Author: BY LEESHA MCKENNY
Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: TV Magazine
COULD it be a car crash? Anunexpected job offer overseas?Or maybe, ahem, a stint hostingbreakfast radio?Whatever it will be, there is one certaintyyou can count on around the endof March or early April.Young Sally Fletcher, aka Kate Ritchie- she who has become synonymouswith the soap Home and Away - isleaving the program.Series producer Cameron Welsh saidaudiences should expect an endingbefitting her 20-year presence on theshow.'I can say that it's something,' hesaid.'It's very moving, it's very emotionaland I think audiences are going torespond really well to it.'We felt we had to get it right, wehad to give her the proper send-off, so Ithink we have.'Welsh said 'getting it right' was keyto the show's success for two decades.'We can look at the marketing of itand the promotion of it and all of thatkind of thing but at the end of the dayif the stories are good then people aregoing to watch it,' he said.'Everything goes around story for me,engaging storylines, storylines that theaudiences are interested in and want tofollow - and characters.'Characters that have worked theirway into Australian popular consciousness,such as 'flamin' Alf Stewart orthe perennially stern school principalDon Fisher.Welsh said storylines remained strongheading into 2008, with a few of thecharacters 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 ina steady relationship with one of ourmain regulars - and I guess it's going tosurprise audiences a little bit, but I thinkthey're going to love it when it all happens,'he said.Welsh said the makers of the showdidn't always aim to give audienceswhat they want.'For instance, Jack and Martha'srelationship over last season really frustratedaudiences,' he said.'If we listened to the fans who justsaid 'get Jack and Martha back together',then we would have robbed themof that great tension of seeing themapart all year.'Welsh said to expect some answers tolast season's finale.'The finale last year left a lot of unansweredquestions - which is the idea, ofcourse, of a cliffhanger - and they willget answered and they will invariablythrow up more questions,' he said.'I'm excited because I know what's instore, particularly the first four weekson air and it really moves along.'There's been a bit of change here andthere in the script department and withthe cast and crew and sometimes it's thattype of thing that helps a show along.'One of the recruits for this year isactress TessaJames, who will play anew character called Nicole.Welsh said it was character that primarilyseparated Home and Away fromits rival Neighbours - an interestingreflection considering James made herdebut on Neighbours as the blind AnneBaxter in 2006.'She is an exciting talent and I thinkaudiences are going to love her characterand respond really well to her,'he said.Ah, but the big question remains. Canshe work her way into our hearts to fillthe gaping, devastating hollow left bySally?'We haven't looked to fill her shoescharacter-wise and we don't try to dothat as a general rule anyway,' he said.'Each character hopefully has theirown identity and is quite separate fromany other.'So when Sally goes, Sally goes andthere's no replacing Sally.'HOME AND AWAY SCREENS AT 7PMWEEK NIGHTS ON PRIME.
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