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Controversial Home & Away Changing

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HOME and Away stalwart Ray Meagher is forecasting a return to the Australian soap's core values in the new year.

Meagher, who has played iconic character Alf Stewart for 22 years, promises viewers at least two light-hearted moments per episode after admitting the show had strayed from its original formula at times.

"We've had too many guns and balaclavas and bank robberies and that sort of thing,'' Meagher said during a break in his hectic UK Christmas pantomime schedule.

"We're going back to a family show.

"We'll still have teenage angst. What I've been agitating for is to have a good belly laugh or at least a nice warm smile each quarter hour in there.''

Meagher said series producer Cameron Welsh was firmly behind the idea, and revealed the return of a female character who moves in with Alf and Miles would be a key ingredient in the comedy recipe.

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News of the changes coincides with a reported disciplinary crackdown by show bosses following a series of off-screen incidents involving young cast members.

While he is keen to inject some light relief into the show, it's not a case of Meagher throwing his weight around the Summer Bay set, even if his longevity on the soap might suggest he should have a licence to do so.

Like Alf Stewart, however, he stands up for what he thinks is right.

"I don't go running up to the writers' department giving them story ideas,'' Meagher said.

"However, I fiercely protect the basic tenets of my character. If they start playing around with my character I say, `hang on, this is what he's like'.

"Alf Stewart wouldn't back down. He would defend what he believes in even if it meant he'd get a beating.''

After initially joining the show for six months, Meagher never believed he would have stayed so long - and he has a contract for another two years.

"At the end of that time we'll see if they're still interested in having me and if I'm upright and can remember half a line,'' Meagher said.


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Its nothing wrong with having serious storylines, not if they have spread them over for a longer period time and not having them at the same time, that's just overkill. But we need to see some normal storylines with humour and everyday happenings in between. I think that some of the stuff from late 2007 was very good (except from the Reverend Hall storyline!), and I really liked it from 1998-2004! Some serious storylines (etc. Kane) and every day storylines like school stuff and the Diner. And the crimes storylines, and people who are not going to be punished for their crimes are not good for the show. But I don't understand why they have to go from one extreme to an another. If Marilyn is going to be the same they have to change the show totally, or they have to change her. I think they actually changed her a bit before she left (the stuff with Byron etc). I was actually relieved when she left the show.

I think that all the characters have some humour if the writers want them to be that way. Alf, Morag, Irene have a lot of humour. Also younger ones like Aden (he has some very funny lines sometimes), Nicole, Romeo etc. have had funny lines.

And I also think there was a reason why the show moved from the very light storylines to more heavy ones (because of the ratings, I suppose). Years ago I could watch one or two episodes and then tune in about 5-6 months later and nothing had happened. Some in between from that time and how it has been in 2009 would have been good.

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I think the show start to fall apart after the olympic cliffhanger 2008. And storylines like the developement site and people smuggling are too political, heavvy and complex for HAA to handle. After the olympic cliffhanger we had the aftermath of Adens breakdown, Melody's mental illness, Ross Alzheimer, Tony/Rachel and his betrayal, Bridget and her criminal activities and the developement site which ended in Jacks death. All of them in just 3-4 months and that's too much. And it felt that some of them was rushed or badly written. Those storylines (minus the developement site and Bridget- those had nothing to do in HAA) could have been spread over a couple of years, maybe 3-4 and with some "normal" everyday life happenings in between. And in 2009 it has been even worse, we haven't had a real school storyline (did the kids go to school in 2009??, exept from the HSC) or enough storylines about work, career and friendship.

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It seems like they are bringing in iconic female characters as heads of Summer Bay House to replace Sally. First Kirsty now


I am not sure this is working. The dynamics of the house are all over the place as it is. I would prefer her to live with Irene.

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