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Home and Away

EXCLUSIVE: Kate Ritchie reveals her post-Home And Away struggle and plans for a TV return

''It really did feel like the loss of a big part of who I was.''

By Helen Vnuk
Kate Ritchie wasn't sure if she should do this interview. She wasn't even sure if she should go on Anh's Brush With Fame, and had to "toss it around" in her head for a while.
It's not that Kate doesn't want to talk about Sally Fletcher, the Home And Away character she played for 20 years from the age of eight. It's just that she worries about what people think.
"I sometimes worry that people think I continue to revisit this part of my life unnecessarily," she says.
"But I want to assure everyone that the only reason I continue to answer questions about it is because I'm being asked them."
Kate returns to TV for Anh's Brush With Fame. (ABC)
Kate, 42, is speaking to TV WEEK from Nova FM, just before she goes on air to do the drive show with Joel Creasey and Tim Blackwell.
Even though it's been 13 years since she quit the role of Sally, and she's forged a successful new career in radio, there are – and probably always will be – questions for her about H&A.
For one thing, people want to know what it was like to kiss Heath Ledger when he guest-starred as bad boy Scott Irwin in 1997.
Talking to Anh Do about it, Kate admits she did a few takes of the kissing scenes, "probably unnecessarily".
Kate starred alongside the late Heath Ledger. (Supplied)
Then there was the memorable episode where Sally got her first bra – which was, basically, Kate getting her first bra and sharing it with the nation.
"I don't think I recognised how intrusive that probably was upon a young girl at the time, because that's just the way that it was and it was a storyline," she tells TV WEEK.
"When you think about it, maybe it's not OK for a 12-year-old to have to share that.
"Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't change any of my journey. But yeah, it was challenging in some ways."
"When you think about it, maybe it's not OK for a 12-year-old to have to share that," Kate says of certain storylines. (Supplied)
When Kate finally made the decision to leave H&A – her final scenes were in 2008 – it was a difficult time for her.
"It really did feel like the loss of a big part of who I was," she says. "It took me a long time to adjust to that."
Despite having won two TV WEEK Gold Logie Awards – in 2007 and 2008 – Kate wondered if people only felt something for her because they liked Sally.
She had therapy to help her through it.
"That was what I needed at that point," she explains.
Kate has won two TV WEEK Gold Logies. (Supplied)
In radio, Kate found herself without a script, having to think about what she thought rather than saying what a scriptwriter thought.
She says that was a "really good exercise" for her.
"I certainly did find my voice on the radio," she says. "And I feel like I've certainly done that now – probably too much at times!"
As good as radio has been for her, Kate hasn't left TV forever. In fact, she's planning a return very soon.
"I'd like to think that in the next 12 months I'll be back on television, doing what I love. It's not that I don't love what I do here, but I have a real emotional attachment even just to being on a set. So if the right thing were to come along, I'd definitely jump on board."
As for the sort of role she'd like, Kate says it comes down to "what feels right".
"Sometimes you catch me on a good day and I might say yes to something I'd usually say no to," she explains.
"The boys give me a bit of a hard time on air about the fact that I was singing at the top of my lungs on It Takes Two [the celebrity singing competition, in 2006] and I look back and think, 'My goodness – why did I ever say yes to that?'"

Kate is even planning to start going to the annual TV WEEK Logie Awards again.
"I think the time will be right when I have something I can share with people," she says.
"Hopefully, that will be one day soon."
The question is, who will she bring with her on the night?
Will it be six-year-old Mae, her daughter with former NRL player Stuart Webb?
"I don't know!" she says with a laugh. "I'd be so disheartened if I asked her to go as my plus-one and she politely declined because she wanted to play on her iPad or watch The Octonauts or something! But I'm sure there'll be a year down the track that she's not too cool to be on Mummy's arm."
Kate shares Mae with her estranged husband and former NRL player Stuart Webb. (getty)
Mae might not be old enough to go to the Logies just yet, but she does love dancing with her mum. It takes Kate back to her childhood.
"That's her version of Young Talent Time these days, dancing around to a few video clips, although you have to censor them pretty strictly!"
Even though Kate has mixed feelings about doing interviews about H&A, she loves talking about the show to fans who come up for a chat.
"It's lovely when you talk to people and their eyes light up," she says. "It'd be like me running into the members of the Young Talent Time team.
"The nice thing is that you were part of people's childhood, or even their adulthood, or the half an hour a day where they got to sit on the couch and cuddle their kids and watch something on the telly."

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