Kate ready for more

TV roles are back on Kate Ritchie’s radar after nar­rat­ing the ABC’s 50 years of Play School com­mem­o­ra­tive spe­cial, writes Clare Rigden

Herald Sun - Switched On - - COVER STORY -

For over two decades she was a con­stant pres­ence on our screens, play­ing Sally Fletcher on Home and Away. But in re­cent times Kate Ritchie has stepped away from the small screen, choos­ing to fo­cus on her ra­dio com­mit­ments, and be­ing mum to daugh­ter, Mae, who turns two in Au­gust.

But this week the 37-yearold ac­tor is re­turn­ing to TV, via a nar­ra­tion role on the ABC’s up­com­ing 50 years of Play School com­mem­o­ra­tive spe­cial — and it might be the start of many more TV roles to come.

“Look that has al­ways been on my radar,” says Ritchie, of a re­turn to act­ing. “I would re­ally like to think I’ll be back on a tele­vi­sion set soon enough.

“But there’s so much go­ing on ... so it’s more about time management, and find­ing some­thing that’s re­ally worth mak­ing that time for.

Ritchie hasn’t had a lead role on a tele­vi­sion drama since the ill-fated Nine se­ries, Cops L.A.C, in 2010. And since giv­ing birth to Mae, who she had with hus­band Stu­art Webb in 2014, she has kept a rea­son­ably low pro­file, only in­tro­duc­ing her adorable daugh­ter to fans ear­lier this year, via a care­fully or­ches­trated cover shoot for The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly.

De­spite her re­turn to ra­dio, as co-host on the Syd­ney driv­e­time ra­dio show, “Kate, Tim and Marty,” on Nova, she’s largely kept her fam­ily out of the spot­light, and Ritchie says she’s pleased with the work/life bal­ance she’s man­aged to achieve.

“(My ra­dio show) fits well with that,” she ex­plains.

“I’m very lucky in that I can work from home in the morn­ing ... and I’m able to have that cre­ative out­let ev­ery day, but also be at home with Mae.”

It’s the per­fect sce­nario. But it’s hard not to think those ea­ger Home and Away pro­duc­ers haven’t come a-call­ing — after all, the Gold Lo­gie-award­win­ning star is still as pop­u­lar as ever with fans.

“I feel as though my dis­cus­sions with Home and Away are al­ways an open-ended con­ver­sa­tion,” Ritchie ex­plains.

“I would be highly of­fended if Alf had a cel­e­bra­tion at the Surf Club and Sally wasn’t in­vited along! I would like to think the door is al­ways open there. But once again, it’s about find­ing the bal­ance. And I think there are lots of other things I’d like to try my hand at first.”

One of those has been her re­cent nar­ra­tion role on the ABC’s sweet — and sur­pris­ingly funny — Big Ted’s Ex­cel­lent Ad­ven­ture: 50 Years of Play School. It’s a lovely look back at the show that has shaped so many of our child­hoods — and con­tin­ues to in­flu­ence a new gen­er­a­tion of Aussie kids, in­clud­ing Ritchie’s own daugh­ter’s.

And no, be­fore you ask, she’s not join­ing her old Home and Away co-stars Jus­tine Clarke and Alex Papps, (who played Frank and Roo on the show in the eight­ies) in a reg­u­lar host­ing role on Play School.

But that’s not to say both her and Mae don’t love their reg­u­lar catch-ups with her old co-stars and good friends, via their daily dose of Play School.

“Mae’s vo­cab­u­lary is rel­a­tively small, but part of that are the names of the Play School pre­sen­ters,” she says. “It’s so lovely that she will have that as part of her child­hood just as I did … I cer­tainly don’t want to pick favourites, but the episodes I love watch­ing are the ones with Jus­tine and Alex — and I know there are a lot of peo­ple that feel the same way.”

“I think there are lots of other things I’d like to try my hand at first” KATE RITCHIE ON HER CA­REER OP­TIONS

BIG TED’S EX­CEL­LENT AD­VEN­TURE, ABC, SUN­DAY, 7.40PM

Kate Ritchie with Big Ted from Play School and (in­set) with daugh­ter Mae.

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