Celebrity News

EXCLUSIVE: Ray Meagher on why he’s stayed on Home And Away for 30 years

Ray also reveals when he’s thinking of retiring.
Loading the player...

He may be a face we’ve seen in our living rooms for three decades, but Home And Away’s Ray Meagher remains a private person.

In his self-deprecating manner, the 73-year-old puts that down to the fact he’s just “not that interesting”. He says he’s never chased publicity, although he realises that’s all part of being on a popular TV series.

“I feel [fame] is the domain of the more attractive, younger people that people are interested in looking at and reading about,” he explains.

Ray was born in Queensland and raised on a sheep and cattle station before tragedy struck and his parents died when he was young.

He found happiness when he tied the knot with his long-term partner Gilly in 2010. Ray has a stepdaughter who is 42, but he hasn’t fathered any children of his own.

Is that something he regrets?

“I think regrets are a waste of time,” he says. “That’s past. The now is pretty good and I look forward to the future for a bit longer. I have no regrets.”

In person, Ray is warm, down-to-earth and chatty. He’s not unlike his character Alf Stewart in many ways, but he’s not too fond of his character’s trademark brand of Aussie colloquialisms.

“I don’t think you’ve heard me say ‘flamin” or ‘galah’ once – or any of the character expressions,” he says. “There is a difference there.

“I hope I don’t do my block quite as quickly as Alf does. He usually apologises, but if you get up to make a cup of tea, you might miss it.”

Ray is synonymous with Alf, a role for which he won the TV WEEK Gold Logie Award in 2010. But he had a successful film and TV career before he moved to Summer Bay. He appeared in landmark local films Newsfront (1978), My Brilliant Career (1979) and Breaker Morant (1980), and TV series Prisoner (1979) and A Country Practice (1981).

There’s nothing to say Ray couldn’t have found success elsewhere. So why has he stayed on the show? He admits he’s often asked himself that question.

“There have been a couple of times along the way where I’ve thought, ‘Maybe I should go and do that,'” he concedes. “Realistically, I don’t need more than five fingers to name the jobs that were firm offers that I would have done other than this.

“So, this job has stopped me doing those five jobs. But then you look at the opportunities it has created.”

Opportunities or life experiences aside, there is one key ingredient that keeps Ray in the Bay. It’s not the work. It’s not necessarily the scripts. Not even the show itself.

“It’s what makes up the show – it’s the people,” he says. “It’s the people who have made it such a wonderful place to go to work for so long.”

In current H&A storylines, Alf is facing his toughest battle in years. He was lucky to have survived a terrifying fall into a sinkhole, which saw him end up with a weighty block of concrete on his chest.

Alf is facing health problems.

But his troubles are far from over after he revealed to his daughter Roo (Georgie Parker) that her mother is not dead, as she’d been led to believe.

Ray is enjoying his latest dramatic ride, but how much longer can he go on? Is there a point at which he will consider retirement?

“I’m sure there is,” he says. “Exactly when that is, I have to talk to Julie McGauran [Channel Seven’s head of drama] in the next few months. That will give a clearer indication as to when that might be. I’ve had an incredible run.”

The idea of Home And Away without Alf? Strewth!

For the full story, pick up this week’s issue of TV WEEK.

Related stories