Home and Away: “Alf tried to protect Roo from the truth about her mum” – Ray Meagher on fake death twist

"Martha didn't want them, so Alf thought he was doing the right thing," reveals the star

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Home and Away’s spectacular twist that Alf Stewart’s wife Martha is still alive continues to have repercussions next week when Roo decides to track down the mother who abandoned her 35 years ago.

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Alf delivered the bombshell to his daughter while they were trapped in a sinkhole beneath Summer Bay High that Martha did not drown in a boating accident as everyone believed, but faked her death and left her family unable to cope with parenthood.

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Since then father and daughter have been at odds over Alf’s decision to shield the truth, but in the week beginning Monday 16 April they reach a tentative understanding when Alf gives Roo her mum’s old ring. John Palmer checks out the name of the jewellery shop on the box and discovers it’s still going and is based in the coastal town of Merimbula.

Unsure whether to pursue this potential lead, Roo seeks advice from her dad who gives his blessing for her to start the search for Martha in person. Apprehensive Roo leaves the Bay, but will she find the answers she’s looking for or just more heartbreak? Ray Meagher, who recently celebrated 30 years as Home and Away stalwart Alf (read our full interview here) spoke to RadioTimes.com about the shock storyline that’s changed everything for the Stewarts…

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From Alf’s point of view, what happened to Martha?
She was unhappy and in retrospect clearly suffering from a mental illness that wouldn’t have even been diagnosed back then. Alf knew she couldn’t handle him or Roo. There was an accident at sea and she supposedly drowned. Some time later after it was accepted she was missing believed dead, she wrote to Alf telling him she was still alive but that she didn’t want to be found. Alf thought if Martha disliked her life so much, he wouldn’t bother trying to find her. He was protecting his daughter.

Were you worried this would turn viewers against Alf for telling such a huge lie?
Yes and no. For Alf in this situation, he sees himself genuinely as protecting Roo. Martha left, she didn’t want either of them so in his mind he did the right thing. That’s the only justification I could see to get around the possible negative reaction and have the audience stick with him.

Did Alf plan to tell Roo in the sinkhole?
He didn’t choose the moment, he thought he was a goner and felt he owed it to her to tell the truth. He always planned to tell her one day, and if the time had been right before a lump of concrete had fallen on his chest in the sinkhole he would’ve done it!

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What was Roo’s immediate reaction?
She was blown away, but part of her thought he’d gone a bit funny because he was convinced he was dying. She couldn’t exactly go shaking him in the sinkhole and slap him round the face to get an answer! So at first she tried to work out whether he was fair dinkum or not. When she realises and Alf’s out of danger in hospital, Roo feels cheated, robbed and betrayed and can’t deal with it.

How does Alf try to convince Roo he was protecting her?
There’s a line where he says: ‘I stayed, she didn’t want you. I’m here I’ve been here all along and I’ll still be here.’ Although this revelation tips the character on his head somewhat from what people thought they knew, once you get under the bonnet of it and playing the story going forward, there is much more to it. He never abandoned Roo and struggled as a single parent, remember Roo was quite unruly as a teenager, and he’s sat on this for years. Alf believed what he did was right.

Have you enjoyed the emotional scenes with Georgie Parker (Roo)?
I love working with Georgie, or ‘Parker’ as I call her. And she calls me ‘Father’! We’ve had some ripper scenes over the course of this, really well written and terrific to do. They felt good and I hope that translates on screen. Moments like that don’t happen every day and are a bit special. Even after 30 years working on Home and Away is a good little workout!

Home and Away continues weekdays on Channel 5 at 1.15pm and 6pm.

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