Ray Meagher is the face of Summer Bay, having played loving grandpa Alf Stewart on Home and Away for more than 30 years.
So who better to show the ropes to new cast members fresh out of theatre school when they arrive on the Summer Bay set?
In an exclusive interview with TV WEEK, the 77-year-old discusses how he mentors fresh talent, which co-star he hopes to win at the 2022 TV WEEK Logie Awards, and the Home and Away romance that he can’t get enough of.
Ray explains, “I don’t intentionally take somebody under my wing unless I can sense that they’re genuinely hurting.”
Ray simply lets his new co-stars’ acting abilities speak for itself, other from guiding rookies around the various Home and Away sets.
“I don’t go around telling people how to act.” However, I’m hoping that some of my methods will rub off on others. “By that, I don’t mean acting; I mean showing there on time, always being ready and prepared, and never taking a sick day,” he explains.
“All of those things have been my modus operandi, and I don’t consider them special; I consider them a basic component of the job.”
“Not everyone notices. We weren’t raised in that manner; rather, we were raised to get on with things.”
If any of the less experienced performers are visibly struggling with a scene or getting one of their lines out, Ray, who has portrayed Alf Stewart since 1988, will step in.
“I might softly remark – without saying ‘you’ve blown it,’ ‘it might be a bit simpler if you just alter that phrase, it’ll have exactly the same meaning, it might flow easier for you,’ and leave it at that,” he explains.
“They’re already under a lot of stress; they need support, not to be yelled at.”
Ray uses the opportunity to compliment newbie Matt Evans from 2021’s Home and Away, who has been nominated for the 2022 TV WEEK Logie Award for Most Popular New Talent.
“It would be lovely to see him win. He’s a delightful child.” He’s got everything. “He looks fantastic, and he’s learning at a breakneck pace,” he says.
When Ray reminisces about the early days of Home and Away, it’s apparent that he adores the show and its cast and crew.
Donald Fisher and Marilyn Chambers, played by Norman Coburn and Emily Symons, are the seasoned actor’s favourite on-screen pair to date.
“I thought it was wonderful; there was a good age gap, which was pretty entertaining.” And I adore both of the protagonists,” he exclaims.
“Emily chose to play a role who was a little different from her norm, and she has been true to her word.”