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Doreen Burns/Anderson (Colette Mann)

The following character profile is written by Robert Lindsay (slightly updated).

Doreen was one of the original prisoner characters when the series began. The initial format of the series was 13 regulars - six main characters (Karen, Lyn, Bea, Franky, Meg, Vera is my guess) and the rest support (Mum, Marilyn, Dr Greg Miller, Erica Davidson, Eddie Cook, Lizzie and Doreen).

When we first meet Doreen she is basically gentle, childlike and a bit immature. She is also very likable and was an instant hit with viewers. Her schtick was the fact that she still had a Teddy bear. She sometimes sucked her thumb as well.

Although she is friends with Bea and Marilyn, Doreen is also involved in some sort of one-sided 'love affair' with cell-mate Franky Doyle. Doreen is not a Lesbian however. This affair is Franky's doing and Doreen goes along with it because Franky can be fairly intimidating and also because Doreen is pretty weak willed - she prefers to be looked after rather than look after herself. Doreen does like Franky but as she says herself in episode one "She scares me at times does the old Franky". Doreen is a born follower, and she is very easily led. Franky's attentions quickly turn to prison newcomer Karen Travers - which is a relief to Doreen, but not to Karen.

In the first episode Doreen is transferred from Franky's cell to share with Bea and Marilyn. This angered Franky so much she demolished the rec room!

Doreen does not really have her own particular storylines as the lead characters had. In the first ten episodes she mainly flaps around the prison with her Teddy. Around episode ten the original 16 hour series was extended to 20 episodes, followed by being extended to an indefinite run. After the first 10 episodes, writer Reg Watson and Director Ian Bradley, enjoying the supporting characters Lizzie and Doreen so much, boosted these characters to become leads. Marilyn was released from prison and Lizzie was transferred into Doreen and Bea's cell, with Bea, Lizzie and Doreen soon becoming the three lead prisoners in the series.

Doreen's first big incident was her escape with Franky Doyle. They were out for quite awhile (12) and got up to all sorts of trouble, including disguising themselves as nuns. After Franky's is shot (20), Doreen came back to Wentworth and for a while turned really tough: trying to be just like Franky. This personality change was fortunately short lived.

Piece by piece, various details of Doreen's past were revealed. She had been molested by her father from an early age and turned to crime early on. She had been institutionalised from an early age. She had had a child which was taken away from her: she tells Judy in (103) that her child was born when she was 16 and would now be 7 years old. Her original crime was forgery but actress Colette Mann once joked in an interview that the crime often changed depending on which writer happened to be working on the particular day! Doreen's forgery prowess is first demonstrated when Helen Masters (Louise Pajo) got Doreen to forge her signature on James Brandon's contract, thus making it invalid. Other times it was mentioned that Doreen had worked as a prostitute which is a bit difficult to imagine!

Doreen was always looking for some stronger character to look after her - usually gaining strength through her protective friends Lizzie and Bea. She develops a crush on Lyn Warner, and frames her for various misdemeanours within the prison to prevent her being released. When Lyn finds out, she calls Doreen a "worm" and smears mud over her face (42). When Peter Clements interviews Doreen as part of his study in prison psychology, his questions about lesbianism tip Doreen over the edge and she has a breakdown (46) and is transferred for a short time to a psychiatric hospital. She is returned to Wentworth under heavy sedation at first (54), but gradually returning to her old self.

While Erica Davidson was taking leave to consider whether to resign, she manages to trace Doreen's real mother.

During the first year Doreen and Lizzie were both released from prison and went to live in the halfway house being run by then ex-prisoner Karen Travers. Says Lizzie of her release: "Bloody marvellous, for twenty odd years they've been falling over each other to keep me inside and now they're falling over each other to get me out!"

One of the first plotlines for Doreen in the halfway house (66)-(73) was finally getting the opportunity to meet her mother, played by actress Anne Haddy. Her mother kept her identity secret from Doreen for a while as she was terminally ill and didn't want to cause Doreen further heartbreak. Doreen is left her mother's house in her will.

Doreen had a boyfriend, Kevin Burns (actor Ian Gilmour) during this period, whom she met while working in the postroom at a factory (89). Soon silly Doreen shop-lifted some liquor and as she was only out on parole wound up back in Wentworth (101). Lizzie was also soon back in Wentworth with her "best mate, Dor".

A recent inmate Judy Bryant becomes very close friends with Doreen while they are both working in the garden together. When Doreen tells Judy about Franky (102), this is possibly the closest she gets to acknowledging her feelings about other women.

While she was back in prison Doreen married Kevin Burns (116) in a small ceremony in the prison grounds with Erica giving her away. At the same time, temporary Officer Jock Stewart (actor Tommy Dysart) had begun working at Wentworth. He accepted a bribe from a building developer in return for coercing Doreen to sell her mother's house. Doreen did not want to sell. After a few terrifying episodes she confided in the other women and she got to keep the house (119).

Doreen then was involved in the working party send off to work in a factory on day release. The foreman, Vince Talbot took a liking to Doreen and would drag her off to the storeroom and have sex with her (128). She objected of course but was not good at standing up for herself and was easily coerced by Vince. When Vince demanded sex a second time, Doreen gets in return information about the tenders for the courier run at the factory. She planned passing this information on to Kevin so he could undercut the other offers and get the job for himself. However, Doreen was silly enough to tell Kevin over the phone in front of Vera (130) and is taken off the working party.

Doreen soon found out she was pregnant (136), but the baby cannot be Kevin's, and it has to be Vince's. She asks Agnes Forster to arrange an abortion, but Agnes is so outraged that she tells Kevin and calls him in to Wentworth to make her change her mind (137). When Kevin found out about Vince, he inisists that she reports it to the police, but when the police decide not to prosecute Vince, Doreen is forced to admit that she did hace sex with Vince a second time which was to get the information to help Kevin. He decides that he wants a divorce and Doreen seems to be taking the news calmly but then attempts to commit suicide by hanging herself in the laundry. Fortunately Officers Meg Jackson and Vera Bennett manage to get her down before any real damage occurred (139). Eventually Doreen accepts her pregancy but no sooner has she started to knit baby clothes when she is taken ill in the night and has a miscarriage (142).

Doreen then had the opportunity at further work release, this time working at Wentworth General (hospital). One dependable thing about Doreen is that you could always be sure that she would soon do something really stupid leading to all sorts of trouble and usually extra time added to her sentence. While working at the hospital she kidnapped Chrissie's sick child Elizabeth and ran off with her (156). She went and hid at her mother's house. Naturally, she was soon caught and sent back to Wentworth. This hospital storyline featured actress Debra Lawrance as a nurse (later to appear as Officer Sally Dean followed by prisoner Daphne Graham), and Jenny Ludlam as Doreen's neighbour (later to appear as the alcoholic-solicitor inmate Janice Grant in 1984).

Doreen was then one of the prisoners to escape in the tunnel during the Pantomime (160)-(168). In the pantomime Doreen played the princess. In the final scene of the play, Doreen's character had a bag over her head (that's because Doreen had by then gone out the tunnel and it was actually Phyllis Hunt (Reylene Pearce) wearing Doreen's costume and the bag over the head!)

Lizzie quickly decided that she would miss Doreen too much and so followed them down the tunnel. When Bea discovered this she went down to retrieve Lizzie. Just after Lizzie and Bea left the others to return to Wentworth the tunnel caved in, trapping Doreen in the rubble. Bea and Lizzie were trapped in the same section as Doreen, who was still conscious and not too badly injured. Anne Griffin (Rowena Wallace) had also covered the tunnel entrance trapping them in there. After three or four very tense days they were finally found. When they were rescued from the tunnel Doreen realised that 'Teddy' had been left behind down there. She quickly got used to this idea figuring that she now felt ready to give him up anyway. This incident marked a turning point in Doreen. She slowly becomes more mature and begins to look after herself a bit more.

Later, around episode (227)-(234), Doreen somehow got selected to participate in yet another work-release programme where a group of women were sent out to repair a derelict old house. They discovered a young runaway boy Peter Richards (actor Stefan Dennis, later Paul in Neighbours) living in the house. Of course dopey Doreen decided to run away with him. They got away on foot with no money and were soon caught.

Towards the end of 1981, Bea Smith became very ill. She was hospitalised and it turned out that she needed a kidney transplant. During this storyline Bea's doctor was played by actor Brian Jones who would later appear as Officer Stan Dobson in 1984). Pushy prison newcomer Sandy Edwards (Louise Le Nay), who had originally expressed interest in taking over as top dog, somewhat suspiciously rallied all the inmates to be tested to see if their kidney's were compatible with Bea's. Prior to the tests she had everyone pledge that if their kidney turned out to be compatible, then they would agree to be the donor. Doreen grudgingly complied. It turned out that Doreen was the only one who was compatible. Even though Doreen loved Bea, she was terrified at the prospect of having an operation to remove a kidney. Poor Doreen suffered lots of stress and anxiety for a couple of episodes before risking the wrath of Sandy and the others by at the last minute refusing to donate a kidney. Luckily for Bea, some unnamed member of the public who was killed in a car accident that night turned out to be compatible and Bea was saved. Doreen received criticism from Sandy and some of the others for refusing but of course Bea understood completely and had no bad feelings toward Doreen over the incident.

Doreen was the first prisoner to encounter the horrible new Officer Joan Ferguson (Maggie Kirkpatrick) who joined Wentworth in episode (287). Later, Doreen was the first character to use the term the 'Freak' to describe Joan Ferguson. It was after Ferguson has been in the series for several weeks when one day in passing Doreen spoke of "that freak, Ferguson". A few weeks after that, 'Freak' became Ferguson's infamous nickname.

Doreen departed the series around September 1982, episode (303). On her release she initially lived in the halfway house and got a job at the factory where future Wentworth inmate Barbara Fields worked. After the factory burnt down Doreen happily went off on her way. We could now see that Doreen had developed the maturity needed to make it in the world.

Several months later, Doreen made the first of two welcome return appearances, in episodes (359)-(361). This was when Bea had escaped by strolling out the front gate with a group of trainee officers while wearing Joan Ferguson's spare uniform. Bea made her way to Sydney where Doreen now lived and Doreen helped her out for awhile. Doreen had a job working in a clothes boutique and had a nice flat overlooking the Opera House (in reality this would be too expensive for someone working in a shop!). When Doreen's flatmate returned unexpectedly, to ensure Doreen would not be charged for harbouring her, Bea pulled that reliable old Prisoner trick of tying Doreen up and pretending that she was holding Doreen against her will. Doreen was not charged when the police arrested Bea.

Finally in early 1984, episodes (435)-(446), Doreen returns to Melbourne with a dilemma. She has agreed to marry an overseas visitor so he can remain in Australia but has now changed her mind. Using impeccable logic, she gets herself re-arrested to avoid marrying him. She predictably winds up in Wentworth. This was basically a 'guest appearance' to spice things up again after the recent departure of popular characters Bea, Lizzie and Erica during the preceding six months. Helen Smart (actress Caroline Gillmer) was also doing her final stint at the same time, making her final appearance just after Doreen's departure.

Updated 10 October 1997

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