Sonia Ann Fowler (née Branning; previously Jackson) was a fictional character in the popular BBC Soap opera EastEnders. She was played by Natalie Cassidy and made her first appearance on December 21, 1993. She made her final appearance on February 2, 2007.
Trumpet-playing Sonia Jackson first arrived in Walford in 1993 with her mother, Carol, stepfather, Alan, her boyfriend Jaeden and half siblings Bianca, Robbie, and Billy. Since then, she has also gained an extended family, including aunt, April, grandfather Jim and cousin Bradley. She was the result of her mother's fling with a man she never knew called Terry Cant. She is the third of Carol's four children.
During the early years, she formed a close friendship with Clare Tyler and the two were practically inseparable until Clare fell in with the wrong crowd at school and started bullying Sonia. They managed to patch things up before Clare left Walford in 1998.
Later on, Sonia had close friendships with Nicky di Marco and Kim McFarlane, but both have since left Walford.
Sonia's storylines were pretty much non-existent until her half brother, Billy, was kidnapped in 1997 by the people who he witnessed robbing a building society. The whole Jackson family (except Bianca) had to leave Walford and go into a witness protection program. Sonia returned several months later and began living with Robbie, Bianca and Bianca's husband, Ricky. Sonia returned to Walford to live with her sister in 1998, once the kidnappers had stood trial and been imprisoned.
In 2000, Sonia had a brief fling with Martin Fowler. After Carol's departure and Sonia's new romance with Jamie Mitchell, a stunned Sonia gave birth to a daughter on October 26 2000. Baby Chloe was a result of Sonia's one-night stand with Martin (although Sonia didn't know that she was pregnant), and was subsequently given up for adoption.
Sonia's relationship with Jamie survived this, and they fell in love. Sonia began to grow an obsession with her daughter, and after tracking down her whereabouts, she abducted her and locked herself in her house. Despite all the pleas of Chloe's (now renamed Rebecca) adoptive parents and other residents of Albert Square, it was Sonia's step-grandmother Dot who managed to persuade her to hand the little girl over, after a tearful heart-to-heart which also revealed Dot's secrets (she had an Abortion at a young age).
Sonia and Jamie got engaged, but due to the consequences of Jamie's fling with Zoe Slater and constant rowing, the pair split up. Sonia began to date kind-souled Gus Smith, who was planning to propose, but was left ripped apart after Sonia decided to give it another go with Jamie, after Phil Mitchell burst into the Jacksons household wanting to know where his daughter Louise was, and kept on kicking Jamie in the head while on the floor, he kicked Jamie every time the last two words of the sentence were mentioned. Jamie was brutally injured with Sonia coming to his aid after Phil retreated, with these events leading to him to become her fiancé for the second time.
This happiness was short-lived, as Sonia's ex-lover, Martin, accidentally ran over Jamie in his car. After keeping a bedside vigil, Jamie died on Christmas Day. Sonia found it hard to let go of Jamie.
Sonia eventually managed to forgive Martin for all their past differences, and they reconciled. After declaring their love for one another, the pair eloped and got married.
Just months later, Martin woke up in the bed of a barmaid, Sarah Cairns, who he'd been drunkenly flirting with the night before. Sarah began to stalk Martin and became best friends with his wife Sonia, convincing herself that Martin truly loved her even though he told her otherwise. One night, Sarah admitted the truth to Sonia, in the hope that the pair would separate and Martin would go to her. Instead, Sonia tearfully forgave Martin, and while shouting at Sarah to tell her why Martin was 'the one', she snapped and revealed that Martin didn't actually have Sex with her, and only fell asleep in her bed. Sarah then stabbed Martin, Sonia acted quickly by hitting Sarah with Pauline's fruit bowl. Sarah was taken away to hospital and nothing has been mentioned of her since.
The Fowler marriage came under even more pressure as they discovered that their daughter's adoptive parents had been killed in a car crash. Concerned for their child's welfare, they posed as friends of the dead couple to Rebecca's adoptive grandmother, who told them to get out of her granddaughter's life after discovering the truth.
Martin's mother, Pauline, found out that Martin and Sonia had been in contact with Rebecca, and she tracked her biological grandchild's home down and eventually persuaded Rebecca's adoptive grandmother to allow her to see Rebecca regularly. After a fight broke out when Martin and Sonia found out, Pauline decided it was time to say goodbye to her granddaughter.
In October 2005, just months after last seeing Rebecca, Pauline accidentally sent a birthday card of Sonia's, that was actually for Rebecca which was supposed to be sent years before. Margaret (Rebecca's adoptive grandmother) turned up at the Fowler house thanking Martin and Pauline for the card, and asked if they'd like to go to Rebecca's birthday party. They agreed to keep it from Sonia, and agreed. When Martin told Sonia the truth, the strain of their marriage increased. Then with the arrival of Sonia's friend Naomi Julien, their marriage turned into a spiral downfall. Sonia and Naomi constantly spent time together and Martin was feeling left out. On 28 November 2005, Sonia, after furious rows with Martin, turned to Naomi for comfort and kissed her but regretted it straight away.
Martin discovered this but with the persuasion from Naomi he forgave her, although Sonia's attitude to her and Martin's lifestyle continued to place strain on their marriage. They eventually agreed to split just before Christmas 2005, at the same time that Rebecca was brought to stay at their house by Pauline Fowler after her foster grandmother Margaret fell ill. The pair agreed to remain together temporarily for Rebecca's sake although this quickly became more than temporary for a while.
Relationship with Naomi Julien
In August 2005, Sonia struck up a friendship with fellow trainee nurse, Naomi Julien. Martin became extremely jealous of the amount of time Sonia was spending with Naomi, however Sonia refused to give up her new best-friend and so Martin had to put up with being delegated to the sidelines. In November 2005, Sonia was surprised when Naomi planted a tender kiss on her lips as she had previously been unaware that she was gay, nevertheless she returned the kiss only to panic later and deny that it meant anything to her. Sonia grew distant from Naomi for a while following their kiss, but they eventually patched things up and agreed to remain friends. However, Martin and Sonia's marriage has took a rapid downward spiral over the next few months and their continuous bickering left them both feeling extremely unhappy in their relationship, which only sought to worsen when Rebecca left in mid-February 2006. Sonia began to imagine what life would be like with Naomi and in March 2006, Sonia kissed her again during Garry Hobbs' birthday party. Naomi initially felt that Sonia was playing with her feelings. However, Sonia soon confessed that she was in love with Naomi, and she left Martin soon after to move in with her.
The breakup of Sonia's marriage and her new lesbian relationship sent shockwaves around the Square and her grandfather refused to speak to her after discovering it, although they appear to have since reconciled their differences. Her relationship with Martin continues to be hostile, and their shared friends are currently finding themselves caught in the middle of their feud as they fear that any display of support to one will alienate the other.
Sonia's relationship with Naomi has subsequently ruined her chances of being legal guardian to Rebecca. The pair have since split up, resulting in Sonia being thrown out.
Divorce and reunion
On October 17, 2006, Sonia and Martin received their divorce papers. However, they soon got back together and kept their relationship a secret.
On Rebecca's 6th birthday, Pauline had organised a birthday party and deliberately did not invite Sonia. Martin invited her, so she could go after all. Sonia purchased a cake for Rebecca but Pauline told Sonia that it was not good, so Sonia left the cake at Dot's. Dot knew that Pauline was planning to make her own cake for Rebecca so she helped Sonia make a brand new cake, which Martin, Joe and Rebecca loved. Pauline deliberately dropped the cake on the floor and let her dog, Betty, eat it, which left Rebecca upset. Sonia and Martin rushed back to the house where the cake was still wrapped and ready. Before Patrick and Jim could eat it, the pair snatched it and ran to Pauline's house. Everybody knew that Pauline had dropped the cake to spite Sonia.
Dot and Joe eventually found out that Martin and Sonia were together again, but decided not to tell Pauline. Pauline found out when she overheard Dot, Joe, Martin and Sonia venting their frustrations about her. Sonia argued that Pauline had purposely kept Rebecca away from her.
Martin ended their relationship when he found out that Pauline was dying of a brain tumour. This was in fact a lie made up by Pauline, who was determined to split up Martin and Sonia. Martin, Joe and the whole square eventually found out about Pauline's lie and Martin responded by moving into Dot and Jim's house with Rebecca and Joe. Sonia and Martin told Rebecca that they were her actual parents and she was thrilled when Rebecca called her mummy.
On Christmas Day 2006, Martin proposed to his ex-wife again, and Sonia accepted and agreed to keep the news confidential, until she told Pauline during a violent row about her upcoming departure. Pauline continually insulted Sonia who responded by slapping her. She quickly apologised for her action and begged Pauline to stay, but instead Pauline told Sonia to leave. Sonia returned to The Queen Vic and lied to Martin when he inquired about her whereabouts. As the residents of the Square went outside to enjoy the snow, Martin Fowler, Dot Branning, Ian Beale, Jim Branning and Sonia stared in horror as they discovered Pauline's body under the Christmas tree. Sonia believed it was her, and, when she saw Martin attack Joe she confessed.
A distraught Rebecca slipped away from the funeral procession. Dot followed her and explained that Pauline had gone to heaven. Rebecca blurted out that Sonia sent her there, which shocked Dot. Dot decided to phone the police and when they arrived they stopped the funeral.
After a much heated argument with Martin, with revelations of keeping Rebecca quiet so she wouldn't tell, and Martin trying to get Sonia to show him how she hit Pauline, Sonia tried to keep things under control, after Jim interrupted the fight. Going to get some tea, Sonia didn't notice Martin slip out, and panicked when she found him gone. Rushing to the Brannings', Sonia found Rebecca missing from her bedroom, only to then find her and Martin back in the Fowler household.
Rebecca heard the argument between Martin and Sonia, which ended up in Martin telling Sonia that since she took someone away from him (Pauline), he would take someone away from her (Rebecca). In a blind rage, Sonia finally slapped Martin, who took this to be the amount of force used on Pauline, then resulting in Martin lunging at Sonia and throwing her out into the street. The police arrived, as Martin phoned them on his way back to the Fowlers', and arrested Sonia on the charge of the murder of Pauline. Sonia was pulled into the police car and driven away.
Sonia spent a few days in prison but with a some help from a lawyer, provided by Phil she was released. Most of the residents suspected her of murder and even refused to talk to her. The results of Pauline's post-mortem confirmed that she was killed by a severe blow to the head. Martin and Phil both heard the results which made Martin go to the Branning's and find Sonia himself. Phil however immediately phoned Sonia who was hiding as she saw the police cars outside her house. They met up at the Arches where Phil told her she'd been charged for murder and that she had to make the decision to leave the Square.
Sonia spent the night at the Arches and hid from the police. Phil arranged for her to flee Walford but she decided to hand herself in because she could not bear being separated from Rebecca. Martin, Ian, Dot and Jim went to attend Pauline's funeral but Rebecca remained behind with Jane. Sonia convinced Jane to let her see Rebecca so she could say goodbye to her. After regaining Rebecca's trust, her and Sonia slipped out of the back door and jumped into a car while Martin (who had just returned from the funeral) chased them until the car sped off out of sight.
Sonia eventually returned to Walford with Rebecca, after Martin had kidnapped Ben Mitchell and demanded that Phil phone Sonia and make her return.
On 26 January Sonia was arrested again, only for Dot to find out the same night that Pauline's husband Joe was Pauline's true killer.
After a telephone conversation with Bianca, Sonia decided that for Martin's and Rebecca's sake it would be better of she left Walford for Manchester. On 1 February, 2007 Dot and Jim threw a farewell party for her in the Vic. She and Martin later shared a kiss with each other, but it did not change her mind about leaving. She said her goodbyes to Martin, Jim and Dot and gave Rebecca a picture of the two together. Sonia left in tears and was shocked when she saw Martin and Rebecca sitting on the road in front of the cab she was in. The three decided that they needed each other and they left happily, along with Pauline's dog Betty, on 2 February, 2007.
On 11 June 2007, Bianca told Dot that Martin and Sonia had gone to Florida with Rebecca to visit Michelle and decided to tour the USA.
In September 2007, when Dot bought a computer, Dot talked to Martin and Sonia through an instant messaging application.
- "Helpdesk", bbc.co.uk. URL last accessed 2007-03-03
- Sonia Fowler at bbc.co.uk