TV

EXCLUSIVE: Ray Meagher on Home and Away, Alf Stewart finding love & remembering Cornelia Frances

There's no Bay without Alf... So it's time Mr Stewart finds some summer loving!

By Chloe Lal
Shannon Noll coming second, a larikin like Honey Badger looking for love on national TV and watching footage of a kangaroo vs a human...
These are all things that make Australia home.
But there really isn't anything more Aussie than good ol' Alf Stewart.
For 30 years, Ray Meagher, who plays the iconic Home and Away character, is a part of our nation's blueprint.
And thankfully, despite all of Summer Bay's dramatic departures - we're still reeling over his wife dying from picking up boxes - doesn't think he'll be going anywhere.
Now To Love exclusively chatted to Ray about Alf Stewart's future on Home and Away, how he's coping with Cornelia Frances death, and how Manu and Pete better watch their backs thanks to his hot sauce, which definitely rules the kitchen!

Alf Stewart's future on Home and Away

You can't deny Ray's magnetism and charm.
In fact the people of Australia have awarded him a Gold Logie and this year he took home the gong for Most Popular Actor.
"I don't how or why but I am so humbled by winning," he admitted to Now to Love.
"It seems like years ago but on the night it was a big surprise. I am so grateful to whoever votes for these sort of things."
Ray has been on the show for 30 years.
We've all heard murmurs that Alf Stewart might leave Summer Bay, but in all honesty, no one could ever really envision a Home and Away without him.
"That's very generous for you to say but the show has withstood some very talented departures," Ray said.
Speaking of the show, he said, "It may die an eventual death… But I don't see that happening anytime soon."

Alf Stewart's death

If Ray Meagher had any say over how Alf Stewart departs Summer Bay, he tells us - in the most Alf way, "Up the Yabby Creek."
"Oh, but I'm not too sure about that. Ultimately it is in the hands of the very talented writers."
"It's up to them how they write me out."

What will happen to Alf Stewart on Home and Away

We can't imagine Summer Bay without Alf.
The Home and Away plot lines are more guarded than whether Nick Cummins actually proposes on The Bachelor.
But good sport Ray did let slip one very juicy secret.
"Look, there is always something when it comes to life in The Bay."
"Let's just say over the next year or so there is the possibility that Alfred Stewart may find a romantic interest somewhere along the way."
The 74-year-old continued, "Look, he's far from past the post. It's definitely a possibility."
You heard it here first!

Remembering Cornelia Frances

Cornelia Frances passed away in May after a long battle with cancer.
This year has been such a rollercoaster for Ray. While he may have had some huge wins, he experienced incredible loss with the passing of Cornelia Frances.
"Her funeral was a matter of days before the Logies. I had been overseas for two weeks prior to that."
"I had phoned her from the airport the day before I left."
Thinking of those final precious moments, Ray shared, "I'd see her at least once a week –whenever my Home and Away schedule would permit – sometimes more often than that during the previous three months."
Ray dedicated to away to his dear friend.
Aside from dedicating his Logie to his dear friend Corney, it is evident Ray adored her.
"Over 30-35 years maybe even 40 years, we had a friendship. We didn't see each other everyday or every week or every month but when you would meet up – it was always the same."
"She was always the warm, generous Corney that you'd see. Look, apart from being a wonderful actress, she was a wonderful and kind human being."
Ray with Cornelia (far right) and his other Home and Away 'sisters' Lyn Collingwood and Fiona Spence.
Cornelia's passing definitely made Ray think that "life is finite".
"Dying happens to all of us doesn't it?"
Joking, he added, "I've done that on stage many times!"
"We do finish up in the same place and I guess sometimes it comes sooner rather than later."
"There are things that you shouldn't put off."
"I have been fairly blessed with my career – doing what I love for the past 50 odd years."
"To work regularly in a business like this, I feel truly blessed."
"What would I like to do next, what do I have to conquer? Honestly not much. I'm pretty happy and content."
Ray with his 2018 Logie.
Ray Meagher has certainly done it all.
The last time we caught up with the Logie winner, he had launched his own line of hot sauces...
And flamin' streuth he was onto a real winner.
When we he asked him if he expected his Flamin' Hot Sauce, which he created with the help of Go Daddy, to be such a hit.
"Absa-bloody-lutely!"
Pulling our leg, he had us cackling saying, "We've put in so much time into getting the perfect taste. I was pouring myself in laboratories for something like 20 years creating the perfect sauce."
The Flamin' Hot Sauce entrepreneur is onto a winner!
"Look, it really has been just wonderful. The first batch sold in a nanosecond and GoDaddy agreed to go make a second batch.
"The incredible thing about this sauce is that every single cent from this has gone to a charity very dear to me called Cure Cancer Australia.
"They're hoping to find a new cure for the disease, so it really is just so important.
"GoDaddy have been wonderful – it's not just the profits that are going to the charity, every single dime."

Does Ray's hot sauce have the Summer Bay tick of approval?

"I don't know if everyone has tried it. But the people I see all the time, I held them down and poured it down their throat," he laughed.
"My friends have tried it and they're fans!"
"On a show like Home and Away, there are some people you see all the time and some who you might see once every six months. You'll walk past them in the corridor one day and say, 'You're still here!'"
Given how big the cast is, we picked Ray's brain on some of the Bay's newest members Sam Frost and Sarah Roberts.
"I showed Sarah Roberts her caravan when she first arrived and I may have passed Sam in makeup two or three times. I've had very little to do with either of these characters."

Being on the show since its inception, Ray has worked with some legends like Kate Richie, Danni Minogue and Chris Hemsworth.
We asked him who'd he bring back.
"Any or all of them would be great! If you know one of the producers, then just give them a call! Let's get them back!"
"It would really be lovely to see them all."
"Chris is just so fantastic, he's such a lovely, lovely man. When you see really nice people who work hard do well on an international stage – it is just fantastic."
Channeling some very strong parental love, he told us, "Oh Kate Ritchie! She's such a natural as an actress and she's truly such a warm human. It would be wonderful to have her back, we've had her back once and that was fantastic."
"I'd be so happy if she returned."

30 years of Home and Away

The Aussie veteran gave us a little insight into the show's party plans in light of their 30th anniversary.
"It feels like we've been celebrating for 30 years! We started talking about it last year."
"Sam Mac was on holidays, so they got us on Sunrise as the weather people!"
"Mark Beretta, Edwina Bartholomew, and Koch are so kind and welcoming on that show!"