> Love Thy Neighbour: The Hancocks
We all know about the lousy way in which they left, after only a year on the
show. We all know about them having virtually no storylines and we all know
that the writers completely forgot, or ignored, their original link to the
Kennedy family. However, in the year that they were residents of Ramsay
Street, the Hancocks brought a lot to the show.
With the arrival of the Hancocks, the show had three complete families for
the first time in a long while and it gave the writers scope to bring in
more of the neighbourly stories that the show was famous for. Evan and
Maggie were also a long way from the typical parent characters we had come
to expect. Evan, particularly, was a fairly irritating man with strong
opinions on most subjects, thus putting him at odds with most of the rest of
the neighbourhood. Feuds between the parents of the Hancocks, Kennedys and
Scullys soon followed, bringing back memories of the early feuds between the
Ramsays and Robinsons.
Of course, the intention of the Hancocks was always to be a happy family
unit. For most of their time on Neighbours, their problems were realistic
ones - money worries, the parents not spending enough time with their
children, bullying at school. These were all issues that could be quickly
resolved. While other people were struggling through witness protection
programmes and cancer, the Hancocks could be relied on for a small portion
of normality. There was even a theme of domesticity running through these
storylines, particularly as each of the younger members of the family seemed
to run away or disappear on a regular basis.
The stepfamily situation had not been explored since the Wilkinsons moved in
with the Martins, causing no end of problems as Hannah didn't want her
mother to be replaced. With the Hancocks, the relationship between Maggie
and her stepson Matt was more like close friends, giving a new spin to the
myths about wicked stepmothers. Many fans even speculated that the closeness
between Matt and Maggie may have led to an affair; although this never
happened, it would certainly have been a brave and controversial step for
Neighbours to take.
Which brings me on to my next point - if they hadn't been axed after less
than a year, where would we have seen the Hancocks go next? The dramatic
storylines leading up to their departure showed what the family was capable
of and so it would only really have been up to the imaginations of the
writers to see what they could withstand. Evan and Maggie's relationship was
already on shaky ground, thanks to her affair with neighbour and colleague
Toadfish Rebecchi. The closeness between Evan and his ex-wife Genevieve had
also been skimmed over, but this could certainly have developed into more.
There was an often-mentioned fourth son, Chris, who we never managed to
meet, despite him regularly phoning and once even saying that he was
planning to come and stay for the holidays. The ill-feeling between Evan and
Chris was mentioned when the Hancocks first arrived, so it is inevitable
that Chris would not have looked kindly upon his father's new wife - would
we have had another Julie and Michael Martin on our hands here?
The exploits of Matt Hancock brought about most of the family's problems
towards the end of their run, but yet, we never got to see him go to trial.
Neighbours almost always avoids taking any situations as far as the
courtroom, but this could have provided an interesting new take on that,
given that many of the neighbours could have been involved. As for Leo and
Emily, it would have been very interesting to watch some younger characters
move into their teenaged years and then into adulthood. While we have seen
this before with characters like Hannah and, to a lesser extent, Libby, it
is all too rare an occurrence. However, their biggest plot was surely
Maggie's affair with Toadie - something that was never fully resolved. With
all the trauma about to hit Toadie's life, now would be a perfect time to
bring back Maggie. There was always a feeling that Maggie and Evan's
marriage would never quite be the same and that Toadie really did love
Maggie, so it might prove to be a perfect tonic for him.
When I heard about the Hancock family, they sounded different from anything
we'd had before and they quickly showed that they were. The family were
quirky and brought a certain energy to the show that only a young family
can. While their dramatic scenes towards the end were very impressive coming
from this previously normal family, my favourite Hancock scenes involved
them just getting on with their daily lives.
To read our interview with Stephen Hunt (Matt Hancock), click here
Hancock character profiles: Emily, Evan, Leo, Maggie, Matt