Tony Romeo Nick Carrafa
Antonio 'Tony' Romeo 1987-1988
Family Tree: Romeo
Born in Erinsborough, Tony Romeo’s family moved to Perth when he was four years old. After qualifying as a mechanic, Tony heard from his friend Greg Cooper about Jim Robinson’s garage in Erinsborough. Deciding that he wanted to see some of Australia - not to mention escape from the claustrophobia of his close-knit Italian family - Tony left Perth and headed to see Jim at the garage, where he ran into apprentice mechanic Charlene Robinson, Jim's daughter-in-law. He quickly managed to offend her with talk of how pretty she was, then went to see Jim about the job. Although Jim was concerned that Tony wouldn’t stick around long, he was persuaded to give him a try, much to Charlene’s horror. Tony’s first day in Erinsborough continued to go badly as he tried to chat up Sally Wells, who was already going out with Charlene’s brother, Henry Ramsay. However, when Henry confronted Tony, he found himself pushed into the pond outside the Coffee Shop, warning Henry that if he wanted a fight, he knew karate.
However, although he developed quite a crush on her, Tony made it clear to Henry that he wouldn’t go after Sally and the two eventually became good friends. Henry helped Tony out with some advice when he admitted that his parents were trying to force him into an arranged marriage back in Perth with a girl named Angela. Responding to a letter from his mother, asking why he’d run away, he wrote back and said that he’d met someone else in Erinsborough. When asked for a photo of him with this girl, he managed to persuade Charlene's best friend Jane Harris to have a photo taken with him, assuring her that the family would back off once they realised that she wasn’t Italian. However, just as Jane finally agreed and Tony thought his problems were over, his mother, Elinora, turned up in Erinsborough, desperate to meet the young lady who’d made her son so happy.
After managing to stall his mother for most of the day, Tony sent Henry to find Jane and speak to her. But Jane was busy getting back together with ex-boyfriend, Mike Young, and refused to have anything else to do with Tony’s ridiculous scheme, so Tony was forced to lie to his mother that Jane was ill with chicken pox and would be bed-ridden for at least month. What he didn’t expect was for Elinora to then announce that a month was no time to wait, so she would stick around until she could meet her future daughter-in-law. Later that evening, Sally called by, asking Tony why he’d stood her up for a trip to the cinema, but their conversation was interrupted by Elinora and Tony was forced to act quickly. He claimed that Sally was Jane’s sister, and Elinora asked to hear all about Sally’s family. Tony was horrified as Sally told Elinora that she and Jane were from a family of circus performers, and their mother had been tragically killed after falling from the high wire. Elinora wasn’t fooled, and realised that it was all a joke, with a furious Sally telling Tony that she would have to go home now, but he wasn’t going to get away with this.
The following morning, Elinora was out looking for the supermarket, preparing to make some of her famous wonton soup for Jane, when she spotted the girl herself, with Henry, in the Coffee Shop. Henry quickly covered, claiming that Jane’s chicken pox had been a misdiagnosis, and so Elinora invited her to dinner that night. Jane barely had time to speak, as Henry agreed on her behalf, before leaving to accompany Elinora to the supermarket. When Jane then found out that Tony had Sally masquerading as his sister, it was the final straw and she and Sally arranged to go meet Tony and sort the whole mess out once and for all. They found him at work at the garage, and announced that either he tell his mother the truth straight away, or they would. Back at Tony’s flat, Elinora was busy preparing for the evening meal when Tony and Jane arrived and broke the news to her – the wedding to Jane had been a lie. Elinora was devastated, but found some company, if not comfort, in Jane’s grandmother, Nell Mangel and her good friend, Eileen Clarke, who proceeded to speak very slowly to the Italian woman, fearing that she wouldn’t understand them otherwise.
Realising how unhappy Tony would be if he was forced to marry Angela, the neighbours decided to help him. Scott Robinson, training to be a journalist, went to visit Tony and Elinora, claiming that he was writing an article on Italian family traditions, and his questions made Elinora wonder if the arranged marriage was an outdated idea. She returned to visit Nell, who decided to read her tea leaves, and foretold of Tony and Angela’s marriage being a disaster. The plan worked, and Elinora went back to Tony’s flat and told him that, although she didn’t completely approve, she realised that he was an Australian boy now and needed to find his own wife. After cooking up enough food to keep his fridge stocked up for weeks to come, Elinora returned home to Perth and left her son to get on with his life.
With his personal life organised, Tony set about trying to fix his dire financial problems by finding someone to share his flat. When Sally decided to stay on in the area, he offered her the spare room, and she reluctantly agreed, warning him that there were to be absolutely no strings attached. The new flatmates quickly butted heads, with Sally unhappy with Tony’s messy ways and his refusal to do any housework or buy any fresh food. When Sally then called in landlord Mr Philips to mention some alterations around the place, it backfired badly when he agreed to do them, but pointed out that Tony had only signed a short lease and so a rent hike was due. Desperate to stay in the flat, Sally and Tony decided to do the fixing and redecorating themselves, inviting Scott, Charlene, Mike, Jane and Henry over on the premise of throwing a party, before presenting them all with paintbrushes. Although the party succeeded in getting Mr Philips off their back, it almost ended in disaster when Henry strained a muscle and collapsed while lifting Tony’s weights.
With Sally reunited with Henry, and despite all of the problems he’d caused her, Tony still felt that he had a chance with Jane. However, his constant pestering got him nowhere, as Jane was still mixed up over her feelings for Mike. In the end, Tony told Jane that they could go out as a foursome with Sally and Henry, but when Gail Robinson and Daphne Clarke were involved in a car accident, Sally and Henry pulled out of the date. Tony failed to tell Jane this and got her alone in the flat, pretending that Sally would be joining them at any moment. When Sally did turn up, she told a furious Jane the truth, and she vowed never to trust Tony again. However, they managed to patch things up and, whilst the couple were dancing at a party at the Ramsay house, Scott suggested that they enter a local dance competition. Tony wasn’t too confident with his dancing skills, but realised that it was a golden opportunity to spend some time with Jane, so he agreed. Although the couple won the competition, Tony was annoyed when Jane’s only concern was making sure that Mike was ok and that he wasn’t jealous. When Mike asked Jane to stop dancing with Tony, she realised that she’d been selfish, as Mike had only just lost Daphne, who’d been like a mother to him. She told Tony that they wouldn’t be able to spend time together any more.
Tony failed to take no for an answer, and decided to send Jane a huge bouquet of flowers in the hope of winning her over. When Jane failed to contact him, he confronted her, accusing her of leading him on when she was only interested in Mike. With a depressed Tony considering leaving the area, word arrived from Perth that his father had suffered a stroke and might not pull through. And so, after saying his goodbyes to Sally and Charlene, both of whom had grown very fond of him, and handing in his resignation to Jim, Tony left Erinsborough for good.
• Nick Carrafa had previously appeared in 1985, in flashback scenes as Tim Duncan, the real father of Danny Ramsay
• Nick returned to Neighbours in 1999 to play Sarah Beaumont's fiance, Peter Hannay
• In real-life, Nick is married to Fiona Corke, who played Gail Robinson. The couple first got together when Nick was playing Tony, but did not make the news public until he had finished filming, fearing that it might confuse some of the show’s viewers
Episode 628: Tony's Arrival
Biography by Steve