This one has been rumored and speculated on for a while, but it was confirmed today. Head behind the cut to find out…
Martha Madison, who played Belle Black from 2004-2008, confirmed on her Internet radio show about soaps (yes, you read that correctly) that she’s back on contract with Days. Given the news that Jason Cook will be back as Shawn for this fall’s 50th anniversary — though seemingly not on contract — and the fact that Madison has remained close with the cast and crew (Dena Higley even recently followed Madison on Twitter), it isn’t a huge surprise, though it threw me that she’ll be on contract and not just popping in for a visit. She first airs on November 25, which means she’s probably already been filming and they actually kept this under wraps for a while.
I don’t know how I feel about this. Given the casting call that seems to be for a teenaged Claire, it makes sense for at least one of her parents to be around. And Madison always struct me as a perfectly capable actress who was somewhat miscast in a not-very-well-written role. I was so relieved when Belle and Shawn were written out in 2008, because for years, they dominated the show for no discernible reason. Rather than being two fleshed-out individuals who came together in a coupling that drew out their characters, they were just two halves of “Shelle.” Belle spent years limply waffling between Shawn and Philip because… she couldn’t handle being alone?
If they’re going to get them both onscreen to explain their breakup and then build Belle as a character in her own right, I’m open to it. If we’re just going to fall back into an endless spiral of Shelle, then no thanks. But Madison seems like a lovely person, so I’m glad that she’ll have work, and Belle is long overdue for a visit to Salem. I’m trying to figure out what they’d do with a single Belle. She can’t be paired with Brady or Eric on account of genetics. Chad is too young. Rafe? Daniel?! (God help us all.) Last we saw Belle, she had become a nurse, so playing her at the hospital and not rushing her into a pairing seems like a good idea, especially since she’ll have the Claire stuff to deal with.