Two pippas

Pippa, as played by Vanessa Downing from 1988-1990 (L) and Debra Lawrance 1990-1998 (R)

Phillipa "Pippa" Routledge (previously Ross and Fletcher, nee King) [1] (OAM) is a character in Home And Away from January 1988 (Pilot Episode) to March 1998 (Episode 2343), with guest appearances in 2000, and every year from 2002 to 2009. Her last appearance was in April 2009 Episode 4840.

Pippa, also known as Pip was an original character and the series matriarch figure, beginning from the pilot episode. She was married three times and widowed twice throughout the series. Pippa was played by Vanessa Downing from 1988 to 1990 and by Debra Lawrance from 1990 to 2009. The quick recasting of Pippa has become quite iconic in itself due to Vanessa and Debra not resembling each other in any way. Former Prisoner star Jackie Woodburne was also shortlisted for the role of Pippa. She went on instead to become long-running character Susan Kennedy in Neighbours. One more little known fact is that Carol Willesse originally played Pippa in the 1987 pilot of the show but quit the role. Instead, Vanessa won the role. Pippa was awarded the ORDER OF AUSTRALIA for services to foster parenting and is one of the few fictional characters to be awarded such an honour.


Pippa Ross
Character Profile
Birthday: 30 September 1950
Birthplace: Sydney
Father: Bert King
Mother: Coral King
Siblings: Danny King
Spouse: Tom Fletcher (1969-1990)
Michael Ross (1991-1996)
Ian Routledge (1999-)
Children: Christopher Fletcher (1986)
Sally Fletcher (adoptive, 1989)
Dale Ross (1993)
Unnamed daughter (2000)
Occupation: Manager of Summer Bay Caravan Park
Played By: Vanessa Downing (1988-1990)
Debra Lawrance (1990-2009)


Pippa King was born in 30 September 1950 in Sydney, the youngest child of Bert and Coral King. Pippa had an older brother - Vietnam War veteran Danny who was 4 years older than her. Having sustained war injuries, he was in a wheelchair. Tom Fletcher was Danny's best friend. Although Pippa knew she was in love with him straight away, she thought he'd never see her as anything other than his friend's kid sister. Still, they got together and married in 1969. Pippa trained as a nurse but by the time Home and Away began, she was no longer working as one. Pippa and Tom lived in Sydney and began to foster children. Their first foster child was Frank Morgan and over time they added to the family.


In January 1988, upon Tom's redundancy, he and Pippa moved to Summer Bay. One of the main reasons being that social services were threatening to split up their foster family. By this stage, Frank had been joined by Sally Keating, Steven Matheson, Lynn Davenport and Carly Morris. They bought the Caravan Park and moved into Summer Bay House. Tom and Pippa went on to foster local tearaway Bobby Simpson and her adoptive sister Sophie. Bryan Forbes (Dodge) was a rare failure but then it's not every day someone is given a soon-to-be convicted murderer to foster.

Unexpectedly, Pippa became pregnant and had a son Christopher in August 1988 (Episode 156).

Pippa and Tom had a long and happy marriage, though it did have its ups and downs. At one point, a devious shark-hunter called Zac Burgess led some of the locals to believe that he was having an affair with Pippa. This put a strain on the Fletchers' marriage but the truth came out in the end.


H&a pippa 1993

(pictured 1993) Debra Lawrance, in her early days as Pippa who became then known as Pippa Ross

In April 1990, Pippa was devastated when Tom died suddenly from a heart attack. He was at the wheel of their car at the time, with Stephen, Bobby and Sophie as passengers (Episode 525). She later had to gently turn down Donald Fisher, who had developed romantic feelings for her in the aftermath of Tom's death. (Shortly after this, the changeover from Vanessa Downing to Debra Lawrance took place)

In October 1990, Michael Ross moved to Summer Bay and into the Caravan Park. After initially being torn between her attraction to Michael and her guilt over moving on from Tom, they became a couple. They married in April 1991 (Episode 757). They carried on the tradition of fostering wayward teens, taking in Finlay Roberts, Damian Roberts, Shannon Reed, Sam Marshall and Jack Wilson. The Rosses briefly fostered the scheming Tracey Turner in 1991 but she asked to leave when she was caught red-handed plotting against Sophie.

Michael's teenage son Haydn lived with them after the wedding but he later returned to the city to live with his mother. In 1993 (Episode 1176), Pippa and Michael had a son called Dale but he died of cot death (Episode 1221). Pippa and Michael's marriage nearly went to the wall in late 1994/early 1995, leading to Michael moving out briefly. One factor that led to their troubles was the surprise return of Haydn earlier in the year. Unbeknownst to them, he had developed a gambling addiction. His underhand behaviour led to Michael nearly losing his business and having a large financial debt placed on their shoulders.

With the help of some marriage counselling, they managed to sort their problems out and got back together again. Sadly, their happiness wasn't to last. In April 1996 (Episode 1912), Michael was drowned when saving Sam who had fallen into a heavily flooded river.

Pippa continued to foster even after Michael's death. She took in Liam Tanner, Justine Wells and Tiegan Brook. In 1997, Shannon's abusive boyfriend Kye knocked Pippa over and put her into a coma. When she came around, she had sustained some memory loss. One of the things she had to deal with all over again was Michael's death.

In 1997, widower Ian Routledge moved into the Summer Bay caravan park. He and Pippa fell for each other and he asked her to come with him when he had to leave again. She decided against it but when he returned again at the end of the year, she changed her mind. She left to go travelling with Ian but was never to return to Summer Bay permanently again. She sold the house and caravan park. This was probably a very wise decision, seeing as she had already buried two husbands in Summer Bay. She and Ian settled in the Carrington Ranges. They married in 1999 (off-screen) and now have a daughter.


Memorable infoEdit

Date of birth: 30 September 1950

Full Name: Phillipa "Pippa" Ross (Later Fletcher, nee King)

First Line "We never thought it would be easy." (to Mr Jarvis)

Last Line "Oh, it's always my pleasure, any time. Bye-bye." (to Leah)

Pippa is 3 weeks younger than friend Ailsa Stewart who died in 2000.

Carol Willesse played Pippa in the pilot scenes in July 1987 but would not commit to the show full time due to the hours so Vanessa won the role. The scenes were re-filmed just days after Carol left. It is not known if the Carol scenes were kept or wiped.

In 1990, future Neighbours star Jackie Woodburne was shortlisted for the recast role again, after her unsuccessful attempt in 1987. Yet again she lost out, this time to Debra Lawrance. Both Woodburne and Lawrence were in Prisoner together. In real life, they are close friends, with Jackie even being present at the birth of Debra's first child. In July 2018, Debra made her debut on Neighbours playing Jackie's sister.

On one occasion when both actresses who've played Pippa got together, they discussed the fridge in Summer Bay House. It seems it's not plugged in and it stinks. Think about that next time you see someone open the door and has something to drink out of it!

In real life, Debra Lawrance is married to Dennis Coard who played Pippa's second husband Michael. She and Dennis began secretly dating after he was cast on the show and the pair tied the knot for real in 1992. When she became pregnant with their first child in that same year, the show writers had to make Pippa pregnant too.

The actors who played all three of Pippa's husbands were born outside of Australia. Roger Oakley (Tom) is from New Zealand, Dennis Coard (Michael) is from Northern Ireland and Patrick Dickson (Ian) is English.

If you look carefully at some of the family photos in Summer Bay house after Debra Lawrance took over the role of Pippa, you might spot her head badly "photoshopped" onto the original Pippa's body.


Pippa is very nurturing and friendly, taking in wayward foster children from Steven Matheson to Jack Wilson. She can also be quite fiery and strong-willed. She sometimes bottles things up and can be quite stubborn.

By all accounts, she is very talented in the kitchen. She supplied the Bayside Diner with a seemingly endless supply of cakes and meatloaves. She is also a whiz with a sewing machine.


Father Bert King

Mother Coral King

Siblings Danny King

Spouse Tom Fletcher (1969-1990), Michael Ross (1991-1996), Ian Routledge (1999-present)

Children Christopher Fletcher, Dale Ross (deceased), Sally Fletcher (adoptive), unnamed daughter with Ian Routledge

Grandchildren Pippa Saunders (2002)

See alsoEdit

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.