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Soaps Interview

Exclusive: Cameron Welsh - 'Home and Away' series producer

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Home and Away's series producer Cameron Welsh
Home and Away is enjoying a successful year with memorable moments including the arrival of the River Boys, Charlie and Brax embarking on their secret romance, the return of Roo Stewart, Indi and Romeo's Hawaii wedding and Marilyn resorting to desperate measures over baby George. As part of Digital Spy's Producer Season 2011, we recently chatted with the show's series producer Cameron Welsh to hear his thoughts on recent events in Summer Bay and what the future holds for its residents.

Looking back over the past year or so, which Home and Away storyline has been your favourite?
"I've enjoyed the Charlie and Brax storyline. Both actors are doing a great job, the chemistry is great and the tension keeps building!"

Is there a single episode that stands out as one you're particularly proud of?
"It's hard to choose a single episode. I look at the week as a whole or a storyline that may play out over several episodes. There have been a few weeks this season particularly where I've felt the balance has been spot on."

Home and Away's ratings took a dip in Australia last year, but the show now seems to have bounced back again. Do you think there was a particular turning point for the show?
"Ratings are a difficult thing to analyse. There's raw numbers, audience share percentage, key cities, demographics etc. I tend to leave that to the programming department and just try and make the best show we possibly can. At the end of the day, it's all about good stories."

Do you have any particular plans for moving the show forward in the coming months? Is there anything that Home and Away should be doing more of, or less of?
"I think it's always about balance. Light and shade, action and comedy, drama and romance. When we get the balance right, the show really soars."

Having Roo, Marilyn and Morag all on screen at the same time recently has been a real treat for long-term fans. We know Gypsy is coming back, but are you planning to bring back any other faces from the past in the foreseeable future?
"It's great having Cornelia [Frances] return so regularly and it was fantastic to have such a well-known and loved character like Gypsy pop back in too. This is something that the show has always done and will probably always do. It keeps the current world of Summer Bay and the history of the show connected."

Morag from Home and Away
Fans were quite surprised earlier this year when Cornelia revealed that she'd prefer to stick around in Home and Away rather than popping in and out. As Morag is such a popular character, is the show missing a trick by not signing her up permanently?
"It's about storylines. It's great to have Morag back when there's a strong story for her, but you do a great disservice to the character to have her sit around and do nothing when the stories aren't there."

Could we ever see Kate Ritchie return as Sally?
"The door will always be open to Kate's return. We have always loved Kate and Sally, and still do!"

In recent years, Home and Away has become known for compelling, long-term plots such as the Sarah Lewis saga, the Summer Bay stalker and the Hugo storyline among others. We haven't really seen anything like that this year, so are there any intriguing long-running plots on the horizon?
"There are loads of long-term story arcs, but most of them are character-driven rather than plot-driven like the ones you've suggested. There are a few more plot-driven arcs coming up, but I think the most satisfying are the character-driven stories - they all have great, and in most cases, completely unexpected conclusions that really affect the characters and the town as a whole."

Home and Away's River Boys
The River Boys seem to have enjoyed the biggest reaction of any new characters for a while! What do you make of the response and what are your future plans for them?
"We're obviously really pleased with the response and we'll do everything we can to maintain the sharp edges of the characters and keep them true to who they are. That's probably what has made them successful so far."

We've had lots of readers asking why Charlie's bisexuality is barely mentioned despite the success of her storyline with Joey. Would you ever consider exploring this in the future, or has it been brushed under the carpet?
"The Charlie and Brax relationship has received a great response and there is plenty of story left in them before we consider any other romance for Charlie."

Viewers still seem to be missing the Home and Away opening titles, which were apparently cut due to time restrictions. Is this something that you'd ever try to find a solution for, or perhaps shoot credits for the international market even if they can't be aired in Australia?
"We haven't made a decision on changing our current opener yet but will consider it for next year."

Marilyn Chambers from Home and Away
We had another reader question asking whether the show has missed opportunities to explore interesting relationships, such as Marilyn and Irene's friendship after Marilyn returned last year, and Morag and Roo's relationship more recently...
"There are some good story opportunities for Marilyn and Irene coming up which I think viewers will enjoy. It's sometimes difficult to stick characters together if their storylines are moving in different directions. It feels a bit contrived when you do that."

Some viewers were surprised that the decision was made to film episodes in Hawaii rather than the UK again or in Ireland, which could have tied in well with promotion and given the overseas fans a treat. What are your thoughts?
"Hawaii was a great location for the show. Logistically it worked well - it's only ten hours away for a start - and the storyline was right for there. Having said that, I would absolutely love to see the show record episodes in London again or anywhere in the UK. I would LOVE to see Home and Away in Ireland too - that has been a dream of mine since I've been on the show."

It's been slightly quieter on the stunt/disaster front lately! Are there any on the way?
"The biggest stunt/disaster storyline that we have ever undertaken is in the final stages of post-production. It's coming very soon…"

> Want more exclusive Home and Away gossip? Read some character teasers from Cameron in Soap Scoop. Get the Inside Soap magazine on your iPhone or iPad

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