Home And Away Soap Opera Wiki

Judy Nunn as Ailsa in early 1988

Ailsa Stewart (née Hogan) [1]was a main character in Home And Away from the Pilot Episode (Jan 1988) to Ep 2960 (Nov 2000). She wed Alf Stewart in May 1988 (Ep 86) and they remained married until her sudden death from a heart attack.

Ailsa was played by Judy Nunn, who is now better known as an author. Interestingly, she was briefly recast for a month in mid-2000 (Ep 2848 - Ep 2868) while Judy Nunn was in hospital. During this time, she was played by Nancye Hayes and in true Home and Away fashion, nobody batted an eyelid.

Ailsa Stewart
Character Profile
Birthday: 14 September 1950 - 24 November 2000 (age 50)
Birthplace: Australia
Father: Harold O'Rourke
Mother: Mrs O'Rourke
Siblings: Bridget O'Rourke
Tony O'Rourke
Spouse: Alf Stewart (1988-2000)
Children: Shauna Bradley (1979)
Duncan Stewart (1986)
Occupation: Shopkeeper
Diner owner
Played By: Judy Nunn (1988-2000)
Nancye Hayes (2000)


Ailsa O'Rourke was born to Harold O'Rourke and his wife. Ailsa was of Irish descent through her father and had Scottish ancestry through her mother. She was one of 3 children - she had a brother Tony and a sister Bridget (later Jackson). Ailsa's father was a heavy drinker and used to beat his wife and children. One night in 1968 when Harold was attacking his wife with a broken bottle, Ailsa stabbed him to death with a carving knife. She was sent to prison for 3 years for manslaughter. The events of that fateful night in 1968 had a lasting effect on Ailsa. She moved around a lot over the next decade, never settling anywhere. While in jail, she was raped by a prison officer and gave birth to a daughter. Her daughter was adopted by her cellmate's sister and grew up as Shauna Bradley.



In January 1988, the now 37-year-old Ailsa was running a small shop in Summer Bay and dating widower Alf Stewart. That relationship wasn't really going anywhere, largely because Alf didn't want to upset his daughter Roo. When Alf and Ailsa got engaged, Roo's disapproval of Ailsa turned into spite. She found out through her aunt Morag that Ailsa had spent time in prison for manslaughter. Despite Roo's attempts to split them up, they secretly married (offscreen) in May 1988. She also became close friends with Pippa Fletcher who had moved to the area with her family. Before dating Alf, she briefly went out with Donald Fisher. Although that relationship didn't last, the pair went on to become good friends.

Soon after her wedding to Alf, The Macklin Group decided to develop a resort in Summer Bay. This led to tensions between the newlyweds because they had very different opinions on the development. Roo and Brett Macklin whipped trouble up behind the scenes because both had something to gain from the marital strife. It led to Alf and Ailsa having a terrible row and they split up. Ailsa moved to Sydney where she reconnected with a close friend called Graham Lynch. She then moved on to Singapore where she came to realise how lonely she was without Alf. When a tearful Alf rang her out of the blue and made a heartfelt speech, she returned home. The pair of them reaffirmed their marriage vows in front of their friends. Shortly afterwards, Ailsa found that she was pregnant. She and Alf had a son named Duncan in January 1989.

Ailsa sold her shop to Celia and decided to try something new. She and close friend Bobby Simpson opened the Bayside Diner and kept the residents of Summer Bay fuelled on a diet of hamburgers, meatloaves, carrot cake and milkshakes for years to come. In 1989, Ailsa and Alf took in Ailsa's wayward niece Emma Jackson. Emma was the daughter of Ailsa's sister Bridget and for many years, Ailsa hadn't even known she existed. Emma turned out to be the first of several youngsters who came to live with her and Alf.

Ailsa, Alf and the Deans in happier times

In 1990 brother and sister Blake and Karen Dean came to live with the Stewarts. They were the children of Ailsa's former prison cellmate Margot Dean, who had recently died of cancer. At first it looked like Blake would be the one who would cause the headaches but instead, Karen was the one who went off the rails in spectacular fashion. She was sent to prison for robbery and manslaughter in 1992, something that cut deep with Ailsa. Simon Fitzgerald moved in for a year but left to help his dad. Blake and Karen's half-sister Roxanne (Roxy) Miller lived with them for a while too, as did Sarah Thompson.

In May 1995 (Ep 1699), Ailsa was attacked and robbed at the Diner by a customer she had thrown out earlier. She went into shock and went on to have a breakdown. She started having hallucinations, most notably one where Bobby's head came out of the fridge (Ep 1709 and Ep 1710). It turned out that she had been taking depressants that were 6 years out of date and these had caused her to hallucinate. Free from these dodgy pills, Ailsa got help from a psychiatrist friend of Pippa's. It led to one brief wobble in her marriage to Alf, when she wondered whether she still loved him or not.

In 1999, Ailsa's adopted daughter Shauna came to Summer Bay

Ailsa suffers a fatal heart attack

In late 2000 the Diner moved premises. In Ep 2960 Ailsa was helping to move some boxes when she suffered a massive heart attack. She died in front of a horrified Alf. Her funeral took place in January 2001 (Ep 2961). Many Summer Bay residents gathered for her funeral but few relatives apart from Alf, Duncan and Shauna. Her brother Tony, sister Bridget and niece Emma did not attend her funeral. Ailsa's ashes were scattered at sea off the coast of Summer Bay.

Memorable info

Date of birth: 14 September 1950

Died: 24th November 2000 (aged 50) (heart attack, cardio)

Full Name: Ailsa Stewart (Née O'Rourke)

First Line: (whilst tap dancing) "Just practising my routine for the variety night." (to Doris Peters)

Last Line: Yeah (to Alf, after he suggests she takes a relaxing bath after work)


In a continuity error, in 2000, Ailsa said she was in prison 20 (or thereabouts) years ago when she was raped by a prison warder. This makes her pregnancy around 1979/1980 yet in 1988 She said she was sent to prison aged 16 and given 3 years. Ailsa was born in 1950 so would have been in prison from 1968/1969 to 1971/1972. Shauna Bradley was born about 1979 or 1980.

Bevan Lee, H&A scriptwriter and series script editor apparently named Ailsa after his friend Ailsa Piper. She is an actress who later starred in Neighbours as Ruth Wilkinson.

With Alf's remarriage to his first wife Martha, Ailsa seems to have been largely written out of the Home and Away annals.


Father Harold O'Rourke

Mother Mrs O'Rourke

Siblings Tony O'Rourke, Bridget Jackson

Spouse Alf Stewart (1988-2000)

Children Shauna Bradley (1979), Duncan Stewart (1986)

Nieces/Nephews Emma Jackson

See also