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EXCLUSIVE: Kate Ritchie reveals why she was nervous to return to TV on Australia’s Got Talent

''I didn't even think about returning to television at all.''
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It’s been a long time since TV WEEK has had the pleasure of chatting to Australia’s sweetheart Kate Ritchie on the phone. After all, since leaving Home and Away in 2008, television hasn’t been her first priority, like it is ours.

Although she’s had a plethora of guest cameos and hosting gigs from time to time, it’s been years since we’ve seen Kate consistently on our screens. Now, as Australia’s Got Talent returns, so does Kate – and we’re over the moon to see her.

“I’ve been looking forward to chatting to you guys! It’s been well overdue,” Kate, 44, tells TV WEEK.

After her departure from Summer Bay, the two-time Gold Logie winner went into radio, developing an extremely successful career hosting the national drive show on Nova. She relished the opportunity to learn something new and build a career away from her iconic childhood character Sally Fletcher.

After her departure from Summer Bay, the two-time Gold Logie winner went into radio.

(Image: Instagram)

“For a long time I was more than happy just to put my head down, learn something new and have a job I could go into every day and enjoy. Not everybody has that luxury,” Kate says.

“I didn’t even think about returning to television at all but I truly believe that things happen when they’re meant to happen, and over the last 18 months other exciting opportunities have come up.”

When she was first approached to become a judge on AGT in 2019, Kate jumped at the opportunity but due to COVID it wasn’t until this year that filming was able to proceed. It was then that the reality of her television return truly hit Kate.

“I definitely had the jitters,” she admits.

“The nerves weren’t about being back in front of a camera though, it’s something I grew up doing. I was nervous about being the newbie, the rookie judge. It was a whole new experience for me and a kind of television I’ve never done before.”

Kate will be a judge on the upcoming season of Australia’s Got Talent.

(Image: Instagram)

Thankfully, her fellow judges, Aussie actor Shane Jacobson, British pop star Aleesha Dixon and comedian David Walliams, always had her back.

“I was in good supportive hands and they really welcomed me into the fold,” she shares. “It was actually a really nice collaborative experience. I enjoyed every minute of it.”

But for Kate, the best thing about working on AGT was the behind-the-scenes moments she shared with her seven-year-old daughter Mae.

“It’s great that my return to TV is something age appropriate for my daughter,” Kate says. “I think she’s excited because in some ways she feels as though she’s a part of it.

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“She came backstage with me, she met the cast and some of the acts and she had a playdate with Alesha’s daughter. She helped me choose my frocks and was in the hair and makeup room when my stylist, Lily, was doing my hair.

“It was actually a really nice experience to share with her, and show her actually what mummy does instead of just telling her about my job.”

Now that the premiere is just around the corner, Kate and Mae have their viewing plan all figured out.

“I’m just really looking forward to it. We’re going to have a little party at home, and sit down in front of the television with a big box of popcorn to watch it together,” she reveals.

While the former Home and Away star still loves her afternoon radio show with Tim Blackwell and Joel Creasy, she admits she’s ready to get back into acting.

Kate says Mae can’t wait to watch her on AGT.

(Image: Instagram)

“I can’t wait to be acting again – I miss it. It’s what I grew up doing. It obviously fulfills me creatively, but it also fulfills me emotionally too. Hopefully I’ll be able to talk to TV WEEK about something in the works very soon,” she teases.

Although it feels like just yesterday for Home and Away fans, it’s been over 14 years since Kate, and her character Sally Fletcher, left Summer Bay for good.

But that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t remember that time of her life fondly. Recently, Kate took a trip down memory lane as she paid a visit to Palm Beach, where the soap is filmed.

“There’s something really comforting about it because it connects me very much with my childhood, regardless of the fact that it’s so many years down the track now,” she says.

It’s been over 14 years since Kate, and her character Sally Fletcher, left Summer Bay for good.

(Image: Seven)

“I’ve never lived on the Northern Beaches or the Peninsula but I feel as though it’s my home. I think that’s why I continue to go there – I’m like a little homing pigeon.”

After so many years on the show, with her own life tied so closely with Sally’s, Kate is happy to be in a vastly different chapter of her life. But she’s never stopped loving the show, or the significance it has to Australians.

“It’s opened so many doors for me and what I think is really nice about it is how connected people are with the show,” she says.

“I can’t leave the house without someone saying ‘my goodness, I remember when you were eight years old’ or share a memory about when they used to watch the show with their nan. I love that so much.”

“It has a really special place in my heart. I’m a sentimental old thing, and that’s not going to change any time soon.”

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