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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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EastEnders Congratulates Neighbours On Turning Thirty

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It wasn’t so long ago that EastEnders reached the grand old age of thirty, and we all remember the festivities, celebrations and jubilations that went along with it – including a rather hilarious video made by the cast of Neighbours congratulating the top British soap opera on reaching their impressive milestone. And Neighbours has also recently hit thirty, so it was the turn of EastEnders to return the favour and congratulate their Aussie cousins. And they did just that in a comical sketch which featured Neighbours’ legend Jason Donovan who will forever live on in our hearts as Scott Robinson.

Amazing to think that two of my favourite soaps started out almost a month apart. Even more amazing that they’re both going strong thirty years later!

 

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Soon-To-Be Thirty Neighbours Congratulates EastEnders

With all the celebration that has been surrounding EastEnders thirtieth birthday celebrations, it’s very easy to forget that there’s another legendary soap that’s less than a month away from turning thirty. That’s right – our favourite Aussie soap Neighbours began the same year as EastEnders and it quickly became a hit this side of the world.

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So just when you thought the soap-themed posts at Nostalgia Pie were almost over, there’s going to be another bumper crop starting very soon as Neighbours reaches it’s fantastic milestone. In the meantime, check out this hilarious parody by the Neighbours cast as they congratulate EastEnders on reaching thirty – great effort with the Cockney accents! I almost had a bit of a lump in my throat as I realised just how loved our home-grown soap is.

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Hopefully EastEnders will return the kind sentiment.

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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Happy Birthday EastEnders… And A Look Back At That First Ever Episode

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Well we’ve been waiting for this day for what seems like eons – and now it’s here! EastEnders turns thirty today – and I feel so old! When the show first aired, who’d have thought that three decades later we’d be still be tuning in – and that Sharon and Ian would still be in it?

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As part of EastEnders thirtieth celebrations, the BBC are showing the first ever episode of the London-based soap opera which began on 19 February 1985. If you’d asked me if I’d ever watched the first episode, I’d have said no. I had absolutely no recollection of seeing it and I don’t recall the infamous opening scene where Albert Square regulars Den Watts, Arthur Fowler, and Ali Osman kick down the door to Reg Cox’s flat and find the pensioner dying. Incidentally there is to be an ode to this first ever scene in tonight’s episode.

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So I thought I’d take a Butchers (pardon the pun!) at this iconic episode which was to change the course of weekday television viewing forever. We were introduced to the Fowlers, the Beales, the Watts, the Osmans and the Jeffereys, plus we got our first introduction to ‘Nasty’ Nick Cotton – though no sign of his ‘Ma’ Dot. We also got to meet the lovely Dr. Legg. It’s amazing how young everyone looked, especially Ian who looked as though he was living a carefree existance. If only he knew then what we know now…

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As it happens, I realised that I had actually watched this episode as I remember many of the scenes so clearly. I remember Sue Osman’s and Kathy Beale’s argument in the café where Sue tipped Kathy’s teas down the sink. Kathy then went out to the stall and told Pete that there was no tea because of ‘bloody Sue.’ I also recalled Kathy having a dig at Sue when the Osmans walked into the Vic just as Kathy was starting her shift there.

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It was also in this episode that Pauline and Arthur Fowler discovered that they were going to become parents again – that’s right, little Martin Fowler was on his way. But despite being happy about the baby, the Fowler’s were worried as Arthur was finding it hard to get work (as were most of the population in the mid eighties) and they were more than a little afraid of the reaction of Pauline’s mother, the legendary Lou Beale. As it turns out, it all kicked off – in a scene I remember very well – but what was supposed to be so tense turned out to be quite hilarious for the viewer. And the non-stop shouting over each other was an indicator of the shape of things to come…

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There were also signs that Den Watts had quite an eye for the ladies and was going to be quite a handful for his wife, the long-suffering Angie – we just didn’t realise how much! And the glimpse back into television three decades ago was fascinating. There wouldn’t be racial slurs and name-calling for example, unless it was relevant to the storyline and there’s less swearing today on the Square – we don’t even hear ‘bloody’ as much now.

I thoroughly enjoyed this trip back down memory lane and watching all those much-missed characters who made EastEnders what it is today. but now I have to return to the present as a very special episode of EastEnders is about to start – and I want to witness television history as they reveal the killer of Lucy Beale.

Happy birthday EastEnders!

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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Ten EastEnders Mysteries – Solved!

It’s the whodunit that’s gripped the nation and in just a matter of days, we’ll discover who it was that killed EastEnders’ Lucy Beale. It’s a pretty big week for the long-running soap as it enters it’s thirtieth year and to celebrate there are a week of live episodes which will no doubt culminate in shocked gasps which are most likely to be heard all around the country as we find out exactly who it is that has blood on their hands. Bookies are taking bets and I have my own suspicions as to who it might be. It’s one of the biggest storylines to date.

However as every EastEnders fan will know, the show is well known for its mysteries and whodunits that are guaranteed to keep viewers tuning in to discover who the culprit was and their motives. Let’s not forget, the very first EastEnders scene involved the murder of Reg Cox. I think if Hercule Poirot lived on The Square he’d never be out of work with all the murders, shootings, thefts and other mayhem that takes place.

So as we reach the conclusion to what is going to be a classic Walford whodunit, I’m taking a look at what has been for me, some of the most memorable mysteries ever to occur on the Square, with some going practically as far back as the beginning of the show. They definitely had us on the edge of our seats!

1. FOWLER BREAK-IN

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When Pauline and Arthur invited a group of their friends and family back to theirs, they weren’t expected to be greeted by the sight that awaited them: their home had been ransacked and the Christmas club fund that Arthur had recently withdrawn from the bank was gone. The question is, who could have done it?

As far as mysteries goes, this was pretty tame stuff. But then again it was back in the eighties when EastEnders was just getting warmed up. And far from it dragging on and on, the culprit was revealed within a couple of episodes as loveable Arthur Fowler who’d used the Christmas club money to pay for his daughter Michelle’s wedding and then staged the break-in to explain the missing money to all his friends, family, and neighbours. This incident lead to Arthur’s eventual breakdown and imprisonment.

2. WHO FATHERED MICHELLE FOWLER’S BABY?

Drama didn’t follow anyone around as much as it followed Michelle Fowler, and it all began when she got pregnant at sixteen and refused to name the father. This storyline occurred very early on for EastEnders and it is still one of the most memorable and still talked about today.

There were several characters who were in the frame for being the father of the future Vicki Fowler. On the day of the big reveal, viewers saw Andy O’Brien, Tony Carpenter, Den Watts, and Ali Osman hurridly getting into their vehicles and driving away – just as Michelle was on her way to the canal to meet the father. We knew it was one of the four; we just didn’t know which one.

Then a car appears at the canal and we see a man step out of it before going to open one of the rear doors – as Roly jumps out of the car. Yes, it was none other than Den Watts. Even though I’d watched these scenes the first time round, I was too young to understand the relevance of what I was watching  (strange as it may seem, I innocently thought Michelle was having a chat with Sharon’s dad) but now I’m so glad that I got to witness this piece of soap history.

3. DEBBIE’S PHONE PEST

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When Debbie Wilkins began getting obscene phone calls, she naturally didn’t know who could possibly behind them. Then she realized that the voice belonged to café owner Ali Osman. Her enraged boyfriend Andy wanted to storm over to Ali’s and have it out with them but Debbie had another idea: she was going to invite Ali and his wife Sue over for dinner and confront him about the calls. It was a very tense dinner as Sue worked out that Debbie and Andy were blaming Ali for the phone calls… and then the phone rang.

You guessed it – it was the phone pest. And a horrified Debbie realised that she had made a mistake and still didn’t know the identity of the person making the malicious calls.

It was during a visit from Debbie’s phone Naima that the identity of the caller was revealed. Naima had answered the phone when it rang and despite Debbie’s attempts to take the phone from her, Naima insisted on speaking to the caller herself. So she did – in Bengali.

The caller was none other than Naima’s husband Saeed.

I actually remember the scene where Saeed was exposed, as well as an earlier scene where Saeed was queuing up along with other residents to use the payphone in the laundrette which was already being occupied by Ali who was making an important phone call. Looking back it was probably to keep viewers guessing as to who the phone pest was.

4. WALFORD SERIAL ATTACKER

This was a storyline that particularly sticks out in my mind even though I was so young when it aired. In 1987 an unknown man was terrorising the women of Walford. He’d stalk them at night and there were references made by the characters of hearing about yet another woman being attacked. It wasn’t long before some of the Square’s residents were having close calls with the Walford attacker. Sue Osman had had an encounter with him, as had Sharon Watts but both had got away unharmed. In fact I remember the episode in which Sharon was almost attacked. I was watching it with some of my little friends and we all played detective: discussing who we thought the attacker might be and who could be his next victim.

Unfortunately Pat Wicks didn’t fare so well. She was brutally attacked and left for dead. Her ex-husband Pete became a suspect, but although he had a motive for attacking Pat, there was no reason why he should go after the other women.

Eventually the Walford attacker was caught when he tried to assault Debbie Wilkins after finding her alone in the laundrette. Unfortunately his capture was a bit of a let-down because instead of being a well-known or at least easily identifiable character, the attacker just turned out to be some random guy who I believe was called Oxley.

Still not bad for a soap that was pretty much just starting out.

5. MURDER OF EDDIE ROYAL

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Ex-policeman Eddie Royle hadn’t been landlord of The Queen Vic when he had been found knifed to death in The Square’s gardens back in the early nineties. Dot stumbled across his body when she found Roly stranded in the Sqauare who led her to Eddie’s body. But what Dot didn’t know was that she wasn’t the first person to discover the dead body…

Viewers saw Clyde Tavernier standing over Eddie’s body with a knife in his hands before wiping the blood from his hands and fleeing. He then set about acting very suspiciously: tiptoeing back into his house so as not to alert his family to his presence before burning a shirt with Eddie’s blood on it – under the watchful eye of his grandfather Jules.

However Clyde was innocent. He’d found Eddie lying in the gardens and foolishly picked up the murder weapon thus incriminating himself. Not only that but Clyde also had a motive for killing Eddie after they fell out over a boxing betting scam. But then Eddie was hardly a popular man in The Square with a few of the residents including Grant and Sharon having a grudge against him.

Nick Cotton then told police that Clyde had killed Eddie causing a terrified Clyde to go on the run with his son Kofi, on-off girlfriend Michelle Fowler and her daughter Vicki.

Thankfully Mark’s friend Joe came forward and told police that he had seen Nick Cotton in the Square that night after watching the recovering drug addict shin down the drainpipe outside his bedroom window. It was clear – as I’m sure many people had long suspected – that Nick was Eddie’s killer.

But despite being arrested and tried for the murder, Nick is found not guilty due to lack of evidence, leaving him free to wreak havoc in the Square for years to come.

6. WHO SHOT PHIL MITCHELL?

Our very own version of the who shot JR saga was who shot Phil Mitchell – the first time back in 2001. And with the number of Square residents who he’d rubbed up the wrong way, it could have been anyone. On the evening he got shot, a very drunken Phil was irritated by what he thought were kids playing knock down ginger. So he went outside and hollered in typical Phil fashion that if they did it again, he’d tan their backsides. Then as he turned around to walk back inside he was shot in the back. But before losing consciousness, Phil caught a glimpse of his assassin fleeing… and we all waited until Phil was out of hospital for that humdinger of an episode where Phil confronted the person who shot him.

Steve Owen, Lisa Shaw, Dan Sullivan, and Ian Beale were all suspects – but it turned out that it was little Lisa who pulled the trigger.

7. DENNIS RICKMAN’S KILLER

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I had the biggest crush ever on Dennis Rickman, so I was absolutely heartbroken when he was killed off in 2005, especially as it was in an extremely brutal manner. I remember my sisters, who were massive Dennis fans too could hardly bear to watch the episode where Dennis died.

After marrying Sharon, the woman of his dreams, the newlyweds were thrilled beyond belief to discover that they were going to have the one thing that they didn’t think was possible – a baby! I still remember the scene where Sharon broke the news to Dennis and how jubilant they both were.

But sadly their happiness wasn’t to last. Johnny Allen, furious with Dennis for having crossed him, threatens Sharon and tells her that if she and Dennis don’t leave Walford before the new year, her baby was grow up without a father. Sharon manages to talk Dennis into leaving for a new life in America but on the day they’re due to leave, Phil Mitchell tells Dennis that Johnny Allen attacked and threatened Sharon, and that he was responsible for killing Dennis’s friend Andy Hunter. A furious Dennis goes over to Johnny’s, where he beats him half to death. But then Dennis makes the mistake of throwing Johnny a phone so that he can call for help, thinking it won’t matter as he and Sharon will be long gone by the time help arrives.

But Johnny doesn’t call for an ambulance; he calls for someone to take care of Dennis in revenge for the vicious attack. As Dennis and Sharon look for each other among the crowds of New Year’s Eve’s revellers, they catch sight of each other – and as they do so, someone brutally stabs Dennis leaving him to die in a hysterical Sharon’s arms.

It’s in Spring 2006 that we find out that the man hired to kill Dennis was Alfie Moon’s second cousin Danny.

8. FATHER OF LAURA BEALE’S BABY

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Laura, the third Mrs. Ian Beale was ecstatic when she discovered that she was pregnant with her much longed-for baby. In her excitement she got caught up in babymania and failed to notice that husband Ian wasn’t exactly doing cartwheels – although he did a good enough job of pretending to be happy. The reason? Ian knew that the baby wasn’t his as he’d secretly had a vasectomy. And not willing to bring up another man’s child as his own, Ian was biding his time until he could exact his revenge on Laura.

He conned Laura into signing over her share of the business to him, and then on Christmas Day Ian revealed that he knew that Laura had cheated on him and that he’d had a vasectomy so he couldn’t possibly be the baby’s father. Then Ian threw Laura out of their home – much to the disgust of Ian’s young daughter, Lucy.

Meanwhile Laura had been genuinely certain that Ian was the baby’s father and had no reason to believe any different – until she recalled a drunken one-night stand. So she notified the man in question that he was about to become a dad. The man was a very shocked and very married Gary Hobbs!

But the shocks didn’t stop there…

After his arrival, baby Bobby is in need of a blood transfusion. Tests showed that Gary wasn’t the father…

…it was Ian Beale!

9. GEORGE TROTT’S FATHER

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It was the storyline that kept EastEnders’ fans guessing for nine months: who was the father of Heather Trott’s baby? Just hours after giving birth to a baby boy, who Heather named George Michael Trott, she then made a phone call to let an unsuspecting male know that he had just become a father. And in typical EastEnders style four men – Billy Mitchell, Darren Miller, Phil Mitchell and Minty Peterson – were seen getting calls.

I didn’t get to see the episode when it first aired in which the identity of George’s father was revealed. Instead it was left to my sister to tell me that Darren Miller was George’s dad. It’s a good job I’m not a betting person as my money would have been on Heather’s ex-husband, Minty Peterson.

10. WHO KILLED ARCHIE MITCHELL

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This was the last big whodunit before it was topped by the Lucy Beale saga. And just like the episodes which are going to air this week on EastEnders, Archie Mitchell’s killer was unmasked during the show’s first ever live episode as part of EastEnders’ twenty fifth anniversary celebrations.

Over the years, we’d heard a lot about ‘Daad’s bruvver, Archie’ from the Mitchell clan, but it’s only when he appeared on screen that viewers saw what a thoroughly unlikeable character he was. A philanderer, liar, control freak, rapist and trouble maker, Archie Mitchell made a lot of enemies – especially among his own family. His daughter Ronnie, in particular, hated her father for forcing her to give her baby up for adoption.

Archie was killed on Christmas Day 2009 when he was hit over the head with the bust of the Queen Victoria. There were many possible suspects including Ian Beale, Bradley Branning, Ryan Malloy, Stacey Branning, and practically the entire Mitchell family. During the live episode, it appeared that the murderer was a panic-stricken Bradly who was fleeing from the police and was killed as he fell from the roof.

The murderer turned out to be Bradley’s wife Stacey.

And this Thursday, another EastEnders mystery will be solved…

Here’s to another thirty years of murder, mystery and suspense on the Square.

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Posted by on February 18, 2015 in TV Shows

 

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Legendary Soap Couples

The sad passing of Anne Kirkbride means that we will never see Ken and Deirdre Barlow grace our screens when we settle in front of the box to watch Coronation Street. Ever since their wedding in 1980, they have kept us entertained with on-screen antics. Affairs, break-ups, divorce, remarriage, endless rows, passionate reunions, long-lost children, Deirdre’s scrapes with the law, Tracey’s shenanigans… this couple have been through it all. And through it all, there wasn’t a couple we wanted to see together more than Ken and Deirdre. We may sadly never see them again but they’ve gone down in television history as a legendary soap couple.

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I got thinking about other soap couples, those who were a perfect match in every way. Though perfect match or not, they didn’t always get their happy ending but then that’s the way it often is in soap land. So I’ve come up with my list of ten soap couples who I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching; who captured the nation’s hearts, and who most definitely belonged together.

1. SCOTT AND CHARLENE ROBINSON

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They may be the youngest couple on this list but they’re right up there when it comes to soap legends. Scott and Charlene were just one of the reasons why Neighbours back in the 1980s was so popular. Who could forget that phenomenal wedding that’s still being talked about more than twenty five years later? They may have been on-off-on again-off again even after they were married but there’s no denying that Scott and Charlene belonged together. It was a sad day in Erinsborough and for Neighbours fans when Scott and Charlene left for a new life in Brisbane. And even though many couples may have met and fell in love on Ramsay Street, there was never anyone quite like Scott and Charlene.

2. DEN AND ANGIE WATTS

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The Cockney version of JR and Sue Ellen Ewing may have been a relatively short-lived couple and not together as long as Ken and Deirdre but Den and Angie are legends with a capital L. When people talk about the good ol’ days of Eastenders, they usually mean the Den and Angie years.

True, Angie loved Den more than he loved her. And it was Den who turned her to drink with his dodgy deals and numerous affairs. Goodness knows what Angie would have done if she’d found out about Den’s love children. Despite all the ups and downs (mostly downs) there was never a dull moment with Den and Angie. We all hoped for a happy ending for our fave soap couple – and there were times when we thought it might be a possibility – but it wasn’t to be. Angie ran off to start a new life with her new fella while Den was presumed dead for years before popping up in Albert Square again.

3. TOM AND PIPPA FLETCHER

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When Home And Away first aired, it was all about the Fletcher family: Tom, his wife Pippa and their foster children. Despite issues with the children, they were a very tight family unit with Tom and Pippa having a strong marriage that seemed able to withstand anything life through at them. They initially thought they couldn’t have children of their own (until baby Christopher came along) and they were often worn down by their foster children’s dramas but they often came across as quite young at heart, totally devoted to each other, and quite sweet as a couple.

It was terribly sad when Tom was killed in an accident, and I remember Pippa’s shock and denial which eventually gave way to grief. They may not have been together for a long time, but they’re still a very memorable couple.

4. STAN AND HILDA OGDEN

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Stan and Hilda were the Ken and Deirdre of Coronation Street long before the latter achieved legendary status. This classic Corrie couple had been in the soap since the 1960s but my earliest memories of them are from the 1980s which must have been just before Stan died. I still remember when Stan gave Hilda a box for her birthday and when she opened it, there was nothing in it. Stan explained that it was for Hilda to put her jewellery in – which she accepted. I thought it was a great idea at the time but I was too young to know any better. Now I just think it’s hilarious – not to mention a bit cheeky!

Stan and Hilda may have been off our screens as a couple for more than three decades but when I think Coronation Street, I still think of Stan and Hilda Ogden.

5. MADGE AND HAROLD BISHOP

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The king and queen of Ramsay Street! Who couldn’t love the Bishops? Former childhood sweethearts Madge and Harold reunited after many years apart, and despite them being polar opposites, there was no doubting that Madge without Harold was like tea without biscuits. Yes Harold annoyed Madge with his fuddy-duddy ways and Harold sometimes found Madge a bit too harsh but they loved each other dearly.

Unfortunately Madge and Harold didn’t get the chance to grow old and grey together as Madge passed away and Harold eventually remarried and left the street. But rumour has it that Madge and Harold will be returning to Erinsborough as part of the show’s thirtieth anniversary celebrations. How Madge will be returning from the dead, I don’t know, but I’m looking forward to seeing the Bishops together again.

6. DENNIS AND SHARON RICKMAN

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The couple who the public affectionately nicknamed ‘Shannis’ may just be my ultimate favourite soap couple. No, I take that back: Sharon Watts and Dennis Rickman are my ultimate favourite couple. I think I may love them even more than Scott and Charlene and that’s saying something. I don’t think I’ve ever watched an on-screen couple together and got goose-bumps. The chemistry between Letitia Dean and the gorgeous Nigel Harman was astounding. I did have my reservations when I heard that Eastenders’ writers were going to get Sharon and Dennis together – in fact I thought it was bizarre: Sharon was Dennis’s adopted sister after all.

But I couldn’t have been more wrong. Sharon and Dennis were perfect together. Their complicated family situation meant that on more than one occasion one of the twosome got cold feet and called the whole thing off which eventually resulted in Dennis starting a relationship with Zoe Slater. Thankfully he saw sense and realised that Sharon was the woman for him – and the nation cheered. They married but the marriage was sadly short-lived when Dennis was murdered on New Year’s Eve – just as they found out that Sharon was expecting their much longed-for baby.

I totally miss seeing Sharon and Dennis together in Eastenders. I’m sorry but Sharon and Phil… well, they’re no Shannis, are they?

7. BOBBY AND PAMELA EWING

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Dallas’s Bobby and Pam were the complete opposite of JR and Sue-Ellen. This was a couple who truly loved each other but being Texas’s answer to Romeo and Juliet, they had to put up with a lot of family hostility, especially from Bobby’s brother JR who hated the Barnes family with a passion and couldn’t get his head around the fact that his little brother was shacking up with the sister of the enemy.

And family pressures did indeed split them up with them both meeting other partners – Bobby’s relationship in particular with Jenna Wade a.k.a Mrs. Elvis Presley really had viewers on the edge of their seats – but we all knew that Bobby and Pam were a great match and thankfully they realised that too. Despite discovering that Jenna was pregnant with Bobby’s child, Pam went on to remarry Bobby. But in true soap style, there was no happy ever after. Pam was badly injured in a car accident, and although she survived, she couldn’t bear for Bobby or their son Christopher to see how badly disfigured she was, so she left the hospital without telling the Ewings where she was going and filed for divorce.

Bobby went to remarry twice more but it was never the same. Bobby and Pam were an awesome couple.

8. JEFF AND FALLON COLBY

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Jeff and Fallon’s on-off antics had viewers gripped. Sweet, sensible Jeff and flighty Fallon Carrington may have been a bit of a mismatch but these two had plenty of passion and fire and I loved watching them together. Admittedly I did think that Fallon and Jeff’s cousin Miles – who Fallon married when she lost her memory also made a great couple – but they were no Jeff and Fallon. And I remembered being allowed to stay up late to watch Fallon become Mrs. Jeff Colby for the second time in a gorgeous pink gown. The ups and downs didn’t stop there but Jeff and Fallon always found their way back to each other again.

9. PAULINE AND ARTHER FOWLER

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Cardigan-wearing Pauline Fowler and her allotment-loving husband Arthur both appeared during the golden days of Eastenders. But unlike their fiery, passionate counterparts Den and Angie, Pauline and Arthur were considered a little less dramatic, and they definitely preferred a quieter life. But that’s not to say that that’s what they got as the Flowers had more than their fair share of drama over the years: Pauline’s surprise pregnancy; daughter Michelle becoming a teenage mum; Arthur’s breakdown and spell in prison; the death of Pauline’s twin brother Pete… and let’s not forget having to live with Pauline’s domineering mother, Lou.

But the biggest shock of all – just in case anyone thought Pauline and Arthur were too boring – was when Arthur had an affair with Christine Hewitt, who begged him to leave Pauline. On the day that Arthur confessed all to Pauline, he was rewarded, quite memorably, with a whack around the head  with a frying pan. However, this wasn’t enough to finish off Walford’s iconic couple: Pauline and Arthur eventually reunited and stayed married until Arthur’s untimely death.

10. ALF AND AILSA STEWART

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I was a huge fan of this Home And Away couple from day one. Ailsa was Alf’s first real relationship after his wife Martha died and they seemed perfect for each other. Unfortunately Alf’s teenage daughter Roo didn’t think so and tried to find ways to split them up. Roo thought she’d  struck gold when she found out that Ailsa had served time in prison for murdering her father, but when Ailsa explained that her father was an abusive bully and that she’d killed him in self-defence, Alf didn’t need to think twice about resuming his relationship with Ailsa – and told Roo where to go.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for this couple. They had to deal with Ailsa’s post-natal depression after the birth of their son Duncan and more of Roo’s shenanigans. But like Tom and Pippa, they dearly loved each other and made their marriage work until Ailsa’s shock death from a heart attack.

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Posted by on February 1, 2015 in Childhood Legends, TV Shows

 

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Video

Anne Kirkbride: Goodbye To A TV Legend

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The country is still reeling from the shock death of Coronation Street legend Anne Kirkbride this week from cancer. The sixty year old actress had graced our screens for more than forty years as Deirdre Barlow and many of us have grown up with this iconic character.

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Last weekend, I read an article in which Anne was considering extending her leave from the top Manchester soap due to exhaustion. She had made her last Corrie appearance  last October, and it was even hinted that Anne was growing tired of playing Deirdre. So the next day when I read the first part of a  headline in which William Roach, who played Anne’s on-screen husband Ken Barlow, talking about Coronation Street having lost a legend, for a split second I assumed that Anne had quit the role that had made her a household name. I then went on to learn the incredibly sad news that Anne had passed away. The news had come as a great shock, not only to viewers but to many of the Oldham-born actress’s co-stars, as very few knew that she was ill. At the time of her death very little was revealed regarding the details of her illness.

Deirdre and Ken marry for the first time

Deirdre and Ken marry for the first time

 

My earliest memories of Coronation Street also include my earliest memories of Deirdre. My mum was a huge Corrie fan and back then, the nation was gripped by the Ken-Deirdre-Mike love triangle. I was obviously too young to understand what was going on but I did know that the lady called Deirdre had been very naughty. She’d done something bad with a man called Mike and now her husband Ken was very angry with both of them. I even remember the incredibly touching moment when Deirdre revealed that she didn’t want to leave Ken for Mike or go to live with her mother – and Ken forgave her and took her back. Years later when I was a little older, I thought that Deirdre probably should have chosen Mike as he was more exciting but what did I know? It would never have worked with Mike, and Deirdre without Ken is like fish without chips!

Those glasses!

Those glasses!

 

And over the years, Deirdre definitely became on of my favourite characters. She was a good mum to her daughter Tracy – well maybe a little too good as Tracy could have done with a slap from time to time – and I really did enjoy Deirdre’s scenes with her mother, Blanche. I even understood that Ken and Deirdre belonged together and was very angry with Ken when he cheated on Deirdre with that awful Wendy Crozier (even though Deirdre had been unfaithful first!) I was also very disappointed when Ken had a child with Denise Osbourne and in Deirdre’s marriage to Samir Raschid as I felt that this was hindering Ken and Deirdre’s inevitable reunion. But reunite they did, and the nation went crazy when the Barlows remarried in 2005 – a wedding that attracted more viewers than Prince Charles’s wedding to Camilla Parker-Bowles.

The wedding that attracted 12 million viewers

The wedding that attracted 12 million viewers

 

Anne also met her real-life husband on the show, actor David Beckett, when he appeared in Coronation Street playing Dave Barton in 1990. Love blossomed for him and Anne and the couple went on to marry in 1992. In an industry where marriages are not known to last, David has been described as a devoted husband who was with Anne until the very end. Anne had previously said of her beloved husband:

  “It’s thanks to Corrie that I met my wonderful David. I wouldn’t be without him. He adores me and I adore him. What else do you need?”

Anne marries co-star David Beckett

Anne marries co-star David Beckett

The popularity of Deirdre Barlow is testament to Anne Kirkbride’s talent as an actress and her ability to breathe life into a character that has gone on to become a British television icon. After news of Anne’s death broke, tributes came flooding in from fans and the world of entertainment including Anne’s colleagues who regarded her as a much-loved friend. Her co-stars were so devastated by her loss that filming had to be cancelled for a day. A few days later at the National Television Awards, William Roache paid an emotional tribute to his friend and colleague to whom he had shared such a close working relationship, causing many people present, especially the Coronation Street cast and crew, to become quite tearful.

Deirdre Barlow was known for her husky voice, and at one time, overly permed hair. But as we all know, Deirdre’s trademark were of course those oversize glasses that she was never without. Along with those facial expressions that Deirdre used to pull whenever she got upset, and the words “Tracy love,” which seem to have become her catchphrase, Deirdre Barlow was an impressionists dream come true. But far from being the butt of jokes, Deirdre Barlow has become one of television’s most enduring characters, and Anne Kirkbride one of our best-loved actresses. She was part of our family entertainment for so long. Coronation Street will never be the same without her.

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Rest in peace, Anne xx

 

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Posted by on January 24, 2015 in Gone Too Soon

 

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