15 April 2012

Sons And Daughters: Fiona, John, A Bunch Of Flowers And A Rubik's Cube...

Fiona Thompson (Pat McDonald) struggles with a Rubik's Cube and the arrival of John Palmer (Peter Phelps), a man wanted for murder...

Sons and Daughters may have had a slightly tangled plot, but this Aussie soap also had us "Poms" on the edge of our seats when it made its TV debut here in England in 1983...

Well, some of us...

1982: Fiona Thompson wishes that her life is as simple as the Rubik's Cube she has been trying to solve. In 1962, Patricia Dunne and David Palmer booked into her boarding house, where Patricia promptly gave birth to twins, John and Angela. Patricia takes Angela and moves in with businessman Gordon Hamilton, becoming first his housekeeper and then his wife.

In 1982, Fiona still runs her boarding house in Sidney. Her tenants at this time include Bunty and Thel, an elderly pair of former tarts. The pair appear in an episode or two early in the series, and Bunty's voice is heard on Fiona's answerphone a little later. From then on, despite mentions of these characters many years into the show's run, the two remain absent from the screen. Very odd...

However, I'm getting sidetracked - let's return to the main story: in 1982, John seeks Fiona's help as he has been accused of a murder he did not commit. He meets and falls in love with Angela, not knowing that she is his twin sister. Angela and John discover the truth and struggle with their feelings for each other. Angela marries David's step-uncle, Rob, embarks on an affair with a man who has just inherited a fortune, has a miscarriage, and opens a coffee shop. John and Angela then discover that David isn't actually their father. Their real father commits suicide.

Meanwhile, David has married Beryl Keegan and they have two children, Susan and Kevin. Susan's husband turns out to be a murderer and Kevin marries the girl next door, Lynn Hardy, before going deaf after being blown up in Saudi Arabia.

Patricia plots, schemes and leaves husband Gordon, who marries nice widow Barbara Morrell. Barbara later discovers that her first husband is actually still alive. Patricia marries Barbara's brother, Stephen, but it doesn't last.

Adored as "Pat the Rat" in Australia and by afternoon telly viewers here, English-born actress Rowena Wallace created a legend. Sometimes neurotic, usually scheming, Patricia was an utterly compelling soap character. In this scene, husband Stephen has told her to start acting like a normal human being for once - or their marriage is over. Patricia has responded by turning sepia. When Rowena Wallace left, Belinda Giblin became the new Patricia, thus ensuring that the character could scheme (brilliantly) until the very end of the series. Rowena returned towards the end as Patricia's twin sister, Pamela.

Patricia finds herself in peril when she is accused of the murder of Luke Carlyle, a young man who has just embezzled millions of dollars from her company. The murderer is actually Beryl's neighbour, teenybopper alcoholic Jeff O'Brien, but he accidentally burns the house down, killing himself in the process, before he can confess.

Luke's father, Roger Carlyle, believing that Patricia murdered his son, sends a slimy surgeon to kill her, but Patricia escapes and flees the country, returning with a new face, height and voice, and a new name - Alison Carr. Alison sets out to clear Patricia's name, but Roger discovers that she is Patricia and, still believing that she killed his son, sets out to have her killed again. He then follows Luke's route out of the series by being murdered himself. I forget who did it.

Alison's fingerprints later prove she is Patricia and she is arrested for Luke's murder. The taxi driver who could give evidence to get her off the hook has just been knocked down and killed after a gun siege at the boarding house run by Fiona, and Patricia's step-son, Wayne Hamilton, has the only piece of evidence that will save her. But he hates her.

Meanwhile, Fiona discovers that her son, Scott, believed to have died as a baby, is still alive and is now called Terry. He has just raped Fiona's best friend, Jill Taylor. Jill has just got over the shock of discovering that her mother is not really her mother, and vows never to forgive Terry for raping her, but Fiona develops maternal instincts when Terry is blinded after blowing up some trees.

Jill announces she is expecting Terry's child, but marries an Irishman she doesn't really love so he can stay in the country. She is soon widowed, and is on the verge of marrying Wayne, another man she doesn't really love, when her first husband, who is actually not dead at all, turns up at the church.

Beryl and David split up, but Beryl becomes pregnant by him and falls down a mineshaft. David believes the father is Jim O' Brien, the uncle of the teenybopper alcoholic murderer.

Confused? Try watching it...

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