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TVW (US Soaps)
Jack on the box
When Days of Our Lives writers opted to take a page from the screwball comedies of the Thirties and Forties, they had no idea just how popular their maddest of madcap couples, Jennifer Horton (Melissa Reeves) and Jack Deveraux (Matthew Ashford), would become.

Now, after too long an absence for Days' fans, the original team is back in place and ready to wreak more mayhem and misunderstandings on the drama-fuelled folk of Salem.

"Jennifer and jack have always been the Bickersons," says Matthew Ashford, who returned to the role last year. "They have ridiculous arguments over nothing. They don't think they're silly, but anyone watching knows they are. And, of course, they make up only to fight again. But underneath, it's clear how much they adore each other."

The pair will return to Days a sense of hope that a solid marriage can survive anything -- even each other. "People want this couple to be happy," Matthew explains. "They want them to live happily ever after, so long as they still have these adventures!"

The Iowa native also has another theory on the couple's popularity: they're funny. He says even in the context of a dramatic soap, humour is a vital ingredient. "There are enough characters traipsing across the screen in an hour who are filled with anger or fear or angst, and there should be someone during that hour to whom a viewer can relate."

Matthew left the soap in the autumn of 1993 to concentrate on stage acting, joining the prestigious Interact Theatre Company headed by former co-star Marilyn McIntyre (Jo, Days). "As an actor trained for the stage, to be able to build and create characters is a joy," he says. "You can take chances on stage that people in film or TV can't."

Matthew might have been on top of his game under stage lights, but Days' fans would argue the show suffered in his absence. Thankfully, after eight years of wooing by the soap's producers and fans, the real jack is finally back. "It means a lot to me that so many people were happy that I was here again. I appreciate that so many fans are still behind me."

Karre Jacobs -- in Los Angeles

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