Fair City is bidding farewell to one of its most iconic characters, Bela Doyle!
He is one of the longest-running and most loved characters on the show.
And after 34 years in Carrigstown, actor Jim Bartley has announced his retirement.
Jim joined the cast in 1990 and has been a staple character on the show ever since.
For a year before the character actually arrived on screen, Bela Doyle had a reputation as Carrigstown’s Casanova, despite being married to Rita and being father to their six children: Helen, Yvonne, Jimmy, Darren, Suzanne and Louise.
Bela had a string of other dalliances over the years. This led to many tangled affairs, including a secret love child with Barry O’Hanlon’s girlfriend, Linda, but the baby tragically passed away.
No one knew he was the father, so he couldn’t openly grieve.
A love triangle with Pauline, Leo Dowling’s love interest and eventual wife, also followed. When Pauline chose Leo and married him, Bela became Leo’s best man. All love was not lost for Bela on their big day, however, as he had a dalliance with Pauline’s bridesmaid, Nicola!
His most enduring friendship was with Charlie Kelly, an unlikely pair, but they were joined at the hip. In the ultimate act of friendship, Charlie invited Bela to move in with him when Bela’s kids had deserted him, and he had nowhere else to go.
Bela, Charlie and Cass Cassidy, the three musketeers, lived together for many years.
Speaking about his departure, Jim said: “After over 60 years of association with RTÉ, firstly on Tolka Row, aged 18, and over 30 years spent on Fair City I have a tinge of sadness bidding this farewell. The time has come to focus on my health.
:I’d like to wish the whole team the very best of luck. To the cast and crew, in particular, those who I have spent years working with, it was a joy going to work each day. My heritage goes back through the show, and all the way back to Tolka Row, RTÉ’s first television soap opera, with many lifelong friendships and a lot of special memories created over the years.”
Fair City’s Executive Producer, Brigie de Courcy, added: “Everyone at Fair City is sad to see Jim Bartley leave. He was already an iconic figure in Irish soap when he joined us, and his unforgettable performance as Bela Doyle has been a central part of Fair City for over 30 years.
“As the last remaining member of the Doyle clan, his exit marks a huge shift for Carrigstown. His presence will long be felt, both as a performer and as a kind and good-humoured mentor to many younger cast members through the years. I wish him the very best in his retirement.”