Penny O'Brien played by Josephine Mitchell
Episodes 284 - 404
Despite not living on E Street, Penny O'Brien had connections to the place as she was an old friend of Alice Sullivan's. So when the pair had a surprise meeting in the local shopping centre their friendship was re-established. With an eye for design and fashion, Penny was the perfect person to help out with Alice's baby wear company 'Babies With Attitude'.Penny settles straight into E Street life and makes firm friends with Toni and Jo-Jo. When Lisa decides to move on, Penny offers to move into the flat with Alice. Despite her grief at losing Lisa, Alice agrees but is shocked when Penny turns up with Charlie - her 6 year old daughter. Penny explains that Charlie's father Bronco left them a few years ago and has had no contact with she or Charlie. Within a few days Alice is feeling unsettled and decides to move on with Lisa. Penny decides to stay on in the flat and invites Max's cousin Jamie to share with her.
The pair become good friends and although we suspect Jamie feels more for Penny then just friendship, the line between them is well established. However they soon realise that becoming a couple could have it's advantages. When Penny needs a loan for BWA, and when Jamie wishes to become a partner in a law practice, they realise they will be taken more seriously if they are a married couple. So they pretend to be married in order to move their way onto the career ladder and gain some stability for themselves.
Living together has it's problems; their tastes are miles apart and whilst Penny loves noise and parties Jamie loves peace and quiet. They argue over the design of the flat and over Charlie's behaviour and yet they still share a kiss. But whilst Jamie is smitten, Penny assures him it was just a friendly kiss and tells him how much she values his friendship.
Penny becomes a popular member of the street and is maid of honour at Toni's wedding to CJ. During the service she and Jamie share more then a friendly glance and she later tells Jamie how much she likes having him around, and how grateful she is that he acts like a father to Charlie. The happy family set up is soon ruined when Charlie goes missing. Having spent the afternoon at the park, Penny is horrified when Charlie goes missing and all that is found of her presence is the dog she left behind. An intense search takes place and Penny does media interviews to try and bring home her daughter. Jamie is by her side and Penny reaches her lowest point when she has to identify the body of a small child. It's not Charlie but the experience sends Penny to breaking point and she is willing to do anything to get her daughter back. Soon a message is left on her answering machine from a man claiming to have Charlie. He tells Penny he will harm Charlie unless she leaves money for him at the park. On the condition that she leaves the money and doesn't contact the police then she will get Charlie back. Penny and Jamie leave the money but within seconds it has disappeared and there is no sign of Charlie. Penny is devastated - she has been fooled by a hoax.
The pressure gets too much for Penny who takes an overdose of pills and sleeps through a message left for her by the real kidnapper. When Elly revives Penny, she eventually hears the message and learns that Charlie has been taken by her father, Bronco. At first Penny is relieved but she later learns that Bronco has gained rights to Charlie and has legal access to her. Penny and Jamie go to visit Charlie and watch her as she plays happily with her new dog. Penny is distraught and tries to take Charlie but Bronco stops her and tells her Charlie will be staying with him. Penny continues to visit and is later served with a restraining order to stop her from seeing Charlie. However when Charlie's dog is killed by a car, Bronco can't handle the situation and takes Charlie to see Penny. Penny sees only one way to get her daughter back, and despite Jamie's disapproval Penny sleeps with Bronco. Jamie is disappointed in Penny and says she could win the case without prostituting herself. He tells her he can no longer stay in the flat and moves out. With Jamie gone Penny has to deal with Bronco alone and is happy when he moves in and brings Charlie home. However when Penny turns cold on him he gets angry and rapes her. Penny confides in Elly and Sam and Bronco is arrested. Bronco doesn#t give up and continues to follow Penny everywhere she goes. As a last resort Penny packs her things and tells Charlie they are going to visit Toni and CJ. However when they attempt to leave the car won't start as Bronco has tampered with it.
Back in Westside once more and Penny finds out she is pregnant. She decides to have a termination and before going into hospital she tells Bronco just how much she hates him and how she is getting rid of her baby. Whilst Penny is in hospital Bronco takes Charlie from Penny's mothers house and brings her to the hospital - he tells Penny she has a choice; keep his baby or lose Charlie for good. Penny goes with him and he locks her up in a disused warehouse in the woods. She remains there for days, dehydrated and listless. Elly and Sam are sure Bronco has taken her and their fears are confirmed when Bronco arrives and tells them that Penny is missing in the bush. A search is started and Penny is found by Sam. She presses charges and Bronco is finally out of her life for good.
On her return home Penny is sad to learn that Jamie left town before they got a chance to be friends again. She is comforted by Sam and the brief return of Alice. Penny explains to Alice what she has been through and Alice gives her the encouragement to restart her career. So as E Street nears his end we leave Penny about to take a job teaching design at the local college. We hope she regained her flair for fashion and lived a calmer and happier life with Charlie. Oh and we hope Jamie came back to sweep her off her feet.