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Comment > Love Thy Neighbour: Amy Williams by Carol Ann Wood

A fellow Neighbours fan remarked recently that it’s amazing how level-headed Amy Williams is, given that her parents are Paul Robinson and mentally unstable man-eater Nene. When Amy, played by the delightful Zoe Cramond, first arrived in Ramsay Street with young son Jimmy, she presented as a fiercely independent woman. And it’s hardly surprising. She’d had little contact with father Paul over the years, and wasn't impressed that he failed to recognise her upon her arrival. To be fair, he hadn’t seen her since she was seven, and possibly had no photos of her since that time. That said, he still had a lot of making up to do and, when he finally admitted to wanting one more chance to prove his worth, father and daughter began tentatively to build a relationship. But it hasn’t been without rocky patches!

Amy had largely raised Jimmy single-handedly, as his father Liam hadn’t been around much. She has strong beliefs about teaching Jimmy the value of money, something which goes against Paul’s ethos of making as much of it as quickly as possible, and not always in legitimate fashion. Paul struggled with not being allowed to lavish Jimmy with material gifts, but father and daughter seem to have met in the middle. Paul doesn’t want to upset Amy, and so he has had to rein in his indulgences, and place more emphasis on time-richness. Amy has come to realise that she might have been over-protective of Jimmy, and possibly a little over-strict, too. Compromises have been made, with Amy recognising that Jimmy is benefiting from having his granddad around, even if she still gets infuriated with Paul’s behaviour at times. And it’s been good for Paul to have to listen to Amy’s point of view on occasions.

Amy quickly became a popular character with viewers, but there was one nagging doubt for some of us: before anyone could scream ‘romance brewing’ Amy was working for Kyle Canning. Kyle’s wife Georgia had gone to Germany to be with her mother – who was receiving specialist cancer treatment – and most of us didn’t want to see Kyle and Georgia split up, and certainly not because of an illicit affair. But after Georgia’s admission that she regretted marrying Kyle and wanted to travel before settling down, any misgivings about Amy were forgotten. No one wanted to see loveable Kyle with a broken heart for long. Amy ticked all the boxes; she’s a fellow tradie, she’s attractive, warm-hearted and down to earth. And Kyle, luckily, bonds well with children, swiftly establishing a fatherly relationship with Jimmy. There were, of course, the usual Neighbours style pitfalls and stop-starts to their union for entertainment purpose. Kyle dated the somewhat mysterious Shay for a while, which made Amy jealous, even though she hid it well. Amy was harassed by some builders on-site, Kyle got protective, and Amy rejected his gallantry. She wanted to deal with it on her own, as she was used to doing, so she found Kyle’s interference, though well-intentioned, unnerving.

Amy and Kyle’s budding relationship was also met with opposition from Paul. Typically for him, he envisioned the perfect partner for his daughter as being a professional man, comfortably off, someone who could provide. Amy, however, doesn’t see a man as a ticket to prosperity. She has an entirely different outlook on life to that of her father, and Paul has had to grudgingly accept that Amy has fallen in love with Kyle. And the main objective for Paul is that Amy and Jimmy stay in Erinsborough, so he’s backed off and seems to have stopped meddling. Of course, that might have more to do with the fact that he’s been distracted by his own problems of late, not least the loss of his empire!

We could guess that it would’t be long before Amy’s ex, Liam, would turn up and throw one of Kyle’s spanners into the works. Whilst Amy is undoubtedly a strong woman in many respects, she is not without her frailties and insecurities. Liam almost convinced Amy that they belonged together, firstly by getting Jimmy onside and leaving Kyle stomping around with one of his grumpy scowls that makes him look about twelve. Amy eventually succumbed to Liam’s advances, but viewers sensed that he was not to be trusted. It was with much relief, then, that we saw Liam finally outed as the person who stole Toadie and Sonya’s benefit fund, and who trashed Harold’s after breaking in to see if there was money in the till (there wasn’t, even Lauren isn’t that careless.) On finding no cash, Liam took advantage of the feud between the warring Turner and Willis families, thus hoping that Terese Willis would get the blame for the ‘home wrecker’ message he left behind. Paul, typically, paid off debt-ridden Liam, with the agreement that he leave Erinsborough and have no further contact with Amy and Jimmy.

When Amy discovered Paul’s pay-off, she was furious. As much as she wanted Liam gone, she felt that it wasn’t for Paul to decide whether he have contact with Jimmy. It was probably a bit too much pot and kettle for her liking; Paul wasn’t exactly squeaky clean and yet she’d given him another chance. Jimmy became aware of a rift between his G’Dad and his mum. (G’Dad is not a term that sits well with most viewers I’ve spoken to, though. Take note, producers!) It was some time before Jimmy learnt the whole truth about Liam, and why Amy was mad with Paul. You had to feel for the kid when Kyle blurted out the truth. Jimmy sensed that something was being kept from him, and badgered Kyle for answers. Once again, Amy was angry, but Kyle had his reasons. He had been badly let down by his own father, and he didn’t want Jimmy to idealise a man who was cut from the same cloth.

Amy swiftly established friendships with the other women of Ramsay Street. She and Jimmy had’t been in Erinsborough long, before being invited to live with Sonya – ever the philanthropist almost on a par with Susan Kennedy – and Toadie. Amy had accidentally run over Nell’s buggy and was keen to make it up to Sonya. She felt that she could ease her new friend’s workload if she was around to take care of some domestic duties. There were a few tense moments when it seemed as if Sonya doubted her decision to have Amy and Jimmy as house guests. Misunderstandings occurred, such as Sonya’s belief that Jimmy was hurting Nell. It turned out, of course, that Nell was going through a common toddler phase: biting. Both women are sometimes blind to their own child’s faults, and this could have fractured the pair’s friendship, but luckily, everything seemed to be resolved peacefully. Although, there were still awkward moments. Amy, in one of her efforts to impress with household tasks, inadvertently thew away Nell’s favourite cuddly toy. Horrified, she and Kyle went on a frantic and complex mission to find it. This brought the pair closer together and Amy – despite having clashed with Paul and considering leaving town – decided to stick around.

Kyle and Amy’s comic moments when getting it together followed on seamlessly from Kyle and Georgia’s in scenes past. As with many couples in the street, the sofa featured writ large. Really, is that not a bit careless, given that front doors are rarely locked in Ramsay Street and anyone could have walked in? Sheila returned home unexpectedly one day, almost catching the pair in a tryst on the Canning couch. Amy hurriedly covered herself up, but somehow her bra had got the attention of Bossy, who has been prone to underwear stealing, and she sneaked off with it. Of course, the bra was later discovered by Sheila and we all chuckled. That’s Neighbours comedy at its very best.

When Toadie had his freak accident with the jumping castle, temporarily paralysing him, Amy felt that she and Jimmy were getting in the way at the Rebecchi house. Cue Sheila’s invitation for them to move in with the Canning clan, much more preferable to Amy than Paul’s penthouse. Sheila was keen to encourage her grandson’s romance with Amy, feeling that she was just what Kyle needed to get over Georgia. After Kyle’s brief dalliance with Shay, he and Amy were still dithering about being together, providing viewers with more amusing moments, as they met by the bathroom door, each pretending not to notice the other’s night attire. Given that Ramsay Street residents are often spotted sunbathing and swimming together, this seems a little tame by comparison! Sheila, frustrated by the pair’s hesitation to commit to the relationship, took drastic action, locking them in the laundry room. It seemed to work better than metaphorically banging their heads together, as the pair were soon loved-up again in every sense of the word. It appeared to have been a bit of a turn on too: despite the fact that each had their own bedroom, Kyle and Amy began romping regularly amongst the smalls.

Poor little Jimmy had rather a shock in store. Picture the scene: You’re nine years old, and you go to put your socks in the wash basket like Sheila says, to be met with the sight of your mother and her boyfriend frolicking on top of the washing machine wearing not very much. Accompanied by sounds that definitely could not be attributed to the machine’s fast spin. A lot of frank talking and child-counselling ensued, and it now seems as if Jimmy is on board with his mum and Kyle’s relationship. As long as he doesn’t have to witness or overhear anything physical, as he quite rightly pointed out!

No one was especially surprised when Nina, aka Nene, rocked up – a reinvented version of her former self. Whilst Amy wasn’t unhappy to see her mum, (once Nene had recovered from heat exhaustion after taking grandson Jimmy off, goodness knows where, for a long walk) she was a little uneasy about her intention to relocate to Erinsborough. Amy had apparently thought Nene happy in a new nursing job, and wondered if there was more to her visit than just wanting to spend time with her daughter and grandson. It was bad timing for Paul, too, given that he had recently gone bankrupt, and the last thing he needed was yet another ex turning up to mock his misfortunes. Nene, though, seems to be more interested in unattainable men, such as Doctor Karl, and Amy has learnt that her mother’s mental instability is not as far in the past as she would have people believe.

Her nursing career has apparently been tainted with misdemeanours of the romantic kind, and medical negligence. Unfortunately, she was already employed as a nurse to Doug Willis, a dementia sufferer, before these facts were uncovered. Amy, whilst appalled at her mother’s deceit, and manipulation of Doug’s condition in order to impress Karl Kennedy, has been quick to jump to her defence. This is possibly because Nene largely brought Amy up alone, in the absence of Paul, and Amy's stepdad Bruce, and she now knows from personal experience how tough it is to be a single parent. Whether the two can go on to have a more balanced mother-daughter relationship, only time will tell. Since Nene’s arrival, it has seemed as though Amy is the parent and Nene the child, rather than vice versa. But if events with Kyle take the turn we think they might, Amy will need her mum’s support. We can only hope that Nene manages to focus on someone other than herself for more than five minutes, and start being a parent.

Just as it seemed as if Amy and Kyle were becoming one of the more stable couples of the street, the boat has been rocked again, possibly beyond repair. Viewers were given hints of things to come when a letter from Georgia arrived for Kyle’s birthday. He threw the letter away, insisting that he had moved on and didn’t want to know about her new life. Sheila was in agreement with this. She had grown fond of Amy and Jimmy, and was delighted that her grandson seemed happy once more. But Amy wouldn’t rest: The recycling team seem to be sporadic visitors to Ramsay Street, and upon rediscovery of the thrown-away letter weeks later, she retrieved it from the bin. Wrestling with her conscience, she eventually read it, learning that Georgia wanted Kyle back. Sheila sussed Amy’s mood, extracted the truth from her, and tore the letter up, telling her to leave the past alone.

As always in soap land, Amy could bear it no longer. She insisted to Sheila that Kyle deserved to know the truth about Georgia’s feelings. We were waiting for Amy to confess the snooping to Kyle, but first she chose to test his love for her by a spur-of-the-moment marriage proposal. Not one of her better ideas. Kyle, gobsmacked, said it was too soon. He had a point, but Amy took this to mean he didn’t love her enough, and so the whole truth of the letter came tumbling out. We don’t know yet where this leaves Kyle and Amy. This is a storyline where you really can see things from both points of view. Amy might appear tough, but inside, she longs to feel loved and secure. She’s focused on her role as Jimmy’s mum for nine years, but now she’s starting to realise that she can allow herself a life outside of work and motherhood. And after all, she deserves to be happy. Kyle seemed to have moved on after Georgia, and he wouldn’t deliberately hurt Amy, or Jimmy for that matter. But he’s still technically married, so will he want to give that marriage another try, or commit to Amy?

Whatever happens, it’s going to leave someone with a broken heart. If it turns out that heart is Amy’s, there will certainly be no shortage of suitors waiting to help her heal it. I’ve grown very fond of Amy Williams, and I hope that she stays in Ramsay Street for a long time. I would love to see the return of Andrew and Elle, to see how the three half-siblings interact. If Amy is left single, I am already speculating on who out of the current residents might be a good match for her. But if no one takes her fancy, I’m sure there would soon be an Erinsborough newcomer happy to step into Kyle’s work boots. And as Amy doesn’t fall in and out of love easily, they’re big boots to fill!

This article originally appeared on Carol's blog, Levelling The Playing Field.