There's more to Home and Away's Ray Meagher than Alf 'strewth!' Stewart's fishing hats, as the star shares some surprising facts.
Australian actor Ray Meagher is better known as Home and Away legend Alf Stewart.
The veteran star has been playing the grumpy bait shop owner since the pilot episode of Home and Away aired in Australia back in 1988. We talked to Ray to uncover a few surprising snippets about the actor behind his catchphrase-loving character. Stone the flamin’ crows!
Here are 7 things you might not know about Home and Away favourite Ray Meagher, aka Alf Stewart…
1. Ray holds a Guinness World Record as the longest serving actor in an Australian serial.
Previously, the record was held by fellow Home and Away actors Norman Coburn (Don Fisher) and Kate Ritchie (Sally Fletcher) until they left the show.
“Obviously you don’t go to work for records or trophies or whatever but if those milestones come along accidentally that’s all very nice, too,” he commented.
2. Ray’s previous on-screen encounter with Alf’s current love interest – actress Belinda Giblin who plays Martha Stewart – was a violent tussle!
Despite Belinda’s equally long career in Aussie TV shows, including a role in ‘80s soap Sons and Daughters, Ray and Belinda have only met on screen once before, back in the early ‘70s.
“We did an episode shot in black and white – that’s how long ago it was – of a series called Matlock Police,” he revealed. “She played the daughter of a country squire and I was from the other side of the tracks. My character forced myself upon her but her father turned up with a shovel and it found the back of my skull and I drowned in a water trough!”
3. Ray was an early mentor to Hollywood actress and former co-star Isla Fisher when she joined the soap as a teen.
She might be a big star now, but Ray remembers giving some sound advice to the Wedding Crashers actress after she took the role as troubled kid Shannon Reed.
“I said, ‘Don’t set yourself up for people to take shots at or play games. You’re doing a fabulous job. Don’t worry about the other stuff’.”
4. Although Ray’s been treading the boards in pantomime in the UK for over 20 years the 75-year-old has finally retired. Oh, yes, he has!
The Aussie actor has played everyone from arch villain Captain Hook in Peter Pan to the evil Abanazar in Aladdin but he’s decided his panto days are over.
“Each show is six days a week and you have to look at your birth certificate and realise a lot more of your life is behind you than in front! But I wouldn’t have missed it for quids,” he shared.
5. Ray almost missed out on a starring role in the West End version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
The self-confessed “Aussie bloke from the Queensland bush who can’t sing or dance” first joined the Priscilla cast as outback mechanic ‘Bob’ in 2007, but it could have been a lot earlier.
“I knocked it back when they first offered it. Then I thought, ‘You idiot! How many offers like that do you get in your career?’” he revealed. “Fortunately they rang back a year later!”
6. Ray’s favourite Alf moment was a surreal hallucination storyline when Alf saw the ghost of his late wife!
When Alf developed a brain tumour things got decidedly spooky for a scene where Ray, playing opposite the late great Cornelia Frances as Morag Bellingham and Norman Coburn as Donald Fisher, had an encounter with his dead wife Ailsa played by Judy Nunn.
“Alf invited Morag and Don for dinner. Because of his brain tumour one of the symptoms was he could still see Ailsa. We had a lot of fun doing it even thought it was a very serious subject matter. It’s sometimes good to have a bit of fun because it does bring focus on that people do have problems.”
7. Ray underwent major heart surgery in August 2019 after tests revealed he had blocked arteries.
After getting regular heart check ups for a number of years as a precaution, Ray was stunned when a routine examination revealed he needed immediate surgery. But we’re pleased to learn he’s made a swift recovery!
“They found that one artery was almost 110 per cent blocked and another that was 50 per cent blocked. I thought I’d had a double bypass and a few days later the surgeon said you’ve had a triple! I’ll be back to work full on after the Christmas break,” he revealed.
Home and Away airs on weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.15 pm and 6.00 pm (see our TV Guide for full listings)