Home and Away

"Forever and ever:" It’s part of Aussie folklore but how long has Home And Away actually been on TV? The answer may surprise you

A look into the show's rich history.

By Faye Couros
Home And Away has become such a popular show that it doesn't just have Australia's heart, but it's also built up a dedicated fan base in the United Kingdom.
Fans continue to tune in to the soap every week because Summer Bay makes you feel like you, too, are a part of a wholesome community, with just a bit more drama than your every day life.
While the long-running soapie has become part of Aussie folklore, you may be wondering exactly how long Home And Away has been on TV?
Home And Away first aired on the 17th of January 1988 on Channel Seven, which makes the show an impressive 33 years old, an incredible accomplishment for any original production.
In fact, it's the second longest-running show in Australia, after Neighbours.
Since its premiere back in '88, the show has clocked up 34 seasons, 5,805 episodes (and counting) and kick-started the careers of some of the country's most prolific stars including Isla Fisher, Naomi Watts, Chris Hemsworth and the late Heath Ledger.
It's a little known fact that the show was going to be called Refuge, and the publication Her explains that it had been inspired by a real New South Wales town that had plans to construct a foster home for children.
However, the series eventually landed on the title we all know and love because it was more palatable.
In 1985 the other famous Aussie soap, Neighbours, was briefly cancelled and Channel Seven's head of drama Alan Bateman quickly saw a gap in the market and created Home and Away to replace the Melbourne-based soapie.
L-R: Don Fisher (Norman Coburn), Ailsa Stewart (Judy Nunn), Sally Fletcher (Kate Ritchie) and Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) on the set of Home And Away back in the 90s. Channel Seven
Of course, Neighbours was soon picked up by Channel Ten and is still a mainstay on our small screens.
According to the fan website Backtothebay the H&A pilot episode kicked off the series with a childless couple who decide to foster five children and buy a rundown caravan park in Summer Bay.
In the episode, a young Ray Meagher, who plays Alf Stewart, makes his first appearance on-screen as a caravan park owner.
The veteran actor is the longest-serving cast member of the series, and at 76 years old, he has no plans to leave the show anytime soon.
In a 2021 Interview with radio hosts Fitzy and Wippa, he spoke about why he can't bring himself to retire.
"My mind is wondering a bit at the moment, occasionally it wanders into retirement but then quickly turns around and thinks well what are you going to do there," the beloved Logie award-winner explained.
Meanwhile in a chat with TV WEEK last year, Ray addressed how humbling it has been to create such an iconic character.
"I just turn up for work each day and try to stay true to the character," he said.
Ada Nicodemou has been starring on the show since 2000. Instagram
"I'm just lucky that Alf resonates with people. They may not know much about the character, but they laugh at certain things he says, such as 'Stone the flamin' crows' or 'Flamin' galah'. Things like that are just ingrained in Alf now."
Following Ray's lead, Lynne McGranger, who plays Irene Roberts, is the second longest-serving actor on the show, first appearing on the soap in 1993.
Other long-standing stars include Ada Nicodemou, who plays Leah Patterson, Kate Ritchie, who played Sally Fletcher until 2013, and Emily Symons, who plays Marilyn Chambers.
Radio host Kate Ritchie, 42, was on the show from the tender age of eight - growing up in front of Australian audiences.
After 20 years, Kate departed the shores of Summer Bay in 2013 to pursue a career in radio but recently admitted she struggled with her decision.
"It really did feel like the loss of a big part of who I was," she told TV Week*.
"It took me a long time to adjust to that."
Kate Ritchie starred alongside the late Heath Ledger. Supplied
Of course, there would be no show without the dedicated fans who tune in every week to catch up on the highs and lows of Summer Bay.
At the 2018 TV WEEK Logie Awards, which took place on the show's 30th anniversary, Ray Meagher personally thanked the fans for allowing him and the cast to work in their dream job.
"It's a huge honour, the fact we've been going for 30 years and people are still watching us and still interested in the show is just wonderful," he told TV WEEK.
"It does mean a lot to us."
Ray continued, "Like everybody else we go to work every day and just do it, and you lose sight of the fact that if there weren't people out there who were watching, we don't go to work every day."
"We don't have a job if there aren't people watching us and we're incredibly grateful to all of those people who have watched us for all the years."
Here's to another three decades of Home And Away!

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