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Comment > Love Thy Neighbour: Georgia Brooks by Carol Ann Wood

Georgia Brooks, cousin to Toadie, arrived in Erinsborough as a relatively mild-mannered girl with a sunny disposition, immediately differentiating her from the rest of the women in her family already known to viewers. Unless, that is, I’ve missed a mild-mannered Rebecchi or Timmins woman, but I doubt it! However, since her introduction, Georgia has been through some heart-wrenching stuff, and has emerged at the end of her stay on Ramsay Street as a more feisty individual, befitting of her clan.

We first encountered Georgia, brilliantly played by Saskia Hampele, when she came from the countryside to work at Erinsborough Hospital, and to live with Toadie and his partner Sonya. As we know, Erinsborough hospital is employer to Doctor Karl Kennedy, medic extraordinaire, and so it’s no surprise that we would see Georgia also demonstrating skills beyond her status as (presumably) a general nurse. There was mileage in this girl! Upon arrival, Georgia was – apparently happily – engaged to her childhood sweetheart, Scotty. However, it didn’t take a genius to predict that Georgia would not be happily engaged to him for much longer. Scotty’s appearance, and subsequent actions, would rock Georgia’s world, starting with his attempt to kiss Chris Papas, who was, by then, openly gay. Viewers could immediately feel sorry for Georgia and warm to her character. Nevertheless, we could also empathise with Scotty, who had clearly been in denial about being gay. It was poignant and sad to watch from the perspective of Georgia, as we knew she had to discover the truth, but uplifting that Scotty was finally able to be comfortable with who he really was.

This set the scene for Georgia to become one of the show’s love interests. Such a pretty, kindhearted girl wasn’t likely to be single in a place like Ramsay Street for long. She had a ready list of admirers, including the egotistical Rhys Lawson, and the affable, down-to-earth Kyle Canning. You could tell that, even before she knew about Scotty being gay, she was struggling to see Kyle as just a friend. They had a definite spark, and the viewers knew where this might be going! Before Georgia fully embarked on the (sometimes rocky) romance and subsequent marriage to Kyle, she was involved in a drugs scandal. Dealing with the aftermath of her break-up with Scotty, she had a brief flirtation with a patient, Pete Clark, who later rejected her advances. As a result of the embarrassment, Georgia had trouble sleeping, and became reliant on the strong sleeping pills that Karl prescribed for her. Her performance at work was affected, and on Karl’s advice, she took time off. It was an awful, messy time for her, and she made a big mistake in accepting more pills from Pete when Karl, concerned about her potential addiction, refused to prescribe her any more. When pills went missing from the hospital after Georgia’s return to work, and were later found in her sleeping bag, we could guess that it was Pete who had stolen them and framed her.

Thankfully, after initially being sacked, it was Kyle who helped Georgia to clear her name. This was a sign that Georgia and Kyle were on their way to becoming the latest hot couple on the street. Several plot-lines featuring Georgia stand out. I was in tears watching her read the e-mail print-out at her engagement party. We knew from a previous episode that the e-mail was one sent to Kyle from Kate Ramsay, and planted amongst the others by Georgia’s vindictive, jealous and deranged cousin Gem. How awful must it be, expecting to read out a congratulatory message, from someone purporting to be your best friend, only to find it reveals an infidelity between her and your fiancé? Heartbreaking. Granted, the moment of passion occurred when Kyle and Georgia were having emotional problems. Kyle’s temporary blindness, following the solar eclipse, put a strain on their relationship, and the pair were on a ‘sort of’ break. We all knew that Kyle regretted the moment with Kate (who was confused and trying to deal with her real feelings for Mark Brennan). Nevertheless, it was horrible to watch Georgia feeling so betrayed and sad.

The engagement having been broken-off, she would soon discover that she was pregnant with Kyle’s baby, just to add another strand to the story. Well, this is Neighbours. There’s always another strand to the story! Having a miscarriage is something which we all understand as being a dreadful, painful experience, and anyone would have felt sorry for Georgia, and for Kyle, when it happened to them. The grief of their loss was compounded by the fact that they were still estranged at that point, but had tried to remain friends. Kyle had embarked on a relationship with Kate, but then ended it when he discovered Georgia was pregnant. It made me want to shout at the screen, “Georgia, you still love Kyle! You need each other!” But Georgia wasn’t yet ready to forgive Kyle’s infidelity. Kyle’s tribute at the memorial ceremony, which he had insisted on holding, for their lost child, was touching. I’m glad that the writers chose to portray Kyle in this way, as it was also a sign of the ‘beginning of a new beginning’ for them as a couple. Despite being cautious about reuniting with Kyle, Georgia, being Georgia, eventually forgave Kate’s part in the betrayal. It took a lot of talking from Kate to convince Georgia that she was genuinely sorry for the pain she had caused her, but their friendship was well on the way to being restored by the time Kate had become engaged to Mark. And it was Kate’s assurance, that Kyle and Georgia belonged together just like she and Mark, which were to stick in Georgia’s mind after Kate was gunned down.

The aftermath saw Georgia reflecting on the fact that she and Kyle were afforded the second chance Kate and Mark would never enjoy. After Kyle and Georgia’s tender kiss, with the promise of happier times to come, Kyle dashed off to Thailand to help get his hapless cousin out of jail, and we were all greatly relieved when he returned so that he and Georgia could finally start their future. I was disappointed when the writers decreed that Georgia had developed nodules on her vocal cords, ending her singing career. For, whilst we have enjoyed the fun of Karl and his band, The Right Prescription – given Karl’s over-inflated sense of his talents – Georgia’s singing career brought the show back to its long-standing tradition of having a female singer amongst the characters. I think the viewers have always appreciated that. I half-expected Georgia to miraculously recover her voice in time for her wedding, defying the medical prognosis. But for once, the writers stuck to realism. Had Georgia regained her singing voice, I would have liked to have seen her write and perform a song about Erinsborough for the festival. I think it would have been well received by viewers and could have added a nice touch to the commemorative episodes.

I loved the interaction between Georgia and Sheila, Kyle’s bossy but well-meaning grandmother. Sheila did eventually grow to love Georgia, although she was rather fond of interfering in Kyle’s love life and, at one point, she made it plain that she would have liked Kate to be the long-term partner for the lad. I think the writers wanted to convey how much Sheila cared about Kyle, and that, despite her ‘sticky-beak’ ways, her intentions were good. It has been mentioned a few times that Sheila practically brought Kyle up, in the absence of his estranged small-town criminal father Gary and ditzy mother, Sharon. However, even after Sheila’s over-the-top wedding planning, which didn't exactly meet with Georgia’s approval, the relationship between the two women wasn’t plain sailing! One scene that stands out in my mind was in the episode where Kyle and Georgia, slightly inebriated, decided to write joke thank-you e-mails to their wedding guests for their presents. They had no intention of sending them, of course. But, as this is Neighbours, you just knew that at least one of those e-mails was going to be inadvertently pinging its way through cyberspace. When it did, Georgia comically making connection with the ‘send’ key during a moment of passion with her new husband, there could only be one e-mail which got sent: that one to Sheila! Sheila was going to be less than happy with the pair’s ‘appreciation’ of the ‘ugly lamp’. I know I’m not the only one who laughed so hard over that. And I’d love to know where on earth the props department found such a monstrosity. (That’s the lamp, not Sheila, by the way. I’ll leave the rude remarks about Sheila to Lou Carpenter.)

The post-honeymoon scenes in the Lassiter’s suite when Kyle and Georgia had secretly returned early from their holiday were hilarious. Georgia persuading Kyle to dress as a naive Bell Boy bringing room service to her, she in the role of glamorous/mysterious foreigner, had me in stitches. (No nurse-related pun intended.) Equally notable for its comedy was when poor Kyle, missing overnight post-tornado, was discovered – safe and well but smelling of poo – trapped in a portable toilet. It’s a pity that we won’t get more scenes like these between him and Georgia.

Recently we have seen Georgia experience more distressing and sombre events, set in motion by nasty Doctor Nick Petrides, brother of Terese Willis. Not only was Nick a sleaze who made a bet with Paul Robinson that he could get Georgia into bed, there was worse to come from the smooth-talking medic. And poor Georgia was embroiled in the whole sorry saga. No-one would believe her when she suspected that Nick was up to something dodgy to gain Paul’s support for setting up his cancer centre. No-one else picked up on any of the clues, but Georgia was ruthless in her attempts to expose him. Viewers were about to see just what she was made of, as she refused to back off. Having realised that Georgia was becoming suspicious, Nick played the grudge card and claimed that she was out for revenge for the bet with Paul. Hacking her Facebook account, he posted a piece of confidential information about a celebrity patient and, as a result, Georgia was suspended from work. Georgia’s suspension from the hospital, however, didn’t deter her from her goal of exposing Nick’s deception. She was relentless in her determination to clear her own name and to prove that Nick wasn’t the medical hero everyone else seemed to believe. She was the first to doubt that Paul’s leukaemia diagnosis was genuine, and risked a criminal record when she broke into Nick’s hotel room and stole medical records from his laptop. Viewers might have wondered why neither Karl nor Paul were suspicious long before this stage. Surely Paul would have got a second opinion on his diagnosis and treatment? And wouldn't Karl have thought it strange that Paul was ‘cured’ so fast? Perhaps the storyline exemplifies how a manipulative operator like Nick can con not only colleagues, but even a businessman, who was not without his own history of dodgy dealings. Yet Georgia – having earlier been fooled into thinking that Nick was helping further her career, only to overhear details of his wager with Paul – trusted her own intuitive judgement and never wavered from it, no matter how far-fetched others thought her suspicions.

It was a relief for viewers when Nick was finally arrested. However we knew by that point that Georgia’s mum’s cancer – mentioned earlier in Georgia’s time on Ramsay Street – had returned and that it was aggressive. When Georgia started researching into potential new treatments for her mum, and found a programme available in Germany, it was a strong hint that Georgia might be on her way out of Ramsay Street. When a popular actor wants to move on, we have to respect that. Then you hope that they’re written out in a sympathetic way. Moreover, we didn’t want another death, especially not coming so soon after Matt’s demise. On reflection, this probably was the best outcome we could hope for. Georgia is a compassionate person, and has had to make a very difficult decision. That Kyle has decided not to go with her is a bit of a conundrum for those who yearn for a ‘happy ever after’ story. We didn’t want to lose Kyle too, because he’s also popular, but we didn’t want Kyle and Georgia to go the way of many other couples and split up. This way, at least for a while, we might get to hear of whether Georgia’s mum’s treatment is working, and presumably we will see Kyle struggle to cope without Georgia by his side. Whether the writers will choose to demonstrate that long-distance love doesn’t work remains to be seen. I hope they don’t. And given that it happened to Kyle with Jade, I don’t want see him go through that again. But this doesn’t just depend on the writers or producers, it may also depend upon whether or not Chris Milligan, who plays Kyle, wants to continue in the role for any length of time.

I have enjoyed Kyle and Georgia as a couple, and I will miss Georgia as a character. She is, undoubtedly, right for Kyle. She’s his soulmate, his rock, and his steadying influence. Georgia can stop Kyle being impetuous and immature, from making the wrong decisions, and sometimes, from being a bit of a dummy. Saskia, you’ve been a pleasure to watch as Georgia. I, and many others, will miss you. Please let the writers know from me that we don’t want Kyle going too wild without her. Let’s have a bit of moping, and a few drunken nights with the lads. Let’s see him working hard on his new contract and saving for the future family they hope to raise. But let’s not have any straying. We need him to keep his sweet Georgia firmly on his mind!

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