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Ray Meagher hasn't been all that happy with H&A


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Long time Home & Away actor Ray Meagher sat down with Ben Fordham on 2GB Radio this afternoon to talk about the direction of the iconic show — and he hasn’t been all that happy with it.

Ben Fordham describes Meagher’s character, Alf, as the voice of reason among the sea of teenage angst and drama — a type of “reality check” for the show.

While Ray Meagher seemed to accept that, he feels the show has become too focused on promiscuity and scandal.

The two discussed the roots of the show and the fact that it centred on a foster family in the beginning.

“The story’s gone a little away from foster kids to sex, drugs and rock’n’roll,” Meagher said.

He feels that the content has become a touch inappropriate for its 7pm timeslot.

In true Alf fashion, he cited the good old days and said that once upon a time, “You would never have seen a parental guidance recommended over a Home & Away episode”.

While the Home & Away star concedes that there are relevant and important issues for the show to deal with, it is the level of excess that has him on the brink of being flamin’ mad.

“I think we just strayed away a little bit and got a little bit out of whack with the sex, drugs and rock’n’roll over the past few years,” he said.

“It became a little unbalanced and I think now there’s a genuine effort to bring the balance back a little bit more.”

When asked if he had taken it upon himself to right the ship, the veteran actor admitted that he had.

“For 27 seven years I didn’t ever have a word … but about six months ago I had a fairly severe word,” he said.

When pressed about the grievances that he aired with producers, the 70-year-old said it was to do with the disproportionate amount of salacious storylines.

“The sex, drugs and rock’n’roll is 80 per cent of the show, if the bad things happening were 50 or below that’d be fine.”

Mainstay actors on the long-running show, such as Meagher, are thought of as “custodian of the brand”, something Meagher takes seriously.

“We have a duty of care to look after it and make sure it’s the best we can while we’re there to pass it on to the next lot of people,” he said.

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Good on him for being vocal in his opinion though I hope he doesn't get the sack like the last person who dared to vocalise the fact that Home And Away is not really Home And Away anymore.The only things they really have in common are the name of the town and Alf, Irene, Leah and Roo.I wonder if We'll see a change seeing he's spoken to them about it.

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I don't think that they would dare to sack Ray as he's the icon of the show - it would make a lot of fans angry. Rob was not that important so it was easy to write out Syd as a character. I'm glad that someone has finally pointed out that H&A is not H&A anymore. I believe that Ray and Lyn can make the difference if they want to, IMO they are definitely bigger that Louise and Lucy.

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It's just a PR stunt, and strategy I think. I said something like this in 2009 after Mr. Meagher's criticism after a string of criticism against the show. And then he said the show was going back to it's roots. But I remember what happened, more violence even including Alf and more dragged out triangles and storylines. I thought at that time that he said so to make people believe that the show was going to change.

Now the show has got a lot of focus on what will happen when the Braxtons departs, especially Brax. It feels like media and some people that it will fall apart. So to make this loss look smaller, the focus on what's wrong with the show once again gets focus from the iconic actor in the media.

But the violence has been there for a long time. And a time with a lot of praise of the show in the media.

And why is Ray Meagher still on the show if he is that disappointed with it? I think it would have made a change if he quit because of the violence, sex-dramas and so on. The show has been violent since 2004-05, so it is nothing new.

And why is he only in media about this issue when the show gets either bad criticism about the actors behaviour in private life (2009) or when the media is concerned about what's happening when their "pets" are leaving? Especially since the show has been violent all the time, and also because of these characters?

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I'm glad Ray Meagher has spoken out against the current direction of Home and Away. This is hardly surprising as he has spoken before, less directly, that he preferred the family values and occasional comedy to the OTT drama. Why is he doing it now though? Is there an opportunity for positive change behind the scenes? If he has a "serious word" six months ago, the next few months should be very telling in whether they took his criticism on board, or are just carrying on with business as usual.

Why is this story only coming to light now? It will be interesting to see if there is any response, direct or indirect from TPTB. No doubt it would be along the lines of "Ray is entitled to his opinion, we believe Home and Away is still mega popular and we know almost all viewers love what we're doing.".

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This article expands on it:

Meagher commented: "The whole show originally was about an escape to the country - or the seaside country, if you like - a city family that had foster kids. That main house, the house that Alf Stewart now lives in, for the last few years we haven't had as many people in it as we'd like.

"The story has gone a little away from foster kids, onto sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, which for a 7pm timeslot is 'only just'! Once you would never see 'parental guidance recommended' over a Home and Away opener, but over the last few years, we have seen that a bit."

He continued: "The show has always tried to deal with relevant topics. I think we probably just strayed away a little bit and got a little bit out of whack with the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll over the last few years.

"It became a little unbalanced. Now there's a genuine effort to bring the balance back a little bit more."

Asked whether he has ever discussed his concerns with the show's producers, Meagher confirmed that he spoke up for the first time ever last year.

He explained: "For 27 years, I didn't ever have a word apart from to say, 'Thanks for that mate, that was a great scene, I really enjoyed that the other day'. But about six months ago, I had a fairly severe word.

"[it was] along the lines of what I was just saying to you - the balance has gone the wrong way on the show, the sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll is 80% of the show now. If it was 50% or if the bad things happening were 50 or below, that's fine. Look, a lot of people agreed."

When radio host Ben Fordham pointed out that the Home and Away team may not have liked hearing his comments, Meagher agreed: "They don't - particularly if they've written it!"

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I dont believe in axing a show because it feels as if it has dragged on too long. All soaps go through good and bad phases and H&A is still very popular. It can be salvaged. I think H&A can be turned into a better show again for the future. I hope Susan Bower Lucy Addario does heed Ray's words as it must be a big issue if the longest serving cast member is speaking out.

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Very brave of Ray to voice his concerns about the current state of the show. I generally agree with his premise that the show has lost its roots somewhat but as a viewer myself I still enjoy the show even if I don't 100% completely like all of it.

The show has had some flaws lately that need to be addressed and hopefully with Ray's concerns about it this will be a catalyst for change and hopefully see a new direction in the show. I don't think the current format of the show will change until the current writers and producers are no longer working on Home and Away.

It will be interesting to see how this transpires.

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