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Stars take mall before them

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Stars take mall before them

Sunday Herald Sun

21 August 2005

Home And Away fans were out in force at Chadstone Shopping Centre recently for what has become an annual meet-and-greet in Melbourne.

More than 1000 excited fans were there to see stars Jodi Gordon, (Martha Mackenzie), Kip Gamblin (Scott Hunter), Jason Smith (Robbie Hunter), Sharni Vinson (Cassie Turner), Kate Ritchie (Sally Fletcher) and Tim Campbell (Dan Baker).

Kids' Page was lucky enough to have a chat to the Summer Bay residents before they made their appearance on stage.

"We enjoy the opportunity to meet our fans," Ritchie says.

"This is a nice way of seeing that what you are doing, people are watching and that makes it rewarding."

She says lately fans were most likely to ask about what it was like being Bec Cartwright's bridesmaid for her wedding to Lleyton Hewitt last month.

She says it was a beautiful wedding.

Meanwhile, Gamblin says it was nice to come to Melbourne again.

"We work in Sydney, but I know we have a lot of fans in Melbourne so this is something we like to do, coming here to meet people and sign autographs," she says.

And sign autographs they did. The queue of fans, patiently waiting their turn to shake hands and receive a photograph, seemed to snake through much of the shopping centre.

"This is fantastic," Smith said about the large crowd. Summer Bay's newest stars, Gordon and Vinson, were also surprised.

"There are so many people," Vinson said.

Vinson, who celebrated her 22nd birthday last week, says she is still getting used to being recognised on the street as a TV star.

Gordon, 20, had been modelling in Europe until she won the role of Martha in Home And Away.

She describes acting as a new ball game.

"Everyone assured me that if I was comfortable in front of a camera as a model, it would be easy to transfer that to television. Not so," she says.

"It has been a learning curve, but I am loving it."

Both were full of praise for their cast mates who they said had made the transition much easier.

Ritchie says viewers' attitudes to TV "soaps" had changed a lot and there was a lot respect for shows such as Home And Away.

"It is a hard slog. To produce a quality 30 minutes of television five nights a week we have to work at such a quick pace," she says.

Ritchie, who has been on Home And Away for 17 years, says it is good to introduce fresh faces to the show.

"It keeps the show young and fresh," she says.

"And kids can relate to the characters. In many ways, Home And Away is an educational tool."

I asked Kate if she felt she would be forever typecast as Fletcher, the role she has played since the popular series first screened in 1988.

"Bit late now," she said laughing.

"And if for some reason I left the show, I'd like to think of this as a great chapter in my life."

See what is happening in Home And Away weeknights at 7pm on Seven.

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