THE BIG ASK RAY MEAGHER Home And Away

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

RAY Meagher is no flash in the pan. He’s made the Guin­ness World Records for his 20-year por­trayal of head­strong man-about-town Alf Ste­wart. He as­sures us he’ll be ut­ter­ing his trade­mark lines such as ‘‘stone the flamin’ crows’’ for at least the next three years.

While Home And Away fans will never for­get Alf’s late wife Ailsa, who died more than seven years ago, Alf has now added some ro­man­tic spice to his life through his re­la­tion­ship with a younger woman, Brid­get (Joy Smithers).

For Meagher, 64, it is a wel­come sto­ry­line and one he has en­joyed work­ing on in the lead-up to sum­mer hol­i­days and his an­nual trip to Bri­tain for the pan­tomime sea­son. What were your thoughts on Alf find­ing ro­mance with a younger woman? I re­ally don’t go any­where near the script depart­ment or what sto­ry­lines come for­ward and am pretty happy with the ones I have been given. With this sto­ry­line Cameron Welch (ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer) told me about it and I was up for it. I had no idea who was go­ing to play the younger woman, but when I found it was Joy I thought that was fan­tas­tic. But, in my mind, the only thing was the cred­i­bil­ity thing, where a bloke my age is get­ting off with a sheila of her age who looks like she does. How did you ap­proach this sto­ry­line? It’s been good be­cause there have been so many other things go­ing on. It is not like they are the leads in a movie and it’s all about them. Both par­ties were drawn to each other, but she has had things go­ing on in her life too and Alf has been a bit dis­tracted by Martha (and her can­cer di­ag­no­sis). Through all that this re­la­tion­ship has hap­pened. You men­tion Martha, who is played by Jodi Gor­don. How has she de­vel­oped as an ac­tor over the years, con­sid­er­ing she had no for­mal act­ing train­ing? She has just got bet­ter and bet­ter, and han­dled things re­ally well. She isn’t one of those kids that talks act­ing un­til she is blue in the face. She gets on with it. Those are the sort of ac­tors I love. Af­ter 20 years in the spot­light, what’s it like to be recog­nised? It’s an oc­cu­pa­tional haz­ard, but you ex­pect that if you burst into peo­ple’s lounge­rooms five nights a week un­in­vited . . . it is part of the job. Where you live peo­ple couldn’t care less. If you go into some new area some peo­ple will be in­ter­ested, oth­ers wouldn’t care less and never ad­mit to watch­ing a soap. You are def­i­nitely aware of it though. How long have you been trav­el­ling to the UK for pan­tomime sea­son? The last 17 years or so. What do you en­joy about play­ing some­one other than Alf? I love do­ing some­thing live and en­joy play­ing vil­lains and work­ing out how I can make it work and im­prove my per­for­mance ev­ery year. I don’t like the singing in them so I usu­ally make up a rap. Alf is an hon­est sort of guy, so play­ing the vil­lain is a good con­trast. Be­cause the panto sea­son hap­pens over De­cem­ber and Jan­uary, do you miss Christ­mas in Aus­tralia? I haven’t done Christ­mas in Aus­tralia for years. The last few years I have just had Christ­mas with mates over there. Will this year be your last? I will def­i­nitely do this year and see how we go. Prob­a­bly an­other one af­ter that. I just go year by year, see if I am still upright. Some of yourHome An­d­Away col­leagues have gone on Danc­ing With­TheS­tars and ItTakes2. Would you ever give them a crack? Wild horses couldn’t drag me.

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