friendships with the other women of Ramsay Street. She and Jimmy hadn’t been in Erinsborough long, before being invited to live with Sonya – ever the philanthropist almost on a par with Susan Kennedy – and Toadie. Amy had accidentally run over Nell’s buggy and was keen to make it up to Sonya. She felt that she could ease her new friend’s workload if she was around to take care of some domestic duties. There were a few tense moments when it seemed as if Sonya doubted her decision to have Amy and Jimmy as house guests. Misunderstandings occurred, such as Sonya’s belief that Jimmy was hurting Nell. It turned out, of course, that Nell was going through a common toddler phase: biting. Both women are sometimes blind to their own child’s faults, and this could have fractured the pair’s friendship, but luckily, everything seemed to be resolved peacefully. Although, there were still awkward moments. Amy, in one of her efforts to impress with household tasks, inadvertently thew away Nell’s favourite cuddly toy. Horrified, she and Kyle went on a frantic and complex mission to find it. This brought the pair closer together and Amy – despite having clashed with Paul and considering leaving town – decided to stick around.

A tryst on the couch

Kyle and Amy’s comic moments when getting it together followed on seamlessly from Kyle and Georgia’s in scenes past. As with many couples in the street, the sofa featured writ large. Really, is that not a bit careless, given that front doors are rarely locked in Ramsay Street and anyone could have walked in? Sheila returned home unexpectedly one day, almost catching the pair in a tryst on the Canning’s couch. Amy hurriedly covered herself up, but somehow her bra had got the attention of Bossy, who has been prone to underwear stealing, and she sneaked off with it. Of course, the bra was later discovered by Sheila and we all chuckled. That’s Neighbours comedy at its very best.

When Toadie had his freak accident with the jumping castle, temporarily paralysing him, Amy felt that she and Jimmy were getting in the way at the Rebecchi’s. Cue Sheila’s invitation for them to move in with the Canning clan, much more preferable to Amy than Paul’s penthouse. Sheila was keen to encourage her grandson’s romance with Amy, feeling that she was just what Kyle needed to get over Georgia. After Kyle’s brief dalliance with Shay, he and Amy were still dithering about being together, providing viewers with more amusing moments, as they met by the bathroom door, each pretending not to notice the other’s night attire. Given that Ramsay Street residents are often spotted sunbathing and swimming together, this seems a little tame by comparison! Sheila, frustrated by the pair’s hesitation to commit to the relationship, took drastic action, locking them in the laundry room. It seemed to work better than metaphorically banging their heads together, as the pair were soon loved-up again in every sense of the word. It appeared to have been a bit of a turn on too: despite the fact that  each had their own bedroom, Kyle and Amy began romping regularly amongst the smalls.

A frolicking spin in the utility room

Poor little Jimmy had rather a shock in store. Picture the scene: You’re nine years old, and you go to put your socks in the wash basket like Sheila says, to be met with the sight of your mother and her boyfriend frolicking on top of the washing machine wearing not very much. Accompanied by sounds that definitely could not be attributed to the machine’s fast spin. A lot of frank talking and child-counselling ensued, and it now seems as if Jimmy is on board with his mum and Kyle’s relationship. As long as he doesn’t have to witness or overhear anything physical, as he quite rightly pointed out!

No one was especially surprised when Nina, aka Nene, rocked up – a reinvented version of her former self. Whilst Amy wasn’t unhappy to see her mum, (once Nene had recovered from heat exhaustion after taking grandson Jimmy off, goodness knows where, for a long walk) she was a little uneasy about her intention to relocate to Erinsborough. Amy had apparently thought Nene happy in a new nursing job, and wondered if there was more to her visit than just wanting to spend time with her daughter and grandson. It was bad timing for Paul, too, given that he had recently gone bankrupt, and the last thing he needed was yet another ex turning up to mock his misfortunes.

Nene, though, seems to be more interested in unattainable men, such as Doctor Karl, and Amy has learnt that her mother’s mental instability is not as far in the past as she would have people believe. Her nursing career has apparently been tainted with misdemeanours of the romantic kind, and medical negligence. Unfortunately, she was already employed as a nurse to Doug Willis, a dementia sufferer, before these facts were uncovered. Amy, whilst appalled at her mother’s deceit, and manipulation of Doug’s condition in order to impress Karl Kennedy, has been quick to jump to her defence. This is possibly because Nene brought Amy up alone, in the absence of Paul, and she now knows from personal experience how tough it is to be a single parent. Whether the two can go on to have a more balanced mother-daughter relationship, only time will tell. Since Nene’s arrival, it has seemed as though Amy is the parent and Nene the child, rather than vice versa. But if events with Kyle take the turn we think they might, Amy will need her mum’s support. We can only hope that Nene manages to focus on someone other than herself for more than five minutes, and start being a parent.

Just as it seemed as if Amy and Kyle were becoming one of the more stable couples of the street, the boat has been rocked again, possibly beyond repair. Viewers were given hints of things to come when a letter from Georgia arrived for Kyle’s birthday. He threw the letter away, insisting that he had moved on and didn’t want to know about her new life. Sheila was in agreement with this. She had grown fond of Amy and Jimmy, and was delighted that her grandson seemed happy once more. But Amy wouldn’t rest: The recycling team seem to be sporadic visitors to Ramsay Street, and upon rediscovery of the thrown-away letter weeks later, she retrieved it from the bin. Wrestling with her conscience, she eventually read it, learning that Georgia wanted Kyle back. Sheila sussed Amy’s mood, extracted the truth from her, and tore the letter up, telling her to leave the past alone.

As always in soap land, Amy could bear it no longer. She insisted to Sheila that Kyle deserved to know the truth about Georgia’s feelings. We were waiting for Amy to confess the snooping to Kyle, but first she chose to test his love for her by a spur-of-the-moment marriage proposal. Not one of her better ideas. Kyle, gobsmacked, said it was too soon. He has a point, but Amy took this to mean he didn’t love her enough, and so the whole truth of the letter came tumbling out. We don’t know yet where this leaves Kyle and Amy. This is a storyline where you really can see things from both points of view. Amy might appear tough, but inside, she longs to feel loved and secure. She’s focused on her rôle as Jimmy’s mum for nine years, but now she’s starting to realise that she can allow herself a life outside of work and motherhood. And after all, she deserves to be happy. Kyle seemed to have moved on after Georgia, and he wouldn’t deliberately hurt Amy, or Jimmy for that matter. But he’s still technically married, so will he want to give that marriage another try, or commit to Amy?

Whatever happens, it’s going to leave someone with a broken heart. If it turns out that heart is Amy’s, there will certainly be no shortage of suitors waiting to help her heal it. I’ve grown very fond of Amy Williams, and I hope that she stays in Ramsay Street for a long time. I would love to see the return of Andrew and Elle, to see how the three half-siblings interact. If Amy is left single, I am already speculating on who out of the current residents might be a good match for her. But if no one takes her fancy, I’m sure there would soon be an Erinsborough newcomer happy to step into Kyle’s work boots. And as Amy doesn’t fall in and out of love easily, they’re big boots to fill!

© Carol Ann Wood
March 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.


Love Thy Neighbour: Amber Turner 

It’s fair to say that since her arrival on Ramsay Street in 2013 with her parents and younger brother Bailey, Amber Turner (Jenna Rosenow) has had quite an eventful time of it. She didn’t seem happy about relocating, and whilst her parents believed that she was missing her old school friends and her beloved horse back in Mount Isa, the all-knowing viewer could guess that it was more likely to be a boy she was pining for. Teenagers rarely enter soap land without a backstory involving love. And so it proved. But Amber wasn’t hung up on your average wholesome schoolboy. She had been secretly involved with Robbo Slade, a young criminal who had cajoled both Amber’s brothers into committing a robbery. This was why, we learnt, that we were yet to see Amber’s other brother, Mason, who was serving time in ‘juvie’ for said robbery, although their father Matt had put his police career in jeopardy by covering up Bailey’s involvement.

Amber was moping around and uninterested in her new surroundings, like, perhaps, any typical teenager who’d been uprooted against their will. However, we knew it wouldn’t be long before a girl with big blue eyes and long blonde hair would attract attention, and that Amber would settle into her new life. Once her past relationship with Robbo was revealed, more family secrets and turmoil ensued. Amber distracted herself by developing a crush on Chris Pappas, not realising that Chris was gay. Once Amber had learned Chris’s sexuality, the pair’s friendship survived and she accepted they’d only ever be mates. When the Willis family moved in opposite the Turner clan, we guessed that there would be a new storyline ahead for Amber. Brad Willis and Lauren Turner having once been young sweethearts meant that tensions were running high between the two couples, and what better scenario to add to the mix than for a teenage Turner to start dating a teenage Willis! Amber also struck up a sometimes-terse friendship with Josh’s twin sister Imogen. Imogen is an altogether more level-headed character, academic and career-oriented, like her mother. Imogen warned Amber that, as her brother was a potential swimming champion, his training would always come before any girl, and she didn’t want her new, naïve friend to get hurt.

Amber, however, didn’t give up on attracting Josh’s attention. But Josh was a rather arrogant character back then and, as Imogen had predicted, didn’t treat Amber very well. Amber frequently  endured dates cancelled at the last minute. Her dreams of becoming a photographer were dismissed by Josh, who saw his swimming career as far more important. Viewers were frustrated by Amber’s deferential attitude. We wanted her to stop being walked over and to stand up to Josh. The pair carried on dating, rowing, sort-of splitting up and making up, on such a regular basis that it seemed to happen as often as in Scott’s and Charlene’s infamous relationship back in the 1980s. The pair looked on as Josh’s dad Brad and Amber’s mum Lauren became involved in a search for a daughter whom Lauren thought had died and Brad never knew had existed. They looked on as the fallout continued with rows and recriminations, and as Matt Turner and Terese Willis found it hard to accept this new situation.

Life turns a new Paige

Suddenly discovering, in your late teens, that you are not your mother’s only daughter must be quite a shock: your position in the family has altered forever. When Paige Smith rolled up and finally revealed her identity, it was a huge change for Amber. Imogen and Amber now shared a half-sister, and Amber had to vie for her mother’s attention as Lauren got to know her firstborn, having been robbed of her entire childhood by an illegal adoption. Paige is a completely different character to Amber, and immediately stuck up a bond with half-brother Bailey. You can’t really blame Amber for feeling that her nose had been put out of joint. Previously, as an only daughter, Amber had been spoilt (as fellow Neighbours fans have frequently remarked).

The arrival of hippyish free spirit Daniel Robinson, nephew of Paul, sparked a new chapter for Amber. We could imagine that she might be more suited to Daniel with his happy-go-lucky attitude, but Amber wrestled with those feelings for some time. How could she desert Josh, who had since had his swimming dreams crushed as the result of an accident – a dare that Mason Turner had challenged him to? Her loyalty and sense of commitment seemed to rule her head until Daniel set up a dark room and as they bonded over their love of photography, they couldn’t contain their love for one another any longer. Typical of a soap storyline, this was further complicated by the fact that Imogen had meanwhile fallen in love with Daniel herself. Awkward.

One of the most poignant scenes involving Amber, for me, was the hug between father and daughter after Amber’s cheating with Daniel was discovered. Matt said exactly what any daughter would want to hear at that moment: that he still loved her, despite his disappointment at her behaviour. Matt was not an overly-demonstrative man with his children; he often had awkward conversations, as if he was torn between tenderness and tough love. Here, he showed his unconditional love for his daughter and it was probably more of a valuable lesson to Amber than if he’d shouted at her. Amber had made her parents sad; she and Daniel had not come clean with Josh.

Kaftans and fringed bags

Amber changed when she started openly dating Daniel. Not only in attitudes, but in her dress sense, which was remarked upon by many viewers. She began wearing tops that resembled kaftans, carried fringed bags, and became more interested in eco issues. Nothing wrong with that if you’re being true to yourself, but Amber is quite an impressionable girl, and I remember thinking at the time that she was probably just going along with what Daniel believed in.

Amber becoming brainwashed by Daniel’s ex, Rain, had worrying similarities to Amber’s mother’s time under the influence of a cult. Long-time viewers remembered how Amber’s grandad, Lou Carpenter had to rescue his daughter, Lauren, and now it seemed history was about to repeat itself. Again, the all-knowing viewer cringed at Amber’s naïvety, as Rain hypnotised her, urging her to give up on education and become part of a new eco-village, which Rain wanted to set up in Erinsborough. That Daniel also failed for so long to see what his ex was doing was alarming. Daniel is older than Amber, and had already been duped and dumped by Rain before, so why had he been so willing to let her into their lives? I was very relieved when this storyline finally came to an end!

When Daniel fell out with his uncle, Paul Robinson, over his relationship with Amber, stormed out and took up residence in his car, the idea that Amber would be happy living in a car with her boyfriend was laughable. How long would she last without her hair straighteners and her hot bubble baths? Not long, as it turned out, after a frightening ordeal when the car was attacked by louts. Amber, in many ways, was in love with love. She continued to convince herself that she was ready for marriage and settling down, but I wanted to scream at her: What’s the rush? The rush was, of course, the family objections the pair faced to their union. Matt and Lauren felt Amber was too young, Paul believed that his nephew was just a dreamer who fell in and out of love at the drop of a hat. (You couldn’t help but wonder, however, how five-times-married Paul felt justified in having his say!) The rush towards marriage for Amber was also about the familial tensions between the Turners and Willis’s. She wanted to branch out on her own, and was searching for something that she would feel in control of. Her mother had been young when she’d married Matt, she’d reasoned. Which leads me to wonder: was Lauren wary because she had her own regrets, given her increasing closeness to first love Brad? Daniel wanted what his own parents, Scott and Charlene had created, but  he seemed to lack their practicality. They married young, but had already established their careers, whereas Daniel seemed to be drifting aimlessly.

Well – what a surprise!

Neighbours scriptwriters certainly get the most out of the purpose-built well set. This time, they found an especially creative use of the well – to trigger the cancellation of Daniel and Amber’s wedding. With Imogen barred from the ceremony after it was revealed that she was in love with Daniel, he wanted to do everything he could to convince Amber that Imogen’s love for him wasn’t reciprocated. Using his best romantic inclinations, (i.e. making a rash and ill-thought out decision) he determined to go in search of a pearl ring that a Robinson ancestor had thrown down the well when suffering from a broken heart. Even Imogen didn’t see this as an especially daft idea, given her desperation to prove to Amber that she and Daniel had her blessing in marriage. So, on the morning of the wedding (as you do) off went Daniel and Imogen down the well, expecting to quickly locate the lost ring, which had been lying there for donkeys’ years. Daniel thought that Amber would see the ring as a proof of his devotion. Of course, the ring would gleam in the dark, despite the years of being encrusted in mud. A quick polish on Daniel’s cheesecloth shirt and it would be as good as new.

Meanwhile, what was Amber to think? Her fiancé and former best friend had disappeared on the wedding day. I can’t think of any other conclusion that I’d have come to other than that they’d eloped. But this is where my sympathy for Amber starts to wane a little. Of course, it would be heartbreaking, and traumatic for her to believe she’d been jilted. But it probably wasn’t very sensible to allow Josh into her wedding suite at Lassiter’s, in order to ‘comfort’ her. Viewers were largely unaware at the time just how far the ‘comforting’ had gone. However, it didn’t come as a huge surprise when Amber, having since reunited with Daniel and reconciled with Imogen when she realised the truth of their vanishing act, revealed that she was pregnant. Oh dear, Amber. She’d just lost her father, and now she was faced with a huge dilemma of whether to reveal to Daniel that he might not be the father of her baby.

To Amber’s credit, the truth about the baby’s paternity emerged when guilt overcame her and she confessed to Daniel. You had to feel a little admiration for Daniel’s intent to stick by Amber, once the paternity test results were back. And yes, a lot of anger at Josh, whose smug smile made you want to slap him. But then again, Josh had been cheated on by these two in the first place. It got messier when the unborn baby was revealed to have a life-threatening condition, congenital diaphragmatic hernia (CDH) which would need surgery. Arguments between the Turner and Willis families continued. Amber was adamant that she would raise funds to have a pioneering – though risky – in-utero operation in America. This met with opposition from Josh’s parents. There was so much going on at the time, between them all, that it is hard to decide who had whose best interests at heart. Ultimately, and somewhat predictably, Amber ended up single, with Daniel finally accepting his romantic feelings towards Imogen. And Josh, overly keen to be involved in his baby’s life, became confused about his feelings for Amber, to the extent that he faked an online identity on a CHD support site on which Amber was chatting. Not such a good move, Josh. Already there was enough deceit to weave a million spider’s webs. Amber wasn’t impressed by this stunt.

We saw Amber go into premature labour during the Erinsborough school fire (well, you wouldn’t expect anything less dramatic, would you) and of course, once rescued, Doctor Karl was on hand to oversee the emergency caesarean. Baby Matilda came through her operation in what might be record time, with seemingly few complications, and suddenly we caught a glimpse of a robust-looking rosy-cheeked tot coming home to familial turmoil.

Quite a few of us had read that Jenna was intending to leave her Neighbours rôle for pastures new, so Amber’s departure from Erinsborough wasn’t surprising. Nor was it surprising to learn that she had secured a great job in Public Relations with the CDH Foundation which had supported her during her pregnancy. People in Erinsborough seem to get unmissable opportunities in the employment market with apparent ease, Amber being no exception! Conveniently, the job was in Brisbane, where gran Kathy and brother Bailey live. There was opposition from the Willis side of the family, but Josh had been struggling to bond with his daughter and despite initial attempts to persuade Amber he should move to Brisbane with her, he let go and, currently, we have no idea whether he will play any rôle in Matilda’s life in the future. Nothing seems to end neatly for the Turner or Willis families. So, mum and baby have gone, leaving Lauren with just one child out of four close to hand. I can only conclude that this is a good move for Amber. She will no doubt be a capable mother, but whilst some have argued that her actions are selfish, taking a grandchild and daughter away from so many of her family, it’s probably the only way she is going to make her own way in life. Who knows, maybe one day she and a grown Matilda will return and give some good advice to their feuding clan! Until then, so long Amber, and good luck with your next acting move, Jenna!

© Carol AnnWood
January 2016


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From Boy To Man: RIP Josh Willis

It’s surprising to realise that Josh Willis, played by Harley Bonner, has only been in Ramsay Street for just shy of three three years. He’s been involved in so many key storylines, since the Willis clan arrived, that you’d expect to be recalling at least a decade’s worth of memories. During the first day of what was arguably the most dramatic week in the history of Neighbours, viewers sobbed as Josh passed away, when his injuries, caused by the Lassiter’s hotel boiler explosion, were pronounced too severe for him to even be taken to hospital. I can’t promise that I’ve included every single Josh story in chronological order in this trip down memory lane, but let’s have a look at some of his most significant moments.

Josh arrived in Erinsborough a boy, but definitely left as a man, and a brave, heroic one at that. Many viewers remarked this week that they weren’t keen on Pool Boy when they first saw him on screen. Singularly focused on his goal of becoming a medal-winning swimmer at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, he soon found himself the centre of attention from the doe-eyed Amber Turner. Amber was set on making him her boyfriend. Josh’s twin sister Imogen, always one for plain speaking, warned Amber that swimming would always come first for Josh. Ever since the Willis family had recognised his talent at an early age, their home lives had been organised around Josh and his training. Brad had even given up teaching to become his son’s full time coach. All the focus on his swimming had led to Josh being rather self-absorbed and oblivious to the needs and feelings of others. It was this Josh that we first encountered.

I found myself getting continually angry at schoolboy Josh, for treating Amber so casually once they had started dating. He was extremely thoughtless, and at times, conceited. But let’s remember that he was only seventeen and if everyone is telling you that you will become a champion swimmer, it’s easy to let the adulation go to your head. Josh’s mother, Terese, tended to spoil him, which was a bone of contention with Imogen, who often felt pushed out. And with his handsome, chiselled face and athletic body, it wasn’t surprising that girls were clamouring for Josh. I always believed that there was a softer, as yet undiscovered, side to him, but this wasn’t evident before he had to learn a very hard lesson. He took up a stupid dare from friend and foe Mason Turner – the two were often in conflict with one another – and Josh’s big ego just couldn’t prevent him from trying prove a point. He paid a heavy price for his stupidity, with an accident and a career-threatening injury. And he was already losing his appeal for Amber, who was falling under the spell of recent Ramsay Street arrival, happy hippy Daniel Robinson. Unlike Josh, who was dismissive of Amber’s interest in a photography career, Daniel encouraged it. The two tried to deny their feelings, but couldn’t keep away from one another and they began an affair. But when the full impact of Josh’s accident became apparent, Amber, feeling guilty, dithered, and didn’t end things with Josh. Although it didn’t stop her seeing Daniel on the sly, either.

We saw Josh become addicted to strong painkillers whilst in rehabilitation, so desperate was he to make a full recovery and regain his chances of making it to Glasgow for the games. And we saw him hurt and humiliated on discovering Amber in a clinch with Daniel in the photography darkroom. I did feel a bit sorry for him. He had genuinely loved Amber all along, but hadn’t treated her properly. Now he had been dealt a double blow. He was never going to swim competitively again, and Amber loved Daniel. After the initial impact of this, Josh seemed to be moving on with his life, and he consoled himself with an older woman – Naomi – which made for some popular, comic scenes. He and Naomi kept their passionate encounters a secret, and that was initially part of the attraction for the pair. Naomi pressed the stop button in the Lassiter’s lift, giving them time to enjoy a little between-floors action. However, they hadn’t bargained for Naomi’s mum, Sheila, waiting to greet her ‘poor little daughter’ after they were ‘rescued’ and mistaking Naomi’s disheveled look for being panic-stricken rather than just having been pleasured by a young man with a hot bod.

Then there was gnome-gate. Or, maybe that should be Noames-gate. Viewers will long-remember Naomi desperately pushing Josh’s head under the water in the hot tub as she attempted to have a mundane conversation with Sheila, who had turned up unexpectedly. (They never seem to learn not to take such risks in Ramsay Street!) Who can forget Josh’s dash for home when he was inevitably discovered, and the horrific look when he encountered his sister en-route, whilst wearing, well, nothing. Sheila’s gnome came to the rescue of Josh’s modesty, and this scene was reminiscent of the Henry Ramsay-style naked runs of early Erinsborough comedy. Given that they are a couple in real life, Harley and Ariel Kaplin (Imogen) must have found it a hilarious scene to film! Another favourite moment of mine was when Imogen’s bra had gone missing, in the midst of Bossy the dog’s underwear-stealing phase, and she asked her brother if he’d seen it. Josh, deadpan, declared that, yes, he had borrowed Imogen’s bra, leaving the viewers chuckling.

Josh’s alcohol intolerance, and the awful night when he floored Chris Pappas with a coward punch, were two issues that the writers clearly wanted to highlight. Both were handled very well. Despite the awfulness of the coward punch, I felt empathy for Josh. Naomi had ended their fling, and he was hurt and feeling sorry for himself. Amber was by now happy with Daniel. Josh knew he shouldn’t have drunk alcohol, his intolerance having already been discovered. But he was at an all-time low. No career, no girlfriend, totally directionless. He was immediately horrified when he realised it must have been him who had caused Chris’s life-changing injuries, not Chris’s boyfriend Nate who was a suspect, and so he turned himself in to the police. One bad decision when under the influence of drink, and Josh was looking at a potential jail term. He was so remorseful that it made me want to cry for him. His beautiful blue eyes, once indicative of an air of arrogance, conveyed genuine sadness. After Chris had pulled through, Josh began to try everything he could to make it up to him. Chris wasn’t ready to forget, initially rejecting Josh’s help. Eventually, the pair reached a level of understanding and closure before Chris departed for New York, but the friendship was never the same again.

Relieved to have avoided a jail sentence, Josh’s personality shifted, as he accepted his community payback order. He became a better son, a better brother, and a better friend, throughout the dramas he encountered, including the breakup of his parent’s marriage. However, despite having accepted that Amber was marrying Daniel, he felt compelled to comfort her, on her wedding day, in the Lassiter’s wedding suite, when she believed she’d been jilted. Thus, another setback for his character: Viewers didn’t much enjoy discovering that the supposedly reformed Josh’s ‘comforting’ meant the pair had slept together. Of course, this being soap-land, Amber and Daniel reunited once she discovered that he hadn’t run off with best friend Imogen after all. They had simply been trapped down that notorious well. Neither did viewers much care for the look on Josh’s face when paternity tests revealed Amber’s baby to have been conceived during Josh’s ‘comforting’ of her. Josh looked smug, but on reflection, can you blame him? Of course, he and Amber had behaved inappropriately, and it wasn’t nice to think that he had taken advantage of her distraught state of mind. But beneath this, we could sense that Josh was still in love with his ex. And he was only human.

The lead-up to the birth of the baby was fraught with worry. We learned that the unborn child had CDH, a life-threatening condition. The Turner and Willis clans, already in the throes of conflict, were torn further apart by differing opinions on the best options for treatment. The infant could have a pioneering operation, in vitro, but performed in America, at huge expense. Josh was keen to support Amber’s choice to go ahead, desperately trying to find ways of raising funds. Again, he risked jail, as he got involved in selling illegal peptides. Silly boy, we shouted at the TV. Thankfully he avoided prosecution, and although he didn’t like Imogen’s interference at the time, or the fact that Amber blew the whistle on his whole mess, he would be thankful for it afterwards.

Daniel, unlike Josh, didn’t want Amber going to America. Eventually, relations became so strained that he could take no more and he and Amber ended their relationship. Cue Josh getting the wrong idea, believing he could win Amber back. Again, we became frustrated with Josh when he began posting under the guise of being another mum, on the CDH support-group site which Amber had joined. She had banned him from accompanying her to antenatal classes but Josh wanted to find a way to be involved in the baby’s welfare. We wanted to stop him making such a fool of himself; it was obvious that once Amber found out, she wasn’t even going to think about getting back together with him.

It seemed that whenever Josh was back on the road towards mature, responsible behaviour, something else came along to stop him getting over the finishing line to adulthood. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with working as an exotic dancer to provide for your unborn child, but it was never going to be his forté. Aaron Brennan invested endless time in training Josh, so they could become a double act, only to be left high and dry by another of Josh’s muddles. Josh was feeling low again, upset that Amber wasn’t involving him enough in her pregnancy. His old fling, Naomi, was also low, having become engaged to Paul Robinson, more by accident than design. An evening together, with Naomi getting very drunk, ended in being a night of passion. As soon as Paul Robinson found out, you knew revenge would be round the corner. Despite Paul’s apparent acceptance of Josh’s apology, planted peptides in Josh’s rucksack, and the subsequent complex battle to prove his innocence, meant that his dance days were over. Although, being propositioned to be a male escort by lonely, middle-aged Sue Parker ought to have been enough to put him off pursuing that career!

But we warmed to Josh again with his latter storylines. Seeing him so keen to be a good dad but suffering from male postnatal depression/anxiety was sad to watch. Being a parent at any age is huge commitment, but a situation like Josh and Amber’s was especially frightening, given what they and the baby had been through. Amber almost gave birth, prematurely, in a burning building, but thankfully arrived at hospital in time for a C-section. The baby came through the vital operation successfully and Josh became involved in his daughter’s care, only to be rather cruelly admonished by Amber for falling asleep and rolling dangerously onto young Matilda. Poor Josh, we thought, he was trying to help by letting Amber get some sleep, and whilst falling asleep that way could have had tragic consequences, Amber went way over the top in her criticism of him. Josh became convinced that he wouldn’t be a good dad, and it took a lot of persuasion for him to accept that he just needed time to adjust to fatherhood.

Josh’s relationship with his pop, Doug, who suffered from Alzheimer’s, has been emotional to watch. Josh was tender, caring, and sensitive about his grandfather’s failing memory. He showed a great deal of maturity in making sure Doug didn’t feel stupid or patronised whenever he got confused. Although covering up for Pop’s car accident probably wasn’t the best idea he’s ever had, given that he was yet again risking a jail term for claiming responsibility! We were seeing the emergence of selfless Josh, who put others first. This he did right to the end.

Daniel Robinson, who has apparently morphed into a mini version of his uncle Paul, ruthless and career-driven, was pretty nasty to Josh shortly before the Lassiter’s explosion which ended Josh’s life. Whereas the younger Josh might have held a grudge, when he learnt, as he was laying under the fallen pillar, that Daniel could be saved if the pillar was lifted, he told Doctor Karl Kennedy that the rescuers should go ahead lift it. Daniel was by now the on-off boyfriend of Josh’s twin Imogen, and Josh knew his sister was in love. So, in a heartbreaking episode, we saw Josh saying goodby to his family who were told that he could not possibly survive. We saw a video call to Amber and Matilda, and Josh telling Amber that his daughter needed to know she was his last thought. The only one missing from this sad posse was poor Piper. Watching Brad breaking the news to Piper that she’d lost her big brother was heart-wrenching. Piper will no doubt be riddled with guilt that she was at a counselling session and so hadn’t responded to messages in time. That’s a pretty hard thing for a sixteen-year-old to deal with.

I will miss Josh more than I could ever have envisaged when he first strode in to Erinsborough as a cocky schoolboy. There were times when I wanted to slap him for his attitude and behaviour, as he went from swimmer to angry young man. But, bit by bit, he turned into one of the finest young men ever to grace Ramsay Street. I wish that his character had not met such a terrible end. I wanted to see him go to Perth and to hear news of him, Amber and Matilda, perhaps even that they became a proper family in the end. Now, there is a baby who will never know her daddy, who was born to a mother mourning the untimely loss of her own father. Tragedy repeating itself.

Harley, your pedigree inherited from your lovely mum Carla has stood you in good stead and you’ve established an acting career in your own right. It’s evident that she’s extremely proud of you, and rightly so. Good luck in your next venture, and thanks for bringing us Pool Boy, we’re all going to miss him. Josh may not have won a medal, but in our eyes, he’s Neighbours gold.

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2016


Index of Posts:


Links:
About the author
Contact the author
Follow Carol Ann Wood on Twitter
Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
Perfect Blend
Neighbours


Please note that any advertisements which appear below these posts are not indicative of any endorsement by the author. They are placed there by a WordPress algorithm.