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Comment > Golden Couples: Bridget and Declan by Kate

In an era where ‘big’ couplings were arguably few and far between, the romance between 2007 ‘post-revamp’ arrivals Bridget and Declan managed to gather one of the largest and most ardent ‘cult’ followings to have hit Neighbours in many a year. Some argued that this was a coupling that defied usual teen romance logic. But even those who didn’t like the characters seperately would admit grudgingly that something about this coupling just… worked. And work this couple did: over the course of their time together fans of the pair were treated to the shipper’s dream catalogue of soap milestones, cramming into two short years everything from courtship, flings with best friends, pregnancy, marriage, the birth of a child... and finally an ending so heartrendingly tragic that had even the hardest hearted of detractors admitting to have been a little wet about the eyes.

Rocky Beginnings

When Bridget and Declan first came onto the scene (together but seperately, as it were, midway through 2007), few would have suspected the two would be destined for coupledom. Bridget was a sheltered country girl with a very firm aversion to all things lovey-dovey, while Declan was a world-weary, scowling, juvenile delinquent. The two clashed violently, with the two seemingly trying to break each others’ necks at every opportunity from rockclimbing meets to football games and joyriding faceoffs. But when it came to it they had more in common than they thought: a shared desire to duff over gormless bully Justin and his chronies; a cheerful lust-for-life at odds with family expectations; but most importantly of all, both had seen a glimpse of the dark side of life and, although never harping on it, had had difficult family lives. The two newkids in Erinsborough formed a very sweet alliance. Romance was on the cards at this point: but as two fairly immature teenagers with a still-kiddish view of such things, it struggled to get off the ground.

However, when Bridget was involved in a car crash and Declan consequently wrongly blamed, the two, for the first time, were to a certain extent forced to grow up. With Declan in typically shallow teenboy fashion finding difficulty accepting her possible disability, Bridget decided it was time to cut her losses and cast her net elsewhere. That net landed firmly on mature, goodlooking Mummy’s favourite Josh. Although Bridget didn’t really give it that much thought, she had unwittingly embarked upon the most potent love trick of them all: the treat ‘em mean keep ‘em kean technique. The results spoke for themselves. A jealous Declan fought tooth and nail to woo his unlikely love interest but although she was clearly feigning distaste the ingenue stood her ground. Frustrated Decgetettes seethed with impatience as foolhardy Didge refused the advances of increasingly lovelorn Declan through admirable displays of loyalty on his part over several months, with him rescuing her from drowning, rescuing her wheelchaired boyfriend through a roofcollapse, rescuing her from herself when she was about to get expelled from school during the Angus debacle, rescuing her from a tower when it was on fire one time by climbing up her long silken locks… OK scratch that last, but you get the picture. He romantically saved her from a lot of things in those few months. But most importantly… he saved himself. For her. Swoon.

Ahem. So anyway. Our young lovers had been in the show almost a year and still had not so much as kissed. But that was all to change. In a show of the gentlemanliness that had steadily wun the character a good deal of fans Declan was to finally show Bridget that he really was not the insensitive pillock who had dropped her for having walking difficulties, sticking by his fragile and shaken friend through the Chris Knight trial. It was at this point that Decget fans knew that the waiting was nearly over. After a shy exchange, the two close friends finally kissed for a charity kissing booth. They were very eager and nearly knocked over the stall thing that was present at the time. It was funny but also, as Decget fans will tell you, the sweetest scene EVER in the history of television and probably film as well.

Bumps Ahead

After they got together it was probably quite safe to say that Bridget and Declan made up for lost ground with a rapidity that sent worried parents and christian groups alike into fits of horror. As Bridget’s family unit went through upheaval she found herself more and more seeking Declan as her rock. The next few weeks and months saw the two barely in a scene apart, with loud public declarations of love, permanent tattoos and, to Rebecca and the Parkers’ dismay, the grand "taking it to the next level". Dissappointingly for the perverts in the audience those scenes were obviously not shownbut the hints were heavily there. Luckily for those who were confused about these things or worried for the nation’s youth, however, we were all swiftly reminded that even guarded reference to the act of TITTNL on a six thirty show does not come without consequence. In one of the most talked about storylines that year, it was revealed that not one, but three, of the teen girls on the show could potentially be pregnant. And in cliffhanger style, it was shockingly revealed that that one girl was Bridget.

Declan wasn’t particularly happy about this. So unhappy that, in a loose order, he got in a car, shouted at some police officers, spent the night in jail and snogged the blonde character affectionately known as ‘that skank’, nearly beat up Zeke and then got in his car again with his sights set on running away to Alice Springs. The scenes were actually pretty powerful however. It could have been said that Declan had found a degree of stability happiness and promise over his year with Bridget in Erinsborough and was about to embark on a dream football career of special musical montage proportions. That was all to come heartbreakingly crashing down. He angrily lashed out at Bridget, his friends and his mother and all but suggested she have an abortion.

Declan at heart, however, had never been the badboy he’d tried to sell himself as- so it didn’t take much more than a heart-to-heart with good friends and a chance encounter with a recently orphaned wombat to make him see sense. He raced to Didge’s rescue as she was about to fall prey to the clutches of the evil Eden Hills ‘second opinion on what to do about being up the duff’ clinic and stopped her before it was too late. He begged her for forgiveness and showed he was serious by sticking a ringpull on her engagement finger and asking her in a kind of jokey fashion to marry him. She was naturally charmed and forgave him instantly. Now in most cases this would be abhorrent but I think most of us forgave him because he is more than average fit and because he did seem quite sorry. Plus if I hadn’t mentioned already, Declan and Bridget were just really good together. I for one was genuinely happy and excited to see the results of what was going to be a controversial but very compelling storyline.

Declan, meanwhile, in the next few months was the model father-to-be, sacrificing his AFL career and becoming almost inhumanly cutely attached to the soon to be miniature human type thing, nicknaming it Tadpole. He and Bridget went back to their previous bliss but there were more obstacles in the course to happiness.

Two Weddings

When Bridget, with anewed interest because of her soon-to-be-maternity, decided to trace her birth mother, she thought all her questions about being adopted and put in an orphanage at an early age would be answered. However, hurt and confused at the news that Miranda had all but blackmailed her weak, prescription drug-addict birth mother into letting her keep her as a child, Bridget found herself questioning the idea of maternity and asked herself whether she was as ready to deal with it herself as she had made out to be. She devastated Declan with the news that she would be adopting the child out. The two split bitterly with Bridget insisting that it was her body and her choice. Declan refused to accept this and insisted that if she didn’t keep it he would.

With Bridget’s parents fighting bitterly around her and her hormones raging Bridget was an emotional wreck. Declan, although they were living apart, once again showed himself to be the one thing she could depend on. The pair drifted back into each others’ arms, and Declan moved back into the Parker house. With the help of some blue balloons it was Didge’s turn to ask forgiveness, announcing to Declan that she kind of knew she was a bit of a cow sometimes but she was his cow, and could they possibly give the baby thing another go? He accepted, and everything went back to its default loved-up state again. Declan and Bridget appreciation threads across the internet were heard to emit a huge communal “yay!”

We entered into another period of intense giddy squeedom and happiness at this point as Declan, after being electrocuted looking for Elle’s cat, decided to pull out all the stops and upgrade the afore mentioned engagement ringpull to the real deal. Which is to say he reached into his pocket and cracked out his favourite finger-fitting keyring. Bridget being a nice simple kind of girl was actually pretty thrilled though and so were we as it seemed he actually meant it this time. To and froing of course followed- Bridget wasn’t 110% sure for a while that white wedding fluff tallied with her earlier tomboy sensibilities, but after some bickering and other false starts (including one ultramodern hightech sms ‘promise’ ceremony) it was in the most unlikely of circumstances that Bridget, with not long to go before she was due, decided the time was right.

Stranded in a teeny country church during a rainstorm, it was her turn to ask the big question. Gathering only their closest friends from the teen gang, the ceremony was arranged, on the spot, by bestfriend Donna, who clothed the wedding party in some questionable ‘opshop’ choices, but managed to salvage a beautiful lace maternity dress from the limited options. The dress and hairstyle looked stunning on the heavily pregnant bride who had been concerned that nothing would look right. It was an unlikely but beautifully simple and unique ceremony.

The affair, being a soap wedding, did not go off without glitch, as could be seen when the couples’ disgruntled parents (who had been absent from proceedings) turned up afterwards, looking a bit miffed. But, all in all, this was to be a gloriously, by soap standards, sunny and angstfree nuptials. After a nice home-spun reception by an appeased set of parents, including a second vow-giving involving proud father Steve walking his daughter down the landing and some actual wedding rings this time, the strapped-for-cash couple playfully dreamed of a honeymoon in Tahiti and scoffed profiteroles happily. It was soppy but sweet.

...And Baby Makes Three

At this point Bridget was very clearly nearly ready to burst, and it had nothing to do with cream-filled pastry intake. So when the teen gang announced they were going to treat the newlyweds to a trip to the very hip and cool Winter Cool festival, it didn’t seem like the best idea. Sure enough, with Declan off at the other side of the camp, helping successive friends of his as they all took turns to fall into the inevitable nearby ravine, Bridget struggled to keep her own little problem to herself- she was about to give birth… in the tent! Things looked problematic, but with the help of an anxious Donna, an amusingly bewildered Elle, and a friendly St. John Ambo the baby girl was delivered there and then, with Declan arriving just in time to accompany his new daughter in a helicopter to the nearest hospital. Which was Erinsborough, so it worked out quite well.

After some worrying complications and a brief but teary seperation, the young mother and father, in awe, finally met their new little girl. Bringing her home to a cooing audience of family and friends, the new little family settled contentedly into their hectic but cosy new life in the freshly decorated nursery at the Parker’s. Giving the new baby the name ‘India’, the future looked full of promise, and Bridget and Declan, previously with troubled experiences of ‘family’, looked like they had finally, with each others’ help, found stability and happiness.


Perhaps it was, at this point, that Bridget and Declan had commited the crime of having reached too happy a situation; perhaps it was just too much too young. Whatever the case, advanced soap theorists at this point could tell you that it was to become inevitable that black clouds would soon appear in this happy set up. And appear they did. After a few tiring but happy weeks with their newborn, it was on the occasion of the Parkers, sans Declan, getting ready for a short trip to the Parker ancestral homeland of Oakey, in Queensland, that alarm bells started to ring. Something in the way the two said goodbye as Didge and India got in the car smacked of dramatic irony. Faced with an empty house, Declan guiltily recounted to Toadie how, through the stress and tiredness of the recent sleepless nights with a newborn, he had unthinkingly wished for a life as it had been before, without Bridget or India and the havoc they had brought to his existence. But, he glumly concluded, now that they were gone he missed them like crazy and couldn’t believe he could have even thought it. His words were to be horribly prophetic. And as an increasingly worrying lack of phone contact with Bridget gave Declan a worsening feeling that something was up, viewers watched as, happily chunting along down the road, disaster struck for the Parkers. Out of nowhere, a white horse (or magical unicorn, depending on your level of mental frivolousness) dashed across the car’s path. The brakes screeched, the screen went black and a baby was heard crying. Several hours later, while a panicked Steve and Miranda were rescued from the scene of the crash, worryingly, Bridget and India were nowhere to be found. Wandering alone and lost in the forest, concussed, hypothermic, and as we were later to hear, suffering from serious internal bleeding, Bridget bravely cradled India closely.

The search party would the next day find her, and the young mother’s loved ones were monumentally relieved. Declan, having been terrified that he had lost her, tenderly told the weak but seemingly recovering Bridget that she was safe now. But with Bridget’s sad, and strangely knowing expression giving way to a glimpse of a hazy reverie, it became clear that she, somehow, knew otherwise. Viewers watched as a dream version of Bridget, Declan and a one-year-old India sat happily in white in a sunlit park. But as dreamBridget declared suddenly that “she had to go” and walked towards the light, back in the real world the machines started to alarmingly flatline. After emergency procedures, doctors broke the devastating news to the young woman’s husband and beloved adoptive parents: Bridget was gone. And as the shot moved to closeup onto Declan’s face, you could see the exact moment at which the young man’s heart broke in two.

When Bridget left our screens, tragically, even the hardest of hearts could be heard to elicit a snuffle. The next few weeks were to see some stunningly raw and genuinely heartbreaking performances from James Sorensen as Declan as he dealt with the loss of not only his childhood sweetheart and the mother of his child, but truly the love of his life. Declan and Bridget were very much a Golden Couple for a lot of people and will always be remembered for the sometimes tumultuous, sometimes soppy, but always compelling love the two shared during their short but action-packed time together.