> Guest Character
Ray Murphy Norman Yemm
Ray Murphy 1986
Marital Status: Faye (1974-1986. Divorced)
Children: Warren and Jodie
Occupation: Factory Owner
As Madge Mitchell was opening up at The Waterhole pub one morning, a man came in and announced that he had a fresh start to celebrate. Although Madge was shocked as he led her to believe that he was fresh out of prison, he admitted that it was just the end of a marriage; his divorce had come through. He introduced himself to her as Ray Murphy and, as the day progressed, he became more and more tipsy, even pinching a stunned Madge on the bum. However, the barmaid’s mood softened when her arch-nemesis Mrs Mangel came into the bar, to talk to barman, and former doctor, Clive Gibbons, about a medical matter. Ray proceeded to mock starchy Mrs Mangel, which instantly made Madge smile, and he decided to continue to try and impress her by talking about how he was a self-made man with his own factory. However, as Madge was starting to enjoy his company, he announced that he had to go home and pulled out his car keys, at which point Madge snatched them away and announced that she could not allow him to drive in his inebriated state. Although Clive assured Madge that she had done the right thing, Ray insisted on seeing the complex manager and told Madge that she would regret crossing him.
Later, Ray returned with the manager of the Lassiter’s hotel complex, Paul Robinson. As Ray accused Madge of theft, Paul insisted that she return the car keys. Once Ray had gone, Paul explained that Ray brought in a lot of business for the hotel and, if he complained again, the bar staff would be sacked. But, a few hours later, Ray returned and, just as Madge was about to get angry, he apologised to her, and explained that he’d been stopped by the police on the way home and was just one drink under the limit, so it could have been a lot worse if he’d driven home when he was drunk. Madge gladly accepted the apology and, over the weeks that followed, Ray started visiting the pub regularly, trying to convince her to go out with him. He explained to her that he now lived alone, at the other end of Ramsay Street, but still had regular access to his two children, Warren and Jodie. When he finally asked her out on a date, she accepted, but when Ramsay Street then came under threat from a company wanting to bulldoze it to build a supermarket access road, and Ray accepted their offer on his home, Madge was appalled. Things got worse when she found out that her brother, Tom, who owned the old Ramsay house which Madge lived in, had also agreed to sell and, upset at the whole situation, Madge cancelled the first date.
As Ray was starting to win Madge over again, she started to back off whenever he mentioned them being alone together, so Ray enlisted the help of Shane, Madge’s nephew, to convince her to give him another try, and even join Ray on a date at the racetrack, despite her disapproval of gambling. During the date, Ray and Madge had a big win and happily celebrated, until Madge overheard Mrs Mangel suggesting that Ray was nothing more than a gambler, drunkard and womaniser. As memories of her first husband, Fred, flashed before her eyes, Madge realised that she was getting too close to Ray when she barely knew him and she decided that they needed a break, so accepted an offer from Paul and went to Adelaide on a two-week housekeeping course.
Whilst Madge was away, Ray’s son, Warren, started studying for his HSC with Madge’s daughter, Charlene and her boyfriend, Scott Robinson. It quickly became clear that Warren could barely get through one study session without drinking a bottle of wine and, although Scott wasn’t impressed, rebellious Charlene was enjoying having some freedom from her mother and joining in with the drinking. When Ray turned up later that evening, with a take-away meal for the kids, he mentioned that Warren should cut down on the drinking, but didn’t seem too alarmed by his son’s behaviour. That night, Warren stayed at his father’s house and, the next morning, as Warren headed over to Charlene’s for more study, he admitted to Ray that his mum wasn’t happy about his contact with his father and he was finding it difficult to be caught between his parents. Ray told his son not to worry, and gave him some money for some lunch, which Warren promptly went and spent on wine. Later, Warren told Charlene about a party at Gerry Butler’s place and, when Scott decided that he had too much study to do, the pair went alone. The following morning, Charlene could barely remember what had happened and was shocked when Ray arrived at the house, announcing that Warren was unconscious in hospital after being beaten up, and he wanted Charlene to fill him in on exactly what had led to the attack.
At the hospital, Charlene was forced to speak to the police, but admitted that she had drunk so much that she couldn’t remember anything about what had happened. Ray was growing increasingly frustrated by the lack of answers and went to speak to some of the other kids from the party, who told him that Warren and Charlene had been inseparable all night and had left to go on to another party. When Ray confronted Charlene with this information and she continued to insist that she couldn’t remember, he started to get violent and Shane had to step in to break up the argument, which came to an abrupt halt when the hospital rang to tell Ray that Warren had woken up. Warren explained that he and Charlene had been at a party on Waratah Street, where some guys had been trying to chat her up and had taken exception to Warren warning them off, so, when he took her home to Ramsay Street, the guys followed and beat him up. Although Warren insisted that the situation wasn’t Charlene’s fault, Ray angrily threw her out of the room. With Charlene in a terrible state and on the verge of running away from home, Shane called Madge and she returned early from her course to sort the whole thing out. But when she met with Ray, neither was prepared to admit that their child was to blame and an argument broke out, with Ray telling Madge that he could understand why Fred left her.
Later that day, Ray went to collect his son from the hospital and Warren admitted that the drinking had been a way to cope with the divorce and the exams, but it had spiralled out of control. Ray didn’t take him seriously, commenting that a little drinking did nobody any harm, but Warren told him that he had to have a few drinks just to get through the day. Ray began to worry that he’d set a poor example and Warren agreed to give up the alcohol completely, if his father did the same. Ray agreed, admitting that he had been drinking a lot since the divorce and it wasn’t solving any of his problems. Ray then went to visit Madge, with flowers, and, as they realised that neither of them would back down on the argument, they agreed to disagree. Ray explained that he had recently acquired a new factory in Wadonga and would be spending a lot of time there over the coming months. He and Madge agreed to part as friends, but, before Ray left, he heard from Shane that the Daniels Corporation was willing to sell the Ramsay house back to Madge – if she could raise the money. And so, as a final gesture of friendship, he offered to loan her the money to buy the house, which, after a little persuasion, she accepted.
• Norman Yemm returned to Neighbours in 1999 as carpenter Jack O'Connor
• Norman's daughter, Jodie, appeared in 1987 as teenage delinquent Kelly Morgan
Biography by Steve