He has a Guinness World Record for the longest-serving actor in an Australian serial portraying Alf Stewart in Home And Away, but after 31 years Ray Meagher is making arrangements to rest the beloved character "just a little bit".
Ray Meagher who has played Alf Stewart in Home and Away for the past 31 years.Credit:Louie Douvis
But there's no need to "stone the flamin' crows" just yet – as his famous catchcry goes. The 74-year-old Gold Logie-winning television legend has no plans to retire per se having recently signed a three-year contract with Seven to continue in his role as the slow-to-apologise, old-school ocker, unofficial mayor of Summer Bay.
"I don't really think much about retirement," he said. "I guess the time will come and I will, but I just signed another contract for three years … but sometimes contracts are made to be broken," he laughed.
As a high-ranking TV legend, Meagher sets his own terms and conditions such as including a proviso to "work less".
Alf Stewart (Meagher) and his son Duncan (Brendan McKensy) rushing to the aid of Ailsa Stewart (Judy Nunn) after she suffers from a heart attack.Credit:Seven
"We work for 46 weeks of the year, but I have clauses where I can give producers a reasonable amount of notice for them to write me out to go to the UK and do pantomimes or to go to London and do Priscilla in the West End," he said.
"In this latest contract I said I wanted to work less weeks, so we've worked that out, but I'll still be there more often than not.
"I'm taking a tiny little bit of extra time … but it's not a bridge to retirement," he added.
When the time does come to bid adieu, Meagher doesn't want to go out just popping 'round to the shops in Yabbie Creek. He wants to go "with a bang" unlike his late on-screen wife Ailsa Stewart (played by Judy Nunn), who was disappointed by the poxy heart attack she suffered from lifting heavy boxes in 2000.
Meagher as Alf Stewart and Chris Hemsworth as Kim Hyde in Home And Away.Credit:Seven
Opening up about some of his former castmates who have cracked Hollywood, Meagher said of the late Heath Ledger: "I met him but I barely knew him, it's a dreadful demise for a really talented young bloke."
When it comes to Chris Hemsworth and Isla Fisher he said: "You couldn't meet nicer people.
"As soon as Chris walked in, he looks like a Greek God, he's a good actor and he was always working on his craft to get better. I knew he'd go far. You would have to have been an idiot not to know."
Television has come a long way since Meagher first got a regular acting role on the soap Number 96 in the early '70s. In Australia, 43 per cent of households stream, while in Britain streaming services have now overtaken pay TV. This shift in viewing behaviour, particularly among the young, has shaken up the free-to-air television industry and pay-TV.
But Meagher is unconcerned for the future of soaps.
"In places like Ireland, the UK, with the colder temperatures for more of the year, I can see soaps going on there until the cows come home," he said.
As well as Home And Away, Meagher can currently be seen on regular ads promoting his latest venture with GoDaddy, a website builder. This time, Meagher is spruiking a fragrance, aptly named Raygrance, after the success of his hot sauce, Ray's Flamin' Hot Sauce, last year.
Judy Nunn (left), Ray Meagher, the late Cornelia Frances and Norman Coburn on the long-running Seven soap opera Home and Away.Credit:Seven
The money raised from Raygrance will go to Cure Cancer Australia, with more than $50,000 raised from the hot sauce last year.
"My older brother, who was like a father figure to me, he died a few years ago from cancer and I also have a very dear friend who, in her words, is running out of options now.
"[Cancer] is everywhere the rotten, bloody thing," he added.
Meagher giving Paco Rabanne a run for its money with his own perfume, Raygrance.Credit:
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