Phoebe Gottlieb Simone
Phoebe Gottlieb (née Bright) 1991-1993
Parents: Myrnah and Arthur Bright
Marital Status: Stephen Gottlieb
Family Tree: Bright/Gottlieb
Occupation: Student, Coffee Shop Assistant
Quiet, sensitive and studious, Phoebe Bright was brought up by her undertaker father Arthur after her mother left them to live overseas. Due to her studious nature and plain looks, Phoebe was never very popular at Erinsborough High School and was very much a loner. Her love of things gothic and paranormal coupled with the fact that her father ran the local funeral home and her best friend was her pet snake Oscar gained Phoebe the nickname ‘Creepy Phoebe’ by classmates.
None of the boys at school ever looked twice at Phoebe, and she spent her school days hidden behind books and her nerdy spectacles. Phoebe couldn’t believe her luck when Josh Anderson asked her out on a date, but she was humiliated and upset when she discovered that the only reason he went out with her was because he had lost a bet with his best mates Todd Landers and Brad Willis. However, when Josh was paired with Phoebe for the school play, the amount of time they spent together led Josh to the realisation that there was more to Phoebe than he thought. They started dating but Arthur strongly disapproved and insisted Phoebe put all her energy into her studies and not boys. Phoebe eventually stood up to her father and insisted she be allowed see Josh, but the confrontation led to Arthur suffering a heart attack and it caused Phoebe to call things off with Josh completely.
Once Arthur was on the mend, Phoebe realised she had to be upfront with her father about her feelings for Josh and she was thrilled when he allowed her to see Josh once it didn’t interfere with her school work. But while Josh was visiting his parents in Mildura, Phoebe found herself falling in love with his best friend Todd as they worked together on making a horror movie for media studies class. Todd, too, became attracted to Phoebe but any possibility of anything happening between them was cut short when Todd went to stay with his mother and sister in Adelaide for a few weeks. While Todd was away, Phoebe decided to write him a love letter explaining how much she loved him. But once she had posted it, she regretted sending it because Josh was back on the scene and she didn’t want to come between the two friends. Phoebe breathed a huge sigh of relief when Todd returned from Adelaide without having received the letter from her. However, his mother sent it down to Erinsborough when it did arrive and he read it, much to Phoebe’s dismay. Phoebe tried to play down its significance, but Todd admitted that he felt the same way about her too. They tried to let Josh know they were in love in as delicately a way as possible, but he took the news badly and started dating Trish Longley in an attempt to prove he didn’t care. He eventually forgave the couple when he realised they were made for each other, and the three repaired their friendship before Josh left Erinsborough.
Tragedy struck for Phoebe when her father suffered a stroke and died. A devastated Phoebe tracked her mother down overseas but she had no interest in taking her daughter in and Phoebe was left homeless. Her school headmistress Dorothy Burke came to the rescue by inviting Phoebe to live at No.30 with her, where Dorothy was also caring for young Toby Mangel and his beloved labrador, Bouncer. The four made an unusual family but it worked and Phoebe came to regard Dorothy as a mother figure, affectionately calling her ‘Mim’, an abbreviation of Dorothy’s middle name, Miriam.
As their relationship developed, Phoebe and Todd decided they wanted to start having sex. But in their haste, they forgot to use proper contraception and Phoebe fell pregnant. The news sent shockwaves around the neighbourhood given the fact that Phoebe and Todd were only 17 years of age, but Todd was determined to do the right thing by Phoebe and after discussing their options, they agreed to keep the baby. Todd made plans to quit school and was promised a job at Lassiter’s by his cousin Paul Robinson. But Phoebe had second thoughts about the pregnancy and decided to have an abortion. Although Todd supported her decision, deep down he wanted to have the child – and on the day Phoebe checked into the abortion clinic, he knew he had to stop her because he was sure Phoebe wanted the baby too.
But a tragic set of circumstances unfolded. While racing to the clinic to prevent Phoebe from going through with the termination, Todd was knocked down by a van as he crossed a busy freeway. He was taken to hospital with serious injuries, and word reached Phoebe at the clinic just before she underwent the procedure. She hurried to the hospital where Todd appeared to be on the mend, and he was thrilled when Phoebe revealed that she was still pregnant. But a sudden cardiac arrest hit Todd and he died, leaving a devastated Phoebe alone and pregnant. In the days that followed, Phoebe shut herself off from everyone around her - even running out of the church at Todd’s funeral. The only comfort she was granted in those dark days was when she lay grief stricken in her bedroom and Todd appeared in her mirror to tell her he would always look after her and their daughter. The visit from Todd, while greeted with scepticism from Dorothy in whom Phoebe confided, led Phoebe to decide she had to proceed with the pregnancy and honour Todd’s memory.
A few months later while visiting Todd’s grave, Phoebe befriended Stephen Gottlieb, a young man who was visiting the grave of his recently deceased fiancée. The pair quickly formed a bond, given the similar tragedies that had affected their lives and gradually fell in love. But Phoebe felt guilty about finding someone so soon after Todd’s death and tried to put Stephen off her. Her attempts at freaking him out with her love of reptiles and the paranormal failed when Stephen showed up at No.30 with a massive python to prove how much he loved Phoebe. She finally decided that the only way to determine whether or not she should see Stephen would be to consult a medium and make contact with Todd. The outcome contented Phoebe and she started seeing Stephen. And after a short courtship, Phoebe was stunned when Stephen proposed to her at her Gothic-themed 18th birthday party.
The couple planned to marry before the baby arrived, but various obstacles cropped up along the way. Most upsetting for Phoebe was the refusal of the new vicar, Reverend Fitzsimmons to marry her and Stephen because of the fact that she was pregnant. Luckily, Helen Daniels, Todd’s surrogate gran, stepped in to avert a crisis by enlisting the services of the community’s previous vicar, Reverend Richards, who had a more understanding character than his successor. One final obstacle presented itself on the eve of the wedding when Phoebe went into labour. Stephen ended up delivering the baby - a little girl, as Todd had told Phoebe it would be - in No.30’s living room and after she pulled through an initial period of danger, Phoebe aptly named the child Hope.
Stephen initially resented the fact that Phoebe included Todd’s surname of Landers on the birth certificate, fearing the ghost of Todd would always cloud his parenting of Hope. But Phoebe got Helen to talk to Stephen and assure him that Todd would be more than happy with Phoebe's choice of husband and father for Hope. Stephen and Phoebe finally married a few weeks after, and were thrilled when Pam Willis arrived at the service with Hope, after it was initially felt she wouldn't be allowed out of hospital for the special day.
Dorothy, Toby and Bouncer left Erinsborough soon after the wedding, leaving No.30 in the hands of Stephen and Phoebe. The couple faced the prospect of having to find someone smaller to live, however, when Stephen lost his job at the record store for refusing to take bribes from record companies to falsify record sales. Luckily, the couple were offered the chance of taking over the lease on Cathy Alessi's coffee shop, the Hungry Bite, and ran it as a family business, with both taking turns staying at home with Hope.
They still needed help with the rent, however, and advertised for a lodger in the Coffee Shop. They found one in the form of IT consultant Russell Butler, who settled into No.30 extremely well, and was particularly good with baby Hope. But unbeknownst to Phoebe and Stephen, Russell had been the only person to see the advertisement in the Coffee Shop because he had taken it down straight away so as to ensure nobody else would get to apply for the room. Russell had recently been released from a rehabilitation clinic, and was seeking replacements for his wife and baby, who had left him due to his drug use. And it wasn’t long before he put the Gottlieb’s through a hellish few months. They initially thought Russell was simply a bit odd - he would spend hours in his bedroom, and refused to let Phoebe or Stephen enter his room. But his behaviour soon began to worry them, especially after he started to tell Stephen one thing, and Phoebe another. Russell even tried to kiss Phoebe one afternoon, and when Stephen found out he decided Russell would have to go. But evicting Russell proved problematic for the couple, and he vowed to stay on until his lease expired. Events came to a head when Russell told Stephen that Phoebe was in love with him, and Stephen lost his temper and hit him. Russell then had Stephen charged with assault, and avoided being evicted from the house by paying the rent he owed at the very last minute.
With things at No. 30 becoming so heated and downright dangerous, Phoebe and Hope went to stay with Dorothy in the country while Stephen began trying to find a way to rid the house of Russell once and for all. Against Stephen's better judgement; he took Lou Carpenter up on an offer of having some heavies he knew 'persuade' Russell to leave. But the heavies mistook Wayne Duncan from No. 26 for Russell, and the wrong person was beaten up. However, upon hearing of the beating, Russell became aware of how unwelcome he was on Ramsay Street and fled. Phoebe and Stephen were much luckier with their replacement lodger, Beth Brennan, already a friend of the couple's and someone they knew they could trust and enjoy living with.
Phoebe was quite apprehensive when Stephen announced that he wanted her to run the Hungry Bite full-time so that he could take care of Hope and take a part-time course. Phoebe didn’t see it as a fair situation at all, especially given the fact that she had never got the chance to pursue her dreams of going to university after school After a heated argument about the idea one evening, Stephen stormed off to the Waterhole. But tragedy struck when, shortly after Stephen had arrived at the pub, a gas leak caused it to explode and Stephen was trapped in the rubble. He was the first to be found amidst the ruins, and was rushed to hospital, where he lay in a coma for several days, suffering from swelling to the brain. Phoebe, having kept a bedside vigil since the explosion, was thrilled when Stephen finally woke up. But her relief was short lived after Stephen appeared to have no recollection of who she was, and had evidently lost his memory. A further setback occurred when he needed emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Luckily, Stephen regained his full memory after the operation, and much to the delight and relief of Phoebe, the first person he asked after when he woke up was Hope.
Tragically, the accident had left Stephen paralysed and not wanting to burden Phoebe with caring for a paraplegic, Stephen insisted on moving to a rehab centre after his release from hospital. Phoebe was heartbroken when he rejected her support and told her he didn't love her. Wayne desperately tried to intervene and convince Stephen that Phoebe certainly didn't see him as a burden, but Stephen was determined to leave for the rehab centre. However, he had a last minute change of heart and agreed to move back to No. 30 - and apologised to Phoebe for pushing her away.
Some good news arrived for the couple when Lassiter's offered them an out-of-court settlement of $67,000 as compensation for the accident. But their joy was cut short when Stephen’s brother Mark showed up unexpectedly in Erinsborough. Stephen resisted Mark's attempts at reconciling with him, because Stephen had held Mark responsible for his fiancee’s death. After a blazing row at No.30, Mark stormed out and Stephen was later found lying on the living room floor by Phoebe having suffered a relapse. A couple of weeks in hospital followed, during which time Phoebe tried desperately to keep Mark away from Stephen. But Mark was determined to patch things up with his brother, and made it clear he wasn't going anywhere, especially since he had landed the job as Head Chef at Lassiter's. Eventually, they healed their rift and Mark and Wayne worked secretly with Stephen on regaining the use of his legs in the hope of surprising Phoebe.
Stephen and Phoebe were delighted when the cheque from Lassiter's came through and they considered leasing the old florists shop in Lassiter's Arcade to set up their own record store. But when more suitable premises became available in Anson's Corner, and at a more attractive price, the couple decided to move there instead. On the eve of their departure, Stephen surprised Phoebe at the party to mark Helen Daniels' birthday and the re-opening of the Waterhole by getting out of his wheelchair and walking unaided.
With their dramatic few months behind them at last, Phoebe, Stephen and Hope left No.30 in the hands of Mark and Beth, and although Phoebe was sad to wave goodbye to the street where she spent so many happy times with Todd, she was comforted enormously as she left by Helen, who told her that she and Hope would always be part of the family.
• Before landing the role of Phoebe, Simone Robertson guested
as a friend of Cody's called Jessie at a pyjama party in 1990
• Off-screen, Simone
dated Benjamin Mitchell (Cameron Hudson) for a time
Biography by Moe