Home and Away is a television serial created by Alan Bateman and produced by the Seven Network. The idea for the series came to Bateman (then head of drama at Seven) after he stopped to buy ice-creams in a small country town in southern NSW. While chatting to some locals, he learned that the town was unhappy about plans to build a home for foster kids from the city. At that time, Channel Seven was still smarting from its decision to let Neighbours go to the Ten Network, where it had become hugely popular, and was looking to create another series to rival its success. Bateman saw in the idea that became Home and Away the potential for plenty of storylines and conflict by having streetwise city kids being relocated to a small regional environment,
In the beginning, the series focused on Pippa and Tom Fletcher, who, being unable to have children of their own, decide to become foster parents. When Tom is retrenched from his city job, the couple buy the rundown Summer Bay Caravan Park and move there with their five foster children. Soon after arriving, they also take in troublesome Bobby Simpson.
The series debuted in January 1988 with an hour-long telemovie. Although this rated well, the series itself took some while to develop an audience. Having learned their lesson from the Neighbours debacle, Network Seven gave its new show time, and its ratings gradually increased. As with Neighbours, the Home and Away series and performers became very popular in the United Kingdom.