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Character Profiles > Joshua Willis Harley Bonner

Joshua Douglas Willis 2013-
Lives: 22 Ramsay Street
Parents: Brad and Terese
Siblings: Paige, Imogen, Piper, Ned
Children: Matilda
Family Tree: Willis

Talented swimmer Joshua Willis moved to Erinsborough with his parents and twin sister, Imogen, determined that their move across the country from Perth to Melbourne would only strengthen his training and help him to win a place at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. With his parents Brad and Terese just as determined to see him succeed, and with Brad as his coach, Joshua found little room in his life for anything away from the swimming pool, and failed to notice that new neighbour Amber Turner had developed a crush on him.

As Josh started training at the local aquatic centre, he and Brad were approached by coach Don Cotter, who made some suggestions for Josh to vary his regime a little bit. Brad was quick to dismiss them, but it made Josh wonder if perhaps, after years of being trained by his dad, he might need to make some changes. Josh's doubts quickly started to cause tension between him and Brad, who believed that things were working perfectly well as they were. And as Amber's crush on Josh only got stronger, and she started going to the pool each morning to watch him train - claiming, when he caught her, that it helped with her asthma - he found himself enjoying her attention, and had another distraction from his swimming training. However, he made it clear that he didn't have time for a girlfriend, and attempted to focus his efforts on his swimming - after chatting to Don one day at the gym, Josh made the decision to hire him as his new coach, replacing his dad. Though disappointed, Brad realised that he had to let Josh make up his own mind, and agreed to him signing a new contract to be coached by Don. But with his intense new training schedule, Josh was struggling to keep up with his schoolwork too, and Amber quickly seized on an opportunity when she found him studying at Harold's, and offered to write his essay on the Chinese revolution, failing to admit that she wasn't studying it, and had no idea what she was doing. Josh was grateful for her help, but when he then ended up getting a warning, as the essay wasn't very good and much of it had been lifted directly from the internet, he went to see Amber, and she admitted that she hadn't really understood the topic. As she ranted about how much she liked him and how she'd wanted to impress him, he suddenly kissed her, admitting that he liked her a lot too.

Unfortunately, Don wasn't impressed when Josh was late to a training session, and told him that he'd have to choose between the swimming and his new girlfriend. Josh then lied to Don that he's split up from Amber, planning to continue to see her in secret, without informing her of his scheme. But when Don saw Josh and Amber together, Josh lied again, claiming that Amber hadn't taken the break-up very well, and was stalking him. When Don then confronted Amber, as she came to the pool to surprise Josh, she realised what he'd been saying about her and ended the relationship. Things only got worse for Josh when he found out that Don had actually moved him to middle-distance swimming so there would be less competition for Hudson, another of the swimmers he was coaching. When Josh realised that Don had been lying to him about his times, and that he'd been giving performance enhancing drugs to Hudson, he demanded to be released from his contract. At first, Don refused, but he soon came to his senses and decided to quit coaching completely. Brad agreed to coach the boys, part-time, and took on another job as the manager of the Dingoes Den gym. Though happy with his swimming again, Josh was struggling to stop thinking about Amber, particularly when he saw her kissing another guy, Clay. Though Josh was still determined to find out whether he stood a chance with Amber, when he was confronted by her ex, Robbo Slade, who claimed that he was now with Amber and she wanted nothing to do with him, Josh backed off completely. Things were also becoming awkward at the pool once again, when Brad decided to take on Hudson and train his alongside Josh, who could only see Hudson as a drug cheat and wanted nothing to do with him. Things got worse between Hudson and Josh, until Josh finally admitted that he'd actually preferred the one on one training with Brad, as it had allowed him to spend time with his father, and so Brad agreed that they could start doing things together away from the pool.

Things also seemed to be improving for Josh and Amber, as they finally admitted that they wanted to be together, and arranged a date. Unfortunately, not realising that Josh hadn't been filled in on all the details, Imogen accidentally let slip that Amber had slept with Robbo only days earlier. This caused a huge rift between Josh and Amber, and when Josh then caught Robbo trying it on with Imogen, he went to the Turner house and confronted Mason, telling him to get Robbo to stay away from all of them. It was then that Josh found out the truth - Robbo had recorded himself having sex with Amber and was threatening to put the video online, unless Mason gave him $10,000. With Robbo's court case the next day, he was demanding the remaining $8000 that Mason still owed, so the boys, along with Chris and Hudson, teamed up to fix the situation. After Hudson admitted that his family back in Sydney was very wealthy, and he could easily get the money, they arranged to go and meet with Robbo, and make sure that the video was gone for good. But by the next morning, Robbo was unconscious in hospital, having been run down by Imogen and Mason's car, and Josh was sporting some very nasty bruises on his abdomen. Not wanting to reveal his injuries, Josh skipped the state swimming trials, leaving Brad furious and demanding an explanation. Hudson then quickly covered, claiming that he and Josh had got into a fight - Brad accepted this, and agreed to continue training both of them when they said that it had just been a stupid mistake and would never happen again.

Meanwhile, when Josh saw Amber sitting by Robbo's hospital bed, he assumed that she was there because she still had feelings for him, even after everything. However, Amber explained to him that she just needed to talk to Robbo and tell him how much he'd hurt her. When Robbo died suddenly, Amber went into shock, but it made her realise that she didn't want to waste any opportunities, and that she needed to tell Josh just how much he meant to her. She sent him a text message thanking him for his recent support, but, having deleted Josh's number when they split up, she had to write the number from memory, and ended up accidentally sending it to her granddad, Lou instead. When Josh didn't reply, Amber assumed that he was ignoring her and ended up confronting him with a long rant, that ended in him kissing her. After they talked things through, Amber realised the mix-up with the text messages, and they agreed to forget the whole mess and start dating properly again. After getting involved in the relaunch of the school's radio station, Josh and Amber were helping out there one weekend when they started play fighting, and Amber realised that Josh was in pain. She was shocked to see his bruises, and to hear about how he got them, feeling terrible for ever bringing Robbo into their lives. Not long after, it was revealed that Hudson had been the one who had run down Robbo - and the Willis and Turner parents were shocked to realise just how deeply their kids had been involved in the situation. Amber and Josh were quickly banned from seeing each other, but they did their best to still be together, spending time doing the same shifts at the radio station, then stealing the keys to number 24. After they were caught out by Susan, Lauren and Brad realised that maybe they needed to change the punishment - so Amber ended up working unpaid at Harold's for a month, while Josh was put on gardening duty.

Josh quickly found that his punishment, along with schoolwork, training and spending time with Amber, was too much to deal with, and realised that something would have to give. After speaking to Susan, who'd been tutoring him, about getting his priorities in order, Josh shocked his parents by announcing that he was quitting school. Though he'd mentioned the idea a couple of weeks earlier, Terese was sure that they'd managed to change his mind, and she was determined that her son would finish his education. But as the constant arguments started to take their toll, Terese finally gave in and said that Josh could leave school, but if circumstances were to change, he would be going straight back to finish his VCE. Meanwhile, the Turner parents were still concerned that Amber was going to rush into a sexual relationship with Josh, and that he was doing nothing to discourage it. When Lauren found out that Josh and Amber were alone at the Turner house and spending the afternoon in the spa, she rushed home, but her actions only left Amber upset that her mum didn't trust her, and shocked to find out that Josh thought they were ready to have sex now, though Amber had made it clear that she wanted to wait a bit longer. When Matt found out what had happened, he burst into the Willis house, believing that Josh had been putting pressure on Amber. Amber followed her father across the street, and arrived just in time to hear Josh say that he would never force Amber to do anything, as he loved her. The Turner and Willis parents quickly realised that they should back off and let the kids sort things out themselves, and soon things were back on track for Josh and Amber, though she made it clear that she still wanted to wait a while before things got more physical.

After a journalist tricked Josh into talking about Hudson, and his relationship with Chris, he found himself receiving a punch from Chris, whose behaviour had been spiralling out of control since Hudson disappeared from his life. With a possible fracture to his cheekbone, Josh was unable to train to until he was given the all clear, and he had plenty of time to annoy Amber, as she did her work experience at the hotel with Terese. With Amber struggling to figure out what she wanted to do with her life, and Josh always so determined to be a swimmer, their differences started to come between them, and only worsened when Josh objected to Amber taking a job as a meter maid in the hotel car park. As Amber was then offered a last-minute job, photographing a wedding, after Terese was impressed with her amateur shots, Josh's failure to take it seriously left Amber upset, and she suggested that they should take a break from each other. Josh tried, and failed, to win her back, but it wasn't until he saw the photographs she'd taken at the hotel that he realised just how shallow and self-obsessed he'd been lately, and how talented Amber was. He then turned up at the Turner house in a suit, and this time, Amber accepted when he offered to take her to the school dance. Unfortunately, he ended up missing the date after being asked to do an interview with Waratah Star journalist Ruby Knox, leading to another break-up with Amber. When Amber then spotted Josh and Ruby having another meeting in Harold's Store, she was upset that he was moving on so quickly, and Josh confided in Ruby about how difficult it was to maintain a relationship amidst the pressure of a professional sporting career. Ruby told him that she understood, and then she kissed him, but after a few seconds, Josh pulled away. After Amber then called him over later that day to return some of his things, they ended up having an argument, and he told her that he had no idea what he was doing, as all of the publicity was new to him, but she couldn't keep on flying off the handle and dumping him every time he made a mistake. The young couple then patched things up, and ended up sleeping together for the first time.

Josh then decided to prove his love, and spend some of his sponsorship money, by buying a top of the range camera for Amber. She was delighted, but slightly confused about the grand gesture. All was explained when she saw a text on Josh's phone, from Ruby, which said 'We need to talk about the kiss'. Amber was furious as Josh explained what had happened, and when it had happened, but he eventually managed to make her see that it was a mistake, and something that would never happen again. To show that he was serious about them, he told Amber that she could appear in his next photoshoot, to show the world that he had a girlfriend and wasn't interested in anyone else. Though Amber finally seemed to be happy with things, during a quiet moment Ruby mentioned to her that she thought it was a bad idea for Josh to be in a serious relationship, and that Amber was going to have to toughen up if she was going to survive.

Amber continued to offer her support to Josh, even as his ego started to grow out of control and he won an award for emerging talent and started accepted lots of sponsorship deals. When Josh then qualified for the Commonwealth Games, Amber was upset to learn that he'd have to spend three months at a training camp in Spain. She tried to find a way to go with him, but Josh insisted that it wouldn't be a good idea, but she could trust him and she could definitely come and see him perform in Glasgow. However, just as everything seemed to be going perfectly, disaster struck when Josh and Amber went on a camping trip with Mason and Imogen - whilst Mason and Imogen were abseiling, Mason goaded Josh into taking part and it ended with a nasty accident, as Josh fell. At the hospital, it was discovered that he'd badly injured his shoulder and a sports surgeon was flown in to operate. Afterwards, the prognosis was bad, but Brad tried to keep Josh's spirits up, lying to him that he'd still be able to swim professionally. When Josh found out the truth, he lashed out, blaming Mason for the whole thing and driving a huge wedge between the Willis and Turner families. Brad then decided to take legal action against Mason, who eventually managed to prove that the hire company had been at fault. Josh was in for another shock when he learnt that Mason and Imogen had been secretly seeing each other, but he realised that he had to stop blaming other people and just focus on his recovery. Imogen and Mason's relationship didn't last long, as she dumped him soon after it went public, and he accepted a job, and a fresh start, in Darwin. The accident was also putting a strain on Josh's relationship with Amber, as he began to worry that he was no longer good enough for her. Desperate to recover quickly and get back a sense of purpose in his life, Josh ended up accepting the offer of drugs from a guy at the gym. Although he'd only planned to take them for a few days, he soon found himself struggling without them, and went back for more.

It didn't take long for Amber to notice that something wasn't quite right, and after a little research, she started to wonder if Josh was on drugs. When he went upstairs for a shower one afternoon, she went through his bag and found the tablets. As Amber confronted him, Josh denied that he had a problem, and tipped the tablets down the sink, but asked her not to say anything to Brad, insisting that he could deal with the situation. But a concerned Amber realised that she couldn't ignore this and so she told Brad, leaving Josh furious. He told Amber that he'd never be able to forgive her for this, but after a few days apart, Imogen forced her brother and her best friend to talk things through. Having calmed down, Josh realised that Amber had only acted in his best interests, and the young couple patched things up. Josh then went into denial about his problems, deliberately missing an appointment at the hospital, where Brad and Terese learnt that their son had caused further damage to his shoulder by training so hard, and that he'd never swim professionally. As he looked to Amber for support, he found that she was behaving oddly, claiming that she was under a lot of pressure due to year 12. Josh quickly jumped to the conclusion that she no longer wanted to be with him, now that his swimming career had ended, but the truth soon came out - Lauren had been pregnant with Brad's baby when she left Ramsay Street 20 years earlier, and the Turner kids had found out, but were asked not to tell Josh and Imogen.

As the Willis and Turner families attempted to deal with their unexpected connection, there was more family drama for Josh when his grandfather, Doug came to stay. As retired builder Doug tried to help Josh find a new direction in life, the pair of them ended up helping out at the builder's yard, while Kyle was in Thailand for a couple of months. Josh quickly noticed that something wasn't right, as Doug made mistakes and mixed up orders, but when they found him wandering the streets with a cut on his head, talking about going to meet Cody - his youngest daughter and Josh's aunt, who'd died in 1996 - they realised that something was seriously wrong. At the hospital, it was suggested that Doug was suffering from the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Josh's grandmother Pam then joined Doug in Erinsborough, and they realised that they needed to start making some new memories while there was still time. As he and Pam headed off to travel the world together, Doug told his family to make the most of every moment in their lives, and to cherish their loved ones.

As he began to think about finding a new career, Josh had returned to school, but his own problems continued to take precedence over Amber, whose plan to become a photographer was taking shape. When Daniel Robinson arrived in town, he felt an immediate connection with Amber, not just due to their shared love of photography, but also because Daniel felt that they were kindred spirits. This worried Josh, but Daniel assured him that he wasn't the type of person who would steal someone else's girlfriend, and Josh relaxed, failing to spot the signs of attraction between Amber and Daniel that other people were seeing. As both Sheila and newcomer Paige told Josh to pay more attention to his relationship, he made some frames for some photos of him and Amber and gave them to her, unaware that she'd just been about to dump him in favour of Daniel. With Amber's feelings for Daniel growing by the day, Josh was left completely oblivious as his girlfriend started cheating on him. It was weeks before Josh finally realised what had been going on behind his back, when he started to notice clues that something wasn't right, and finally found Daniel and Amber kissing in the darkroom. Josh reacted badly, trashing the darkroom and refusing to speak to Amber. With everything becoming too much for him, he then decided to quit school again and, realising that he was serious, Brad and Terese agreed to his choice.

Josh then found some work helping out Naomi and Kathy as they planned a new branch of Kathy Carpenter Homewares in Erinsborough. The attraction between Naomi and Josh, both trying to move on from heartbreak, was very clear and, in the hotel lift together, things started to get passionate between them. As if his life wasn't complicated enough, Josh also found out that Paige was actually his half-sister, the result of Brad's relationship with Lauren years earlier. As his secret fling with Naomi continued, Josh found himself another new opportunity after putting his CV online. He was contacted by the Dingoes Den Gym and offered the manager's job - unfortunately, Brad, who'd been sacked from the job a few weeks earlier and made an unhappy return to teaching, accidentally received the email intended for Josh and thought he was being offered his old job again. The mix-up caused some tension between father and son, and Josh almost turned down the job, but Brad came to his senses and told Josh to take the opportunity and make him proud.

Trivia Notes
Harley Bonner is the real-life son of Carla Bonner (Stephanie Scully)


Biography by Steve