Soap opera’s big changes

The Seven Network has announced a dramatic revamp of its popular Home and Away soap opera for 2021.

Home and Away’s head writer, Cliff Hanger, told me that regular viewers would notice dramatic changes when the 2021 season of the  long-running program aired.

Home and Away first screened in January 1988 and like all such serials its cast has undergone many changes and the storylines have always adapted to or reflected changes in the real world,” Mr Hanger said.

“The show has always been set in the fictional beachside town of Summer Bay and outdoor scenes have always been shot in and around Sydney’s Palm Beach and other localities in the northern beaches.

“But the current COVID-19 cluster in the northern beaches has really thrown a spanner in the works for us.

“We really don’t know what the coming weeks and months may hold and we can’t plan on business as usual, that’s for sure.

“So we’re going to retool the whole show over the Christmas-New Year break.”

Mr Hanger told me that viewers tuning in next year will first notice a change in the program’s name to Home and Home.

“We can’t plan on having any storylines that take our characters outdoors because in the real world we may well be in total lockdown once again,” he said.

“While that will save us money on production costs for Home and Home we’re going to have to rewrite all the episodes already scripted.

“There’ll be other changes and while the revamp of the program can be described as dramatic, the acting still won’t be so our hardcore fans shouldn’t be too upset.

“I can’t say too much right now but I can reveal that we plan to have the Alf Stewart character contract coronavirus.”

Alf is the only character left from the very first episode and has been played for  almost 33  years by veteran actor Ray Meagher.

“I broke the news to Alf, I mean Ray, the other day when I found him on the set during a lunch break,” Mr Hanger said.

“He was chewing the scenery as usual, quite literally, (main picture) and he took it all in his stride like the professional he is,” Mr Hanger said.