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 King was born in 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. Athough 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.
In January 1988, upon Tom's redundancy, he and Pippa moved to Summer Bay. They bought the Caravan Park and moved into Summer Bay House. Tom and Pippa were proud foster parents, having their foster son Frank and began fostering several teenagers of troubled backgrounds such as Sally Keating, Steven Matheson, Carly Morris, Sophie Simpson and Lynn Davenport. Pippa became pregnant and had a son Christopher in August 1988 (Episode 156).
1990-1998EditIn April 1990, Pippa was devastated when Tom died at the wheel of a car after a heart attack (Episode 525). They had had a long and happy marriage. 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. Michael's son Haydn lived with them for a while before he returned to the city to live with his mother. In 1993 (Episode 1176), they 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, but with the help of some counselling they managed to sort their problems out. Tragically for Pippa, widowhood was just over the hill. In April 1996 (Episode 1912), Michael died in a drowning accident.
In 1997, Ian Routledge moved into the Summer Bay caravan park. In a curious case of déjà vu, he and Pippa fell for each other. Perhaps wisely, seeing as she had already buried two husbands in Summer Bay, they moved away and settled in the Carrington Ranges. They married in 1999 and now have a daughter.
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 shortlised 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 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 met on the set of Home and Away and tied the knot in 1992. When she became pregnant with their first child, 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.
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. By all accounts, she is very talented in the kitchen. She supplied the Bayside Diner with a seemingly endless supply of cakes and meat loaves.
Father Bert King
Mother Coral King
Siblings Danny King