You’ve been in the show since the beginning. What have been your favourite morag storylines?
“Yes, on and off, for about 19-and-a-half years. Morag is such a strong character that I can’t just pick one of her storylines. I think the best are yet to come – there’s a very big storyline coming up, but we haven’t even shot that yet. I did like young Ric Dalby [Mark Furze] when he first came in, being the renegade. He’s now become like my surrogate son; I just love him to bits .There’s another angry boy, Aden [Todd Lasance], who I defend and become very close to. And an old love affair of mine comes in –that will be interesting. I used to love the fights with my brother Alf [Ray Meagher], but they don’t happen any more! I’m trying to make her get back to that vindictive, intolerant Morag that used to be.
Other than that I love playing her, I really do.”
What initally attracted you to the part?
“The strength of her. I mean you’re asked to play somebody, and they say: ‘She’s a self-made woman, a high-court judge –she married into society; she comes back and she’s anti-everything Summer Bay.’ I said, ‘Yes –that’s me!’ Because it’s work, you say yes –unless it’s very wrong and the character’s just not you at all.”
Who’s been your favourite of morag’s enemies?
“My brother! And the one who she is just intolerant of is stupid Colleen Smart [Lyn Collingwood]. I’m not going to tell you the storyline that evolves from her, but it’s absolutely hysterical –it’s so wrong, it’s so dreadful! There’s some wonderful stuff coming up with Colleen and Morag –really amazing!”
How do you feel about the softening of Morag over the years?
“I hate it. It was great before –she was so intolerant and conniving. I don’t think she was ever evil, but she just couldn’t understand the stupidity of these Summer Bay people: ‘why don’t you marry into money?’ and so on. She hates stupidity –as do I – and ignorance; she’s really become an extension of me because I’ve made her that way, and she’s also been written that way. I asked for this new item to spice her up a bit and make her more antagonistic. There are also some things happening with the young ones soon that I get really feisty about. I want her to get back to the old Morag.”
How else have you seen the show change over the past two decades?
“It’s virtually a different show except for two characters that are still in it from when it started: my brother and Kate Ritchie, who plays Sally, who’s recently left. Of course it’s going to change in 20 years. As well as the people, there are plot changes: the whole premise of couples adopting children has turned into Sally becoming an adoptive mother figure. But you have to advance; you can’t keep it the same, because the audience has changed as well. The kids who started watching it when they were 13 are 33 now, so they’ve gravitated to different characters. There are lots of new faces coming and going –and we keep getting new writers, so we get new ideas all the time and it just goes on.”
Do you have any advice for the younger cast members?
“Learn your craft and don’t take it for granted. Be aware of what’s going on around you; don’t be self-centred, and don’t believe your publicity because it’s over in a second. You’re only as good as your next job, so take care of it while you’re doing it.”