Television preview: Home And Away
When Alf ``Flamin' Heck" Stewart leaves Home And Away, I do hope they offer
him a better send-off than they're giving droopy-eyed school principal Donald
Fisher tonight. After such lengthy service to the cliffhangers of soap opera, a
character deserves at least the dignity of a spectacular exit.
For Alf it might be as the mad poisoner of Summer Bay, or as a hero trying to
fend off a spectacular al-Qaeda attack on the diner, or simply getting shot by
a jealous surprise lover.
Don certainly merited more than this teary-eyed, Goodbye-Mr-Chips dismissal.
Old ``Flathead", never happy at the cheeriest of times, has reason to look sad
and sorry in his farewell episode of Home And Away (7pm, Seven). It is sloppy,
sentimental, touching . . . showing almost unspeakable verisimilitude to real
life. There is a last dollop of poetry for his final class of kids, an endless
minor-key tinkling of the piano as Fisher's groper-wide mouth gulps at the
thought of leaving his beloved waters, and then, with students, staff and
locals, the big, emotional, surprise farewell party before he tootles off to
Queensland, Valhalla of all Australian soapie greats.
The only one missing from the celebrations is the show's latest villain,
blonde, good-looking and treacherous teacher Angie, responsible for accusations
of assault against school pupil Nick. Poor old Nick is on the run.
I suppose there is a last, lachrymatory lesson in all this. An opportunity
perhaps for tissues commercials? And actor Norman Coburn, wrapping up 15 years
with sorry dignity instead of the opportunity to wield a machinegun or drive a
semitrailer through the school hall, does cope with it rather well.
As well as a speedy flicker of flashback shots showing the growing of wisdom
in the schoolmaster, there are guest appearances from June Reynolds (Rowena
Wallace), Sophie Simpson (Rebekah Elmaloglou) and other Summer Bay veterans.
Even a scary shot of new principal Sally Fletcher (Kate Ritchie) when she first
arrived as a pupil at the school.
There are tributes from grandson Seb and other kids, a from-the-heart speech
by Alf, and then the camera slips gently across tomorrow's Logie wannabes to the
But it is a curiously quiet departure. Interesting that in Britain last week,
the producers of supersoap Coronation Street were celebrating a 19.4 million
audience for another big exit, the showdown of Gail and serial-killer husband
Richard Hillman. Two million more viewers tuned in. Now that's a send-off.