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Welcome Back Plain Jane… And Other Neighbours Characters I Wish Would Make A comeback

 

I was super excited when I heard that Annie Jones would be returning to Neighbours to reprise her role as ‘Plain Jane, Superbrain,’ Jane Harris. Jane was one of my favourite characters in the Aussie soap and a reminder of when Neighbours was in it’s heyday, on BBC1 and on twice a day. I thought Jane and Mike Young were very sweet together, couldn’t understand why she’d agreed to marry Des Clark, and hoped that she’d return to Erinsborough when she left Ramsay Street to go to England to take care of her grandmother, Mrs. Mangel. And Jane did indeed return – twenty nine years later! Gone were the glamorous looks and sense of style that made her the Lassiter’s Girl, and instead we found an eccentric, younger version of Nell Mangel.

I’m very glad that Jane is slowly reverting back to her stylish ways but sorry that Annie Jones’ trip back to Erinsborough will be a very brief one. Hopefully she’ll be back. But in the meanwhile it got me thinking about former Neighbours’ characters who I would love to see back in the Street again.

1. SCOTT AND CHARLENE

I think it goes without saying that we would all absolutely without a shadow of a doubt want the eternal king and queen of Ramsay Street to return, as the most famous cul-de-sac in the world has never been the same since Scott and Charlene left for a new life in Brisbane. Even though it was great meeting their kids, Daniel and Maddie, we would still love for Mr. and Mrs. Robinson to at the very least make a flying visit. It occurred to me the other day that there’s a whole new younger generation of Neighbours fans who’ll never know just how iconic Scott and Charlene were, so perhaps it’s time the characters came back but seeing as these are two roles that can NEVER be recast, I think it’s fair to say that we’ll never see Scott and Charlene back on the Street as I can’t see Ms. Minogue or Mr. Donovan in any hurry to return to Erinsborough.

2.THE ALESSI TWINS

If my memory serves me right, I think there have been four sets of twins who have appeared in the soap including the current set of twins, the Tanarkas. But I think Caroline and Christina Alessi were probably the only twins on Ramsay Street to have been played by real-life twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney. The Blakeneys bring back memories of Neighbours and life in general in the early 90’s. Twin -mania really took off as Gayle and Gillian seemed to be on every TV show and every magazine cover at the time – they even had a pop career! The twins had some very memorable storylines on the show including Christina’s kidnapping and Caroline’s dalliance with her brother-in-law, Paul. In fact as Paul is still in the show, I’m sure writers could find a way to reunite Christina with her ex-husband. But the question is would Gayle and Gilliam who have spent more than two decades living in California want to return to Ramsay Street to reprise their famous roles?

3. GAIL ROBINSON

Well if we bring back the third Mrs. Robinson, how about we also bring back the second one, Gail? Out of all of Paul’s wives, Gail, played by Fiona Corke was most definitely my favourite and in my opinion the only one of Paul’s wives who could handle him – but in the end she got tired of Paul’s workaholic ways and left him while heavily pregnant with their triplets. Since then, Gail has made a couple of brief returns to Ramsay Street and we’ve even met the triplets, but I would so love Gail to make a more long-term return to Ramsay Street. Someone needs to sort that Paul out!

4. SHANE RAMSAY

It may be called Ramsay Street but… There are no more Ramsays left! So what better than to bring back one of the members of the original Ramsay family as well as one of the show’s earliest characters, Shane Ramsay? It’s unlikely that Peter O’Brien who played Shane would ever return to the soap, which is a Shane, I mean shame, because Shane did have some very good storylines including Des-Daphne-Shane love triangle. Even though Des Clarke won her heart in the end, it was clear that Shane would always love Daphne and viewers couldn’t help but feel a little broken hearted for him.

5. HENRY RAMSAY

I don’t know who couldn’t love Henry Ramsay. Before he appeared on screen, viewers were led to believe that Madge’s son was a bit of a bad apple but once he arrived, it was obvious that Henry had a heart of gold. He loved his family and friends and would do anything for anyone. A practical joker whose hair-brain schemes often went wrong, Henry provided much of the show’s lighthearted moments. Unfortunately his love life was a bit of a disaster zone – but that was until he captured the heart of his beloved Bronnie. Ramsay Street was a much quieter place when Henry left to start a new life in New Zealand. When Brad Willis first appeared on the Street in the 90’s, my sister and I labelled him the new Henry – but the truth is there’s only ever been one Henry Ramsay. If only we could find a way to get Craig MacLachlan to play Henry again…

6. THE WILLIS FAMILY

When the Kennedys arrived in Ramsay Street, I didn’t think I would ever get used to them as I missed my favourite family the Willises too much. But more than twenty years later I can honestly say I love the Kennedys – who would have thought they’d still be here now – but I do still miss the Willises. Despite having their ups and downs, they tried not to take life seriously and were an incredibly loving family. Neighbours may have brought back the Willis family five years ago of which Therese and Piper still remain, but I love the nineties incarnation which consisted of Pam and Doug and their four kids, Adam, Gaby, Brad and Cody. Sadly Doug and Cody have been killed off but it would be awesome to see the remaining Willises make a comeback.

7. GLEN DONNELLY

I think that Paul Robinson was so traumatized by the knowledge that he had a half-sibling, that he’s done his best to permanently eradicate all thoughts of his dad’s illegitimate son from his mind. When was the last time anyone heard Paul mention his half-brother Glen? True, the two hated each other so much that it’s unlikely that they’re on each other’s Christmas card lists, but anyone who didn’t watch Neighbours in the early nineties would be forgiven for not knowing that Scott isn’t Paul’s only brother. Glen’s exit from the show was under very tragic circumstances as a fall from the Lassiter’s roof meant that he was never going to be able to walk again. His bid to file a lawsuit against Paul turned very bitter and led to Paul having a nervous breakdown. In the end Glen felt that his only option was to leave Erinsborough with the help of a friend, leaving his fiancée Gaby Willis devastated.As Paul is still in the show I think it would be brilliant if they brought Glen back to really shake things up for his dastardly half-brother.

8. DES CLARKE

Ramsay Street hasn’t been the same since ‘Clarkey’ left – the original occupant of what is now the Kennedy house. Des was in the show from the very first episode til the early nineties when he left with his young son Jamie to start a new life in Perth. Des managed to pack in a lot during his time on the show, including finding out he had a sister, being reunited with his long-lost father, and his very unlikely romance with Jane Harris. But the storyline we all remember Des for was the loss of his beloved wife Daphne after a fatal car accident. I still remember Des feeling crushed at Madge and Harold’s wedding as he struggled to come to terms with Daphne’s death. It was wonderful to see Paul Keane reprise his role as Des for the show’s thirtieth anniversary episodes but the only downside is that it just wasn’t long enough. Come back Clarkey!

9. SUSAN COLE

We have Paul, and we also have the lovely Clive Gibbons, two characters from the early days of Neighbours. Now wouldn’t it be great to throw Susan Cole into the mix? For those of you whose minds need refreshing, Susan was the former mistress of Madge Ramsay’s ex-husband Fred, and the mother of his child, Sam- remember the baby Charlene claimed was hers but was in fact her half brother? Yep, it does sound very Bold and the Beautiful, but it was definitely Neighbours! Susan began a relationship with Paul Robinson (as every woman naturally does!) while sharing a house with Clive, not realising that he was secretly in love with her. Clive did eventually get the girl but sadly for him the girl was still in love with Paul despite having agreed to marry Clive. Susan left Erinsborough having broken off her engagement to a now heartbroken Clive. It would be great for her to reappear on the Street and stir things up for Paul and Clive… but where would that leave Sheila?

10. MATT ROBINSON

Reading this list of former Neighbours’ characters who I would love to see return, I’ve just realised how many of them are connected to Paul Robinson in some way. Not that that should be a surprise – after all he’s been in the show longer than anyone else despite a long absence from the show in the nineties. So we’ll throw in another Robinson – Matt Robinson, the son of Paul’s cousin Hilary. Matt, played by Ashley Paske, was the street’s resident heart-throb back then. Matt worked hard to forge a bond with his birth mother, Hilary as well as to overcome his battle with dyslexia, but it was his breakup with Gemma Ramsay that led to him leaving Erinsborough for good. Hilary does make the odd appearance from time to time so it would be fantastic if we see Matt with her – even though viewers understand that mother and son have had a falling out.

 

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Posted by on May 1, 2018 in TV Shows

 

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A Tearful G’bye To Doug: A Look-Back At Ramsay Street’s Willis Family

 Hotel Death Trap week on Neighbours was truly gripping stuff! But it’s also been incredibly heartbreaking, and I think it’s safe to say that life on Ramsay Street will never be the same again. Viewers watched Josh Willis die after bravely sacrificing his life to save his nemesis, Daniel. Today his grandfather Doug collapsed and died shortly after reuniting son Brad with his own estranged son, Ned. What is it with those scriptwriters – they really had it in for the poor Willis family!!!

The scenes of Doug’s death, featuring three generations of Willis men, were extremely poignant. When you mention the Willis family, fans of Neighbours  today will think of Brad and Therese, their three children, Josh, Imogen, and Piper plus Brad’s daughter Paige. But when I think of the Willises, I go right back to the early nineties, when the Willis family consisted of Doug and his wife Pam, and their children Adam, Gaby, Cody and of course – Brad!

When Des Clarke sold his house to Doug Willis, I didn’t think that I’d take to the Willises the same way I did with the Clarkes – I was wrong. I  absolutely adored this family and still do. At this time there weren’t really many families as such living on Ramsay Street so this new family unit made a very welcome addition and their lighthearted attitude to life proved to be a breath of fresh air.

THE MARRIAGE

Neighbours Viewers already knew Cody Willis but they got to meet her parents Doug and Pam just before they took over Des Clarke’s  house and set up home in Ramsay Street. They may have been married for over twenty years but anyone could see that the spark was very much there between Doug and his wife. And they didn’t behave like a couple of old marrieds either. Who can forget when Pam tricked Doug into removing all his clothes before locking him out of the house and refusing to let him back in until he promised to take her out dancing?

It was probably because the Willis marriage was so strong that Doug’s habit of flirting with attractive women didn’t bother Pam at all. But there were times when it caused Pam to worry: when Doug’s ex-girlfriend, Alexandra showed up briefly in Erinsborough, and when Lou’s sister, Brenda, became infatuated with Doug.

Both times Pam’s fears proved unfounded. But neither she nor Doug could have predicted what was around the corner…

While nursing neighbour, Jim Robinson back to health, Pam realised she was attracted to him. Her behaviour caused Doug to become quite suspicious of her and Jim but Pam made the fatal error of confessing her feelings for Jim to her ‘good friend’ Jill Weir – not realising that Jill had set her sights on Doug.

Jill used this information to her advantage which resulted in her spending the night with Doug in his hotel room. When she found out, a furious Pam threw Doug out of the house and started divorce proceedings before embarking on a brief fling with Jim.

But it took Doug getting lost at sea to make the warring Willises realise they still loved each other and reunited, ending one of the lowest points in their marriage. And after four years in Ramsay Street, Doug and Pam upped sticks and moved to Darwin after Doug was offered a job there.

THE KIDS

Doug and Pam were the proud parents of four children: two boys, Adam and Brad, and two girls, Gaby and Cody. 

All the Willis kids were extremely close and looked out for each other. They were all fun-loving  but they were also as different as they were alike. Adam was studying to be a doctor who couldn’t decide between Caroline Alessi and Gemma Ramsay (although he eventually left the Street to start a new life with Gemma.) Gaby had been studying business in Hong Kong before coming to live with her family in Erinsborough. Brad was the typical, ultra laid- back surfer, and as a sign of what was to happen in years to come, was caught up in a love triangle between Beth and Lauren. Brad eventually chose Beth but Lauren would get her chance in years to come… Then there was baby of the family, Cody. Headstrong and independent, Cody was a rebel who was always determined to get her own way but nonetheless was doted on by both her parents. She was madly in love with Todd Landers but left to study in America.

All the Willis kids eventually left Ramsay Street to start new lives elsewhere. After a while the characters of Cody and Brad were brought back – although they were not played by the original actors – and Gaby made a cameo appearance in Annalise Hartman’s documentary. Only Adam seems to have been forgotten about but viewers can only assume that Dr. Adam Willis is still living happily in Newcastle with Gemma.

THE LAUGHTER

One thing that I loved about this family was that there was always a lot of love and laughter in the Willis household. Sure they had their problems like everyone else and they endured some pretty rough times, but on the whole, they were very fun loving and never took themselves too seriously. I loved the scene where Brad and Gaby were play fighting with Doug despairing if they’d ever grow up because it reminded me of my own family.

Adam once explained that practical joking was a family tradition, and the Willises did indeed like pranking each other. I remember after one prank got Doug arrested, he got his own back by getting Cody arrested by a police officer. The way it played out was so funny.

And then there’s was Adam’s disastrous first date with Caroline Alessi where his car broke down. It would have infuriated most people but not Adam. Ever the optimist, Adam got a take away pizza and then turned on the radio so that he and Caroline could dance while roadside assistance repaired the car. “Told you I’d take you out dancing after dinner,” Adam told Caroline, looking thoroughly pleased with himself, demonstrating the Willis ability to look on the bright side.

THE HARDSHIPS

Despite all the fun and laughter, the Willises also faced some pretty testing times when laughing was the last thing they wanted to do. There was the time Pam was arrested after being accused of helping one of her patients to die. It was a very worrying time for the family and Pam was determined not to go to prison for something she didn’t do. Thankfully charges against her were dropped.

But worse was to come when the Willises youngest son, Brad, was imprisoned on false drug smuggling charges in Asia- a crime which carried the death penalty. An extremely frantic Doug and Pam flew out, leaving the elder two kids, Adam and Gaby, to raise the funds they needed to get Brad out of jail. After a while Doug and Pam arrived in Erinsborough – with Brad in tow!

Despite Doug having his own business, the Willis family weren’t exactly rolling in it. Pam often took to driving her father’s cab when money was tight, and once many years ago, Pam was forced to pawn her engagement ring, and was extremely relieved to get it back. So financial worries were nothing new to the family.

But things went from bad to worse.

After a joint business venture with Paul Robinson went wrong, Doug found himself in debt. Forced to sell the business, Doug was then employed by the new owners but a difference of opinion led to Doug being sacked. He then spiralled into depression, leading to excessive drinking and a near- breakdown.

But being made of tougher stuff, the Willises got through it.

THE TRAGEDIES

Despite their happy demeanor, the Willises experienced more than their fair share of heartache. Doug and Pam lost one of their children – a baby boy called John – when he was around eighteen months old. Then tragedy struck again years later when their youngest child Cody was accidentally shot and killed during a shoot out on Ramsay Street, leaving the family distraught.

In more recent times, Doug’s health began to deteriorate rapidly as he’d been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Unable to cope with the demands of looking after her husband, Pam sent Doug to stay with Brad where the whole family rallied round and did their best to care for Doug but it was painfully clear to everyone that Doug was steadily getting worse.

And of course as viewers saw last week, fate decided that it wasn’t done with the Willis family as the explosion that rocked Lassiter’s, claimed the lives of Doug and his grandson, Josh, ensuring that the Willis family would never be the same again and that the union between Doug and his beloved Pam had finally come to an end. However will Pam cope?

THE NEXT GENERATION OF WILLISES

The fact that a new generation of Willises were brought back to Erinsborough almost twenty years since Pam and Doug had left for Darwin proves that the Willis family had indeed made an impact and were still fondly remembered. Brad, his second wife, Therese, twins Josh and Imogen, together with youngest daughter Piper, and Brad’s long- lost daughter Paige make up the new Willis family. There may not be as much larking about in the Willis household this time round but they’re definitely not short on drama!

I had always believed that it was the decision of the actors who played Pam and Doug – Sue Jones and Terrence Donovan – to leave Neighbours, marking the departure of the last two Willises left in Ramsay Street. But an interview with Terrance Donovan revealed that Pam and Doug were written out to make way for a family unit with teenage kids, thus keeping in line with the hotter, younger, sexier new image the show was trying to convey. Enter the Kennedys! To be honest its only in recent years that I’ve grown to love Karl and Susan which means I’ve finally forgiven them for ousting the Willises from their home! But I never really did take to the Kennedy kids the way I did with the Willis kids and I would have loved for them – the whole family – to have stayed.

I think another reason why I’m so fond if the Willis family is because the were around during Neighbours’ heyday – a time when we all rushed home from school to watch Neighbours so that we could discuss it at school; when Neighbours’ stars got all the magazine covers, and the show’s actors appeared on our TV screens more than our own homegrown talent. The Willis family are a reminder of those days and of everything that was going on in my own life at the time.

It’s sad that Terrence Donovan’s association with Neighbours which has spanned a period of more than twenty five years has come to an end. And as Terrence is the real-life father of Jason Donovan – who brought the role of Scott Robinson to life – it makes that association somehow stronger. And let’s not forget Terrence’s sensitive portrayal of a man battling Alzheimer’s which raised further awareness of the illness. Doug’s time on the Street has come to an end but we will always have very fond memories of Doug and remember him as a hardworking, down-to-earth family man who loved his wife and kids – not to mention having a laugh.

G’bye Doug – Ramsay Street just won’t be same…

 

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2016 in TV Shows

 

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