Marilyn Chambers (Home and Away)
|Home and Away character|
|Portrayed by||Emily Symons|
|Duration||1989–92, 1995–99, 2001, 2010–|
|First appearance||18 May 1989|
|Introduced by||Des Monaghan (1989)
John Holmes (1995)
Julie McGauran (2001)
Cameron Welsh (2010)
|Occupation||Waitress (1989, 1992, 2010–)
Shop assistant (1990–92)
Child minder (1991, 2000–10)
Salon owner (1995–99)
Hairdresser (1995-99, 2010–)
Fortune teller (2010–)
|Home||Summer Bay House|
Marilyn Chambers (previously Bryant and Fisher) is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Home and Away, played by Emily Symons. She made her first on-screen appearance on 18 May 1989. Symons departed in 1992, but she returned in 1995 and stayed for four years. She made a brief return in 2001. Marilyn's storylines have included being married twice, suffering from post-natal depression, losing her son and developing cancer. She has been described as bubbly, ditzy and sweet. In 2010, it was announced that Symons would be returning to Home and Away and Marilyn returned in March.
Dannii Minogue auditioned for the role of Marilyn, but she was given the role of Emma Jackson and Emily Symons was cast instead. Symons made her first screen appearance as Marilyn in 1989. The actress quit Home and Away in 1992 to marry Nick Lipscombe. Three years after separating from Lipscombe, Symons returned to the soap. She stayed for another four years, before announcing her departure in 1999, so she could move to the England to be with her fiance. She filmed her last scenes towards the end of the year. In 2001, Home and Away came to the United Kingdom to film some special episodes to help celebrate the show's return to British screens. Symons re-joined the cast as Marilyn for the London filming. On her return Symons said "When I left Home and Away two years ago I actually asked for my character Marilyn to be killed off. Now I'm glad they didn't."
Marilyn is described as the "ditzy chick-next-door" who has a heart of gold, but lacked a "bit of common sense". Holy Soap called Marilyn "bubbly" and a "Dizzy blonde beautician". Marilyn is known for her bouffant hairstyle and her "daring" dress sense. Of this Symons said "Marilyn is who she is and doesn't care what anybody thinks. In her mind that's how a lady of her age would dress – she thinks it's absolutely normal and is proud of her style, although Colleen definitely disapproves!" When asked if she would like Marilyn to receive a makeover, Symons said that she does not want to see her character change. She explained that Marilyn would not be Marilyn and a makeover would not be "true to the character."
Symons described the 2010 Marilyn as "still the bubbly, positive, energetic and slightly bonkers '80s chick, but more spiritual". She added that Marilyn has done a lot of soul searching and feels that she now has a reason to come back. She has a new lease on life and she is embracing religions, magic and tribal beliefs. Her "ultra positive outlook" on life and her vegan food annoyed Miles Copeland (Josh Quong Tart), but they soon got used to living together. Holy Soap also said that Marilyn has known "severe heartache" after she lost her son, Byron to cancer, divorced Donald and is now seriously ill. Yahoo!7 say that she is still "tender" over Byron's death, but she has come to realise that life is for living. Marilyn's best friend, Mitzy Fraser (Helen Dallimore), is a "kindred soul". She is a psychic, who helped Marilyn deal with her grief over Byron and her recovery from cancer. Dallimore described Marilyn as "sweet, open minded and trusting."
Marriage to Phil Bryant
Marilyn goes through "a tough time" when it comes to relationships until she meets Phil Bryant (Vince Martin), a "no-nonsense country bloke". Phil turns up in Summer Bay to drop off his teenage daughter, Toni (Kathryn Dufty), on a school exchange trip. When he almost collides with Marilyn and crashes his car, he is forced to stay in the area longer than planned. Marilyn takes an immediate liking to Phil and he is won over by her "bubbly personality." However, he does have doubts about how the relationship will work as Marilyn is twenty-four and he is forty. Marilyn eventually convinces him that he is the man for her and Martin explained, "Phil will bring her the stability she needs in her life. His maturity and her enthusiasm for life will make a nice balance. Besides, Marilyn's had her heart broken too often." After a few ups and downs, Phil asks Marilyn to marry him and she accepts. They are married and leave the Bay to start a new life together. Martin commented that the idea of Marilyn living on an isolated bush farm seemed unlikely and thought she would feel out of place. He added "On top of that, they've only known each other for a few weeks when they decide to marry. But if their love is strong enough, they'll make a go of it."
Marriage to Donald Fisher
One of Marilyn's most important story arcs saw her begin an unlikey relationship with Donald Fisher (Norman Coburn). When Marilyn decides to go back to school as a mature student to get her HSC, she and headmaster Donald grow close. Years later when she returns to Summer Bay the friendship continues and, to the shock of the local residents, they begin a romance. Their marriage was one of Home and Away's most shocking storylines as Donald was twice Marilyn's age. Of this, Symons said "Although the storyline of a girl's affair with a much older man was a controversial one, in the end it went down well with the viewers." Marilyn yearns to have a child and after a miscarriage and years of trying, she undergoes risky surgery in a bid to conceive. Marilyn eventually becomes pregnant, much to her and Donald's delight. Symons had to wear a fatsuit for the storyline and she told Inside Soap that it made her sympathetic to real mums-to-be. Marilyn goes into labour two weeks early with Vinnie Patterson (Ryan Kwanten) at her side. Symons explained the situation, "All of a sudden Marilyn doubles up in pain and realises that the baby is coming. It's all terribly dramatic it's down to Vinnie to try to get her to the hospital in time."
At the hospital, complications develop and put the baby's life in danger, so the doctors decide to put Marilyn under anaesthetic and perform a caesarean. The baby, a boy, is delivered safely, but when he is handed to Marilyn she does not understand why she was not awake for his birth. Marilyn is also upset that Donald missed the birth and Symons said "She's still in shock and a lot of pain - she can't quite believe it's all happened and that this baby is hers." Donald and Marilyn decide to call their new son, Byron Vincent. The traumatic birth leaves Marilyn in a "shattered state of mind" and she finds it difficult to form an emotional bond with Byron. Symons said that Marilyn discovers that being a mother is hard work and the situation will put pressure on Marilyn and Donald. She added that she was happy that her character had finally achieved her dream of having a child and once the shock wore off, she believed that Marilyn would be a great mother. Months later Byron is diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer and Marilyn and Donald's marriage begins to fall apart. They make the decision to leave Summer Bay and go to America to find treatment. During the trip, Byron dies, leaving Marilyn devastated. She lets Donald go back to Australia alone. A year later, the former couple reunite in London where they realise that their marriage is over.
In 2010, it was announced that Symons would be returning to Home and Away as a permanent cast member. The producers brought back the character of Marilyn after a meeting in mid-2009, which saw them decide to inject more comedy into the show. A suggestion to create a character just like Marilyn was put forward, but instead they chose to bring back the original character. Symons had returned to Australia in 2008 to care for her mother and the show's producers called her in September 2009, asking her to reprise the role of Marilyn. Of her decision to return, Symons said "I was very happy on the show and it's been a part of my life for so long; to come back to it is like coming back to a family." Symons added that she loves playing the character.
In meetings with scriptwriters, Symons made sure that they paid respect to her character's past, particularly the storyline where she lost Byron. Of this Symons said "With Marilyn there is so much history, so giving their son Byron some acknowledgement is important, just as its important to remember she was Mrs Bellingham's cleaner, that she worked in the shop with Alf and her storyline with Lance." The character's return marked the show's effort to lighten up the tone of recent plots and go back to the family-based storylines of the show's original layout. Marilyn returned to screens on 19 March 2010. Marilyn returns to Summer Bay with "a new lease on life" and a wooden ventriloquist's doll called Mr Oddly, which she decides to use for her new fortune telling business. Holy Soap explained that Marilyn has been "forever changed" by Byron's death and her cancer, but she is determined to live life to the full. Not long after her return, Marilyn begins a relationship with the local doctor, Sid Walker (Robert Mammone).
When Nicole Franklin (Tessa James) discovers she is pregnant, the first person she tells is Marilyn. Nicole later decides to give her baby to Marilyn and Sid Walker (Robert Mammone). However, becoming a mother is one of Marilyn's dreams and her obsession with this and her controlling behaviour becomes too much for Nicole. Of the situation, Symons said "Marilyn is in Nicole's face every minute. She's doing it out of love, but she doesn't realise she's becoming obsessed with the baby." Nicole is still unsure whether she is making the right choice about her child's future and she snaps at Marilyn. When Nicole begins seeing Angus McCathie (Tim Pocock), Marilyn is left worried about their agreement and she feels "distanced." Symons explained, "Marilyn is scared of being replaced. She's scared of losing the baby, which could happen because there isn't a legal agreement." Marilyn talks to Roo Stewart (Georgie Parker) and she comes to the realisation that she needs to step back from the situation. Symons added that there is "still a long way to go" with the arrangement. Marilyn is then supportive and on hand to help Nicole. Nicole gives birth to a baby boy, George, and she hands him over to Marilyn a couple of days later. George struggles with being parted from his real mother and Nicole tries to stay away, but he needs her. Marilyn then becomes obsessed with Nicole having the power to take her new son back.
Symons later revealed that Nicole struggles to switch off her mothering instinct after giving George away. Nicole comes to visit the baby and Marilyn catches her breastfeeding George, while she is alone with him. Symons called the scenes "volatile." Marilyn has already had reservations about Nicole spending time with the baby and she fears that Nicole is getting too close. Of the breastfeeding moment, Symons said "Marilyn is shocked and offended, and this cuts to the very core of her worries - that she doesn't have the same natural mothering instincts as George's birth mother. Without a doubt, Marilyn thinks Nicole is overstepping the mark. She feels that a boundary has been overstepped and it could put a big strain on their relationship." After the incident, Marilyn asks Nicole to stay away from the baby. Marilyn becomes aware of Nicole's increasing interest in George and the ideas that Angelo Rosetta (Luke Jacobz) has been putting into her head. Of this, Holy Soap said "Marilyn's world begins to unravel when she realises that Nicole intends to reclaim George and, after seeking advice from Morag, she's faced with the reality that she doesn't have a legal leg to stand on." Marilyn becomes desperate and tries to discredit Nicole and Angelo as parents, but convincing Sid is hard for her as he has not been 100 percent into the idea of raising George. Marilyn takes George and Symons said "She's emotionally fragile [and] we've seen her break down and then become very resolved about keeping George. What she does next is out of character for her and very irresponsible. It will definitely shock viewers."
Marilyn arrives in Summer Bay from Sydney to see her boyfriend, Lance Smart (Peter Vroom). When Lance hires a boat to impress her, he takes the wrong one and crashes it into Alf Stewart's (Ray Meagher) boat. Marilyn and Lance go missing, but Lance comes back okay and he tells his friends that Marilyn went back to the city. She comes back a few days later and tells Lance that she is going to stay and get a job. Lance thinks they are moving too fast and Marilyn tells him that she going on a date with his housemate, Martin Dibble (Craig Thompson) instead. Marilyn dumps Lance and moves into a hotel, but Lance wins her back when he gets her a job at The Diner. However, Marilyn begins working for Morag Bellingham (Cornelia Frances) instead. Lance introduces Marilyn to his mother, Colleen (Lyn Collingwood). When they start to get on too well, Lance becomes scared and breaks up with Marilyn. He then asks her to pretend she broke up with him, so Colleen does not come down hard on him. Colleen then believes that Marilyn broke Lance's heart. Marilyn dates Adam Cameron (Mat Stevenson), before meeting and marrying Phil Bryant. Phil's teenage daughter, Toni, initially dislikes Marilyn as she is much younger than her father. Marilyn leaves the Bay with Phil, but three years later she returns and reveals that she has separated from Phil. She then opens and works in her own Hair and Beauty Salon. Marilyn becomes friends with Steven Matheson (Adam Willits) and they eventually begin a relationship. However, it does not last and they decide to just be friends.
Marilyn decides to go back to school and she meets the Principal, Donald Fisher. They begin a relationship, which shocks the locals as Donald is twice Marilyn's age. They eventually get engaged and marry. Marilyn longs to have a child, but she has a miscarriage and is told that she is sterile. She decides to undergo surgery to conceive and she later becomes pregnant. After visiting Vinnie Patterson to get an astrology reading, Marilyn goes into labour two weeks early. Vinnie finds her and drives Marilyn to the hospital. Complications develop with the birth and Marilyn is put under anaesthetic, so doctors can perform a cesarean. Marilyn delivers a baby boy, but she is upset that she was not awake for the birth and that Donald missed it. To show her gratitude to Vinnie, Marilyn names the baby, Byron Vincent. Marilyn struggles with post natal depression and she leaves Donald and Byron. When she returns a few months later, she discovers that Donald has hired a nanny and becomes jealous of her. She later recovers and grows to love her son. Months later, Byron is diagnosed with liver cancer and Marilyn's marriage starts to break up. She and Donald find out about a treatment for Byron in America and they leave the bay. During the trip, Byron dies, which leaves Marilyn heartbroken and she lets Donald go back to Australia alone.
A few years later, Donald goes to London for a book launch and thinks he sees Marilyn. She later turns up at his book reading and when she runs from the room, Donald chases after her. Marilyn apologises to him and gets on a train. She calls him the next day and they meet up. Marilyn tells him that she has become a childminder to get over Byron. They talk and decide to end their marriage. Donald later learns that Marilyn has cancer and flies to London to support her.
Marilyn is driving back to the Bay, when she is forced to swerve her car after seeing Justin Jefferies (Matthew Walker) walking along the road covered in blood. Marilyn drives Justin to the hospital and then goes to find Alf at the Surf Club. He is happy to see her and he suggests that she stays at his house as she is almost family. Marilyn tells him that she has returned to the Bay for the foreseeable future. Miles, Romeo Smith (Luke Mitchell) and Nicole Franklin are overwhelmed by Marilyn and her new age ideas at first, but they get used to living with her. Marilyn starts having strange dreams about Miles' imaginary friend, Rabbit (Mitzi Ruhlman), and she later dreams about Byron. She tells Alf about her dreams, but he thinks she is taking them too seriously. She encourages Miles to get help. Marilyn reveals that she is ill and Alf and Miles ask her to help out in the bait shop as a distraction. However, she chooses to use the office space to open a fortune telling business instead. Colleen is not happy about the business and she writes to the Coastal News about it. Marilyn is upset, until Miles brings her first customers, Nicole and Penn Graham (Christian Clark), along. Marilyn meets Sid Walker at the hospital and she gives him her business card. They go on a date and then begin a relationship.
Marilyn supports Nicole after she breaks up with Penn and Sid's son, Dexter (Charles Cottier) develops a crush on her. Marilyn encourages Sid to talk to Dexter about his feelings for her. Marilyn's best friend, Mitzy arrives in town and tells Marilyn that she knows the time, day and month of her death. Sid does not believe Mitzy and Marilyn is not happy that he is not taking it seriously. Mitzy tells Marilyn that she has lung cancer and she later dies from a stroke. Sid asks Marilyn to move in with him and his children. As her end date draws closer, Marilyn decides to give away her possessions and make goodbye DVDs, which makes Sid uncomfortable. On the day of death, Marilyn sees a pram fall into the water and she jumps in to rescue the baby. She starts to drown and Sid finds her and manages to revive her. Nicole tells Marilyn that she is pregnant and Marilyn later offers to adopt the baby. Marilyn comes to the belief that Sid and Roo Stewart fancy each other. Nicole becomes fed up of Marilyn trying to take over and Marilyn apologises, realising that she needs to think of Nicole too. Nicole gives birth on the beach and Marilyn meets her and the baby at the hospital. Marilyn takes the baby boy and she and Sid name him George. Marilyn bonds with the baby and she holds a naming ceremony for him. Nicole later decides that she wants George back, devastating Marilyn. Marilyn takes George and decides to go to London, but Roo talks her into giving George back to Nicole.
Marilyn and Sid's relationship suffers and they break up. Marilyn moves back into Summer Bay House and she decides to become a hairdresser again to raise some money. Marilyn becomes upset when Sid tells her that he is seeing Roo. The two women argue, but eventually call a truce. Following a tarot card reading for Elijah Johnson (Jay Laga'aia), Marilyn briefly believes they should be together romantically. Sid opens up to Marilyn and reveals that he has another daughter called Sasha (Demi Harman). Elijah later introduces Sasha to Marilyn and she asks for a job. Marilyn supports Irene Roberts (Lynne McGranger) after she is diagnosed with breast cancer. Marilyn begins working at The Diner to help cover Irene's shifts and she helps organise a pink ribbon fund-raiser for her. Marilyn encourages Roo to give Harvey Ryan (Marcus Graham) another chance. After John Palmer (Shane Withington) moves in, Marilyn and Roo become annoyed with his irritating habits. They stage an intervention and encourage him to become a better housemate. Marilyn worries about Colleen after Lance reveals he is moving to Las Vegas and her caravan is robbed. Marilyn helps clean things up and she finds a winning lottery ticket, which she gives to Colleen and convinces her to spend the money wisely. Marilyn realises that Colleen just wants to be near Lance and she calls him on her behalf. Lance invites his mother to Las Vegas and Marilyn and Roo throw her a leaving party. A week later, Marilyn is mugged on her way home by Jett James (Will McDonald). She decides not to press charges when Jett apologises. Marilyn befriends Danny Braxton (Andy McPhee) and he later takes her out for dinner. When Danny goes missing. Marilyn becomes worried. She is later upset when she hears he has died during a robbery. Despite this, Marilyn organises a funeral for him.
For her portrayal of Marilyn, Symons was nominated for Best Actress at the 1999 Inside Soap Awards. That same year saw Symons named one of the twenty greatest soap stars of the 1990s by All About Soap. They said "Dizzy, vibrant, gaudy and bizarre, Emily Symons won over our hearts as loveable Marilyn Chambers in Home and Away.
In December 1996, Dave Lanning from the The People quipped that Marilyn "has the mind of a humming bird and often flaps like one". A writer for Holy Soap said that Marilyn's most memorable moment is "Realising she had fallen in love with school principal Don Fisher and eventually marrying him". On Marilyn's relationship with Donald, Chris Middendorp of The Age said "While it lasted, it was one of the oddest couplings in television and fun to watch. They were like what would happen if Lawrence Olivier got hitched to a page-three girl."
A Yahoo! reporter placed Marilyn and Donald on their "Best-ever soap couples" list and TV Week named them one of soap's "Odd Couples", saying "Who could forget grumpy old Donald Fisher with kooky young Marilyn Chambers in Home and Away?" The Sunday Mail simply brand her as "the dizzy wife of stuffy headmaster Donald". A writer from Inside Soap included Marilyn and Donald in their feature profiling unlikely couples. They branded her a "half-wit hairdresser" and him a "haggard head" who found happiness together. The writer added that "at least Marilyn Chambers had a good excuse for her bizarre decision to go out with the aging Donald Fisher - she was as mad as a mongoose." Following Marilyn's abrupt departure in 1999, the show was "bombarded" by fans demanding to know what had happened to her.
Series producer Cameron Welsh said that there had been a "positive reaction" from fans to Marilyn's return in 2010. The Daily Telegraph said that the show needs Marilyn, "a sweet-natured good woman", after the scandals of last year. A columnist from Inside Soap called Marilyn a legend and said her return to Home and Away was the "best news ever". They added "[Symons] is so amazing in the show, we even prefer her to lovely Romeo's six-pack." The Birmingham Post stated some viewers felt Home and Away was not the same without the "curly haired Sheila". In February 2011, Marilyn was nominated for "Best Comeback" from the All About Soap Bubble Awards.
Jaci Stephen writing for the Daily Mail said Marilyn's return was great news and branded her a "much loved face". She claimed to admire her so much that she branded the "dipsy beautician" as one of the best characters in the history of Home and Away. She agreed with her "dizzy blond" label. After Marilyn prepares to die, Stephen commented "Marilyn's demise is the longest in Summer Bay's history [...] Oh, hurry it along, woman." However she opined that Mitzy's lie gave Marilyn "a new lease of life". Stephen also said that she has had some "bizarre storylines in her life"; and concluded that asking Alf for clothing advice for her date with Sid was the most bizarre. Claire Crick from All About Soap said that she never takes Marilyn’s "weirdo premonitions" seriously.
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- Character profile at the Official AU Home and Away website
- Character profile at the Official UK Home and Away website
- Character profile at the Official IE Home and Away website
- Character profile at Holy Soap
- Character profile at the Internet Movie Database