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Newcastle Herald

Mystery DEPARTURE

Author: BY LEESHA MCKENNY
Date: 25/01/2008
Words: 605
Source: NCH
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: TV Magazine
Page: 5
COULD it be a car crash? An

unexpected job offer overseas?

Or maybe, ahem, a stint hosting

breakfast radio?

Whatever it will be, there is one certainty

you can count on around the end

of March or early April.

Young Sally Fletcher, aka Kate Ritchie

- she who has become synonymous

with the soap Home and Away - is

leaving the program.

Series producer Cameron Welsh said

audiences should expect an ending

befitting her 20-year presence on the

show.

'I can say that it's something,' he

said.

'It's very moving, it's very emotional

and I think audiences are going to

respond really well to it.

'We felt we had to get it right, we

had to give her the proper send-off, so I

think we have.'

Welsh said 'getting it right' was key

to the show's success for two decades.

'We can look at the marketing of it

and the promotion of it and all of that

kind of thing but at the end of the day

if the stories are good then people are

going to watch it,' he said.

'Everything goes around story for me,

engaging storylines, storylines that the

audiences are interested in and want to

follow - and characters.'

Characters that have worked their

way into Australian popular consciousness,

such as 'flamin' Alf Stewart or

the perennially stern school principal

Don Fisher.

Welsh said storylines remained strong

heading into 2008, with a few of the

characters due for a shake-up.

Rachel is in for a couple of romances,

one of which could lead to lasting love.

'She's going to become involved in

a steady relationship with one of our

main regulars - and I guess it's going to

surprise audiences a little bit, but I think

they're going to love it when it all happens,'

he said.

Welsh said the makers of the show

didn't always aim to give audiences

what they want.

'For instance, Jack and Martha's

relationship over last season really frustrated

audiences,' he said.

'If we listened to the fans who just

said 'get Jack and Martha back together',

then we would have robbed them

of that great tension of seeing them

apart all year.'

Welsh said to expect some answers to

last season's finale.

'The finale last year left a lot of unanswered

questions - which is the idea, of

course, of a cliffhanger - and they will

get answered and they will invariably

throw up more questions,' he said.

'I'm excited because I know what's in

store, particularly the first four weeks

on air and it really moves along.

'There's been a bit of change here and

there in the script department and with

the cast and crew and sometimes it's that

type of thing that helps a show along.'

One of the recruits for this year is

actress Tessa James, who will play a

new character called Nicole.

Welsh said it was character that primarily

separated Home and Away from

its rival Neighbours - an interesting

reflection considering James made her

debut on Neighbours as the blind Anne

Baxter in 2006.

'She is an exciting talent and I think

audiences are going to love her character

and respond really well to her,'

he said.

Ah, but the big question remains. Can

she work her way into our hearts to fill

the gaping, devastating hollow left by

Sally?

'We haven't looked to fill her shoes

character-wise and we don't try to do

that as a general rule anyway,' he said.

'Each character hopefully has their

own identity and is quite separate from

any other.

'So when Sally goes, Sally goes and

there's no replacing Sally.'

HOME AND AWAY SCREENS AT 7PM

WEEK NIGHTS ON PRIME.

 
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