As Home and Away star Lynne McGranger approaches her 20th year in the Australian soap, we caught up with her to look back on her time as Summer Bay favourite Irene Roberts…

We hear that you’re a big fan of the UK?
“Yes! My favourite place on the planet is York. I’ve been back there a number of times. I love the history, I have some best friends there who I often spend Christmas with. I love the west coast of Ireland, I love the south of England, Southsea, Portsea. I’ll be spending this Christmas in Weymouth, appearing in the panto Jack & The Beanstalk at The Pavillion. I’m playing the baddie, Fairy Fleshcreep!

What British telly do you like catching up on?
“Downton Abbey, Lark Rise To Candleford…anything with Colin Firth in! I’m also a great fan of Shameless. I would love to play an Australian character who moves in next door to Paddy and Mimi. I would just cause havoc!”

Your Home and Away character, Irene, was recently affected by breast cancer. How did you feel about doing the storyline?
“As an actor it is wonderful to have a good storyline like that. It was harrowing at times. It was wonderful that the writers and the producers allowed the storyline to go on for a sensible amount of time. It was nice to be able to represent women out there and do it in a realistic way. We didn’t Hollywood it up or glamorise it. I looked like crap!”

What was the reaction from viewers?
“People have been very encouraging and supportive. In fact some people think I’ve actually had cancer and that it was written into the storyline. It’s a bit weird, but then it made me think that I must have played it truthfully and people really believed it.”

Irene’s recent romance with Eddie ended in disaster! Will we ever see her lucky-in-love again?
“I think Irene is very vulnerable after the whole cancer thing. Eddie was a nice guy and fond of Irene but in the end he had an ulterior motive. He wanted to advance his music career and was just using Irene to get closer to Liam. Maybe she’s destined to be unlucky-in-love for ever!”

She has had a run of bad luck where men are concerned!
“Yes, a car fell on her fiance, Ken, while he was working at the garage. Then there was Paris, the young and gorgeous Headmaster of Summer Bay High. But he had to leave the Bay. Her next, Barry Hyde, just happened to have murdered a couple of people. Then her beloved Lou was murdered at sea and Irene was accused of the crime!”

Would you like to see Irene’s grown-up children return?
“I would love to see Nathan come back. Last time we saw him he was off touring with an Irish nurse. So I think he’s gone back to Ireland and is going to get married there. So I think Irene should go over to Ireland to see him! We could do some filming over there and my life would be complete! I would love to see Damien and Finn again too. Matty Doran, who played Damien, still acts. Tina Thomsen doesn’t. She’s a stay at home mum these days with a lovely family. So I don’t know if she would come back. But certainly someone like Selina (Tempany Deckert), who was like a daughter to Irene.”

And you’re about to celebrate your 20th anniversary?
“This August it will be 20 years since I filmed my very first scene. My daughter was 20 months’ old when I started on the show. She’s now 21. It does feel as though it’s gone past in the blink of an eye. I don’t know what’s coming up. I’ll have to ask the producers. Hopefully, they’ve got a nice bottle of champagne waiting for me in the wings!”