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Friday, September 22, 2023

Home & Away’s Ray Meagher: Only a third of me isn’t Alf Stewart

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Ray Meagher claims that the ‘flaming galah’ isn’t just for the Home & Away set, claiming that there’s only a 30% difference between him and his renowned Summer Bay character Alf Stewart.

The 78-year-old can’t get enough of Alf, signing on for five more years to portray him until he’s in his eighties, but he claims there’s not much of a difference between them in real life.

After 36 years as the TV grouch, Meagher says fans requesting him to drawl his bogan catchphrases is just part of daily life on the streets.

“Ray and Alf have the same appearance. He most likely sounds the same. “You only need to change a small percentage of a person’s persona to feel like a different person,” he tells The West.

“I don’t believe you’d have to change more than 30% of Ray Meagher to get Alf.”

The veteran argues that he is not as grumpy as Alf.

“Hopefully Ray doesn’t lose his cool as quickly as Alf and doesn’t go around calling people ‘flaming mongrels,’ ‘flaming galahs,’ and ‘flaming this,’ and telling long-haired gits to get a haircut.”

Meagher claims he created the classic catchphrases all those years ago.

“They are now in writing. I made a lot of stuff for the character many years ago, and he still retains most of them. I prefer to be honest with that character and have a thread running through it from the beginning. With Alf, the audience knows what to expect. There are no unexpected outcomes. If they witness a certain situation, they know he will not put up with it and will blow his top.”

Fans still can’t get enough of him after nearly four decades – he’s nominated for most popular actor at the Logies again, a title he’s previously held.

As a consequence he doesn’t mind people in the street asking him to parrot his lines.

“It goes with the territory. My character has been saying those things on television and people’s lounge rooms for the last 36 years. It’s quite normal a percentage of people are going to lock on to that and ask you to say it. It’s not a matter of growing tired of it. It’s a matter of accepting that’s normal,” he said.

Explaining why he can’t walk away from Alf, Meagher is satisfied with his former acting career.

“The fact that I had a career before Home & Away is one of the biggest reasons,” he said.

“Before it started, I had 20 years and was able to do 30 feature films, mini-series, and a lot of stage work.” I understand what it’s like on the outside. Producers have let me out to film Home & Away and, more recently, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, which I had the opportunity to do on the West End. Management has been a positive experience for me. In fact, I get along with more than 90% of the individuals here. If you can say that about your workplace, you’re doing well.”

“Along the way,” he said, “I’ve been offered films.” I can count on one hand the number of jobs I would have liked to complete but couldn’t due to contractual constraints. I have no regrets about any of it. There have been other occupations where they have permitted me to work.”

He joked about becoming an acting octogenarian, saying, “I thought it was 105 years more years!” I’m extremely pleased here right now, but I’m not sure what old age does to you, whether there will be a small knock on the inside of the head saying, ‘run, run, get out of there!'”.

He won’t disclose if his off-set life is similar to Alf’s days on Palm Beach in New South Wales since he prefers to be a mystery.

“I have a private life I keep pretty private,” he said.

“I enjoy that but I also enjoying coming to work otherwise at this stage at life I wouldn’t still do it.’

After four decades in the game, Meagher says he wouldn’t do things any other way.

“I don’t have any regrets,” he said. “I am a very happy little camper.”

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