Andy O'Brien (EastEnders)
Infobox EastEnders character
Tony Hollandand Julia Smith
21 March 1985
14 August 1986
14 August 1986
Andrew "Andy" O'Brien was a
fictional characterin the popular BBC soap opera" EastEnders". He was played by the late Ross Davidson.
Andy was a kind-hearted guy and a bit of a do-gooder, always campaigning for those less fortunate than himself. Unfortunately, his altruistic nature led to his untimely demise in 1986.
Character creation and development
Andy O'Brien was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of "EastEnders",
Tony Hollandand Julia Smith. The character of Andy along with his girlfriend Debbie Wilkinswere an attempt by Holland and Smith to represent the influx of middle-classed people that were opting to move to the usually working-class areas of the East End of London. Gentrificationof the East End was on the increase in the 1980s, and in Holland's experience, the new, wealthier residents were never welcomed or truly accepted within the community, and this was what he hoped to convey on-screen with these two characters.cite book |last=Smith|first= Julia|authorlink= Julia Smith|coauthors=Holland, Tony|title= EastEnders - The Inside Story |year=1987|publisher=Book Club Associates|id=ISBN 0-563-20601-2]
Andy's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, "".
:"Debbie and Andy are living together, they're not married — but it's a serious relationship... Andy, a Scot, has a very practical contented element in his make-up... A succession of foster-parents... He always seemed to be part of families that genuinely wanted him. It's made him very secure, a little smug, perhaps? Student Nurse at Glasgow Royal Infirmary... Unlike Debbie, who's an ambitious woman working in a traditionally male world, Andy is a very unambitious man working in a traditionally female world... They became in love with the idea that everyone thought they were the perfect couple... The decision to attempt the experiment of living together: A "domestic" relationship, was a difficult one, and they agonised over it for months. Wouldn't they get bored? Would they feel imprisoned? How would they fill the hours, with only the two of them?... They want to knock down walls, put in double-glazing, and all the rest of it.... Forced to move into a different class... They're not habitat/Guardian East-end, and they're certainly not nouveau-riche, but they are, to a lot of people, a possible sign of a shape of things to come in the Borough..." (page 62)
Holland required the character of Andy to be somewhere between a wimp and macho; to be on an equal footing with his partner and to represent newish thinking about the male role and equal opportunities.
Ross Davidson, a sporty working-class Scot was eventually given the role, despite Holland and Smith feeling that he came across as a male chauvinist.
The characters of Andy and Debbie were created to represent a young couple with outwardly mobile pretensions, but it was decided that the formula did not work and both characters were eventually written out of the show. Andy ended up being the first main character to be killed off in 1986, just over a year after the show began. During this time, rumours began to circulate in the British press that Ross Davidson was axed because Julia Smith disapproved of the off-screen relationship he was having with
Shirley Cheriton, the actress who played Debbie. This has subsequently been denied in "".
NurseAndy O'Brien moved to Albert Squarein March 1985 along with his girlfriend Debbie Wilkins. Andy and Debbie were decidedly 'middle-classed', which was in stark contrast to the working classlocals who inhabited the Square.
Andy and Debbie had a rocky relationship from the start. Andy wanted to settle down and start a family with Debbie, but she wasn't so keen and it wasn't long before Debbie had attracted the attention of
policeman Roy Quick. Debbie obviously enjoyed being pursued by Roy, so Andy made the decision to have an open relationshipso they could see other people without any commitments. The pair continued to live together, which was not an ideal situation for Andy to be in, as he still harboured feelings for Debbie and would regularly get jealous when he witnessed her pursuits with other men.
Andy wanted to make a difference in
Walford, so he busied himself doing altruistic activities, like campaigning against the demolition of the Square, and racism. When he discovered that Mary Smithwas illiterate, he took on the difficult task of teaching her to read. This backfired when Mary decided that she had fallen in love with him. He was forced to reject her advances, which didn't impress Mary at all.
Andy later began an affair with the
alcoholiclandlady of The Queen Victoria, Angie Watts. After tiring of her cheating husband, Den, Angie made a drunken play for Andy and the two ended up in bed together. However, Den came home early and caught the pair together and furiously chased a half-naked Andy into the street, which prompted an on-going feud between the pair. It turned out that Angie was only using Andy to make Den jealous, so their fling was short-lived and Andy soon regretted getting himself involved in their volatile relationship.
Upon seeing that Andy was in such demand with the ladies of Walford, Debbie had a change of heart and she and Andy got back together and were soon engaged. Their happiness was short-lived as in 1986, 37-year-old Andy was mowed down by a lorry after he ran out into the road to save a child from being hit. He was killed instantly. True to form, Andy was even altruistic in his death, as his
organ donorcard ensured that someone got his kidneys.
However, when Andy saw Debbie for the last time, they had an argument with Debbie telling Andy to 'drop dead', which ironically, he did.
Although short-lived, Andy will go down in "EastEnders" history for being the first main character (of many) to be killed off.
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