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Tue, 13 Feb, 2018Melody Teh

The one reason why Ray Meagher has stayed on Home and Away for 30 years

The one reason why Ray Meagher has stayed on Home and Away for 30 years

He’s been a constant presence on our television screens for over 30 years, but Home and Away’s Ray Meagher – or Alf Stewart, as he will always be known to many – still is startled by his fame.

"I feel [fame] is the domain of the more attractive, younger people that people are interested in looking at and reading about," the 73-year-old told TV Week in an exclusive interview.

Like the character he’s played for three decades, Ray is friendly, down-to-earth and talkative. But there's one crucial difference. 

"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."

With a successful TV and film career before he moved to Summer Bay, a question that dogs the veteran Home and Away actor is why has stayed on the show for so long.

"There have been a couple of times along the way where I've thought, 'Maybe I should go and do that,'" he says, admitting he often asks himself the question. "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."

But it should come as no surprise the key reason why Ray has stayed year after year - it's the people.

"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."

But with 30 years of ups and down on the show – with his character having faced every scenario imaginable, the latest of which he finds himself fighting for his life – how much longer does he see himself going? Will he be retiring anytime soon?

"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."