Summer Bay legend Emily Symons has worked alongside many of Home and Away‘s most beloved locals in her 30 years as ditzy Marilyn Chambers, but the actress has revealed the old face she’d love to bring back the most – Donald Fisher.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, the Aussie soap favourite, who also spent seven years in Emmerdale as Woolpack landlady Louise Appleton, shared her dream to be reunited with her character’s former husband, the grumpy headteacher who found unlikely love with the kooky waitress.
“I would absolutely love a Don Fisher return story, that would be great,” she smiles. “I don’t think we’d ever get Norman Coburn back, though. Fisher was a very funny and charming character, and it would be really nice to see him and Marilyn together again as they are now – but not necessarily romantically.
“I’m not even sure if they’re meant to be in touch on the show, but I bet they’re still friends and I can imagine them catching up over a cup of tea or something. Plus he’s also still good mates with Alf so he could visit him as well. It’s a very old school reference, as are most of my references!”
‘Flathead’ Fisher was among the soap’s original cast when it began in 1988 and remained a regular until 2003. He returned for a few guest appearances, the last of which was in 2007, and veteran actor Coburn retired the following year.
Don’s brittle, strait-laced exterior softened when he fell for younger woman Maz and in 1996 the pair tied the knot. Sadly, their fairy-tale romance hit the rocks when their baby son Byron tragically died of cancer in 1998 and grief-stricken Mrs Fisher left the Bay shortly afterwards.
The estranged couple unexpectedly ran into each other in London in 2001 and finally found closure as they confronted their painful past. They saw each other again off screen when Fisher flew to the UK when his former wife was battling cancer, but by the time Marilyn returned to her old home full-time in 2010 her ex had moved away.
Unfortunately, Marilyn’s latest marriage has collapsed in the Bay of the present day following husband John Palmer’s devastating stroke. Unable to cope with being his carer, Maz finally admits it’s all over and moves out.
“She’s been kidding herself, soldiering on trying to make it work,” sighs Symons. “John gets a live-in carer called Amber who is amazing, then he’s the one who says they can’t do this any more and asks Marilyn to go. It’s very sad but allows her to move on and removes the burden. She literally walks out with one pink wheelie bag, it’s so sad.
“They’ve been through so much and it’s a shame they can’t fix it. I guess from Marilyn being in the siege and having PTSD to John’s stroke, it’s been a slippery slope.”
Homeless and feeling adrift now she and John are no more, Marilyn is taken in by old friends Alf Stewart and daughter Roo Stewart, which Symons says gives her alter ego a new direction – and some welcome light relief.
“She moves into the Summer Bay House and it’s a really happy place to be. Once we get the terribly sad scenes of her break-up with John out of the way we see a bit of the old Marilyn, it’s been super fun.
“As for her and John I don’t think there’s any hope for a reunion at this point. There is a lot of healing to be done, and he needs to recover and go back to as normal a life as possible so they can both move forward. We’ll see Marilyn gain strength from supporting Roo who has a big, emotional story coming up. Being a good friend allows her to find a new purpose.”