Dorothy Burke

Dorothy Burke
Dorothy Burke
Maggie Dence as Dorothy Burke
Neighbours character
Portrayed by Maggie Dence
Created by Ray Kolle
Introduced by Don Battye
Duration 1990–93
First appearance 7 March 1990
Last appearance 2 February 1993
Classification Former, regular
Date of birth 6 April 1934
Occupation Principal of Erinsborough High (1990–93)

Dorothy Miriam Burke (née McLachlan) is a fictional character from the Australian Network Ten soap opera Neighbours, played by Maggie Dence. She made her first on-screen appearance on 7 March 1990. The character departed on 2 February 1993, to live in the Australian countryside.




Doroth was born in Adelaide in 1934, the elder of two children to Clarrie (Fredrick Parslow) and Stella McLachlan. When Stella developed Alzheimer disease, Dorothy was forced to take care of her, while Clarrie, an alcoholic left the family to explore the Outback. After graduating University, Dorothy began her teaching career at a girls' school as a history teacher and eventually became principal. Dorothy later married accountant Colin Burke (Robert Alexander), but he was later arrested for fraud and jailed. Dorothy, mortified, preferred to let people think she was a widow rather than married to a fraudster. After this ordeal, Dorothy travelled for several years with her friend, Winnie and later returned to Australia.


Dorothy brings her car to Jim Robinson (Alan Dale) to be serviced. Several weeks later, Dorothy moves into Number 30 Ramsay Street and becomes the principal of Erinsborough High, much to her nephew, Ryan McLachlan's (Richard Norton) displeasure. Dorothy's neighbours initially think she is stuck up at first but she soon forms strong friendships with Jim and his mother-in-law, Helen Daniels (Anne Haddy).

Dorothy finds herself in a feud with Kerry Bishop (Linda Hartley) and her husband Joe Mangel (Mark Little) over a boundary dispute and matters are not helped when Dorothy's niece, Tiffany (Amber Kilpatrick) complains about Kerry mistreating her. Dorothy threatens to report Kerry to the Department of Childcare Services but Tiffany later confesses that she lied.

Dorothy runs for local council against Madge Bishop (Anne Charleston), which causes friction between the two. She wins and is able to prevent the school from closure, but this puts Helen temporarily offside when she refuses a proposal from her to fund an arts programme. Clarrie reappears in Dorothy's life and it is evident that she has not forgiven him for walking out while her mother was dying and things are uneasy between father and daughter. Dorothy's patience with her father is soon tested when she goes away for the weekend and he lets Ryan hold a party. When it appears that Clarrie has shoved Helen during an argument, Dorothy orders him to leave but soon discovers the truth. Clarrie agrees to attend Alcoholics Anonymous and they part on better terms.

When Ryan finds a letter from Colin, he begins suspect his uncle is in jail rather than dead. After being confronted, Dorothy tells Ryan the truth about Colin swears him to secrecy about his imprisonment. Colin is later released and arrives in Erinsborough keen to make amends but Dorothy refuses to hear him out at first. Eventually, she softens and agrees to give another chance. Dorothy discovers that Colin has been cheating on her with Helen's daughter, Rosemary (Joy Chambers), and throws him out. Colin pleads for Dorothy's forgiveness, but he is escorted from the street by Jim and Joe. Dorothy discovers a lump in her breast and it is found to be cancerous. Pam Willis (Sue Jones), the only person she tells, offers her support.

When Joe leaves for England with his new wife, Melanie Pearson (Lucinda Cowden), Dorothy agrees to let his son, Toby (Ben Guerens), live with her. Dorothy also becomes fond of Toby's dog, Bouncer. They are soon joined by Phoebe Bright (Simone Robertson) after her father, Arthur (Barry Hill), dies. Toby and Phoebe both call Dorothy "Mim", a contraction of her middle name, Miriam. After Phoebe falls pregnant to her boyfriend, Todd Landers (Kristian Schmid), and decides to have an abortion, Dorothy supports her. When Todd is killed after being hit by a van while racing to the clinic, Phoebe decides to keep the baby.

Tom Merrick (Robert Essex), a school inspector arrives in Erinsborough and Dorothy is instantly taken with him, but denies her feelings as she is afraid of getting hurt again. After some thought, Dorothy agrees to give the relationship a chance. When she learns Tom will be principal at Toby's new school in the country near where Joe and Melanie have settled, Dorothy agrees to leave with Tom and bids farewell to Erinsborough and leaves Number 30 in the hands of Phoebe and her new partner Stephen Gottlieb (Lochie Daddo).


The BBC said Dorothy's most notable moment was "When Dorothy and Jim Robinson got drunk and ended up spending the night together after passing out".[1]


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