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Character Profiles > Brenda Riley Genevieve Lemon

Brenda Riley (née Carpenter) 1991-1992
Lived: 24 Ramsay Street
Marital Status: Roy Riley

: Lou
Family Tree: Riley/Carpenter
Occupation: Coffee Shop Manager

The younger sister of Lou Carpenter, Brenda Riley was every bit as boisterous, brash and fun-loving as her brother. Brenda was devastated when her marriage to her childhood sweetheart, Roy, ended and he started seeing Simone, a woman half his age. Needing a fresh start, Brenda decided to head for Erinsborough after hearing from Lou that the Coffee Shop belonging to his old flame, Madge Ramsay and her husband Harold Bishop was up for lease while they went on a tour of Australia. Having run a diner in Queensland for many years, Brenda was the perfect choice for the job, and she met Madge and Harold for an interview as soon as she arrived in Erinsborough. Madge loved Brenda immediately, but fussy Harold was slightly put off by Brenda's coarse jokes and tendency to refer to him as 'Harry'. But Madge convinced Harold that Brenda would be the best person for the job, and they gave her the lease. They also offered to let Brenda rent their house, No. 24 Ramsay Street, from them while they were gone, and she jumped at the chance.

However, Madge was sure she recognised Brenda from somewhere, and when she asked her where she was from, Brenda confessed that she was from Queensland and was the younger sister of Lou. Madge couldn't believe that it was little Brenda Carpenter all grown up, having last seen her when she was a kid, and quickly realised why Brenda hadn't said anything about her connections because Harold and Lou were sworn enemies. Madge decided to wait until the right time to tell Harold that Brenda was Lou's little sister, and that moment arrived when Harold asked Brenda where she was from. Madge decided to be upfront with her husband, and Harold was horrified to learn he had just leased his house and business to his love rival's sister. Despite pleas from Brenda to give her a chance, Harold immediately made plans to terminate the agreement. However, his mind was changed after Brenda began to soften him up by arranging for Harold to get a $5,000 discount on the camper van he was buying for his trip, and Harold eventually realised that Brenda was a decent person and agreed to let her stay.

When Brenda offered to look after Harold's grandchildren, Toby and Sky, over at No. 32 for the weekend, she was taken for a ride by Toby, who convinced Brenda that he was allowed to stay up later than his normal bedtime. Madge was furious when she walked in on Brenda and Toby dancing way past Toby's bedtime, and she insisted on the kids coming back to No. 24 with her instead. Madge was so annoyed with Brenda that she dismissed her as not being fit to look after kids, and even started to reconsider her decision to let Brenda look after the Coffee Shop. But it was only when Toby and Sky were both exhausted the following evening that Madge realised Brenda had actually been letting them stay up late to teach them a lesson in how getting what they wanted wasn't always such a good thing. Madge felt awful about the things she had said to Brenda in the wake of her realisation, and Brenda explained that she had wanted to make Toby and Sky realise why children were disciplined rather than just telling them 'no'. And Madge apologised to Brenda for the way she had treated her after Brenda admitted that she would love to have kids of her own one day.

Just as Madge and Harold were about to leave for their trip, Brenda's nephew Guy showed up on her doorstep looking for a place to stay. Knowing how Harold felt about Lou, Brenda was afraid to introduce Guy to Harold and Madge, and tried to get him out of No. 24 before the Bishops arrived home. However, Madge and Harold walked in just as Guy was about to go, and Brenda was forced to introduce him to them as an old mate from Queensland. The Queensland connection delighted Harold, however, and he insisted on Guy staying for dinner, despite Brenda's claims that Guy had to be going. After an awkward dinner during which Brenda and Guy would divulge nothing to Harold and Madge about where they knew each other from, Brenda brought Guy down to the Coffee Shop and got him to spend the night there. The next morning, Brenda had to race down to the Coffee Shop and get Guy out again before Harold went down, and after the Bishops left for their trip that afternoon, Brenda let Guy move his things into No. 24. The neighbours were very surprised by Brenda's houseguest, and they all thought she was seeing a younger man. Helen Daniels decided to confront Brenda about her relationship with Guy, pointing out to her that she didn't think Madge and Harold would approve of her taking a toyboy into the house as soon as they had gone. But Brenda set Helen's mind at rest by revealing that Guy was her nephew, and assured her that she hadn't told Madge and Harold about him because of Harold's feud with Lou. Brenda was thrilled when Guy decided to stay in Erinsborough and she gave him a job at the Coffee Shop. Tragedy struck Ramsay Street, however, when Harold went missing at sea only days after starting his trip, and was presumed dead. A heartbroken Madge returned to her family in Queensland to get over the loss of her beloved husband, and Brenda promised to look after the house and business indefinitely.

As she settled into the Coffee Shop, Brenda soon became a popular member of the community, dispensing daily doses of gossip and scandal to her customers. Her love of a gossip unwittingly landed her in hot water when she told Felicity Brent all about Dorothy Burke's marital problems, which led to Felicity using the information to discredit Dorothy in the council elections. When an article appeared in the Erinsborough News revealing Dorothy's past, and she consequently lost the election, Brenda was wracked with guilt and confessed all to Dorothy. Dorothy was disgusted with Brenda for costing her her seat, and a feud erupted between the two neighbours.

Although Brenda loved flirting with men - she happily showed a rash on her chest to Adam Willis, and a mortified Harold only days after arriving in Ramsay Street - deep down, she was searching for a man to love her and settle down with her. So, when Doug Willis from across the street started flirting with her, Brenda fell helplessly in love with him and started cooking dinners for him most nights of the week while his wife Pam was on night shift at the hospital. Doug, on the other hand, was an incurable flirt and only considered him and Brenda to be having a bit of fun. Guy recognised that his aunt was falling for Doug, and tried to talk her out of making a fool of herself. But Brenda was convinced that Doug was interested in her, and that his marriage to Pam was on the rocks. Doug's invitation to join him for a fancy dinner at Lassiter's one night only encouraged Brenda even more. She then set in motion a plan to get Doug to spend the night with her at No. 24. Having received word that her ex-husband was re-marrying, Brenda poured her heart out to Doug, and as he comforted her, she begged him not to leave her alone that night. But Brenda's plan backfired when Doug arranged for Pam to come over and sit with her instead, claiming she would relate better to another woman.

Despite warnings from Guy and many of the neighbours that she was wrong in thinking Doug was going to leave Pam for her, Brenda was convinced the Willis' marriage was on the rocks, and it was only a matter of time before Doug broke up with Pam. Events came to head one afternoon when Doug called into the Coffee Shop and Brenda kissed him. The kiss was witnessed by Doug's daughter, Gaby, from outside, and she subsequently told Pam. Doug, on the other hand, was stunned by Brenda's kiss, realising for the first time that she had been taking his flirting much more seriously than he thought. After being confronted by Pam, Doug was forced to set things straight with Brenda once and for all, and she was devastated. She tried to put on a brave face by insisting that she had only viewed it all as harmless flirting too, but inside, Brenda was embarrassed and humiliated. She spent days avoiding her neighbours until Pam finally caught up with her to assure her that she didn't have anything against her, and knew only too well how much Doug could flirt.

Brenda was forced to turn her attentions to Guy when she discovered he was taking steroids to aid him in his training for the upcoming cross-country run he was competing in. Brenda desperately tried to make Guy realise how dangerous steroid use was, but he refused to listen and demanded Brenda stay out of his business. Brenda took drastic action to persuade Guy to give up by threatening to take steroids herself for as long as Guy did. Fearful of the damage it would do to his aunt, Guy relented and assured Brenda he would quit taking them.

Brenda feared she had landed herself in hot water with the local residents when her special homemade tuna quiche went on sale at the Coffee Shop and caused Josh Anderson to endure several days of sickness. In a desperate attempt at preventing any further outbreaks of illness, Brenda closed the shop early and ran around the neighbourhood trying to reclaim any of the quiches she had sold. And when she arrived at Dorothy Burke's house to get the quiche she had bought back from her, Brenda was convinced she had killed Bouncer the dog when Dorothy mentioned Bouncer had eaten it and Brenda saw Bouncer lying still on the floor. Luckily, Bouncer was playing dead, a trick he had been taught, and Brenda breathed a huge sigh of relief when she realised that there had been nothing wrong with her quiche to start with after Josh was told by Dr. Dawson that he had actually been suffering from a virus.

Brenda's feud with Dorothy was resurrected when Dorothy had a go at her for employing young Toby for after-school shifts at the Coffee Shop. Brenda was so annoyed by Dorothy that she plotted her revenge by placing an advert in the paper on Dorothy's behalf seeking a man. However, when Dorothy learnt of Brenda's plan from Lucy Robinson, she decided to have the last laugh with Brenda by showing up at the Coffee Shop with a handsome, younger man, and introduced him to Brenda as a man she had met thanks to Brenda's ad. Brenda was furious that her plan had backfired, but unbeknown to her, Dorothy had actually just enlisted the help of a work colleague to pose as her 'boyfriend'. It was only when Toby told Brenda that he had no idea about Dorothy seeing anybody that Brenda realised she had been taken for a fool.

Doug tried to match Brenda up with his workmate, Nev Cusack by inviting her to a dinner party at the Willis House. But Doug's flighty sister, Faye Hudson, sunk her claws into Nev instead, leaving Brenda without a man yet again. A face from the past caused Brenda to re-evaluate her determination to find a new man when Roy showed up in Erinsborough wanting to get back with her. Roy had left Simone after deciding he would never love anyone as much as Brenda, and he wanted Brenda to remarry him and move to Malaysia, where he was starting up a new business. Brenda was wined and dinned by Roy, and seriously considered giving their marriage a second chance. But she had cold feet just as they were set to leave, and told Roy to go on ahead without her. However, Brenda realised in the nick of time that Roy was her one true love, and she left Erinsborough to start a new life with him in Malaysia.


Magic Moments
Episode 1503: Brenda's Arrival

Biography by Moe