We catch up for a chat with Home and Away star Ray Meagher, who is currently taking a break from playing Alf Stewart to star in the West End stage version of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert

What’s your West End stage experience been like?
“It’s mind-blowing! It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s everything I thought it would be… and more! I’ve never done anything in the West End before, and never expected to. So this is fantastic. I’m appearing in Priscilla until next March 5th.”

How did the role of Bob The Mechanic first come about?
“In 2007, I actually played the part in the Australian stage version for two weeks. When I first saw the show, I thought, ‘This is so much fun, I’ve got to be in it!’ When it opened in London, I was over in the UK doing a panto and had a meeting with the casting agent. But for a few reasons it didn’t work out at the time. I thought, ‘It would have been lovely, but it’s not going to happen.’ But as soon as I got home to Australia, the phone rang again… and here we are!”

You’ve taken a six-month break from Home and Away for Priscilla. Does Alf’s temporary exit from Summer Bay have anything to do with Penn?
“Yes, but I can’t tell you too much! But it’s been a pretty good storyline. Penn is a weirdo, and nobody is quite sure what his motivation is or why he’s doing what he’s doing. People come up to me and say, ‘You’ve got to do something about him!’ But you’ll have to wait and see what happens.”

We are very excited to hear that Alf’s daughter, Roo, is coming back to Summer Bay! She’ll be seen on screen in the UK from 13th Dec…
“Yes, Roo’s back from America. She’s still full of energy, bluff and bravado. She’s had a few financial problems and is possibly running away from a bloke. Alf has a bit of trouble getting the truth out of her. But he’s still pleased to see her back in the Bay.”

The role has been re-cast, with Georgie Parker taking over from original actress Justine Clarke…
“Justine Clarke was great in the role and has been very successful since. She’s a special one. But if Justine wasn’t available or interested in coming back, they couldn’t have got anyone better than Georgie Parker. She’s a very known actress in Australia for her roles in A Country Practice and All Saints.”

You are now the only remaining original cast member. Are you staying with the series?
“I’m currently contracted to Home and Away until mid 2012. If I’m still upright with a pulse, and they still want me after that, we’ll see!”

Do you still keep in touch with any former Summer Bay residents?
“I still see Kate Ritchie (Sally), and Judy Nunn (Ailsa) and I speak a few times a year. We are still good mates. I’ve been watching a bit of Dannii Minogue (who played Emma Jackson back in 1989/1990) on The X Factor while I’ve been in the UK.”

We hear that Dannii got into a bit of trouble, when she accidentally leaked the news that you’d won a Gold Logie Award in Australia earlier this year?
“Yes! As soon as I won, Dannii went straight onto Twitter to congratulate me. The Logies show was supposed to be live on TV, but Dannii didn’t realise that it was delayed by half an hour. So she had the news out there before anyone else!”

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