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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Home and Away: Q&A
Home and Away cast members including Kate Ritchie(far right)
Kate Ritchie (far right) with fellow soap cast members
Australian soap opera Home and Away returns to Channel 5 after a year away from our screens. BBC News Online talks to Kate Ritchie, 22, who has played Sally Fletcher on the show for 13 years.

How does it feel being on the show for so long?

The thing is for me it's kind of normal. Everyone else seems to have much more of a fascination with it than I do, because for me I can't remember what it was like not to be on Home and Away.

Everyone else thinks 'Oh, you must have missed out on your childhood, and it must have been hard' and I guess it was hard, but that's just the way it was for me.

Was it more awkward when you were growing up as a teenager in the public eye compared to when you were eight or nine years old?

When I started getting recognised I would get really upset because you're at school and you get taught about 'stranger danger' - don't talk to strangers - and all of a sudden you're having people coming up to you in the street asking for your autograph.

The first time that happened I burst into tears because I didn't know how to react.

But now it's fine - after all these years I've learnt to cope.

What happened with school - did you have a tutor on set?

We did have a tutor but I did go to school as well. They (the producers) were always really generous with the schedules and worked around my exams.

I did finish my schooling though and I went to a normal school the whole way through. I'm glad that I did, just for my own self-worth and just to say that I could achieve that because I'm sure people would expect you maybe to drop out or go for the easier option really.

Were you close to the two actresses who played Pippa (your character's fictional foster mum)?

Yes, I was, especially Debra Lawrance - the second one - because she was there for most of the time. The first one was only there for 18 months.

We still keep in contact and I was at her place only a couple of months ago.

She's got two young kids. It's nice to keep in contact with the old people, because you do become such good friends and it is a bit like a family so to lose contact would be a real shame.

Are you similar to your character Sally?

I guess we have all the same mannerisms and all that kind of thing, but I would hope that I was a little more interesting and that I probably wasn't so dependable.

My life's a bit more exciting. However, when the show returns, she comes back with her fiancé after a whirlwind romance, so that's kind of out of character.

What about your friends and family - anyone else involved in acting?

I'm the first in my family and all that kind of stuff. My little sister is a dancer and she was at the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics last year.

We all have our own interests and I think that's healthy as well.

Which of the younger members of the cast do you get on really well with?

I love Zac Drayson (who plays Will). He's just gorgeous. And I know when Isla Fisher (who played Shannon) and Tempany Deckert (who played Selina) were on the show, we were always good mates.

It was so much fun - we were all teenagers mucking around. I feel like one of the oldies now because I'm 22 and they're all 15, 16,17 and I'm the responsible one.

See also:

24 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Channel 5 'bags Home and Away'
22 Feb 01 | Entertainment
Neighbours' soap war at Crossroads
05 Apr 01 | UK
In a lather over soaps
16 Jul 01 | TV and Radio
Home and Away returns
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