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Character Profiles > Madge Bishop Anne Charleston

Margaret 'Madge' Mary Bishop (née Ramsay, prev. Mitchell, Ramsay) 1986-1992, 1996, 1997-2001, 2015
Lived: 24 Ramsay Street
Born: 1942
Parents: Dan and Edna Ramsay
Marital Status: Fred Mitchell (divorced 1986), Harold Bishop (1988-2001)

: Max and Tom
Children: Henry and Charlene
Family Tree: Ramsay/Mitchell and Bishop
Occupation: Daniels Corporation Office Assistant, The Waterhole Barmaid/Manager, Columnist, Daphne's Coffee Shop Owner, Councillor, Lou's Place Barmaid, The Coffee Shop Owner/Manager, Grease Monkeys Manager
Died: 2001

The fiery only daughter of Dan and Edna Ramsay, Madge Ramsay was born in Erinsborough where her grandfather, Jack Ramsay, was a local stalwart and twice mayor. When Dan lost his job, the Ramsay family moved up north to Brisbane in Queensland but Madge often returned to Erinsborough to visit her grandfather as she grew up. In Brisbane, Madge met and fell for Harold Bishop but she never loved him in the same way he loved her. She had been pushed into the relationship by her parents who much preferred Harold to the roguish Lou Carpenter, who Madge was also romantically linked with. Tension grew between Lou and Harold as they continuously competed for her affections throughout high school. When the final year of school came, both asked Madge to accompany them to the school dance and Madge ended up accepting Harold's offer. But Madge's life took an unexpected twist that night when she met a young man at the dance called Fred Mitchell and immediately became attracted to him. She ended up leaving the dance that night with Fred, leaving both Harold and Lou upset at having both lost her. Madge and Fred fell deeply in love and soon became engaged. Dan Ramsay was completely against the proposed marriage but Edna realised how in love her daughter was and convinced Dan to give Madge his blessing. After Madge and Fred married, they moved to Coff's Harbour in New South Wales where Fred opened up a hardware store and Madge gave birth to a son, Henry, in 1966 and a daughter, Charlene, in 1969.

The marriage was quite a volatile one and as time passed, Madge began to realise that she had made a mistake in leaving Harold - he was the one for her. As time went by, Fred developed a drinking problem and began to philander while Madge had to cope with raising two children and looking after the bookwork for the business. As the kids grew, they became a handful for Madge. At 17, Henry fell in with the wrong crowd and took part in an armed robbery resulting in a three-year jail sentence. Charlene, meanwhile, was a tearaway at school and being Fred's favourite, was always hard on Madge anytime her parents argued. The final straw came for Madge in 1986 when she discovered that Fred was having an affair with Susan Cole, the young woman they had hired to help out at the shop. Madge decided to leave Fred and her unhappy life in Coff's Harbour behind once and for all but was unable to convince Charlene to come with her.

Nonetheless, Madge returned to her home in Ramsay Street with a determination to start afresh. She moved into No. 24 with her eldest brother, Max and his two sons, Shane and Danny, where she soon took over the running of the Ramsay house. Initially Madge was only intending to stay to help out Max since his wife had recently left him but as she became more and more settled, Madge decided to stay permanently. Taking care of Max and her nephews made her feel useful again and her best friend, Helen Daniels, lived right next door at No. 26. Max begrudgingly agreed to her staying when Madge quickly pointed out that No. 24 was half hers since she lent Max half the money to buy the house. She soon settled into a job as secretary for Helen's grandson, Paul Robinson, at the Daniels Corporation but Paul soon thought Madge would be better suited behind the bar at the Waterhole pub. Here, she quickly made herself a hit with all the punters and her no-nonsense attitude and hard work eventually convinced Paul to let her manage the bar.

The Ramsay house was always full of tension as Madge and Max clashed and argued over everything. When Madge entered the pancake-making contest organised by the Coffee Shop, Max soon became competitive and entered too, determined to beat his sister. He even persuaded Helen to give him cooking lessons in order to win. Max left soon after, however, when he returned to Queensland - and his ex-wife. Madge and the boys were soon joined by her other brother, Tom, who took over Max's plumbing business, and later, Charlene arrived to live with her mum following a row with Fred, who had gotten Susan pregnant.

Charlene proved to be a handful for Madge. She still held her mother responsible for the break-up of her parents' marriage and hurt Madge when she revealed how she and Susan were close. More heartache hit Madge when Fred turned up in Erinsborough to convince Madge to go easy on him in the divorce settlement. At first, Madge put up a tough fight but she soon succumbed to Fred's charms when she slept with him at his hotel. Madge foolishly believed that Fred had changed and that there might be some hope for their broken marriage but he soon proved he was still the same when he left Erinsborough immediately afterwards.

When Charlene started seeing Scott Robinson from next door, Madge had to keep a firm eye on her daughter fearing things were moving too fast. But nothing prepared Madge for the shock Charlene gave her when she arrived home one afternoon with a baby she claimed was her own. Madge was at first hurt and hostile towards Charlene and baby Sam but as she came to terms with the situation, she grew fond of the child she believed to be her grandson. But Madge was shocked when it was revealed that Sam was actually the son of Fred and Susan when Susan turned up on her doorstep ready to take the child back. Madge was deeply hurt and felt betrayed by Charlene for daring to put her through such heartache. Eventually, however, Madge began to feel sorry for Susan when she revealed Fred had walked out on her as soon as she had given birth and reluctantly let her and Sam stay at No.24 until they found somewhere to live.

Madge experienced a brief period of relative happiness when she began seeing Ray Murphy, a regular from the Waterhole but the relationship faded out. Tom, meanwhile, moved back to Queensland but Madge soon had another cantankerous Ramsay man to contend with when her father came to stay. Dan had come to Erinsborough to seek solace from Edna, who had told him she wanted a divorce after she suspected him of carrying on with another woman. When Edna followed Dan down to Erinsborough, Madge set about settling the matter and managed to save the marriage before they renewed their vows and returned to Brisbane.

It wasn't long before Madge received another visitor from Queensland, when Harold Bishop turned up on her doorstep. He had been invited over by Charlene and Shane in an attempt at playing matchmaker for Madge. When it became clear to both Madge and Harold that they still had feelings for each other, they decided to start dating and Harold, with his wife now deceased and kids grown, based himself in Erinsborough where he lodged across the street with Madge's nemesis Mrs. Mangel. Madge faced a moral dilemma when Henry was released from prison and arrived in Erinsborough determined to make a fresh start. Despite receiving a warm reception from Charlene, Madge told Henry she had done all she could for him in the past and asked him to leave Erinsborough. Henry accepted his mother's wishes and agreed to leave but at the last minute, Charlene persuaded Madge to let Henry have one more chance and she agreed to let him move into No. 24.

Before long, Harold proposed to Madge and she accepted but the path to the altar was not going to be an easy one for them. When Lou Carpenter heard on the Brisbane grapevine that Madge and Harold were engaged, he flew down to Erinsborough determined to make Madge his wife. As he and Harold both fought, once again, for the attentions of Madge, she was forced to make the difficult decision of who she should marry. In the end, she decided she wasn't going to let Harold go a second time and Lou returned to Queensland accepting her decision. They finally married in 1988 and the Ramsay house was full once again since Charlene had married Scott and he was now living there too.

Following the departure of Scott and Charlene to live in Brisbane, Madge agreed to let Henry's girlfriend, Bronwyn Davies, move in with the family - despite objections from Harold who was shocked at the prospect of the unmarried Henry and Bronwyn sharing the same bed. But Madge always had the final say with Harold and in time, he came to accept her decision. Not long after, Madge and Harold were overjoyed when they won $60,000 on the Lottery and indulged themselves with a trip around the world. While in Britain, they met Eddie Buckingham who later became their lodger back in Australia for a time. By now, Henry and Bronwyn had married and moved away, and Madge was delighted when Harold's daughter, Kerry, moved into Ramsay Street. Madge was thrilled to be able to be grandma to Kerry's young daughter, Sky, and - after Kerry's marriage to Nell Mangel's son, Joe, her stepson, Toby.

Just when Madge had thought her days of looking after teenagers were over, her 17 year-old niece Gemma - Tom's daughter - came to live with the Bishops and began to cause problems for Madge and Harold when she became involved with Scott's cousin, Matt Robinson. Drama occurred when Gemma and Matt were involved in a motorcycle accident, nearly costing Gemma a leg. Madge was much more pleased when Gemma began seeing student doctor Adam Willis and was delighted when they moved to Newscastle together.

Trauma was in store for the Bishops when Madge returned from a visit to her family in Queensland with the news that she had invited the recently divorced Lou Carpenter for a visit. Harold was aghast at the prospect of his love rival coming to stay and a heated argument with Madge followed which resulted in Harold suffering a heart attack. The scare worried Madge and she told Lou it would be best if he didn't come. When Harold recovered, the couple decided to take a break from their everyday routines - and the stress of Madge's recent entrance into local politics - and tour Australia. They leased out No. 24 and their business, the Coffee Shop at Lassiter's, to Brenda Riley, who was - unbeknown to Harold - Lou's younger sister, and bought a camper van for their trip. But their trip was cut short when tragedy struck the couple. While they had stopped at a beach, Harold went missing after venturing close to a dangerous rocky part of the beach. A massive search began for Harold, as it appeared he had been swept off the rocks and into the sea with little chance of survival. His body was never found but Madge knew her beloved husband was dead when she found his glasses on the rocks. A grief-stricken Madge was joined by Helen and Harold's son-in-law Joe for a memorial service by the beach conducted by Reverend Richards. Totally devastated, Madge then decided to return to Brisbane to be with her family while she tried to cope with her loss.

When she returned to Ramsay Street some months later, Madge found Lou Carpenter living with Brenda at No.24 and ironically, Lou was very supportive to Madge as she tried to adjust to living in Ramsay Street without Harold. But before long, Lou tried to win Madge's affections yet again and proposed but she couldn't commit to a relationship so soon after losing Harold. Eventually, Lou persuaded Madge to give their relationship a chance and they started seeing eachother. Lou proposed marriage but Madge turned him down before agreeing after a second proposal. She made a further commitment to Lou by helping to finance him in his own car yard although her position as silent partner was anything but that. Madge surprised Lou in the midst of the wedding plans when she told him she wanted to sell No. 24 and move back to Brisbane, where Charlene had just given birth to Madge's first grandchild, Daniel. Lou reluctantly agreed before realising he could never replace her beloved Harold, and so he called off the wedding. Madge and Lou remained close friends and she agreed to let Lou rent No. 24, while selling the coffee shop lease to neighbour Cathy Alessi. After a tearful goodbye to her close friends and neighbours, the last Ramsay in Erinsborough left Ramsay Street behind as Madge returned to Brisbane to help Charlene with baby Daniel. Madge soon found work managing holiday homes and eventually sold No. 24 to Marlene Kratz - but still kept in touch with 'her' street via Helen and Lou.

Four years later, Madge's world was turned upside down when Helen phoned her with the incredible news that Harold was alive. Helen had seen him while visiting Marlene who had met Harold at the local Salvation Army shop where he worked. It seemed Harold was suffering from amnesia, however, and resisted attempts by Helen to talk about his past. An anxious Madge flew back to Erinsborough and was reunited with the husband she thought was dead. In an emotional reunion at the coffee shop, a desperate Madge tried to make a confused Harold remember her, and their life together in Erinsborough but he explained that he had been picked up at sea, suffering from severe amnesia which left him with no recollection of his life. He did admit to feeling a sense of familiarity with Madge but it was to be a struggle for the couple to get back to how things were. Madge prolonged her stay in Erinsborough and stayed with Helen at No. 26 as she and Harold started counselling sessions to help him regain his memory. Madge was thrilled when Harold finally showed signs of progress one evening while having dinner at Lou's, where Harold remembered how Lou used to tease him at school. His memory improved further when Marlene agreed to lease out the couple's old house to them.

Before long, Harold had regained most of his memory and he and Madge had rediscovered the happiness they had known before his disappearance. In a romantic ceremony by Lassiter's Lake, Madge - wearing the same dress she had worn on their wedding day - and Harold renewed their vows before leaving their Ramsay Street friends and neighbours, some old and some new, and returning for a fresh start in Queensland. But within a few months, the couple realised that they missed their home in Ramsay Street and decided to move back to Erinsborough permanently. They rented their old house from Marlene, later buying it back, and bought the lease of the Coffee Shop once again. Running the coffee shop proved difficult at first for the couple when they fell out with Debbie Martin, who had been managing the shop. Madge's constant interference in the running of the business annoyed Debbie and she quit - only to set up her own food stall outside Madge's premises. A price war developed between the two but it only resulted in low profits for both Madge and Debbie. They eventually called a truce and Debbie came back on board at the Coffee Shop, although she later moved away at which point Madge and Harold took on full managing duties.

Not long after re-establishing their presence in Ramsay Street, Madge and Harold were asked by the principal of Erinsborough High School, neighbour Susan Kennedy, if they would consider playing host to a French exchange student for a number of weeks. Harold heartily approved of the idea and soon persuaded Madge to do the right thing, despite her doubts. Madge knew from the moment Claire Girard arrived that she had a rebellious nature lurking underneath her sweet demeanour - she even admitted to Harold that Claire reminded her of Charlene at that age. Claire, meanwhile, had Harold wrapped firmly around her little finger and no matter how much trouble she caused, Harold refused to see the bad in her. Madge finally caught Claire out when she spotted her hiding the mouthpiece of Harold's tuba and told the girl out straight that if she tripped up once more, she'd be shipped back to France. However, Claire's penchant for mischief continued as she set about re-igniting the old Ramsay/Robinson feud after her friend, Hannah Martin - Helen's great-granddaughter - delved into her family history and discovered that the Robinsons disputed the Ramsay family's claim on the name of the street. Claire convinced Hannah it would be fun to take down the Ramsay Street sign and replace it with a sign saying Robinson Street, but when Madge saw it, she was furious and stormed over to the Robinson house demanding it be taken down. Hannah's father, Philip, refused to entertain Madge's unreasonable attitude, laughing off the sign as a prank, and before long, both families were at loggerheads once again. The rift was finally healed when Helen, on her return home after a lengthy spell in hospital, gathered the two families together to watch the video of the wedding of Scott and Charlene - the ultimate union of the two clans. However, after all was sorted out, Madge lost her closest friend when Helen quietly passed away that evening.

It was with great reluctance that Madge agreed to Harold's suggestion of becoming a foster parent. With her own kids fully grown, Madge felt her days of dealing with teen angst was over and she was enjoying life. But as Madge got to know Paul McClain, the 15-year-old boy Harold had met through his involvement in foster care, she realised the kid had been through a rough time since the death of his mother and agreed to take him in. Initially, Paul was unfriendly towards Madge and despite her attempts to win him over by buying him an electric guitar, he remained frosty towards her. However, Paul soon revealed he felt he would be betraying his mother if he became too close to Madge. After reassurance from Madge that she would never try to take the place of his late mum, Paul warmed to her and settled in happily to life at No. 24.

A health scare followed for Madge when she was diagnosed with a cerebral aneurysm and had to undergo brain surgery. It resulted in her losing her eyesight for a time and she was forced to accept the possibility that it might never return. Always a fiercely independent woman, Madge refused to be treated like an invalid and continued to do things for herself. Her stubbornness nearly cost her her life, however, when she nearly set the house on fire one afternoon when she tried to do the cooking and set the kitchen on fire. Luckily, Madge's sight returned and she was given a clean bill of health.

In a bid to keep fit and healthy, Madge joined the local senior ladies basketball team, the Grey Growlers. She soon became a valued member of the team but met her match in the team coach, snooty Portia Grant. Portia was extremely jealous of Madge's popularity in the team and she tended to look on Madge as inferior to the quality of team member she wanted. However, Madge rose to the challenge of defying Portia and went on to make a bid for the position of team coach. But Portia was intimidating enough to prevent the other team members from voting against her and held on to the top job. Madge ultimately had her moment of glory, however, when Portia was injured and, unable to captain the team in the finals, Madge took her place. Madge was horrified a few weeks later when Portia considered buying No. 30 - right across the street from her - but she was saved the agony of having her nemesis as a neighbour when Lou bought the house as an investment instead.

Madge and Harold found themselves in the position of surrogate parents once again when Paul's best friend, Tad Reeves, came to live with them. He had been staying with his cousin, Toadie Rebecchi, across at No. 30 but when Toadie announced he needed to concentrate on his studies, Tad pleaded with the Bishops to let him stay with them. Ironically this time it was Madge who agreed to taking on the responsibility of another teenager. Harold was more reluctant because, unlike Paul, Tad had a reputation as something of a scally. However, just before Tad was due to return to his parents in Tindara, Madge convinced Harold to give the lad a chance and he agreed to let him stay. The arrangement worked out quite well - with both Paul and Tad even helping out at the Coffee Shop after school. Madge was less than impressed with Tad, though, when he took on some extra shifts at the Coffee Shop's biggest rival, Grease Monkeys - a burger bar run by Portia Grant's niece Desi.

Madge was forced to return to Queensland for several months after young Daniel was seriously injured after being knocked down by a car while crossing the road. With Charlene and Scott having to face months of rehabilitation with their son, Madge was of enormous help to them by taking care of baby Madison.

On her return to Erinsborough, Madge found Harold in the depths of despair as he was wrongfully accused of an armed robbery that had taken place in Tasmania four years previous. It turned out a man named Alfie, who had a striking resemblance to Harold, had carried out the robbery and it took several weeks for Harold to clear his name. The love and support of Madge helped him through the ordeal, and after Alfie's accomplice, Wendy Baker, confessed all to the police, the matter was put to rest.

Madge and Lou's relationship took a new turn when they went into business together creating their own cookery website, Ozechef. But Madge found it hard to keep up with Lou's constant desire to make money out of the site, and threatened to pull out on more than one occasion. Eventually, Lou himself tired of the site and arranged to sell it to a uni student, Tuong Phan for a hefty sum. But Madge insisted Lou sell it for what it was really worth, infuriating Lou since he had wanted to make a profit out of the sale rather than do the right thing.

Madge indulged her love of cooking by penning a cookbook, Ramsay Recipes, with contributions from Harold and neighbour Lyn Scully. The latter contribution came following a minor feud over the finer points of muffin making. Offended by the slight on her cooking skills, Lyn vowed to prove Madge wrong by cooking Harold and Madge a meal, and the pair settled their differences soon afterwards.

When the Erinsborough News were looking for a new agony aunt for the newspaper's problem page, Libby Kennedy asked Madge to fill the role. Madge agreed but had to remain anonymous in the role, even to Harold. However, Harold was infuriated by some of the advice the agony aunt's column gave and embarked on a crusade to expose her identity and started up a petition against the column. It wasn't until Harold found a scrapbook Madge was keeping of all her columns that he finally realised the person behind the column was his own wife, and he was shocked and appalled that Madge could deceive him in this way.

However, Madge and Harold's marriage faced its biggest crisis when Madge collapsed in agony one evening as she locked up the Coffee Shop. Suffering from severe abdominal pains, Karl insisted on sending Madge to hospital for some tests, and she learned that there was a tumour on her pancreas. Shocked by the news, Madge and Harold immediately prepared to fight the cancer, but were devastated when Karl broke the tragic news to them that the cancer had spread to Madge's liver and she had only six months left to live. Madge's initial reaction to the news was one of anger and defiance, and she refused to accept her fate. But she was soon forced to come to terms with the reality of the situation and broke the news to her heartbroken family. Paul, in particular, handled Madge's illness very badly having lost his own mum to cancer.

Faced with only a few months left to live, Madge was determined to make the most of her time and asked Harold to take her on a trip to Paris - a city she had always wanted to visit. Lou made plans for the trip to be even more special for her by arranging seats in business class for Madge and Harold during their flight. Madge also started getting to know all she could about Paul and Tad's interests, attending Paul's footie matches and listening to Tad's dance music.

However, Madge's plans to live her last few months to the full were cruelly cut short when she developed septacaeima after cutting her finger one afternoon. Dee Bliss found Madge collapsed on the living room floor, and Madge was rushed to hospital, where the doctors informed a devastated Harold that Madge had become so weak and ill from the infection that she would only have a short time left. Harold lovingly stayed by Madge's bedside after she returned home to the Ramsay house to die. On her last day, Paul and Tad both told her how much she meant to them, with Paul thanking her for being the best mother he could ever have asked for. A heartbroken Lou confessed his never-ending love to Madge in a special letter, in which he classed her as 'the one who got away', and when Lou saw Madge for the last time, she told him she had read his letter and thanked him for his special friendship all through the years. Late that afternoon, in the home she had shared with so many family over the years, Madge died peacefully, in the arms of her beloved Harold.

Fourteen years later, as Harold struggled following the end of his third marriage to Carolyn Johnstone, he returned to Erinsborough, where a festival was taking place. As he remembered happier times with Madge, and saw her photograph at an exhibition of people who'd lived in the area, he was consumed with thoughts of her and, distracted, ended up driving his campervan into the stalls at the festival's market. Fortunately nobody was hurt, but as a stunned Harold looked up from the steering wheel, he saw Madge sitting in the passenger seat, shaking her head and telling him off.

As he recovered in hospital, Harold was delighted as Madge visited him again, explaining that she had come to see him as she knew that he needed some support. Harold could barely contain his delight at having another chance to talk to his beloved wife, but quickly realised that people might not be very understanding and that he'd have to avoid talking to her when others were around. After meeting a grown-up Daniel, and offering a few negative thoughts on his bride-to-be, Lou's granddaughter Amber, Madge attempted to help Harold find a new direction in life. She encouraged him to do on a date with Sheila Canning, but this proved disastrous as Harold couldn't stop thinking about Madge and was very disappointed when she didn't appear during the date.

As Harold told Madge that she was the love of his life and he'd never find someone to match up to her, she realised that she'd have to find a new way to help. A few days later, Harold's granddaughter Sky got in touch, heavily pregnant with her third child, and explained that she wanted her granddad to come and live with her, as she could use some support - and admitted that she'd had the idea after Madge had visited her in a dream. A delighted Harold agreed to go, and after saying a final goodbye to Madge - who promised that one day she'd be waiting up in heaven to continue nagging him - he left Ramsay Street to begin the next chapter of his life.

Trivia Notes
• Anne Charleston's portrayal of Madge won the Penguin award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Series in 1987. Anne Charleston appeared on Grundy show Prisoner as the mother of Janet Andrewartha's (Lyn Scully) character Reb Kean
• Madge holds the record for the most different surnames for one character (jointly with Susan Kennedy). Madge was originally known by her married name of Mitchell before reverting to her maiden name, Ramsay, in 1987, and becoming a Bishop in 1988 after marrying Harold
• Madge smoked (though never on screen, it was referred to)
• Madge's grave stone (shown in episodes 5588 and 6176) reads:
Magaret "Madge" Mary Bishop
Beloved wife, mother and friend
1942 - 2001
"Show me the way I should go
for to you I lift up my soul."
(Psalm 143:8)

171-1820, 2739-3740, 7073-7085

Magic Moments
Episode 171: Madge's Arrival
Episode 724: Harold and Madge's Wedding
Episode 1820: Madge's Departure
Episode 2739: Madge's Return
Episode 2798: Harold and Madge Renew Their Vows
Episode 3740: Madge's Death

Episode 7074: Madge's Return

Biography by Moe