A host of op­por­tu­ni­ties

Car­ols tops a busy year for for­mer Home and Away star Kate Ritchie, writes Erica Thomp­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - Guide -

CO-HOST­ING Car­ols in the Do­main for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year was the last thing Kate Ritchie ex­pected to be do­ing this Christ­mas.

Not only was the for­mer Home and Away star a for­mer em­ployee of the sta­tion which tele­vises Car­ols, she was also busy work­ing on a show for a ri­val net­work.

‘‘I must say I didn’t ex­pect to be asked to do it again,’’ Ritchie says of the gig on Chan­nel 7.

‘‘I couldn’t wait to get on board last year be­cause I thought it would be my first and last op­por­tu­nity and I thought it was a nice way to fin­ish up be­cause ev­ery­thing was com­ing to an end (at Seven) with my 20 years on Home and Away.

‘‘So I was re­ally flat­tered when I got the phone call this year.

‘‘I thought they would have for­got­ten about me by now,’’ she says with a laugh.

Per­form­ers at this year’s event in­clude Delta Goodrem and her fi­ance Brian McFad­den, Shan­non Noll, Guy Se­bas­tian, coun­try singer Melinda Sch­nei­der and the Wig­gles.

Ritchie, who co-hosts with Grant Denyer, has fond mem­o­ries of at­tend­ing the event as a child ‘‘and sit­ting on the lawn with the fam­ily’’.

‘‘I guess in some ways it’s like a lit­tle girl’s dream to then be up there in the pretty frock be­ing part of it.’’

It’s not the only op­por­tu­nity Ritchie has had to play dress-up. She re­cently filmed a spot in the highly an­tic­i­pated pre­quel to Chan­nel 9’s hit mob­ster se­ries Un­der­belly.

Ritchie plays Judi Kane — the wife of slain 1970s stan­dover man Les Kane— and her role re­quired an elab­o­rate ’70s wardrobe.

‘‘It’s very ex­cit­ing and re­ally nice to be back on a TV set,’’ the two- time Gold Lo­gie win­ner says. ‘‘Though I do look more like my mother than I ever have.’’

De­spite the dark trans­for­ma­tion, Ritchie in­sists it’s not a means to ex­or­cise her Home and Away char­ac­ter, Sally Fletcher, once and for all.

‘‘I ac­tu­ally don’t want to look like I’m try­ing to turn my back on some­thing that was such a big part of my life,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s im­por­tant for me to try new things to chal­lenge me and to stretch me in ar­eas that I haven’t worked be­fore, but I’m cer­tainly not try­ing to go out and shock peo­ple or any­thing like that.’’

RCarols in the Do­main, G Chan­nel 7, Satur­day, 8.30pm Christ­mas spec­tac­u­lar Du­ra­tion: 2 hours ITCHIE joined Nova’s Mer­rick and Rosso break­fast ra­dio show at the start of the year and get­ting used to the early-morn­ing wake-up calls for her ra­dio role has been tough.

‘‘The alarm clock is be­ing thrown into the ocean,’’ she says with a laugh. ‘‘I have quite a few hours un­der my belt now and I re­ally feel as though I’ve set­tled in so it will be nice to start fresh (in 2009) and feel I’m not the new girl any more.

‘‘It’s been re­ally re­ward­ing, scary at times, but also re­ally re­ward­ing.

‘‘They’ve (Mer­rick and Rosso) been my great­est mates this year. They’ve held my hand through what’s been the big­gest tran­si­tion of my life, so they will for­ever re­main great friends, not just work col­leagues.’’

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