Felix Dean as VJ
|Home and Away character|
|Portrayed by||Various actors (2001–07)
Felix Dean (2007–14)
Matthew Little (2014–)
|First appearance||30 November 2001|
|Introduced by||John Holmes|
|Home||6 James Street|
Vincent Alexandros "VJ" Patterson, Jr. is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Home and Away. VJ has been portrayed by various child actors since his introduction. Felix Dean played the role from 2007 until it was recast in 2014, and Matthew Little took over. VJ made his first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 30 November 2001.
The character made his first appearance on 30 November 2001 when he was born to established characters Leah (Ada Nicodemou) and Vinnie Patterson (Ryan Kwanten). From his introduction, VJ has been played by eleven different child actors. These include Carlo Teodorowych, Jack Monger, Max Theoharis, Marcus Spinetti, Jack Riddle, Harry Roberts, James Roberts, Nicholas Stevens, Cameron Stevens and Cooper Scott. Felix Dean was cast in the role in 2007. Nicodemou viewed Dean as a "surrogate son" and felts the same way that Leah does for VJ. She has also stated that she became attached to each actor that has played VJ.
In May 2014, Nicodemou confirmed that the character had been recast once again. Dean finished filming earlier in the year, while VJ went off-screen for a while. Of the new actor, Nicodemou explained "We've got a new bloke, Matt, who's started in the role. He is really lovely and eager. I think he's going to be really, really popular as well." The actress added that VJ would be all grown up when he returns, as the producers wanted him to look older. On 31 August 2014, it was confirmed that Matthew Little had taken over the role. Little was cast shortly after he completed a brief stint in rival soap opera Neighbours. He said, "I was facing unemployment and literally got the call, so it was a relief to be offered another job to be honest."
Early storylines for VJ were developed through his mother, Leah's relationships. His father, Vinnie is sent to prison and meets his old friend Jesse McGregor (Ben Unwin). Vinnie convinces Jesse to go to Summer Bay on his release and look out for VJ and Leah. Nicodemou told Jason Herbison from Inside Soap that Leah thinks Jesse is a reformed character because Vinnie would not have sent him to stay otherwise. Leah grows close to Jesse following the death of Vinnie in a fire. VJ begins to choke and Jesse saves his life and subsequently Leah kisses him. The actress told Herbison that Jesse forms a bond with VJ which makes him an ideal partner. Jesse helps Leah through problems with VJ's hearing. Following a break-up, Leah learns that VJ will become permanently deaf unless he has another operation. Jesse acts as Leah's "rock" throughout VJ's health issues and Leah wants to reconcile their relationship.
In early 2009, VJ was kidnapped by Brian Lawler (Ric Herbert), who was desperate to get his hands on Leah's inheritance. VJ was playing with Jai Fernandez (Jordan Rodrigues) and Annie Campbell (Charlotte Best) when he went missing. When Leah started looking for him, she was not initially worried, until she got a phone call from someone asking for a ransom of $25,000. Leah was not aware that the kidnapper was Brian, until she went to hand over the money. Nicodemou revealed that VJ was in "a lot of danger" and Leah did not know if he was okay. When she met with Brian, she saw VJ in the car, but Brian had a police radio and when he heard there was a call-out, he drove off with VJ. Leah was hysterical and thought that since Brian had the money, why would he come back with her son? Brian was eventually apprehended by the police and VJ was reunited with his mother.
Leah begins a relationship with Miles Copeland (Josh Quong Tart) They keep it a secret knowing that VJ is still close to her ex-boyfriend Elijah Johnson (Jay Laga'aia). Nicodemou told a writer from Inside Soap that VJ and Miles get along "really well" and he plays a "great father figure" to VJ. Leah does not want to ruin their friendship. VJ discovers the truth but chooses not to tell Leah. When Leah does admit to being with Miles, VJ reveals that already knew and has "major reservations" about their relationship. The actress said that Leah has been a struggling single mother since VJ was born. "As a result, the poor boy's had to grow up so quickly. He's very protective of his mum, so any man coming into their lives is going to have to prove himself worthy - even Miles." Leah later discovers that she is pregnant. But VJ is unhappy with the development and voices his concern. Nicodemou told the writer that Leah and Miles are worried because VJ is unenthusiastic about her pregnancy. She explained that VJ has "seen his mum go through a lot over the years, and isn't sure that they're ready for this just yet." VJ is "devastated" when Leah and Miles break up and he blames his mother. When Miles notices that VJ is struggling to cope with the changes, he tries talking with him, but VJ ends up hating his mother even more. VJ tries telling Leah how he feels, but when she refuses to listen, VJ packs a bag and runs away from home. A show spokesperson told Susan Hill from the Daily Star, "Leah has been through a lot these past few weeks and has not realised just how badly VJ has reacted to her split from Miles. When she notices he's gone she is beside herself with worry. She realises how selfish she's been and is desperate to find the lad before anything happens."
On the day VJ is born, his father Vinnie is arrested for fraud and later stands trial. Vinnie is found guilty and sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. VJ's mother Leah struggles to raise him despite assistance from VJ's uncle Alex Poulos (Danny Raco). Further problems arise with the discovery that VJ has a hearing impairment and needs a cochlear operation to repair it. Jesse McGregor, Vinnie's friend, supports VJ and Leah through this difficult time and becomes a father figure to VJ. Leah is left devastated when she learns of Vinnie's apparent death. Jesse and Leah get together but break up and Leah begins dating Dan Baker who proposes and she accepts. On VJ's third birthday, Vinnie, revealed to be alive in witness protection visits in the guise of a teddy bear and leaves a letter telling Leah and VJ to move with their lives. VJ is left injured when Dan's son Ryan (Issac Gorman) sets fire to Dan and Leah's wedding invitations but makes a recovery. In spite of Ryan's behaviour, Leah and Dan marry and VJ gains a new father figure and stepbrother.
Early into Leah and Dan's marriage, there is disharmony when Dan gets into debt through gambling and VJ's life is threatened by Dan's creditors. The final straw comes when VJ drinks some left-over alcohol while Dan falls asleep while watching him. VJ is rushed to hospital and Leah is furious but he recovers and Leah eventually forgives Dan and they reconcile. When Alex returns the following year, his drug dealing is uncovered when VJ finds Alex's tablets and nearly takes them. Leah banishes Alex as a result. Further family upheaval occurs when Ryan decides to go back to live with his mother Amanda Vale (Holly Brisley) in the city and Dan takes a new job in America and plans for Leah and VJ to join him. However, Dan dies in an abseiling accident and VJ is without a father once again.
VJ is kidnapped by Brian Lawler for a ransom of $25,000 but is freed when the police catch up with Brian. He then begins acting up and then admits that he is being bullied by older boys. Miles tries to help VJ but it backfires when Miles is charged with assaulting VJ's bully, Riley Radcliffe (Tani Edgecombe), and problems escalate. After a newspaper article portrays Miles in a bad light, VJ angrily confronts Riley and throws his bag into the sea. He then overhears Riley's dad, Ian (Ben Simpson), shouting at him for getting his mobile phone wet and tells Miles, Leah and Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher). The charges against Miles are dropped. Elijah, the new reverend at St James' church, helps VJ ease into his first day of High School and VJ quickly warms to him. After initial anger about the knowledge of Vinnie's death being kept from him, VJ asks Elijah to take him and Leah to Vinnie's final resting place in order to achieve closure. Elijah and Leah's relationship breaks up but VJ keeps secretly continues to keep in contact with Elijah when he beings missionary work in Africa.
VJ befriends Lily Smith (Charlie Rose Maclennan), who was born on the same day as him and they engineer a plan to sneak off to Africa to see Elijah. They hitch hike but get nervous when the driver wants to take them to his house and they hide in a nearby garage, where detectives Robert Robertson (Socratis Otto) and Graves (Eryn-Jean Norvill) find them. When the River Boys arrive in Summer Bay, VJ joins them for a surf but is knocked of his board by a wave and rescued by Heath Braxton (Dan Ewing). He begins idolising the group, but Leah sees them as a bad influence. When Jett James (Will McDonald) arrives in Summer Bay, he initially bullies VJ and steals his belongings. They soon become friends. Jamie Sharpe (Hugo Johnstone-Burt) becomes obsessed with Leah and VJ. When he threatens them, Leah takes VJ on a long trip to get away from him. A few months later, they return to the Bay and surprise everyone in the Diner. VJ discovers Jett is dating Nina Bailey (Emmy Dougall), whom he fell out with during primary school over a missing Pokémon card. Sally Fletcher (Kate Ritchie) returns and tells Leah that her daughter, Pippa Saunders, who Leah carried as a surrogate, has mitochondrial disease. Leah gets VJ tested and he is given the all-clear. Pippa didn't know about it until VJ and Jett told her about her disease and VJ and Jett felt stupid to tell her. When Zac's nephew Oscar stays with them, VJ gets along with him well and lets him play some video games. VJ unknowingly helps Murray, who was looking for Oscar where he lives with Zac.
For his portrayal of VJ, Dean has been nominated for Best Young Actor at the 2008 and 2009 Inside Soap Awards. VJ's name has been a source of amusement to some critics, with one calling him "unfortunately named" and another believing that he was named after an "early model Holden". Linda Barnier and Ben Doherty from the Newcastle Herald wrote that they understood his name to be short for "Video Disc Jockey", while the Sun Herald' Brian Courtis thought he had been "sensitively named". When VJ wanted to become a River Boy, Jaci Stephen from the Daily Mail proclaimed "The days when VJ never uttered a syllable (he was only ever just this side of rigor mortis) are long gone".
Stephen later wrote "If ever there was a child who had 'Bully me' tattooed on his forehead, it's VJ – he's just been too mollycoddled by his mother." When VJ named Jett as his bully, the reporter thought that the gesture would not make him popular at all. During Leah's pregnancy storyline, Stephen quipped "As if being called VJ were not bad enough, on Monday the boy is less than happy to discover that his mother is pregnant. To him, she must be about 103 (certainly it feels like that to me), so who can blame him?" Stephen also thought that "VJ is more appealing than his mum". Gary Gillatt from Inside Soap bemoaned VJ's 2014 recast, saying "Are we really supposed to believe these Summer Bay 'kids' are the same age? VJ now looks about 10 years older than Jett!"
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