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Character Profiles > Pepper Steiger Nicky Whelan

Heidi 'Pepper' Steiger 2006-2007
Lived: 30 Ramsay Street
Born: c. 1979/'80
Parents: Allan Steiger and Christine Rodd
Family Tree: Steiger
Occupation: P.E. and Health Teacher at Erinsborough High School

Clumsy and slightly crazy, Heidi Steiger earned the nickname of Pepper after, at the age of five, developing the habit of sneezing when nervous. Since then, she’s also added sleep-walking and sleep-screaming to her list of ailments and is always ready to add something new to the list. The only daughter of police Sergeant Allan Steiger and mechanic Christine, Pepper grew up in Erinsborough and attended the suburb’s high school, where she was taught for several years by Susan Kennedy. Despite her various ailments and manic personality, Pepper then went on to earn a teaching degree and returned to her old school as the new physical education and health teacher.

Pepper’s ability to say the wrong thing at any given moment, and spend the night screaming without ever waking up, both fascinated and frustrated her previous housemates, to the point where they sold her bed while she was out at the gym one day. She decided to take no chances with the next house, and teamed up with her friend Frazer Yeats for the interview, with the pair pretending to be a happily engaged couple. Their plan worked – despite Pepper’s sneezing fit – and, along with Rosetta Cammeniti and Will Griggs, they became the latest residents of number 30 Ramsay Street, next-door to Pepper’s former teacher, Susan. The new housemates got off to an auspicious start in Ramsay Street with a loud pool party, which was almost brought to a halt by Susan’s boyfriend, Karl, until he found out who Pepper’s father was. The pretence of being engaged to Frazer also proved difficult to maintain as he seemed more interested in Rosetta, and Pepper was alarmed to realise that he wasn’t actually a financial advisor, as he had claimed, but a professional gambler. To make matters worse, Pepper’s dad ran a background check on him, only to find out that Frazer Yeats didn’t actually exist. Frazer was forced to explain to Pepper that, as a teenager, he’d left home and changed his name to make a new life for himself.

On her first day at Erinsborough High, Pepper quickly found herself receiving a lot of attention from the teenage boys, particularly Susan’s stepson, Zeke Kinski. Zeke, who had recently kicked the winning goal for the school football team, was beginning to get ideas above his station and told his mates that he lived next-door to the sexy new P.E. teacher and was hoping to get closer to her. When Rosetta then asked Zeke if he’d be interested in cleaning number 30 once a week for some extra pocket money, he happily agreed and couldn’t resist stealing a pair of Pepper’s knickers when he found them drying in the back yard. It wasn’t long before the knickers were being passed around the classroom and, when Susan explained the incident to Pepper, she offered to have a word with Zeke and make him realise that his behaviour was out-of-line. Pepper did, however, agree to take the matter no further, if Zeke cleaned the house, for free, for the rest of the school term. Pepper had further troubles when Zeke’s ex-girlfriend, Bree, and his sister, Rachel, grew jealous of all the attention Pepper was receiving from the boys and decided to put itching powder in some of her clothes, leading to Pepper having a sneezing fit and running out of the classroom. When Rachel and Bree then found a poem written by Pepper in one of Erinsborough High’s old yearbooks, they decided to pin it to the wall in the school corridor. The plan sadly backfired when Susan caught them, and explained that Miss Steiger wasn’t at school that day, before threatening to reveal some of the poetry Rachel had written unless the girls ended their petty vendetta.

Meanwhile, Pepper admitted to Rosie that her engagement to Frazer was fake and Rosie, in turn, revealed that she was still a virgin. But Pepper was slowly falling for Frazer and decided to try to seduce him. Although her plan worked, Frazer made it clear that it was just sex, and, as she noticed that he was actually attracted to Rosie, Pepper backed off. Unfortunately though, her feelings for Frazer didn’t go away and she ended up telling Zeke that she was in love with him, whilst sleepwalking one night, though in her dream she was talking to Frazer. This then led to Zeke professing his love for Pepper during a party, thrown by Allan and Chris to celebrate their daughter’s engagement. A few days later, Pepper told her parents that the engagement was off, and she decided to concentrate her matchmaking efforts on getting them back together. She believed that her efforts were going well and, on Christmas Eve, invited both of her parents over for dinner, spurred on by the news that her dad was going to propose. Unfortunately, the proposal was a disaster, as Chris broke the news that she’d been seeing someone else for the past year – her female housemate, Carol Sinclair. A disgusted Pepper refused to speak to her mum, deciding that she was just a liar, and was even more disappointed when her dad then started dating Janelle Timmins from across the street.

Pepper distracted herself from her family problems by doing some more matchmaking with her housemates. Rosie had found herself attracted to both Frazer and wealthy Ramsay Street resident Paul Robinson and Pepper proposed that she date them both to work out which man she preferred. As Pepper organised the rules of the contest, she found herself increasingly attracted to Paul, and, having realised that Rosie and Frazer were meant to be together, she tried to manipulate events so that they ended up as a couple and Paul was left single. The plan worked and not only did Frazer and Rosie start dating, but Pepper began a secret affair with Paul. But things were turned on their head when Pepper realised that Frazer had been lying about his identity since he arrived. He was actually George Brown, the younger brother of Rosie’s ex-fiance Johnny and Pepper warned Frazer to tell Rosie, or she would. As Pepper then consoled a devastated Rosie, she was forced to come clean about her affair with Paul. The girls quickly bonded over their man troubles, and shared mistakes with Paul, and ended up kissing. Although they realised that it was just a silly mistake, it was witnessed by Frazer’s younger brother, Ringo, and before long, everyone knew about it.

But Pepper had other things to worry about – after realising that one of her students, Lolly Allen, who lived across the street, was being abused, she tried to help. However, Lolly panicked and, when confronted, lied to Susan that Pepper had been hitting her. Although nobody could quite believe the allegation, it had to be taken seriously, and Pepper was suspended. Although stressful, the events had a positive effect on her relationship with her mother, as Pepper turned to Chris for support and they finally patched things up. Meanwhile, it was discovered that Lolly’s stepmother, Sandy, was behind the abuse. All charges against Pepper were cleared, but she decided to take some time to think about things before returning to her old teaching job. Around the same time, Pepper started receiving mysterious gifts and cards. At first, she put it down to one of her old students with a crush on her, but as they continued coming, she started to wonder if it was Paul, wanting to restart their affair. But, during a dance class with another Erinsborough High teacher, Red Fisher, Pepper found a new suspect when he said the words ‘life is beautiful’ – something that had been written in one of the cards. When she confronted him, Pepper was embarrassed to realise that Red had a pregnant girlfriend and had no idea what she was talking about, and so, her suspicions returned to Paul.

But when her mysterious gifts included a birthday cake for an eight-year-old, Pepper suddenly realised who was behind it all. She revealed to Rosie that, at the age of 17, she had fallen pregnant to her high school boyfriend, Kevin Casey, but had miscarried. The incident had caused a huge rift between her and Kevin, as he believed that she had aborted their child. Though she had never told her dad about any of it, she realised that she’d have to come clean, and, though upset that she’d never felt able to confide in him, Allan was ready to help when Pepper found an inflatable clown on her doorstep, with a note asking to meet at a party in the park. Although her dad didn’t want her to, Pepper was determined to attend, so wired up, and with him watching from a distance, she went to the park where a little girl, Jessica Wright, handed her a package, which had been given to her by someone dressed as a clown. Inside were love letters that Pepper had written to Kevin as a teenager, confirming her fears about the identity of her stalker. But Kevin, after leaving the army, had dropped off the radar, so instead they went to see his mum, Mary. Mary claimed that she hadn’t seen Kevin in years, but later admitted that he’d been to visit her recently and had been acting oddly.

When Paul, in an effort to make up for the way he’d treated Pepper, used some of his contacts to trace Kevin, he was quickly dragged into the police station. Angry at his treatment, Kevin refused to deny any of the accusations about Pepper, and Sergeant Steiger kept him locked up, pending bail on some charges for robberies he’d committed in West Waratah after coming out of the army. Pepper went to see Mary to tell her the news, and was soon being talked into visiting the lonely old woman, little realising that she’d actually been behind the stalking. A few days later, Pepper visited Mary and was talked into staying for tea and cake, but Mary had drugged the cake, planning to keep Pepper around. Unfortunately, after eating, Pepper rushed off to Janae’s annulment party, where she soon passed out at her table and was taken to hospital. Confused about how she’d ended up in that state, Pepper paid Mary another visit and quickly realised that something was very wrong when she saw some flowers – the same ones she’s received from her stalker – and tried to escape. Mary had locked the door and proceeded to knock Pepper out and lock her in a room decorated as a nursery. Pepper soon realised that Mary had been mourning the loss of her grandchild for eight years and was determined to right that wrong.

Pepper banged on the door and window and called out, desperate to escape but soon grew hungry and tired and after being drugged again by Mary, this time with a bottle of water, Pepper woke up to find herself tied to a chair. Mary warned her that her attempts to get attention were futile and, unless she started to behave, she would remain tied up. An attempt to phone Rosie ended in disaster when her mobile had no signal, and when Mary allowed Pepper to make a call, she got hold of Janae at the garage, but they were all left confused when Pepper spoke of her mum’s boyfriend and didn’t realise what was really wrong. When Harold Bishop from the Salvation Army called round to visit Mary, Pepper again tried to make a noise and get some attention, but it failed as Mary blamed the noise on possums. Mary’s mood then changed when she reported to Pepper that Kevin had been granted bail and he would soon be home so they could all be a family again. But when they charged Kevin with more offences and the bail was raised, Pepper offered to pay the rest, worried about what Mary might do if she no longer had a use for her. Soon, Kevin was locked in the room with Pepper, shocked at what his mother had done, and plotting to help her escape. But Mary had left a baby monitor on in the room and heard the conversation, so failed to fall for their plan when they told her that they were back together and ready to leave the nursery and celebrate with a meal of apricot chicken.

It wasn’t long until Mary began to soften as she fell for Kevin and Pepper’s plan to pretend that they had got back together. She listened in as the pair talked about their time as a couple, and arranged a candlelit dinner for them, hoping that it would lead to romance and another grandchild for her. Pepper soon saw an opportunity to escape and, in a moment of madness, used the candles to set fire to the room, certain that Mary wouldn’t let them or the possibility of a grandchild, die. At the door, Mary faltered, thinking that she was being tricked again, but finally opened it, shocked to see her precious nursery going up in flames. Kevin took the opportunity to escape, but as the door slammed behind him, he passed out from smoke inhalation. As Mary tried to grab stuffed toys and rescue things from the flames, Pepper convinced her to hand over the key and they all got out alive, with Mary taken away by the police. Later that day, Pepper returned to number 30 to find nobody home and, plagued with flashbacks to her ordeal, turned the television and stereo on to drown it all out. When Rosie and Frazer returned home, Pepper acted her usual perky self, lying that she’d been away on holiday, unable to tell them the truth.

However, after several days of odd behaviour, including overhearing Pepper shouting out in her sleep, Frazer was starting to get suspicious, and when he came home and found an upset Pepper asking someone to get out of the house, he tried to help. The man was Kevin, and, after getting out of hospital, he’d come to try and apologise to Pepper for everything, but she’d grown increasingly distraught by his presence. This incident finally led to Pepper opening up about everything that had happened with Mary Casey, and she was relieved to have the support of Rosie and Frazer, as well as a counsellor, to get her through things. Pepper quickly bounced back, arranging Rosie and Frazer’s engagement party, and going out on a double date with Karl and Susan, and Karl’s new boss David ‘Davo’ Mather. The date ended badly when Pepper realised that Davo was more interested in Susan than her, but she gave him a second chance when he approached her in the General Store and asked her on a date. That evening also went badly, as Davo spoke about a pet dog he had put down because he didn’t want to waste $1000 on vet’s bills, and generally annoyed Pepper with his sexist views.

With the date going from bad to worse, Pepper used hand signals to let bartender Steph know that she needed help. Steph quickly came over and explained that there’d been a phone call from Pepper’s mum, but Davo saw through the charade and told Pepper he’d forgive her if she hugged him. It was then that English builder Adam Rhodes, who was working on renovations at the bar, stepped in and got Davo in an arm lock. Pepper wasn’t impressed, despite Adam’s actions getting the job done, but after a couple more run ins with Adam, she agreed to go on a date with him. Though she was unimpressed with his plans to take her home for a steak cooked on the barbie, she softened as the evening went on and was happy as the night came to its conclusion. But as Pepper grew closer to Adam, her dad returned to town, having been away for two months working in the Solomon Islands and horrified by news of her ordeal with Mary. Steiger’s usual lack of trust in her boyfriends continued upon meeting Adam and when Adam fled after seeing Pepper’s dad in his cop’s uniform, she too grew suspicious, but Adam refused to open up to her, opting to leave town instead.

After finding a note from Adam explaining that she didn’t really know him, she went to his house and confronted him, believing that he was on the run from the law. Adam finally explained to her that he was actually an ex-cop who had left his partner, Catherine, alone one night to investigate a disturbance, and she’d been shot dead. His guilt had led to him leaving the police force, and Australia, but Pepper’s lack of trust and her father’s constant presence had made him decide to move on again. Despite Pepper showing up at the bus stop and begging him to stay, Adam left, leaving Pepper inconsolable and firmly blaming her dad for the situation. After sinking into a depression as she helped Rosie and Frazer to plan their wedding, things only got worse when Steiger announced that he and Janelle were planning to move up to Cairns to be closer to her family. Though her asked her to join them, Pepper realised that her life was in Erinsborough and she couldn’t leave. Her spirits were lifted when Adam made a sudden return to Erinsborough, in the middle of Steiger and Janelle’s farewell party, which, to everyone’s surprise, turned into a wedding. And Pepper then waved off her dad and new stepmum, with Steiger happy that there was someone there to look after his precious daughter. A week later, Pepper attended another wedding, this time as bridesmaid, as Rosie and Frazer became man and wife. The day almost ended in tragedy, however, when the minibus carrying many of the guests, including Pepper and Adam, back to Ramsay Street, crashed, but only Frazer’s little brother, Ringo, was left injured and he recovered in hospital.

Only days after reuniting, it looked like Adam and Pepper were going to be torn apart again, when he explained that his visa was about to run out. They realised that reapplying would mean him having to leave the country and come back in again, and his suggestion of moving to Italy to stay with his brother was met with little enthusiasm from Pepper. As they faced the very real possibility of being separated, Pepper decided to try the only option they had left, and proposed to a shocked Adam. He was happy to accept, but with Rosie worried about the legal implications, Chris worried that Pepper wouldn't get the big white wedding she'd dreamt of as a child and the realisation that the registry office wasn't the most romantic setting, they changed their minds. It was then that they heard, through Steiger, the suggestion that Adam could rejoin the police, as becoming a member of the Australian force would give him residency in the country. When Chris mentioned this to Pepper, she chose to keep it to herself, but Carol then let it slip and Adam agreed to give it a try, as it seemed to be their only option. At first, Adam struggled with the standard police psychological tests, walking out, worried that they might deem him unsuitable. But police psychologist Denise Nicoll then visited him and explained that, with a couple of weeks of intense therapy over his past, she could probably help him to pass his exams. As Adam took his final tests, Pepper found herself facing a challenge of her own when she received a letter telling her she was overdue for her pap smear. Uncomfortable with the test, she tried to ignore it, but it wasn't long before Adam and Rosie's sister, Carmella found out, then Karl overheard them discussing it and forced Pepper to make an appointment. The following day, both Adam and Pepper received their results and, whilst it was good news for Adam, Pepper was called back to the hospital, but lied to her boyfriends that her results were all clear.

After she finally revealed the truth to Adam, he accompanied her to hospital for a minor operation, where the couple were informed that they'd have to lay off any intimate activity for a month. And things only got worse for increasingly insecure Pepper when she found out that Adam's new police partner was Sophie Cooper, an old high school acquaintance who'd made Pepper's life hell through bullying. Unable to be physically close to Adam, and worried about his growing friendship with Sophie, Pepper started pushing him away and, during a dinner party, ended up verbally attacking Sophie. When her lack of self-confidence ended up costing her the chance to get some extra funding for the school's sports department, Pepper realised that she had to do something and when Adam admitted that Sophie had tried to kiss him, Pepper snapped and went to see her former tormentor. Sophie admitted that she hadn't realised how awful she'd made Pepper's life, but said that these days, she was living alone with her cat, while Pepper had a great job, a wonderful boyfriend and lovely friends, so she was the one who'd made a success of her life.

As things settled down with Adam, Pepper began to notice that Ringo had stopped eating, following numerous problems in his life, including a doomed relationship with Carmella. With Ringo refusing to admit that he had a problem, Pepper told him about her own problems with eating and explained that she and a friend, Polly Schofield, had stopped eating in order to cut their middle-distance running times and both developed anorexia, resulting in Polly's death. The shock tactics seemed to work, but soon Ringo was back to his old ways and taking appetite suppresants. A worried Pepper then had more to worry about when she heard that her dad's malaria had returned and he was seriously ill in hospital. As she planned to visit him, Pepper spotted a job opportunity up in Cairns, which would make a good advancement to her career, and she applied, neglecting to tell Adam. When she was accepted for the job, she resigned from Erinsborough High, asking school counsellor Daniel Fitzgerald to keep an eye on Ringo. When Adam found out about the job, and that Pepper hadn't decided whether or not to accept it, he realised that she was keeping her options open, in case he didn't want to move away with her. Worried that she'd blown her only chance at a proper relationship, Pepper packed up and said her goodbyes to everyone, but was thrilled when Adam turned up, bags packed, announcing that he was going with her. After a tearful goodbye to best friend Rosie, Pepper climbed into her taxi and bid Ramsay Street a final goodbye.

Trivia Notes
• Pepper has a tattoo on the back of her neck
• Pepper loves peanut butter sandwiches
• Her best friend at school was Polly Schofield. They both suffered from eating disorders but Pepper got help. Polly didn't and died
• Pepper rates Titanic as her favourite film of all time
• She has used tarot stones to try and predict her future
• Pepper is attracted to the actor David Tennant and so he is her favourite Dr. Who. She found the music in the show scary as a child


Magic Moments
Episode 5074: Frazer, Pepper, Rosetta and Will's Arrivals
Episode 5334: Pepper's Departure

Biography by Steve