Vanessa Downing

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Vanessa Downing
Born (1958-05-05) 5 May 1958 (age 60)
Other names Vanessa Ryan
Alma mater University of Sydney
Occupation Actress (stage, television and film)
voice artist
Years active 1977–present
Known for The Restless Years (1977)
Home and Away (1988-1990)
Spouse(s) Rodney Fischer (Director/Writer)

Vanessa Downing (born 5 May 1958) is an Australian character actress of theatre and screen; she has also done recordings including singing and voice-over. She was educated in Sydney, attended the Australian theatre for young people, and after leaving school took a Master's degree in English Literature from University of Sydney. She graduated as a lawyer in 2006, and now juggles a law career with firm Craddock Murray Neumann and her acting roles, mostly on the stage[1]


Theatre roles include Three a Penny and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. As well as being a well-known and prominent stage actress she has featured in many television roles including All Saints, classic '80s soap opera Sons and Daughters, G.P., Water Rats, HeadLand and Packed to the Rafters.

She is best known however for being an original cast member of the television soap opera Home and Away playing a role many years her senior as foster mother Pippa Fletcher, replacing Carole Willesee at short notice, the wife of newsreader Mike Willesee, who was originally cast as Pippa, with the casting news hitting the headlines, at the publicity launch of the soap. When Downing left the series in 1990, apparently because she missed working alongside co-star Roger Oakley the part was taken over again at short notice by Debra Lawrance who went on to play the character from 1990 to 1998, with subsequent guest appearances. After Lawrence took over the role, the character of Pippa Ross was awarded a fictitious OAM for her services as a foster parent. Downing has starred in the sitcom Bullpitt!, a relaunch of Kingswood Country along with many roles in mini-series; she is also an extremely well-known theatre actress.




  • The Restless Years (1977) (unknown episodes)
  • Sons and Daughters ... as Cheryl Ryan (1982 guest role) (Season 1, Episodes 44 & 60)
  • Great Performances ... as Evie Doyle (1988 guest role) (Episode: "Melba")
  • Home and Away ... as Pippa Fletcher (1988–90 main role) (Seasons 1–3 - 363 episodes)
  • Motormouth ... herself (1990) (Season 3, Episode 17)
  • A Country Practice ... as Fiona Farrell (1991 guest role) (Season 11, Episode 41 "For the Good Times: Part 1")
  • G.P. ... as Pam Preston (1993 guest role) (Season 5, Episode 24 "Close to Her Chest")
  • Water Rats ... as Margaret Hobbs (1997 guest role) (Season 2, Episode 13 "The Messenger")
  • Big Sky ... as Danielle Morgan (1997 guest role) (Season 1, Episode 30 "The Right Thing")
  • Bullpitt! ... as Muriel Johnstone (1997–98 main role) (Seasons 1 & 2 - 26 episodes)
  • All Saints ... as Helen Lancaster (1998 guest role) (Season 1, Episode 34 "Live Now, Pay Later")
  • All Saints ... as Claire Hobson (2002 guest role) (Season 5, Episode 4 "Slings and Arrows")
  • HeadLand ... as Pamela Martin (2006 recurring role) (Episodes 50, 51 & 52)
  • Packed to the Rafters ... as Shirley (2008 guest role) (Season 1, Episode 12 "Removing the Block")
  • Rake ... as Judge (2012 guest role) (Season 2, Episode 7 "Greene v Hole")
  • The Moodys ... as Robin Benson (2014 guest role) (Season 1, Episode 1 "Australia Day")


  1. ^ "Home and Away flashback! The original cast reunited". May 10, 2015. Retrieved August 27, 2015. 

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