Home and Away stalwart Ray Meagher (Alf Stewart) has today been recognised in the Australia Day honours list with a Medal of the Order of Australia, for his service to performing arts as an actor.
Born Raymond Francis Meagher in 1944, Ray grew up on a Queensland sheep and cattle station, which he credits for being the source of some of Alf’s famous quotes – “The expressions are stolen from genuine knockabout bushies or eccentric characters in the back of rugby sheds” said Ray in a 2013 interview. “Lines like ‘Stone the flamin’ crows’ are straight from the outback.”
After playing A Grade rugby for ten years in Brisbane, including a few games for Queensland, Ray moved to Sydney to pursue his acting ambitions. In the early starts of his screen career, which has so far lasted over forty years, Ray had bit parts on over thirty Australian films and mini-series, as well as three separate roles in the cult soap Prisoner.
In 1987 Ray filmed a pilot for an upcoming Seven Network soap, and the rest is history. After initially committing to Home and Away for a six month contract following the successful pilot, Ray’s 29 year tenure in Summer Bay has seen him take a Guinness World Record for being the longest-serving actor in an Australian TV series—an accolade held jointly with Kate Ritchie until her departure from the show at the end of 2007—as well as a Gold Logie in 2010 for being the Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.
Ray married his long-term partner Gilly in 2010, and is currently contracted on Home and Away until the end of 2018, as he revealed in a recent interview for NZ’s Sunday Star Times – “so I’m looking a rough chance to get there. The head of drama of Seven said the other day ‘we better have a yarn again soon’..”
Speaking of his award, Ray told Sunrise he was “humbled and honoured, it was something I never expected“.
Ray’s former co-star Judy Nunn, who played on-screen wife Ailsa from 1988-2000 with a guest stint in 2002, was previously made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2015—for her services to the performing arts as a scriptwriter and actor of stage and screen, and to literature as an author.
Many Home and Away actors paid their respects, by sharing photos on Instagram:
See this handsome old bloke? I've always known he was a bit of alright but how wonderful to see him this #australiaday be recognised with a Medal of the Order of Australia 🏅for his service to the performing arts as an actor 📺🎭🎥 #congratulations #australiadayhonours #raymeagher #raymeagherOAM #somuchmorethanmrstewart #alfstewart #sallyfletcher #homeandaway