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Character Profiles > Ben Atkins Brett Cousins

Ben (nť Christopher) Atkins (nť Wilkinson) 1997-1998
Lived: 30 Ramsay Street
Born: 1975
Parents: Geoff Burke and Ruth Wilkinson (biological)
Siblings: Anne and Lance; Nick and Caitlin (adoptive)
Family Tree: Atkins/Wilkinson
Occupation: Carpenter's Mechanics Employee/Owner, Race Car Driver

Born on the 18th September 1975 in Malvern, Victoria, Ben Atkins was put up for adoption by his 15-year-old mother, Ruth Wilkinson, on the advice of her conservative parents who didn't want their daughter to have a child out of wedlock. Although Ruth knew it would be better for Ben to be part of a proper family who could give him everything he wanted, it still broke her heart having to give up her baby boy.

Ben grew up in Adelaide with his adoptive parents, and his adoptive brother and sister, Nick and Caitlin. From an early age, Ben had a strong interest in cars and so, on leaving high school, became an apprentice mechanic. But when Ben discovered he was adopted, he decided to try and find his mother. With his parents' blessing, Ben left Adelaide for Erinsborough, where Ruth was now living. He was shocked to meet her for the first time when he saw that she had two more children, Anne and Lance - his half sister and brother. Ben soon found himself a place to stay at No. 30 Ramsay Street, next door to Ruth and struck up a friendship with Lance and Anne. But when Anne began to get a crush on Ben, he realised he would have to tell the truth and Ruth was shocked when she realised she had been living next door to the son she had put up for adoption twenty one years previously. It took a while for Ben and Ruth to get to know each other properly, but they soon formed a bond and Ben decided to stay in Erinsborough to get to know his other family.

Work was slow to come for Ben, but when neighbour Lou Carpenter bought an old bus to use as a mobile restaurant, he gave Ben the job of fixing it up. But when the bus was torched by teen tearaway Jamie-Lee Duggan, Ben found himself having to contemplate returning to Adelaide for work. But Lou came up with an offer he couldn't refuse - a partnership in a local garage, which Ben jumped at. However, Ben had second thoughts after Lou was initially dishonest about things and started to treat him more like an employee than a partner. Lou's friend - and Ruth's lover - Philip Martin came up with a solution whereby Lou and Ben would both hold 49% each with Phil in charge of the other 2% of the garage, thus ensuring a fair business.

Ben's love life was never plain sailing. He mistakenly believed housemate Lisa Elliott was in love with him and then he fell deeply in love with Angela Quinton, who he met at a night club. Within days, he was fixing Angela's car for free and offering her Lisa's old room at No. 30. But just before she moved in, Ben's other housemate Sarah Beaumont had to break the news to him that Angela had got back together with her ex-boyfriend. When policeman Matt Compton applied for the room at No. 30, Ben was reluctant to let him move in but Sarah managed to persuade him otherwise. Ben and Matt's relationship got off to a bad start when Matt pulled Ben up for not renewing his licence on time. Things got even worse between the two when Matt suspected Ben of having dodgy cars in the garage, and then started dating Sarah, making Ben feel like a gooseberry in his own home. However, their mutual love of motor racing brought the two together and they became friends just before Matt left for a new post in Port Campbell.

When Benís adoptive parents moved out to the Middle East temporarily, he was lumbered with his younger sister Caitlin, who was an obsessive swimmer and a teenage nightmare. Caitlin found it difficult to fit into Ramsay Street and Ben found it very difficult to act as a parent toward her. She was used to having everything done for her at home, so living in a share house was a whole new world and Ben would constantly have to tidy up behind her. Meanwhile, Ben had developed a new interest Ė motor racing. With a great deal of support from Lou, who could spot a publicity opportunity a mile away, he began spending more and more time at the race track. With a big race coming up in a few weeks, Ben was determined to make an immediate impression on the sport, but found it difficult to be competitive enough, even when goaded by his rival, Steve Van Eck. Luckily, a few wise words of encouragement from none other than racing legend Barry Sheene, an old mate of Louís, got Ben back in the driving seat.

The day of the big race arrived, and many of the Ramsay Street residents showed up to support Ben on his big day. Lou was confident that Ben could win, while Ben was eager to show Steve what he was made of. As the race began, Ben was doing well and managed to hold his place, but tragedy was about to strike. As Ben was preoccupied with spotting where Steve was in the line-up, he failed to notice a car pull out from the pits right in front of him and they collided. Benís car flipped up and crashed onto the ground, bursting into flames. Ben was rushed to hospital and operated on straight away, while a distraught Ruth waited for news. While Benís operation had been a success, he was still lying in a coma. As the days passed, a mysterious stranger started paying visits to him, sitting by his bedside and talking to him. It emerged that this man was Geoff Burke, Benís natural father, who had read about the incident in the newspaper. Although he admitted his identity to a comatose Ben, the young man had no memory of this when he finally awoke, and Ruth was keen to keep the truth from her son, fearing he may suffer a relapse.

Although finally conscious, Benís condition was still serious, as the injury to his head meant he would have to remember how to walk and generally be very careful about not overdoing things. When Ben finally found out that Geoff was infact his father, and not a hospital worker as he had believed, he was angry and rejected the man. However, he came to realise how lucky he was to be alive and have the chance to get to know both of his natural parents. After leaving hospital, Ben agreed to stay with the Wilkinsons at No.32, realising that he would be too much of a burden for his housemates back at No.30. Geoff also decided to stay on and help take care of his son, while getting to know him. Ben found things extremely difficult during his recovery and was humiliated when he fell while getting out of the bath one day and was forced to wait until Anne came home to help him. However, he managed to maintain a positive attitude and his recovery was only marred when Geoff decided to show him a video of the crash on the race track. As Ben made remarkable progress, Geoff decided he had to return to his family in Sydney, but told Ben he would be welcome down there at any time.

Family problems returned for Ben, when Caitlin ran away with her new boyfriend, Josh. During Benís recovery, their elder brother Nicholas had come to look after Caitlin and was adamant that Ben was in no condition to look after a teenage girl. However, once his health had sufficiently improved, Ben returned to No.30, though Nick had already decided to stay on after scoring work at Erinsborough High. With so many people under one roof, Ben began to feel pushed out in his own home. When an offer came from Geoff to help him run his garage in Sydney, Ben was eager to take him up on it, though worried about leaving Ruth only a year after finding her. Though she was upset by the news, she knew he had to get to know his father and so, after a farewell barbecue, Ben left Erinsborough. He returned a few months later to witness his mum finally marrying Philip Martin.

2828-3085, 3109-3110

Magic Moments
Episode 2842: Ben's Confession

Biography by Mark and Steve