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Year by Year > 1997: Episodes 2771-2995

Network Ten airdates: 20/01/1997-28/11/1997

BBC 1 airdates: 27/06/1997-13/05/1998

UK Gold/UKTV Gold airdates: 20/06/2003-13/04/2004

Number of episodes: 225

Regular Cast: Sarah Beaumont, Harold Bishop, Madge Bishop, Lou Carpenter, Philip Martin (second casting), Hannah Martin, Karl Kennedy, Susan Kennedy, Libby Kennedy, Billy Kennedy, Toadfish Rebecchi, Louise Carpenter, Darren Stark, Ruth Wilkinson, Anne Wilkinson, Lance Wilkinson

Joining Cast: Lisa Elliot, Ben Atkins, Caitlin Atkins, Amy Greenwood, Paul McClain

Departing Cast: Catherine O'Brien, Mal Kennedy, Helen Daniels, Marlene Kratz, Lisa Elliot, Jo Evans, Debbie Martin

Notable Guests: Rohan Kendrick, Claudia Harvey, Claire Girard, Matt Compton, Tim Buckley

With a bright, classy new look and a newfound sense of confidence, 1997 proved a genuine renaissance for the show after a year of great upheaval and change. While welcoming back aspects of the past with Madge and Harold's inspired return to the street full-time, there was the loss of its longest-serving resident, the beginnings of a classic teen gang, romance aplenty and a genuinely explosive finale...

Mal's life hangs in the balance after his accident at Chéz Chez, and Ruth and Phil decide to stay apart after Lance catches them kissing in the kitchen, but they have trouble staying apart. Elsewhere, Billy and Toadie have fallen out over the Christmas present scheme he started to get him and Anne together.

The girls at Number 30 are having a hard time living with the self-obsessed Vince, and so Catherine hatches a plan to get rid of him, by pretending that her obsessive ex-boyfriend is out looking for her, fresh from jail. Billy, meanwhile, is determined to show he can do wild things without Toadie, and consequently decides to go bunjee jumping. When Karl finds out, he isn't exactly pleased.

Lou and Harold are feuding over the bus, as the both want it for different reasons - Lou for a mobile restaurant, and Harold as a mobile shelter for street children. Lisa Elliot arrives and moves in with the girls at Number 30, and Toadie decides to leave for a life in the country with his family after falling out with Billy - but the pair make up at the last minute.

Debbie says she is interested in running the Coffee Shop, but her father Phil will only be interested if she gives him a written proposal. Debbie luckily manages to get Jo to invest in the business, and Phil's lack of enthusiasm for his daughter's ambitions causes their relationship to crumble. Meanwhile, he is finding that working with Ruth is becoming increasingly difficult.

Lou and Harold purchase the bus together, saying they will combine their ideas, and Catherine is having trouble finding someone to teach her how to drive. Madge reads Harold's mail, and is shocked when she reads a letter from a woman she has never met. Darren volunteers to help Catherine drive, after her attempts with Sarah ended with her almost running down Madge. Darren soon realises that he has feelings for Catherine, and she soon realises that she feels the same.

Harold has decided to go and visit Claudia, the woman who wrote to him, and Madge worries that he won't be coming back. Susan's new powerful position at the school is seemingly going to her head, which makes her relationship with the students far from perfect. Phil continues to have no interest whatsoever in Debbie's plans for the Coffee Shop.

Debbie turns out to be a bad manager for the Coffee Shop, getting on the wrong side of the staff, and her investor Jo. Susan is worried that she is perceived as a monster in the school, and Billy feels that he has missed his chance with Anne. Harold, meanwhile, proposes to Madge, and Darren and Catherine give into temptation and kiss. Wracked with guilt, she confesses to her boyfriend Mal. The revelation results in Darren and Mal having a fight over Catherine, which Libby witnesses.

Madge and Harold re-marry in a beautiful ceremony, while Ruth struggles to ask Phil out on a date. Billy declares his love for Anne, and Toadie and Lance decide to start their own cartoon strip. Elsewhere, Susan is developing a strong friendship with student Tim, and Lisa is horrified when she sees the unflattering picture Lance and Toadie drew of her in the comic book. Darren is worried he has ruined his relationship with Libby, and Debbie tries to break up Ruth and Phil. Darren decides to propose marriage to Libby, but she says no.

Meanwhile, Mal has decided to go overseas and tells Catherine in no uncertain terms that he doesn't want her to go with him. However, as he leaves for the airport, Catherine shows up and the two head off together, happily reconciled, to live in England.

Ruth and Phil's relationship is beginning to develop, while Tim makes a pass at Susan, but she tells him that she will never embark on an affair. At Number 30, Lisa and Sarah are looking for a housemate, so Lisa offers a room to Darren, which doesn't go down too well with Sarah. Tim sends a letter to Susan, but Karl gets his hands on it and confronts Tim.

Phil has convinced himself that he allergic to Ruth, and Debbie and Darren embark on an out-and-out war after she accuses him of stealing from the Coffee sShop till. Tim decides to leave Erinsborough, and Billy makes the bad mistake of calling girlfriend Anne 'Melissa'.

Marlene has appointed herself as Karl's new receptionist, while Ben wins over the girls at Number 30 - but they are convinced that he is hiding something from them, and wonder why he has such an interest in the Wilkinson family. Jo has decided to speak to her estranged husband Rob again, and the couple get back together. At the surgery, Karl is finding that Marlene can be quite a handful.

Billy is less than impressed when he hears that Anne has developed a crush on new neighbour Ben. Karl decides that if Marlene continues to annoy him, he will fire her, and Anne is devastated when Ben tells her he cannot date her, as she is just a kid.

Ruth is shattered when she realises that Ben is the child she gave up for adoption. Meanwhile, Darren and Debbie have mended their friendship and are becoming overly friendly with each other. Marlene is determined to be Karl's only receptionist, and tries to set Sarah up for a fall on her first day of work. Anne is furious with Ruth over her keeping Ben a secret.

Elsewhere, Toadie has been involved with a girl called Becky, and feels he has to lie to keep her with him. He can no longer keep up the charade and the two part ways. Ruth begins to come to terms with Ben's return, and Debbie and Darren begin a relationship. Libby has volunteered to help be a house cleaner at Rohan's, who is blind, and feels she may be falling in love with him, asking him to move into Number 28 with her family.

Marlene and Sarah's competion for the Receptionist of the Year award is driving Karl insane, and Anne and Ruth finally have a showdown over recent events. Lou is interested in Lisa's netball team, but the two cannot come to an arrangement which suits them both. Libby and Rohan's trip to the country ends in disaster when Libby falls down a cliff and Rohan has to try to find help.

Ruth is worried over Lance's enthusiasm for boxing, and Rohan rescues Libby. Karl manages to persuade Lance into not pursuing boxing further. Meanwhile, Debbie is becoming jealous of Libby and Darren seemingly getting closer, and consequently breaks off their relationship. Lou's bus is not the success he first thought, when the papers have nothing positive to say about it.

The Kennedys are in for a shock when Susan announces that she wants to have another baby. Helen has to deal with the news that, after her stroke the year before, she will no longer be able to paint like she used to. Marlene is shocked to learn that Sarah is a finalist in the Receptionist of the Year award - and Sarah is fuming when she realises that the competition was simply to find a good-looking girl to model office equipment, irrespective of her skills.

When Lisa's netball team lose, she takes the result to heart. Ben decides to buy a car for Lance and Anne, and Ruth and Phil decide to take their children on a camping trip. They have a terrible time, and Helen is terrified when a burglar breaks into the Robinson house. The Martin/Wilkinson clan bring back a snake from the camping trip, and Lance ends up getting bitten whilst trying to protect his sister. Meanwhile, Jamie-Lee, a homeless girl, takes advantage of Helen's kindness.

Libby is convinced Sarah is seeing Rohan behind her back, and Lou and Marlene decide to join a dating agency. Lou's bus explodes, and his nonchalant attitude causes the residents to think he did it himself for insurance money.

Ruth meanwhile, has decided to move her family away from Erinsborough after her relationship with Phil crumbles once again. Lou kicks Marlene out of Number 22 when she accuses him of burning the bus, and when it is revealed that it was Jamie-Lee, they are far from patching things up.

Elsewhere, Lance has begun dating gossip queen Amy, and is worried that he won't fit in with her high standards and cool friends. Billy is worried that Lisa isn't marking his essays correctly, and tricks her by writing 'Lisa is a numb nut' in the essay. The insult goes unnoticed, and Lisa's teaching abilities are bought into question.

Lance and Anne convince Ruth to stay in Erinsborough, and tries to get her mother and Phil back together. Harold returns to Ramsay Street, and Lisa decides to leave Erinsborough after quitting her teaching job. Ben overhears her on the phone, and thinks she is in love with him. He tries it on, but she says there is nothing between them, and that he must have misheard her. She leaves Erinsborough shortly after.

Madge returns and asks Harold to return to Queensland with her, but Harold wants to stay in Erinsborugh. Libby and Karl's relationship hits rock bottom and she decides to move out. Harold, Madge and Debbie try to work together in the Coffee Shop, but Debbie finds it impossible to do so.

Debbie decides to get a jukebox for the coffee shop, despite Madge and Harold's protests. Harold is then electrocuted by the jukebox and Madge says it has to go. When the children from Erinsborough High protest, Debbie quits her job.

Debbie declares war on Harold and Madge and opens up a rival service, The Lunch Cart. Madge and Debbie embark on a price war, and Sarah and Ben look for new housemates. Sarah is impressed with policeman Matt, but Ben is mortified when he realises it's the same policeman who pulled him over for driving an unregistered car.

Marlene is envious of Sarah studying, and decides to learn how to speak Italian. It drives Karl up the wall at the surgery. A French exchange student, Claire Girard, arrives at Number 26 to stay with Hannah. Libby has come to the decision to move to Byron Bay, and Darren tries to stop her before it's too late. Matt and Sarah begin to date each other.

Ben's sister Caitlin arrives, and instantly competes with Anne for Billy's affections. Hannah and Claire, meanwhile, dig up an age-old feud between the Ramsays and the Robinsons, and Marlene is whisked away on a 'three month' cruise, never to return.

Sarah says goodbye to Matt as he leaves, and Lance is framed by Jacinta after he insulted her in class. She sabotages his newsletter and he ends up getting suspended for printing unflattering images of Susan. Helen invites Harold and Madge over to dinner, and plays them Scott and Charlene's wedding, where a Ramsay and a Robinson were united in holy matrimony. Madge and Hannah make amends and later that evening, Helen passes away in her sleep.

Michael and Rosemary arrive in the wake of Helen's death, and Harold finds it hard to write a eulogy for her death. The memorial service at the lake gives everyone a chance to say goodbye, and Michael heads back to his farm - taking Debbie with him.

Hannah bids au revoir to Claire as she heads back to France, and Darren suffers a terrible fall at work. Muck up day at Erinsborough High ends in disaster when Toadie's prank causes the school to be evacuated.

Ben takes up racetrack driving, and his short temper leads him into trouble there. Ruth and Phil, meanwhile, are finally reunited and get back together. Caitlin becomes very interested in James, much to Anne's relief, and Phil, Ruth and Hannah head off to the country, while Billy thinks that he is in love with two girls.

Harold and Madge decide to take in Paul McClain as a lodger, and Billy makes the swimming team in Sydney. Libby's terrible exam results make her consider giving up on her education. Meanwhile, Billy, Caitlin and Mandi head up to Sydney for the swimming competition.

In a dramatic end to the season, Caitlin finally gets her claws into Billy - with little protest from him, while Karl and Sarah share a kiss at the surgery after he comforts her. At the racetrack, a fun day out turns into tragedy when Ben is involved in a terrible car crash, leaving his life hanging by a thread.

1997 Episode Summaries | 1997 Magic Moments | 1997 Opening Titles

Review by Billy

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