Home And Away Soap Opera Wiki
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Norman Coburn as Donald Fisher in 1989, dressed as a punk.

Norman Coburn is a retired actor who played the role of Donald Fisher in the early years of Home and Away. He first appeared in the show's pilot and continued to be a member of the main cast until 2003. He made further guest appearances until 2007. He is now retired and lives on Bruny Island, Tasmania.[1]

Pre Home And Away career

Norman Coburn was born on the 6th March 1937 in Earlwood, Sydney, NSW, Australia.[2] He trained as an actor and moved to England in the late 1950s. He began his professional acting career in the UK and had minor roles on early British TV programmes such as Dixon Of Dock Green, Compact and possibly Coronation Street.[3] He had an uncredited role as a radio operator in Carry on Cruising (1962).

Norman was also a businessman who owned two restaurants in London. More unusually, he bought some land in Cornwall and planted a vineyard there [4]. It isn't known how well his attempts to grow grapes in the notoriously changeable English climate went but he eventually sold up and returned to Australia.

In the early 1980s Norman began to appear on Australian TV screens. Like many other Australian actors he popped up on A Country Practice and Sons and Daughters. He had a minor role in an Australian mini-series called 1915.

Home And Away 1988-2003, 2004, 2005, 2007

In 1987, Norman was cast as schoolteacher Donald Fisher in upcoming soap, Home And Away. Like many of the other veteran actors in the cast, they thought the soap would keep them in work for a few months before they had to turn around and start looking for work again. Filming on the pilot episode began in July 1987, then the regular series began in October. Originally, Donald was going to be a greedy town politician, but the writers changed his occupation. Home And Away was Norman's big break, at the ripe old age of 51. His face became known worldwide, especially in the UK where the show was getting 14 million viewers an episode at one point.

In 2003 Norman decided to leave H&A after 15 years. One of the things that prompted him to leave was the death of his dog. He had got it as a puppy when Home and Away began. Its death from old age made him stop and think. His character (who, incidentally, was 8 years younger than Norman) decided to retire. Donald moved away with his new lady friend June Reynolds (Rowena Wallace). Norman moved away too, retiring to Bruny Island in Tasmania.

Norman returned for brief guest appearances in 2004 and 2005. In 2007 he returned for 20 episodes and these were his last appearances on the show. In March 2022, Home and Away writer Dan Bennett revealed on Twitter that a 2015 dementia storyline for Donald was suggested but rejected by the network.

After Home And Away

Norman appeared in just two more TV roles after Home and Away. One was 2008's The Hollowmen. In 2019, he appeared in the Tasmanian based sitcom Rosehaven alongside former Home and Away co-star Debra Lawrance. [5]

Trivia

It is widely reported that Norman Coburn played a labourer in the long running British soap opera Coronation Street sometime in the 1960s. It is unclear if this actually happened or if the episode(s) in question are still in existence.

Coburn's daughter Nana Coburn has also appeared on Home and Away, playing two completely different roles. She first appeared in 1989-1990 as school bully Vicki Baxter. She returned in 1995 as Lisa Matthews.

For a photo of Norman from 2018, take a look at Debra Lawrance's Instagram page

Although Norman hasn't been on Home and Away since 2007, he is still one of the actors who has made the most appearances on the show. He appeared in over 1,500 episodes.

In a Twitter Q&A in March 2022, former H&A script editor Dan Bennett revealed that the writers and production team had planned out a dementia storyline for Donald. Alf would travel to visit Donald and he would ultimately pass away. This storyline didn't see the light of day, due to the production team 'not looking back at old legacy characters'.

Refs

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