Adam Rhys Dee,
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||2,285|
|Running time||30 minutes per episode|
|Original run||March 30, 1997 – December 30, 2005|
Family Affairs was a UK soap opera, produced and distributed by FremantleMedia. It was the first show to air on Five when that channel was launched on March 30, 1997. The serial was broadcast in half-hour episodes, screening each weeknight.
The soap never achieved high ratings. Several major cast reshuffles, plus changes in tone, style, and setting all occurred during its run.
The serial originally focused on the Hart and Gates family and their friends and acquaintances living in the fictional town of Charnham. The Hart family consisted of parents Chris (Ian Ashpitel) and Annie (Liz Crowther) and their four children, ladies' man Duncan (Rocky Marshall), confused 24-year-old virgin and trainee-solicitor Holly (Sandra Huggett), police constable Melanie (Cordelia Bugeja), and schoolboy Jamie (Michael Cole). Chris and Annie's parents were also featured. After losing his wife, Sally (Jean Heywood) in the opening episodes, Chris's father Angus (Ian Cullen) came to live with the Hart family. Annie's parents who lived nearby were the staunchly conservative Elsa Gates (Delena Kidd) and philandering Jack (Ken Farrington). Other original characters were Chris's partner in their building business, Nick Trip (Barry McCormick), Nick's troublesome teenage son Liam (Stephen Hoyle), Melanie's bubbly best friend Claire Toomey (Tina Hall), Annie's baby-obsessed best friend Maria Simons (Annie Miles) and Duncan's loyal drinking partners Tim (Idris Elba) and Roy (Miles Petit).
The action took place in a series of modern, middle-class suburban houses and spacious apartments whose geographic relation to one another was not clearly defined by the series. The primary meeting place for characters was the slick and modern riverside bar restaurant The Lock. The expansive parklands and forested areas of Charnham Common were also frequently visited by characters.
Later in 1997 Maria's ex-husband, the callous Pete Callan, appeared in town. Pete, played by ex-Brookside actor David Easter, provided the series with a much-needed villain, and he quickly became the show's standout character. Another early arrival was the sassy bisexual Susie Ross (Tina Landini), who took a job at The Lock.
In the show's storyline Liam became involved in a post office robbery. His lawyer was Pamela Hargreaves (Sandy Hendrickse), and she soon embarked on a romance with Liam's father Nick. Meanwhile Pete bought The Lock, further cementing his importance to the series. Entrepreneur Peter Stringfellow even made a guest appearance in the series.
By mid-1998, the show's poor ratings prompted the producers to drastically revamp the series. Brian Park, famous for his overhaul of ITV's Coronation Street which included the controversial writing-out of several long standing characters including Derek Wilton, was appointed as Family Affairs' new producer and was tasked with remodelling the series. It was decided that the Hart and Gates families - who formed the basis for the serial - would be entirely written out. A few minor characters were also slated to go. As the departure storylines were plotted a range of diverse new characters were slowly introduced to the series. The changes began in episodes that went to air in the closing months of 1998. The first characters to go were Tim, Susie and Liam, while storylines began to focus more on newcomer Pamela and her romance with Nick. Pamela's mother Sadie Hargreaves (Barbara Young) soon entered the storyline, showing herself to be a lovable but meddling old gossip.
Other newcomers were lovable rogue Dave Matthews (Richard Hawley), his brassy, shameless chain-smoking wife Cat (Nicola Duffett), and his son from an earlier marriage, Josh Matthews (Terry Burns). Dave was initially an ex-marital love interest for Annie Hart, before falling in love with her daughter Holly.
Viewers were also introduced to the strident owner of the local mini supermarket Dusty McHugh (Doreen Singleton), her mouthy daughter Yasmin (Ebony Thomas) and her conscientious son Benji (Junior Laniyan). They lived in a flat above their shop. An adjacent flat within the same building was occupied by students Declan Byrne (Quentin Jones), Gabby Johnson (Emma Linley) and Clive Starr (Huw Bevan). Meanwhile Clive's older brother Dudley Starr, also known as Serge Pompidou, (David Verrey) became the new chef at The Lock.
Yasmin, known for her ostentatious facial piercings, quickly started a relationship with Josh Matthews. Meanwhile the plain and pudgy Clive was revealed to viewers as gay and secretly in love with hunky flatmate Declan. Serge, himself embarked on a romance with Maria, and they were soon married. Another staff member of The Lock was vapid barmaid Siobhan Jones (Jemma Walker). Seen initially in a support role on only a recurring basis, Siobhan would soon develop into one of the show's main characters.
In late 1998 Jack murdered his wife Elsa and then committed suicide. Then on January 29, 1999, the entire Hart family (except for Duncan who had already left the series) was killed when, on Roy and Melanie's wedding day, a gas explosion swept through the boat on which the reception was being held. Roy was the only survivor. Immediately, the show's theme tune and opening titles were revamped to reflect the serial's new direction. The titles now deployed flashes of a tube journey to Charnham Tube Station, linking Charnham with the city of London, over which shots of the new characters gradually introduced over preceding weeks were shown.
For several months the existing locations continued to be featured: Maria's flat, the marina, The Lock, while Dave and Cat lived in the former Gates residence. Despite the tube station in the new opening sequences, the occasionally seen exterior shots of the show's locales along with brief glimpses of Sadie's home and the frequently-visited Charnham Common suggested that Charnham was a modern, green and spacious small town.
New characters continued to be added to the series, with the Derwin family, comprising the censorious Fern Derwin (Belinda Sinclair), her easy-going taxi-driver husband Max (Nick Stringer) and their rebellious foster son Arlo Dean (Ash Newman), joining the storyline. The Derwins soon fostered the troubled and sensitive Gemma Craig (Angela Hazeldine) who had recently lost her entire family. Meanwhile Josh Matthews pursued a singing career, enlisting a manager (played by Jonathan Coleman making a guest appearance) and recording a CD, which didn't sell. Serge and Maria were married and she soon announced her pregnancy, while refusing to let Serge anywhere near her or to even share the same bed for many months. She was in fact faking the pregnancy, merely wearing a cushion under her dress. Maria eventually stole a baby from a maternity hospital, bringing it home and attempting to pass it off as her own new-born child. However the truth quickly came out with the baby being promptly returned to its real parents.
Throughout the rest of 1999 and 2000, the departures of Claire, Nick and then Maria left Roy Farmer as the show's only remaining original character. Pamela and Serge had also departed, while Dusty McHugh moved to Jamaica, leaving Yasmin and Benji - and the shop - in the care of her sister-in-law Pearl McHugh (Doña Croll). Dusty returned briefly for a Christmas visit, before returning to Jamaica where she was later killed, off camera, in a car accident. Meanwhile Max died of a heart attack six months after joining the series; Fern subsequently discovered that he had an illegitimate son, Maxwell from a relationship with another woman, living in a nearby town and Max had left him everything.
Claire returned to the series in 2000, hardened by her disastrous marriage to Pete, this time without her twins who remained with her sister.
In 2000, coinciding with the introduction of the Warrington family, the geographic focus of the series was redefined as being on Stanley Street in the fictitious W15 borough of West London. Previously the specific location of Charnham had never been explicitly stated (although it has been stated by some sources that the location had been Kent); it was known to be close to a river, and characters sometimes travelled to Maidenhead. With the late 1998 infusion of new characters, it was established Dusty and her children lived over their minimarket, and that in the next door flat were students Declan, Gabby and Clive. Now we would see action regularly extend to the shop's street exterior and the surrounding buildings, and this location was revealed to be the bustling Stanley Street with its row of narrow shopfronts and terrace houses. Just as Roy was establishing his new internet cafe business next door to Yasmin's mini supermarket, the Warringtons moved in across the street. Roy came to live in the street as well, and when Pete sold The Lock to buy old-style pub The Black Swan, this too was revealed to be on the same short street.
In quick succession any regular characters not already living there soon moved into Stanley Street, while Sadie's home was inexplicably shifted there without her having to move house. After this the various locations seen earlier in the series - such as The Lock and the marina - would not be seen again. Alongside Yasmin's minimarket and the newly opened internet cafe, The Black Swan would become one of the show's primary meeting places: despite the fact that Pete was openly hated by most of the show's characters, they still all followed him to become regulars at his new pub. From now on most outdoor taping was on the outdoor Stanley Street set, reducing the number of time-consuming location shoots while confining much of the action to the one street.
Many storylines revolved around Pete Callan and his various crimes, schemes, and love affairs. Meanwhile the large group of younger characters in the series went through a series of romances and breakups. The newly-introduced Warrington family became key figures in the show's on-going storylines. Nikki Warrington (Rebecca Blake) endured marriage problems and problems with her large blended family which also consisted of her doctor husband Andrew (Simon Cook), his children Luke (Royce Cronin) and Sara (Beth Cordingly), and Nikki's children Becky (Chandra Reugg) and Darren (Joe Fox, later Ike Hamilton) from her previous marriage to Adrian Scott (Ariyon Bakare), who was at the time serving a prison sentence. Nikki then became embroiled in scandal when she embarked upon an affair with her step-son Luke. Their relationship became one of the show's most memorable storylines, and was played alongside that of Pete Callan's latest misdemeanour - framing new wife Siobhan for the murder of Dave's son Josh. Siobhan had struck a blow to a suspected burglar in the darkened kitchen upstairs at the pub, where she lived with Pete, before realising the "burglar" was merely barman Josh Matthews. Siobhan falsely believed that her blow to Josh had killed him, when it merely knocked him unconscious. Pete, who was on the scene in seconds and who had a deep-seated enmity with Josh and Josh's father Dave, secretly delivered the deadly blow after Siobhan left the room in terror. Siobhan was quickly arrested and sent to prison.
As 2001 came around the Warringtons were extended to include their relatives, the Webb and Ellis families, comprising Nikki's brother Matt Ellis (Matthew Jay Lewis), his girlfriend Karen (Tanya Franks) and Karen's brother Jim Webb (Jo Dow), and her nephew Paul Webb (Martin Delaney). Through these changes Gabby and then Clive departed. Their places in their flat were taken by a succession of attractive young residents, including Polly Arnold (Juliet Cowan) and the bossy Dr. Tanya Ayuba (Laila Rouass). Polly romanced Declan Byrne but when her brother Gavin Arnold (Neil Roberts) arrived in town she resumed her illicit love affair with him. A disgusted Declan ended his romance with Polly and left Charnham.
Jim ultimately became Cat's reluctant second husband and Paul soon paired up with orphan Gemma Craig(Angela Hazeldine), who lived with well-meaning but meddlesome foster-mother Fern. Fern had herself married Roy's father Vince (Stephen Yardley). Meanwhile Karen embarked upon a controversial lesbian affair with her child's surrogate mother, Sadie's niece from Australia Kelly Hurst (Nicky Talacko). This storyline also featured the brief appearance of Kelly's father and Sadie's brother-in-law Barry, portrayed by Tony Booth.
In 2002 new characters included Cat's niece Geri (Anna Acton), and yet another new family, the troubled Davenport clan, who moved into the flat originally occupied by Declan, Gabby and Clive. The mother Ginny (Joanna Foster) was recovering from a severe bout of depression while husband Robert (Brian Cowan) worked to set-up a catering business on Stanley Street. They had three teenage children: Jessica (Sammy Glenn), Cameron (Rupert Hill) and Lewis (Sam Stockman). They were soon followed by Robert's much-younger adoptive brother Jude Davenport, openly despised by Ginny, Cameron and Lewis after he had romantically pursued Jessica. Meanwhile, Charlotte Day (Leanne Lakey) arrived and began working at the Black Swan and quickly became a love interest of Pete Callan. She was later joined by her younger sister Lucy (Julia Lee Smith), and their mother Eileen (Rosie Rowell). After Charlotte's departure, Eileen and Lucy would become involved in many of the show's key storylines over the next few years.
Leaving the series was Yasmin and Benji's Aunt Pearl, who moved away. Meanwhile the storyline followed a guilt-racked Siobhan as she endured prison and a lengthy court case after being framed for Josh's murder. She was eventually released and returned to Charnham, where she and others slowly began to piece the truth together. However nothing could ever be proved and Pete got away with the crime. Eventually Siobhan left town in 2002.
Robert Davenport had a one night stand with Geri, after which she accused him of rape. He went to trial but was acquitted. The stresses led to the breakup of his marriage, with Ginny moving to France, taking daughter Jessica with her. Jude Davenport also moved away.
2003 cast revamp
All members of the Warrington, Webb and Ellis families were abruptly written out of the story, and original character Claire Toomey left Charnham after a long return stint. Robert Davenport and co-worker Fern Farmer were killed when a runaway car ploughed into the shopfront of Robert's catering business. The driver was Dave's recently arrived step-son Jake Walker (Seb Castang) who lost control of the stolen car during a police chase, following a botched deal by Gabriel Drummond. However the biggest casualty of Davis's arrival was the show's only remaining original character to have appeared continuously for the entire run of the series, Roy Farmer, who was killed in a fire in his internet cafe business.
These departures left just a handful of old characters on board, with Pete, Sadie, Yasmin, Cat and the returning Dave as the only pre-2002 characters remaining in the show (Pete had joined in 1997, the others in late 1998). Pete Callan was now the show's longest-serving character. Pete and Eileen were married, however she had in fact married him for strategic reasons in a long-term plan for revenge.
Indeed it was Eileen, in league with the sinister Mike Shaw (Tony O'Callaghan), who had set the fire in the internet cafe that killed Roy. It was done in an attempt to frame Pete for arson. No one knew Roy was inside when the fire was set and when Pete was arrested for setting the fire the charge was arson and murder. Pete was sent to prison on remand and was absent from the series for many months. He was seen in only a few isolated episodes where other characters visited him in prison. He eventually returned to the storyline with his trial. He was acquitted and returned to Charnham and to running the pub with Eileen, who had become licensee while he was in custody. On his first day back one of his tasks was to dispose of the body of Mike Shaw, who, in an incident somewhat similar to the death of Josh Matthews, had been accidentally killed by Lucy Day upstairs at the pub, after he had tried to rape Eileen. The story became even more complicated as Eileen's son she had adopted out, Sam Taylor (Leon Ockenden), had made a reappearance in her life. Sam was Eileen's son from a previous relationship with Mike. Pete quickly learned that Eileen and Mike had set the fire in an attempt to frame him for arson, and he plotted a slow and satisfying revenge.
Meanwhile, another series of new characters were brought in to remould Family Affairs once again. Undoubtedly the most significant of these were the Costello family. Gary Costello (Gary Webster) was a businessman who had lost money in a failed business deal, and was forced to move from a far more expensive neighbourhood to the comparatively modest Stanley Street, much to the shame and embarrassment of his snobbish, socialite wife Chrissy (Kazia Pelka). Their daughters, teenager Melanie (Rebecca Hunter) and Chloe (Leah Coombes), were more concerned about leaving behind their school friends. The family was later joined by Gary's dependable mother Myra (Kate Williams).
Other important newcomers in 2003 included the fractious Boulter family who opened a restaurant on the site of Roy's destroyed cafe. They consisted of moody, judgemental father Les Boulter, caring mother Denise (who harboured a secret about a long-ago affair), closeted bisexual son Brendan, and teenage daughter Kelly. Also moving in to Stanley Street was a young 'couple' comprising nurse Tanya Woods (Carol Starks) and her gay best friend Sean Steel (Sam Barriscale). Another new arrival, Doug MacKenzie (Gareth Hale), became Cat's third husband, while his womanising son Marc (Michael Wildman; later Graham Bryan) married Yasmin. Meanwhile Doug's younger son and Marc's half-brother Justin (Ryan Davenport) provided comic relief as the local clown; however, no one was laughing when his fling with Kelly Boulter led to an unplanned pregnancy. Kelly went on to have the child, and the couple began living together.
With the new cast members in place, in 2004 the show focused on the new characters through several major storylines. During one of the many marital upsets that characterised the Costello household, daughter Chloe retreated upstairs and rifled through older sister Melanie's possessions, finding a stash of MDMA (ecstasy). She took several of the pills which made her ill. Hospital tests revealed the source of the illness, but also suggested she might also have cancer, and further tests were ordered. In the public outpouring of sympathy and support for the family, Chrissie finally found acceptance in the neighbourhood. When tests showed Chloe did not have cancer, Chrissie failed to report this fact, convincing Chloe to maintain a pretense of illness as a "little game". Unfortunately the lie took hold, leading to many months of Chrissie deceiving the community and her own family, convincing everyone that Chloe was undergoing chemotherapy. When Eileen saw them out shopping when Chloe was purportedly in hospital, and after picking up on other hints, she voiced her suspicion that Chrissie was faking Chloe's illness. Eileen was ostracised by the community for several weeks, with no one believing her. Chrissie's pretense continued several more weeks until a suspicious Tanya removed Chloe's bandages to reveal that there were no injection wounds at all.
Tanya herself was pregnant to her gay best friend and flatmate Sean: as platonic friends with little propect of parenthood presenting itself, they planned to become parents together and Tanya had undergone IVF treatment. Brendan Boulter would soon become engaged to Melanie Costello, and go on to marry her, while conducting an affair with Sean. Denise Boulter had been largely ostracised by her outraged daughter and husband after the truth about her long-ago affair with Caleb came to light. However they eventually reconcilied their differences, although Brendan would leave town to escape his own problems.
Gary and Chrissie's marriage had faltered, leading to their separation, but the family reached its lowest ebb when Chloe Costello was sexually abused by a family friend, Bradley Foster (Harry Capehorn). The Boulter's marriage was again tested when Denise was raped by an unseen assailant. She later accused local taxi driver Graham Harker (Lee Warburton) of the crime, despite a total lack of evidence, and the Boulter family began hounding him, seeking revenge. Graham started a romance with Melanie who became his sole supporter.
Gary and Chrissy Costello eventually reconciled and Gary proposed on Christmas Eve 2004. Melanie had earlier refused to attend their remarriage ceremony due to clashes with her parents over her relationship with Graham; on the day of the ceremony however Melanie had learned that their suspicions had been correct and that he was a dangerous rapist. Her absence was actually due to his holding her captive in his flat. Melanie was able to enlist Denise's help escaping from Graham. These events would see him brought to justice; however, repercussions from these events would also lead to the Boulter's marriage disintegrating. Les and Denise both left Charnham.
Meanwhile at The Black Swan there emerged a recurring villain capable even of rivalling Pete: the psychotic Trish Wallace (Gabrielle Glaister). An unnerved Eileen was being blackmailed by someone who threatened to reveal to Pete that Eileen herself had framed him for arson. Pete in fact knew this already, and he and Eileen endured several tumultuous story twists as each schemed and plotted against the other. This culminated in the dramatic 2000th episode in late 2004, where Pete threw Eileen into the River Thames. Pete's eventual comeuppance followed an armed showdown between Pete, Trish, and Eileen in September 2005. Pete was shot dead after a shootout with armed police officers.
Several other characters, including Sadie, Dave and Lucy, were written out of the series as Alison Davis ended her reign to be replaced by ex-Hollyoaks producer Sean O'Connor. O'Connor quickly outlined his plans for the show, including a name change and many new younger, more glamorous characters. However his plans were cut short by the announcement soon after his arrival that Five would not be renewing the series for 2006. This timing resulted in numerous barely-known new characters populating the final episodes, making the finale all the more challenging to pull off effectively.
At its end, the regular contract cast of Family Affairs were as follows:
- John Hopkins played Rex Randall, the enigmatic new owner of The Phoenix (formerly the Black Swan)
- Catherine Kanter played Hester Randall, Rex's imperious sister
- Nicola Duffett played Cat MacKenzie, a chain smoking, boozy beautician with a heart of gold
- Gareth Hale played Doug MacKenzie, Cat's kindly third husband, ex-mayor of Charnham
- Graham Bryan played Marc MacKenzie, manager of the Corner Café and Doug's elder son
- Ryan Davenport played Justin MacKenzie, builder and Marc's younger half-brother
- Adam Rhys Dee played Ben Williams, worked for Justin having been released from a Young Offenders Institute
- Felix Scott played Nathan Fletcher, a local police officer and newcomer to Charnham
- Zara Dawson played Eve O'Brien, hairdresser and wife of Nathan
- Daniel Hyde played Jason Wilding, high-flying businessman and newcomer to Stanley Street
- Katy Edwards played Coral Wilding, Jason's spoiled wife with a fondness for life's luxuries
- Gary Webster played Gary Costello, local cab driver and husband of Chrissy
- Kazia Pelka played Chrissy Costello, receptionist at the Cuti-licious beauty salon
- Leah Coombes played Chloe Costello, the eleven-year-old daughter of Chrissy and Gary
- Rebecca Hunter played Melanie Costello, the twenty-year-old prodigal daughter of Gary and Chrissy
- Kate Williams played Myra Costello, Gary's mother and fond grandmother of Chloe and Melanie
- Florence Hoath played George Fitzgerald, a friendly nurse from St. David's hospital
- Perdita Avery played Meredith Lovechild, also a nurse and George's manipulative best friend
- Andrew Hinton-Brown played Hector Price, a doctor; housemate of George and Meredith
- Article partly derived from the Wikipedia article Family Affairs