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Jodi wants to be forever young

Guest Dean

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JODI Gordon doesn't want to grow up. At least the Home and Away star doesn't feel she should conform to anybody's idea of how she should act after winning last year's Silver Logie for Most Popular New Female Talent.

"Having a Logie is great but I don't think it means I have to be a mature, older, adult actor now," the fresh-faced 21-year-old says. "I don't think it means that at all."

Gordon sees her award as more of a pat on the back for a job well done than the impetus for her to change.

Ironically it's her character - country girl Martha McKenzie, granddaughter of Alf Stewart - who is forced to grow up this year.

In the final episode of the long-running soap for last year, viewers were rocked by the news Martha's boyfriend Ash (Ben Geurens) had a secret wife and two children. The realisation sends Martha's life spiralling out of control.

"I think she is so naive. She wants to believe that she's found a great guy and she keeps giving him second chances. She wants to make it work," Gordon says.

Without spoiling it, Martha becomes something of a party girl. It's a story arc which will shock a number of Martha's fans, but one to which Gordon believes people will be able to relate.

"It's this whole emotional rollercoaster that, if you don't deal with your life, can be terrible," she says.

Gordon, who grew up in north Queensland and started modelling at 13, is philosophical about Martha's evolution.

"I think everyone in this show begins as a scruffy bum and gradually they turn you into a glamour puss," she laughs.

Last week, fans anxiously awaited news on the fate of another of the show's favourite characters, Sally Fletcher (Kate Ritchie).

There was much speculation that Sally, a Summer Bay resident for 19 years, would be killed off after she was stabbed by Rocco (Ian Meadows) last year.

News reports also suggested Ritchie wanted to leave the show. But fans can now breathe a little easier as Sally pulls through and is staying put. For now.

As far as the other characters go, Kim (Chris Hemsworth) is faced with dealing with Kit (Amy Mizzi) showing up pregnant with his child.

Also, Amanda's (Holly Brisley) evil sister arrives in the bay to unsettle her relationship with Peter (Nic Bishop).

This year, the show's 20th, has a lot to live up to in terms of matching what was a blockbuster 2006. It regularly rated among the night's top programs overall.

Former Home and Away cast member Cameron Welsh, now series producer, says trying to stay true to the show's original vision and being contemporary is the real challenge.

"We are always looking to advance the show but there is also something which has been with Home and Away that you don't want to lose as well," Welsh says.

"A lot of that is to do with character - all the things that represent what Summer Bay is."

There is one school of thought that says the soul of the show lies in Alf Stewart (Ray Meagher) who, along with Ritchie, has been there since the show started on January 16, 1988. Welsh agrees that Alf is key.

"We don't want to lose Ray, he's just that important to the show... but we've had different characters along the way who have left."

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