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Lorraine Wicks
Lorraine Wicks
Portrayed by Jacqueline Leonard
Introduced by Corinne Hollingworth
Gender Female Female
First Appearance 2 April 1996
Last Appearance 14 November 1997
Duration 1996–97
About
Occupation Bartender
Classification Former; regular
Relationships
HusbandDavid Wicks (1980–90)
SonsJoe Wicks
DaughtersKaren Wicks
MotherHazel Foster
Lorraine Wicks (née Foster) is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Jacqueline Leonard between 1996 and 1997.


Creation and development

Introduced in April 1996, Lorraine was the former wife of the already established character David Wicks (Michael French). She was brought into the serial along with her son Joe Wicks (Paul Nicholls). Author Kate Lock has described Lorraine as "relentlessly sensible, fair and nice" but with a "rogue gene" that prompted her to select the wrong kind of men.

As well as a high-profile storyline concentrating on Joe's diagnosis of schizophrenia, Lorraine's most prominent storyline was a love triange between herself, Grant Mitchell (Ross Kemp) and Grant's wife Tiffany (Martine McCutcheon). In the storyline, Lorraine discovered that Tiffany was keeping a secret from Grant - that he was potentially not the father of her unborn child. When Tiffany refused to tell Grant the truth, Lorraine did, making way for them to become a legitimate couple, albeit briefly. Leonard commented in December 1996, "Lorraine has had a year on her own and she feels that she probably needs a bit of contact - and Grant's quite macho. It was very interesting from my point of view because Lorraine could be perceived as being bitchy and she's not. She genuinely cares about Tiffany and their marriage and the baby and she wants the whole situation sorted out. But she and Grant do like each other and care about each other and it loses control a bit." Lock has questioned why Lorraine would have fallen for Grant, suggesting that "Perhaps she thought she could change him". Ultimately though the differences between the couple took their toll. As Lock summises, "[Grant] did really make an effort to be restrained, but maintaining this facade was beyond him and, after seeing Grant shake her son so hard that his teeth rattled, Lorraine called the whole thing off."

Leonard decided to leave EastEnders in 1997 to nurse her mother through poor health. She has since commented, "my mum was very poorly at the time and I had that to contend with. After a year and a half in the Square, I just thought it was time for me to go. Paul Nicholls, who played Joe, was leaving and it was the natural progression if you like. The schizophrenia storyline was dragging on and there was nowhere else to go with the character. I could have stayed and took the money I suppose, but I just needed the change. I'm glad I took time out." In the serial Lorraine returned to her home town of Bolton with her son Joe and her former partner Peter, making her on-screen exit in November 1997.

When discussing the role in 2000, Leonard said, "They didn't kill us off and the part was left open, but sadly it's too late to go back now. Besides, none of the characters that could link Lorraine back to Albert Square are there any more. I had to go, though. It was a difficult decision but I felt I'd done all I could with the role." However, she did not rule out the possibility of returning, saying, "I think it would be difficult but yes, if the opportunity arose then I would love to go back for a little while. Not forever, just a little while to say hello."


Storylines

Lorraine first arrived in Albert Square in April 1996 when she came in search of her son, Joe Wicks, who had run away from their home in Bolton with the hope of reuniting with his estranged father, David Wicks. Lorraine's marriage to David Wicks had been a disaster, ruined by David's numerous infidelities. He had abandoned his wife and two children (Karen Wicks and Joe) almost eight years prior to Joe's re-appearance, and he had subsequently played no part in any of their lives. David wasn't exactly thrilled to see his son, whose overt display of emotion left him feeling decidedly uncomfortable. Lorraine was even less happy to be reunited with her ex-husband. She and Joe had been through a turbulent time since his departure. Her daughter Karen had been killed in a car accident and Joe blamed himself for her death because he had swapped seats with her moments before the fatal crash. Upon hearing of Karen's death, David became wracked with guilt about abandoning his children, but it still didn't evoke any parental feelings in him towards his son, and he was relieved when Lorraine managed to persuade Joe to return to Bolton. Joe, however, was not easily put off, and he returned to Walford in May that year, determined to rebuild a relationship with his father; in order to keep him happy Lorraine moved there with him.

Lorraine got a job as a barmaid in the Queen Vic and it wasn't long before she'd caught the eye of both Grant Mitchell and his friend [[[Nigel Bates]]. Nigel pursued Lorraine, but although she liked him, she was never interested in anything more than friendship. Grant was different, and the two started a relationship, which resulted in him throwing his wife Tiffany Mitchell out (who was six months pregnant with his child at the time).

Grant was infatuated with Lorraine and even proposed to her, but Lorraine was forced to put their relationship on the back-burner after her son Joe had a mental breakdown. Joe's behaviour towards his mother became extremely hostile and he also started to develop severe paranoia; even thinking that Grant was the devil and was attempting to poison him. Grant, never the diplomat, decided to counter Joe's accusation by literally trying to shake some sense into him. However, his outburst was witnessed by Lorraine, who promptly finished their relationship.

Joe's mental status only worsened after his father ran out on him for a second time. Lorraine became desperate, but her attempts at getting Joe professional help did nothing to help matters. Joe eventually became so fearful of the outside world that he refused to leave his flat and this culminated in him holding Lorraine hostage one night, dowsing himself in petrol and threatening to kill himself or anyone that came near him. Grant managed to rescue Lorraine, but Joe was sectioned as a result and later diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia.

Joe was later released, and with his condition stabilised he began to live a normal life. He made a trip to Bolton and was instrumental in reuniting Lorraine with her ex-boyfriend Peter. Peter had been driving the car at the time of the crash that killed Lorraine's daughter and this had led to their eventual breakup. Upon reconciling with Peter Lorraine decided to go back to Bolton. Her last appearance was in 1997.


Reception

Leonard says that viewers of the soap warmed to the character as she was depicted as a "caring mum". She claims she received a lot of fan mail from fans, mostly children, who wanted their mum to be like Lorraine.

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