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Soaps Interview

Axle Whitehead (Liam Murphy, 'Home and Away')

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Liam Murphy from Home and Away

© Channel 5

Liam Murphy has suffered fresh setbacks on Home and Away in recent weeks, driving him back to dangerous habits as he is now taking drugs again. This week, viewers in the UK will see the musician hit rock bottom as his addiction takes hold, before he finally makes a big decision and agrees to check into rehab. Axle Whitehead, who plays the troubled character, recently flew out from Australia for a three-day promotional visit to the UK, during which Digital Spy caught up with him to find out what's next for Liam.

Are you enjoying your time in the UK?
"I'm absolutely loving it. I used to host a video music show in Australia and we used to come over to the UK to interview some artists, so I've already spent a few weeks in Britain here and there - mainly in the summer months. I'm only here for three days, but I love it here - I love the history of it."

Have you been recognised by many of the UK Home and Away fans?
"Yeah, a few people have turned their heads to have a look! I've been doing a lot of press so I haven't really been out too much, but this is my first time in the UK since I've been on Home and Away so it's interesting to see whether there's a reaction!"

Liam's life seems to be on a real downward spiral at the moment, doesn't it?
"It does, yes! His record contract's fallen through, he's been fired from the school, his relationship's in turmoil and when you're an addict, the way to deal with bad times is often to get back on drugs. He's back on the pills and we're seeing him crash and burn, as well as having fights with people in Summer Bay. It's the demise of Liam and he ends up in rehab."

What happens to Liam once he makes the decision to check into rehab?
"He goes away for about a month, and then when he does come back, it's his journey as he tries to re-establish his life. When he comes back, he has no lover, no house - nothing in Summer Bay. How he moves on from that is what we're shooting at the moment."

Were you pleased to get such a gritty storyline?
"Yeah, it's really great when you get a juicy storyline like this to sink your teeth into. I've only been acting for around two years now, so I'm very much learning on the job and trying to soak up as much knowledge as possible from the older actors on the show - about the craft, the nature of soap and all that sort of stuff. This is probably my favourite storyline out of anything that I've been given. It's great to have dark material to play and being stretched like this is really lovely. I'm really happy with how it's turned out."

Lisa Gormley aka 'Bianca Scott' in Home and Away
Bianca is finding it really hard to stand by Liam throughout this, isn't she?
"Absolutely. I think with an addict, there's sometimes nothing you can do - you can talk to them, you can offer up advice and help, but it's not until they're ready to help themselves or they hit rock bottom that things can change. For Bianca, not being able to help Liam is crushing for her. Her first approach was tough love and leaving him to his own devices, but she sees the addiction take over and she can't do anything about it."

Liam's had a number of different love interests in the Bay, but do you think Bianca could be 'the one' for him?
"He's certainly done alright in the Bay! I think there could be some more twists and turns ahead. Liam and Bianca definitely make a good couple - they're quite different, but for some reason it works. However, being the rock star that he is, Liam likes getting around - there was the thing with Nicole, the thing with Martha, the thing with Belle! Maybe there could be a few more romances, but Bianca could be 'the one'. We'll have to wait and see."

Over in Australia, you're known for your singing career as well as your acting. How would you describe your music?
"Well, the first record was probably Coldplay and Sting type of stuff. With the new one which I'm working on at the moment, I'm trying to bring in some Jack Johnson and Mumford and Sons sounds into it. It's quite a diverse sound. When you're a musician with a lot of different musical interests, it can be difficult when it comes to making an album with a common theme. Having a rock song, a country song and then a jazz song would just confuse people, so what I'm trying to do is find my common sound throughout the record. It's a tricky one, but the record that I'm working on at the moment is more folk and beachy stuff."

Do you ever find it difficult to balance your music career with your Home and Away commitments?
"Yeah, I do - they're two very different headspaces. Home and Away takes precedence because that's my gig at the moment. I find that if I've got a month or two off, I can really focus on music, but it does take me a week to get out of Home and Away headspace and get into creating more music. I'm learning to play some new instruments at the moment, listening to a lot of different music, doing research and trying to grow as an artist. Sometimes I'm beating myself up if I'm not focusing on music enough, but I do try to dedicate my time to it on weekends."

Are you hoping to stay at Home and Away for as long as possible, or do you have an end point in mind?
"There will be an end point, but Home and Away has been wonderful to me, I'm absolutely thrilled to have the gig and I'm loving it. Towards the end of next year, I'll have a think about where I'm at. I'm not sure whether I'll leave or if I'll stay on, or if they'll offer me another contract, but I would like to go and try other shows and films. That's the dream - to get into film one day. But we'll just have to wait and see. Whoever will employ me, that's the number one thing!"

> Want more Home and Away chat from Axle? Read the second part of this interview in Soap Scoop. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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