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Jim Fletcher (Gerard Maguire)

The following character profile is written by Robert Lindsay (with a few additions).

Jim Fletcher entered Wentworth early on in 1979 as Deputy Governor in episode (40), though he had been mentioned (and credited) in (39). Jim had an army career behind him and had served time in Vietnam. Jim was married with two children, but was separated from his wife Leila.

Jim was a stern officer, not willing to put up with nonsense of any kind from any of the prisoners. The inmates generally respected Jim but realised that while he was mostly fair he was also usually inflexible.

As Jim had replaced Vera Bennett as Deputy Governor, she disliked him and would attempt to discredit him whenever the opportunity arose. Ironically, Jim's cynical attitude towards many of the inmates was quite similar to Vera's, but they nonetheless clashed frequently. There is a bizarre attempt in (58) to suggest a flirtation between Jim and Vera, but it only leads to disappointment for Vera, as Jim is just about to be reconciled temporarily with his wife.

Jim also often clashed with Governor Erica Davidson, often over his personal involvement with certain prisoners. The fact that Jim was the only male officer didn't help as Vera sometimes spitefully remarked. Jim, fortunately, had a good friend in colleague Meg Jackson.

Jim had a few fairly obvious weaknesses. His soft spot for old dears such as Edith Wharton led him to give them preferential treatment, since as we find out in (49), Jim had been brought up by his grandmother after his parents were killed in a car crash, and these old dears reminded him of his Gran.

Less excusable was his weakness for attractive young women prisoners. Jim quite quickly seemed to judge the inmates as either the usual criminal types, or as innocent lovelies whom he needed to protect. These selected few would then get preferential treatment from Jim. Although he was usually pretty accurate in his judgements, whether or not the different treatment that he meted out was acceptable behaviour is a different matter.

Some of the prisoners that Jim took more than just a professional interest were young lovelies such as Michelle Parks and Caroline Simpson. In fact, Jim's well known penchant for the pretty girls earned him the nickname 'Fletch the Letch', although to our knowledge he never actually had sex with an inmate. (Though it appears he does with ex-inmate Blossom Crabtree in (48), as part of his plot to get her to tell him where Joyce Martin's safety deposit key is)

Another of Jim's weaknesses was that he suffered from haemophobia: he couldn't stand the sight of blood. Joyce Martin tells the inmates of this weakness that had previously been kept secret and they used it to their advantage, though Jim seems to have a miraculous cure in (54) when Martha Eaves takes Vera up on the roof and draws blood when she holds a knife to Vera's neck. Jim is able to overcome his phobia at this point and save Vera's life.

His chance to prove himself comes when Erica Davidson resigns at favours given to Toni McNally, and Jim is recalled from holiday to become Acting Governor (63). His inflexible attitude antagonises both the women and the officers - the officers come out on strike and Jim is demoted.

Later, his personal involvement with Agnes Forster (who was briefly Wentworth's psychologist) cost him a major promotion. First he lost the respect of Governor Erica Davidson for his blind support of a woman who was obviously inept at her job. Then, at a perceived slight against Agnes, Jim burst into Erica's office ranting and raving... unfortunately Mr Douglas who was there to interview Jim for the promotion overheard this outburst and Jim missed out on the promotion (140).

Although Jim was separated from his wife Leila throughout his time in the series, he wanted to get back together with he, chiefly for the sake of his two sons whom he loved dearly. After his unwise involvement with Vivienne and Caroline Simpson, he puts up bail money for their release. His affair with Caroline leads to his wife throwing him out, and he moves into a rooming house. His ex-army friend Geoff Butler resents Jim's treatment of him after he has bashed Meg and joins with Caroline's husband to get revenge. They plot to kill Jim and Caroline's husband places a booby trap bomb outside Jim's door at the rooming house, but the bomb is detonated when Leila and the two boys come to visit Jim unexpectedly, killing all three of them (109). When Jim becomes involved in the problems of prisoner Linda Jones, even to the extent of inviting Danny to live with him until his mother is released (143), this seems to be in part because he is missing his own sons, as Meg hints to him.

After that tragedy, in typical soapie tradition Jim quickly recovers and becomes a 'swinging single'. Suddenly it was dates and parties and one-night-stands every week. It was during this period that Jim met Jacki Nolan (149). Also during this period Jim took Vera along to a few of his social gatherings and on one occasion she brought home a much younger man who spent the night with her. Later, Jim had to tell the heartbroken Vera what the term 'one-night-stand' meant (148).

Jim then settled down a bit and later began an affair with colleague Janet Conway. Everything seemed to be going well when Jim suddenly broke it off. Janet was quite upset by this and went and demolished Jim's lounge room as revenge. Jim, predictably, was not very impressed by this. Around the same time a promotion and transfer for Jim came through and he left Wentworth. The new job was as Governor of Beechmont - a home for juvenile boys - a job which Jim would be most suited to. He departed Wentworth (256) and was not heard from again.

Updated ~ 26 April 1998

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