- Kelvin Carpenter
Infobox EastEnders character 2
Paul J. Medford
Tony Hollandand Julia Smith
12 March 1985
3 September 1987
15 January 1969
Kelvin Carpenter was a
fictional characterin the popular BBC soap opera" EastEnders". He was played by Paul J. Medford.
Kelvin was a bright spark and full of initiative. He opened several businesses in
Albert Squareand even formed a band. He was a bit of a heartbreaker in "EastEnders"' early years, but he ended up having his heart broken in return, when his middle-aged girlfriend jilted him. Always a bit too intelligent for Walford, Kelvin eventually left for universityand has not been seen since.
Character creation and development
Kelvin Carpenter was one of the original twenty-three characters invented by the creators of "EastEnders",
Tony Hollandand Julia Smith. Kelvin was originally intended to be named Kevin, and his father Tony Carpenterwas originally named Alan. They were the first black characters to appear in the soap. Black and Asian characters were two ethnic minorities that had previously been under-represented in British soap before "EastEnders" aired. Holland and Smith knew that for the soap to succeed there needed to be a varied group of characters, so that several different sections of the audience had someone to identify with. Additionally, if the programme was to be realistic, it had to reflect the cross-section of society that actually existed in the real location. For these reasons, different sexes, ages, classes, religions and races were all included in the original character line-up. Both Holland and Smith had been at the forefront of the move towards 'integrated casting' in television and had encountered an array of ethnic diversities in the process. Even though the ethnic minority groups were deemed the hardest to research, Holland and Smith called upon their contacts to relay information about their origins and lifestyles and were then able to portray Walford's most recent immigrants more realistically.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]
Kelvin's original character outline as written by Smith and Holland appeared in an abridged form in their book, "" (In this passage, Kelvin will be referred to as Kevin and his father as Alan).
:"Kevin wants to stay with his dad...How would Alan react to the discovery that Kevin's visiting his mother? How would Kevin react to his father trying to smuggle a woman for the night? And, how would dad react to son doing the same thing? What happens when they're competing for the same woman? As he wants to leave his mark - physically - on the walls of the building, so he wants to leave his mark on his son. Will Kevin take it, or leave it?" (page 58).
Paul Medfordhad been recommended for the role by four separate agencies. He was London born, and they deemed him good-looking, fashionable and street-credible, making him ideal for their vision of Kelvin. After a subsequent and successful reading with the actor Oscar James(who played his father), Medford was cast in the role. James was physically much bigger than Medford, and Holland and Smith thought it was a good idea for Tony and Kelvin to be not only different in ages, but different physical types as well. Storywise it was felt it would be possible to build on this and also give them different attitudes and beliefs.
Kelvin became one of the most popular young characters in the show's early years.cite book |last= Kingsley|first= Hilary|title= The EastEnders Handbook |year=1990|publisher=BBC books|id=ISBN 0-563-36292-8] Several of his early storylines were actually intended for the character
Mark Fowler, but following the impromptu departure of David Scarboro(the original Mark) his storylines were subsequently given to Kelvin, Michelle Fowlerand Ian Beale. The character of Kelvin remained in the show for over two years, and was eventually written out when Paul Medford decided to follow his ambition of becoming a singer/dancer on stage in 1987.
In his final scene, Kelvin left the square without attending his leaving party. The real reason for this is because 'lot recordings' (scenes recorded on site in Albert Square) for each week's episodes normally occur two weeks before the studio recordings for the same episodes. When the leaving party was recorded in the studio, Paul Medford was already out of contract and had left the show. [
EastEnders books, "EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration" by Colin Brake, ISBN 0-563-37057-2]
Kelvin lived on the Square with his
Trinidadian father, Tony. Kelvin's parents' marriage had ended in separation, and he had opted to stay living with his father, whilst his sister Cassie lived away from Walfordwith his mother Hannah. His family were reunited later that year when Hannah turned up on their doorstep with the news that her current boyfriend had been beating both her and Cassie. Hannah had always looked down on Tony's way of life and although they tried to make a go of things for a second time, they still ended up bickering regularly, so Kelvin was often forced to take on the role of mediator.
Kelvin spent most of his time hanging out with the other youngsters of Albert Square:
Ian Beale, Sharon Wattsand Michelle Fowler. Sharon and Michelle were both attracted to Kelvin and they spent most of 1985 fighting for his affections. Kelvin had flings with both of them, which led to more fighting between the pair, but in the end Kelvin decided to jilt them both in order to concentrate on his exams. Later on Kelvin and Ian competed with each other for the attentions of Mary Smith, who had briefly dropped her punk image. However, she was interested in neither.
Later that year, Kelvin started a
knittingbusiness with Ian and Lofty Holloway, which was named 'Loftelian' (a portmanteauof the three owners' names). Despite a huge effort from all involved, the business was doomed from the start and didn't last long.
During the latter part of 1986, Kelvin attended
collegeand made some new friends, including Harry Reynoldsand Tessa Parker- who he also dated. Both had radical political beliefs and their influence seemed to have an effect on the way Kelvin viewed life too. He began to move away from his old friends and none viewed the changes in him favourably. It took a telling off from his ex-girlfriend Michelle, to make him see the error of his ways. Soon after Kelvin was instrumental in starting a band with the other Walford youths, including Ian, Sharon, Simon Wicks, Harry Reynolds and Eddie Hunter. Tessa wanted to join the band too, but was refused membership on the grounds that she was an awful musician - Kelvin's relationship with her ended soon after. The group named themselves The Banned and wrote a song entitled "Something Outta Nothing", but after a disastrous few gigs, they realised they were terrible and split up.In 1987, Kelvin faced more family problems when his parents' ill-fated reunion finally resulted in divorce. In order to escape the continual rows at home, Kelvin began spending a lot of time with Carmel Roberts and eventually the two began seeing each other, much to his parent's dismay. Carmel was a health visitorwho was considerably older than Kelvin (who had just turned 17). Kelvin later moved in with Carmel, however, their age difference soon began to take its toll on Carmel. She quickly grew tired of Kelvin's immature behaviour and ended up throwing her toyboyout, right after she'd publicly dumped him in The Vic. Kelvin then made a play for Ian's girlfriend, Tina Hopkins, but he didn't get very far.
With nothing left in Walford to hold him back, Kelvin decided to leave for
Norwich universityin September 1987, to take a course in computer studies. His friends threw a leaving party for him, but Kelvin decided to shun the party 'as he hated goodbyes'. He departed Walford without a farewell from anyone.
Kelvin has since been mentioned twice on-screen. The first was when he and his father Tony, had sent some flowers for
Pete Beale's funeral in 1993. The second was on 29 March 2007, when Ian Beale mentioned Kelvin in a conversation with half brother Ben.
Kelvin Carpenter has been described by author Hilary Kingsley as one of the most popular young characters in the show's early years. However, the way that "EastEnders" treated their black characters during the 1980s has been criticized by Robert Clyde Allen, author of the book "To be Continued--: Soap Operas Around the World ". He has commented that "none of the black families [in "EastEnders"] rivaled the Fowler/Beale [family's] position at the heart of the programme's structure, and black characters were pushed to the margins of the story-lines." The author goes on to say that although the character of Kelvin Carpenter mixed with characters such as Ian, Sharon and Michelle, "his personal life got little attention and he disappeared from the programme while the other young characters [were] able to grow up in it." [cite book |author= Robert Clyde Allen|title= [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=RVRpRmNqxvIC&pg=PA71&dq=eastenders+sharon&sig=nIfQi7X5HaimfMVS8OGR6KcciG0#PPA71,M1 To be Continued--: Soap Operas Around the World] |year=1995|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN 9780415110075]
Before he was written out of the serial in May 1987, actor Oscar James, who played Kelvin's father Tony, controversially criticised "EastEnders" and the BBC for not promoting their black characters. He commented, "The powers that be do not think I am interesting enough. Is it because I am a member of an ethnic minority? How often do you see [Kelvin's actor] Paul J. Medford publicised?...It's as though the BBC are playing us down. I can't believe the white majority of the public are against blacks being stars. They don't give a damn." [cite book |author= Stephen Bourne|title= [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=YYaryaqLfd4C&pg=PA179&dq=eastenders+kelvin&sig=_H0Ql3PtcHPdiOPjWNRaLvbwVdI Black in the British Frame: The Black Experience in British Film and Television] |year=2001|publisher=Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd|id=ISBN 978-0826455390]
Conversely, in "The Black and White Media Show Book", edited by John Twitchin of BBC TV's Continuing Education Department (published in 1988), the author praises "EastEnders" for portraying black people on mainstream television, and for giving them "respectable, fleshed-out parts which allow them to be the most difficult of things — 'normal people'." In a school based study (1986) examining black representation on television from 1985 to 1986, a storyline featuring Kelvin Carpenter was used to assess how the character was perceived. The aim was to measure whether Kelvin was being portrayed as "normal" as opposed to a "trouble-maker", a category black people on television were typically labelled as prior to the 1980s. For the study, a storyline was used in which Kelvin began behaving like a "newly-converted revolutionary". Both groups, white students and black/Asian students, felt that Kelvin was not a trouble-maker, or menace, but was being portrayed as an eccentric, and both groups agreed that the Carpenter family were seen as having troubles as opposed to casuing trouble, akin to the white families in the serial. However, the black/Asian group felt that the Carpenter family's problems were "less subtlety explored than those of their white counterparts, giving rise to possible racist misinterpretations." [cite book |author= John Twitchin |title= [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FhkZsZSBs7cC&pg=PA99&dq=eastenders+kelvin&sig=xttRJ4dQGX3tsUW7Q8tr2TFwM_w#PPA100,M1 The Black and White Media Show Book] |year=1988|publisher=Trentham Books|id=ISBN 0948080094]
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