Saturday, 7 June 2014

Our Top 50 Favourite Crossroads Characters: 38 - Walter Soper - "Uncle Wally"

Kath Brownlow tried to look pleased when Walter Soper turned up for his second visit.

Played by the late great comedian Max Wall, Walter Soper, known to Glenda and Kevin Banks as "Uncle Wally", was a cousin of Arthur Brownlow who turned up in King's Oak in late 1982, apparently to "pay his respects" to Arthur's widow Kath and her daughter Glenda. Perhaps that was part of the reason for his visit - who knew with Uncle Wally, but another motive quickly became apparent: he wanted a long-term cosy billet with three square meals a day, and the odd drop of booze.

Kath actually enjoyed Uncle Wally's company, but Glenda and her hubby Kevin most certainly did not. They wanted him out and made no bones about it. Uncle Wally dreamt up a cock-and-bull story about having loaned Arthur some money years before which had never been paid back. The hint was that perhaps he was owed at least a little hospitality because of it. He spent many a pleasant evening with Kath, reminiscing about Arthur and watching wonderful films on the telly - like The Beast of Clapham Junction. His stay stretched on into 1983.

Finally, a job as a car park attendant threatened Uncle Wally's idyllic existence (well, it would have been idyllic if hadn't been for Glenda and Kevin) and he beat a hasty retreat. Before he left, he told Kath that he'd made up the tale about Arthur and the loan. Knowing Arthur as she did, Kath was already well aware of that fact.

With Uncle Wally gone, Kath sailed close to a nervous breakdown as the impact of Arthur's death and the resulting loneliness finally hit her. But Glenda and Kevin were able to advance their plans for a test tube baby, and Glenda actually was pregnant when Uncle Wally turned up again later in 1983.

Of course, he was the same as ever. But this time other accommodation was soon found for him at Mavis Hooper's boarding house, and she was most sympathetic about his bad back, suggesting brown paper on it and a hot iron run over that for pain relief.

Finally, Uncle Wally succumbed to the inevitable evils of work when a job as night watchman at the Crossroads Motel was offered to him. He made it plain that he expected certain conditions, but then acquiesced. He was finally beaten, it seemed.

I'm not sure what happened to Uncle Wally after that. Or even if he appeared again. Perhaps he changed his mind about the job and scarpered? In 1984, Mavis Hooper simply mentioned in passing that he had "moved on". 

I liked the character. It was all a little sad really. Uncle Wally may have been a bit of a pain but, lacking any descendents, he had nobody to look after him in his old age (not that kids and grandkids are any guarantee - far from it!) and he really wasn't asking for a lot.

Mind you, he was a bit of a pain in the neck.

Still, as he was played by Max Wall, I couldn't help liking him!

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