Tammy 6 August 1977

Tammy 6 August 1977

Artist: John Richardson

  • Bella (artist John Armstong) – final episode
  • Maisie of Mo Town (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Keeping Pets – Edie’s Hobbyhorse
  • Time Trap! (artist Tony Higham)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills and the New Boy (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • I Wish I Was Someone Else… – Strange Story (artist Ken Houghton)
  • Wee Sue (artist Mike White)
  • Daughter of the Regiment (artist Mario Capaldi)

All this big news about quarantine and self-imposed isolation in the wake of the latest pandemic had me thinking of this Tammy cover. The Cover Girls are in quarantine, and big sister, as usual, gets the short end.

It’s the final episode of Bella’s story, but another Bella story starts next week. Bella is stranded in Canada after her journey to the Montreal Olympics without a passport. She makes a friend in Indian girl Oona Tall Tree and helps a mountaineer whose leg got crushed by a falling tree. They’re all snowed in while he recovers, so Bella will entertain them with stories of her adventures.

“Maisie of Mo Town” is mistaken for a mystery jungle girl from Africa, Bibi, in the press. Kidnappers make the same mistake and lure Maisie away, thinking she’s Bibi. Maisie plays along, pretending to be a dim-witted African girl who speaks only pidgin English and knows little of the 20th century while secretly trying to work out a plan against them. In the meantime, she is having a lot of fun with her pretence and giving them aggravation. Already they’re wondering why they bothered with the kidnapping. We can see this story will be filled with laughs. But it won’t be played for laughs. All the while there will be the serious side of the kidnapping and the mystery of why the kidnappers are after Bibi.

Melanie Newton is rejected by the snooty girls of her new school, who get her banned from their athletics club. Melanie decides to form a team with the ragged Canal Mob, but they think she’s a toff. In this episode she finds ways to test out how good they would be at athletics and seems to getting through to them. They want to have a private chat with her, but is it genuine or a setup?

It is the penultimate episode of “Time Trap!”. A past life regression experiment with Leonie has gone wrong. It’s left her trapped in a hypnotic state where she is reliving a past life as Wat Tyler’s sister on the run from the king when the Peasants’ Revolt failed. Leonie’s sister Jenny is trying to find ways to help her, but it looks like she’s given the wrong advice again – it’s caused Leonie to become stuck in the marsh. What’s more, the way ahead is blocked by the king’s soldiers.

Miss Stackpole has taken the girls to the beach, but the wind is causing problems. However, that’s nothing compared to the problems Miss Stackpole has in bumping into Bessie all the time. Miss Stackpole doesn’t know which is worse – Bessie or the wind. Still, everything blows over and it’s a happy ending.

Pickering wants to get rid of new boy Arthur Sparrow because he thinks Arthur’s being groomed to take his place. Arthur takes the hint and leaves to join the army. Molly informs the recruitment office that he’s underage, but she overlooked one thing: this would land Arthur in trouble for lying about his age. Now Arthur could be up before a magistrate on a charge of false pretences. Oops!

In the Strange Story, Catherine Bridie is your poor little rich girl. Her wealthy uncle is so strict he stifles her freedom and won’t allow her friends. She wishes she could be like village girl Connie, the girl she finds a friend in. Weird events ensue, and Catherine takes Connie’s place and finds friends and happiness.

Wee Sue’s mother wants a tumble dryer and insists Dad spend his bonus on one. Dad is not thrilled at the idea, and his hunt for a tumble dryer gets him into all kinds of trouble as well. And after all that, Mum’s not even using the tumble dryer.

Tessa Mason, the “Daughter of the Regiment”, is determined to clear her father, who was executed for cowardice during the Charge of the Light Brigade. A mysterious Mr Cregan is trying to stop her, and this week he lures her into a trap. She escapes with the help of her mudlark friends, but Cregan now has plans to “spirit her away”.

Tammy 18 March 1978

Tammy cover 18 March 1978

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Melanie’s Mob (artist Edmond Ripoll)
  • Maisie – Fashion Crazy (artist Giorgio Giorgetti)
  • Goldie Alone (artist Eduardo Feito)
  • Edie the Ed’s Niece (artist Joe Collins)
  • Mask for Melissa (artist Angeles Felices)
  • Bessie Bunter
  • Molly Mills on the Run (artist Douglas Perry, writer Maureen Spurgeon)
  • The Magic Lamp – the Strange Story
  • Wee Sue (artist Robert MacGillivray)
  • Gail at Windyridge (artist Mario Capaldi)
  • Pretty Things with Poly Craft (feature)

I have brought out this Tammy in honour of St Patrick’s Day. Girls’ comics didn’t seem to bother with St Patrick’s Day much, but this issue is an exception. It’s a delightful, enchanting cover of leprechauns and fairies entertaining the Cover Girls.

Inside, Bella is on hiatus, but we’re sure some story will finish soon in order to make room for her. Meantime, several of the stories that are currently running are Tammy classics. One is “Melanie’s Mob”, Tammy’s answer to “Concrete Surfer”. Melanie Newton has formed a skateboarding club to persuade the council to provide a skateboarding rink. This week they win a special prize for their display on skateboarding safety and are encouraged to compete in serious contests. But now the only skateboarding area in town has been bulldozed.

Tammy is definitely having a jag on disguises, double lives, concealing pasts, going on the run, and assumed names. No less than seven stories have it this week in some form or other. Yes, seven.

First is “Goldie Alone”. Goldie was a mega-popular Tammy story that was still remembered years later; for example, Goldie made a cameo in the Wee Sue birthday celebrations of Tammy’s 10th issue. Goldie Gibbs is living with a foster family, the Stringers, while her mother is in hospital. The Stringers are out to stop Goldie beating their daughter Emma at an ice-skating event. Goldie is resorting to secret skating at the rink, which starts stories about a “phantom skater” haunting the rink at night. The Stringers guess the truth and go to welfare with all sorts of lies about Goldie being an out-of-control girl. Although welfare have second thoughts about Mrs Stringer’s story once they probe further, it has the police on Goldie’s tail and catching her red-handed as she tries to break into the ice rink.

Second is part two of another Tammy classic, “Mask for Melissa”. Melissa Mappin has facial scars from an accident and is so affected by it that she can’t bear to look in a mirror, and it looks like her acting hopes are dashed. This week she finds the solution: steal a beautiful mask from a shop, move to a new location, and resume acting under the assumed name of Gaye Traynor. However, we know deception and disguise are going to cause complications for Melissa. Right now though, Melissa has a more immediate problem: she can’t find a place to stay and has to resort to a hotel job to get a roof over her head.

Third is “Maisie – Fashion Crazy”. This is a sequel to an earlier Tammy story, “Maisie of Mo Town”. Maisie and Mary Malone don disguises of their own to go after shifty Marcus Adams, who’s gone off to Paris instead instead of looking after Mum’s business while she’s away. But their disguises are not exactly subtle: they look like chess boards in those checkered suits they’re wearing and one Frenchwoman is shocked already!

Fourth is “Gail at Windyridge”. Gail Peters and her father are using assumed names at the stable where he works because he was wrongly disgraced for horse-doping. But now a newspaper clip threatens to reveal their past. Added to that, more dirty work with horses is afoot: someone is trying to sabotage the Flier, the champion horse of the stables.

Fifth is Molly Mills, who is still “On the Run” after Pickering framed her for theft. Molly has made her way back to Stanton Hall, which has a new owner, and trying to hide her past. This week Molly has to resort to splashing her face with car engine oil to save herself from being recognised. This gets her lot of disapproving stares but fortunately her employer sees the funny side. Interestingly, a coloured girl has been added to the Molly cast, a black servant girl named Lucy.

Sixth is Wee Sue. Sue helps an old lady who can’t get in but finds out later she unwittingly helped a house-breaker who was disguised as the old lady. She’s got to undo the damage somehow, but the crook has shed the disguise and they don’t know what he looks like without it. But Sue realises he made one oversight, and it gets him nabbed – he forgot to remove the earrings from the old lady disguise.

Seventh is Bessie Bunter, who really is on a roll this week with a sheet of lino that keeps rolling everyone up. She foils thieves who are passing themselves off as tradesmen by dressing up in a bear suit to frighten them and then hitting them with the lino roll. Pity the thieves don’t get rolled up in it, which would have been as good as handcuffs and even more funny.

This week’s Strange Story could have reinforced the St Patrick’s Day theme on the cover with a story about leprechauns, fairies or Irish myth. Instead it’s a magic lamp story. Actually, it’s a paper lamp, made out of newspaper. But can it still work like Aladdin’s lamp and get Beryl’s brother Jimmy the cure he needs?

Tammy 20 October 1973

Tammy cover 20 October 1973

  • The Revenge of Edna Hack (artist Douglas Perry) – double final episode
  • Mandy and the House of Models (artist Ana Rodriguez) – final episode
  • Jumble Sale Jilly (artist Juliana Buch) – final episode
  • The Power of the Indian’s Pipe (artist Candido Ruiz Pueyo) – final episode
  • For Isabel with Love (artist Eduardo Feito) – double final episode
  • Tammy Special Double Page Pin-Up (Anne-Marie David and Simon Turner)
  • ‘A Mouse No More’ (artist Giorgio Giorgetti) – complete story
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon)

The previous entry was on the issue where Sandie merged with Tammy. This entry profiles the Tammy the week before the merger. Regrettably, I am not able to do the same with the final Sandie.

This was the last Tammy to have the “happy girl covers” who had been used on the cover from the first issue. The Cover Girls, drawn by John Richardson, take over with the merger issue. As everything starts new with the merger issue, everything currently running finishes this week, in two cases with double episode spreads. The announcement of the merger has a double page spread in the centre pages.

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One story to end with a double episode is “The Revenge of Edna Hack”. Like Mr Grand in “Village of Fame”, author Dame Edna Hack is going to extremes for TV ratings. In her case it is holding girls (in convict uniform costumes) on her island for her TV show “Captives of Thriller Island”, where viewers don’t realise that what they are watching are real captives trying to escape.

The other story to end with a double episode, “For Isabel with Love”, has an unusual ending: it ends on a cliffhanger and a sequel is promised. Now that will be something to see in the merger. The setup is, Jaki Holt wants to win a riding trophy for her friend Isabel Davey, who is in a coma, but she is having trouble persuading others to give her a chance. For one thing, she has a lame leg. In the final episode Jaki finally persuades the Colonel to give her that chance. But she hasn’t won yet!

“Jumble Sale Jilly” was Juliana Buch’s first story for Tammy. Jilly Burridge is in court, carrying the can for her horrible guardians who were stealing valuables. She hasn’t a hope – unless the only witness who can clear her, her natural mother, can get to the court in time.

In “Mandy and the House of Models”, student model Mandy Larkin is similarly carrying the can for a robbery, and her hunt for the real criminals has led her to Lowland Grange. But she’s been captured, tied up, and her attempts to escape are impeded by a sprained ankle and handcuffs. Talk about Houdini.

“The Power of the Indian’s Pipe” is a war between two brothers, one good, one bad, over a magic pipe. The pipe can be used for good – or evil – depending on which hands it falls into and what tune it plays. Angela, with the help of a similar pipe she has found, brings the war to an end and the pipe to safe hands.

Molly’s got a mystery on her hands to sort out: a baby, a desperate girl, and a whole mess of misunderstandings that are resulting in people being hurt. It all ends with Pickering being obliged to give the baby a kiss. Molly’s hopeful this is evidence of a soft spot in old misery guts.

Although Tammy is focused on finishing everything off and announcing the new spread in the merger, she still has room for a couple of fillers. We get a double-page pin-up and a reprint of a Strange Story (below). It must have come from the very early days of the Storyteller in June. It’s a surprise that the Storyteller had one appearance in Tammy that predates his arrival in the Tammy & June merger in 1974. The story is about a girl who is shy until she changes her appearance with a wig. All of a sudden she is confident and she is convinced it is the wig. Was it really the wig or did it just make her feel so different she discovered the confidence she didn’t realise she had? Whatever it is, she gets her future husband out of it. Aww…

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Tammy & Sandie 27 October 1973 – merger issue

Tammy cover 27 October 1973

Cover artist: John Richardson

  • Two-Faced Teesha (artist José Casanovas) – first episode
  • School for Snobs (artist J. Badesa) – first episode of sequel
  • A New Leaf for Nancy (artist John Armstrong) – first episode
  • Back-Stab Ballerina (artist Miguel Quesada) – first episode
  • Wee Sue (artist Mario Capaldi) – first appearance
  • Win a Winter Wardrobe (competition)
  • The Girls of Grimley’s Grammer (artist Leo Baxendale) – first episode
  • Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie (artist Robert MacGillivray, writer John Wagner) – first appearance
  • Granny’s Town (artist Douglas Perry, writer Pat Mills) – first episode
  • No Tears for Molly (artist Tony Thewenetti, writer Maureen Spurgeon) – new story

This is the issue where Sandie merged with Tammy. The Sandie merger is one of the most pivotal in Tammy’s history. It is also one of the most far-reaching as it resonated for many years in Tammy.

First of all, it is the first appearance of The Cover Girl covers drawn by John Richardson. The Cover Girls would be a mainstay on Tammy’s cover right up until 11 October 1980, the same month they started way back in 1973.

Second, it is the first appearance of Wee Sue – and her arch-enemy Miss Bigger – in Tammy, and she would remain a popular Tammy regular until 1981. Wee Sue came over from Sandie, but Sandie readers must have been surprised at the way she appeared in Tammy. Her original Sandie story, drawn by Vicente Torregrosa Manrique, was a serial. Sue was a scholarship girl at exclusive Backhurst Academy, which had emphasis on sport, and she was trying to save it from closure. She also came up against other problems, such as prejudice over being a scholarship girl.

But here Sue is given a complete overhaul, from her location to her very appearance. Sue moves to the industrial town of Milltown, where she attends a comprehensive school. On her first day she meets new teacher Miss Bigger, who’s a bully teacher. And on the first day it is established how Wee Sue became the biggest bane of Miss Bigger, which would be the mainstay for the rest of Sue’s run in Tammy. Sue changes from a serial to a weekly regular played for light relief. Sue was always known for big brainstorms, and in this format she would use them to come up with ways to get out of various scrapes, foiling the meanness of Miss Bigger, or sorting out someone’s problem. Sue also acquires freckles and a spiky bob. Later the freckles disappear and her bob softens into the wavy one she retains for the rest of her run.

(click thru)

 

Everything in the merger starts new or fresh. No half-finished or nearly finished serials here, which have often been the case with girls’ mergers and annoyed many readers. It’s a delight to have everything start on episode one.

Jeannie and Her Uncle Meanie have come over from Sandie as well, and they lasted in Tammy for two years. Like Sue, Uncle Meanie has been given some changes. He shifts from his castle in Scotland to a suburban house in England and is now married to Aunt Martha. We have to wonder why the heck she married him in the first place as she is constantly infuriated by his extreme penny-pinching. However, we are told why Uncle Meanie moved from Scotland although he misses it – his meanness made him so unpopular there. As if the same thing is not going to happen in his new neighbourhood and he’ll have a bad reputation in town. He’s as mean and scheming as ever and Jeannie constantly has to outwit him. Uncle Meanie still has his original nose from Sandie and has not yet acquired the big bulbous nose he would have later on. The same nose would later be given to Miss Bigger when MacGillivray drew her.

We have a new regular cartoon, “The Girls of Grimley’s Grammer” (shouldn’t that be “Grammar”?). Artist looks like Leo Baxendale, who drew “The Kids of Stalag 41” from Jet/Buster. The premise must have been borrowed from Stalag 41 as well: the girls of Grimley’s Grammer give their headmistress a terrible time, just as the Kids of Stalag 41 give their Kommandant “Schtinky” a terrible time. But from the looks of the first episode, the girls will not always come out on top each week as the Kids of Stalag 41 do. Now that’ll make the cartoon even more interesting!

The Girls of Grimley's Grammer

Molly Mills continues from Tammy. Molly starts a spooky story in honour of Halloween, which the staff are gearing up for with carved pumpkins and a witch guy for Bonfire Night. Lord Stanton has unwisely developed a craze about psychics and invited a group over for seances. After they do so, unnerving stuff starts to happen, and a tarot reading predicts sadness and danger coming to the hall, with dark forces targeting bully butler Pickering in particular. It soon has the old misery running scared, though he would never admit it.

School for Snobs also returns from Tammy. Like Wee Sue, it shifts from serial format to regular “story of the week” format with loads of laughs for the readers. School for Snobs is a reform school designed to knock snobbery out of girls, and in the new format it shifts to a “snob of the week” where a new snob arrives each week to be cured by the end of the episode. Each snob and her form of snob are different each time, illustrating that snobbery comes in all shapes and sizes. First in for the treatment in the sequel is Lucille Hornsby-Grant, who attempts to have the school closed down. However, the inspector is so impressed he wants to send his own snobby daughter there to sort her out. After this, Lucille is beaten.

Maybe School for Snobs should be the place to send “Two-Faced Teesha”. Teesha Tate is a spiteful rich girl who has been removed from a string of schools for her nasty conduct. Instead, she and her father move to a new house, which Dad hopes will help to sort her out. Teesha does not like the down-to-earth people who reside there. However, she is looking forward to playing tricks on the daughter, Gail.

In “A New Leaf for Nancy”, Nancy Kay and her parents have to move to a rundown house, which they’re not happy about, because Dad has lost his job. School gets off to a bad start too. But things start looking up after Nancy hears a tree in her garden is said to have strange powers, and when a leaf gets caught in her hair, she gives a tough teacher a flash of brilliance that surprises even herself.

The new Douglas Perry story, “Granny’s Town”, might as well have been called “Revenge of the Grannies”. Jen Young is off to Crone-on-Sea for a holiday, where she comes across indications that the old ladies of the town have formed some sort of secret society that conducts vigilantism against those who insult or displease them. First to get the treatment are a bully businessman and a rude train conductor, who get tied to lamp posts with knitting wool during a night attack. The attackers leave a message embroidered on a cushion: “Get out of Granny’s Town!”

The lineup wouldn’t be complete without a ballet story, and there is no exception here. June Day and Rita Radley have been such close friends they are called “The Inseperables”, but starting ballet school changes that. Rita soon becomes June’s worst enemy and “Back-Stab Ballerina” because everyone says June is better than her.

No merger is complete without a competition. In this one, you are in to win a winter wardrobe if you can spot the differences between two story panels.

 

Their Darling Daughter (1983)

Sample Images

Their Darling Daughter 1Their Darling Daughter 2Their Darling Daughter 3

Published: Princess (second series), #1, 24 September 1983 to #6, 29 October 1983

Episodes: 6

Artist: Bert Hill

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: ‘Dat kind hoort hier niet!’ [That child does not belong here!] Tina 42, 1984. https://www.catawiki.nl/catalogus/strips/series-helden/dat-kind-hoort-hier-niet/77184-1984-nummer-42

Plot

Lord and Lady Towne lost their daughter Rachel a year ago and still mourn her intensely. While they are still in mourning, they foster Sylvie from a children’s home. There is something puzzling as to how they came across Sylvie in the first place or why they are so interested in her. It’s not shown or explained at the beginning.

Sylvie feels out of sorts at her new home as it’s such a big jump from a children’s home to an aristocratic mansion and all the rules of deportment that go with it. She thinks she can’t live up to the pedigree or to Rachel who, from the sound of it, was brilliant at everything, and everyone still grieves for her. Nowhere is this reflected more than in Rachel’s room: everything is laid out as if she had just popped out for five minutes, and is obviously intended to be a shrine. Clearly, it is not going to be easy to fit into her new home. At least Rachel’s dog Ben takes an instant liking to Sylvie and becomes her friend, so there’s solace in that.

But Sylvie soon finds her real problem in her new home is Mrs Crooks, the housekeeper. Mrs Crooks took the loss of Rachel very hard as she worshipped the girl. On Sylvie’s first night in the mansion, Mrs Crooks scares Sylvie by saying she’s not going to take Rachel’s place and makes it plain she wants Sylvie out.

However, next day, Mrs Crooks is all sweetness and light and apologises to Sylvie. She didn’t mean it; it was just the grief, and she is willing to be friends. Sylvie accepts this explanation and offer of friendship, and even buys a present for Mrs Crooks.

But it soon becomes obvious that Mrs Crooks is just pretending to be nice to Sylvie in order to play tricks to get rid of her. She tricks Sylvie into selling porcelain dogs at a bric-a-brac shop to raise money for Lady Towne’s birthday present; when Lady Towne notices they are missing she is upset because they were a birthday present from Rachel. At the birthday party, Mrs Crooks tricks Sylvie into wearing the dress Rachel wore when she died. When Lady Towne sees this, she faints in shock. The party is ruined and Sylvie is sent packing from the party.

Of course this has Sylvie realise Mrs Crooks’ game. But she can’t convince her foster parents because Mrs Crooks is now poisoning them against her and leading them to think she is a dishonest, disturbed problem child. They become even more convinced of this when they find the porcelain dogs in the shop and think Sylvie stole them for the birthday present.

Meanwhile, we’ve been getting hints that Mrs Crooks’ husband (the chauffeur) knows what his wife is up to and does not approve. However, every time he protests or wants to speak out she shuts him up. In one exchange, she says they will go to prison if the Townes find out the truth. Prison? Come on, the punishment for this wouldn’t be worse than the sack, would it? What’s the old bat on about? As it is, Sylvie’s only friend and helper right now is the dog Ben.

Sylvie tries to escape the situation by packing her bags and going back to the home, but the Townes have none of it. So Mrs Crooks tries again by making it look like Sylvie wrecked Rachel’s room. However, Sylvie and Ben manage to foil that that one by tidying it up in time, which has Mrs Crooks looking a fool in front of her employers.

However, Mrs Crooks is so angry at this that she brings out her big guns and makes threats that have Sylvie really scared. What’s more, the Townes are going to leave Sylvie alone with Mrs Crooks for the weekend. This has Sylvie well and truly terrified, especially when Mrs Crooks whispers that this weekend will be her last. Sylvie suspects Mrs Crooks is crazy and capable of doing anything to her. But the Townes won’t listen to her pleas not to leave her alone with Mrs Crooks.

Then Ben leads Sylvie to Rachel’s grave, where she overhears Mrs Crooks reveal something extraordinary: Rachel was actually Mrs Crooks’ daughter and the Townes’ “real daughter [Sylvie] is here”, and Mrs Crooks vows she won’t let Sylvie take Rachel’s place.

Mrs Crooks detects Sylvie’s presence, realises she overheard, and catches her. She drags Sylvie to the house and ties her up while explaining that she switched Sylvie and Rachel in the hospital when they were born so her daughter would grow up privileged. She put Sylvie in the orphanage and became housekeeper to the Townes so she could watch Rachel grow up while being near her. Now she’s going to kill Sylvie to be rid of her and make it look like an accident. Sylvie’s worst fears about Mrs Crooks are confirmed.

Meanwhile, Ben runs for help. Fortunately the Townes’ car has not got far because Mr Crooks was stalling while trying to work up the courage to tell the truth. When Ben arrives, they realise something is wrong and head back. Mr Crooks tells them what’s going on, adding that he was behind their meeting Sylvie (with an anonymous letter about her while not revealing her true identity). He had never endorsed what his wife did and was trying to put it right discreetly. Lord Towne comments that this was why he felt an immediate bond with Sylvie when he met her.

When Mrs Crooks sees them return she realises her husband has spilled the beans. There have been hints throughout the story that her sanity was questionable, and being discovered pushes her over the edge. She heads to Rachel’s room, intending to burn down the house with herself and Sylvie in it.

The Townes and Mr Crooks rescue Sylvie. They drag Mrs Crooks – whom they find cradling Rachel’s doll in the burning room and singing “rock-a-bye baby” – kicking and screaming from the house. The fire is brought under control and the authorities take charge of the Crookses. Mrs Crooks is placed in psychiatric care and Mr Crooks will probably get a short jail sentence (suspended, we hope).

Sylvie takes her rightful place with the Townes and calls them Mum and Dad for the first time. But Rachel’s memory will always be cherished.

Thoughts

Stories about spiteful antagonists playing tricks to get rid of a cousin/foster child were very commonplace at DCT; seldom did a few weeks go by without a DCT title starting one. However, for some reason the theme was far less common at IPC, which makes this story unusual for having it.

The story also breaks with the formula in several ways, which makes it even more unusual. First, the schemer is a creepy housekeeper; more often it’s a stepsister, foster sister or cousin. Second, the victim is warned right from the beginning that she’s got an enemy because the enemy tells her so herself. More often, the schemer works secretly so the protagonist doesn’t realise what’s going on and can’t understand why things keep going wrong for her and she gets in so much trouble. Third, the protagonist has a helper and even someone who knows what is going on but is having difficulty speaking out. More usually the protagonist is pretty much on her own, and if she does gets help it’s someone who has somehow become suspicious.

From the beginning we’ve been led to believe it’s misguided loyalty and grief for Rachel that’s driving Mrs Crooks to scheme against Sylvie. This could give us a measure of sympathy and understanding for her. If so, that fast evaporates once the baby switch and the real reason for Mrs Crooks’ hatred are revealed.

Having it turn out everything’s because Sylvie threatens Mrs Crooks’ deception in switching her and Rachel at birth is a flabbergasting surprise and twist to the story. However, the baby switch sounds a bit too Dickensian. The story would have gotten away with this more if it had a period setting. And so would have Mrs Crooks. We are finding it hard to believe Mrs Crooks managed to pull off the switch in modern times, especially when she herself says she and Lady Towne were in different parts of the hospital and Lady Towne was in a private suite. And what about the name tags on the babies? It is highly unlikely Mrs Crooks could have made the switch before the tags were put on.

The twist also has us question the wisdom of Mr Crooks in sending the Townes the letter. Sure, we can understand his desire to put things right somehow. But he must have known what his wife’s reaction would be, which would have exposed Sylvie to serious trouble. What was he planning to do about that? He doesn’t do anything more than make token protests at his wife, clearly because she dominates him. We don’t see him trying to stop her or help Sylvie until the end of the story.

The story only lasts six episodes, which was common for Princess II stories. But frankly, it could have done with more episodes, which would have been the case if it had appeared in, say, Mandy. For example, the first episode could have been used to fully develop the anonymous letter and how it leads to the Townes meeting Sylvie. Moreover, the anonymous letter would have added a mystery element to the story that would have piqued readers’ interest. Instead, it’s all mentioned in the final episode and readers are left thinking, “what anonymous letter?” The letter was never mentioned or shown in the story before, so the belated mention of it comes across as annoying.

The choice of villain for the schemer gives the story an edge of creepiness and terror that you don’t normally get in schemer stories, and this makes the story even more exciting. Usually the schemer is despicable and nasty but not frightening. And the warning signs that Mrs Crooks is going insane add an extra element of dread for Sylvie because what comes next could be anything – even murder.

We get some nice Bert Hill artwork in this story. Hill was a regular artist at DCT, working for many years on all three of its biggest girls’ titles. However, it is unusual to see his artwork at IPC. The only other known sample of Bert Hill IPC artwork is “Porridge Pulls His Weight” (Tammy, 3 September 1983), which, incidentally, was his only known credited piece of work.

 

The Ghostly Ballerina (1983-4)

Sample Images

Ghostly Ballerina 1Ghostly Ballerina 2Ghostly Ballerina 3

 

Published: Princess (second series) #13, 17 December 1983 to #18, 21 January 1984.

Episodes: 6, but a double episode in #18

Artist: Photo story

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: ‘Het spook van de balletschool’ [The ghost of the ballet school], Tina #14, 6 April 1984. https://www.catawiki.nl/catalogus/strips/series-helden/doebidoes-de/77156-1984-nummer-14

Plot

At the National Ballet School, Clare Thomas lives for ballet. So she is devastated when she is told she has to leave the school because her dancing isn’t up standard and she’ll never make it as a ballerina.

Then a mysterious ballerina, Arabella Hood, appears to her. Arabella demonstrates she is a superb dancer and says she has the power to make Clare dance equally so. But she says the price is high, and it includes total obedience to her. Clare accepts and is stunned to suddenly find herself dancing brilliantly. Later, Arabella also seems to be able to just disappear into thin air, and she’s already beginning to frighten Clare. It does not take long for Clare to realise that Arabella is dancing through her, and nobody can see Arabella except her. Yes, Arabella’s a ghost.

The director and Dame Anna see Clare’s incredible dancing and can’t understand why they never saw Clare dance so well before; they think it must be hidden talent or something. They give her the principal role in the upcoming gala and plan a huge publicity campaign for it. But this upsets Clare’s best friend Sonja, who had the role originally, and she and Clare fall out. This is the first sign of something Arabella hinted at earlier: “There is no room for friends in the future I have planned for you!” Clare asks the director and Dame Anna to give Sonja the role, but they decline, and can’t understand why Clare is so upset when she’s on the rise to stardom.

Meanwhile, a famous dancer named Anita Stanton says she suddenly wants to quit ballet. The director and Dame Anna can’t understand why she’s doing so when she’s still at the top. They comment on how history seems to be repeating itself: Anita used to be a poor dancer but one day, bang, she was brilliant.

Clare discovers that Anita can see Arabella too. Anita says the same thing happened to her, and to another famous dancer, Stepnova. She explains that Arabella was a Victorian ballerina who died in a fire when she was on the verge of success. She seeks the success that was denied her by targeting mediocre dancers and dancing through them. But the price you pay for dancing brilliantly through Arabella is too high: no friends, no self-respect, and no true success because Arabella is the one who is really doing the dancing. All you do is provide the body. The applause and accolades you receive are not truly yours because you are a fraud, and the fame that comes your way through Arabella brings you nothing but misery. But none of that matters to Arabella: she is ruthless and doesn’t care about how you feel. You are just her puppet who has to do as she says. Anita advises Clare to get out fast.

At first, Clare is too tempted by the ghost’s promises to make her a great dancer who would stay in the world of ballet. But it isn’t long before Clare realises what Anita means. At home, Clare’s parents congratulate her on her victory and can’t understand why she isn’t feeling happy about it. That night, Clare has horrible nightmares of Arabella. Worse is to come when Arabella demonstrates even more frightening powers: she can read your mind and inflict pain on you if you don’t obey her. And she threatens to do even worse to Sonja if Clare doesn’t do as she says.

Terrified for Sonja, Clare pretends to snub her and says it’s best if they are not friends anymore. However, this has Sonja wondering if something strange is going on. Her suspicions grow when she overhears Clare shouting at Arabella after the gala performance. Clare yells about how she used to love ballet even if she wasn’t much good at it, but now Arabella’s ideas of turning her into a famous ballerina are destroying her love of ballet.

Anita has been watching Clare’s brilliant performance at the gala and knows exactly how Clare feels: the ghost is controlling her and all that applause is nothing because you haven’t really earned it. Nobody else understands why Clare is in tears when she should have been happy at such a magnificent performance at the gala. Anita repeats her advice to get out before it is too late, but Clare explains that Arabella has threatened Sonja if she does not obey.

Arabella sees Clare talking to Anita and thinks they are plotting against her. In retaliation, she carries out her threat against Sonja, who gets hurt in an accident. It is only a sprain, but Sonja tells Clare she felt as if someone was controlling her. When she recounts the other strange things she has noticed, Clare decides to tell her everything (despite Arabella warning her not to).

They discuss what to do and realise the reason Arabella haunts is bitterness over being denied fame because she died prematurely. Therefore, the solution must be to give Arabella fame, so they look at a ballet about Arabella’s life story. Arabella not only jumps at it but also says she will choreograph the ballet, which will be called “Arabella”, through Clare.

When the ballet is performed it reveals the full tragic details of Arabella’s story for the first time. She started out as a street urchin in Victorian London, stealing food to survive. Then she went through years of imprisonment in a workhouse with only her love of dancing to keep her going. One day a rich woman spotted her, adopted her, and sent her to ballet school. On the night of Arabella’s debut, fire broke out, and both she and her dreams went up in flames. However, her ghost lives on, dancing through others. The director and Dame Anna particularly like that last bit. (If only they knew!) Clare dances the lead, but the reason the ballet is so successful and convincing is because it was all done through Arabella’s power. At the end, Arabella takes the bow she has been long waiting for and says she can rest in peace now.

Clare is relieved to be free of Arabella but knows she can’t dance that way without her. So, with Anita’s help she convinces Dame Anna that it really was the power of Arabella that made her so exceptional. Sonja takes the lead for the remaining performances of “Arabella”. Clare asks to just be a corps ballerina, and is happy with it because she will still enjoy ballet and remain at the ballet school.

Thoughts

This was the only ballet story to appear in Princess II’s short-lived run. It was also her only ghost story and “evil influence” (girl falls under an evil power) story.

Many of Princess’s stories weren’t particularly distinguished, but this is one of her better offerings. It is pretty dark stuff, and it’s not just because we have an evil ruthless ghost who makes terrifying demands, threats, and can control every muscle in your body. It also has a strong message about how fame brings you nothing but misery if the price you pay is too high. And that can happen even without this ruthless ghost pulling your strings and bringing you fame that isn’t really yours. This is such a contrast to the true Clare, who wants to dance because she loves it, even if she is not strongly talented. She does not care about fame – it’s happiness she wants.

Come to think of it, the haunting isn’t bringing Arabella happiness either. Seeing as she keeps doing it over and over, she’s clearly not getting any satisfaction out of trying to acquire fame through others. This is because it’s not bringing her the fame that was denied her, but does she realise this? Apparently not. And so she can’t rest in peace until Clare and Sonja come up with a way to bring her true fame.

When we see Arabella’s life story in the ballet she becomes a more sympathetic character, so it’s sad to see what an evil ghost she has become. But we can understand it was the tragedy of her story that turned her into a twisted spectre. Her life story definitely is the stuff that deserves to be a full girls’ serial, or even a real-life ballet.

The photo story format has one downside: photo stories have never been a strong format for a ghost story because the models used for ghosts were not convincing, and for some reason they didn’t use SFX to make the models look more ghostly. The ghost of Arabella is no exception. Having the photo story in colour makes the model less convincing as a ghost because you can still see she is flesh and blood. Having the strip in black and white and adding more white makeup might have made the model more convincing.

On the other hand, using the photo story format guarantees accurate, realistic ballet in this ballet story because they would have had to use trained ballerinas for the models. You don’t always get well-drawn ballet in a picture story.

Princess II, 25 February 1984

Princess II cover 25 February 1984

 

  • Flight from the Romanys (artist Maria Dembilio)
  • The Dream House (artist Mike White) – first episode
  • Laura in the Lyon’s Den! (artist Bob Harvey)
  • Rowena of the Doves (artist Peter Wilkes)
  • The Runaway Clown (artist José Canovas)
  • Stefa’s Heart of Stone (artist Phil Townsend, writer Alison Christie)
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie in Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Horse from the Sea… (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • The Saddest Dog in Town (artist Eduardo Feito)

 

We are now well and truly into the run of Princess II where she is falling back on reprints from Tammy and Jinty. From Jinty we have “Horse from the Sea” and “Stefa’s Heart of Stone”. Many former Jinty readers would have envied Princess readers for getting a reprint of Stefa. Jinty’s letter page indicated there was a popular demand for this serial to be repeated, but for some reason neither Jinty nor the Tammy & Jinty merger obliged. From Tammy we get “Rowena of the Doves” and now “The Dream House”.

Nonetheless, Princess is still producing her own stories. One is the cover story, “Flight from the Romanys”. Lydia Parks is kidnapped by nasty gypsies, for no other reason than to make a slave out of her and profit from the chattels she had on her (rich clothes, a horse). Considering her father is a wealthy lord, they could have shown more imagination than that! This episode is dedicated to establishing just how cruel Lydia’s kidnappers intend to be to her, and Lydia showing us her resolve to escape despite her tears or the gypsies’ attempts to discourage her.

A more savoury gypsy gives “The Runaway Clown” both hope (her father will find her and no going back to the home she ran away from) and fear (danger from an elephant) when she looks into her crystal ball. Of course the fortune teller means Princess, the vicious elephant trainer who has been gunning for Cindy. This time Princess gets caught out and sacked, but has Cindy really seen the last of that nasty piece of work? Time will tell. Meanwhile, the weather presents its own dangers, and it leads to the death of the fortune teller.

Spoiled Laura is showing improvement in the “Lyon’s Den”. But is it genuine, or is it because she hopes to get a shopping trip in Paris out of it? Mrs Lyon suspects the latter, but readers are left wondering if the former is coming into it. Later, Mrs Lyon is surprised to see Laura on television donating her prize pony to the children of the blind home and promptly phones Laura’s aunt as she smells a rat. Is she right?

Two Princess stories, “Sheena and the Treetoppers” and “The Saddest Dog in Town”, reach their penultimate episodes. The Treetoppers are trying to find a missing will that would save their treehouse, but no luck. And now the demolition men are asking the councillor whether or not they have the green light to demolish the old house and the treehouse with it.

Lucy and Martin Denton are not having much luck tracing the owner of the “Saddest Dog in Town” either and turn to the local newspaper for help. Then a lorry passes by and the dog runs after it because he has recognised the engine sound. His rightful owner at last?

Sadie, Cook and Grovel all jump on the table in fright when they see mice on the bench, not realising they are only sugar mice intended as a gift for them. They not only end up feeling very silly but lose their treat as well, because the cat ate the mice.

Princess II, 14 January 1984

Princess II cover 14 January 1984

  • School of Dark Secrets! (artist Carlos Cruz)
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Suzy and Snowdrop (artist Peter Wilkes ) – final episode
  • Best of Friends… (photo story) – final episode
  • Sheena and the Treetoppers (artist Rodrigo Comos)
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)
  • Princess – Bright Ideas Box (feature)

Surprisingly, there is no Princess Di pin-up in this issue. Instead, we get a how-to-make page. Meanwhile, two stories end this issue and two reach their penultimate episodes.

Feeling responsible for Katie and Lizzie falling out, Linda hatches a plan to bring the “Best of Friends” back together. It not only succeeds but gets Linda happily accepted as a third friend as well.

In “Suzy and Snowdrop”, matters come to a head when Jane runs off because of her demanding Aunt Alice – but doesn’t get far because she falls asleep in the stable. Meanwhile, Suzy discovers why Aunt Alice has been so demanding – she was trying to get Jane to take her place after she lost her nerve from a riding accident. Auntie turns over a new leaf and even gives Snowdrop back to Suzy.

“Fairy Tale” and “The Ghostly Ballerina” are the stories on their penultimate episodes. The evil Morgana is obliged to kiss the Frog Prince to make him human – “Yeeeuuurgh!”, to which he replies, “the feeling’s mutual!”, so he can kiss Sleeping Beauty awake. But now Morgana is sending everyone to the executioner’s block so she can be fairest in the land. Now this really has us wondering what can happen in the final episode to have everyone in this mix-up of fairy tales live happily ever after – minus Morgana, of course.

Clare Thomas is now well and truly understanding the nightmare of being in the power of “The Ghostly Ballerina”, and it’s driving her mad. Then her friend Sonja suspects something is wrong. So we know Sonja will help somehow and eagerly await to see how she does so in the final episode.

For some reason “School of Dark Secrets” gets an exclamation mark in its title this week. Maybe it’s because Judy gets a clue about its dark secret: a legendary coven of witches that needs 13 to be complete. Could this coven be the staff at her school – which Judy has suddenly noticed are all women? This could explain the weird goings-on Judy saw in the night, but they are one short of 13, to Judy’s relief. But in the final panel the headmistress says: “Our waiting is over. The thirteenth one is here!” Now who can that be? Oh, surely not…who we think it is?

The Treetoppers Secret Society is formed, but it gets Sheena and her siblings into trouble with their parents. They get a grounding that interferes with their next meeting. Can they find their new friend Jenny and explain?

Grovel is lazing about, as usual (watching Playschool?!). But he is forced to get his hands dirty digging up his shoes, which Princess Bee’s corgi has buried in the garden. The trouble is, the corgi has buried a lot of other shoes in the garden too, not to mention bones.

 

Princess II, 24 December 1983

Princess cover 24 December 1983

  • The Last Christmas Carol (artist Purita Campos) – complete story
  • The Grovel Game – feature (artist Joe Collins)
  • The Ghostly Ballerina (photo story)
  • Fairy Tale (artist Julio Bosch)
  • Best of Friends… (photo story) – first episode
  • Cinders on Ice (artist unknown) – final episode
  • Sadie-in-Waiting (artist Joe Collins)

 

More Princess II’s have been added to my collection. Christmas may have been a couple of months ago, but here is Princess II’s one and only Christmas issue anyway.

Leading off the cover is a complete Christmas story from Purita Campos. Sue and Jill Crawley are new to the neighbourhood and feel lonely. They go out carol singing for charity, which turns into a spooky time travel trip to the Blitz. They give an old lady her final Christmas carol and return with souvenirs of the 1940s.

Christmas carolling does wonders on Grovel too. He’s pressganged into being Santa Claus but is more like the Grinch until Christmas carols work some Christmas magic on him and he starts enjoying himself. We can also play “The Grovel Game”, where the objective is to be the first to give Princess Bee her presents, but Grovel is trying to stop you.

There is also a Christmas dinner in “Cinders on Ice” to celebrate the fairytale ending we all expected. Yep, that story was definitely written to tie up with the Christmas issue.

The Ghostly Ballerina gives Clare Thomas the power to dance brilliantly, and everyone is surprised at the sudden improvement. But it is obvious that the power comes at an unpleasant price, which starts with it turning Clare’s friend Sonja against her.

Fairy tales get screwed up and turned on their heads in “Fairy Tale”. This week it’s a dotty old genie who is hard of hearing and can’t hear wishes properly – or even hear if what people say really is a wish. As a result, our protagonists get unwanted hair length and now they look like Rapunzels.

In the new photo story, Lizzie and Katie are “Best of Friends”. Then the old “three’s a crowd” comes in between them when new girl Linda comes along, and Katie’s in tears.

No Cheers for Cherry (1978-79)

Sample Images

No Cheers for Cherry 1No Cheers for Cherry 2No Cheers for Cherry 3

Published: Jinty 2 September 1978 – 13 January 1979

Episodes: 17

Artist: Phil Gascoine

Writer: Unknown

Translations/reprints: Geen applaus voor Sandra [No Applause for Sandra] in: Groot Tina Zomerboek 1983-4)

Plot

In Inverglay, Scotland, Cherry Campbell dreams of going on stage and has already taught herself several song-and-dance numbers. One day Cherry’s Aunt Margot from England comes to visit. She’s a cunning, manipulative woman out to bamboozle her naïve sister out of priceless family heirlooms. But there’s worse. She also gets her hands on Cherry, saying she will develop Cherry’s talent at their theatre business, Theatre Rose.

The reality is, Aunt Margot only wants Cherry as unpaid help, a slave to the whole family on the barge, as her son (Marvin) and daughter (Michelle) are too selfish and lazy to help out. Uncle Bernard treats Cherry slightly better. He seems to have a soft spot for her, but he sure knows how to act sweet and kind when it comes to fooling her, and for the most part he exploits her as much as the rest of the family.

Cherry is shocked to see the reality of Theatre Rose. It’s a barge and the stage is one the family set up and take down wherever they stop. It’s not what she expected and she wonders if it really will help her dreams of making it on stage. Moreover, it is soon obvious that Cherry’s relatives are far better actors when it comes to swindling than the stage. Theatre Rose is not making much money and audiences are not impressed with the performances. In one episode a bunch of schoolkids give Aunt and Uncle a well-deserved pelting (and we don’t just mean the ham acting). From the sound of it, it happens to them all the time. In another episode, Michelle and Marvin send the audience to sleep with their wooden acting, which is because they don’t care about the family business anymore; they want to break away from Theatre Rose and make their own way as performers.

What keeps Cherry in their power is that she is just as naïve and good-natured as her mother. For this reason, she just can’t see she is being taken advantage of, not even when it is staring at her right in the face. For example, she notices that she has done nothing but housework since she arrived instead of learning how to perform but thinks nothing of it. In another episode, she is forced to work in cold, wet clothes after nasty Marvin sends her flying into freezing water until she becomes ill. But not even this makes her wake up to the way she is being treated.

What’s more, her relatives are very cunning at pulling the wool over her eyes, to the extent of convincing her that all the slaving she is doing is all for the benefit of her training as an actress. And as long as Cherry doesn’t realise she is being abused, she is making no moves to escape or seek help. There’s no schooling either where she might get help or welfare taking a hand; her uncle and aunt keep her off school so she can continue slaving for them, and Cherry is only too happy to be off school to realise why.

One evening Cherry puts on an impromptu song-and-dance number for her relatives and Uncle Bernard instantly sees her star quality – and the money it will make for them. But they don’t say that to her. However, they don’t want her getting downhearted and going home because they will lose their skivvy. So Uncle Bernard suckers her even more by promising to coach her and have her think that it will be his doing that makes her a star when her big break comes. But he’s not offering her real coaching at all; it’s all part of keeping her as the barge skivvy. What coaching Cherry gets comes from herself. Unknown to them, she learns the scripts of their plays as a secret understudy so she can step in when one of the relatives can’t perform, and prove herself that way.

Her chance comes when Marvin skips off to play guitar at a club instead of performing at the family play. Aunt and Uncle grudgingly allow Cherry to replace Marvin as she knows the lines: “Anyhow, most of the old ducks in the audience were asleep last night. They probably wouldn’t notice if a performing seal went on in Marvin’s place!”

But Cherry has to turn things around into a Charlie Chaplin-esque comedy performance because that’s the only way her costume will allow it. As a result, the performance is a smashing success (for once) and everyone loves her. Cheers for Cherry at last. It’s her first debut, and Cherry even discovers a press cutting about it later. Will it lead to better things with her relatives?

Not really. They are just as bad as ever, and next night they hustle her away when she’s about to do a repeat performance because a social welfare officer is sniffing around and getting too close to Cherry’s situation.

Then Cherry gets spotted by famous actress Eena Blair, who offers her an audition. Her relatives are out to take advantage, to the point of snatching the bracelet Eena gave her and selling it, which breaks Cherry’s heart. But they doll her up in such a ridiculous way that she fails the audition because she feels wrong. Even her scheming uncle is sincerely disappointed for her and gives her genuine advice: keep going and keep faith in herself.

Later, Cherry bumps into her classmates from Inverglay. They offer her a chance to go home, but Uncle cons her into staying with crocodile tears about how she’s breaking his heart at leaving. Another chance to escape gone, without Cherry even realising it.

Another break comes when Cherry joins a street busker in a performance and gets noticed again. This time it’s Doris Keene of “The Keene Kids”, an agency that provides young actors for commercials. Aunt and Uncle are all for it (because of the money of course) and put on a free show so Doris will see her in action. But Michelle gets jealous at Cherry getting all the breaks and steals the audition for herself. She gets a job in commercials and is happy to break away from Theatre Rose.

What finally frees Cherry from her sly relatives is news that her mother has been involved in an accident, and this time she insists on returning home. The problem is money, which Cherry still doesn’t realise her aunt and uncle are pocketing at her expense. They have even spent the money Cherry just earned at another performance on a whole new wardrobe for Michelle at her new job.

Then an audience, remembering Cherry’s one-night Charlie Chaplin-esque performance, turn up in droves to see her again. Cherry puts on her self-taught song and dance numbers and raises a huge sum of money. Aunt Margot is all set to pocket it and spend it on home comforts, but Uncle Bernard’s kinder half towards Cherry prevails (or maybe he doesn’t want to risk Cherry finally realising the truth). He lets her have all the money and gives her permission to go home, saying her talent outclasses the Theatre Rose and there is nothing more they can do for her.

Aunt Margot is furious: “What about your grand plans for her? She was going to keep us in clover, you old fool!”

This is said right in front of Cherry, but she still doesn’t grasp the significance. Instead, she is full of tears and gratitude towards her uncle, and to the very end she fails to realise they’ve being exploiting and cheating her from the very beginning.

Cherry returns home and is relieved to see her mother has recovered. But she suffers from people gossiping about her failure as an actress. Plus her schoolwork is lousy because her Aunt and Uncle kept her off school. She has also lost heart in pursuing the stage.

Then Cherry is asked to participate in a variety show for charity, which she intends to be her swansong. However, her performance is televised and gets her noticed, and she receives an offer to star in a children’s show.

Thoughts

This story is in the vein of the Cinderella theme, which was prevalent in Jinty and Tammy during the 1970s. It’s also one of the last at IPC because the theme was phasing out by the late 1970s at IPC (though it remained popular at DCT). The difference is that this Cinderella just doesn’t realise that she is a Cinderella and is being taken advantage of by grasping, manipulative relatives. So, unlike Cinderella Smith, Make-Believe Mandy and other Cinderella types in girls’ comics she is not trying to escape the abuse or fight against it, because she just can’t see it for what it is. And others can’t see it either because it is itinerant (travelling with the barge) and Cherry is not going to school where someone might realise what is going on and help her. Nor can Cherry use her talent to console herself against the abuse and use it as a means of escape as so many of her counterparts have done.

So how the heck can this Cinderella escape from this situation? It clearly lies in either Cherry wising up or something freeing her from the exploitation, or even both. One possibility is that Cherry might win respect from her guardians as her talent develops and they treat her better. But we soon see that’s no good either. Like so many other abusive relatives they either get jealous of it (Michelle) or take advantage of it and pocket the profits (Aunt and Uncle). Maybe Uncle Bernard’s soft side for Cherry will somehow help; his attitude seems to improve a bit, such as when he is genuinely disappointed she failed her audition. Or maybe the people who take an interest in her might make her an offer that frees her without realising. But nothing seems to work, and it gets increasingly frustrating to watch as Cherry remains in the clutches of her mean relatives without her even realising what is going on.

In the end, Cherry does become a star and gets a lot of big breaks during her time with Theatre Rose. But did Theatre Rose actually help her to do it – in spite of itself? Would Cherry would have gotten those breaks without Theatre Rose? Did Uncle Bernard really help develop her talent after all, albeit in an underhand, roundabout way? After all, her mother can’t afford acting school, so she was less likely to get a break if she had stayed in Inverglay. Guess Jinty leaves it up to her readers to decide.

Still, the fact remains that Cherry’s relatives got away with exploiting her without any consequences whatsoever. Michelle even got a plum job out of it, which she wouldn’t even have got without Cherry. We are left wishing Theatre Rose gets struck by lightning and sinks to the bottom of the river or something.