H&A don punk

Norman Coburn as Donald Fisher in 1989, dressed as a punk.

Norman Coburn is an Australian-born actor, who has worked locally and in the United Kingdom. He played the role of Donald Fisher. Donald was a grumpy, but later compassionate high school teacher in Summer Bay High School. Over time he became deputy principal and eventually the principal of the school . He was an original character and appeared in Home and Away from 1988 to 2003. He made returns to the show in 2004, 2005 and 2007. He is now retired and lives on Bruny Island, Tasmania.[1]

Pre Home And Away careerEdit

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, where he owned a vineyard and worked as a restaurateur. He started his professional performing career there and had minor roles on early British TV programmes such as Dixon Of Dock Green, Compact and possibly Coronation Street.[3]

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's not known if his attempts to grow grapes in the English climate succeeded. He was married to a former dancer named Tina at the time.

In the early 1980s he 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, 2007Edit

In 1987, Norman got the role of Donald Fisher in upcoming soap, Home And Away. It was originally planned as only a small stint. Whether Norman applied for or was selected for the role is unknown. Norman began filming for the pilot episode in July 1987. Originally the character was to be a greedy town politician, but the writers changed his occupation to headmaster of the local High School. Along with the rest of the cast, Norman began the filming of the regular series in October of that year.

Home And Away was Norman's big break. He instantly became a household name in Australia and across the world, especially in the UK where the show was getting 14 million viewers an episode. The character of Donald Fisher was several years younger than Norman Coburn. In 1987 when he landed the role, Coburn was 50 whereas Donald was 42.

In 2003 Norman decided to leave H&A after 15 years. And so, the character of Donald retired and moved away from the Bay with June Reynolds (Rowena Wallace). Norman retired to Bruny Island in Tasmania where he still resides.

Norman returned briefly in 2004, 2005 and for a longer stint in 2007.

After Home And AwayEdit

Coburn has appeared in theatre roles. In 2019, after 11 years away from the screen Norman appeared in a guest role on series Rosehaven alongside former Home and Away co-star Debra Lawrance. The show is set in Tasmania, where Coburn now resides. [5]


It is widely reported that Norman Coburn played a labourer in the long running British soap opera Coronation Street sometime in the 1960s. The show has been on air since December 1960 and Norman was based in England at the time. It's quite likely that be that the episode he appeared in has not been repeated since its original broadcast. When Granada Plus started showing reruns of Coronation Street, they started from April 1976 onwards. Over 900 episodes of Corrie were made during the 1960s. He may have been uncredited as it was probably a minor role.

Coburn's daughter Nana Coburn has also been on Home and Away, playing two completely different roles. She first appeared in 1989-1990 as school bully Vicki Baxter in 1989-90. She was back again in 1995 as Lisa Matthews in 1995.

For a relatively recent photo of Norman, take a look at Debra Lawrance's Instagram page


  1. Summer Bay Reunion! Bobby goes back to the Bay as Home and Away's Fisher Family return to the shores of Palm Beach
  2. Norman Coburn (Wikipedia)
  3. Norman Coburn (IMDB)
  4. Wine hopes for UK (1970 Canberra Times article about Normal Coburn)
  5. Rosehaven Episode 3.2
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