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Comment > Love Thy Neighbour: Mickey Gannon by Sian

It’s been just 2 years since young Mickey Gannon, played by Fletcher O’Leary, first graced our screens, but he started a brand new trend of a younger generation in Ramsay Street. Before Mickey’s mother dumped him with Ned Parker, the father he never knew he had, in June 2007, there hadn’t been an active young child in Neighbours since little lone Lolly left in 2001. But Mickey led the way for a gang to rival the teens...

But for his first few months on the street, Mickey’s storylines revolved around discovering that Ned was his father and trying to settle into the new relationship. It took Ned a long while to build up the courage to reveal his true identity to Mickey; it took Mickey being electrocuted in no. 30’s pool for him to finally tell his son who he was, who turned out to be overjoyed at finally having a father after so long.

Starting his new primary school, Mickey had issues with bullies and bedwetting. However, these problems were nothing compared to the events of 23rd July 2007, when Mickey accidently caused a bus full of Ramsay Street residents to crash, leaving Ringo in a coma. A new sect of the Parker family had arrived, in a big removal truck, which Mickey was eager to have a ride in. But when everybody was too busy either unpacking or attending Frazer and Rosie’s wedding to take him, he decided to hop up in the cab himself. Disaster struck, though, when Mickey accidentally released the handbrake and the truck began to roll into the street, despite Mickey’s frantic attempts, crouched by the pedals, to stop it. In a great example of terrible timing, the minibus bringing the guests from the wedding home turned into the street, just as the truck rolled into its path. Mickey, aghast at the devastation he had caused, believed that his father would hate him if he found out, and so Mickey took his faithful dog Jake and ran away from home – the first in a string of times that he would do so. He ended up staying in a garage, helped out by a boy named Declan Napier. But when he found a flyer with a note from Ned on, begging for Mickey’s return, Mickey realised that his father would always love him. After an incident with the attempted theft of a laptop, Mickey was returned home, safe and sound.

In an attempt to bond with his son, Ned began to coach the junior football team, the Erinsborough Pups. This helped Mickey to make new friends, including Tyler Smith, played by the actor’s real life brother, Blake O’Leary. When Mickey wanted Tyler to sleep over, Ned had to refuse, because they were living in the Robinson house. This problem was solved, however, when Janae, Ned’s girlfriend with whom Mickey had formed a close bond, asked Ned and Mickey to move into no. 26 with her and they became a proper family unit. No. 26 soon became overcrowded, though, when Mickey’s uncle, aunt and cousin also moved in. Mickey got along well with his new family, but life was shaken up when his mother, Kirsten, turned up.

Kirsten had decided that she wanted Mickey to herself again, but Ned wasn’t going to give up his new son without a fight. Selfish Kirsten resorted to dirty techniques, deciding not tell Ned and Janae that it was Mickey’s birthday when she realised that they had forgotten, even though she knew it would devastate her son. Kirsten also spun sweet lines to Mickey, telling him that she was really lonely without him, but Ned wouldn’t really mind if Mickey didn’t stay with him, influencing Mickey’s decision to declare that he wanted to live with his mum. Eventually, the truth came out, and when the social worker recommended that Mickey remain with Ned and Janae for the present, Kirsten couldn’t handle it. She planned to skip town with Mickey and head to Adelaide. Luckily, Ned and Janae tracked them down and Mickey was returned home. Realising that her son was happy with his father and how dreadful her behaviour had been, Kirsten decided to go to Adelaide alone and sort herself out. Weeks later, with a job and an apartment in Erinsborough, Kirsten returned, ready to share custody of Mickey, which he was delighted about. However, the adults struggled to all get along and Ned and Janae split up. Mickey was upset, and the final straw was when Ned cancelled their planned trip to Queensland. To teach his father a lesson, Mickey ran away again – though this time only to Kirsten’s house. Showing some of her new maturity, Kirsten returned Mickey to his dad.

As well as his family issues, Mickey also had many mini-adventures. When he had reading and writing trouble, Ned – who had struggled with illiteracy himself – helped coach him to pen license standard. And Mickey found himself in a sticky situation when, whilst playing hide and seek with Tyler, he got trapped inside a chest that someone had put out for rubbish collection. The street searched frantically (the team including Declan, who Mickey had declared his great friend when his family were mad at the older boy for making Mickey steal but who he had barely had a scene with since). Eventually, he was found asleep in the chest, and Mickey learnt a lesson about obedience. Soon after, in November 2007, Mickey made a new friend, in the form of returning neighbour Ben Kirk – also played by Blake O’Leary (with Brody McPharlane briefly recast as Tyler). Together, amongst other things, they made model volcanoes and showed their sweetness by loosening the lids on all the jars in the Kennedy-Kinski house after Susan struggled with them due to her MS. He also comforted Ben, whose surrogate father of three years, Darren, had just left for good, by saying that he could always share Ned whenever he wanted to kick a footie around.

Mickey and Ben also came up with a cunning plan to reunite Ned and Janae, spending an afternoon moving Janae’s belongings back to no. 26. However, the plan didn’t work and it also led to an argument between the friends over the kiss between Janae and Darren. Janae’s failed attempt at sorting it out was a trigger for her decision to leave Erinsborough. Mickey was devastated by this, though Janae was leaving to try and make life more stable for him. In a touching scene with a prince and dragons analogy, Janae and Mickey said goodbye.

Not long after, Lou also made plans to leave Ramsay Street. Lou and Mickey had formed a close bond, with Mickey calling Lou “Pop”. Mickey spent some time as Lou’s protégé in money making schemes; on one occasion, Lou purchased lots of furry, Russian hats, which Mickey helped him to sell, though unfortunately they were discovered to be rife with lice. Mickey was upset by the prospect of another person he loved leaving him, but luckily Lou realised he couldn’t leave after all.

Tragedy struck some months later when a bush fire left Kirsten severely burnt, weak and hospitalised. Mickey was afraid that she would die, but she began to recover and even rekindled her relationship with Ned, to Mickey’s delight, when Ned asked her to move in with them once she was better. However, it soon became apparent that Kirsten was going to need specialist treatment, which could only be provided in Perth. And so the family decided to move away, Mickey sad at leaving behind his friends and Pop (who promised to visit often), but happy that his parents were together. However, their family happiness did not last long. A few weeks later, Mickey ran away from his new home – time number 3. He rarely saw his parents, who were always at the hospital. He hid in Melbourne for a while with the help of new friend Callum, before an agreement was made where Mickey would stay with the remaining Parker family, and visit his parents with Lou regularly.

Mickey and Callum formed a close friendship, getting up to various bits of mischief, including a bet to see who had the best pick up lines in an attempt to win over the older girl on the scene, Tegan Freedman. They also organised a protest to get their teacher, Kelly Katsis, reinstated at their school, reading aloud in the store. And along with Ben and the younger Charlie, they formed a haphazard band under the tutelage of resident musician Ty Harper, serenading him with their own version of his most overused song when he left.

However, in his final months on Ramsay Street, Mickey faded into the background, often inexplicably absent. He did celebrate a birthday – which was moved from September to March – and was given two fish by his parents, named Zippy and Doodah. Two months later, his cousin Bridget gave birth to her daughter India, who obviously quickly became the centre of attention in the Parker household, leaving Mickey feeling neglected and pushed out. However, a heart to heart with Lou and a game of peek-a-boo with India made Mickey realise what his problem was – he knew the Parkers loved him and he was a part of their family, but they weren’t his real family and he missed his mum and dad. And so a few days later, arrangements were made for Mickey to fly out to New York, where Ned and an almost-fully-recovered Kirsten were headed for a medical conference. Afterwards, Mickey would return to Perth to live with his parents. The news pleased Mickey, though he was sad to leave everyone behind in Erinsborough, and distressed at the news that best buddy Jake couldn’t join him in New York. Both Callum and Lou were devastated by Mickey’s announcement, though Callum finally accepted that he and Mickey could still be internet buddies and plans were made for Lou to go to New York with Mickey. A final goodbye was said as they departed, with Ben, Lou and the Ramsays banding together to make a collage of all things Erinsborough that Mickey would always be able to take with him, wherever he went.

So in just over two years in Erinsborough, viewers got to know sweet little Mickey with his uncanny ability to make insightful comments, his overly-keen ear and mischievous sense of fun. Many may say that Mickey was an annoying little kid who they’re glad to be shot of, but I will always remember Mickey fondly, for his relationships with best friend/dog Jake, surrogate pop Lou, almost-step mum Janae, and father Ned – who he managed to make watchable. To me, Mickey represents the new era of Neighbours, with a return to a true family feel, and starting a brand new gang, which Ben, Callum, Sophie and even Charlie continue. I will always remember what I say is his undeniable sweetness. Others may remember him simply as being infamous for the amount of times he managed to run away.