Didier Baptiste (Tom Redhill [Sacha Grunpeter]) 1999-2000
First Regular Appearance: 3.16 (#156) Thursday 11th November 1999
Last Regular Appearance: 4.7 (#209) Sunday 12th November 2000
Duration: EP: 156 - 209 ½ SE: 3.16 – 4.7
Squad Number/Position: #21 / #4 (Centre Defence) (1999-2000)
Last Seen: Leaving Harchester in disgrace for Olympique Marseille, after expulsion from the team over his match fixing.
Didier’s skill in Defence and his ability to remain cool under pressure sought him the attention of several of France’s top flight clubs. Off the pitch however, Didier always cut a lonely figure as his laid back approach set him aside from his team mates, who considered it hard work getting to know him. In fact, the only team mate he bonded with was Luis Amor Rodriguez when they played together at Monaco in the early 90's, with Ray Wyatt coaching.
Didier’s proudest achievement of his playing career came when he was part of the International side that won the World Cup in 1998. By the following year, Didier had become disillusioned with life in the French League, and only a few years away from his planned retirement at age thirty, he began looking for a move to an English Premiership side. Harchester registered their interest alongside Arsenal, and some papers even put Liverpool in the frame(!). With United, Didier knew he’d be used to his full potential, with Luis as boss and a gap in Centre Defence following the loss of Leon Richards in the recent plane crash. Harchester paid AS Monaco £3.5M for Didier, but Michael Dillon wasn’t too happy with the purchase - needless to say losing his position as captain and his fiancée Ann devoting all of her time to her new client.
When Luis goes into rehab following an injury, Gordon Gallagher is appointed caretaker by his old chum Jerry Block. Gordon’s old-fashioned formation doesn’t sit well with Didier and a string of disagreements follow, with Didier’s chances for Euro 2000 becoming seriously hindered. Victoria, Didier’s estranged wife is the next to add to his problems, when she turns up and demands a hefty divorce settlement. Without selection for Euro 2000, Didier will not have the money, and in a desperate place, he takes a bribe from Prashant Dattani to see that Harchester are relegated. At the last game of the season against Spurs, a penalty kick meant a miss would send the Dragons crashing out of the Premiership. Didier does what he must, but the day is saved when Luis sends the ball to the back of the net seconds later.
When it is learnt what Didier took part in, Ray, now in the managerial role full-time, feels betrayed by the man with whom he shared a father-son bond. Paul Hankin refuses to let the story go, and with pictures of Didier in a secret meeting with Prash, the FA begin to investigate. Didier spirals further into despair and takes an overdose, then to be rescued by Ray. In order to avoid the club facing match fixing sanctions, Harchester explain the meeting as Didier and Prash being in a secret gay relationship, which the FA believe and take the allegations no further.
Didier’s days at Harchester United are numbered, with Chairwoman Lynda wanting him out following the deception. Marseille come in with an attractive package, which Didier is made to take. While Victoria stays behind to sink her claws deeper into Prash, we later hear Didier has been put out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg.
Shortly after Didier’s on-screen arrival in November 1999, a fictional story appeared on fansite ArsenalShorts, which told of how Liverpool had put in a bid of £3.5M for Didier. The story somehow came to be viewed as an Exclusive and was printed by The News of the World, The Times, The Guardian (who had their own pricing for Baptiste at £1M) and various sports sites. Jane Hewland said at the series’ end in 2007 that she thought it had been the best publicity the show had ever had, apart for when Jordan did the show in 6.23: Bending the Truth.
Sacha Grunpeter used the stage name Tom Redhill during his time on Dream Team. In July 2005 he was working on the film “Tracing Cowboys” in Los Angeles, which he was also producer and screenwriter of. On the final day of filming he was involved in a car accident which claimed his life, and the film was to be released in 2008. However, it wasn’t until February 2007 that the great majority of Dream Team fans learned of his death, when a poster came onto harchester.net’s forum and revealed the news.