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Newcastle Herald

Home boy

Date: 23/07/1999
Words: 666
          Publication: Newcastle Herald
Section: Friday Guide
Page: 5
THE latest 'bad boy with a heart of gold' to roll off the Home and Away assembly line is former Muswellbrook lad Cameron Welsh.

He splashed down in Summer Bay late last week playing mysterious Mitch McColl, a 16-year-old drifter who immediately ticked off grouchy shopkeeper Alf and took an instant shine to angelic Hayley (much to the hormonal horror of her steady squeeze, Sam).

Welsh, 22, describes Mitch as 'your basic bad boy with a heart of gold'.

'He's quite emotionally scarred and guarded,' Welsh said. 'But he's also romantic. It doesn't take him long. I think he was in town for all of five seconds before he caught a glimpse of Hayley. You can expect a few more sparks there. There's a bit of chemistry.'

While Mitch has his troubles, he's not quite as screwed up as the teen killer Welsh played last month in the hard-hitting ABC crime drama Wildside.

Psychotic Josh Addison (State Coroner's Bob Baines played his dad) confessed to the savage slaying of a homeless Vietnam vet in what TV Herald acclaimed as 'one of the most unnerving suspect interviews' seen on the show - and for Wildside, that's saying something!

Now that he's locked into the soap machine for three years, Welsh admits he's unlikely to employ Wildside's 'practical aesthetics' acting technique.

'On Wildside instead of worrying about getting into character, you place yourself into the scene and it keeps you truthful,' he explained.

'Here, of course, it's a bit different. It all needs to be a bit bigger, more heightened and animated. For something like Wildside you can play it down but here I'm finding it a real challenge so far to get the kind of energy that matches with everybody else.

'When you're working with people like Lynne McGranger and Ray Meagher, as Eileen and Alf, who are really larger-than-life characters, if you're playing it subtly and naturally it just falls apart.

'Now I'm learning that other side of acting, which is still maintaining the truth but hamming it up a bit.'

Born and raised in Muswellbrook, Welsh was a keen drama and music student at school, wrote plays and even had his own band.

He was 17 when he left town to pursue an acting career in Sydney but wound up doing an apprenticeship as a chef - like his older brother, now based in Norway.

Welsh's mother and father, who work in the mining industry, still live in Muswellbrook.

He reckons he caught the acting bug from an uncle.

He auditioned for Home and Away thinking it would be a guest role.

'I did the test, it went well and my agent said the producers liked it. He said they were going to make me an offer but that he'd meant to tell me it was actually for three years.

'At that stage I was thinking three months would be sweet, so three years was like "Phew!" That would have been my reaction to the thought of doing anything for three years. I mean, I was a cook before I did this and I'd never held a job for much more than six months or a year.

'Three years of anything sounded like a prison sentence. But then I thought about it and realised that three years of solid work would give me solid training in all the technical aspects of TV.

'We're working multi-camera in a small studio. We're putting out 2 hours of drama a week, which is quite fast.'

Welsh said the character of Mitch had arrived in Summer Bay with enough emotional baggage to keep the acting job stimulating.

'Mitch is mysterious and I guess that's the other good thing about having a three-year contract,' he said. 'At the moment, I'm starting him off without trying to give too much away and then see what develops in the writing and with the other actors on the show.'

Home and Away, 7pm weekdays, Prime

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