31 May 2011

EastEnders: Sue And Ali Osman, 1988...

January 1988, and Sue and Ali Osman (Sandy Ratcliff and Nedjet Salih) are the stars of the cover of Woman's Own. The tragic fictional couple are facing the arrival of a new baby and perhaps a bright new future...

Bright new future? Well the past had been anything BUT bright. Turkish Cypriot Ali Osman had come to England in 1975 and married his English wife, Sue, in 1982.

By early 1985, the Osmans were living in a thoroughly grotty flat in Albert Square, Walford, E20. Ali worked as a taxi driver and Sue ran the cafe in nearby Bridge Street.

The light of their lives was their baby son, Hassan.

Sue had been the child of older parents, both of whom never lavished much warmth or affection on her. She grew up emotionally insecure, and was often to be heard accusing Ali of being unfaithful to her.

Good natured Ali had his own problem - he was teetering on the brink of becoming a compulsive gambler.

Insecure Sue had a simple philosphy in life: get at people or be got at.

As well as bubble and squeak, hot tongue and cold shoulder were always on the menu at the cafe and Sue liked to make sure that the likes of Lou Beale (Anna Wing) got a large helping if required.

She worried over Ali's gambling, and sometimes her rants were fully justified. On one occasion, Ali risked the cafe on a bet!

But that bet paid off, showering them in money.

And then, just afterwards, Hassan died.

A cot death.

Sue and Ali were shattered. After her chilly upbringing, Sue found it hard to let her emotions have free reign, Ali experienced sexual difficulties in the wake of the tragedy.

The state of play in 1987: Ali's brother, Mehmut (Haluk Bilginer) and sister-in-law Guizin (Ishia Bennison) are now participating in running the business with Sue and Ali - and the Ozcabs taxi firm is underway (remember Dot Cotton (June Brown) answering the phone for Ozcabs in her "posh" voice?!).

Sandy Ratcliff wasn't terribly happy with stuck-in-the-mud Sue. In a 1987 interview, she said:

"Sue really annoys me sometimes because she's got no guts. I'd love to liven her up a bit, dress her in some of Angie's clothes, get her out of that cafe, set her up in a business of her own and allow her to make something of her life."

Sandy was into women's rights, and thought Sue should be, too:

"I was under the impression she'd become more assertive. I had visions of a bunch of feminists walking into the cafe one day right in the middle of a typical Sue and Ali fight, and them asking her why she puts up with him.

"No doubt Sue would screw up her nose and ask: 'What do you mean?' But she'd think about it, want to hear more and gradually begin to change her ways to become stronger, more independent!

"I get cheesed off with Sue. She isn't me at all."

And then, in October 1987, Sue announced she was pregnant again.

After years of trying following the death of Hassan, the Osmans were once more to be parents.

The couple's dearest wish.

So, we could be forgiven for thinking that a happy era was on the way for the troubled couple?

Certainly, Sandy Ratcliff and Nedjet Salih believed so when they were interviewed for the January 16th 1988 edition of Woman's Own...

"It's going to be the making of Sue and Ali," said Sandy.

"Neither of them has ever got over the death of Hassan but hopefully the new baby will fill the void in their life."

"Ali is over the moon about being a dad again. It's time they got lucky, isn't it? Hassan has been gone for more than two years and I think Ali was beginning to think Sue would never get pregnant again," said Nedjet.

"The marriage was going downhill. Ali is no angel, but he's had a lot to put up with and has been very tolerant about Sue's depressions. Sue hasn't been easy to live with, she's been such a misery. No wonder he's been looking at other women... although to be honest it's all bravado. He'd get cold feet when it came to it. It's really only Sue he loves and wants."

Some viewers were very involved. Back to Nedjet:

"We've had baby gifts sent in (which will all go to charity), letters of congratulation and wherever I go people stop me in the street and say, 'Well done!' "

"Sue's getting pregnant has put me in a dilemma," said Sandy. "I knew nothing about the baby plans until a few weeks ago when I came back from my holidays and was told that Sue was pregnant again. Sue has gone through enough in the last couple of years. I'm glad she's got her dearest wish. I think she'll make a great mum and I'm sure Ali will be supportive. Hopefully, the story-lines will open up for me, but it also means that if the pregnancy goes well and the baby is fine, it would be very difficult for me to leave without there being another tragedy in the Osman family. I don't think that would be fair on the show or the viewers."

Sue's sour puss attitude and downbeat life were the cause of Sandy's thoughts about leaving the show.

"She's been such an unhappy woman since Hassan died. And it was beginning to rub off on me. I'd go to work, six days a week, be stuck in that grim little cafe and be permanently miserable. I got to the stage when I started to ask myself if I really wanted to spend all my working life playing a misery.

"Now Sue is pregnant and happy I feel differently about the role. So maybe it would be fun to stick around for a couple more years - if I'm wanted."

Sandy linked arms with Nedjet as the interview came to a close.

"I think Sue and Ali are going to be blissfully happy and very successful. Who knows, they might even become Yuppies!"

"Why not?" grinned Nedjet.

Stranger things have certainly happened in Albert Square! commented Women's Own.

Of course, being Albert Square, even way back then, blissful happiness was as unlikely as a tiny shoulder pad in 1988.

Shame really.

Many of us daft viewers were certainly hoping that Sue and Ali would be OK.

So, what DID happen?

Well, in a nutshell, the baby brought with it bad times indeed and the Osmans story ended with Sue taking the child ("Ali junior"), and leaving Ali, Ali snatching the child back, and Sue then having a nervous breakdown and being admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Before the end of 1989, Ali had left Albert Square, and Sue had disappeared into the hospital.

And so the state of blissful happiness envisaged by Sandy Ratcliff never happened.

Bleedin' typical!

1 comment:

entssouthwales said...

Oh Lord! I think this lead up to the point when i stopped watching this show! How depressing! I wonder what became of Sandy and Nedjet?