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adam436

Does anyone know why Tom and Michael were killed off?

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Does anyone know why the producers decided to kill off both Tom Fletcher and Michael Ross? 

I don't know the reasons behind Roger Oakley's exit from the show, but I've heard different stories. Some rumours say Roger had a falling out with producers, while other stories say Roger was feeling burnt out. Both of these rumours would certainly support Roger's lengthy hiatus in 1989 and him being absent quite frequently prior to the break. I've also read that Roger was axed as part of a cast shake up (Morag, Lance, Martin, Celia and long-term semi-regulars Stacey and Andrew all abruptly left around the same time) and the producers thought Pippa could be more interesting as a single mum. If it was Roger's choice to leave, it certainly made sense to kill off Tom, but if not, why kill off the show's central father figure so early in the show's run? Vanessa Downing's incarnation of Pippa worked best when Tom was around, which was proved when Tom had a lengthy stay in hospital. Both during Tom's hiatus and after his death, Pippa felt a bit lost and at a loose end, even when she was playing mum to the foster kids, so from a producer's point of view, it made sense to introduce a replacement husband for her.

 

As for Michael, Dennis Coard confirmed in an interview that it wasn't his choice to leave. I'm not Michael's biggest fan, but did the producer's not learn anything from Tom's death? It had the same affect on Pippa, in terms of her being "lost" as a character. 

 

Both deaths produced some strong and memorable performances from the those involved and subsequent storylines to come from them, but I can't help but feel it was a mistake to kill off both of them. Ironically, if Tom and Michael hadn't have been killed off, both Vanessa Downing and Debra Lawrence might have stayed longer. Vanessa supposedly quit because she missed working with Roger Oakley and no doubt Dennis' departure had some impact on Debra's decision to leave. I know she moved to Melbourne to be closer to her mother and spend more time with her family, but I can't help but feel that if Dennis was still on the show in late 1997, she might have stayed longer. 

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I thought Roger quit as I remember in an interview he said he regrets not staying longer. Judy Nunn she said both Roger and Vanessa both opted out of series. 

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I've a feeling that they brought Michael in because of the Pippa actresses changing. Debra taking over from Vanessa was quite a big thing and required a suspension of belief. I can still remember my mum asking "Who's she?" when Debra first appeared in the opening credits and me trying to process what on earth had just happened. I'm not from Australia so this imposter just showing up one evening was a genuine WTF?? moment in our house. Even though I like both Vanessa and Debra in the role, I've never quite been able to believe they're the same person. I wonder did the powers that be think along the same lines? That they needed to restore some equilibrium to the show after losing both leads and that having Mr and Mrs Ross was the best way to sort it. And then later on, they decided to go with that single mother idea again? As to why they axed Michael, I don't suppose we'll ever know. I've read somewhere that it was a budgeting decision and that axing Michael meant they could get in more teens. Or (getting into the realms of pure guesswork here) they didn't like having a married couple on the set, or Dennis put someone's nose out of joint..

I still think it was a mistake to kill Michael off but the producers got their way and Pippa became a single parent. I wonder how long would they have left Pippa as a single character if Debra hadn't decided to leave?

It's a pity all of this (Roger leaving etc.) happened in the era before the internet because all people can go on are things they read years ago. Those lengthy hiatuses certainly point to him getting fed up/burnt out rather than being axed. I'd love to read an interview with him and hear his thoughts on the show. He seems to keep a low profile though

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I received a lot of questions over the years about my usage of quote marks around the name of "Pippa", and the other ways I referenced her prior to Episode 586.

Well, this is the reason why. The one that appeared prior to Episode 586 didn't look or sound like the one that appeared in all episodes thereafter.

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3 hours ago, Old H&A Fan said:

I received a lot of questions over the years about my usage of quote marks around the name of "Pippa", and the other ways I referenced her prior to Episode 586.

Well, this is the reason why. The one that appeared prior to Episode 586 didn't look or sound like the one that appeared in all episodes thereafter.

That’s because she was played by another actress. 

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On 01/07/2019 at 09:54, cymbaline said:

As to why they axed Michael, I don't suppose we'll ever know. I've read somewhere that it was a budgeting decision and that axing Michael meant they could get in more teens. Or (getting into the realms of pure guesswork here) they didn't like having a married couple on the set, or Dennis put someone's nose out of joint..

I guess if we had to lose an older character, it made sense to be Michael. The show no doubt wanted to keep their remaining original oldies (Alf, Ailsa and Fisher), nor would they have wanted to lose Pippa at that point, which would have narrowed it down to Michael and Irene. Irene had foster children at that point, whereas the writers wouldn't have had the dilemma of what to do with her children if they axed Michael.

It doesn't feel like we really got too many newbies post-Michael when you consider the departures. We also lost Shane, Angel, Alex Bennett and Jack, but gained Liam, Jesse, Casey, Stephanie, Rebecca and Joey.

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Tom wasn’t missed by me. No offence to the actor who did a fine job. But for his final year or so, Tom was absent so much, and when he WAS around it was mainly those dull-as-dishwater Macklin  office scenes, and being a bad husband to Pippa. 

Happy to see the back of him. Pippa really shone playing the grieving widow (both Vanessa and when Debra took over). I don’t know why some people say Pippa moved on too fast. I feel that Debra’s Pippa played the grieving widow and then struggling to move on and stand on her own two feet, very sensitively and for a substantial period.

Anyway back to Tom. I’ve heard it was the actor’s choice to leave. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the producers realised, with all his absences not really leaving much of a hole, that he was actually pretty dispensable as a character anyway.

As for Michael - he had a good stretch. Whether or not budgetary reasons played a part, it was still the right decision anyway. And I say this as someone who liked Michael (most of the time). It’s good to keep the show fresh and he left at the right point. Michael’s death changed Pippa on a long term basis and changed the dynamics at Summer Bay House. 

I wonder what their exit storyline would have been if Michael had stayed on up until Debra’s departure in 1998.

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I think when you get older and you start losing loved ones, your perspective on grief changes. 6 months would be very quick in real life (especially from a sudden death) but we all know soap time works differently. On the show, having Pippa remarry made sense and felt right. The obvious chemistry between Debra and Dennis didn't hinder things either. 

Going back to Tom, it is a shame they didn't use him better. You're right about those Macklin scenes being lacklustre. I don't remember Michael ever going through a phase like that. Admittedly, running a boat shed was more exciting than being a pen pusher. 

My guess for an exit storyline would involve Michael wanting to get back into the boating marina business. Either he'd have an opportunity to buy his old business back again or to buy one elsewhere as a once in a lifetime deal. 

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On 03/07/2019 at 01:03, Sally Keating said:

But I wouldn’t be surprised if the producers realised, with all his absences not really leaving much of a hole, that he was actually pretty dispensable as a character anyway.

I'm currently re-watching early 1990 episodes and Vanessa Downing is currently on a fairly lengthy break (Pippa has gone to care for her sick parents) and I must say her absence has not left much of a hole either :(

I think Tom and Pippa were integral characters in 1988, but by 1989, the show had become more of an ensemble. Don, Ailsa and Alf became more prominent characters and Bobby, Steven and Carly, I guess being that extra year older, seemed to take centre stage. In fact, I'd say Bobby, and to a lesser extent Steven and Carly, were probably more central characters than Tom and Pippa #1 towards the end of 1989/early 1990. 

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