Jim Robinson (Neighbours)
|Portrayed by||Alan Dale|
|First appearance||18 March 1985|
|Last appearance||29 April 1993|
|Created by||Reg Watson|
|Introduced by||Reg Watson|
James Robinson is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Alan Dale. Jim was created by Reg Watson as one of Neighbours' twelve original characters. He made his on-screen debut in the soap's first episode, which was broadcast on 18 March 1985. Jim was the patriarch of the Robinson family. Dale departed the show in 1993 after falling out with the producers over pay and his character was killed-off on 29 April 1993. He appeared in 1064 episodes, and was the most featured male character in the 1980s.
Creation and casting
Jim is one of the twelve original characters conceived by the creator and then executive producer of Neighbours, Reg Watson. Actor Robin Harrison was originally cast in the role and had already shot some scenes when contract negotiations broke down. The role was then offered to actor Alan Dale and the scenes featuring Harrison were reshot. Dale had been out of work for a few weeks following the cancellation of Possession, when he was offered the part by producer John Holmes. The character had intrigued Dale, who thought that parts of Jim's life echoed his own life at the time. He explained "It's like it was written for me. It's a great role and naturally it's one I can really relate to. You have to be fairly similar to a character you play, otherwise you'd go insane."
Backstory and characterisation
In his 1988 book Neighbours: Behind the Scenes, James Oram wrote that the role of Jim was vital to Neighbours and described him as an anchor, in the same way Leslie Grantham's role of Den Watts was to British soap opera EastEnders. In his fictional backstory, Jim was a widowed father of four, who lived in Ramsay Street with his mother-in-law Helen (Anne Haddy). Helen moved in with Jim after her daughter, Anne, died during childbirth. Helen's husband Bill had also recently died and she was happy to come and help care for her grandchildren: Paul (Stefan Dennis), Julie (Vikki Blanche; Julie Mullins), Scott (Darius Perkins; Jason Donovan) and Lucy (Kylie Flinker; Sasha Close; Melissa Bell).
Jim's original character outline appeared in Oram's book:
"Jim Robinson's wife died during the birth of Lucy and since then he has dedicated his life to ensuring that his four children have the best home life he can give them with the help of Helen Daniels. Jim is an understanding and caring father who uses reason in disciplining and educating his children. He has a great sense of fun and enjoys playing with his children. Jim is in partnership in a small engineering works."
Josephine Monroe, author of Neighbours: The First 10 Years, stated that Jim was the type of man that other men disliked because he had it all: a nice house, his own business, lovely children and a way with women. Monroe observed that Anne's death had caused Jim's personality to change and there was always a "reserved sadness about him". He was also perceived as being "stuffy and proper". Soap Box author Hilary Kingsley described him as being "reasonable, accessible, quiet and calm." He never argued with Helen and was polite to her friends. Jim was also reliable and understanding, particularly when it came to his children, who he was devoted to. While he shared some similarities with his character, Dale insisted that he was not as steadfast or as patient as Jim.
Despite his reputation with women, Jim did not have that many relationships during his time in the show. Dale complained about this, stating that he thought Jim's celibacy was unrealistic. Shortly after Neighbours began, Jim had a brief relationship with Anna Rossi (Roslyn Gentle), who left him because she did not want to cause a feud between his family and the Ramsays. Jim next on-screen romance was with Zoe Davis (Ally Fowler), which shocked the neighbourhood because she was a woman twenty years his junior. Dale did not think there was anything wrong with an older man dating a younger woman. The relationship did not sit well with the Robinsons and Lucy was especially unhappy about it. However, Jim and Zoe continued to date and were shocked when Zoe became pregnant. Jim was reluctant to become a father again in mid-forties and he and Zoe grew distant, as she wanted to keep the baby. Jim later proposed to Zoe, but when she suffered an ectopic pregnancy, they broke up.
Later that year, Jim met Englishwoman Ruth Wilson (Stephanie Daniel) on a plane, while he was returning home from America. The couple "got on like a house on fire." Ruth checked into Lassiter's Hotel, which was run by Paul. However, when Ruth was unable to pay for bill, Jim stepped in and paid it for her. He then invited her to stay with his family for the duration of her visit to Australia.
Dale stayed for eight years before Jim was killed off. He left when he fell out with the producers over the pay he and the rest of the cast received. In an interview with the Metro newspaper, Dale called his time working for Grundy "the worst experience", he added "They practically forced us to be miserable. It paid me enough to get my boys through their teenage years, but I wasn't happy and we parted on bad terms." Dale also said that the Neighbours producers "stitched" him up on his last day of filming. Jim died of a heart attack and Dale said "they left me lying on the floor all day. They enjoyed themselves". Dale struggled to find work in Australia after Neighbours because he was typecast as Jim.
Jim has a brief relationship with Anna Rossi, before he begins a relationship with Zoe Davis, who is twenty years his junior. Both Paul and Lucy disapprove of the relationship. Zoe becomes pregnant, but she miscarries and later leaves Erinsborough. Jim then dates Ruth Wilson (Stephanie Daniel) and she is welcomed into the family, before she leaves for London. Jim's daughter Julie later leaves to marry Philip Martin (Christopher Milne; Ian Rawlings). Jim comes into conflict with his youngest son, Scott, when he announces that he is going to marry Charlene Mitchell (Kylie Minogue). Jim eventually gives the couple his blessing. Jim has a love for cars and he buys an old motor racing car. He later buys fifty percent of Rob Lewis' (Ernie Bourne) garage, and after Rob's death, Jim buys the rest of the business. His cousin, Hilary (Anne Scott-Pendlebury) introduces him to Beverly Marshall (Shaunna O'Grady) and they later marry.
Beverly's niece and nephew, Katie (Sally Jensen) and Todd Landers (Kristian Schmid) come to stay and Todd becomes like a son to Jim. Beverly wants children despite Jim's reluctance. After two miscarriages and a failed adoption, the couple separate and Beverly leaves. Jim is shocked when Glen Donnelly (Richard Huggett) turns up and reveals he is Jim's son. Jim had a brief relationship with Glen's mother during the Vietnam War. Jim welcomes Glen into the family. Todd dies after being knocked down by a van, devastating Jim. Jim has a massive heart attack following a bike race and needs bypass surgery. Pam Willis (Sue Jones), a nurse at Erinsborough Hospital, helps Jim recover and they begin to develop feelings for each other, but she later reunites with her husband.
Annalise Hartman's (Kimberley Davies) mother, Fiona (Suzanne Dudley), sets her sights on Jim knowing he is wealthy and Jim ignores the warnings from his family that Fiona is a gold digger. Helen and Julie try to warn Jim that Fiona is only after his money, but Jim refuses to listen. The stress of all the feuding takes its toll on Jim and he suffers another heart attack. He collapses on the kitchen floor and dies. Instead of phoning for an ambulance, Fiona transfers his money to her account and lets his sister-in-law Rosemary Daniels (Joy Chambers) discover his body.
In 2007, Amazon.co.uk reported that they had sold more DVDs of films and television shows featuring Dale than any featuring other ex-Neighbours cast members. Dale has sold over twice as much as Kylie Minogue (Charlene Robinson). The Times named Jim's death as one of their top 15 most memorable Neighbours moments and The Independent named his death as one of the 10 best soap exits.
Ruth Deller of website Lowculture gave Jim a 4 and a half out of 5 for his contribution to Neighbours, in a feature called "A guide to recognising your Ramsays and Robinsons". During a review of Neighbours' 20th anniversary episode, television critic Charlie Brooker expressed his disappointment that Jim did not make an appearance, he said "It's a shame they didn't go the whole hog and include updates from those characters who left Erinsborough in a coffin. I'd have loved to see, say, Jim Robinson bellowing a few lines from heaven (never spoke without shouting, that man)".
In 2010 to celebrate Neighbours' 25th anniversary, BSkyB, a British satellite broadcasting company, profiled 25 characters of which they believed were the most memorable in the series history. Jim is in the list and describing him they state: "Jim lives on in the collective memory thanks to people declaring whenever Alan Dale is on TV, 'look, Jim Robinson is on Torchwood/24/Ugly Betty, LOL.' Push them harder, and they'll probably just about remember Jim dying of a heart attack in the chintz-tastic Robinson home in 1993. Such is the fate of a family man who didn't really have memorable storylines outside of his four walls, but he did bequeath a set of Soapland's finest, most gently mental children, including villainous 'business' man Paul, occasional stripper Lucy, technically-not-his-daughter Julie, and technically-not-his-monobrow Todd Landers".
In her book Soap Opera, author Dorothy Hobson described Jim as breaking the stereotype of the time because Jim owned a successful business and branded him a "successful role model for a single father running a home." In 2013, Rachael Misstear from the Western Mail included Jim's death in her list of the "10 tear-jerking soap opera exits". She commented "Sad mainly because it marked the end of an era, Neighbours veteran and patriarch Jim Robinson suffered a fatal heart attack and collapsed in very dramatic fashion on the kitchen floor."
- Mercado 2004, p.202.
- Oram 1988, p.108.
- Haywood 1991, p.159.
- Kingsley 1988, p.376.
- Monroe 1996, p.39.
- Monroe 1996, p.41.
- Haywood 1991, p.158.
- Monroe 1994, p.100.
- Oram 1988, p.109.
- Monroe 1994, p.134.
- Monroe 1994, p.101.
- Dessau, Bruce (8 March 2008). "Alan Dale: the Journey from Neighbours to King of Spamalot". The Times. News International. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- Williams, Andrew. "Neighbours star slams US sausage". Metro. Associated Newspapers. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- "Alan Dale: In My Own Words". The Sunday Telegraph Magazine. 1 June 2008. p. 013.
- "Amazon.co.uk: Dale's Sales Thrash ex-Neighbours Stars". Amazon.co.uk. 27 September 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- Teeman, Tim and Jackson, James (5 February 2008). "The top 15 most memorable Neighbours moments". The Times. News International. Retrieved 26 May 2010.
- "The 10 best soap exits". The Independent. Independent News & Media. 23 June 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2010.
- Deller, Ruth (23 July 2009). "A guide to recognising your Ramsays and Robinsons". Low Culture. Archived from the original on 14 August 2009. Retrieved 7 May 2010.
- Brooker, Charlie (15 October 2005). "Everybody needs good Neighbours". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved 31 May 2010.
- "Neighbours: 25 Top Characters". Sky Digital. BSkyB. 2010. Archived from the original on 23 March 2010. Retrieved 26 April 2010.
- Hobson 2003, p.16.
- Misstear, Rachael (29 December 2013). "10 tear-jerking soap opera exits that will have you reaching for your hanky". Western Mail. Retrieved 30 December 2013.
- Haywood, Anthony (1991). The Who's Who of Soap Operas. Guinness Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-0-85112-966-2.
- Hobson, Dorothy (2003). Soap Opera. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7456-2655-0.
- Kingsley, Hilary (1988). Soap Box. Macmillan Publishers. ISBN 978-0-333-46949-1.
- Mercado, Andrew (2004). Super Aussie Soaps. Pluto Press Australia. ISBN 978-1-86403-191-1.
- Monroe, Josephine (1994). The Neighbours Programme Guide. Virgin Books. ISBN 978-0-86369-831-6.
- Monroe, Josephine (1996). Neighbours: The First 10 Years. Penguin Group. ISBN 978-0-7181-4212-4.
- Oram, James (1988). Neighbours: Behind the Scenes. Angus & Robertson. ISBN 978-0-207-16075-2.