Sue Osman

Sue Osman

Infobox EastEnders character 2

character_name=Sue Osman
actor_name=Sandy Ratcliff
first=19 February 1985
last=23 May 1989
status= Separated
occupation= Café owner
husband=Ali Osman (1982—)
sons=Hassan Osman
Little Ali Osman

Susan "Sue" Osman was a fictional character in the popular BBC soap opera "EastEnders". She was played by Sandy Ratcliff.

Sue had a rough time of things in Albert Square. Her interests were often conflicted with those of her husband, Ali, who frequently allowed his strong family ties and gambling to take precedence over his wife's needs. After the tragic death of her baby and her husband's infidelity, Sue 'lost the plot', and was subsequently locked away in an insane asylum in 1989.

Character creation and development

Sue Osman was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of "EastEnders", Tony Holland and Julia Smith. British Sue and her Turkish Cypriot husband Ali, were an attempt to portray a multi-cultural relationship, with an emphasis on conflicting customs, cultural and personality differences. Their marriage was scripted to be volatile, highlighting the problems that can occur when customs and beliefs are not shared in a relationship.cite book |last=Smith|first= Julia|authorlink= Julia Smith|coauthors=Holland, Tony|title= EastEnders - The Inside Story |year=1987|publisher=Book Club Associates|id=ISBN 0-563-20601-2]

Sue's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, "".

:"Sue was the child of older parents. Affection was what was missing from the house. No real love, no fire and no closeness. She never saw her parents touch each other, or demonstrate tenderness... Is Sue actually looking for a bad time in life? Is she a big martyr? Perhaps convinced that her parents had no affection for her, she can't understand anyone else doing so. She's a very insecure woman — furiously jealous and possessive and always accusing her husband of being unfaithful. She is always putting herself in the position of being the victim. Sometimes she nearly goads her husband into hitting her... A gigantic, self-imposed, chip on her shoulder... She needs dramas — it's something she is good at. She is a poisonous bitch, but it is important that we understand why..." (page 59)

Holland and Smith required the character of Sue to appear 'hard', but also to be a 'loser' and a 'victim'. They initially considered casting the role of Sue to Gillian Taylforth, the actress who would go on to play Kathy Beale in the serial. In the end she was rejected because she had blonde hair and they had always envisioned Sue to be a brunette. Sandy Ratcliff (previously Lord Snowdon's face of the seventies) was recommended for the role by the writer Bill Lyons. Ratcliff was renown for being a staunch feminist and Holland and Smith initially feared that her own personality and strongly held views would be at odds with the character. Ratcliff was also not renowned for being the most disciplined actress, 'more the free spirit', which sparked fears over how she would react to the strict disciplines of a twice-weekly drama. However, it was eventually decided that Ratcliff did possess all the qualities that were needed to play Sue convincingly and so she was cast in the role.

Before the show aired, Holland and Smith had already decided that Sue and her husband would be parents to a young baby named Hassan. However, as further characters were invented they realised that there would be a total of four babies in the show: Annie Smith, Martin Fowler, Vicki Fowler and Hassan. It was decided that it would be impossible for the studios to cope with four babies, and so they invented a storyline to eliminate one of the young babies from the cast. During this time in the 1980s, the issue of cot death was extremely prominent in the British press, partly due to an increase in casualties, but also because a doctor had gone public with the accusation that parents were to blame for the tragic occurrence. Holland and Smith decided that covering this issue in the soap would be a good way of 'setting the record straight', and so it was decided that Sue and Ali's baby would die from cot death in the early months of the show. This was the first of many controversial storylines in "EastEnders"' history. After the storyline aired in June 1985, the show was praised by audience and press alike for the sensitive and unsensational way this harrowing subject was treated. The sudden tragedy came as a surprise to the audience, especially since the bereaved parents were a couple whose feuding, fighting ways had made them appear rather comic in the early episodes of the show.cite book |last=Brake|first= Colin|authorlink= Colin Brake|title= |year=1995|publisher=BBC Books|id=ISBN 0-563-37057-2] The British Cot Death Foundation initially feared that a soap opera would trivialise the subject and frighten new parents. They tried to stop the episodes from airing, but in the end they were pleased with the way the subject was handled, and provided back-up support after transmission to many viewers who wanted more information on the subject.The character of Sue lasted in the show for four years, and many of her storylines resulted from the after-effects of the cot death plot, including the deterioration of her mental health. Sue was eventually written out of the serial in 1989 following the off-screen personal problems of the actress who played her. [" [ The Fall and Fall of an EastEnders Star: How Time Has Changed Sue Osman] ", "The Daily Mirror". URL last accessed on 2006-09-14.]


Sue and her husband Ali were the original owners of the Bridge street cafè, and Sue was often seen slaving away cooking or waiting on unappreciative customers. Sue fell pregnant in 1983 and gave birth to baby Hassan in May 1984. They initially lived at 23a Albert Square, but they moved to 47a Albert Square in 1986.

Sue was British but her husband was a Turkish Cypriot, and their relationship was often strained due to cultural conflicts and Turkish customs that Sue was unwilling to participate in or live with. One such custom was the importance Ali placed on his extended family, whose wishes seemed to take precedence over Sue's. His family were always on the scene, leaving Sue often feeling like an outsider in her own home. This was made worse when Ali went into business with his brother Mehmet. The pair opened a cab-firm, Ozcabs, which was run on the cafè premises, meaning Sue was never able to escape Ali's intrusive family.

Sue was never one to shy away from speaking her mind and her suspicious, insecure nature often provoked arguments between her and Ali, who she often unfairly accused of cheating. She also had many rows with the other female residents of Albert Square, including Kathy Beale, Angie Watts, Debbie Wilkins, Mary Smith and Michelle Fowler, who she all suspected of trying to bed her husband, although in truth, all that ever occurred was harmless banter and flirting.

Sue never saw eye to eye with Lou Beale. Lou often accused Sue of having no community spirit and even went as far as to blame her for the death of Reg Cox in the first episode. But even though they would regularly argue, Lou did support Sue through some tragic times later on in the series.

Cot death

Sue and Ali had a major cash-flow problem in May 1985, which was made worse by the fact that Ali was a compulsive gambler. He and his brother Mehmet would often open the café late at night to partake in some late night poker with the residents of Albert Square. Ali's compulsion meant that the stakes were often high and he wasn't adverse to waging his businesses for the sake of a bet. Sue desperately tried to stop Ali gambling, but she soon changed her tune when Ali had a big win in June 1985. Her happiness was not to last, as the very next day disaster struck when she awoke to discover baby Hassan laying motionless in his cot. Sue and Ali rushed his lifeless body to the local nurse, Andy O'Brien, but Hassan was already dead. A postmortem could reveal no definitive causes for his death, so it was concluded that he died during his sleep from sudden infant death syndrome (cot death).Straight after discovering Hassan's body, Sue went into shock. She remained in a trance like state for weeks, refusing to eat, sleep, cry or acknowledge her own grief. She later began blaming herself unfairly for her son's sudden and unexplainable death. Her mental health continued to deteriorate and she became traumatised and despondent towards Ali. Their marriage disintegrated in a welter of depression and no one could get through to her. She eventually managed to come to terms with Hassan's death with the help of Dr Legg, who took the desperate measure of placing Mary's baby, Annie, in her lap, allowing her, finally, to acknowledge her pent-up sadness. Sue and Ali patched up their differences, but Sue's mental health never fully recovered and her highly strung nature meant that she was always on the brink of falling back into insanity.

Baby blues

Sue obsessed with the idea of having another child to replace Hassan, but no matter how hard she and Ali tried, they couldn't conceive. The increase in pressure left Ali questioning his manhood and he even feared he may be impotent at one stage. Sue's desperation to be a mother again culminated in her concocting a phantom pregnancy in May 1986, which had everyone fooled for a while. She was heartbroken to discover that it was just a false alarm and later in the year she tried to persuade Michelle Fowler to give her daughter Vicki up for adoption, so she could look after her. Michelle was furious and ended up slapping her.

In September 1986 Sue began toying with the idea of adopting a Turkish child from Cyprus, which was met with indignation from Ali's family. She and Ali then decided to apply to adopt in the UK instead. They went through an agonising meeting with a social worker to assess their suitability, which ended positively. However, their application was eventually rejected because it was felt that they were applying too quickly after the death of their child. Sue agonised over this and in 1987 she faced more turmoil, after she found a lump on her breast and feared she had breast cancer. After much worrying she was eventually persuaded to get the lump checked out and she was subsequently given the all-clear.

Later in the year Sue became extremely attached to Ali's nephews and niece when they came to live with her in Walford, and was heartbroken when they moved back home several months later. Still unable to conceive, Sue began to crave a baby more than ever and Ali began to tire of her eternal broodiness. He proceeded to try and seduce almost every woman on the Square, which infuriated Sue and she ended up locking him out of their bedroom. Sensing their marriage was in jeopardy, Sue made an effort to sort things out, and Ali tore up the pregnancy calendar they had been using to schedule their sexual activity, promising to give her sex whenever she wanted. But Sue still didn't fall pregnant and more rowing followed when she decided she wanted to move to the Isle of Dogs, thinking that the milder climate would increase her chances of conceiving. Ali refused and in a fury Sue packed a suitcase and disappeared without word. Ali thought she had left him, but Sue was only visiting an old school friend and she returned in October 1987 to announce that she was expecting another baby — having fallen pregnant before her departure.

Marital problems and mental breakdown

In March 1988 she gave birth to another son, 'Little Ali', who was delivered by Lofty Holloway and Pauline Fowler. Sue's desperation to be a good mother meant that she often excluded her husband from parental duties. She became so obsessed with her baby's welfare that she had no time for Ali any more and during this time their relationship suffered. Feeling neglected and tired of his wife's nagging, Ali sought comfort from the local prostitute, Donna Ludlow. However, Donna was only out to blackmail Ali for money, and she threatened to 'spill the beans' to Sue unless he provided her with regular monetary instalments. A fearful Ali had no choice but to pay, which managed to silence Donna for a good few months. However, in March 1989, Sue managed to get on the wrong side of Donna when she criticised her lifestyle and banned her from the café. In retaliation, Donna maliciously confessed her and Ali's seedy affair to Sue. Upon finding out about Ali's infidelity, a furious Sue attempted to get revenge on Ali by seducing his brother. This culminated in her kissing an innocent Mehmet right in front of Ali's eyes. Believing that Sue was having an affair with his brother, Ali beat Mehmet up and banished him from his life. Ali informed Mehmet's wife Guizin about the fabricated affair, and she promptly left Walford with Mehmet's children. Ali later confronted Sue and after a furious bust-up she took Little Ali and left Walford, without informing Ali she was going or where she would be. Ali was beside himself with worry and spent months trying to track his estranged wife down. He eventually found her visiting her dead son's grave. While she was distracted Ali snatched his son back and this ended up being the final straw for Sue's parlous emotional state. After Sue was separated from Little Ali, she suffered a huge mental breakdown. She started pouring soil from her dead son's grave over her head and wandering the streets in a bewildered state. In an attempt to keep her away from their son, Ali had Sue admitted to a mental institute, and it is unknown whether or not she has been released. Her last appearance was in May 1989.

Later in the year Kathy Beale went to visit Sue off-screen and brought news to Ali that she wanted contact with their son, but he refused to allow her access.

Ali stayed on in Albert Square, but eventually his gambling got the better of him, and after losing the café to Ian Beale he went back to Cyprus with his son and the rest of his family.


External links


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