Actress: Sheila Florance, 1916 - 12 October 1991
Lizzie Birdsworth was in the original 1979 cast of Prisoner. Her character
was an elderly, crotchety old devil - very devious and cunning as well as
being caring and lovable. He memorable schtick was her malingering stunts
where she would feign illness often due to her supposedly weak heart:
"Ohhhhh Mrs M., its me ticker!" was a frequent (and much loved)
line Lizzie often used to ingratiate herself into somewhere she was not
supposed to be, or to act as a decoy so someone else could do some dirty
work. Although officers usually caught on to this trick fairly quickly,
Lizzie was often successful in tricking some of the newer officers.
When Prisoner first began there were 14 regular characters: eight with
major roles and six with supporting roles. Lizzie was one of the
supporting characters, as was the character Doreen Anderson (actress
Colette Mann). This meant that early on she would just be hanging around
the prison and sometimes involved in scenes with other characters but
usually her input was just a comic one-liner her and there. During the
first episode Vera Bennett yells at Bea Smith to ensure that none of the
women ever use Vera's new nickname that Franky has just used. Vera doesn't
say what the nickname is but is obviously very angry. Anyway, little
Lizzie pops her head up from behinds Bea's shoulder and exitedly and
inquisitively asks Vera, "What'd call ya Miss Bennett?!?"
As often happened in Prisoner, the extras and background characters would
often switch from being a 'good' prisoner (ie. one of Bea/Myra/Nora/Rita's
gang) to being a 'bad' prisoner depending on which actors were called up
for duty on the particular day of filming and what the script requirements
were. An example of this is Franky Doyle's Dining Room Riot and Hostage
drama storyline in episode 3-4, with Lizzie Birdsworth being one of
Franky's collaborators in this sequence. In one shot, a mean and snarling
Lizzie helps Chrissie Latham drag hostage Meg Jackson out into view of the
assembled Officers. Anyway as Lizzie was a background character the
repercussions of her involvment in this riot were not shown on screen and
soon she evolved into the lovable, cigarette puffing Lizzie that fans know
As with most series, after only a short time on air it becomes apparent
which characters are not working and which characters seem to find that
special place in viewers hearts. This was also the case with Prisoner.
Very early on the producers realised that Lizzie and Doreen were very
appealing characters and played against each other very well. So it was
quickly decided that these characters would be upgraded and improved when
Prisoner was extended from a 26 episode series to an indefinately running
'soap'. Doreen had previoulsy shared a cell with Franky Doyle while we
never really saw scenes of Lizzie in her cell and didn't know who she
shared with. Anyway Lizzie and Doreen where transferred into Bea's cell
after Bea's previous cell-mate Marilyn Mason (actress Margaret Laurance)
was released, and the death of Doreen's cell-mate, Franky Doyle. Based
more than anything on the chemistry between this trio on screen they very
quickly came to dominate the series, basically becoming the three lead
Prisoners. This situation remained for many years the only real change
being the addition of Judy Bryant in 1980 (actress Betty Bobbitt) to the
gang, finally ending as each of the actresses eventually left the series.
Viewers very quickly came to love Lizzie. It was soon revealed that her
original crime had been poisoning 4 sheep-shearers on the farm where she
worked as a cook by putting rat-poison in their food. She did this to get
back at them as they had complained about her cooking. She misjudged the
amount of poison to put in: she had only intended to make them sick but
ended up killing all four. For this she ended up with a 20+ year prison
sentence. Lizzie was known to have been in Wentworth from the time the
prison first opened - and she had served time in the earlier, unnamed
prison that Wentworth had replaced.
One of Lizzie's early stories was her part in the prison escape of Franky
and Doreen. Lizzie actually got over the fence with them but after only a
short distance running she was too exhausted to continue. After resting
for a while she strode back up to the prison gates demanding that the
shocked gate guard let her back in!
One hilarious early storyline after Lizzie's friendship with Doreen
developed was their ridiculous plans for another escape. These plans
failed when Doreen found the 'opportunity' for them to get out, she
discovered Lizzie passed out drunk in their cell having downed a bottle of
cough medicine Lizzie knew to have a high alcohol content! Lizzie had
earlier used her wiles to swipe this medicine from the Infirmary.
In another escape attempt Lizzie and Doreen briefly discussed Lizzie
feigning amnesia which would get her released. They were quickly caught by
Officer Meg Jackson who queried what they were talking about. Doreen
nudged Lizzie to try out her act: with a wide-eyed Lizzie turning to Meg
and firing off a volley of "Who am I? Where am I? What is this place?
What am I doing here? Who am I? Who are YOU?! While Doreen quietly bit her
bottom lip giving Lizzie a subtle shake of the head, Meg gave them a long
suffering look and cooly replied "Needs work, Lizzie".
During the first year of the series it was revealed that Lizzie had not
actually poisoned the shearers. While she had put in some of the
rat-poison, the lethal dose had actually been added by someone else.
Lizzie was soon pardoned and given a big compensation payout by the
Department. At around the same time Doreen was also parolled and she and
Lizzie went to live at the halfway house that was being run by ex-prisoner
Karen Travers (actress Peta Toppano). They got up to all sorts of
hilarious mischeif during these sequences but in the inside-the-prison
scenes their presence was sorely missed. Eventually their inevitable
re-incarceration occurred. Lizzie and Doreen inexplicably stole some crate
of liquor from a bottle shop and were caught. Because Doreen was on
parole, this stunt led to her returning to Wentworth, leaving Lizzie on
the outside. Lizzie hated the new woman who took over the halfway house
after Karen Travers departure at the end on 1979 and took to heavy
drinking during the period (Lizzie, of course, loved a drink!). Soon it
was discovered that Lizzie had been going out on shoplifting jaunts every
day attempting to be charged and sent back to Wentworth. One scene showed
her superciliously strolling into a fur shop putting on all sorts of airs
and graces. Trying on a coat while the shop assistant stated that she
owned a coat similar, Lizzie suddenly dropped all pretence to sneer back
"I doubt you'd afford anything like this on a shop wage!".
Regaining her composure, Lizzie soon proceeded to waltz out of the shop
without paying, though amazingly she was not stopped by the security
guard! Standing on the outside looking back into the shop she screwed up
her face and stamped her foot and stomped off in anger at not being caught
Eventually Lizzie's large stash of stolen goods was discovered at the
halfway house and the police called. Finally Lizzie was back with her
mates in Wentworth.
At one stage Lizzie suddenly took to reading the bible and became
ludicrously high and mighty with the other prisoners. During this
storyline Lizzie suddenly developed the (out-of-character) habit of
malapropism, where she would spout such statements as "Its divine
insurrection!". Fortunately she soon got over it and returned to
Another story saw a woman and her young child turning up at the prison
claiming to be Lizzie's long lost daughter and grand daughter. Lizzie got
very attached to them and there was talk of Lizzie trying for parole and
being released to live with them. Eventually the woman admitted that their
story was not really true, they were actually not related to Lizzie at all
- they had just targeted Lizzie as they knew of the compensation payout
and they required to money to pay for a leg operation for the young
daughter who could not walk properly. After Lizzie's initial anger and
disappointment she paid for this operation anyway!
During the 1980 tunnel escape storyline, originally only Doreen, Judy,
Mouse and Irene were going to go. After they disappeared down the tunnel
Lizzie decided she would miss Doreen too much and so snuck down after
them. When Bea discovered what had happened she followed as well to try
and retrieve Lizzie, explaining that they wouldn't get 10 feet with Lizzie
tagging along behind. Not only that, but Lizzie was still heavily made up
and was still wearing her fairy-godmother costume! You see, there was also
a pantomime going on at the same time and this was used as a decoy! As
Lizzie and Bea attempted to return to the tunnel entry the roof caved in,
trapping Lizzie, Bea and Doreen in one section, while the others were
either killed, or successfully escaped. After three days they were
eventually rescued, with Lizzie being the strong one trying to keep the
other two calm.
Lizzie was released again on two other occasions and was each time
reincarcerated after it was demonstated that she really could not survive
on the outside alone. After all this Lizzie settled down to spending most
of her time puffing cigarettes and worrying about Doreen a lot. During one
of her releases, Lizzie was shown collecting money for charity while
actually pocketing most of the cash donations herself!
Lizzie also became very close friends with youngster Suzy Driscoll
(actress Jacqui Gordon) during Suzy's stay at Wentworth.
Eventually after five years in the series Sheila Florance decided to
leave. Lizzie was written out when her long-lost son Arthur tracked her
down and she went off to live with him and his family. By the time she
left, Sheila Florance was the second longest serving member of the
original cast, leaving in episode 418.
May Burns nee Anderson
Actress: Colette Mann
Born: June 15 1953
Crime: Breaking and Entering
Sentence: Four years
Doreen drifted from one institution to another throughout her life. Her
mother (Helen from Neighbours (played by Anne Haddy)) left her father when
Doreen was a young girl, and her father was unable to care for her. Her
mother eventually contacted Doreen through the Salvation Army while Doreen
was at Wentworth. She died of cancer some months later and Doreen
inherited her house. Shortly afterwards, while on parole, she met Kevin
Burns (the actor was also in A Country Practice). Kevin and Doreen decide
to get married, but Kevin's mother isn't too happy seeing as Doreen was an
ex-con. However, Lizzie Birdsworth convinces Kevin's mother that Doreen is
Then Doreen and Lizzie go to celebrate the engagement, and Lizzie
shoplifts some wine. They are caught and, though Lizzie is let off (she
had already spent 20 years in prison for something she didn't do), Doreen
is sent back to Wentworth (she was on parole). She breaks off the
engagement with Kevin, but they eventually get married in jail, and
everything seems OK. Then, during a work rehabilitation program in a
factory, she is raped by the foreman, Vince Talbot. She later seduces
Vince (!!) to get Kevin a distribution contract (Kevin was a truck
driver). Doreen gets pregnant by Talbot and suffers a miscarriage. Kevin
hears about the whole story.
Doreen tried to escape at the same time as Frankie Doyle. However, she was
recaptured (when Frankie got shot).
Actress: Betty Bobbitt
Prisoner Number: 387558
Judy Bryant (actress Betty Bobbit) first appeared in Prisoner at the end
of the first year. Her initial introduction was as the Taxi-driver
girlfriend of the bitchy, bratty little Lesbian drug dealer Sharon Gilmour
(actress Margot Knight).
Poor Sharon Gilmour was very unpopular in Wentworth and so got Judy to get
drugs to her. That would no doubt increase Sharon's popularity. During one
visit to the Prison Judy hid some drugs in the garden which Sharon later
retrieved. Another time Judy hid in the womens toilets of the hospital
where another prisoner, Chrissie Latham (actress Amanda Muggleton), was
having a checkup. Judy then passed the drugs onto Chrissie.
Nasty Sharon was really a snivelling coward who played others off against
each other to get sympathy, protection and just to enjoy sitting back and
viewing the resultant trouble she caused.
After starting a love affair of sorts with cell-mate Chrissie Latham,
Sharon intentionally gave Judy the subtle hint of this affair during one
of their visits. Sharon also subtly told Chrissie the story of the time
that Sharon was enjoying an innocent and platonic dance with another woman
at a "Gay Lib" ball when a jealous Judy roared up and bashed the
other woman senseless! This was not entirely true (although the jealousy
part was true). Sharon, of course, was just trying to stir up trouble.
Jealous Judy, worried about Sharon's 'affair' with Chrissie, turned up at
the prison one day for a visit, having intentionally stuffed a handful of
marijuana into her money-belt. This was naturally discovered by Officer
Meg Jackson straight away and Judy was straight behind bars in Wentworth -
as a prisoner - thus ending the affair between Sharon and Chrissie.
Chrissie soon after left to give birth to her baby and then moved out to
the maternity wing.
Jealous, sensitive but tough Judy, and horrible, tormenting and bitchy
Sharon battled and squabbled and fought and fought and fought. Though poor
old Judy really loved Sharon, Sharon really pushed Judy to the limit.
Sharon was really just using Judy for protection and for companionship,
but only when it suited Sharon.
Judy also had heart problems - as discovered by the doctor Greg Miller
(actor Barry Quin) and had a pace-maker fitted. This being a convenient
weakness that could be used by her enemies.
Eventually nasty Sharon had no friends left at all - even alienating Judy
in the end.
While Judy initially hated Bea Smith and bashed Bea at least once, Judy
quickly became good friends with Lizzie and the other prisoners. Judy also
became very close friends with Doreen but there was no hint of a lesbian
love affair here - they were just very good, platonic friends.
During this time there was a hilariously questionable scene where the
prison psychologist Paul Reid (respected Australian actor George Mallaby)
convinces Governor Erica Davidson (who was basically his rival) that Judy
should be moved out of the cell she was sharing with Doreen and into the
cell with Sharon with the following logic: "Doreen has just broken up
with her husband and we all know how weak and confused Doreen can be and I
believe leaving her in with Lesbian Judy could have disatrous consequenses
now that Doreen is just at the point where she is on the improve!"
Unbelievable! Although the writers probably didn't really believe it -
they just needed some lame excuse to get Judy and Sharon together.
Having them in the same cell did not improve things at all - Sharon got
madder amd crazier and more unpopular than ever. After a horrible row one
night she stormed off and no one could find her. She was eventually
discovered by Judy. Sharon had been forcibly pushed down some stairs and
her neck broken! She was dead! Who killed her? EVERYONE in the prison
certainly wanted to!
Inially Judy was suspected of the murder but it was later discovered by
Judy that slimy, sadistic Officer Jock Stewart had killed her - but there
was no proof! As Jock proudly admitted to Judy: At the time Jock Stewart
had been threatening Doreen, trying to get her to sell the house she had
inherited as Jock had received a pay-off from the building developers to
do this. Sharon had overheard Jock threaten Doreen and had tried to
blackmail Jock. Silly move Sharon! As Jock threatened to kill Sharon she
begged and pleaded with him (this was not shown, but this is how Jock
explained it). She said she wouldn't tell of his threats to Doreen - even
offering herself to Jock sexually - as long as he would let her go! He
didn't let her go - as everyone knows that Sharon never keeps her word -
and she ended up dead!
After this Judy and Bea slowly became friends. Judy unsuccessfully tried
to get rid of Jock Stewart. At one point they held a rowdy protest on the
roof of the prison. During this protest a young prisoner, Leone Burke -
daughter of prisoner Noeline Burke - fell from the roof and was killed.
Judy had been friends with Leone - treating her like a daughter. Judy felt
very responsible for her death. Later Noeline Burke took advantage of
Judy's feelings of responsibility toward her, using Judy for all sorts of
favours. Leone's death saw the end to Judy protesting about Jock Stewart
and (I think) he was soon transferred to another prison.
After that, Judy had chalked up several extra crimes and increased her
initially brief sentence. She then embarked on a series of escapes from
the prison. In the first she (I think) snuck out of hospital wearing a
police woman's uniform. She went around for quite awhile as a bogus,
Irish-accented policewoman extorting money from various shopowners,
prostitutes, et cetera. At the time she was staying a former girlfriend
who has now turned straight and gotten married. Judy was trying to get
enough money to move interstate with a new identity but was caught and
returned to Wentworth before this was possible.
During another escape Judy went to stay with ex-prisoner Helen Smart
(actress Caroline Gilmore). During this escape Judy worked as a
prostitute(!) in an attempt to earn extra money and to also track down
Jock Stewart as he apparently frequented the brothel Judy was working at.
Although she did eventually track down Jock Stewart in the brothel (and he
had sex with her!) she was not successful in avenging Sharon's murder. Not
this time anyway! And soon enough she was caught and brought back to
Another escape was through the infamous collapsing tunnel featured in the
end of 1980 cliffhanger. Judy and Mouse were the only two to actually
escape and Mouse was recaptured the following day. Judy was more
That time she met and went to stay with Wally Wallace(actor Alan Hopgood).
During this escape she also protested at the strict new security of
Wentworth, not knowing that these measures has already ceased anyway.
Anyway she was ultimately recaptured and returned to Wentworth.
Judy also at one stage fell in love with fiesty youngster Georgie Baxter
(actress Tracy Mann).. Georgie and Judy had initially become friends but
this was shortlived. Georgie was actually partly deaf although no-one knew
this (Judy was the one who discovered this deafness) and Georgie had
misunderstood Judy's intentions. In the end Georgie wouldn't have anything
to do with Judy after she discovered the way Judy felt about her.
Another of Judy's stories had her adult daughter arriving at the prison.
Judy had given her up for adoption at birth and had no idea what had
become of her. The daughter was Jennifer Bryant (actress Sussannah Fowle)
who had intentionally committed a crime so she could go to prison to meet
her mother (does ANYONE ever do this in real life???). Initially the two
shared a cell and the others thought that they were having a lesbian
affair due to their closeness. Their relationship also put Doreen's nose
out of joint as up to that time, Judy and Doreen and been best friends.
Eventually Judy set the record straight to protect Jennifer's reputation.
Basically Judy was such a successful character due to her combination of
sensitivity and thoughtfulness, conbined with her tenacity and strength.
While most of the time she was friends with Bea Smith this was not always
the case and Judy was really the only other character to ever successfully
stand up to Bea. Judy was also close friends with Lizzie and Doreen and
this made for very interesting moments as Lizzie and Doreen and their
other friends didn't always agree with Bea.
Finally after many years inside Judy was released on parole. She got in
contact with her daughter and her new husband and they helped set up a
comfortable flat for Judy. After a silly return to Prison after a theft
charge against Judy that was eventually proved false, Judy settled down to
being a fairly happy taxi driver again. This was destroyed when Jock
Stewart finally tracked her down to her flat. Attempting to attack her, he
ended up falling down the outside stairs of Judy's flat. This damaged his
spine and Jock was paralysed for life! This offered the great scene fans
had been awaiting for years: Judy looking down at the paralysed Jock,
tormenting him about the pain he caused by killing Sharon. Judy sneered
and got her vengeance while refusing to call an ambulance despite Jock's
Judy then started the halfway house for women who had just been released
from prison or had no-where to go, naming it Driscoll house after recent
young prisoner Suzy Driscoll (actress Jacqui Gordon). Later Judy inherited
$100000 from her father - that being his attempt to make amends to Judy -
and she bought a big old Victorian era mansion and moved Driscoll House
into it. At times Judy was assisted in the Halfway house by old friend
Towards the end of 1982, semi-regular prisoner Hazel Kent arrived at the
halfway house suffering great pain due to a brain tumor. In the end Judy
euthanised Hazel after both of them had endured a great deal of agony.
This crime returned Judy to Wentworth where she initially (and
unsuccessfully) tried to take over as top-dog after the departure of Bea
Smith. Eventually she teamed with newcomer Myra Desmond, and took up her
previous role in the prison.
During this stint she became very close to daffy prisoner Pixie Mason
(actress Judy McBurney). Judy 'loved' Pixie and wrote a touching ballad
about her, called "Pixie's song". The innocent Pixie didn't find
out the extent of Judy's feelings until much later and Pixie was very
shocked for a while, but Judy being good old Judy managed to explain the
situation (with Myra's help) and Pixie was soon happy again.
Finally in around May 1985, Judy was parolled, leaving Wentworth and the
series for good. Judy left to join another ex-prisoner - Sheila Brady -
who had recorded and had a big hit with "Pixie's Song". Judy
apparently lived happily ever after as we didn't ever see her again! Judy
was certainly one of the longest serving characters in the series -
appearing continuously from Feb 1980 to May 1985 - Five and a half years!
Actress: Ann Phelan
Prisoner Number: 457470
Myra has her 40th birthday in a
1984 episode, therefore was probably born in 1944. Myra was the next
"big" top dog after Bea
Smith. She was convicted of murder after she hit her husband on
the head with a blunt instrument. One major story involving her was
when she escaped prison to help her daughter who had got involved with
drug users and got hooked on drugs. While outside, she was helped by Wally
Wallace. She took her daughter to a secluded house in the country,
and kept her locked up until she had finished her "cold
turkey". Myra's daughter went through lots of pain and said she
hated her mother a lot, but in the end it was all smiles and happy
families. Myra then turned herself in.
When the three male prisoners
were brought to Wentworth, Myra got off to a bad start with Geoff
McCrae, but eventually she ended up sleeping with him.
Actress: Janet Andrewartha
Prisoner Number: 457484
Accessory to ARV, GBH, incitement
The Early Years
Reb's parents were well-off, but seem
to have paid little attention to their tearaway offspring. It was during
her teenage years that there occurred what would perhaps be the main
formative influence on all that came thereafter: the night she encouraged
her brother to steal a car. He did, it crashed, he died.
Whatever happened next, she seems to
have become completely estranged from her parents, taking up with a gang
of pickpockets led by the motherly Minnie Donovan. Such small-time
criminality was not enough for the person Reb was becoming, as she became
the girlfriend of the leader of a band of criminals intent upon a major
bank heist. The robbery was successful, but after hiding the $50,000
dollar proceeds, Reb was captured, along with a female friend. Both were
sent to Wentworth.
I first saw Reb shortly after she'd
arrived at Wentworth, around the time her boyfriend and his mate kidnapped
Officer Ferguson's father, in order to blackmail Ferguson into helping
them bust Reb out of jail. Reb knew where the $50,000 dollar proceeds of
the robbery were hidden, and Reb's boyfriend planned to kill Reb once he'd
got the loot (more for him!) but made the extremely bad mistake of
kidnapping Ferguson during the breakout. Joan, thinking her father dead,
broke free, got his gun, hunted him down and shot him dead when he tried
to jump her.
Meanwhile, Reb was somewhat
distressed upon learning from her boyfriend's mate that her boyfriend had
been going to top her (this may help explain some of her later behaviour).
The two of them went on the run, splitting up, Reb hiding the money again
before being recaptured. Ferguson, meanwhile, decided that her father's
suffering was Reb's fault, and that Reb was going to suffer for it.
Whether Ferguson had other motivations is unclear, and not something I
want to dwell on too long...
These opening episodes established
that Reb was smart, ambitious, cynical, selfish, and without any apparent
redeeming features. On the other hand, she could also be seen as a victim,
like many of the other women, and looked rather small and vulnerable for a
gangster. She always kept her jacket collar turned up, combed her black
hair to look like James Dean, and tucked her trousers into her socks. In
all, a highly neurotic personality.
Reb's craving for power and
drug-smuggling activities, both seemingly due primarily to a low boredom
threshold, naturally brought her into conflict with Myra Desmond the top
dog, and Judy Bryant. She was able to dominate a small group of low-grade
thugs, including Lou Kelly, Alice Jenkins, and Phyllis Hunt, who she later
brain-damaged with a blow to the head. Reb bashed her in the shower block
with a wooden statue. Reb bashed Phyllis because she messed up with drugs
at the fair the women staged (so Myra could escape to help her daughter).
She allowed a plant with drugs in it to be sold to the brother of Cass
Parker. Because of this incident, Phyllis' boyfriend later tries to take
revenge on the govenor (see entry for Anne Reynolds for full details).
This was something Reb appeared to feel rather guilty about, this
vestigial conscience being something that would later distinguish her from
the likes of Marie Winter, and very nearly get her killed...
"Murder's not my style."
When Myra escaped, Reb found herself
as lieutenant to the new Top Dog: Marie Winter. Winter, however, was also
developing an alliance with the Freak...
Just after Myra had turned herself
in, Winter and Reb started a riot, while Joan had drugged all the guards
except Heather. Winter ordered Reb to help her kill Myra; Reb refused, and
Winter chucked her over the stairwell. Reb was KO'd and found by Bobbie,
who was found by Heather and Joan: thus Bobbie was blamed for trying to
kill Reb! Reb denied that Bobbie was the culprit, but wouldn't at first
say who it really was, in accordance with the no- lagging rules. Myra and
Reb were soon up before VJ Sarah Higgins for their respective offenses:
Reb: "Rioting's one thing,
Higgins: "An admirable
sentiment, I'm sure."
(Higgins would later get the chance
to experience first-hand just what an admirable sentiment it really was,
but that's another story...)
While waiting with Myra on the bench,
Reb told her about Winter's plan to kill her, which gave Myra a surprise.
Talking to Judy later, about Reb:
"I can't help thinking,
there's someone there worth saving."
While this is debatable in the light
of later events, I may be biased, but I tend to agree...
Reb's mother and dying father visited
her, to attempt a last reconciliation. Wealthy, their main failing seems
to have been neglect. Reb to father (this an approximation):
"I've spent years trying to
forget you ever existed. I guess, I never really could."
Reconciliation effected. He died soon
after, which seems to have affected Reb pretty deeply. When Winter slagged
her dad off, a fight broke out, in which Reb gave Winter a good wack in
"I'd have bloody killed her if
you hadn't come in!" - to Meg.
Reb then went straight to the
governor and lagged on Winter re the chucking- down-stairwell, a move
positively received by the rest of the women. Winter, however, got Joan's
help to escape, and deal with Reb: Joan took Reb to the showers, where
Winter gave her a thorough going over - she was still injured from her
fall, and Winter's definitely an expert...
However, Reb once more refused to
kark it, and staggered out of the showers coughing blood, where she was
found by Heather Rogers:
"Ferguson... it was
- Quite an astute move by Reb, since
she couldn't have known Winter had just escaped!
These episodes showed some of the
moral ambiguities in Reb's character. Selfish, cynical, and proud of it,
there remained some limits as to what she would knowingly do to others:
and when she lagged on Winter, it was clear enough she was letting herself
in for a lot of trouble. Of course, Reb is often not as ice-cool
in-control as she wants to appear, a lot of her appeal for me comes from
the internal tension of her conflicting drives: ambition, fear,
tightly-reined anger at both herself and everyone else, and the need to
stay cool: I happen to think Janet Andrewartha is a great visual actress!
A trivial example, from later on: at the cockroach races, the crowd is
relaxing, having a good time, but Reb is clutching tightly her left arm
with her right, having to keep herself bottled up. She's incapable of
relaxing, ever. Then there's the question of her mental stability...
While recovering from Winter's attack
in hospital, Reb is visited by her mum Deidre (aka Madge from Neighbours),
with the news that her dad has left Reb the entire estate, including
$200,000 cash, but Mrs Kean is down $50,000 at the races, and she'd like
control of the estate! (Some family - wonder where they got all the dosh
from?) Reb refuses unless her mum helps her escape, which she duly does,
and they hide out at a country house. But when Reb appears to be dying,
Mrs Kean's maternal instinct kicks in, and to get Reb medical attention
she calls the police. Reb is not entirely appreciative, it turns out she
had scarring on a lung, not life threatening. Reb is visited in Wentworth
infirmary by Officer Dennis Cruickshank, just about to be suspended for
strike-breaking, who brings her some mags.
"Thanks - you're not bad, for
- about the nicest thing Reb has ever
said to anyone. Dennis replies:
"Aye, well seeing as I'm
leaving, will you take a bit of advice from a screw who's not too bad?
You've got to stop rebelling against everything, or you'll never get
anywhere - and that includes your mother."
Once out of the infirmary, Reb is
determined to make her mother - now there on remand - suffer for turning
her in, making her eat over-salted food, and leaving her to Lou's tender
mercies. Ferguson is now back on duty, having survived Reb's accusation
(surprise!). She sends Mrs Kean to Lou & co for a bashing in the
laundry, then gets Reb alone, and is about to drag her up the stairwell
and chuck her from a great height, when Myra & Judy come into the
cell. The Freak backs off, Reb hesitantly tells Myra what's happening to
Mrs Kean. The goodies run to her aid, attacking the baddies. Then Reb runs
in, sees her mum concussed and bleeding, and is overcome by filial
Mrs Kean is OK, she and her daughter
make up, just before she is released on bail. Reb thanks Myra, she gets
her mum control of the estate, and decides to testify that her mum only
helped her escape because Reb had threatened to kill her - thus acquittal
for mumsy, a couple more years for Reb (added to 2 for Phyllis, 6 months
for the riot...). Officer Heather Rogers tries to recruit Reb's help vs
the Freak, but Reb points out that the Freak would have Heather for
breakfast. Unfortunately true.
Shortly thereafter Reb intervenes to
stop Lou & co beating up Heather, but Heather gets sacked for trying
to set up the Freak, then admitting it! (Bad move). The Freak now seeks to
recruit Lou for revenge on Reb - Reb gets herself transferred to Myra's
cell, while successfully keeping Lou intimidated - pity Myra could never
manage that trick!
Had Reb left/died/been transferred at
this point, I think the general consensus would be that she was more good
than bad (I'm open to contrary opinions!) For one thing, she's about the
only prison character never, ever to have killed anyone (albeit she came
close with Phyllis!), and she does seem to have had some genuine respect
for Myra, though much of her sucking up was pretty transparent, there did
seem some genuine affinity. What she really couldn't stand was stupid
people, and boredom - so she got her kicks manipulating Lou and thwarting
authority, represented both by Governor Ann Reynolds and by Myra the Top
Dog. Of Joan, she seemed genuinely scared, and seemed to know she could
win battles, but never the war.
When Joan catches Reb with a
sharpened knife on her, Reb is to be taken to solitary. Instead, Joan
takes her up the stairwell... what Joan hadn't reckoned with was that this
gave Reb time to get ready. At the top, there's a brief struggle, and Joan
goes over, but catches on to the railings (conveniently wearing trousers.)
"For God's sake Keane!"
"Swivel on it, bitch!"
- But then Reb has a vision of
Phyllis, and discovers that she's incapable of killing in cold blood, even
someone who almost certainly deserves it. Reb runs off and gets help, by
the time she finds Mrs Barry she's composed again. Barry rescues Joan, who
accuses Reb of trying to escape. Reyno doesn't believe Joan, decides that
Reb getting help was a point in her favour, and has Joan take Reb to
Out of solitary, Reb is busy selling
cannabis through Lou, while making up with the rest of the women, though
she's still pretty withdrawn. She tries using the psycho trailing Reyno to
blackmail her for $50,000 - but Lou gets caught & charged w. the
psycho's murder of a cop. Lou breaks out, kidnaps Reb's mum, and gets
several thousand of Reb's dollars before being caught by a waiter! Still,
Reb's control over Lou seems to be faltering.
When Joan blackmails Ray Proctor, the
cook, into an abortive attempt to maim Reb, she gets him to file a letter
with his solicitor. This effectively protects them both from Joan.
With Reb's enemies neutralised or
befriended, she seemed secure. Ironic that she should be a victim of her
own success... With Myra growing sick of the strains of rule as Top Dog,
Reb gained a reputation as someone who could "get things done",
even as she continued to use Lou to sell drugs under Myra's nose. Reb
telephoned the local press - breaking her beloved comb trying to get
through a security door - and got the male prisoners released from
solitary. For some reason she kept her role in this secret, probably
because Myra would have disapproved. *Very* ironic... given that Myra
ended up going to bed with one of them. Reb promised Myra her support-
shortly afterwards, Myra resigned, handing over the position to Reb, who
had not openly sought it.
Myra: "They're all
Reb: (pause) "... Anyone got
Things went downhill rather rapidly
from there... Lou told Myra who was behind the drugs racket, which rather
harmed Reb's relationship with Myra:
"You are scum, Kean."
Reb had instituted a "free
drugs" policy all round, which helped with temporary popularity, but
her sneaking Rabbit a cocaine biscuit - Rabbit turned out to be allergic -
didn't help. When Ferguson found Pixie holding some of Lou's dope, Reb got
Pixie off by lagging on Lou - then tellling Lou she thought Pixie had
lagged on her! Displaying all the wit and political guile of John Major,
Reb was next lured into a trap by Myra, who offered to let Reb sell the
soft drugs, if she stopped peddling the hard stuff. Reb refused - no one
ever gets hooked on grass...
Myra: "Don't you care at all
about the women?"
Reb: "Bugger the women - the
only one I give a stuff about is me!"
This did not go down well with the
women when Myra played it back on Bobbie's tape recorder in the rec room.
Reb then tried to institute rule through force, a fairly futile exercise.
In the laundry, Myra wacked her in the stomach, humiliated her, and took
back the hot press, the symbol of Ultimate Power. At this point, Reb at
last resorted to an attack on Myra - her and Lou attacked Myra in her
cell, but Ferguson was alerted by Yemil Bukata, and caught her in the act.
Reb had just annoyed Ray Proctor, making the solicitor's letter useless.
Overcome with frustration, she went for the Freak, who gripped her throat
in a deathlock, smiling triumphantly... Reb gave in.
Before the assembled crowd of
inmates, for the last time she turned up her collar, combed her hair, and
took the long walk to solitary. Reynolds was happy to have her transferred
to Blackmoor - she had been prosecutor in the "trial" of Sarah
Higgins, and Reyno suspected her of Higgins's subsequent demise - about
the only thing Reb *wasn't* guilty of. Late at night, Joan put on her
black leather gloves and paid Reb a little visit in solitary. Reb was
standing against the far wall:
"Don't tell me - you want to
remember me just the way I am."
There then followed a little
conversation - I unfortunately couldn't make it all out - Reb seemed to
justify herself in some way:
"But you - you're a joke -
without that uniform you'd be nothing."
Ferguson left without delivering the
expected beating. As she left, Reb grabbed her by the collar, and swore -
she would be back! At noon the next day, Reb was transferred to Blackmoor.
Blackmoor And Beyond
It could be said that Reb wasn't very
popular at Blackmoor... given that they broke almost every bone in her
body, some several times over. By the time Reb reached Blackmoor, Marie
Winter seems to have got herself well- established, such that Reb's life
was rarely out of danger. In addition, the dreaded Cynthia, one of the
officers and a friend of Joan's, seems to have taken a personal dislike to
her. As well as regular beatings, and lengthy - illegally extended -
spells in solitary, Cynthia did her best to starve Reb to death. This
combination of brutality, isolation and starvation succeeded in reducing
Reb to a near-catatonic state, at which point she was transferred to
Ingleside mental hospital and subjected to ECT - a total of 27 times.
Which, surprisingly, she survived, and even "recovered", albeit
at the cost of most of her memory. However, her personality had been
radically altered. As the doctor who "treated" her observed:
"I've seen results like this
in men returning from (POW camps in) Vietnam. The human spirit can only
take so much..."
The person Reb had become was meek,
scared, childlike - and innocent, her past stripped away. But her past was
not about to forget her...
The authorities decided that, since
returning Reb to Blackmoor would effectively be a death sentence, she
would have to go somewhere else. Hence the clandestine meeting between two
officers of the Department of Corrective services:
Cynthia: " Reb Kean's going
back to Wentworth, Joan. I want her dead."
was gathered by a friend from another website.