1978 was a year of births, deaths and marriages for Close to Home. The year started with tragedy. Mike Laughton was drowned in January, leaving Hearte and Symonds without a manager. David Coleridge applied for the position, which drew sceptical comment from Don and Alex. But when David's father arrived from England with a major exporting proposal for the firm, it was agreed to give him a six month trial at the job. David's annoyance at his father's interference didn't stop him taking it.

Everyone was surprised - and some were dismayed - when David and Christine Lorvatz became engaged. Dot remarked to Ken with some bitterness that younger men seemed to be fashionable.

Stephen and Shirley were finding it difficult to settle down. Gayle wasn't helping, of course. She didn't like school, and was still extremely wary of her new step-father. And just when things started to calm down, Derek Pritchard, her father, turned up again making a play for Shirley. It led to a royal punch-up with Stephen from which Derek emerged the loser.

Christine, much in love, suddenly made an appointment with her doctor. A surgeon confirmed that she had breast cancer. It wasn't easy for David to accept, either, and he was surprised to find that Hal Mulholland was the person who helped him come to terms with her mastectomy. Hal's wife had died of cancer six years earlier.

But Faith Wilson had noticed that Hal was drinking something stronger than tea at school. It was brought into the open the night someone set fire to the school when Hal, hopelessly drunk, cracked under the pressure.

That was the night Shirley told Gayle she couldn't keep a kitten she'd found. The school arson attempt was the manifestation of all Gayle's frustrations. She was found out, suspended from school and put on probation for two years.

Shirley was pregnant. She had mixed feelings about the new baby, but Stephen and Gayle were delighted. They went to David and Christine's wedding making plans for their new family.

But a few days later Stephen, who had called for Shirley at Hearte and Symonds where she was working, was shot dead in an armed robbery. Gayle helped her mother through this. Dot took much longer to recover from the blow. Then Shirley's baby was born prematurely. The baby, Angela, lived for a week but died of pneumonia.

Madeleine Osborn billowed back into the lives of Don and Pete. She arrived from Christchurch to work on the election campaign and promptly took over Don's flat for an office. She took over more than that too. No-one was more horrified than Pete when Don accepted Madeleine's proposal of marriage.

Don and Madeleine returned from an idyllic honeymoon which convinced them, if not the rest of the world, that their marriage was made for success.

Christine and David had bought Mike Laughton's old house, and Christine started receiving strange phone calls from a woman asking for David. She became suspicious, with good reason. Stephanie had arrived back. The news of David's marriage was almost as much a shock for her as her brother's death.

At the Princess, a sober Hal Mulholland was courting Lorraine. She was both amused and flattered. Then her younger brother, Jerry Watson landed on her doorstep reviving memories of her lurid past. Jerry was a conman and a charming rogue. He was also illiterate, a fact which he hid skilfully.

He and Hal boarded with Mrs F and Hal's suspicions grew. One night at the Princess Jerry innocently spiked Hal's drinks and this brought things to a head. Hal confronted him with his 'suspicions about his illiteracy and then taught him to read.

Stephanie had brought Alice back with her. She'd been living it up overseas and David and Christine disapproved. They decided to adopt Alice and a major custody fight ensued. It split families and friends and Stephanie's final victory was a great cost to herself.

Riki had been painting with new vigour, and had a major success with an art exhibition. He took leave from school to paint full-time and when he went to the country with his uncle, Sonny, Maggie was furious. She allowed Jerry to move in with her, and if she had ideas of a platonic flatmate, well, Jerry was prepared to bide his time.

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