Thursday, July 24, 2008

Miss Not-Appearing-In-This-TV-Series

Running the Number 96 Home Page, a website on a cult Australian TV show, means that I get the odd email from:

* young relatives of former "Number 96" actors saying hello, or asking for relevant episode numbers, or where to get footage of said scenes
* saddened friends and agents of recently-departed "Number 96" cast - sometimes having found email correspondence to/from me on their computer
* fans wanting the actual street address of the building used in the credits (ie. 83 Moncur Street, Woollahra, Sydney.)
* fans wanting to know if Arnold Feather lost his leg in the deli bomb blast (No, it was an earlier Mafia parcel bomb.)
* producers and researchers of TV documentaries, requesting specific episode numbers and airdates
* producers and researchers of TV specials, such as the Logie Awards' annual "Vale" reel, requesting specific, high quality stills


and the big one:

* readers of my site wanting proof that some mature woman they recently met/worked with/married/sold a car to really did once work on "Number 96". Semi-nude, of course.

It seems that it's quite trendy these days to claim to have once disrobed for "Number 96". Now, these dubious claimants don't just say they were once some nameless, wordless extra who dropped her bra for a fleeting glimpse of bare breasts in the background of one episode. No, they often claim to have been "the star of the show", or even - as happened this week - playing "Abigail" herself.

Bev and DonwhiteAbigail
They all want to be Abigail these days... except probably Abigail herself.


Now, I hate to burst any deluded former or would-be actress's fantasies - but Abigail was the name of the actress. Bev Houghton was her inimitable character on "Number 96". She with the almost-glimpsed breasts and "the voice which only Alsations can hear", to quote several cheeky former production people from the show.

Funnily enough, the women seem to think that the people they've chosen to boast/lie to, about supposed past credits, have no way of validating their claims...

Tonight, I wrote back to my most recent query email thusly:

"Over the years, many women who claim to have been Australian actresses in the 1970s say that they were in the Aussie soap opera, 'Number 96'. Often, this claim means that they were models or extras who played an unnamed background character, who took off their blouse in a single episode. Even during the 70s, you'd often see newspaper headlines that said things like 'Mirren Lee, the sex siren of Number 96...', but that woman played a minor character, a bikie's moll, in only TWO episodes. Undoubtedly, she took off her top in 1972, exposed her breasts, appeared topless in the Sunday Mirror's Veritas TV supplement - and then vanished."

Until ten years, and then twenty years, later, when some retrospective article brings her out of hiding for an interview. More headlines, more puzzlement.

Now, I hasten to add that the email today wasn't about Ms Mirren Lee. She's merely my example of someone whom various newspapers have continued to pull out of the archives - maybe she just had a diligent agent, and racier 8x10s? Anyway, I continued my email:

"Abigail (whose once-mysterious surname is now known to be 'Rogan') played a major character, Bev Houghton, from Episode #1 of 'Number 96'. When the character got married, she was Bev Goodman. When Abigail was fired from the series, she was replaced by an actress called Vicki Raymond, who now uses the name Victoria Resch. Vicki continued to play Bev Houghton until the character was killed off. Vicki's sister, Candy Raymond, was also in the show - playing the sister of another character! (Vicki had actually tried out to be Helen Sheridan's little sister, Jill, but didn't get the job because the producers said she looked too much like Abigail!)

"Several years later, Abigail returned to 'Number 96' playing a new character, Eve, who was going to be in a spin-off series called 'Fair Game', but they ended up using the pilot footage across several episodes of '96' instead.

"It's quite likely, I suppose, that your new relative (NAME WITHHELD) was in 'Number 96', but it would have been as a VERY minor character. Probably no lines, apart from saying 'Ooops!' when her bra fell off in the wine bar or something! It's also doubtful the show would have called a character 'Abigail' because that name was so closely regarded as one of the show's stars. My web site has a list of all the major actors (and many minor ones) who were in the show, and the characters they played. Your relative doesn't seem to be there under any of the names you suggested."

But that's showbiz.

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