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Guest Character Profiles > Ling Mai Chan Khym Lam

Ling Mai Chan 1994-1995
Born: c. 1964
Parents: Su Chan and Lou Carpenter
Siblings: Guy and Lauren; Louise (adoptive)
Occupation: University History Lecturer

Whilst holidaying in Hong Kong in the early 1960s, a 21-year-old Lou Carpenter got food poisoning and met medical student Su Chan and they had a brief affair. As his holiday came to an end, Lou wanted Su to return to Australia with him, but she preferred to stay and complete her studies, so they went their separate ways, neither of them realising at the time that Su was pregnant. Following the birth of the child, a girl named Ling Mai, Su continued her studies, whilst the baby was raised by her grandmother. It was late 1994 before Lou finally learnt that he had another daughter, as he started receiving letters from Ling Mai, who had finally decided that she wanted to meet him.

Now in a happy relationship with Cheryl Stark, Lou wanted to keep Ling Mai's existence a secret from her, only confiding in his friend Philip until he'd found out whether she was genuine and had a chance to meet her. After getting his mail redirected to Philip's newsagency, Lou started making more of an effort with his appearance and these things didn't go unnoticed by Cheryl, who started to think that Lou was having an affair. After following him one day, she spotted Lou with Ling Mai, giving her a kiss on the cheek, and after stewing over the matter, she confronted him and he was forced to admit that the young lady was his daughter. Though shocked at the deceit, Cheryl finally realised that Lou had been trying to do what was best for everyone, and agreed to meet Ling Mai, inviting her over for dinner. Though Mai quickly hit it off with Cheryl's older son, Brett, Lou struggled to know quite where she'd fit in with his family, but was happy to show her his used car business, even offering to give her a car to make up for all the years of missed birthdays, and invited her to the greyhound races and to listen in on his local radio show.

Things seemed to be going well, but when Cheryl found out that Lou had confided in Philip long before her, she started to grow resentful of the situation. Lou tried to explain that he'd needed to speak to someone about it, and that Mai had needed referees for her university flat when she came to Australia, but Cheryl continued to make little digs, and Lou decided that it would be best if he went to stay with his daughter. Lou quickly struggled being apart from Cheryl and their baby daughter Louise, and realising that both he and Cheryl were too stubborn to back down, Mai went to visit Cheryl to try and talk some sense into her. When that failed, Mai teamed up with Cheryl's mum Marlene and came up with the idea of Lou and Cheryl using padded toy swords to battle with each other - luckily, the plan worked and the absurd situation led to Lou and Cheryl finally sharing a laugh and kissing and making up.

Meanwhile, desperate to be a part of Mai's life, Lou helped to pay the university funding that would allow her to lecture all over the world, and also tried to sign her up to host a show in Cantonese at the radio station. When he then decided to take Mai to the beach and teach her how to swim, Cheryl started to worry that he was smothering her. After the trip to the beach, Mai had to make her excuses when asked to stay for dinner, explaining that she was meeting a friend from Hong Kong, and later, she broke the news to Lou that her friend had actually been her boyfriend, Bin, who had followed her to Australia and proposed to her; she was returning to Hong Kong with him. Mai then broke the news to Lou that she and Bin were planning to do some travelling in Australia before going home, so she would be leaving straight away. Although upset that she'd be out of his life again after only a few weeks, Lou thanked her for finding him and told her how proud he was of her.

Mai kept in touch with Lou, and he visited her in Hong Kong in 2004 whilst his new wife Trixie was preparing to appear in a touring production of Hello Dolly.

In 2013, Lou was chatting to his friend Sheila Canning about his family, and he mentioned his regret that he hadn't maintained better contact with Mai. He decided to try contacting her on an old email address, and was delighted when she got back in touch. She told him of her new job, working with disadvantaged young women in Cambodia, and invited Lou to come and visit her. Lou jumped at the opportunity, and left soon after to spend a few months with his daughter.

Trivia Notes
The character of Ling Mai was originally going to be the result of a fling Lou had whilst serving in the Vietnam War, but as this story had already been used with the character of Jim Robinson, it was rewritten to be a holiday romance
When she appeared on screen, Mai was referred to, and credited, as Ling Mai, but in all subsequent mentions, she had been referred to as Mai Ling

Tenure
2288, 2292, 2295, 2298, 2300, 2301, 2303, 2307, 2310

Biography by Steve

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