The Characters That Time Forgot

For every long-running TV show, there's a character that didn't quite work out. Whether the writers found them difficult to write for, the star got the huff and walked, or the audience simply didn't take to them, look hard enough and you'll find an intended main character that faded into the background and was eventually forgotten about.

Sceptical? Then just try watching series one of The Wire again. Here are ten of the best, who you'll find all over certain episodes of their parent shows, but who can't even muster a single Wikipedia entry between them...

Frank Weisel From Yes, Minister

Chief architect of Jim Hacker's rise to MP-dom, cheerfully withstanding repeated attempts to keep him in the dark on account of his knowing far too much about politics for Sir Humphrey's liking. Weisel came to the department's rescue on many occasions, and was once such a key character that he appeared in the original titles, but tricky fourth wheel script status led to his eventual departure for a cushy Butter Mountain-circumnavigating number in Europe, as head of a Quango reporting on Quangos.

Paul, Basil And Rosalie From The Magic Roundabout

Perpetual pub-quiz-inspiring 'other children' who intermittently accompanied Florence on her jaunts to the Magic Garden, or Pio, Basile et Coralie as they were known in 'old Francs'. Tended to only appear whenever an additional human was needed to wrestle with dog/snail/rabbit/cow/train/indefinable jack-in-the-box thing interpretations of the laws of the physical universe, or spinoff media needed to fill a bit of illustrative space, though they were seen riding on the roundabout itself in the opening titles of every single episode.

Nikki Fernandez From Lost

Number 321 on Jacob's List: a sexy soap opera actress on the run with a bagful of murderously obtained diamonds, and a vest top that looked like it was made out of deckchair material. There for several key moments in the show, including personally discovering the existence of Mental Eyepatch Bloke, but propensity for 'testing' badly with viewers led to abrupt departure after being bitten by a poisonous spider and accidentally buried alive muttering something about 'power lines.' Not even mentioned in the finale.

Brenda From Rising Damp

Knocker-heavy proto-ladette artist's model and the most prominent - she was on the front of the tie-in novel and everything - of Rigsby's infrequently-glimpsed 'other' tenants. Usually to be found threatening (and succeeding) to drink Alan and Philip under the table, or giving off distinct 'look but don't touch' vibes to her lecherous landlord. Mainly only seen in episodes where Frances De La Tour was unavailable, but still there for many classic storylines including the 'Grey Lady' hoax and the Christmas Special.

Mandy Hampton From The West Wing

Power-walking embodiment of the 'get me a decaf mochalatte on rye and get me it now!!' no-nonsense White House Media Consultant ethos. Disappeared without explanation after a gunman took a potshot at President Bartlet; if she was caught in the crossfire, none of the other characters ever mentioned it. Nor indeed was she ever mentioned again, even in an extended flashback sequence covering part of the pre-election campaigning she'd supposedly been a prime mover in.

Catastrophe Kate From Rentaghost

Rootin' tootin' sharp-shootin' whip-crack-away-whip-crack-away-whip-crack-away Wild West ghost gal briefly employed as additional spook labourer in the definitive Claypole/Mumford/Davenport era, largely for the purpose of setting her male colleagues at smitten loggerheads and scaring the Perkins with trigger-happy ectoplasmic antics. Eventually moved on to other employment opportunities, but not before recommending Spirit World pal Hazel The McWitch as her replacement.

Mr. Dagenham From Camberwick Green

Mod-suited sports car-driving flash salesman cut from uncharacteristically modish Carnaby Street cloth, whose introductory song boasted he could sell 'anything, anything money can buy', including 'an overcoat/a motorboat/a holiday in Africa' and, less impressively, 'a button.' Usually to be found, however, flogging helicopters to assorted villagers, seemingly regardless of whether they wanted or even had a practical purpose for one. Later made a cameo in Chigley. You'll never guess what doing.

Hana Gitelman From Heroes

Internet-intercepting semi-regular from Series 1 (when they all still had sensible powers) intended as a sort of interactive online character for tech-savvy viewers. Joined Matt and Ted in their quest to infiltrate Primatech, and even showed up in the 'Dark' Future, while web-surfing fans could also follow her hack-tastic plot to sabotage Linderman's vote-rigging machinations. Until the production team realised that nobody actually was following it, upon which she was quietly written out in the tie-in comic.

The Doctor From Pipkins

Clacky-mouthed lab coat-sporting Anthony Perkins-resembling ventriloquist dummy type who looked after the healthcare side of things at Pipkins. Humanlike appearance may go some way towards explaining why he is less well remembered than Hartley Hare, Topov the Monkey, Octavia the Ostrich, Tortoise the Tortoise and Pig the, erm, Pig. Clearly intended to make youngsters less afraid of their visits to the physician, and presumably in comparison to his grotesque co-stars less afraid of the programme itself.

Kenny From The Tomorrow People

Wisecracking 'copper'-baiting flare-sporting original main attraction amongst the telepathically-enhanced teens, whose star quality was somewhat hampered by the limited acting ability of the youngster chosen to portray him. Within a couple of episodes he'd been bound to a chair with a special 'limiter' headband to stop him moving or speaking, before rounding out the adventure by accidentally teleporting into a duck pond to the decidedly genuine-sounding amusement of his co-stars. Not invited back for the next series.

You can hear me talking about The Magic Roundabout on Radio 4, and lots of other subjects and stations besides, here.

You'll find plenty about Mr. Dagenham, and all of the other overlooked characters from Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley in The Camberwick Green Procrastination Society, available in paperback here, from the Kindle Store here, or as a full-colour eBook here.