Willis family

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For the American entertainers, see The Willis Family.

The Willis family are a fictional family from the Australian soap opera Neighbours. They were introduced by Don Battye in 1989, but left screens in 1996, before being reintroduced in 2013. The first family member to be seen on-screen was Brad Willis, who appeared in a guest capacity from October 1989, and then his sister Cody from November. The family became a more permanent fixture with the arrival of patriarch Doug Willis and his wife Pam, who moved onto Ramsay Street the following year. Cody was the last family member to regularly appear in the show until her on-screen death in 1996, which brought Pam back briefly to bury her daughter.

In 2013 Richard Jasek reintroduced a grown-up Brad Willis with a new family; wife Terese, and twin teenagers Josh and Imogen. Doug and Pam returned in guest capacities, while Brad's long lost child Paige Smith joined the family a year later, and Brad and Terese's youngest daughter Piper arriving in 2015. The family was completed by Brad's eldest son Ned Willis in 2016, who arrived the same week that both Josh and Doug were killed off in "Hotel Death Trap Week", where Lassiter's Hotel exploded.

Family members[edit]

Brad Willis[edit]

Bradley "Brad" Willis made his first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 31 October 1989. He was initially played by Benjamin Mitchell, before Scott Michaelson took over the role two years later.[1] Brad was re-introduced alongside his sister, Gaby (Rachel Blakely), during a period of roller coaster ratings for the show.[1] A reporter for the Herald Sun called Brad "one of the show's most popular characters" and commented that Michaelson had a huge following because of his "blonde surfer looks."[2] For his portrayal of Brad, Michaelson earned a nomination for Most Popular Actor at the 1993 Logie Awards.[3] Kip Gamblin took over the role in June 2013 when Brad and his family returned to the show[4]

Cody Willis[edit]

Main article: Cody Willis

Cody Willis, played by Amelia Frid, made her first on-screen appearance on 24 November 1989. Frid successfully auditioned for the role of Cody and she called the experience a "right time, right place thing", she also added that "it was all kind of surreal."[5] Cody became the second member of the Willis family to arrive in Ramsay Street and she dates both Josh Anderson (Jeremy Angerson) and Todd Landers' (Kristian Schmid).[6] Cody is described as a "studious girl".[6]

Doug Willis[edit]

Main article: Doug Willis

Douglas "Doug" Willis , played by Terence Donovan, made his first screen appearance on 1 August 1990. Doug is described as being a "bit of a Regular Joe who didn't like rocking the boat or standing out from the crowd." He is also "a man's man" who is not afraid of using his fists and takes great pleasure from making home-brewed beer with Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver).[7] A writer for the BBC said Doug's most notable moment was "Having an affair with Jill Weir."[8] Donovan made a brief return for the show's 20th anniversary celebrations in July 2005.[9]

Pam Willis[edit]

Main article: Pam Willis

Pamela "Pam" Willis (previously Beresford), played by Sue Jones, made her first screen appearance during the episode broadcast on 6 August 1990. Jones was cast in the role following a screen test.[10] Pam is characterised by her helpful personality, she loves her four children and continually tries to help them out. Pam extended her caring nature through her time on the show working as a nurse.[11] Josephine Monroe praised Pam in her book titled "Neighbours: The first 10 years" stating: "A real salt-of-the-earth-type. Pam could always be relied on to help out, especially if it benefited one of her four children."[11] The BBC said Pam's most notable moment was "Kicking Doug out of the house after having he told her about his affair with Jill Weir."[12]

Adam Willis[edit]

Adam Willis, played by Ian Williams, made his first appearance on 9 August 1990. Williams was invited to play the role of Adam shortly after he appeared in Bony, another Grundy production.[13] Williams said the part appealed to him as it was flexible and Adam's humour kept him "fired up."[13] Williams explained that he felt similar to his character as they both loved their families, but he was not impressed with Adam's naivety.[13] The BBC said Adam's most notable moment was "Chauffeuring a Lassiter’s client while wearing a toga."[14]

Gaby Willis[edit]

Main article: Gaby Willis

Gabrielle "Gaby" Willis, played by Rachel Blakely made her first on-screen appearance 12 August 1991. A highly ambitious woman who works in the Robinson Corporation, though her aggressive nature is somewhat tempered after she gives birth to son Zac. Gaby becomes the proprietor of the upmarket boutique "Gabrielle's" until her departure in 1994. In 2005, Blakely was one of over twenty ex-cast members who returned to Neighbours to appear in Annalise Hartman's documentary film about Ramsay Street.[9]

Faye Hudson[edit]

Faye Hudson
Neighbours character
Portrayed by Lorraine Bayly
Duration 1991–92
First appearance 28 November 1991
Last appearance 14 May 1992
Introduced by Don Battye
Classification Former, regular
Profile
Occupation Housewife
Home Paris

Faye Hudson (née Willis), played by Lorraine Bayly, made her first on screen appearance on 28 November 1991. Shelley Dempsey of The Sun-Herald branded Faye a "busybody".[15] Bayly chose to leave her role to begin rehearsing for a stage show.[15] She made her last appearance as Faye on 14 May 1992.

Lorraine Bayly played Faye Hudson

Faye arrives in Erinsborough and begins staying at Number 28 much to the consternation of her brother, Doug (Terence Donovan), and his family. During the first day of her arrival, she scolds Toby Mangel (Ben Guerens) for playing with snails, which Doug has asked him to collect and criticizes Pam's cooking. Faye's presence serves to irritate the family when she meddles in their affairs and generally takes over the house. The family try various schemes to get rid of her but they backfire. Faye leaves for a short holiday with Nev Cusack (Ewing), a friend of Doug's and when she returns Faye reveals that she and Nev are engaged. On the day of the wedding, Doug is forced to break the news that Nev has jilted her. After her initial unhappiness, Faye pursues Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) much to his displeasure. Jim enlists Dorothy Burke's (Maggie Dence) help to stage a cover that they are a couple to ward off Faye's attention.

Faye's stay with the Willises comes to an end when she oversteps the mark by inviting Doug's childhood sweetheart, Alexandra Lomax (Chantal Contouri) to dinner and telling Pam that Doug only married her on the rebound. Doug tells her to leave and she does, only to move two doors down to Number 32 which she rents from Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy). Cameron (Benjamin Grant Mitchell), Faye's estranged son arrives to defend Pam on a murder charge and later moves in with her after they repair their relationship. Gaby (Rachel Blakely), Faye's niece opens her own fashion boutique Gabrielle's at the Lassiter's complex and Faye cannot help but interfere. One night, Faye fails to turn off a heater, which results in the shop burning down. For a while she remains silent but confesses to a furious Gaby. The insurance company take a suit against Faye and she flees Erinsborough at night. Faye later communicates with the family via postcards and is last known to be living in Paris.

The BBC said Faye's most notable moment was "Being jilted at the altar by Nev Cusack."[16] Faye was nominated for Soap's Biggest Bitch at the 1993 Inside Soap TV Awards.[17]

Cameron Hudson[edit]

Cameron Hudson
Neighbours character
Portrayed by Benjamin Grant Mitchell
Duration 1992–93
First appearance 24 March 1992
Last appearance 23 April 1993
Introduced by Don Battye
Classification Former, regular
Profile
Occupation Lawyer
Journalist
Stand-up Comedian

Cameron Hudson, played by Benjamin Grant Mitchell, made his first appearance on 24 March 1992.[18] Mitchell had recently finished appearing in the Victorian State Opera's production of The Wizard of Oz.[18] Cameron is the son of Faye Hudson (Lorraine Bayly), who arrives in Ramsay Street in to defend his aunt Pam Willis (Sue Jones) who is accused of murdering Garth Kirby (Roy Baldwin).[18] Cameron is able to prove Pam's innocence successfully. Cameron repairs his fraught relationship with Faye and moves in with her at Number 32. After Faye moves out, Cameron invites Beth Brennan (Natalie Imbruglia) to move in with him. Cameron becomes involved with Jacqueline Summers (Tiffany Lamb) after he helps her on a case but the relationship ends when he finds that he could be facing legal proceedings for becoming involved with a client and when Jacqueline realises he is not completely convinced of her innocence in the case.

Cameron later finds himself offside with the Martin family when he defends Raymond Chambers (Greg Parker) who is accused of trying to abduct Hannah (Rebecca Ritters). Despite Chambers' ex-wife mentioning that he had previously tried to kidnap their daughter in Hong Kong and eyewitness testimony from Toby Mangel (Ben Guerens), Chambers is acquitted, furthering Cameron's stress and he begins to doubt himself as a lawyer. When Cameron intervenes in a confrontation between Chambers and Toby, He is even more convinced of Chambers' guilt and when Cameron arrives home, he finds Chambers' waiting for him in the dark and he blames Cameron for his life being ruined. Cameron forces Chambers to get help and after he breaks down in tears, Chambers hands himself into the police and confesses to the abduction. The Martins apologise for their treatment of Cameron.

After Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy) wants to rent Number 32 to the Martins, Cameron and Beth move in with Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver). During this, Cameron does some investigating and discovers Gavin Heywood (Peter Hosking) is involved in some shady business. When Heywood catches Cameron, He has him roughed up by some thugs and is about to have him thrown down a lift shaft. Cameron offers to work for Heywood to prevent being killed and uses this to gain more information. Heywood then begins involving members of Cameron's family in his business. Cameron's life is endangered again when he overhears Heywood and his associate Noddy (Richard Piper) plot to kill him but he engineers a plan which results in Heywood's downfall. Cameron then changes career track and becomes a journalist for the Erinsborough news but is frustrated and surprises everyone with his next career choice; stand-up comedy

When Lou's daughter, Lauren (Sarah Vandenberg) arrives from Queensland, Cameron is smitten with her but does not know she is having an affair with Cameron's cousin, Brad (Scott Michaelson). In order to ward off Cameron's suspicions, Lauren agrees to go out with him. The truth later emerges and Cameron leaves Erinsborough in disgust.

Bert Willis[edit]

Bert Willis
Neighbours character
Portrayed by Bud Tingwell
First appearance 18 February 1993
Last appearance 5 March 1993
Introduced by Alan Coleman
Classification Former, recurring

Bert Willis, played by Bud Tingwell, made his first screen appearance on 18 February 1993.[19] Bert is Doug (Terence Donovan) and Faye's (Lorraine Bayly) father.[20] He walked out on his wife and children when they were young, leading to a falling out with Doug that lasted for many years.[20] Bert's granddaughter, Gaby (Rachel Blakely), got in touch with him and they began a correspondence. She and her mother later invited Bert to stay with them, although Doug was against the idea.[20] An Inside Soap writer commented "He won't tell them what the problem is, and they think that whatever it is, they can re-build the relationship. But they've got to work fast because times's not on their side."[20]

Bert is asked to come and stay with his family in Erinsborough by his granddaughter Gaby. Bert tries to explain and apologise to his son, Doug, for walking out on him and the family. However, Doug is unable to forgive his and asks that he leave. While speaking to Wayne Duncan (Jonathan Sammy Lee), Bert reveals that he is dying and Wayne realises that he came to make amends before he died. He eventually tells Doug about Bert's condition and Doug manages to stop his father from leaving on a boat, before making up with him. Bert is grateful to Wayne for his part in the reunion with Doug. He tells Gaby that his dying wish is to see her and Wayne get together as a couple.

The episode featuring Bert's revelation about his terminal cancer was nominated for the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Episode in a Television Drama Serial in 1993.[21]

Zac Willis[edit]

Zac Willis
Neighbours character
Portrayed by Jay Callahan
First appearance 25 July 1994
Last appearance 17 October 1994
Introduced by Alan Coleman
Classification Former, regular
Profile
Home Darwin

Shannon Zachary "Zac" Willis, played by Jay Callahan, was born on screen during the episode broadcast on 25 July 1994. Zac's mother, Gaby (Rachel Blakely), became pregnant to her flying instructor, Jack Flynn (Mark Pennell). Shortly after she announced her pregnancy, Cheryl Stark (Caroline Gillmer) also announced she was pregnant.[22] Josephine Monroe, author of Neighbours: The First 10 Years, said everyone expected Gaby to give birth first, but "in true Neighbours style" both Gaby and Cheryl went into labour at the same time.[22] Gaby gave birth to a healthy baby boy, while Cheryl gave birth to a daughter who was premature.[22] Gaby names her son, Shannon, but Cheryl also uses the name for her daughter. While registering the birth, Doug Willis (Terence Donovan) decides to name his grandson, Zachary, after his grandfather. Gaby was not happy, but realised she liked the shortened version of the name, Zac. Jack returns and reveals he wants to be part of his son's life. When Gaby gets a job in Darwin, Jack decides to move with her and Zac. Shortly before they leave, the Willis family have a naming ceremony at Number 28 and Gaby plants a tree for Zac.

Reception[edit]

During a feature on Neighbours, Anna Pickard of The Guardian tried to choose the characters she would be most starstruck by if she met them. She said "It would have to be the Willis family. All of them. Pam, Doug, Adam, Gaby, Brad and Cody".[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Cockington, James (11 August 1991). "Neighbours". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). p. 11. Retrieved 21 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Where are they now?". Herald Sun (The Herald and Weekly Times). 11 July 2007. Retrieved 22 June 2011. 
  3. ^ Dempsey, Shelley (7 March 1993). "Airwaves". The Sun-Herald (Fairfax Media). p. 18. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  4. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (7 February 2013). "Updated: 'Neighbours' to introduce another new family". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Kidd, Ian (10 June 2008). "Interview with Neighbours Actress, Amelia Frid (Cody Willis)". Perfectblend. Retrieved 7 January 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Monroe, Josephine, p. 72
  7. ^ Monroe, Josephine, p. 53
  8. ^ "Character: Doug Willis". BBC. Archived from the original on 7 October 2003. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  9. ^ a b Green, Kris (14 April 2005). "More Neighbours returns confirmed". Digital Spy. Hachette Filipacchi UK. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  10. ^ "Accused of murder!". Inside Soap (7): 53. March 1993. 
  11. ^ a b Monroe, Josephine, p. 54
  12. ^ "Character: Pam Willis". BBC. Archived from the original on 7 October 2003. Retrieved 2 May 2011. 
  13. ^ a b c Neighbours: The Official Annual 1992. Hamlyn. 1991. p. 58. ISBN 978-0-600-57311-1. 
  14. ^ "Character: Adam Willis". BBC. Archived from the original on 13 April 2005. Retrieved 10 November 2011. 
  15. ^ a b Dempsey, Shelley (20 June 1992). "Airwaves". The Sun-Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 26 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Character: Faye Hudson". BBC. Archived from the original on 20 March 2005. Retrieved 12 November 2011. 
  17. ^ "And the winner's are...". Inside Soap (Attic Futura (UK) Ltd) (9): 23. May 1993. 
  18. ^ a b c Fulton, Adam (23 March 1992). "Benjamin changes tune for Soap". The Sydney Morning Herald (Fairfax Media). Retrieved 18 July 2012. 
  19. ^ "Bud's Archive". BudTingwell.com.au. Archived from the original on 17 March 2012. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  20. ^ a b c d "What's Doug secret?". Inside Soap (Attic Futura (UK) Ltd) (17): 55. January 1994. 
  21. ^ "AFI Winners and Nominees 1990-1999=1993". Australian Film Institute. Retrieved 9 November 2012. 
  22. ^ a b c Monroe, Josephine, p.90
  23. ^ Pickard, Anna (18 October 2005). "The perfect blend". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved 7 January 2011.