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Peta Toppano (born Peita Margaret Toppano, 8 April 1951)[1][2] is an English Australian actress, singer and dancer who was successful in television soap opera, after emigrating from her native England. She is known for her series roles in The Young Doctors, Prisoner, as Karen Travers, Home and Away as Helen Poulos, Heartbreak High and Return to Eden, in which she played a "superbitch".[3][4]

Peta Toppano
Peita Margaret Toppano

(1951-04-08) 8 April 1951 (age 68)
Haringey North East London, England
Other namesPieta Toppano
OccupationActor, singer, dancer


Early lifeEdit

Toppano was born in Finsbury Park in London and grew up in Cammeray, New South Wales. The daughter of musicians Enzo Toppano and Peggy Mortimer, she has two younger brothers: Lorenzo and Dean.[2] At 16 she won a ballet scholarship to study in Cannes, Southern France. She returned to Australia to study drama at the Ensemble Studio with teacher Hayes Gordon.


Toppano's television credits include "Lena" in Piccolo Mondo for SBS, "Karen Travers" in Prisoner, "Eunice Pyke" All the Rivers Run and "Gina Agostini" in Fields of Fire. Other appearances include "Stella" in Heartbreak High on Network Ten and "Diomira" in Bordertown for ABC Television. She also appeared in A Country Practice, G.P., E Street and Flying Doctors. In 1989 and 1990 she played Kate in the ABC miniseries The Paper Man with Oliver Tobias, John Bach and Rebecca Gilling (her co-star in Return To Eden), and starred with John Waters and Cybill Shepherd in the 1991 miniseries Which Way Home. Toppano played Jilly Stewart in Return to Eden and Helen Poulos in Home and Away.[3][4] She hosted a 2010 event for Prisoner fans at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham, England.[5]

Film credits include Seeing Red, Harbour Beat and Echoes of Paradise, directed by Phillip Noyce. Toppano was nominated for an AFI Award for her work in Street Hero, directed by Michael Pattinson and starring Vince Colosimo.

While living in Perth for four years, Toppano played "Coral" and later "Gwen" in Michael Gow's Away, "Ruth" in Louis Nowra's Cosi for the Black Swan Theatre Company and appeared in Blood Moon for Theatre West. She starred in a one-woman play written by Heather Nimmo, and directed by Leith Taylor called "One Small Step" for which she received great critical acclaim. Peta was thrilled to be in "The Women" by Claire Boothe Luce playing the "Countess De Lage" with students from Theatre Nepean and Diane Craig, Sandra Eldridge and Sarah Woods, directed by Mary- Ann Gifford. Returning to Sydney, she played "Beth" in Merrily We Roll Along for the Sydney Theatre Company and appeared in Tony Taylor and Tony Sheldon's Elegance at the Tilbury in Woolloomooloo. Toppano played "Fantine" in Les Misérables for the Cameron Mackintosh organization in Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane, "Diana Morales" in A Chorus Line for two years in Sydney and Melbourne during the late 1970s. She played "Sonia" in They're Playing Our Song in the UK, and herself in Godspell. She played "Claudia" in the musical Nine, Eliza Doolittle (with Stuart Wagstaff) in My Fair Lady, "Monica" (with Tony Sheldon) in I Love My Wife, "Roberta" (with Barry Quin) in Danny and the Deep Blue Sea and "Leonarda" in Love and Magic in Mama's Kitchen at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney.

Personal lifeEdit

Toppano lives near Sydney's Blue Mountains. She was married to Prisoner co-star Barry Quin from 1979 to 1989.



Year Program Character Network, producer
1968 Homicide Marika Lucas 7 Network (Crawford Productions)
1970 Bobby Limb's Sounds of the Seventies Various NLT Productions
1975 Class of '75 Gina Ferrari Grundy Organisation
1976 Rush Drusilla ABC Television, Portman Productions
1976 King's Men Policewoman Grundy Television Productions
1976–77 The Young Doctors Dr. Gail Henderson Grundy Television Productions
1977 The Outsiders Sally Gower ABC Television
1977-79 Blankety Blanks Herself - Panelist Grundy Television Productions
1978 Skyways Sister Theresa Crawford Productions
1978–79 Prisoner Karen Travers Grundy Television Productions
1979–80 Water Under the Bridge Uke Shotton Productions
1981 Sara Dane Alison Barwell South Australian Film Corporation
1981 Bellamy Meredith Grundy Television Productions
1981–82 M.P.S.I.B. Lisa Hesse ABC Television
1982 Parkinson Tribute to Cy Coleman Channel 10
1985 Return to Eden Jilly Stewart McElroy & McElroy
1987 The Flying Doctors Carol Brett Nine Network (Crawford Productions)
1987 Fields of Fire II Gina Palm Beach Pictures, Zenith UK
1988 Fields of Fire III Gina Palm Beach Pictures, Zenith UK
1988 E Street Miki Fallon Westside Film & Television
1989 G.P. Anna Carelli ABC TV (10-episode miniseries)
1989 All the Rivers Run II Eunice Pike Crawford Productions (directed by John Power)
1989–90 The Paper Man Kate Cromwell ABC, Granada
1990 Which Way Home Annie (with Cybill Shepherd) McElroy, Turner TV
1990 Harbour Beat Mrs. De Santos Palm Beach Pictures, Zenith Entertainment
1991 Piccolo Mondo Lena Generation Films
1991 A Country Practice Colleen Nicholls (four episodes) JNP Films
1993 The Feds (telefilm) Brandy Directed by George Ogilvie
1994 Heartbreak High Stella Ioannou (20 episodes) Gannon Television
1995 Bordertown Diomira (10-episode miniseries) ABC TV (directed by Ian Gilmour)
1998 Never Tell Me Never (telefilm) M.C. Golden Square Pictures, Palm Beach Pictures (directed by David Elfick)
2000 Above the Law Mrs. Giovanelli Columbia TriStar Television, McElroy Television
2002 3–4 Ever Fandango, Vertigo Productions
2000–09 Home and Away Helen Poulos Seven Network


Year Film Character Director Producer
1984 Street Hero Michael Pattinson Paul Dainty
1986 Echoes of Paradise Judy Phillip Noyce Great Scott Productions
1992 Seeing Red Vivian Goosey


Year Play Character Producer
1972 Godspell Ken Brodziak Productions
1976 Spats at the Speakeasy Dinner theater
1977 A Chorus Line Diana Morales Edgley International, JC Williamsons
1980 My Fair Lady Eliza Doolittle Delicado Production tour
1982 I Love My Wife Monica JC Williamsons
1983 They're Playing Our Song Sonia UK tour
1986 Are You Lonesome Tonight? Priscilla Her Majesty's Theatre, Sydney
1987 Danny and the Deep Blue Sea Roberta Globe Theatre Company, Sydney
1988 Nine Claudia Nove Productions (Adelaide, Brisbane, Sydney)
1990 Love Letters with Andrew McFarlane Victoria Arts Centre (directed by George Fairfax)
May 1990–March 1991 Les Misérables Fantine Cameron Mackintosh
1991 Love Letters with Shane Porteous TN Complex, Brisbane
1991 Love and Magic in Mamma's Kitchen Belvoir St. Theatre
1996 Merrily We Roll Along Beth Sydney Theatre Company


  1. ^ GRO Birth Index England
  2. ^ a b Lawson, Valerie. "Peggy sang her own sweet tune", Sidney Morning Herald (13 December 2003): "They fell in love and married in 1950 in a church at Golders Green, London. Their daughter, Peta, was born a year later."
  3. ^ a b Mercado, Andrew. Super Aussie Soaps: Behind the Scenes of Australia's Best Loved TV Shows (2004): "Peta Toppano, once tagged as the nice girl, found herself typecast as a superbitch after screaming 'No!' so many times as Jilly."
  4. ^ a b "Peta Toppano: Biography Archived 10 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine", Retrieved 2 December 2010.
  5. ^ "An Audience with Peta Toppano ", LiveBrum: Event Listings for the City of Birmingham, UK. Retrieved 2 December 2010.

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