For 25 years, Irene Roberts has been the heart and soul of Home And Away. Loved across the globe, the popular character is known for her welcome presence, warm heart and quick-witted remarks. Not to mention, her turbulent life in Summer Bay.
But for the actress who portrays the character, Lynne McGranger, it's a life far removed from her own. Unlike her alter-ego, the star prefers to keep a low profile.
"I deal with the fame of the show's notoriety," Lynne, 65, tells TV WEEK. "But it [being a public figure] is a bit weird. Especially with personal stuff – word gets out."
For so long, Lynne has kept her private life hidden from even her most devoted fans – until now.
The Australian Hearing Ambassador ambassador recalls the heartache of losing her parents and how it has defined her life today.
"Dad's health had a huge impact on my life," the beloved actress reveals. "He was a smoker since a young age and eventually quit when he turned 50."
Sadly, Lynne's father, Bruce, passed away in 2005 of oesophageal and skin cancer. He was 79.
While the loss of any parent is undoubtedly heartbreaking, Lynne says it was the way her father died that affected her the most.
"He was a funny and fabulous person," she remembers.
As a former smoker herself, his death was a wake-up call to change her habits.
"At the time, I had been trying to give up smoking and wasn't able to," she explains. "Two weeks after Dad died, I decided to visit a hypnotist – I haven't touched a cigarette since."
And it was this swift health change that inspired Lynne to tackle several other facets of her life too, including exercise and alcohol intake.
"I used to have a few glasses of red wine every night while cooking dinner," she admits. "It doesn't seem like a lot, but it was the equivalent of nearly three bottles a week. As soon as I stopped, I lost two or three kilos.
"When you get to 60, your body says, 'Hang on, I just can't do that anymore.'"
With her new zest for life, Lynne was travelling along the fast track to longevity.
Yet, heartache loomed again when her 92-year-old mother, Audrey, was diagnosed with dementia. In 2015, she sadly passed away from a stroke.
Despite her deteriorating health, Audrey lived a happy life. However, her daughter is adamant more could have been done in her final years.
"In the last 10 years of her life, she was as deaf as a post," Lynne explains. "We would have to stand in front of her and yell in her face – it was awful and incredibly sad to watch."
Since her passing, Lynne has been determined to spread the message to Australia's senior community about improving their health care.
"I thought, 'I'm no spring chicken and could be heading down that path,'" she says. "I'd hate for people to miss out on a big part of their life."
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