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Reb Kean (Janet Andrewartha)

Full name: Rebecca Ann Kean. Trailed before she appears (a sure sign of a major character to come) in (421) when Minnie's "solicitor" Terry visits her in Wentworth and mentions that he's representing Reb Kean in an armed robbery case. This must have been a busy day for him as Minnie and Reb's cases apparently take place on the same day - at any rate our first sighting of Reb is when she is bundled into a police van outside court (422) along with Minnie: she has been sentenced to seven years. Her rebellious nature soon shows itself and she refuses to take any part in the protest against Joan (423) who has manouevred herself into the position of Acting Governor. Reb initially shares a cell with Pixie. One of Reb's partners Gary visits and passes her a note that plans are under way to get her out. Gary kidnaps Joan's father Major Ferguson and demands that Joan arrange an escape for Reb (425): she is to make sure that Reb is taken to Wentworth General. However, the other women know about the kidnap, and as soon as Reb fakes an attack of food poisoning, the other women hold her hostage until Joan resigns as Governor. Gary and Kevin arrive in an ambulance and snatch both Reb and Joan (426). The Major gets away from the kidnappers and Gary is killed by Joan. Reb and Kevin are recaptured later and Reb is brought back to Wentworth (427).

She has to be manhandled to solitary and is not in any better mood when she gets out, playing a mean game with new officer Stan Dobson by kicking his heart pills out of his reach when he has an attack. She has an extra six months added to her sentence for escaping (431). Treacle and feathered for ruining Stan's pianola (432) but realises she can use the singing contest to make another escape attempt and asks Phyllis to get her into the singing group. Phyllis agrees if Reb will let her in on the escape. Kevin kidnaps the bus driver's daughter to force him to make an unscheduled stop, but Judy and Minnie force the driver to drive on at his first attempt. Reb then has to drug the officers' coffee to get the bus stopped, and doublecrosses Phyllis by leaving her behind. She has no intention of sharing the proceeds of the robbery with Kevin either and she knocks him out and leaves him behind too, transferring to a stolen motorbike and evading a police chase (435). Reb goes to stay with her friend Sarah Webster who is hiding the money, but Kevin tracks her down just as Reb is about to leave. Sarah accidentally stabs Kevin and Reb has to put the body in the boot of the car and drive away with it, but she is recaptured at the airport and brought back to Wentworth (437).

Joan is now an even more implacable enemy as she blames Reb and the kidnapping for the stroke her father has suffered. As a first step in her plan for revenge, she transfers Reb to share a cell with Phyllis, presumably on the grounds that after the escape Reb ought to be the person Phyllis would hate most. In fact, Phyllis and Reb have their own reasons to join forces against Joan: Reb agrees to help Phyllis avoid a charge for kidnapping the bus driver's daughter by incriminating Cass and Judy instead. When Joan tells Phyllis to bash Reb after lights out, Reb and Phyllis play out a little scene with sound effects which convinces Joan (440).

When Margo Gaffney is transferred back to Wentworth, Reb offers her services, but is turned down (443). A little detective work reveals where Margo has hidden her stash of cocaine so Reb confiscates it and demands a share of the business (445). After Margo is framed for an attack on Myra and transferred to Blackmoor, Reb claims all her "assets" - including Phyllis - and takes over the strike Margo had started (448). Reb overhears that Erica Davidson is being sent to negotiate and claims the credit (451). Myra tries to warn Reb off selling drugs by feeding them to her (452) which leads to a brief stay in hospital for Reb. More of Reb's background is revealed when she recognises Leigh Templar's designer labels. Reb's resentment makes her slash Leigh's clothes and - a particularly Jacobean touch - spike her lipstick with pins. The fete suggested by Myra (456) comes in useful for Reb as a front to get drugs into Wentworth, but Reb is too busy trying to stop Myra's escape by locking her in the shed to take proper care of business. A Customer hides cocaine in one of the plants on Reb and Phyllis's stall - but Cass is left in charge of the stall and sells it to her brother. There is a scuffle trying to get the plant back, Joan confiscates the drugs and Phyllis shops Reb. Reb settles accounts with Phyllis when she corners her in the shower block and knocks her out with one of the wooden statues from the fete (460).

Marie Winter arrives and tries to recruit Reb to help sell the drugs she's brought with her (461). Judy tries to get Reb to confess to bashing Phyllis (red paint, red shower) - Meg overhears her admission (but too late to help Cass, which was the point). Reb gets a visit from her mother who wants a reconciliation between Reb and her father who is seriously ill with multiple sclerosis, but Reb initially refuses to see him (464). Reb becomes unwillingly involved in Marie Winter's attempt to get Joan installed as Governor. She goes as far as starting a fire in one of the cells, but Marie takes her up to solitary and tells her they have to kill Myra, Reb refuses to have anything to do with this. Marie tips her over the bannisters (466). Reb is taken to hospital, where without meaning to she is understood to be accusing Bobbie of the attack on her. When she returns to Wentworth (468) she tries to clear Bobbie without admitting who actually did attack her. Reb agrees to see her father and they are reconciled just in time: she is told of his death in (470). She tells Meg that she is ready to say who attacked her. Reb gets an extra three months for her part in the riot and two years for bashing Phyllis (471). Joan has arranged an escape for Marie and as part of the payment demands that Marie bashes Reb. She does such a good job that Reb is taken back to hospital - this time she accuses Joan of the bashing (472). Her mother visits her in hospital to tell her that her father has left Reb all his money (474). On a later visit, she admits to Reb that all her own money has gone and she has gambling debts: Reb uses this to force her mother to help her escape from hospital. Diedre takes her to their holiday home, but the state of Reb's health bothers her and she tells the police of their whereabouts (478). They both end up in Wentworth at the same time (479). Reb initially refuses to have anything to do with her mother and then joins others in tormenting her - most memorably when she salts Diedre's dinner then pushes her face in it (481). Reb comes under pressure from Myra to help her mother and from Joan who persuades Lou to turn against Reb (483). After Dierdre is bashed in Wentworth and is released shortly afterwards (484), Reb seems to change sides and support Myra, possibly to have added insurance against Joan whose vindictiveness reaches its peak when she tries to push Reb off the catwalk leading to solitary (485), but overbalances and nearly falls over herself. Reb hesitates over whether to stamp on Joan's hand, but a flashback to Phyllis persuades her to go for help instead. After this, she seems to have a complete change of heart and becomes a nice person. It doesn't last, fortunately, and is completely superficial - while trying to butter up Myra on the one hand, she is trying to take advantage of the death threats against Ann by making a fake ransom demand (though it is actually Lou and her friend Nev who use it). When Ray the cook fails to carry out Joan's demand that he arranges an accident for Reb, she gets him to sign a statement about Joan to be used against her in the future (494). Myra is sufficiently taken in by Reb's increasing popularity and names her as her successor when she steps down as top dog (503). After doping Marlene with cocaine in a biscuit, Reb rapidly loses support and when Myra records her real views about the women and plays it back to them (505), she is finished. When she slaps Joan Ferguson in front of witnesses, she is transferred to Blackmoor, but vows she will be back (506)...

Usually this would be no more than a scriptwriters' flourish, but Reb's eventual return is well prepared. After he has been sacked, Ray writes a letter to Dennis Crookshank making accusations against Joan, so Joan has to phone Cynthia at Blackmoor to get her to "put pressure" on Reb to get her to retract her support for Ray's statement (525).

Cynthia seems to have gone a little over the top on this one. When Reb is transferred back to Wentworth (577), she is a completely different person, frightened and confused. She is put to share a cell with Nora, and calls her Myra by mistake. After a series of similar unwelcome flashbacks, she asks Ann to be transferred back to Blackmoor but Ann tells her the women there tried to kill her (578). Meg finds out the reason for Reb's personality change from her file: she had been given ECT 27 times in 8 weeks. Cynthia is unimpressed by Joan's insistence that Reb is harmless and demands that Joan fake Reb's suicide. The women try to fill in the details for Reb - her mother has remarried and her father died years ago. Lou adds that Reb caused her own brother's death in a car accident (579). When Reb starts to remember more about her mistreatment at Cynthia's hands, Joan makes sure she is suitably miserable and provides her with a razor blade - but Reb survives her suicide attempt (583). Reb is assessed for release and is just about to get the final go-ahead when she stumbles across Eve Wilder's attempt to finish off Joyce Pringle and is discovered by Meg standing over Joyce's body (586). It is not until Eve's lawyer David commits suicide and his note accusing Eve is read that Reb is cleared (589). We last see Reb speaking to Dr Weissman in a cafe before she goes to keep an appointment with her new doctor.

NOTE: Reb's surname is never given in credits (and in fact on her first appearance is credited as "Rebbecca"), but her mother is credited as Diedre Kean twice - in (464) and (474) - so I have preferred "Kean" over the possible alternatives "Keane", "Keen" and "Keene". Thanks to Erik S-O Johansson for pointing out that the name "Rebecca Kean" is also written on the cardboard box holding Reb's possessions when she is released for the last time. Thanks also to Jon Archer for pointing out that in (584), Julie Egbert looks at Reb's file in Anne Reynolds' office and it quite clearly has her name spelt as KEAN.

It is also preferable on the dubious grounds that it's the closest to Dean - and James Dean is obviously one of Reb's idols. I have assumed that Terry Bourke's consistent use of "Keane" in his book is as reliable as his little capsule summary of Reb's career on page 75 - three out of its four sentences are either misleading or wrong.

Updated 28 January 2000

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