Marnie Reece-Wilmore as Debbie
|Portrayed by||Mandy Storvik (1985)
Katrina McEwan (1985)
Marnie Reece-Wilmore (1992–2005)
|Duration||1985, 1992–94, 1996–97, 2005|
|First appearance||22 July 1985|
|Last appearance||27 July 2005|
|Created by||Reg Watson|
|Introduced by||Reg Watson (1985)
Don Battye (1992)
Stanley Walsh (1996)
Ric Pelizzeri (2005)
Coffee Shop waitress and manager (1997)
Lassiter's employee (1997–)
Deborah "Debbie" Martin is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Marnie Reece-Wilmore. She made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 22 July 1985. Debbie was initially played by Mandy Storvik and later Katrina McEwan. Reece-Wilmore was cast in the role in 1992. Debbie remained in the show until late 1994 and returned in 1996 and left again on 22 October 1997. In 2005, Reece-Wilmore reprised her role as Debbie for the show's 20th anniversary. It was revealed that Debbie is working for Lassiter's in New York. She appeared in 401 episodes.
Mandy Storvik was the first actress to play Debbie in 1985. Reece-Wilmore was cast in the "much sought after" role of Debbie in 1992. She was initially reluctant to attend the audition because she was out with friends and saw it as an interruption. Reece-Wilmore explained "I just wanted to get it over with and get back to the shops. When I think back on it now I realise how close I came to messing it up because of my attitude." She was told she had the part of Debbie a couple of weeks later. The actress departed at the end of 1994, but was lured back to the soap with the promise of "sizzling" storylines and a new look for her character. In April 2005, Kris Green of Digital Spy reported that Reece-Wilmore would reprise her role for the show's 20th anniversary episode.
Debbie is the oldest child of Philip (Ian Rawlings) and Loretta Martin (Lyn Semler). Josephine Monore, author of Neighbours: The First 10 Years, said Debbie was not one of the show's glamour girls, but just "an ordinary girl next door" who did well at school because she worked hard. A writer for the BBC described Debbie as having spirit, gumption and determination. They added "The poor girl did have her dark moments, though. She had it in her head that she was not nearly as pretty as the girls at school, or her neighbours, and that can be a terrible curse for a teenager."
In 1994, Debbie developed bulimia. She was struggling with the pressures of school and her unrequited love for Andrew "Macca" Mackenzie (John Morris). She was also depressed over the state of her parents' marriage. Debbie was seen bingeing on food and then deliberately making herself sick. Her friends suspected something was wrong when they discovered a food stash underneath her bed, but Debbie denied having a problem until she collapsed at a rehearsal for the debutante ball and was rushed to hospital. Mary Fletcher of Inside Soap said "Friends and family have already realised something is wrong with the normally sunny-natured Debbie. It's not only puppy fat that she seems to be losing – her weight has dropped dramatically." Reece-Wilmore told Fletcher that everyone can remember a time when they felt like they were under a personal black cloud, but it probably felt like it was raining 24 hours a day for Debbie. Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) became especially keen for Debbie to seek professional help for her condition and she went to stay in a clinic. Helen's daughter Rosemary (Joy Chambers) then invited Debbie to spend some time with her in America. Fletcher said the whole experience was a chance for Debbie to grow closer to her family.
Reece-Wilmore revealed she came up with the idea for the bulimia storyline, saying "When I came back from my Christmas holiday, I'd lost tons of weight. Everyone commented on my new figure and I thought to myself 'If there was anything wrong with me, those sorts of comments would have made me really paranoid about my weight.'" The actress then suggested the storyline, believing it was a subject familiar with a lot of teenage girls. The Neighbours bosses were initially "wary" of tackling such a difficult and sensitive storyline and a spokesperson said "We try to tackle serious issues such as bulimia as much as possible. We may not be able to wave a magic wand and make the problems go away, but by dealing with current situations they become topics for wider discussion." Reece-Wilmore added that she could see how eating disorders were connected to teenagers' anxieties about approaching adulthood as she used to make herself sick to avoid going to school.
Debbie's sudden return from the United States surprises her father. She sports "a sophisticated new image", but also seems troubled by something. Debbie eventually broke down and confessed that she had had a relationship with Rosemary's personal assistant and toyboy, Joel Supple (Bruce Hughes). Joel later arrived in Erinsborough and declared his love for Debbie, before asking her to return to the United States with him. A columnist for Inside Soap deemed the storyline "racy".
Debbie is taken to the hospital after she tries to commit suicide following escalating tensions between her parents Philip and Loretta. Several months later, Julie Robinson (Julie Mullins) arrives to tell Debbie and her brother Michael (Troy Beckwith) that there has been a car accident and their mother is dead. Julie helps look after the children and she eventually marries Philip. The family later move to the country and are heard from sparingly throughout the years.
The Martin family return to Erinsborough for the funeral of Todd Landers (Kristian Schmid), but get lost along the back roads, after finding Helen Daniels (who was taken hostage earlier by Todd's father, Bob (Bruce Kilpatrick). The family settle into Ramsay Street and Debbie is immediately attracted to Rick Alessi (Dan Falzon) and they begin dating much to Julie's chagrin. When Rick wins tickets to see Michael Jackson in London, he invites Debbie but knowing their respective parents, the teens concoct a plan with Rick's older brother, Marco (Felice Arena) acting as Rick's chaperone and while Helen and Debbie tell Philip and Julie that they will be visiting a friend of Helen's in the outback. The plan works and the four of them arrive in London. While there, Rick and Debbie encounter George Carter (Andrew Dicks), a young thief who has been stealing to raise money for his dying brother, Terry (Lee Cheesewright) to see Michael Jackson in concert. Rick and Debbie then give their tickets away. Their act of generosity makes news and the two appear on the Casey Butler show. They worry about the show being broadcast in Australia, but are assured that it will not. However, it makes Australian news and is eventually broadcast leaving Julie livid, sparking a war between the Martins and Alessis.
Debbie and Rick's relationship steps up a gear when the couple decide to have sex. Soon after, Rick's parents decide to move to Sydney, which could spell the end for the couple. However, Rick gets to stay. Debbie and Rick later break up and Debbie begins dating Darren Stark (Scott Major), who unknown to her, has served time in a juvenile detention centre with Michael. Rick tries to warn Debbie about Darren but she ignores the advice. After a robbery goes awry, resulting in Michael being shot while trying to save Debbie, Debbie realises Rick was right about Darren. When Andrew "Macca" McKenzie begins working for Doug Willis (Terence Donovan), Debbie becomes besotted with him. When Macca rejects Debbie's advances, she questions him and he reveals he is gay. Debbie spirals into an eating disorder, which is discovered by Cody Willis (Peta Brady) and Brett Stark (Brett Blewitt). More problems arise for Debbie when Julie dies and Philip is the prime suspect for pushing her off the roof of the hotel they stayed in during a Murder Mystery Weekend. Philip is cleared when Debbie reveals Julie had been drunk that night and she watched her fall from the roof.
Following Julie's funeral, Debbie agrees to go with Rosemary Daniels to New York. Several weeks later, Debbie receives a phone call while on 5th Avenue and talks with Philip. Debbie returns home in the wake of an affair with Rosemary's boyfriend, Joel Supple. After settling back in the area, Debbie begins first working at the pub and later the coffee shop. She is upset to find Darren has been released from prison and is cold towards him. When Luke Handley (Bernard Curry) is diagnosed with cancer and undergoes chemotherapy, Debbie is keen to help him and ends up embroiled in a battle for his affections with Danni Stark (Eliza Szonert). In the end, Luke chooses Danni.
Debbie later becomes manager of the coffee shop and briefly begins a second romance with Darren (now Todd MacDonald). The relationship does not last as Debbie believes Darren still has feelings for his ex-girlfriend, Libby Kennedy (Kym Valentine). When Helen dies in October 1997, the family are devastated. Michael, who arrives home for the funeral suggests Debbie comes back to Marree with him. Their younger sister, Hannah (Rebecca Ritters) feels like everyone is deserting her, but Debbie comforts her and leaves with Michael after the funeral. A few years later, Debbie appears in Annalise Hartman's (Kimberly Davies) documentary about Ramsay Street. She reveals she is working for the New York branch of Lassiter's.
A writer for the BBC's Neighbours website named Debbie's most notable moments as "Going to London to see Michael Jackson" and "Tipping a bowl of dip over Rick Alessi's head during dinner." Matthew Clifton, writing for entertainment website Heckler Spray, included Debbie in his list of "The Best Ever Mid-90s Neighbours Characters". He said "One word: eyebrows." When Debbie developed feelings for Luke, an Inside Soap columnist stated "Debbie Martin certainly knows how to pick her men, doesn't she? After sinking her claws into her great aunt's toyboy she has now fallen for a man who has found out he has cancer. Talk about setting herself up for a fall. Just like her mother."
- Johnston 2005, p.210.
- Fletcher, Mary (April 1995). "Going to school made me sick!". Inside Soap. Attic Futura (UK) Ltd (32): 22–23.
- "Neighbours saved my life!". Inside Soap. Attic Futura (UK) Ltd (12): 40. August 1993.
- "Dating auntie's toyboy". Inside Soap. Attic Futura (UK) Ltd (59): 44. 5–18 October 1996.
- Green, Kris (14 April 2005). "More Neighbours returns confirmed". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Character: Debbie Martin". BBC. Archived from the original on 17 August 2004. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- Monroe 1996, p.112.
- "Character: Debbie Martin". BBC. Archived from the original on 15 April 2005. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- Clifton, Matthew (15 April 2009). "The Best Ever Mid-90s Neighbours Characters". Heckler Spray. Retrieved 10 March 2012.
- "Tuesday". Inside Soap. Attic Futura (UK) Ltd (62): 57. 16–29 November 1996.
- Johnston, Tony (2005). Neighbours: 20 years of Ramsay Street. News Custom Publishing. ISBN 978-1-876176-78-5.
- Monroe, Josephine (1996). Neighbours: The First 10 Years. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-7181-4212-4.