Debbie Dobson: Nicola Bell


Debbie first appeared in the 1990 series of Byker Grove and left at the end of the 1993 series, although the character did make several infreqent appearances in the later series.

Debbie was the middle sister of the Dobson family, and the only Dobson sister to remain in Newcastle after the character had left the series. Debbie was first seen in the 1990 series, introduced as one of Nicola's younger sisters, Debbie, though starting off as a minor role became one of the most memorable characters in Byker Grove.

Debbie had something of a vivid imagination which was shown in the 1990 series after she watched some horror films that the lads had a acquired and were playing at the Grove. These haunting films would remain in her mind for some time. Debbie also became involved with PJ's pirate radio project "Radio Rocket".

Debbie decided, under pressure from Carl that she should start smoking, to make her more sophisiticated, however, she disliked the taste of her first cigarette and was discovered by gran, Mary O'Malley, who forced Debbie to eat the cigarette otherwise she would tell her dad. Debbie was ill for some time after that.

In the 1991 series Debbie developed a crush on PJ which progressed through to the next series. In 1991 Debbie's terror at the horror films the previous year became a reality. On one quiet night she spotted the profile of a fimilar character in the half-light of the corridor. She became convinced that the person she had seen was the Ghost of Gill, who had died suddenly in a car accident the previous year. PJ, Duncan, Jemma and Speedy decided to help Debbie, by laying traps within the Grove to reveal the indentity of the imposter.

They decided to cunningly place a tape recorder, leave it recording through the night and listen to it the next day. Debbie, PJ, Speedy, Duncan and Jemma played the tape the next day which had recorded strange tappings, heavy breathing and chaotic, sinister laughing.

PJ then got hold of a DFM - an evesdropping machine, which they would use to to catch the mysterious intruder at the Grove. PJ formulated a plan - Speedy and Fraser would be on the inside with one walkie-talkie and Duncan and Jemma would be outside with another. PJ would guide them from room to room checking in advance were their quarry was moving to. They would try to get him cornered in a room they could lock and then call Geoff.

To check that the machine was operating properly the lads tested it out on the nearest house where they knew the subjects inside. The lads choked themselves with laughter as younger sister Jemma instructed Debbie on how she should flirt properly, and how Jemma commented on the indecency of Debbie undressing infront of PJ's photo which was pinned to the wall!

The Ghosts were later discovered as the gypsies who belonged to the site Kelly and Winston visited.

Debbie became concerned towards the end of 1991 that Jemma's new boyfriend Lee wasn't all he seemed. Debbie's fears were confirmed after she spotted Lee sabotage Speedy's bike in order to fix the race to ensure he made maxium winnings off Marcus who was running a book on the outcome of the race. Lee, playing on Debbie's overactive imagination, swore her to silence on threat of putting a curse on her!

PJ, who had become quite fond of Debbie by now, detected the change in her behaviour and she confided in him what had happened. PJ, Duncan and Speedy promptly sorted Lee out, forced him to give his winnings to Speedy to cover the costs of a new bike and warned him to stay away from the Grove in future.

Debbie joined in the campaign to prevent the Grove's closure, and during this time she developed a strong dis-liking of Amanda, the recent new-comer to the Grove, who's wealthy status and tactless manner irrated Debbie.

In the 1992 Series Debbie and Amanda's relationship worsened further. Amanda, now more sure of herself decided to strike Debbie at her weakest point - PJ. To Debbie's fury, Amanda recieves PJ's attention during the UFO prank on Marcus, and wins a place in the second audition for dancer's in the film Jive Crazy, where as Debbie failed the first round.

Debbie also have problems at home with mother, Kath pregnant, sister Nicola running away with Paul, and Jemma's relationship with Lee. Debbie becomes concerned that Lee is having a bad influnce on her younger sister, but Jemma refuses to listen to her protests. Debbie is incensed later when she learns that Jemma was planning on being an accessory to a Ram-Raid with Kevin Fowler and his gang. Debbie is later confronted by Kevin and his gang who are searching the streets of Newcastle for Jemma and Lee. Debbie managaees to get a warning to Jemma through Barney.

During Nicola's wedding, Debbie and PJ become closer and they share their first kiss. The relationship quickly develops - too quickly for Debbie's liking who is a little scared by PJ's advances. Debbie knows what PJ wants, but is indecisive, and scared after PJ meets her in the Grove's cellar with a chinese take-away and a sleeping bag. Further trouble looms - Amanda is continuing her pursuance of PJ, and to Debbie's fury continues to receive his interest. Through her persistence, Amanda is invited to a meal out with PJ at a French restaurant, in Debbie's place - but unfortunately the bill is higher than anticipated, and they are both forced to wash dishes.

On the same night, Debbie, unknowing about PJ's date with Amanda meets him, pledges her love for him and agrees to meet him in the basement of the Grove the next night.

After this PJ invites Amanda to spend the night with him in the basement of the Grove, as he has done with Debbie. Once ther Amanda realises his intentions and turns him down saying, " I am not that kind of girl". But, unfortunately, PJ and Amanda are spotted in there by Debbie after her sister Jemma told her what was happening.

Following this, Amanda and Debbie realise that PJ has been two-timing them both and as such, decide to get one back on him. PJ admits to Duncan how sorry he is to have cheated on Debbie and follows her to Nicola's new house where Debbie has gone to stay for a while. PJ tries to apologise, but Debbie rejects him, explaining that he has hurt her too much for her to ever forgive him.

At the paint-ball contest between the Grovers and Denton Burn, Debbie and Amanda decide to shoot PJ, so that he will be out of the game. Unfortunately, it all goes wrong, as unknown to Debbie and Amanda PJ has taken off his goggles and when they shoot, the paint gets into his eyes, providing the dramatic climax to the 1992 series.

PJ returns from hospital in the 1993 series, but Debbie is intially too rattled with guilt to see him. Amanda and Duncan attempt to salvage the situation. However, after Debbie and Duncan spend some time together they start to realise that there is a certain chemistry between them. They both agree to ignore it and remain loyal to PJ.

PJ is invited by Duncan to join the Grove's new band: "Grove Matrix", they perform at PJ's 17th Birthday Party, the party is a success, although Debbue decides not to attend, until PJ embarresses himself by tipping ice-cream down his front and Fran, unknowing of his blindness laughs at him. He stumbles out into the car park where he crashes into a car, crying, angry at himself, when Debbie takes him into her arms and promises him everything wil be OK. PJ is thrilled that Debbie has come back to him, but his happiness is short-lived, despite her good intentions, Debbie is unable to escape from the fact that she has fallen for Duncan.

Seeing as they are both important people in PJ's lives, and now that PJ needs them both more than ever, they are unable to avoid each other and so the feelings they have for each other. They decide that the situation can go on no longer, and arrange to meet in the Grove after hours to talk. After Debbie has a heart-to-heart with Duncan, she realises she has no option but to make a choice between the two of them. PJ suddenly walks in on them, but Duncan manages to sneak out unoticed. PJ hears the door shut quietly, but Debbie assures him it was jsut the wind.

Debbie feels deeply sorry for PJ, and blames herself greatly for his condition, so she decides to stay with PJ although it is Duncan she really wants. However, PJ eases the burden on her, by announcing he is joining a specialised unit in Hereford for education of the blind. PJ leaves in episode 8, leaving Debbie and Duncan to persue their relatioship.

The relationship gets off to a bad start as Debbie blames Duncan for exposing her mother's adultry with Geoff's replacement at the Grove, Tim. Debbie later forgives Duncan, though he remains insecure in their realtionship. Duncan begins making advances, indicating that he would like their relationship to be as close as her relationship with PJ was. Debbie is unready, and remembers the hurt PJ caused her the previous year with Amanda, causing her to have another fall-out with Duncan.

Debbie reveals to Alison at Leah's Murder Evening the reality of the way she considers her relationship with Duncan, basically Debbie admits she is only using him for a bit of comfort when she needs it, like a "puppy dog". Unknowing to her, Duncan overhears the conversation.

Debbie becomes concerned with her family situation after her parents decide to seperate, she attempts to soothe the situation between Jemma and their mother, but to no success. Debbie also becomes concerned for Amanda after she becomes involved with Aston and is devastated when Amanda is taken into hospital after an overdose. She instinctively turns to Duncan for support and comfort only he rejects her and tells her she's utterly self-centred.

Debbie, lost and confused decides to visit PJ in Hereford. PJ reveals he knew of Debbie's relationship with Duncan, and gives her good advice for her future. When Debbie returns to Newcastle she attends a job interview at the Copthorne Hotel, and is taken on as the new receptionist.

In 1994, Debbie seems to have been taken off the reception and put on to waitressing, she is seen in episode 5 when her sister Jemma and Gary go to her hotel for a meal. Debbie is later seen in episode 7 attending Jemma's funeral. Debbie later visits Amanda, after she returns to Newcastle with baby Sam.