Walter Joseph 'Joe' Mangel 1988-1991, 2005
32 Ramsay Street
Born: c. 1962/'63
Parents: Len and Nell Mangel
Martial Status: Noelene (divorced), Kerry (1989-1990; died), Melanie (1991-1993; divorced)
Children: Toby; Sky (adoptive)
Family Tree: Mangel
Occupation: Gardener, Handyman
The stereotypical Aussie bloke, fond of a beer, and a bet, but well loved by all, Joe Mangel (christened Walter, but preferring his middle name) was the only son of Len Mangel and his prudish busybody wife Nell. While sister Amanda was good at school and married well upon finishing her HSC, Mrs. Mangel was always disappointed with Joe, who was too laid back and roguish. His relationship with his overbearing mother came to an end when she found a gun belonging to Joe and was convinced he had been involved in a hold-up. The situation proved too much for Joe and he ran off to work in Darwin as a builder.
It was here that he met and fell in love with Noelene, and she quickly became pregnant. Joe didn’t want Noelene to go through with the pregnancy at first, but she talked him round and they agreed to get married. Noelene gave birth to a son, Toby, but when the financial strain of providing for a wife and baby proved too much for Joe, he left them.
When Amanda’s daughter Jane found the gun that had belonged to Joe buried in her Nan’s back garden, Mrs.Mangel told the unsuspecting Jane that she had an uncle Joe. Jane became intent on tracking him down; horrified at the fact that Mrs. Mangel was estranged from her only son. With the help of neighbour Henry Ramsay, Jane finally found Joe living in a neighbouring suburb of Erinsborough and was met with a frosty reception when she showed up on his doorstep. After a few attempts, Jane finally succeeded in persuading Joe to visit Mrs. Mangel but their reunion proved awkward and heated. Joe tried to sort out the issue of the gun once and for all by telling Mrs.Mangel that it had belonged to his mate Les, who had used it to hold up a service station, but she remained sceptical. Joe left in disgust and it seemed that their feud wasn’t ever going to be solved. But mother and son eventually reconciled their differences and Nell welcomed her long-lost son back into the family fold.
Not long after, Mrs Mangel and Joe bumped into John Worthington, who she had been seeing a few months before, and Nell got upset and asked Joe to take her home. Jane explained to Joe how Nell and John had split up because John had become frustrated with her interfering and gossipy ways but Joe was protective of his mum and vowed that if he ever saw John in the house again, he'd give him his marching orders. Joe stuck to his word because when John did indeed call over in the hope of patching things up with Mrs Mangel, Joe threw John out. But Nell was welcoming John’s advances and was furious with Joe for ruining her second chance with him. Joe was to apologise, which John accepted and a short time after, proposed to Nell.
After they married – with Joe giving his mother away – Mrs Mangel left Erinsborough to retire to England with John, and left No.32 in the hands of Joe, Jane and her beloved pet labrador Bouncer. Jane had problems with sharing with Joe at first, as her grandmother’s once immaculate house became overrun with unwashed clothes, empty beer cans and left over take away. But Joe quickly got his act together, and he revelled in having a stable home at last. After teaming up with Henry to fumigate the Ramsay house from a flea infestation, Joe set up a landscape gardening business with Henry, who he became best mates with and regularly spent evenings downing a few beers at The Waterhole with.
Joe’s integration into Ramsay Street wasn’t exactly smooth. He clashed with various neighbours, especially stuffy Harold Bishop across the road. Things got off to a bad start with those two when Harold hired Joe to renovate his Coffee Shop after a fire and accused Joe of using stolen materials. But Harold was forced to apologise to Joe when Jane produced his receipts. Meanwhile, a feud erupted between Joe and nosey next door neighbour Edith Chubb when her pet cat Arthur clashed with Bouncer.
Joe’s past caught up with him when Noelene showed up on his doorstep with the now nine-year-old Toby in tow. Noelene announced that she was marring her boyfriend Ted Vickers and was leaving Toby with Joe while they went off on their honeymoon. Suddenly faced with having to be a father, Joe struggled to find any affection towards Toby and he hit him after finding out Toby skived off his first day at his new school. Joe then went on to try to toughen up his son's masculine instincts, but gradually realised that he was being far too hard on Toby and as time passed, a strong bond formed between the two.
When the time came for Toby to return to live with Noelene, Joe didn’t want to see “Tobes”, as he had come to affectionately call him, leave. However, when Joe learnt that Ted was abusive and hitting both Toby and Noelene, he was quick to rush to the defence of his son and ex-wife. Joe sent Vickers on his way and warned him never to come near Toby or Noelene again. Joe and Noelene then battled for custody of Toby for a time, and Noelene even enlisted the help of Edith Chubb to spy on Joe at one point. But Joe and Noelene eventually patched up their differences, agreeing to remain friends and share custody of Toby, with Toby spending weekends and holidays on Ramsay Street with Joe.
When Kerry Bishop moved into Ramsay Street to live with her father Harold, Joe found himself instantly hitting it off with her. Kerry was a single parent herself to baby daughter Sky, and this common bond was the basis for the pair spending a lot of time together during Kerry’s first few weeks in town. Of course, Harold was aghast at the prospect of his daughter getting involved with Joe, and he was horrified when he caught them after having been in bed together. Disgusted by her father’s disapproval, Kerry decided to leave town but Joe rushed after Kerry, eventually finding her and Sky waiting at a bus stop. He persuaded her to stay, although she made it clear to Harold that he would have to let her see whoever she wanted. Although she was sticking around, though, Kerry remained reluctant to get too serious with Joe. But when Sky was bitten by a red-backed spider while out on a picnic with Kerry and Harold one afternoon, Joe was the first on the scene at the hospital afterwards – an act which made Kerry realise he was the one for her.
They soon decided to merge their two families and get married. However the problem of settling on a ceremony caused friction between the two. Kerry wanted modern vows, and even had spiritual costumes for Joe and Toby to wear but Joe had his heart set on a traditional wedding with traditional vows. They eventually agreed on a compromise and also agreed to a double wedding with Jane and Des Clarke. However, the wedding looked threatened when Kerry became confused by the feelings she was developing for Clive Gibbons, a former Ramsay Street resident who had recently returned to town. But it was a momentary thing, and Kerry was confident that Joe was the only one for her. The double wedding idea changed slightly when Mrs Mangel suffered a heart attack and Jane jetted out to England to be with her. Jane then decided to stay out there and end her relationship with Des, but the double wedding theme continued with Henry and his girlfriend Bronwyn Davies deciding to take the place of Des and Jane and get hitched themselves. However, it seemed that it was never meant to be a double wedding, as Bronwyn’s father convinced her to postpone the wedding on the morning of the nuptials and the day belonged solely to Joe and Kerry as they exchanged their vows in a beautiful ceremony in the Butterfly Gardens at Melbourne zoo.
With Jane gone to England, Joe and Kerry set up home in No.32 with Sky and, of course, Toby on weekends and school holidays. But Joe was devastated when Noelene got a job in Darwin and announced that she and Toby would be moving up north. Tragedy struck, however, when only a few months after moving, Noelene was knocked down by a car and killed. A heartbroken Toby returned to live in Erinsborough with Joe permanently, and struggled to come to terms with his mother's death. He became quiet, and unresponsive, and Joe fretted over how best to help his son through the nightmare.
New hope arose for the Mangels when Kerry discovered that she was pregnant. Toby and Sky were delighted at the prospect of a new brother or sister and to further cement the family as a whole unit, Joe decided he wanted to adopt Sky. Although Kerry was touched by the gesture Joe wanted to make, she first wanted to make contact with Sky’s natural father, Eric Jensen to let him know of their plans. Joe felt a little threatened and intimidated by Eric’s presence when he came to visit, especially when he and Kerry started to reminisce about the old days. But before leaving, Eric assured Joe that he was happy to let him adopt Sky, since he had been the only father she had ever known.
The arrival of Kerry’s friend Amber Martin in Erinsborough proved to be the first in a series of events which would have a devastating and tragic effect on Joe and his family. Amber was Kerry’s friend from her days as an environmental activist and protestor, and wasted no time in telling Kerry she had softened and become commercialised. Joe clashed with Amber from the word go, especially when she started trying to convince Kerry to start protesting again. When Kerry insisted on accompanying Amber to protest against off season duck hunting at some nearby wetlands, Joe initially refused to let Kerry go. But when she wouldn’t back down, Joe decided to go with her, fearful of the effect these events would have on their unborn child. Joe’s fears were realised when a stray bullet hit Kerry and she collapsed in the marshes. Joe raced to save her but as he cradled her in his arms, he feared he had lost his darling wife. His fears were confirmed later at the hospital when he was told that Kerry had died.
It was a huge blow to Joe – he had lost his wife on the eve of their first wedding anniversary, as well as his unborn child. Anger took hold in the days after the funeral, with Joe blaming Amber for Kerry’s death and throwing her out of the house. He also clashed with Harold over the funeral arrangements, insisting that Kerry wouldn’t want a church service. But if anything, the death of Kerry was what brought Joe and Harold – two polar opposites – closer together. Both men had lost a very special part of their lives, and from that day on, both supported each other in their loss.
Joe and Toby went walkabout in the bush for a few weeks to try and come to terms with Kerry’s death, leaving Sky with Harold and his wife Madge. But once they were back in Erinsborugh, they faced further drama when Eric Jensen announced that he wanted custody of Sky. Joe fought a long and heartbreaking custody battle but the verdict ultimately went against him and custody was awarded to Eric and his wife. Desperate to hold on to Sky, Joe made a snap decision and fled Erinsborough with Sky and Toby. They hid out at Mary Crombie’s farm in the countryside until Mary convinced Joe to go home and face the music because he couldn’t run forever. However, Sky was never happy with the Jensens, and when Joe visited her, he immediately sensed her unhappiness. Eric was always at work, and his wife had become more interested in the baby she was expecting herself. Eric eventually decided to do the right thing and let Sky return to Joe and Toby, since they were her proper family, and Joe was thrilled to welcome her back into the happy home she had on Ramsay Street.
When Melanie Pearson was looking for a place to live, Joe offered to let her lodge with him and the kids at No.32. Melanie became like a mother to Toby and Sky and Joe loved having her around. Indeed, she was of enormous support to him when he found himself the victim of abusive and threatening phone calls from Rod MacKenzie. The ordeal started when Joe and Melanie were driving along the road one afternoon and Joe had to slam on his brakes when they came across a woman lying in the middle of the road. When it transpired that the woman, Angela Farrell, was dead, the police momentarily looked to Joe as the person responsible for her death – aided by Melanie unwittingly informing them Joe hadn't been watching the road when the incident occurred. But after it was discovered that she had been dead for some time before Joe and Melanie came across her, Joe was in the clear. However, in the days that followed, Joe started receiving the threatening calls from a man blaming him for the Angela's death. Fearing for the safety of the kids, Joe temporarily moved into the Willis house but the calls continued there – leading Joe to demand a meeting with his stalker. Doug Willis and Bouncer accompanied him for extra security, but stayed back while Joe confronted the caller – Rod. Rod accused Joe of murdering Angela before scarpering when Doug and Bouncer made their presence known. Joe later reported Rod's threats and behaviour to the police, but they were confused as Rod's description didn’t match any of Angela's family or anyone associated with her. Rod eventually cleared things up when he turned up on Joe's doorstep and revealed he had been having an affair with Angela and had been arguing with her on the day of the accident. And given that she had ran away from him and into the road – and dying as a result – Rod blamed himself for the tragic set of circumstances but had tried to shift the blame to Joe when he saw Joe's comby at the scene. Feeling sorry for Rod, Joe agreed not to turn him into the police and let the matter rest.
Meanwhile, Joe and Melanie had grown increasingly close – so much so, that he began to fall in love with her. Melanie, however, failed to realise this and Joe had to stand by and watch while she dated, and became engaged to, smooth talking Simon Hunter. Joe confided in Madge about his feelings for Melanie after Madge picked up on his admiration for her, and she tried to set the couple up herself a few times. Determined to find someone to take his mind off Melanie, Joe appeared as a contestant on the TV show Dream Date. But when one of the three female contestants from whom Joe had to pick as his date fell ill, the producer hurriedly convinced Melanie to go on in her place. Joe ended up choosing Melanie and the two were sent off on a romantic weekend together. It was here that Melanie finally admitted that she was in love with Joe too. Once back in Erinsborough, Melanie broke the news to Simon that she was with Joe, and before long, the couple became engaged.
Shortly after, Harold and Madge set off on a trip across Australia, but tragedy struck when Harold went missing at sea and was presumed dead. Joe rushed to be with Madge in her darkest hour and attended a memorial service with Madge, Helen Daniels and Reverend Richards at the spot where Harold was last seen. This event led to Joe and Melanie agreeing to marry as quickly as possible, because life was so fragile and short. Despite a slight crisis with a reception venue, the Robinsons came to their rescue and offered them the use of their back yard for a marquee and Joe and Melanie were married, with Toby as best man and Sky as flower girl.
After a few days honeymoon in the country, word reached Joe that his mother had suffered another heart attack and would need to sell No.32 to pay for her medical expenses. Joe and Melanie decided to travel to England to be with Mrs Mangel and follow that with a tour around Europe. Although Sky was going to be with them, Joe decided to leave Toby behind to continue with his schooling. Toby took the news badly at first, but Joe assured him that once they were home, they would find a new house and get back to normal. With Toby in the safe hands of Dorothy Burke next door at No.30, Joe, Melanie and Sky set off for England after a tearful goodbye to Toby at the airport.
After a few months in Europe, Joe, Melanie and Sky returned to Australia, and set up home in the countryside near Mary Crombie. And a few months later, once a new school opened in the district, Toby joined them.
Joe and Melanie's marriage fell apart after a few years, however, and Melanie moved to England while Joe embraced life in the outback. As Toby grew into adulthood, he and Joe worked the farm together and Joe found himself falling in love with country girl, Celia. But Sky wasn't overly keen on her father's new girlfriend and when she reached the age of 15, she decided to return to Erinsborough to live with Harold (who had turned up alive and well a few years after he had gone missing) and get to know the community she lived in when she was a kid. Although Joe was heartbroken to see her leave, he understood her decision and recognised that Sky had developed that same free spirit that he had fallen in love with when he met Kerry all those years before.
Joe eventually followed Sky back to Erinsborough himself two years later on the eve of her 18th birthday. Although Sky was delighted to see Joe, she quickly realised that all was not well back in Western Australia and when Joe refused to say what was going on, she called Celia herself and discovered that Joe had been kicked out by her for becoming too much of a layabout. Joe rejected the accusations when Sky and Harold confronted him about what Celia had said, but he gradually conceded that he had started to relax a little. But Joe pointed out that he had worked hard all his life and given his kids everything they ever needed, and now felt that he had earned the right to take it slower.
Meanwhile, Joe quickly settled back into life in Ramsay Street, although Harold was aghast at the country habits that Joe had evidently adopted since he had seen him last - Joe now thought nothing of sleeping on the Bishop sofa stark naked or using Harold's petunias as a watering hole. Tension arose between Joe and Harold, however, when Joe encouraged Sky to ignore a one-month ban that Harold had imposed on Sky from seeing her boyfriend Dylan Timmins. Harold was also opposed to Joe's plans to settle permanently at No.24, as the house was already full with his son David, daughter-in-law Liljana and granddaughter Serena. But after the two men spoke of how much Sky had grown to be like Kerry, Harold realised that Joe was a part of his family and agreed to clear out the spare room for him.
After making himself available for work around Erinsborough as a handyman, Joe was asked by Lyn Scully at No.26 to fix her roofing. There was an immediate attraction between the two, although both bumbled their way through any and all conversations they had at first. Joe also had to contend with getting the seal of approval from Lyn's lodger Janelle Timmins, who had taken it upon herself to assess whether or not Joe was worthy of dating Lyn. After she and Joe passed out after one too many beers at a party, Janelle woke first and covered Joe's lips in her lipstick. When Joe awoke, Janelle claimed that they had enjoyed a spot of canoodling all night, sending Joe into a state of sheer panic. Janelle told Lyn what she had done and urged her to wait and see if Joe owned up to his indiscretion. Luckily, Joe told Lyn straight away and he was put out of his misery and told he had never kissed Janelle at all. With Janelle's approval granted, Joe brought Lyn out on their first date, a night at the dog races. But though they had a great time, neither was sure if the other was truly interested in a relationship. So, Janelle stepped in once and again and dragged Lyn over to the Bishop house where she forced them into finally admitting they liked each other and they kissed.
Joe was on cloud nine as he and Lyn began their relationship, and he expressed his feelings for her by buying Lyn her very own greyhound, which he christened Bouncer 5, the fourth dog that Joe had named after the beloved original. However, Lyn wasn't overly keen on the present, especially since she already had a dog to feed, as well as a toddler in the form of her son Oscar and the entire Timmins family to contend with. Susan Smith, who lived next door to Lyn, was also unhappy with the arrival of Bouncer 5 since the hound had taken a liking to her pet terrier Audrey and Joe continuously took to borrowing Audrey for training sessions with Bouncer 5 down at the tracks.
Sky was also unhappy with Joe, but because of his relationship with Lyn. Her first objection to her dad's new girlfriend came when Joe took Lyn out on a date on the day of Kerry's birthday. Joe felt terrible when Sky confronted him about it, and pointed out that he always chose to remember Kerry on the anniversary of her death. But he resolved to start marking the birthday each year, too, and also promised to start spending more time with Sky. However, she wasn't to be so easily won over, and when Joe and Lyn attempted to unite their two families by having a big dinner party at the Scully house, it turned into a disaster. Not only did Sky not approve of Joe's relationship with Lyn, but neither did Lyn's eldest daughter Stephanie, who thought of Joe as a cheap imitation of her own dad, also called Joe. The dinner finished with a bitter exchange of words between Sky and Steph, and Joe and Lyn were left in a tricky situation. Joe attempted to mend the rift with Stephanie by giving her a gift, which he claimed was from him and Sky. But Steph called his bluff and thanked Sky for the present, leading to Sky insisting that she knew nothing about a present. But eventually, Steph's stepson Boyd snapped and told Joe and Steph that they were behaving like idiots, and there was a thawing of relations between the two. And the friendship that had developed between Joe and Steph's husband Max also helped.
Joe's problems with Sky continued, however. When he agreed to do some construction work for Paul Robinson, Sky was furious as she despised Paul and everything he stood for. Harold and David were also less than impressed because Paul had had an affair with Liljana earlier that year which had almost torn the Bishop family to shreds. And Joe's romantic bliss with Lyn was jeopardised when he began to pile the pressure on her to evict Janelle and her brood from No.26. Joe had sat by and watched Janelle and her kids treat Lyn's home like their own for long enough, and decided to speak up about it once and for all. While Lyn initially took on board Joe's views and told Janelle she would have to find somewhere else to live, it wasn't long before the Timmins mob were back with their feet under the table at the Scully house due to Lyn's all-too caring nature.
Joe and Harold found themselves thrown together in the face of a major tragedy for the second time in their lives when Sky, David, Liljana and Serena – as well as other Ramsay Street residents – were involved in a plane crash along the Bass Straits. Although the two men were hugely relieved after Sky was found alive and well, the news wasn't so good about the rest of the Bishops. As the days passed and all the remaining passengers were accounted for, David, Lil and Serena remained missing. Harold was determined that his family would be found safe and well, and caused great concern for Joe and Sky by going about his business as normal, and even auditioning for the Erinsborough Players latest musical. But the family's worst fears were confirmed when Joe received word that David's body had been found, and he broke the devastating news to Harold. Harold refused to accept that the body was David's and insisted that he didn't need to identify it as he knew it wasn't his son. And so the grim task fell to Joe, who positively identified his brother-in-law's body, and returned home to tell the rest of the family. An angry Harold lashed out in a rage when Joe told him it was David, and ended up punching Joe. Harold quickly apologised, and Joe was of huge support to him and Sky as they made preparations for a memorial service.
In the wake of the deaths of the Bishop family, Joe and Lyn grew closer. But Joe was taken aback when Lyn suggested they get married, and he was forced to turn her down, insisting that three marriages was more than enough for him. Instead, Joe preferred the option of them living together as de facto man and wife. However, Lyn wasn't prepared to compromise her Catholic beliefs and reacted by ending the relationship. But after the memorial service for David, Lil and Serena, Joe realised life was too short and resolved to grab the chance at happiness he had been given and proposed to Lyn. Lyn accepted, and before they knew it, the couple found themselves announcing to all and sundry in The Scarlet Bar that they were engaged. While all their friends, neighbours, and even Steph, congratulated them, Sky was completely thrown by the news and couldn't bring herself to endorse the union.
As the initial fanfare that surrounded the engagement died down, Joe came to notice that his daughter wasn't happy. Things came to a head when Sky made negative remarks about the engagement in front of Joe and Lyn's friends, resulting in Joe challenging her to get her problems off her chest once and for all. Sky then proceeded to tell Joe – and Lyn – that she didn't think it was fair for Joe to be getting engaged again given that in her lifetime alone, she had seen him go through at least four women in this way. Joe was disgusted with Sky for effectively accusing him of being an unreliable womaniser, and eventually poured his heart out to her by admitting that he had compared every woman to Kerry since he had lost her. Sky apologised, but the incident had made Joe realise that marrying Lyn wasn't exactly what he wanted, and he admitted this to Lyn. Lyn had also started to have second thoughts about taking such a big step and they soon agreed to forget the marriage plans and carry on as they had been. But within days of the dust settling on their decision, Toby called Joe to ask him to come up to the farm he had just bought in the Kimberleys and help him settle in. Joe initially told Toby that he couldn't leave Lyn, but once Lyn learnt of Toby's request, she told Joe he had to put his son first and help him set up his farm. Reluctantly, Joe agreed and bid Lyn an emotional farewell, promising he would be back as soon as Toby was sorted. But both Joe and Lyn, and indeed Sky, knew that it wouldn't be the case, and after saying a final goodbye to Sky and Harold, Joe – with Bouncer 5 in tow – left Ramsay Street once again to return to the bush.