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Home and Away’s pilot stars now – year without s*x, co-star daughter and drink driving

Fans of Home and Away were devastated to learn that the season finale means there won’t be any new episodes for a while, but Channel 5 has promised it will air vintage episodes of the drama this month and the following.

Ray Meagher, the lead of the Australian soap opera Alf Stewart, had his debut appearance in the first episode to air in 1988.

With Home and Away ready to celebrate its 35th anniversary in January, we’re looking at where the stars of the premiere episode are now. Summer Bay was a very different place back then.


They’ve experienced everything, from Hollywood celebrity to drunk driving charges to abandoning fame.

Richard Oakley

From 1988 until 1990, Tom Fletcher, played by New Zealand actor Roger Oakley, shot to prominence. In 2008, Oakley returned to the show for a special cameo.

Since moving away from the Bay, he has received praise for his performances in shows including Sleeping Dogs, My Year Without S*x, and the stage rendition of My Fair Lady.

In 2008, the same year he returned to Home and Away, Roger even made an appearance as Jim Parker in the competing soap opera Neighbours.

Virginia Downing


While performing with The Madgrials, an a cappella singing ensemble at the Sydney Opera House, Vanessa Downing landed the role in Home and Away.

She was cast in the soap opera as foster mother Pippa Fletcher, despite having roles in Sons and Daughters and Motormouth.

It’s interesting to note that the celebrity beat out Jackie Woodburne, a future Neighbours actor who also applied for the Pippa part.

Now that Vanessa works as a lawyer for the company Craddock Murray Neumann, she balances her acting career with a profession that is entirely different.


She wed the director of photography Rodney Fischer.

Ritchie, Kate



It’s hard to believe that Kate Ritchie created the role of Sally Fletcher on Home and Away when you look at her now.

20 years after the premiere episode aired, Kate quit the role in 2008 after winning two Gold Logie awards for it. It’s tough to think of anything she hasn’t done since then, from singing on It Takes Two with celebrities to hosting her own radio programme.

But the celebrity’s life hasn’t always been simple; in 2019, her spouse, St. George Illawara Dragons player Stuart Webb, was involved in a domestic dispute with her.


Police issued him with an Apprehended Violence Order, which forbids him from stalking, intimidating, assaulting, or threatening Kate. It further states that he must wait at least 12 hours after using illicit drugs or alcohol before approaching Kate.

A daughter was born to the couple in 2014.

When Kate was pulled over for drunk driving in August 2022, her licence was suspended for three months.

Kirk Thomson

Craig Thomson became well-known for his four years as the town troublemaker Martin Dibble on Home and Away.

The actor wanted to start a pop music career like Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan from the television show Neighbours, but his 1990 single was a commercial failure.

I Want You to Want Me by Cheap Tricks was covered on the record, while the B-side was titled Foolish Pride.

Coburn, Norman

Norman Coburn has made a number of sporadic appearances in the soap opera Home and Away, where he is best known for playing headmaster Donald Fisher.

He decided to stop acting in 2008, at least until he costarred with his Home and Away co-star Debra Lawrence in Rosehaven in 2019.

In addition to his own celebrity, Norman is a co-star alongside his famous daughter.

Vicki Baxter and Lisa Matthews were both played by Nana Coburn in the TV show Home and Away.

The family moved to England, where after leaving the film business, Norman managed a vineyard in Cornwall.

Meagher, Ray

As Alf Stewart from the very first episode, Ray Meagher is a well-known face on Home and Away.

He has experienced his fair share of health issues, so it hasn’t always been simple for him.

Ray was rushed to the hospital in 2019 because he was experiencing chest pain. His coronary artery had three serious blockages, according to the doctors.

He had a triple heart bypass operation, followed seven months later by another surgery.

It was simply the result of bad living for 40 years and excessive enjoyment, he admits.

Ray didn’t let the invasive surgery slow him down; eight weeks later, he was back at work.

I still occasionally consume more beer than is considered healthy, but I now drink a lot less beer overall.

“You know when you get together with friends and have a little chat and a drink or two? I occasionally still enjoy those nights.”

After a covert wedding ceremony in 2010, Ray wed Gilly, a former nurse, who he claims has “saved his life” numerous times.


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