The Doppelgänger

Neighbours Fan-Fiction

Simon stared in surprise as the horrified woman looked at him, turned, and ran away. Strewth, he knew he was hot – he had always had a way with the ladies – but he hadn’t ever had quite that reaction before. So hot that he’d overwhelmed a rather pretty brunette with curvaceous figure and beautiful eyes! Well, who knows, maybe she thought he was a film star or something, and had gone off to tell all her friends. Quite a few people had likened him to various film stars so it was plausible. But he mustn’t let himself get distracted. He was always getting distracted by women, which was probably why he hadn’t managed to hold down a long-term relationship. But recently, he felt the need to put down some sort of roots. He’d never really felt he belonged anywhere. Now he was in this place called Erinsborough, suburb of Melbourne, and he immediately liked what he saw, for some inexplicable reason. Maybe he’d hang around, see what work was going, and make a new life for himself. The death of his mother had altered his outlook on life. Yes, he definitely should hang around, it had a certain vibe to it, this place. Not that Simon had ever believed in vibes before.

Terese thought she must have been imagining things. But it it looked like him. Rationally, she knew it couldn’t be. And Terese had always been a competent, level-headed woman, good at business and running things. True, events over the last few months had left her in a bit of a state. All that business with her brother, Nick, who had done something so awful that even her family had never thought him capable of: Conned Paul Robinson into believing he had leukaemia, in order to persuade him to vote for the financing of a cancer research centre. Paul was a lot of things but he hadn’t deserved to be given chemotherapy under false pretences. And he hadn’t deserved to develop pneumonia as a result. He was recovered now, but Nick could have killed him. Terese had always been loyal to her brother, to whom she had looked up, but the cruel words he had spoken to her and her family before he was charged had made her begin to see the awful truth.

As Terese made her way home after the ‘sighting’ or whatever you could call it, she wondered if she should tell anyone. What on earth would Brad think? That she was cracking up completely? She would feel rather silly and no-one was going to believe her. She certainly couldn’t tell Lauren. Besides, Lauren was a bit of a thorn in Terese’s side these days. Oh, she felt sorry for her, what with losing Matt, of course. But did Brad have to spend quite so much time with his ex-girlfriend? Brad had said that Matt’s last words to him after the accident were that he must look after Lauren. Terese felt a little ashamed about even thinking this, but she had even wondered if Brad had made it up, in order to justify the time spent at the Turner house. Brad and Lauren were bound by so much history: sharing a daughter – one that Brad had had no idea had ever been born until last year – and whom Lauren thought had died at birth; and now Paige had been found, and was a member of both families, inextricably linking them for ever. What with that and now the revelation that Brad and Terese’s son Josh was the biological father of Amber Turner’s unborn baby, Terese had been a little stressed recently.

Shopping. Supper. Terese didn’t like cooking much, apart from breakfasts. At least she prided herself that she always sent her loved ones out to the day on a good breakfast. She grimaced as she recalled the way that her father-in-law Doug had always praised Brad’s ex-wife Beth’s culinary skills. He hadn’t made a secret of the fact that he and his wife Pam had preferred Beth to Terese. But never mind Beth. Beth was in the past, and Terese had an important job at the hotel to fill her time. Why should she have to compete with an ex-wife, she thought. As usual, she felt too tired to cook supper, so she popped into Harold’s, only to bump into Sheila on the way out.

“What’s the matter, Terese, love?” Sheila remarked, seeing Terese’s flustered body language, “You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

Well, Terese could hardly say yes, that might actually just have happened, could she? Especially within Lauren’s earshot. She made some excuse about it having been a stressful day at work and hurriedly picked some dishes for supper, not wanting to have a long conversation with Lauren, who was serving at the counter. She was always seeing Lauren when she least wanted to. Ex-lovers and ex-wives of Brad seemed to continually pop up, either physically, or in Terese’s thoughts.

“How’s your day been?” said Brad, absent-mindedly, at the Willis home, pouring them both a glass of wine.

“Oh… yes, it was okay, a bit tiring, and the receptionists had to deal with a lot of complaints today, but nothing I couldn’t sort out, of course,” replied Terese, carefully rearranging a vase of flowers on the dinner table, and trying hard not to convey any sense that she thought she was going mad and seeing dead people walking around Erinsborough. But it was on her mind all that night.

It was only half-ten in the morning, but Simon needed a drink. It had happened again. This time it was a hippyish-looking chick in a kaftan holding the hand of a toddler. Not quite so interesting for him, but he had certainly caught her attention. She’d looked, looked away, and looked again, then scooped up her child, who was pointing at him, and hurried off. What the hell was happening? It had to be that he looked like some new singer on the scene, or something. Having moved around quite a lot lately, he hadn’t quite kept track of the latest stars, which had proven a bit of a disadvantage when chatting up younger women. He was getting on a bit, and he realised that the women he was interested in were often almost young enough to be his daughter. That’s if he’d ever settled down and had a daughter, but he hadn’t, of course.

Making his way to a bar on the hotel complex, not far from where he’d pitched up his camper van, he caught his reflection in the glass. He might be getting on a bit, but he was still a looker, that was certain. Rugged, with the slight beard, defined muscles, what with the workouts, and nicely tanned body from the surfing. Let’s see if this was a friendly place or not. You could always tell how friendly a place was from the local bar. He’d learnt that a long time ago. If the bartender was chatty, they could tell you a good few things you might need to know to determine whether or not you wanted to stay. He had this strange feeling of having been here before. He was sure he hadn’t been here before, yet it was somehow familiar. Maybe he’d rocked up in another suburb a few years back with another hotel bar, similar decor. Well, hotel bars weren’t all that different from one another, were they?

Sauntering through the empty bar, Simon saw a blonde female bartender wearing an overly floral dress. A bit too middle-aged for him, he thought. Simon’s thoughts were never far from whether or not a woman might be ‘his type’. The woman had her back to him, putting some glasses onto the shelf behind the bar. “A pint of your best beer, love,” he said, cheerily. It never did any harm to make a good impression, even if they weren’t dating material. With that, the woman turned around abruptly, regarded Simon with a look of horror… and fainted. What the freaking hell was going on? Simon rushed round to her side of the bar, first making sure that she hadn’t hit her head as she’d fallen.

“Can you hear me, love? You fainted. I’m Simon. We’ll get you on a comfy chair and see if you need a doctor. Hello? Love?”

The woman was coming round, but seemed confused. She was mumbling that something or other couldn’t be possible, and that she must be seeing things. And she was rambling about someone called Matt, and that some chick, Laura, or was it Lauren, couldn’t know about this. Helping the woman to a chair, Simon fetched her a glass of water. He hadn’t meant to make her faint. Hell, he must look like some very famous person for people to be reacting like this.

The woman took the water, and stared hard at Simon. “This can’t be happening,” she said. For one minute he thought she was going to conk out again.

“Look, love, I am sorry that you seem to have had some sort of shock,” Simon said, “But I’m not sure why I frightened you so much. It’s happened twice before since I rocked up here yesterday. I had two women on separate occasions take one look at me and both of them ran off in a hurry. I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m just here checking the place out to see if I want to stay for a while. Settle down a bit. I’m not doing anything wrong, I promise. I might be a bit of a babe-magnet but I’m not a bad egg.”

The woman still looked confused. “So… you’re really not Matt, then?” She asked him, her voice a bit wobbly.

“No,” Simon laughed, “I’m Simon. I don’t know who Matt is. But maybe that’s who the other women thought I was yesterday? Anyway, maybe you’d like to tell me your name?”

“Oh… yes… the woman began. “Well, I’m Sheila. I’m the bar manager here. Matt is… was, a local policeman. A lovely man. He died a few months ago, in an accident. So sad. His poor wife and family are devastated. It’s hit everyone hard, actually. But you look the spit of him. I mean, a real doppelgänger. That’s why I was so shocked. I thought I’d seen a ghost. But I don’t believe in ghosts. And you’re obviously not one yourself!”

“No, Sheila, love, I’m not,” Simon laughed. Although, underneath his laugh, he felt a bit uneasy. Did he really look the spit of someone who had lived in this place, someone who was now dead? It was surreal. Maybe the people here had been so traumatised by this Matt’s death that they were all in a state of shock and wanted to think they’d seen him come back from the dead? That was weird. He felt like he was in the middle of some creepy horror story. Maybe it wasn’t such a good place to hang around.

“I know this might seem odd,” Sheila was saying, “But you really do look like Matt. Only he didn’t have a beard. Well, not until his last weeks when he took leave from the force. He went downhill a bit. Oh, not that your beard makes you look as if you’ve gone downhill!” Sheila stopped for a minute and looked flustered.

“We have to make sure that Lauren doesn’t see you,” she went on. “If Lauren sees you, she’ll think she’s going mad like I did just then, and whoever else it was who saw you yesterday must have thought… I’m sorry, love, but you’ll have to leave, because it’s going to be too tricky for you to stay.”

Simon sighed. “Well, at least let me have a drink first – that’s if Laura, or did you say Lauren – isn’t about to come in any time now? Look, I’ll sit quietly and discreetly in the corner, I won’t let anyone who comes in see my face, and then if you honestly think I’m going to be upsetting people, I’ll be on my way. Shame, as I thought this looked like a nice place to stay. In fact, look, I’ll put my shades on, that will disguise me, so I don’t look like the bloke who died. I’m sorry to hear about the loss, by the way.”

Sheila got up to pour Simon a drink. “No, sit down, love,” he said, “In fact, why don’t you come and sit over in the corner with me, keep me company, while you recover. You had a shock, I feel a bit responsible.”

For once, Sheila did as she was bid. He seemed like a decent enough man. But she still couldn’t get over the fact that he was so much like poor Matt. The same chiselled cheek bones, the lovely eyes, everything was so familiar and yet somehow different. He even sounded a lot like Matt. Now that was odd. The man poured himself a beer, and took that and Sheila’s water over to the corner table.

“So, can I ask what you are doing in our little old suburb?” Sheila enquired.

Simon took a swig of beer. “I’ve been travelling around the country a bit,” he replied. “I’m from Queensland. I wanted a bit of a change, I had a few things to think about, you know how it is. So I took to the open road, to give me some space.”

“Oh,” said Sheila, forgetting the uncanny resemblance for a minute, as she loved a good natter –which is what made her so good at her job – “I have a friend, well – I don’t know him that well personally but he’s from these parts and came back to visit recently – he did the same as you. He’s travelled around for a good few years now. But he’s retired. How have you been surviving, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Inheritance.” Simon answered. Sheila put her hand to her mouth.

“Oh, I’m sorry, love, you’ve had a bereavement too, that’s sad.”

“Well.” Simon said, “to be honest, we weren’t that close, me and my old mum. She was disappointed in me because I never married and gave her grandchildren. Dad died a long time ago. I never wanted for anything, they weren’t rich but the house, that was worth a few thousand dollars, and I’d been in a dead-beat job over in the Northern Territory so I thought I’d take off. Nothing to stop me. And as I said, I needed to think about a few things. So, if you don’t mind me asking, if it’s not too painful, what was this Matt bloke like, who I’m apparently the spit of?”

“Oh,” smiled Sheila, “Matt was a good egg. As I said, he had a few problems before he died. But he was a good egg. A bit shy for a policeman, very definite ideas of right and wrong, loved his family to bits. But they’d had a few dramas in the time leading up to his death. His wife, that’s Lauren, well she found out her first baby that she had with Brad – he lives in the street with his wife Terese – the baby hadn’t died after all. Lauren’s mother had her secretly adopted out, and let Lauren think she’d died. And Brad hadn’t even known she’d ever existed up to that point! I know, it’s crazy isn’t it. Anyway, Lauren and Brad went looking for the daughter. And they found her. So now she’s here with her mother and her sister. Well, and her half brother and sister, that’s Brad and Tereses’s twins.”

Wowza! Simon struggled to keep up with Sheila’s chat. It sounded like a bit of a mess, and now the poor bloke Matt was dead. And he’d thought that this seemed like a sleepy place where nothing ever happened!

“I’m adopted too,” Simon told Sheila. “I only found out after my mother passed on. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to get away. I had to get my head straight. To think about whether or not I want to find my birth family. I still can’t decide. It’s a brain-ache. One day I think I do. The next, I say what if they don’t want to know me. My birth mother might not want to see me. She might be married with other children and never told anyone about me. She might be dead, I guess.”

“Oh, you poor love,” said Sheila, sympathetically, “That must be a real conundrum. Do you know anything about your birth family? Or haven’t you checked anything out yet?”

“Nope.” Simon shook his head. “Still not sure if I want to or not.”

A thought was starting to form in Sheila’s mind. No, it was too far-fetched. It had to be coincidence that he looked like Matt. But he looked so much like Matt. Sheila had never remembered Matt mentioning that he’d been adopted. But then why would he? No one in Erinsborough knew much about Matt’s family. He never mentioned them much in conversation. She gleaned that they hadn’t been that close. This Simon, he couldn’t be Matt’s long-lost twin. Could he?

Sheila and the man, Simon, who was the spit of the late Matt, stared at each other.

“You don’t think …” Simon began, then stopped short.

“Look, I don’t know, love,” said Sheila, “but there is a chance. I don’t know much about Matt’s family. Even if you wanted to find out, now isn’t a good time for a complete stranger looking exactly like Matt rocking up on the Turner’s doorstep. All I can say is this: if you do want to find out, lie low, make sure you aren’t spotted, and don’t come too near Ramsay Street until we’ve checked out a few things. I can get Lauren to chat about Matt in a nice way, remembering the happy times, and maybe ask around a few other people. There’s a woman, Susan Kennedy, she’s very good at finding out things.”

Sheila paused for a minute, before continuing. “Between you and me, Susan’s a bit of a sticky-beak. Nothing like me, of course. I always know when to mind my own business. But I could get her on board. That’s if you want. Because, you sure do look just like Matt. Remember though, the Turners might not be able to deal with it right now. Oh, and the daughter’s preggers with her ex’s baby as well, that’s Brad and Terese’s boy. They’ve got a lot going on.”

Good grief, thought Simon. This family – or should he say those two families – sounded like pretty dysfunctional ones. He still hadn’t quite got his head around all of the ins and outs of who had been married to whom, babies, pregnancies, lost children. It was like one of those soap operas his mother had been so fond of watching!

“Sure thing. I get that,” Simon nodded, looking at his now almost-empty glass. “I won’t shoot through. I’ll hang around, but lie low. If this all turns out to be a coincidence, I’ll move on, I don’t want to upset anyone. Tell you something, it feels odd to think I might have had a twin I’ll never know. I can tell you something else too. I can’t shake off the fact that I feel at home here somehow, almost as if I belong. That’s weird. I don’t really believe in all that stuff. But if I did have a twin…”

Sheila exchanged mobile numbers with Simon. What an extraordinary morning, she mused. It seemed that Simon had been spotted by Terese Willis, and then by Sonya Rebecchi: one apparently apparently ‘ample up top’, the other ‘wearing a kaftan thing.’ No mistake there then, Sheila thought with a smile, although she knew this was no laughing matter. She was going to have to get Terese and Sonya together. She remembered then that she’d seen Terese looking a bit startled when she ran into her in Harold’s the day before. Strewth, she must have hit the nail on the head by saying Terese looked like she’d seen a ghost!

“It’s me, and it’s very urgent and top secret,” Sheila said to Terese, on the phone. “I can’t tell you what it’s about until I’ve got you and Sonya together. But you have to believe me, this is between us three for the time being.”

“I can’t think what’s going on,” Sonya said to Terese, on the way round to Sheila’s place that evening. “Sheila sounded very worried when she phoned. I’ve had to get Susan to babysit, as Toadie’s playing pool with the others.”

“I know, it’s odd,” Terese agreed, in a disgruntled tone. “And I had to rearrange my plans too. It’s probably about something trivial, but you know Sheila. She likes to make something out of nothing. Look at how she nearly started World War Three when one of her gnomes went missing!” Sonya giggled. That was true of Sheila, she was fiercely protective of her gnomes, and some of the neighbours had taken to moving them around for light entertainment. Terese didn’t articulate her thoughts to Sonya, but she was feeling edgy that she’d been ‘summoned’ when she’d planned a quiet, and hopefully romantic night in with Brad. Brad wasn’t very good at enjoying his own company, and she really didn’t want him popping over to check on Lauren when she was out. Sooner or later, Lauren had to learn to cope without him.

Sheila knew she’d have to keep quiet until she’d spoken with Terese and Sonya. Hopefully, both of them could keep it under their hats and then, maybe they could include Susan in the discovery. But certainly no one else, not yet. She hoped that she was doing the right thing, by discussing it with Terese and Sonya. But evidently, they’d thought the same thing as her, and it needed dealing with before poor Lauren saw this man Simon for herself.

As Sheila related what had happened in the bar that day, Terese and Sonya looked at each other, and at Sheila, in horror. “I know you both saw him too,” Sheila said, “and that you separately both thought you were going mad, seeing a ghost. That’s why I fainted when he walked into The Water Hole. It was such a shock!”

“But-what-so?” Sonya gabbled, trying to get her head around the idea. “So, this guy, Simon, he knows he’s adopted, and maybe Matt was adopted too, you’re wondering? And Matt might have been the twin that Simon never knew he had?”

“That’s about it,” Sheila nodded. “We need to work on a way of getting to the truth without upsetting Lauren. Sonya, maybe you could get her talking. Or do you think Lucy Robinson would know anything? She and Lauren were pretty close when they were young. Did they stay in touch after Lauren went to live with her mum? Lauren might have told Lucy stuff about Matt when she first met him.”

“Yes! Yes! Maybe.We have to do something.” Sonya said, still rather flustered. “And I’ve just thought of another thing. Nell doesn’t really understand about what happened to Matt, I mean, she’s too young to know about death, and, well, when we saw this guy, she was yelling to him, ‘Hello Matt!’ I’m scared that now she’s talking more, she’ll go and say to Lauren ‘We saw Matt!’ or something. Oh, this is a nightmare!”

Terese’s head was spinning too. Of course, she was relieved that she wasn’t going mad and seeing apparitions of dead police officers. But she knew that a discovery of a possible twin of Matt’s could have repercussions for Lauren. And who would Lauren lean on in this latest crisis? Yes, Brad. Maybe it wasn’t true. Maybe this guy just happened to look a lot like Matt. Terese hadn’t seen him all that close-up, and in some lights, people looked similar. Sonya was a bit airy-fairy and so she might be fooled. But then, Sheila must have seen him close up, and seemed so sure. Sheila was one for straight talking: she wouldn’t say he was the spit of Matt if he wasn’t. Although, she was fond of exaggerating over some things. She once complained that a customer was ‘practically groping her’ when the poor man was only swatting away a bee that was about to sting her. Terese sighed. She didn’t really know what to think any more. This was alien to Terese, not knowing what to think. She hated not being in control of things.

The women agreed that they should Skype Lucy, on the pretext of catching up with her and with Chris, who had followed Lucy to New York and was having a ball, by all accounts. They had to wait until a lot later in the evening, so that it was breakfast time in New York, but Sheila said this couldn’t wait till the next day. Terese was becoming a bit anxious, and aware that she was gulping down her wine at a faster rate than she knew was sensible. An evening in the company of Sheila and Sonya wasn’t her idea of fun at the best of times. Should she text Brad to say she was going to be a bit later home than planned? Or would that look as if she was checking up on him? She decided against it but she knew she wasn’t being unreasonable to feel suspicious, given the past.

Lucy was, understandably, astounded at what she was being told. Unfortunately though, she didn’t have a clue about whether or not Matt had been adopted. “It’s a long shot, surely?” she said to her Erinsborough friends. “I know that Lauren mentioned once that Matt’s mother was a bit older than the average mum. So, she might have been in her early forties when Matt was born. Other than that, there isn’t much I can help you with. Matt’s dad had a drink problem when he was growing up. I know his mum died a few years ago. But his dad’s still alive. He’s not that well, I don’t think. He probably wouldn’t be ready to talk about anything to do with Matt, so soon after losing him. He and Matt weren’t especially close, but I know the old guy was devastated when he got the news.”

Sheila, Sonya and Terese looked at one another. This wasn’t what they’d hoped for.

“Then maybe we need to get Mark on board,” Sheila suggested. Terese rolled her eyes. Sheila had a fondness for Mark Brennan, and still had hopes of him and her daughter Naomi getting together for good. They’d dated but it was a very on-off thing. Sheila ‘just knew’ that Mark was the one for Naomi, if only her stubborn daughter could see it too. She had long despaired of Naomi’s choice of men, and she was cross that she seemed to have let a good one slip away. Any excuse to get Mark Brennan on board in a ‘good turn’ scenario would be a chance to show Naomi what she was missing.

Mind you, Terese thought, Mark was clever. He was a detective by rights, and at heart, and the fact he had returned to the police force in the rôle of constable didn’t mean that he wouldn’t win back a promotion to his former status. This type of investigation was bound to appeal to him. Why not get him involved? He had mentioned last week that he was taking a trip to Queensland to visit family, so while he was there, he could call on Matt’s dad. He could make the excuse that he wanted to pay a tribute to a fondly-remembered colleague. Get the old man talking and he might just let something out of the bag. Sonya was in agreement – she was a big fan of Mark’s too, and she knew he’d conduct things in a sensitive manner. He’d be easily persuaded. One cuddle from Nell and he’d be onside in no time. Where Sonya and Toadie’s toddler daughter Nell was concerned, Mark was a big softie.

Everyone in Erinsborough knew that you had to run anything past Susan Kennedy before you went ahead, thought Terese. It didn’t matter if it was what you wanted to cook for supper, the choice of colour for your new sofa, or discussing a relationship crisis; Susan was the wise woman of the street with all the answers, and she wouldn’t take kindly to being kept out of the loop. Besides, she was as sharp as a knife and she’d know if something was going on behind her back. The only thing she hadn’t ever known about before it happened was her own husband’s past indiscretions, Terese thought with a wry smile. But that was behind the Kennedy couple now. Karl was heading into late middle age in a more amiable manner, and his only unfulfilled dream was his ambition of becoming a world-renowned singing star with his band, The Right Prescription. Susan relished being involved with neighbours’ conundrums, and she might come up with some sound advice. Yes, Terese thought, maybe including Susan in all this was a good thing.

Simon had taken on board that he needed to lie low in case he was spotted. He found a place to park his camper van away from the immediate area, but the women he’d encountered had promised to keep him on board with any developments. Jeez. He was gobsmacked by all these possibilities. What an odd bunch they were in this place. Although, maybe not all of them were odd. He’d caught a sneaky glimpse of that Sheila’s daughter when he was in the bar. She hadn’t seen him looking, but he had to admit, when she rushed in during his chat at the corner table with Sheila and shouted something about ‘Sorry Mum, can’t stop, got to go and check out that designer handbag,’ before rushing out again, he had to look again. She was an attractive girl, alright. If she was up for it, he wouldn’t mind a date with her. If he could ever get this odd mystery or mix-up sorted, that was.

Soon, both Susan and Mark were in on the secret of Simon. In fact, pretty much everyone but the Turner family knew about it. Erinsborough was a small community, and news travelled fast. But they took care of their own, and there wasn’t a soul who would want Lauren or her children to have a dreadful shock, not after the bereavement. It had happened once before, to poor Kate Ramsay, when she thought Mark was dead and it turned out he’d been in witness protection all along. How ironically sad that Mark hadn’t ever been dead, and then Kate’s life was to end so abruptly after their brief reunion.

Mark agreed to call on Matt’s dad in Queensland. “But, Matt’s dad’s an old man,” he reminded everyone. “We don’t know what state of mind he’s in. I can play it a bit more personal and make out I knew Matt for a bit longer than I did. I’ll tell him what a good man his son was, and give him a story or two about catching a crim, you know, get him onside. There’s no telling it will encourage him to say anything about Matt’s childhood, though. Matt mentioned a few times that his dad was a man of few words.”

“Maybe he wasn’t adopted then,” Sheila remarked, “that sounds so much like the Matt we knew and loved. A man of few words. He even got stuck for words when we had the public speaking event.”

Mark felt awkward as he approached the house in Queensland a few days later, having been given the address discreetly, via a bit of digging from Daniel Robinson, who would do anything to protect his girlfriend Amber from any hurt. Mark wasn’t even sure what he was going to say to Matt’s dad. Poor old bloke, he’d just lost his only child, so he could hardly come out with ‘A man turned up in Erinsborough who’s the spit of your dead son and we wondered if they were twins who’d been adopted,’ now could he? Mark loved detective work, and this was something he was doing out of the goodness of his heart. However, he also hated being underhand when dealing with people who weren’t criminals, just ordinary folk caught up unwittingly in some complex situation or other. He rang the doorbell, and after a minute or two, a man perhaps in his mid to late seventies answered. He looked broken, sad.

“Mr Turner, you don’t know me but I was in the area and I’m a friend and colleague of your late son, Matt,” Mark began. “I know this might be difficult, but I just wanted to pay my own personal respects to him and say how much we miss him in the neighbourhood.” He paused, and hoped that the old man would invite him in.

“You’d better step inside I suppose,” the man replied, not giving much away by his expression, other than the grief that the past few months must have brought him.

“Cup of tea?” Matt’s dad offered. “ I’m not sure I’ve got any sugar, if you like sugar. But if you’ll take it as it comes, then you’re welcome. I’m afraid I haven’t got biscuits either. I don’t get many unexpected visitors.”

Mark found himself searching the old man’s face for any signs of similarity to Matt’s. Surely they had the same eyes? The jawline looked similar too. Maybe this was all a big mistake, and the fact that Simon bore an uncanny resemblance to Matt was just chance, nothing more.

“He didn’t visit regularly since they moved to Erinsborough,” the old man said, setting two mugs of tea down on the kitchen table, his hands trembling a little. “I’m Matthew senior, by the way. Bet Matt never talked about me that much?”

“Er, well, he didn’t give much away about himself, ” Mark began cautiously, “but that was part of his nature.”

Matthew senior chuckled. “Chip off,” he said. “We Turners don’t tend to do small talk. Always was an awkward child at conversation. You didn’t need much out here. There are open fields, and animals, so what need is there for talking? My Lorna, she could talk, mind you. She made up for me and Matt. Maybe we men couldn’t get a word in.” He chuckled again, and then looked saddened.

“What I’d give for a bit of small-talk nowadays,” Matthew went on. “I used to like chatting on the phone with the grandkids, but they’re so busy these days. And now Matt’s gone, Lauren doesn’t know what to say to me.”

There was no adoption, Mark could tell. This man was definitely Matt’s biological father. You only had to look at his mannerisms for a few minutes and you could see the likenesses. Mark felt a bit of a low-life, drudging up painful memories for a bereaved old man. Only one way to play it now and that was to ask genuine questions about Matt’s childhood that might give his dad a shred of comfort. After all, until the last few weeks of Matt’s life, he had indeed been a wholly good and upright man with a sense of family and right and wrong. Matthew really looked like he needed to hear this.

“Did he always want to be a policeman?” Mark enquired. “He made a good cop I can tell you. He always said he learned his values when he was very small.” (This wasn’t quite true, as Matt had never said a lot about his past, but it didn’t hurt to bend the truth just this once.)

“Oh yes, since he was about seven,” Matthew said. “I’ve got some photos somewhere, he used to play cops and robbers and he once pretended Lorna was a robber and shut her in the outhouse till she had to bang on the door for me to come let her out. Full of imagination, that one!”

Mark smiled. This chat did seem to be cheering Matthew up and Mark felt a bit better about it. Besides, it was actually nice to hear things about Matt that he’d never known. Mark and Matt had had their differences, but he had genuinely liked the guy. And Mark knew for himself just how painful loss could be, and how in time, it helped to talk about your loved one.

“He caught Alan Thompson taking sweets from Rhona’s Stores once, and he tried to make a citizens arrest on him,” Matthew said, visibly relaxing a bit. “They were both nine. He got a shiner for his troubles, but he was determined he wasn’t going to let crime get out of hand in the area, that’s what he said. We did laugh. But he meant it.”

Mark could well believe this of Matt, and smiled again as Matthew continued, “Lorna tried to over-protect him a bit you know, but Matt wasn’t having any of it. He was very independent. Shy, but independent, and didn’t seem to need lots of friends. Lorna was always scared that he’d grow away from her. He was all she ever wanted. She couldn’t have one of her own, you know.”

Mark sat bolt upright in the chair and nearly spilt his mug of tea. “Oh, so… you mean, Matt was adopted, then?” He said. Maybe there was something in this whole story after all.

“Not exactly,” Matthew replied. He sighed, looking weary. “It was messy. I didn’t behave well, I know. Early on in our marriage, we went through a rough spell. And later, I strayed. Though I do regret it, I don’t regret the result. You see, Matt was born to the girl I had a quick fling with. She wasn’t from round here, she worked in the local hotel. When her parents found out she was pregnant, they sent her to a mother and baby home. You did in those days. To avoid the scandal. When Lorna learnt about the affair, she was heartbroken of course, and I was very sorry. Then we got to know about the baby through someone working in the hotel, and it all seemed to make sense. The girl and her parents were in agreement. We put the wheels in motion and at least I could give Lorna what she really longed for, a baby. And we could make our marriage work. I think trying to have a baby and failing had pushed us apart, so this was our chance to be happy. When Matt was three months old, we picked him up from the mother and baby home and that was that. But we never told him about Lorna not being his real mum. She made me swear not to. It was the least I could do in the circumstances.”

These revelations left Mark longing for a stiff drink but, knowing of Matthew Turner senior’s past battle with alcohol, he thought better of suggesting it. So, Simon could have been a twin? Had Matthew and Lorna known Matt had been a twin? Mark tried to think on his feet. How could he possibly break this to Matthew if he didn’t know already? It could give the poor old guy a heart attack if it wasn’t handled properly.

If Mark hadn’t known about Matthew Turner senior’s past battle with alcohol, he’d have loved a stiff drink right now. So, Simon could have been a twin? Had Matthew and Lorna known Matt had been a twin? Mark tried to think on his feet. How could he possibly break this to Matthew if he didn’t know already? It could give the poor old guy a heart attack if it wasn’t handled properly.

“You did the right thing,” Mark told Matthew. “Matt said he had a happy, country childhood. He clearly had loving parents, and no one is perfect, so I’m sure he would have understood if he’d known about your fling.”

This seemed to please Matthew, so Mark thought maybe he’d risk moving the conversation on a little.

“Look, Matthew, I know this might sound like an odd question, and you don’t have to answer it and I’m sorry if you think it’s too nosey… but, are you sure the girl, um, Matt’s biological mum, had one baby? She didn’t have twins?”

It was Matthew’s turn to look shocked. “How the devil did you guess?” he said. “As a matter of fact, she did. But the other one died, apparently. It often happened back then, twins didn’t have the same chance of survival as they do today, and they were born two months early. Shame, as we’d have had both babies. But that’s life for you, eh?”

So what on earth could Mark say now? He could hardly say, actually, I think the other baby might not have died but been adopted by another couple. Too much. God, what was it about babies being adopted when people thought they’d died? Only last year they’d had all the drama in Ramsay Street with Paige Smith turning up. Mark had got to know Paige well, on a few occasions. Very well, in fact. And there was certainly no-one more alive and kicking than feisty Paige!

Mark knew he’d have to try and find out the rest from Simon’s side of the picture. Which mother and baby home Matt’s real mother had been sent to, official records, all that stuff. He couldn’t take this any further with Matthew right now. Sure, Simon had a right to find out about his real family, but this was going to cause such a tremendous shock. And Mark Brennan felt as if he had been landed right slap bang in the middle of it all.


This writing is unauthorised fan-fiction based upon the Australian television serial Neighbours. It remixes characters and places from pre-existing Neighbours narratives with new characters and plot-lines to tell an original story. It is not a copy nor an adaptation of any known story-line(s) from that serial.

The author makes no claim that any rights-holders of Neighbours – in particular FreemantleMedia Australia Pty Ltd and FreemantleMedia Operations BV – have made any any endorsement whatsoever of this writing.


This story and original characters are © 2015 Carol Ann Wood, all rights reserved.

Originally published May 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
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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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Remembering Matt Turner

The ‘Perfect Blend’ not the ‘Perfect Bland

I’ve watched Neighbours for most of the thirty years it’s been aired, apart from a brief spell during the late 1990s when our family first moved to Cambridge, UK, from rural Norfolk, and I was in a period of personal transition. I stopped watching a lot of TV for a while, in order to reassess my personal ambitions and to get my creative mojo back on track. Well, that sounds impressive doesn’t it, but in reality, I was unemployed and kidding myself that I wrote for a living. Mostly, I didn’t make a living, and in order to contribute to the family coffers (or fund my shoe habit and my Chelsea FC season-ticket) I went back into the workplace. Then, after finishing work one day in the early noughties, I absent-mindedly flicked through the TV channels, and suddenly, there were my ‘old friends’ of Ramsey Street. There were newcomers to get to know, but some of the characters were just as I had remembered them when my children were young, and the show seemed to have retained its quirky charm. No other soap opera, to my knowledge, has featured a dog’s dream, or involved quite so many comedic episodes of characters getting locked out of their houses when naked. And although man-with-no-pants is a recycled scenario, it never fails to make me smile.

A fondness for one character

But I’m not writing this piece about Neighbours as a whole. With the thirtieth anniversary episodes in full flow, I’ll leave that to others. I want to talk about the fondness I’ve felt for one Ramsey Street character since his arrival in the spring of 2013, and why Cambridge will probably run out of boxed tissues when I watch the sad death of Senior Constable Matt Turner – formally Sergeant Turner until the force demoted him for a minor misdemeanour. (I was incensed, of course.) At first, Matt, played by the lovely Josef Brown, didn’t feature heavily on my radar for a couple of months. I remembered that Matt had been referred to at various points over the years by Lou, but only in passing as Lauren’s other half, and he’d had at least one name change, as is the norm on Neighbours. It’s a long-running joke amongst the stalwart fans that the writers have little regard for continuity of name or age if it gets in the way of a good story. We refer to the ageing as SOPRAS. (Soap opera rapid ageing syndrome.) Well, I say Matt didn’t feature on my radar, that’s apart from the ‘Wow, Matt has gorgeous eyes, and a lovely smile when he isn’t frowning, and he looks great in uniform’ reaction. Hell yes. Let’s be honest here, Matt, (or should I say Josef, really) is easy on the eye!

More to Matt than met the eye?

We soon discovered that the oldest Turner child, Mason, was in what the Aussies quaintly refer to as ‘Juvie’ (which makes juvenile detention sound like the next educational step after ‘Kindie’ (Kindergarten). It was revealed that Mason’s incarceration was the result of Matt shopping his own son. Youngest child Bailey was also involved in the crime but Matt had apparently covered for him. Matt initially seemed so straightforward but you could see that this story had legs. This was proven to be the case when we first saw a very bitter and angry Mason arrive on the street – the tension between father and son was played out perfectly by Josef and Taylor Glockner. Whereas some Neighbours viewers still insisted that Matt was ‘boring.’ I have always tended to think beyond this basic premise, and am more inclined to believe that ‘boring’ characters are written and played that way for a reason. Perhaps their character will develop and change. They might have a secret or a side to them which has not yet been revealed. Maybe that’s because I’m a creative writer myself, because I’ve enjoyed taking part in amateur dramatics, or perhaps because I work in a university, supporting students in drama and film. On one module, the lecturer had worked on the production of Neighbours: I learnt a lot about soap characterisation and casting, as well as the technical abilities required to create successful and long-running TV drama.

When the actor understands the character

Wondering quite why I was so intrigued by Matt (hunk factor aside) I made a point of listening to, and reading, interviews which Josef had given about playing him. Aha! I was right. Having had an extensive career as a dancer as well as other acting rôles, Josef explained why playing someone like Matt appealed. He clearly had great insight into Matt’s character. Matt, Josef explained, saw things in a very black and white way. He had a strong sense of justice, and could sometimes be very stubborn. He was a strong believer in family values and would do anything to protect and nurture his clan. His stubbornness was often an annoyance for his loved ones, and sadly, his misguided pride was what finally caused him to slide into a dark world from which there would be no way back. I’m not sure how much Josef enjoyed the spectacle of Matt going down this uncharacteristic path in his final weeks, (I’m pretty sure he wasn’t keen on Matt’s liaison with Sharon Canning) but it serves to show how anyone can be tempted to act against their better judgement when a financial and emotional crisis looms large.

Give me a regular guy

Personally, I have never been a fan of the all-out bad-boy character in soaps. I regard  Stefan Dennis as a fine actor, playing Paul Robinson, and I understand why soaps need those characters, but I’ve never thought, “Ooh, he’s so devious, what a cheat, but you can’t help love him.” I’ve learnt that this sets me apart from a lot of other soap viewers. I guess, for some, soap is pure escapism, to alleviate life’s boredom or frustrations. These viewers want excitement, so they’re not going to be gripped by Matt discussing how best to discipline Bailey, or by Lauren tutting if he’d forgotten to call in to the butchers to get supper ingredients on the way home. (Butchers? We have never seen one in Neighbours and I don’t imagine non-carnivore Josef would have been impressed if he had to be seen in said butchers!) So, contrary to some viewers, I enjoy a portrayal of a good-at-heart, loving family man, with all his faults and well-meant but sometimes misguided words and actions. Much like someone we probably all know and love in real life, but who can also make us cringe. (Matt asking Bailey if he wanted to ‘hang out’ in the garden shed and make his mother a spice rack was one such moment. Er, Matt, no, he doesn’t!) Those moments are sweet, touching, and provide us with realism. And not all realism always has to be gritty to be watchable. Similarly, the time that Matt simply put his arms around his daughter when she had messed up her love-life was tear-jerking. That’s what you want your dad to do in a crisis. Yes, Matt was disappointed in Amber’s actions, but he wanted to show her that he was there for her. Tender Matt was also exemplified when the story emerged that Lauren had previously had a baby with Brad, her ex-boyfriend, twenty years earlier. It was awkward enough for Matt living across the street from his wife’s ex-lover, but for her to have kept secret the birth of a child? What partner wouldn’t have been shocked? True to form, Matt went moody and silent, unable to process his emotions, until his love and loyalty towards Lauren shone through. Oh, that scene on the veranda! I was in bits! But Lauren also discovered that her baby hadn’t died, as mother Kathy had led her believe, and instead was swiftly (and unofficially) adopted. Matt had to face the fact that Lauren and Brad would want to trace this daughter. He was hurting, and probably felt threatened by the new dynamics. A few Neighbours fans commented that surely Matt should just accept this new situation without question. Well hang on, emotions are a bit more complex than that. I reflected on the ‘what if’ that I had once discussed with my husband. What if an adult child had turned up announcing that he was their father? What if the mother was someone I knew had been his first love? I’d always said I’d be generous and accommodating, but on reflection, the reality might have been different. Ultimately though, generous-hearted Matt was able to put his own misgivings aside and give Brad and Lauren the go-ahead to search for their child.

Just a kiss?

Then came That Kiss, in Brad and Lauren’s search for their daughter. Oh my! And as this is Soap-Land, Matt, and Terese, Brad’s glamorous business-minded wife, would doubtless find out. “FFS!” wrote someone on a Neighbours Facebook page, “It was only a kiss. Can’t Matt and Terese get over it?” Okay, they are actors playing rôles, but what the writers are doing here is trying to replicate real life. And in real life, if you discovered your partner had kissed their ex-lover, albeit in an emotion-fuelled moment which they both regretted immediately, you probably wouldn’t ‘get over it’ without questioning your relationship. You might feel feel hurt, betrayed and threatened, at least until you’d worked it through. In fact, Josef himself felt compelled to write a very forthright response to this storyline for the fans, because of the attention it received on social media. Again, great insight and reflection from the actor. For me, one of the most heart-wrenching scenes, after Matt learned of the betrayal, was when he said he’d known he was ‘lucky to get Lauren’ and had always thought he loved her more than she loved him. It wasn’t just the script that was moving, it was the look in Matt’s eyes. Sad, soulful, hurt. And that’s ‘dull’? In my view, the whole scenario was beautifully acted by Josef and by Kate Kendall, and was indicative of how devastating the affects of something like this can be.

Cops just want to have fun?

Matt came across as someone who wanted to let his hair down a bit more but, when you’re a neighbour, friend and serving police officer to the whole street, that must be a difficult balance. And he had to put up with a lot of criticism from the likes of Paul, who always saw him as some country bumpkin plod, which made Matt even more defensive and uptight. I always felt cross when he dismissed Matt in this way. I would have liked for Matt to have nailed Paul for something during his tenure, but sadly that is not to be, other than in my fan fiction. I think that the writers might have developed Matt’s character further if he hadn’t been killed off. I liked the humour involved when he agreed to be a life model for Lauren’s art class, thinking that she would be the only artist present. You just knew where this was going and that Sheila Canning would definitely be in the front row, sizing Matt up and having a good old oggle. My husband, not a viewer, watched that particular scene and remarked on how well it was acted. He knows little about the characters apart from the basics but noted Matt’s priceless facial expression, sweat dripping off his brow, realising he would be revealing his ‘all’ to quite a few female residents of Ramsey Street. Until Bailey found out and set off the Community Centre fire alarm. (Spoilsports, writers!)

A slice of life

I always appreciated how the writers conveyed Matt’s (endearing) awkwardness through use of somewhat old-fashioned language. Matt once commented to father-in-law Lou “I know you think I’m strait-laced.” What others thought of him was of great importance to Matt. I believe there was a phrase akin to ‘bibbity-bobitty-boo’ once, too. It’s am embarrassing parental expression that many of us can identify with. As someone who once ran up to a young Premiership footballer (freshly-arrived from Nigeria) shouting “Oh Baba,” (a nickname derived from his family name) “I love you!” causing my then-teenage son major embarrassment, I understand how this happens. I felt sad for Matt when he tried to show his romantic side, coming home with a bunch of flowers, only to be met with Lauren engaged in an intense discussion over the latest teen crisis. There he stood, smiling, waiting to be noticed and for Lauren to thank him for the flowers. She didn’t. He slipped off dejectedly and went to put the flowers in water. And this is a slice of real life. Haven’t most of us had moments like that, when you’re so preoccupied with something that seems important, and overlooked the feelings of a loved one? I know I have. Pre-internet, I once interrupted an anniversary meal in a restaurant to phone a friend. I’d overheard a woman at the next table say that the then Chelsea FC manager had been sacked. (And yes, I did feel suitably ashamed afterwards.) Matt was always eager to please. He had secretly arranged the renewal of his wedding vows, unaware that Lauren was busy kissing Brad and wishing she hadn’t. Poor, sweet Matt. He’d struggled to write a poem after Karl had given him advice on song lyrics, but then he eventually came up with his own words, poignant and heartfelt. Unfortunately, we viewers knew that Lauren had a guilty secret and that Matt was going to be hurt. Again. The time when he learnt to dance, too, was an indication of how much he sought Lauren’s admiration. He was determined to show her that she made the right choice in marrying him and that Brad was firmly in the past. Maybe it was as much to reassure himself. Brad could dance, but Matt could learn. How funny it must have been for Josef with his esteemed dance career, to have to play the part of a ballroom novice!

Always the protector

I once asked Josef during an online Q and A if he would like Matt to have more of his backstory revealed. He replied that he would, as he thought it would be interesting. Alas, we won’t ever know any more now, unless Lauren reveals it in a future storyline, or she has a visit from one of her late husband’s relatives. All we did get to know, which arose when Bailey had a drink problem, was that Matt’s dad had a drink problem when Matt was growing up. I ‘filled in’ the gaps, because I think that’s what a writer always wants to do. In my imagination, Matt joined the police force because he was looking for some kind of stability and purpose in his life. He had not always had a close relationship with his dad, and at times he felt that he should have protected his mother from his dad’s dark moods whenever his drinking reached crisis point. He felt that by joining the force, he would be looking out for others and protecting them. Since then, it’s been his main aim in life – to look out for  his family and the community in a way that his father failed to look out for him and his mum. Ultimately for Matt, that sense of wanting to be the protector and the main breadwinner led to his downfall and untimely death. If only he hadn’t felt such a sense of failure because he ‘couldn’t provide’ for his family. Initially, he reluctantly accepted that the house had been bought by Kathy, albeit to appease her own guilt over Paige, and put into her grandchildren’s names. But as soon as the cat was out of the bag and his children knew they owned the property, that dratted pride took over and drove him to desperate acts. In my Neighbours Facebook chat group, they insist on no spoilers, and I’ve always respected that, although I am personally not adverse to knowing stories ahead. It is a long-running joke in the group that I have great affection for Matt. When the story screens in the UK, the regular chatters will be wondering how I’ll react. Some of them have already noted my lack of comments about Matt’s current plunge into despair and guilt over his dirty money gained from working for Dimato. They are probably wondering why I’m not screaming “No! Matt, this is all wrong, you can’t do it!” Or, “I am going to get the writers to bring me in as a hit woman who kills off Dimato.” I’ve gone quiet on Matt but those who don’t read spoilers will soon know why.

Reading between the lines

In truth, the clues had been there that Matt was probably going to be written out. Firstly, seeing a spoiler photo of him and Brennan, both in uniform. Usually, there’s only one regular Ramsey Street character in the police force. Then when they brought in the new opening credits in the autumn, I noticed straight away that Matt wasn’t in the same scene as Lauren and the girls. Instead, he was seen walking alongside Lou and Bailey. It’s easier to edit out a cast member from such a scene, if it’s a pre-planned exit they want to keep secret for a while. Furthermore, Josef’s references to filming had petered out. I had previously enjoyed reading his tweets about scenes, and he occasionally gave subtle clues about future story lines with an accompanying photo. One such photo was the filming of the Tornado story, when he tweeted that people would be ‘blown away’ by the acting that day. Another was a shot of him looking decidedly dapper in a Bugsy Malone-type suit. Followers were invited to guess what it might be about. Some of his fans guessed correctly that it was connected with Kyle and Georgia’s wedding. Often, I answered Josef’s ‘riddles’ with silly things I knew darn well wouldn’t be the right answer: Matt looked worried because he had just broken the last of the dinner set which had been a wedding present and favourite of Lauren’s. Matt was in the dog-house because he had left the orange juice out of the fridge. It was fun. However, late last year, Josef ceased mentioning filming. Spoilers are obviously against the contractual rules, and all he had said in an interview which he did with co-star Kate Kendall, was that there would be gritty story lines ahead for Matt. That made me fear the end was nigh, although I didn’t yet know what that end would be …

Actors are real people

When Matt’s exit is aired in the UK, I’m expecting comments from fellow-fans who will immediately think “Oh! Carol will be gutted!” I will, of course, miss Matt Turner like crazy. He will always have a special place in my soap-heart. That said, he wasn’t real, and, unlike some soap fans, I can separate the characters from the actors. I’m not going to turn into some crazy, deluded person who constantly implores the writers to “Bring back Matt-who-Is-Not-Dead-But-Just-In-Witness-Protection so that he and Lauren can have the happy ending they deserve.” Characters are fictional, but the actors who play them do not exist solely to entertain us. They live in the real world too, with their loved ones and with their personal life-dramas, ambitions and aspirations. They deserve respect and have a right to privacy. And as the fate of the characters they play is often out of their control, it is also futile to beg and implore the actor to return to a soap. Josef the actor is an interesting and inspirational person who has a lot of beliefs and values that I greatly admire. I am glad that by taking a rôle in Neighbours, he came to my attention. I will continue watching Neighbours, but I am also looking forward to following Josef’s next career move, in whatever direction it takes him. So, Josef, thank you for taking time out of your very busy days to respond to all the Neighbours-related tweets from me and from other fans. Thank you for entertaining us as Matt. And even if, as you’ve said in interview, you aren’t like Matt in every way, I think you’ll take a little bit of him with you for old time’s sake. You did say ‘willy-nilly’ after all, during the backstage video! I hope we get to see you in another TV rôle in the future. But in the meantime, I guess I may have to resort to watching every episode of Neighbours from spring 2013 till April 2015, UK time. Now that’s one sort of Groundhog Day that I won’t mind a bit!

© Carol Ann Wood
April 2015

Edited: Wed 8 April 2015 to replace ‘March 2012‘ with ‘spring 2013’ in the penultimate sentence.


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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Bye Bye Bailey

Considering he’s only been in Ramsey Street for just over two years, Bailey Turner, played by Calen McKenzie, has had some pretty interesting story lines. From almost the minute he arrived with parents Lauren and Matt and sister Amber, we had a sense that being a geeky and studious schoolboy was not the sum total of his personality. We learned quite soon that he had been sucked into older brother Mason’s criminal activities and, when you’re the son of a policeman, that’s inevitably going to cause problems!

With his floppy fringe, Bailey sometimes reminded me of a young Brian Cox, astronomer and former pop star. Which is interesting, given the teen’s interest in the stars. Physically, we’ve seen Bailey grow from a lad with a voice in that awkward stage between having just broken but not quite of adult depth, to a more mature-sounding young man. But, emotionally, he’s had a lot to deal with. From failed romances to covering up yet more of Mason’s criminal involvement, witnessing the emotional conflicts of his parents, the discovery that he was not baby number three for his mother, but in fact, the forth child, to a very dangerous liaison with Gem Reeves (Kathryn Beck) a young, attractive teacher at his school.

Forbidden Love

Wow, pretty heavy, then! It’s not the first time Neighbours have tackled the illicit love storyline between pupil and teacher. Libby Kennedy and later, Kate Ramsay, both had dalliances of some sort with a schoolboy. I imagine that this scenario is one that the writers will have thought carefully about in each instance, given the time of day the show is aired in Australia, and the limits on what they’re allowed to do with the narrative. Bailey’s crush on Gem was hard for any fans of his to watch, because we knew, of course, what Bailey had not realised: Gem was manipulative and, as it turned out, mentally unstable, and was using Bailey, first persuading him to cover up her rigging of the school captaincy votes, and taking advantage of his IT skills so she could ruin cousin Georgia’s engagement party. Gem also convinced Bailey that she had withdrawn his application for the trip to China because she couldn’t bear to be apart from him, and poor Bailey fell for it. Oh, Bailes!

Shy Boy

From my perspective, Bailey’s apparent awkwardness around girls was always rather endearing. Maybe I likened him to his father. Matt revealed his own moments of awkwardness, such as the time he had to arrest his wife and stepdaughter for their topless protest outside Lassiters. It is therefore easy to imagine Matt having been awkward around girls at Bailey’s age, too. Hence, I might have surmised that Bailey was a ‘chip off the old block’ in that respect. Whilst Bailey undoubtedly had a cute look which would appeal to girls, his friend, and sometimes ‘frenemy’, Callum, always had the greater gift of the gab. Callum styled himself as the funny one of the duo. First, there was the Josie triangle, with Bailey losing out to Calum for her affections, and then Rani Kapoor. Although Rani started seeing Callum, ultimately, it was Bailey who won her heart, at least for a while. But not without much drama, like the time Bailey nearly died as the result of a fight between him and Callum when he fell into the pool! You felt for Callum when Rani decided she wanted Bailey, of course, but on another level, you wanted Bailey to win out, for once. That, too, was short lived when Rani and her father left for India after the death of Rani’s mother. Bailey had lost again.

Misunderstood

I think Bailey always felt overshadowed by his older siblings, and different from his peers, because of his love of school subjects and hobbies they considered geeky. It was nice that, when Paige had been accepted into the family – albeit grudgingly at first by some members – Bailey seemed to have found an ally in his new half-sibling. They bonded because they found they had quite a bit in common, not something which was immediately apparent. Paige being the eldest, and Bailey the youngest, meant that they had more of an opportunity to become close without the rivalry and jostling for position that often occurs in families where several children are close together in age. And of course, he hadn’t grown up with Paige. Paige was starting to persuade Bailey to be comfortable with himself and his interests. She was an outsider too, and it’s a shame we won’t see more of the pair having frank conversations.

Initially, when Alice appeared on the scene, I wasn’t entirely sure about Bailey’s relationship with her. I would have preferred him to grow more assertive. Alice seemed so confident and even a little mean, and for a while he seemed to be under her control. Again I found myself feeling embarrassed on his behalf when she conned him into having a special photo shoot done to boost his Space Camp application. Maybe, though, this showed us that she wasn’t as confident as she would have us believe, and that she genuinely saw Bailey as strong competition for the place. As Alice revealed her more vulnerable, softer side, I did grow to like her, and although I didn’t want to see Bailey leave at that point, I was disappointed that Alice was successful in getting accepted for Space Camp. I would like to have seen if their relationship could develop. Additionally, I loved the character of Alice’s grandma, whom I thought might have made an interesting regular cast member. I could see her and Sheila in scenes together, for example. As I write, we have seen Alice back for a visit, and she and Bailey briefly reunited, but sadly, it was messy, in light of Bailey being in a state of shock and grief after Matt’s death.

Angry Young Man

Bailey’s emotional turmoil after losing his father was beautifully acted by Calen. It must have been emotionally exhausting to do those scenes: Tearful, angry, drunk, and physically violent. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that he had been to blame for his dad’s downhill slide before he was knocked down and killed. After all, it was Bailey who befriended a Russian girl online, who turned out to be a fraudster. It was Bailey who had used Paige’s laptop without permission, leading to the sibling’s bank accounts details being accessed and the money from the house sale to their parents being stolen. And Bailey’s guilt deepened further when Matt took the second job to help meet the mortgage repayments. Bailey saw his father start drinking, unaware that he had also accepted a backhander from Dodgy Dimato and was struggling to come to terms with his actions. We had previously witnessed Bailey develop a drink problem himself. Initially because he was trying to deal with the bullying inflicted by Jayden Warley, son of the bossy, often bitchy, Sue Parker, and then, out of guilt for the problems he had caused his family. Now his dad was drinking too, and things were definitely not rosy between his parents. For a sensitive sixteen-year-old like Bailey, that’s a lot of issues to deal with. All the guilt and self-hatred Bailey was  feeling came tumbling out after Matt died, and spiralled out of control. Should Lauren have delayed the decision to tell her children about the real reason their dad had been granted six months long-service leave? Was that what tipped Bailey totally over the edge? Lauren was still in shock when she made the decision, so with hindsight, she might wish she had kept quiet, at least for a while longer, and maybe Bailey would have been strong enough to deal with it.

As with any young character, there are times when some viewers might have wished that Bailey would grow up/get over it/stop acting like a spoilt brat. Well yes, he did act like a spoilt brat at times. But this rings true for those of us who have brought up teenagers – it’s how teenagers often behave! Let’s face it, it’s darn hard being young sometimes, and as I said, Bailey had quite a lot to cope with! With regards Bailey’s less traumatic scenes, I think one of my favourites was when he set off the fire alarm to spare his dad’s blushes after he’d agreed to pose nude for Lauren’s art class. And of course, to spare his own blushes. I enjoyed this not just because I was a huge fan of Matt, but because it exemplified that feeling of having to deal with ‘embarrassing dad syndrome’. You’re sixteen and your dad is about to do what in front of the neighbours? I can’t even begin to imagine what my own children would have said if my husband had been about to bare all to the people of our street!

Regrets, he’s had a few

I wouldn’t say I have ‘enjoyed’ the angry and grieving Bailey of late, because it really has been painful to watch, although it was probably believable that he should react this way, given his involvement in the loss of the money that led to his dad’s downfall. We need to remember, too, that Matt had covered for Bailey back in Mount Isa on discovery of the Turner brothers’ involvement in a robbery. That has to be a big risk for a police officer to take, and Bailey would have reflected on his dad’s loyalty, making him feel even more remorseful about his own online carelessness. Apart from ringing true, this story has shown another side to Bailey’s character and one which many fans of the show in my Facebook chat group have said that they appreciated in recent weeks.The saddest scene of all was when he spoke at his dad’s funeral. We knew that he was scared of public speaking, so the script writers were spot on when they showed Bailey plucking up the courage to say a few heartbreaking words. Little wonder, then, that he has since been devastated by the knowledge that his dad wasn’t as honest and straightforward as everyone believed. I am only glad that Bailey hasn’t discovered Matt’s liaison with Sharon Canning. He has been emotionally pummelled enough without learning about that.

So, Bailey has gone off to stay with his grandmother, Kathy. The same grandmother who gave away her daughter’s first baby without her knowledge, but who presumably feels a huge burden of guilt herself for the emotional turmoil that the discovery has caused her family. Maybe she feels that she owes it to Lauren to nurture Bailey and prevent him from further criminal actives.After all, he’s already stolen a car, impersonated a police officer and is on the path to alcohol addiction, so it’s probably is for the best that he left Erinsborough. Lauren is struggling to hold everything together, what with Amber’s pregnancy coming so soon after the wedding that never was, and Matt’s death. She currently seems to be at her wits end and doesn’t know how to deal with Bailey. It’s a shame, I feel, that Bailey recently chose to lash out at his half-sister, accusing Paige of using Matt’s death to get closer to Lauren. But you can see that Paige understands his reasoning and doesn’t hold a grudge towards him. At least they parted on better terms.

Leaving like flies?

So we wave farewell to yet another Turner/Carpenter family member. Just Lauren, Amber and Paige left now, as we know that Tom Oliver, who plays Lou, is cutting back on his rôle and won’t be making as many regular appearances. (Before anyone jumps to correct me, I do know that Paige’s adopted surname is Smith, but it wouldn’t have been advisable for her to change her surname to that of her mother!) I am sad about losing Bailey. I liked the Turner family as a unit, albeit a messy, blended, sometimes dysfunctional unit. I know that not everyone was as fond of them, but I enjoyed both the emotionally-charged stories they generated, and the every-day, familial dynamics, trials and tribulations. I want to believe that Bailey will flourish, eventually, and be able to come to terms with everything that has happened. I want him to gain self-confidence so that he isn’t as easily-led. Essentially he’s a ‘nice lad’ but one who needs to find his own place in the world.

Thank you, Calen, for your acting and the way that you’ve played Bailey’s character. I’m sure everyone who has enjoyed your presence on Neighbours will join me in wishing you well for the future. You clearly have a promising acting career ahead of you. But should you ever feel like popping back, don’t hesitate to make it known to the producers!

© Carol Ann Wood
May 2015


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Georgia On My Mind

Troubled Times

Georgia Brooks, cousin to Toadie, arrived in Erinsborough as a relatively mild-mannered girl with a sunny disposition, immediately differentiating her from the rest of the women in her family already known to viewers. Unless, that is, I’ve missed a mild-mannered Rebecchi or Timmins woman, but I doubt it! However, since her introduction, Georgia has been through some heart-wrenching stuff, and has emerged at the end of her stay on Ramsay Street as a more feisty individual, befitting of her clan.

We first encountered Georgia, brilliantly played by Saskia Hempele, when she came from the countryside to work at Erinsborough hospital, and to live with Toadie and his partner Sonya. As we know, Erinsborough hospital is employer to Doctor Karl Kennedy, medic extraordinaire, and so it’s no surprise that we would see Georgia also demonstrating skills beyond her status as (presumably) a general nurse. There was mileage in this girl!

First Impressions

Upon arrival, Georgia was – apparently happily – engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Scotty. However, it didn’t take a genius to predict that Georgia would not be happily engaged to him for much longer. Scotty’s appearance, and subsequent actions, would rock Georgia’s world, starting with his attempt to kiss Chris Papas, who was, by then, openly gay. Viewers could immediately feel sorry for Georgia and warm to her character. Nevertheless, we could also empathise with Scotty, who had clearly been in denial about being gay. It was poignant and sad to watch from the perspective of Georgia, as we knew she had to discover the truth, but uplifting that Scotty was finally able to be comfortable with who he really was.

This set the scene for Georgia to become one of the show’s love interests. Such a pretty, kind-hearted girl wasn’t likely to be single in a place like Ramsay Street for long. She had a ready list of admirers, including the egotistical Rhys Lawson, and the affable, down-to-earth Kyle Canning. You could tell that, even before she knew about Scotty being gay, she was struggling to see Kyle as just a friend. They had a definite spark, and the viewers knew where this might be going!

Before Georgia fully embarked on the (sometimes rocky) romance and subsequent marriage to Kyle, she was involved in a drugs scandal. Dealing with the aftermath of her break-up with Scotty, she had a brief flirtation with a patient, Pete Clark, who later rejected her advances. As a result of the embarrassment, Georgia had trouble sleeping, and became reliant on the strong sleeping pills that Karl prescribed for her. Her performance at work was affected, and on Karl’s advice, she took time off. It was an awful, messy time for her, and she made a big mistake in accepting more pills from Pete when Karl, concerned about her potential addiction, refused to prescribe her any more. When pills went missing from the hospital after Georgia’s return to work, and were later found in her sleeping bag, we could guess that it was Pete who had stolen them and framed her. Thankfully, after initially being sacked, it was Kyle who helped Georgia to clear her name. This was a sign that Georgia and Kyle were on their way to becoming the latest hot couple on the street.

Several plot-lines featuring Georgia stand out. I was in tears watching her read the e-mail print-out at her engagement party. We knew from a previous episode that the e-mail was one sent to Kyle from Kate Ramsay, and planted amongst the others by Georgia’s vindictive, jealous and deranged cousin Gem. How awful must it be, expecting to read out a congratulatory message, from someone purporting to be your best friend, only to find it reveals an infidelity between her and your fiancé? Heartbreaking. Granted, the moment of passion occurred when Kyle and Georgia were having emotional problems. Kyle’s temporary blindness, following the solar eclipse, put a strain on their relationship, and the pair were on a ‘sort of’ break.

Heartache ahead

We all knew that Kyle regretted the moment with Kate (who was confused and trying to deal with her real feelings for Mark Brennan). Nevertheless, it was horrible to watch Georgia feeling so betrayed and sad. The engagement having been broken-off, she would soon discover that she was pregnant with Kyle’s baby, just to add another strand to the story. Well, this is Neighbours. There’s always another strand to the story!

Having a miscarriage is something which we all understand as being a dreadful, painful experience, and anyone would have felt sorry for Georgia, and for Kyle, when it happened to them. The grief of their loss was compounded by the fact that they were still estranged at that point, but had tried to remain friends. Kyle had embarked on a relationship with Kate, but then ended it when he discovered Georgia was pregnant. It made me want to shout at the screen, “Georgia, you still love Kyle! You need each other!” But Georgia wasn’t yet ready to forgive Kyle’s infidelity. Kyle’s tribute at the memorial ceremony, which he had insisted on holding, for their lost child, was touching. I’m glad that the writers chose to portray Kyle in this way, as it was also a sign of the ‘beginning of a new beginning’ for them as a couple.

Out of sadness, comes light

Despite being cautious about reuniting with Kyle, Georgia, being Georgia, eventually forgave Kate’s part in the betrayal. It took a lot of talking from Kate to convince Georgia that she was genuinely sorry for the pain she had caused her, but their friendship was well on the way to being restored by the time Kate had become engaged to Mark. And it was Kate’s assurance, that Kyle and Georgia belonged together just like she and Mark, which were to stick in Georgia’s mind after Kate was gunned down. The aftermath saw Georgia reflecting on the fact that she and Kyle were afforded the second chance Kate and Mark would never enjoy. After Kyle and Georgia’s tender kiss, with the promise of happier times to come, Kyle dashed off to Thailand to help get his hapless cousin out of jail, and we were all greatly relieved when he returned so that he and Georgia could finally start their future.

I was disappointed when the writers decreed that Georgia had developed nodules on her vocal cords, ending her singing career. For, whilst we have enjoyed the fun of Karl and his band, The Right Prescription – given Karl’s over-inflated sense of his talents – Georgia’s singing career brought the show back to its long-standing tradition – reminiscent of Charlene and Nina – of having a female singer amongst the characters. I think the viewers have always appreciated that.

I half-expected Georgia to miraculously recover her voice in time for her wedding, defying the medical prognosis. But for once, the writers stuck to realism. Had Georgia regained her singing voice, I would have liked to have seen her write and perform a song about Erinsborough for the festival. I think it would have been well received by viewers and could have added a nice touch to the commemorative episodes.

Spats with Sheila

I loved the interaction between Georgia and Sheila, Kyle’s bossy but well-meaning grandmother. Sheila did eventually grow to love Georgia, although she was rather fond of interfering in Kyle’s love life and, at one point, she made it plain that she would have liked Kate to be the long-term partner for the lad. I think the writers wanted to convey how much Sheila cared about Kyle, and that, despite her ‘sticky-beak’ ways, her intentions were good. It has been mentioned a few times that Sheila practically brought Kyle up, in the absence of his estranged small-town criminal father Gary and ditzy mother, Sharon. However, even after Sheila’s over-the-top wedding planning, which didn’t exactly meet with Georgia’s approval, the relationship between the two women wasn’t plain sailing!

One scene that stands out in my mind was in the episode where Kyle and Georgia, slightly inebriated, decided to write joke thank-you emails to their wedding guests for their presents. They had no intention of sending them, of course. But, as this is Neighbours, you just knew that at least one of those e-mails was going to be inadvertently pinging its way through cyberspace. When it did, Georgia comically making connection with the ‘send’ key during a moment of passion with her new husband, there could only be one e-mail which got sent: that one to Sheila! Sheila was going to be less than happy with the pair’s ‘appreciation’ of the ‘ugly lamp’. I know I’m not the only one who laughed so hard over that. And I’d love to know where on earth the props department found such a monstrosity. (That’s the lamp, not Sheila, by the way. I’ll leave the rude remarks about Sheila to Lou Carpenter.)

The post-honeymoon scenes in the Lassiter’s suite when Kyle and Georgia had secretly returned early from their holiday were hilarious. Georgia persuading Kyle to dress as a naive Bell Boy bringing room service to her, she in the rôle of glamorous/mysterious foreigner, had me in stitches. (No nurse-related pun intended.) Equally notable for its comedy was when poor Kyle, missing overnight post-tornado, was discovered – safe and well but smelling of poo – trapped in a portable toilet. It’s a pity that we won’t get more scenes like these between him and Georgia.

Framed – again!

Recently we have seen Georgia experience more distressing and sombre events, set in train by nasty Doctor Nick Petrides, brother of Terese Willis. Not only was Nick a sleaze who made a bet with Paul Robinson that he could get Georgia into bed, there was worse to come from the smooth-talking medic. And poor Georgia was embroiled in the whole sorry saga. No-one would believe her when she suspected that Nick was up to something dodgy to gain Paul’s support for setting up his cancer centre. No-one else picked up on any of the clues, but Georgia was ruthless in her attempts to expose him. Viewers were about to see just what she was made of, as she refused to back off. Having realised that Georgia was becoming suspicious, Nick played the grudge card and claimed that she was out for revenge for the bet with Paul. Hacking her Twitter account, he tweeted a piece of confidential information about a celebrity patient and, as a result, Georgia was suspended from work.

Georgia’s suspension from the hospital, however, didn’t deter her from her goal of exposing Nick’s deception. She was relentless in her determination to clear her own name and to prove that Nick wasn’t the medical hero everyone else seemed to believe. She was the first to doubt that Paul’s leukaemia diagnosis was genuine, and risked a criminal record when she broke into Nick’s hotel room and stole medical records from his laptop. Viewers might have wondered why neither Karl nor Paul were suspicious long before this stage. Surely Paul would have got a second opinion on his diagnosis and treatment? And wouldn’t Karl have thought it strange that Paul was ‘cured’ so fast?

Perhaps the storyline exemplifies how a manipulative operator like Nick can con not only colleagues, but even a businessman, who was not without his own history of dodgy dealings. Yet Georgia – having earlier been fooled into thinking that Nick was helping further her career, only to overhear details of his wager with Paul – trusted her own intuitive judgement and never wavered from it, no matter how far-fetched others thought her suspicions. It was a relief for viewers when Nick was finally arrested.

Time to say goodbye?

However we knew by that point that Georgia’s mum’s cancer – mentioned earlier in Georgia’s time on Ramsay Street – had returned and that it was aggressive. When Georgia started researching into potential new treatments for her mum, and found a programme available in Germany, it was a strong hint that Georgia might be on her way out of Ramsay Street.

When a popular actor wants to move on, we have to respect that. Then you hope that they’re written out in a sympathetic way. Moreover, we didn’t want another death, especially not coming so soon after Matt’s demise. On reflection, this probably was the best outcome we could hope for. Georgia is a compassionate person, and has had to make a very difficult decision. That Kyle has decided not to go with her is a bit of a conundrum for those who yearn for a ‘happy ever after’ story. We didn’t want to lose Kyle too, because he’s also popular, but we didn’t want Kyle and Georgia to go the way of many other couples and split up. This way, at least for a while, we might get to hear of whether Georgia’s mum’s treatment is working, and presumably we will see Kyle struggle to cope without Georgia by his side.

Whether the writers will choose to demonstrate that long-distance love doesn’t work remains to be seen. I hope they don’t. And given that it happened to Kyle with Jade, I don’t want see him go through that again. But this doesn’t just depend on the writers or producers, it may also depend upon whether or not Chris Milligan, who plays Kyle, wants to continue in the rôle for any length of time. I have enjoyed Kyle and Georgia as a couple, and I will miss Georgia as a character. She is, undoubtedly, right for Kyle. She’s his soulmate, his rock, and his steadying influence. Georgia can stop Kyle being impetuous and immature, from making the wrong decisions, and sometimes, from being a bit of a dummy.

Saskia, you’ve been a pleasure to watch as Georgia. I, and many others, will miss you. Please let the writers know from me that we don’t want Kyle going too wild without her. Let’s have a bit of moping, and a few drunken nights with the lads. Let’s see him working hard on his new contract and saving for the future family they hope to raise. But let’s not have any straying. We need him to keep his sweet Georgia firmly on his mind!

© Carol Ann Wood
June 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
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Carol’s football-related blog: Levelling the Playing-Field
NOT Just Saying: Carol’s comments on feminism, fashion, food and folly
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What A Sheila!

When Sheila Canning, played by the fabulous Colette Mann, first appeared on Ramsay Street, I have to admit I wasn’t immediately taken with her. There, I’ve said it. I initially thought Kyle’s grandmother an annoying, interfering woman, and wondered why she felt the need to come along and start telling him how to live his life, and whom to date.

But I soon gleaned that there was more to Sheila than being interfering. So, where to start? Sheila’s character has many sides to it, and although she is a bit of a sticky-beak, she is also kind, compassionate, funny, and a wonderful example of a matriarch in action. The softer side of Sheila was revealed when we learnt that she’d not had the best of relationships with her children. Her daughter Naomi had been involved in relationships with unsuitable men. When Sheila had found out that one such man was married, she told his wife about the affair, and Naomi became estranged from her mum as a result of this meddling. Naomi’s brother Gary was apparently a feckless small-town layabout who’d shot through. Viewers could tell that Sheila had regrets about her children and that she probably felt partly responsible for the way they’d turned out, even if she didn’t openly admit to it. She had gone some way to make up for this feeling of failure, by raising her grandson Kyle after his father had left. And evidently, she hadn’t had had much choice, given that Kyle’s mother Sharon was not a responsible parent either.

Sheila was probably lonely when she arrived in Ramsay Street, and also thought that Kyle needed guidance so that he didn’t turn out like Gary. So this very blonde, very bubbly, very floral and very forthright lady was not going to be a brief encounter for the residents of Erinsborough. Within a few weeks of watching her clip clopping across the street in her court shoes, I found myself thinking that she was the best new female character on the show in a long while. Soon enough, Sheila’s antics had me in hysterics, and my husband, who doesn’t follow the show, is often party to my giggles from the next room. He knows that when this happens, Neighbours is having a ‘Sheila moment’.

Sheila is one of those people who is hilarious without realising it. For starters, she sees others, such as Susan Kennedy, as a sticky-beak, yet doesn’t recognise this trait in herself! Most of us probably know a real-life Sheila, at whom we might roll our eyes and remark, “Oh dear, whatever will she do next!” The writers, and Colette, have done a fantastic job of relaying this to the viewers. She manages to get herself into some tricky, often inadvisable situations. Because Sheila does whatever she thinks is right at the time, and if that means taking risks to protect her loved ones, she’ll do it. She manages to wriggle out of many an escapade without repercussions. She’s the kind of person who can talk her way out of trouble, much to the irritation of others around her who don’t possess the same skill.

When it suits her, Sheila is not above playing up to the rôle of vulnerable older woman. Especially since her heat attack. Her ‘near-faints’ are priceless, when she uses them to get her own way. Including the best choice of cake from the Erinsborough festival, when she persuaded Harold that she needed to eat so that she didn’t pass out. When Sheila puts on that simpering voice, we’re reminded of drama-queens we know in real life. I always think of my Nanna, who had a ‘telephone voice’ which was very false. I understand from reading an interview with Colette that the writers trust her to interpret this aspect of Sheila’s personality – which she has perfected: Colette, acting as Sheila, putting on an act.

Sheila’s spats with Lou Carpenter have been a joy to watch. I am personally glad that the writers chose to keep them as friends, rather than them becoming a couple. Sometimes it’s good to include a scenario where two people never cross that line, even though their relationship has the classic elements of love-hate chemistry. Lou’s barbed comments about Sheila’s dancing at Matt and Lauren’s wedding vow renewal had her huffing and puffing, her infamous pout forming. And you knew that she would get her revenge. Here we have two people who will always want to get the better of one another and have the last word.

Sheila also has a love-hate relationship with her boss, Paul Robinson. She realises, especially with hindsight after Ezra Hanley’s brief reign as Lassiter’s hotel owner, that Paul may be an annoying ‘moneybags’ but she has managed to tease a little bit of softness out of him. And knowing what we do of Paul Robinson, that’s no mean feat! She doesn’t, nevertheless, see him as husband material for Naomi, and has gone to great lengths to keep the two apart. Currently, we don’t know where this storyline is going, but let’s just say that – should Sheila’s ongoing plan not work, and Paul and Naomi become a permanent item – we can expect more shenanigans from our Sheila.

I have two favourite comedy story-lines involving Sheila, which I could happily re-watch numerous times, knowing that they will always make me laugh. One is the night she and Paul inadvertently spent in the cold store at the Water Hole. All because ‘Moneybags’ had ignored Sheila’s nagging that the door of the store needed fixing. And on checking up on Sheila’s stocktaking, he closed the dodgy door, trapping them inside. As I watched Paul and Sheila resort to huddling together for warmth, the the chorus of Cornershop’s Brimful Of Asha springs to mind: ‘Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow’. Even when it’s Sheila Canning’s bosom that’s giving the comfort. And it got even funnier when Sheila had the bright idea of using cling film to insulate them. This was Neighbours comedy gold. There were also poignant moments: what would two people do when they’re trapped together – literally – in a cold store for the night and wonder if they’ll succumb to hypothermia? They’d talk. And Sheila and Paul certainly talked. When they were rescued in the morning, they shared a moment of private laughter. I felt then that Sheila and Paul’s relationship had shifted very slightly. They had both seen a different side to one another, even though you could guess that they’d never speak of it again, and in public would soon be back to their usual selves!

My other favourite Sheila moment was that dream. It was probably the most surreal, silly scene since Bouncer the dog’s dream all those years ago. Sheila had read Karl Kennedy’s novel The Book Of Secrets which the residents suspected was loosely-based on people in the street. But, at the time, Sheila believed its author was Lou. And so, she dreamt of Lou, and of Paul, which disturbed her. What did it mean? This was such a treat for the lovers of classic Neighbours comedy. If you’d had a bad day when this episode was aired, it provided the perfect antidote.

Another unforgettable ‘Sheila moment’ was when Lauren had asked Matt to pose for her art class, in the belief that she would be the only artist present. When I heard that this storyline was coming up – I don’t normally read spoilers but as a huge fan of Matt, I couldn’t resist – I just knew that, somehow, a few other people would end up being there, and that one of them would be Sheila. Sheila, bless her, has a penchant for being a cougar, (at least, in her mind) and wouldn’t miss the chance to see one of the local constabulary in the buff. The scene was wonderfully acted. Matt (Josef Brown) had beads of sweat on his brow as he stood there in just a towel, realising to his horror that several female residents of the street were about to see him au naturel. The camera panned to Sheila: Now, as any artist knows, positioning the pencil for perspective is normal practice. But the way Sheila waved her pencil somehow made it hilarious. You didn’t need dialogue to see what was going through this minx’s mind. And she clearly picked up on Matt’s nervousness and played up to it for all she was worth.

Sheila even did what many other females on Ramsay street haven’t, but might love to: Snogged Mark Brennan. The shocked look on his face as he managed to break free said ‘did she really just do that?!’ She had done so primarily in order to stop Mark chatting up a girl in the bar, because Sheila was sure that Naomi was the one for Constable Brennan. But you couldn’t help think she she had been waiting for the flimsiest of excuses to lock lips with the cop. Sheila is incorrigible!

Sheila’s vulnerability has also been portrayed well. Her aforementioned flawed relationship with two of her children has pained her. Largely, she and Naomi have resolved their differences, but the fact of their personalities means that the two will always clash. I was pleased when Sheila stopped blaming Naomi for her father’s fatal heart attack. We were told that Frank doted on his daughter and spoilt her, and was greatly disappointed when she begun a relationship with an older, married man. We could see that Sheila would have to learn to let go of bitter feelings of resentment in order to mend her relationship with Naomi. She will, however, always want to have her say in Naomi’s chequered love-life. She successfully managed to steer her away from her pursuit of Toadie, and thus avoid a repeat of the past. Luckily it was easier this time around, as Toadie, despite forming a friendly bond with Naomi, wasn’t about to commit adultery.

Sadly for Sheila, she wasn’t able to mend any fences with son Gary. You got a sense that where Gary was concerned, she was in denial. No mother wants to admit that her child has turned out to be a ‘bad egg’ and she had probably always hoped that one day, he would see the error of his ways and return as the prodigal son. Naomi referred to him as ‘the golden child’ and obviously felt angry that Sheila could not see through his guise. Naomi had also kept the truth about Gary’s past a secret from Sheila. And when Gary turned up in Erinsborough after being tracked down by Georgia, he was happy to continue letting his mother believe that he’d played no part in the robbery in Frankston.

Sheila’s ultimate learning of Gary’s lies was hard to watch. How must it feel to face the fact that your son abandoned his family to save himself? And then, after his return and subsequent promise to stay out of trouble, he had acted as Paul Robinson’s heavy man, beating up Ezra Hanley. The realisation that he hadn’t changed led to Sheila’s heart attack. I was greatly relieved when Sheila recovered and in what seemed like no time at all – real-time for Erinsborough – she was back behind the bar of the Waterhole, chatting, gossiping, advising, and being the Sheila we have come to know and love.

Sheila is such a strong character that I can envisage many more great story lines being written for her. I would relish a scene where Sheila reminisces about her teenage years. I imagine it going something like this: A girl’s night out and a few drinks in, the older women of Erinsborough start getting competitive about their misspent youth. Sheila would be the perfect character to relive her escapades from the 1960s. I see Sheila telling the others about going to the local dances in her mini skirts, with a beehive hairdo. I see Sheila telling them of the time she had to climb out of a restroom window in order to escape the advances of an undesirable man. And probably getting stuck half-in half-out, knowing her.

That I’m able to imagine Sheila being young is an example of how Colette has made the character so believable. We see the whole Sheila, not just one side of her, and we can understand her emotions, even if we do cringe at her sometimes. If Ramsay Street were real, and I was a resident, I would always look for Sheila to buck me up and to give me a few down-to-earth words of advice, no matter how bossy she is. I’d be cheered by her kindness, and reassured by her presence. Everyone needs a Sheila to turn to when they’re down.

I could recount many more enjoyable scenes involving Sheila, but I’d never finish this article! Recently, we got so see her dressed as Dolly Parton at Paige’s fancy dress party, which just seemed perfect. And Sheila being frustrated when silenced by lockjaw was an ingenious scripting. (Imagine what Lou will say if he gets to hear of it!) Colette, we salute you and thank you for the way that you bring such a vibrant character to life. I hope we will be watching Sheila Canning for a long time to come. For me and, I imagine, for many other fans, she is definitely my ‘bosom for a pillow’ when I settle down to watch my favourite soap.

© Carol Ann Wood
July 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


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Terese Willis: More Sinned Against Than Sinning

When diminutive Terese Willis strode into Ramsay Street in her wrap-dresses and high heels, her husband Brad and teenage twins in tow, viewers could tell tell that this was a woman with a big personality, who would become central to future story lines. My first impression of Terese was that she didn’t seem over-motherly, given that she had three children. She was very career-focused, perfectly groomed, and businesslike in manner. Some long-time viewers compared her personality unfavourably to that of Lauren Turner, whom we all knew was Brad’s old flame. They remarked that they had always felt Brad and Lauren belonged together, and had been disappointed when he eventually chose to marry Beth. After Terese’s introduction to the show, we learnt that Terese had been the ‘other woman’ who had broken up Brad and Beth’s marriage (albeit all off-screen) so perhaps this was another reason people didn’t warm to her. How could she be justified in feeling insecure about Lauren and Brad’s history, when she had been involved in a marriage break-up herself, some fans reasoned?

Paul met his professional match

But, maybe that’s too harsh an opinion of Terese. This was not a black and white, right and wrong situation. Brad could have been partly to blame for the demise of his first marriage, and if we look back at the 1990s love-triangle between Brad, Beth and Lauren, we can see that he dithered considerably over which of them he wanted to be with. We were first introduced to Terese when Lucy Robinson invited her to Erinsborough and offered her the job of hotel manager, unbeknown to Lucy’s brother Paul. Terese had been working at another branch of the Lassiters’s chain, and was the family breadwinner whilst Brad was busy coaching Josh in his promising swimming career. Once she had got the measure of Paul, Terese decided the job offer was too good to turn down. Paul was angry about his sister’s underhand dealings, but Terese was hired as it was immediately apparent that she would be a valuable asset to the hotel. Viewers knew that Paul had met his professional match; Terese was not one to be patronised or put down. This was going to be an interesting work dynamic.

Terese had to accept that the move to Erinsborough meant she would be living across the street from Lauren, a fact of which she was initially – albeit reluctantly – accepting. If Terese had reservations, she probably told herself not to be silly, that Lauren and Brad split up over twenty years ago, and besides, Lauren was seemingly happily married to Matt. Brad had been a loyal husband up until now, so why should Terese get hot under the collar about someone he dated long ago? Determined that things would work out in Erinsborough, Terese made a point of being openly friendly towards Lauren. However, you couldn’t help but wonder, was she trying too hard, and was she really as okay with things as she made out?

Terese had not bargained for all that was to occur after the family relocation. Let’s think about what she has had to contend with. First came the revelation that Lauren had a baby by Brad over twenty years ago, something which also came as a shock to Brad. Then, news that the baby had not died as Lauren had always been led to believe by her mother Kathy, but adopted out, illegally. Brad and Lauren decided they wanted to search for their long-lost daughter. It’s easy to say that Terese should have been fully supportive of this decision, but if if we were in her situation, would we be generous of heart and unreservedly accepting of it? I’m not sure it would be that straightforward. Understandably, Terese was concerned, not only for the impact it might have on her marriage, but on her and Brad’s children: Imogen, Josh and Piper already had one half-sibling, Ned, and now another might be introduced to the clan. How might this alter the family dynamics?

Inextricably linked to the Turners

We realise now that Terese had good reason to be concerned, certainly with regards her marriage. When Brad and Lauren shared a kiss during their search for Paige (then known as Lily, Lauren’s intended name for her) you could guess the tryst wouldn’t be secret for long. Next up was Paige’s arrival and, after she eventually revealed her true identity, her birth parents started bonding over her. It’s little wonder that Terese felt put out. Brad and Lauren spent their time being smitten with the daughter they wanted to get to know. Meanwhile, Terese and Matt both felt sidelined in their respective marriages. Then there was Josh, who had a great chance of getting to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, until he was injured in an accident which started as a stupid dare. And who was the one who encouraged him in this dare? Mason Turner. Wherever Terese turned, there was always some underlying connection to the Turners that inextricably linked the families together and brought further conflicting emotions to the fore. No wonder that the as-yet-unseen Piper is still in Canada on the longest school exchange programme in soap history. If the poor girl is aware of all the familial events of the last two years, she probably isn’t in a hurry to return to the fold!

Terese watched as Amber and Josh began a romance; yet another link to the Turners. She’s seen Josh broken-hearted as Amber cheated on him with Daniel Robinson, and then in another twist, Josh was revealed to be the father of Amber’s unborn baby when he ‘comforted her’ on the night of Amber and Daniel’s non-wedding. Added to that, we now learn the baby has a potentially serous medical condition. Another terse two-family debate about expensive medical treatment ensued. And let’s not forget Josh’s alcohol intolerance storyline, culminating in the punch that almost killed Chris Pappas. We had Imogen’s eating disorder and Terese’s vicious assault at the hands of Ezra Hanley. Oh, and Terese’s brother, Doctor Nick Petrides, whom she’d idolised all her life, turning out to be a despicable conman. She found it difficult to accept the lengths Nick would go in order to get his cancer treatment centre funded. Well, I think I might have had difficulty with that one too! And to cap it all, Matt Turner had to go and get himself killed whilst saving Brad from the path of a speeding car. Poor Terese felt torn between being glad that Brad’s life was saved, and sorry about Matt. But when Brad revealed Matt’s last words had been to ask him to ‘look after Lauren’ it could only spell one thing: Trouble. All in all, then, quite a lot for Terese to brood on.

Terese: controlling or fragile?

Despite it being possible to empathise with Terese, it’s also true to say that she doesn’t always deal with situations appropriately. She has hidden behind trees and around corners to eavesdrop on Brad and Lauren, she has read Lauren’s journal and Paige’s text message. Contacting Paige’s adopted mother and telling her where Paige was living wasn’t really a good move, either. Terese was hoping, of course, for their reconciliation so that Paige might leave town with her mother. By Terese’s reckoning, this would give Brad less reason to be continually popping into the kitchen of Harold’s for secret chats and demonstrative hugs with Lauren. The reconciliation plan worked, but Paige has remained in Erinsborough, loyal to Lauren and her collective half-siblings. It doesn’t matter how much Terese tries to manipulate a situation, there always seems to be another problem to solve in order to keep her husband and Lauren at a distance. And Terese suspects that Paige isn’t the only one to romanticise about the two reuniting.

Terese might seem outwardly feisty and controlling at times, but if we look beyond that tough exterior, we can see a more fragile individual who just wants to feel secure and be the centre of her family. She doesn’t always endear herself to others in Ramsay street, sometimes appearing a little brisk and frosty. I believe it’s just a front. Terese doesn’t let her guard down and would hate anyone to think she wasn’t in control of every aspect of her life. (Who else comes downstairs from an afternoon nap wearing heels?) She’s used to organising, making decisions, and given the relatively poor background she’s come from, she’s had to work extra hard to make something of herself. She probably doesn’t want to reveal any vulnerabilities, either in business or personal life. We know, for instance, that she has always felt that Doug and Pam preferred their first daughter-in-law Beth, to her. On a brief visit, Doug made a flippant remark about Terese’s lack of culinary activity, and you could see that it hurt her, but she wasn’t about to let Doug know it. Terese, for all her outward capabilities, seeks approval in every compartment of her life. And if she can’t find the time to produce the freshly-cooked suppers that Pam and Doug would approve of, she makes breakfasts for her brood that would feed an average family for a week.

Unlike other characters about whom I have written recently for Perfect Blend, there are no classic comic moments which spring to mind when I think of Terese. She hasn’t been seen in the hot tub, and she hasn’t been locked in a portable toilet, or wrapped in cling film with Paul Robinson. I have, at times, longed to see a more light-hearted side to her, but given her heavy story lines, it’s unlikely that she’s going to be running across Ramsay street partially clothed any time soon. There was, however, one moment where her authoritative manner made me chuckle. It was a scene of a very serous nature: Terese was in the Lassiter’s corridor, when she saw Matt kissing Sharon Canning. She went into action in typical Terese-fashion, commanding a drunk Matt to open the bedroom door while Sharon was in the shower, and then ushering him firmly out of the room. She may have only come up to Matt’s waist in height, but her strong words brought him to his senses as well as his feet. It was wonderfully acted; Matt looking ashamed, Terese reprimanding him like a naughty schoolboy. True, Terese had probably acted so quickly because she didn’t want Lauren to end up single and available to Brad, but we could also see that she had an affinity with Matt and cared about him as a friend; the two had both shared the painful revelation of their respective spouses indiscretion. Terese had almost succumbed to revengeful temptation with Ezra Hanley but thankfully chose not to go through with it. She wasn’t about to let Matt make an awful mistake with Sharon which she knew he’d regret later.

Terese’s facial expressions convey her true emotions at every turn, and that’s because she’s wonderfully acted by Rebekah Elmaloglou. The words that come out of Terese’s mouth are not always what’s on her mind, but viewers have no difficulty in second-guessing whether she’s feeling angry, vengeful, insecure, hopeful or smug. Her facial expressions say it all. And that pout is priceless. As I write this, those of us watching at UK pace already know she’s hitting the bottle a bit. And now, Sheila has seen her stealing from the Lassiter’s wine store on CCTV. Whether this storyline develops into a full-blown portrayal of alcoholism remains to be seen. If so, I don’t doubt that Rebekah will play the rôle brilliantly. I can see endless potential for this multi-faceted character and I look forward to whatever the writers next have in store for Terese; although, I do implore them to give her a bit of respite now and then. She may not deal with situations in the best way, but she doesn’t deserve all that has been thrown at her. Terese Willis, is, arguably, a woman more sinned against than sinning.

© Carol Ann Wood
August 2015


Index of Posts:


Links:
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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
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You’ve Got A Friend In Sonya

There seem to be quite divided opinions with regards the character of Sonya Rebecchi, née Mitchell, given the comments I have heard and read from fellow Neighbours viewers since her arrival in Ramsay Street. Broadly speaking, Eve Morey’s wonderful portrayal of this vibrant, colourful character seems to have placed viewers into the ‘like’ or dislike’ camp with most major story lines she’s been involved in. And let’s face it, she’s had a fair few major stories!

I’m not going to attempt to recount everything Sonya has been through since her introduction to the show; there would not be enough space in one article. I want to look at the way Sonya handles situations, and what makes her tick, with particular focus on the current, dramatic storyline. Sonya is in for a very testing time in the coming months. Toadie’s paralysis is a huge and devastating thing for the couple to deal with, which will impact emotionally, physically and financially. Their lives have been changed, possibly for ever, if Toadie doesn’t walk again. We are familiar with Sonya’s vulnerabilities, given her previous addictions to gambling and alcohol. She’s a busy, working mother, and now she has to help Toadie adjust to life as a wheelchair user. How she deals with this will make compelling viewing, and I have no doubt that the writers will treat this storyline with sensitivity to portray the effect that unexpected disability has on an entire family.

 All things to all people

How well or otherwise Sonya copes with the situation will be partially shaped by her previous life experiences and the elements of her complex personality. Sonya is someone who has a strong need to be all things to all people. She is very intense, and cannot help herself becoming involved in the lives of her neighbours, whenever she senses that they are in trouble. This is what irritates some viewers, who comment that she needs to butt out and mind her own business. However, even if you think Sonya’s ways too interfering, you cannot argue that her compassion and empathy are insincere. She has Utilitarian ideals: she wants the greatest good for the greatest number of people. But Sonya also has an addictive personality, and the writers have shown us that she will have times when she’s tempted back into her old habits if she is stressed. Thus far, she’s always managed to pull herself back from the edge, but in part, this has been dependent on her ability to help others in their own recovery. Whether it’s other former gamblers like Lucas Fitzgerald and Chris’s mum, Patricia, or those with alcohol problems like Bailey Turner, and presently, Terese Willis, Sonya is there at the drop of a hat to lend support. This is sometimes regardless of whether the recipient is willing to accept help, or not. Sonya just isn’t capable of sitting back and watching others fall apart.

Maybe some viewers misunderstand Sonya’s intentions. She is remorseful about her own past, giving her heightened awareness of the misfortunes or erroneous ways of others. She doesn’t think she is morally better than anyone else; she recognises how easy it is to make bad decisions and hurt people the way that she once did. Sonya is an empath: she genuinely feels the pain of those around her, and believes that she has a duty to reach out to her neighbours in times of need. This renders her vulnerable and even a bit naive at times. We have become used to Susan and Karl Kennedy inviting near-strangers into their home over the years, and Sonya has followed in their footsteps. A man posing as her and Jade’s long-lost uncle Walter Mitchell was, in no time at all, living with the Rebecchis. Viewers sensed that this man wasn’t genuine: Sonya’s propensity to trust in people she doesn’t know very well often ends badly. She befriended Jacob, a single parent who was still grieving for his late wife, and when Jacob mistook this friendship for something more, it put a strain on Toadie and Sonya’s marriage. She took in her old friend Erin, even after discovering that it was she who had started a hate-campaign against her. Sonya’s weakness, if you can call it such, is that she believes she can save everyone. She sees the potential for good in people, which is a beautiful and admirable sentiment in life, but she needs to accept that not everyone is able to be saved from their mistakes. And, unfortunately, not everyone wants to be.

Intensity and inner guilt

Sonya puts her heart and soul into anything and everything in which she believes. She’s committed to vegetarianism and ecological issues, and running her plant nursery is important to her. Her intensity is not always an asset though. She – and Toadie to an extent – seem to fuss a little too much over toddler daughter Nell, but in Sonya’s case, it’s clear that this is because she feels an inner guilt at not being there for Calum when he was younger. That guilt includes the shock she gave Toadie and Callum with the revelation that she was Callum’s biological mother who had once abandoned him, and she’s been trying to compensate for this ever since. With Callum almost an adult, and currently studying in America, Sonya’s focus is on Nell, and she’s determined her daughter will receive undivided attention until she’s at least thirty!

Now that Toadie is disabled, the pair will have to guard against over-indulging Nell to compensate for the fact that her daddy cannot run around and play with her in the same way he did previously. Small children can adapt very quickly to the most radical of changes, but they are also very astute at playing situations for their own benefit. I can envisage Nell, adorable though she is, wrapping her parents round her little finger!

One aspect of Sonya’s personality that I especially love is her quirkiness. I like that she doesn’t conform to anyone else’s beliefs for the purpose of fitting in. She has a strong sense of fairness and justice, and this doesn’t always sit well with Toadie’s profession as a lawyer. We all know that part of a lawyer’s rôle is to clear the names of their clients, and Sonya has felt uncomfortable about some cases which Toadie has taken on, given that many have involved other residents of Ramsay Street. Sonya will not compromise on anything she feels strongly about, and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. Even though she knows people will not necessarily agree with her, she has a firm belief that, at some point, they will come round to her way of thinking or, at least, to respect her views.

Colourful kaftans and saucy outfits!

Sonya doesn’t even conform when it comes to apparel. I have read comments about the character’s dress sense which I think are unfair and judgemental. We all have our own preferred way of dressing. Why should Sonya dress like everyone else? And why would she? Some might call her a hippy type, or an earth-mother, but she is simply expressing part of her personality with her colourful kaftans. You couldn’t imagine her in a wrap-dress, à la Terese, or Va-Va-Voom heels like Naomi. I was therefore delighted when, after Naomi made a play for Toadie, we didn’t see Sonya having any anxiety about her appearance. Too often in soaps, when we see a husband pursued by a glamorous woman, we next see the wife agonising about changing her style.

This would have been a travesty for Sonya, and untrue to her character. Toadie, thankfully, did not cheat on Sonya with Naomi, and he definitely isn’t someone who places more emphasis on glamour than personality. He loves Sonya and thinks she is beautiful just as she is. And it’s clearly implied that the pair have enjoyed a healthy, happy love-life: The look on Sonya’s face when she opened the Mother’s Day gift Toadie had intended for mum Angie was a laugh-out-loud moment. One could only imagine the shock on Angie’s face when she received the saucy outfit meant for Sonya!

Returning to the current storyline, we don’t yet know the eventual outcome of Toadie’s paralysis. What we do know, is that in real life, there is often no fairy tale ending where the person in the wheelchair suddenly starts to feel movement in their legs, or gets up and walks for a special occasion. For most, paralysis is their future, and they have no choice but to accept it and adapt to it. Sonya will be torn between not wanting Toadie to give up hope of recovery and helping him accept that the wheelchair might be his for life. The viewers will also be torn, because whilst we acknowledge that the writers will want to make the story realistic, we want Toadie to walk again because he’s a popular character.

Philanthropic urges

Sonya now has to face re-evaluating her life. She is better at giving than receiving help, and although we can understand her irritation towards mother-in-law Angie, (which of us wouldn’t be irritated by Angie!) Sonya will need all the practical help that she can get. If that includes an occasional visit from Angie, she’ll have to accept it, even if it means having to button her lip when Angie makes one of her barbed comments. Both women, after all, love Toadie and want the best possible outcome for him. Sonya needs to work because Toadie is currently not earning. And she might have to curb her philanthropic urges. We have previously seen her agree to reduce her rôle with Gambler’s Anonymous, but she has continued to give herself freely to all who surround her. In her changed circumstances, will she still feel that urge to help anyone she encounters? Or will she focus entirely on Toadie’s rehabilitation/adjustment to the extent that he feels suffocated by her boundless positivity?

I hope that Sonya and Toadie come through this difficult period in their marriage relatively unscathed, albeit not unchanged, as that would be impossible. I especially hope that whatever the outcome of Toadie’s paralysis, Sonya doesn’t lose her way and start gambling or drinking again. Sonya and Toadie are good together, even if you remembered Toadie and Dee with fondness and hated the way that Dee was written out. Sonya is highly emotional, often over-anxious, excitable, and strong-willed. But she is also warm, intelligent, fun-loving, compassionate, fruity, and vivacious. In my opinion she is one of the best female characters to have been introduced into the show in recent years, for reasons of her personality. We’ve seen so much emotion from her, but there’s nothing to suggest that we cannot see a whole lot more. I would like to see Sonya and Toadie continuing as stalwarts of the street like Karl and Susan (but hopefully without any break-ups or affairs!) I want to see Sonya mellowing ever-so slightly without losing her vibrancy and positivity.

Eve, I admire you for being so believable in this rôle as the whirlwind that is Sonya. Sonya can be ‘a bit much to take’ at times, but, I can say without doubt that, if she were real, I would be very proud to have her as my friend. Although, if she rekindled her enthusiasm for naked dinner parties, I think I’d have to pass on that!

© Carol Ann Wood
September 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.