Stone the flamin’ crows: Home and Away actor's new project
IT'S hard to imagine a more legendary Australian than Alf "stone the flamin' crows" Stewart.
And now, the man behind one of the most beloved characters to ever grace this country's television screens has landed a brand new role - that of hot sauce entrepreneur.
Ray Meagher, who has played Alf Stewart since Home and Away premiered on January 17, 1988, has just released his very own line of hot sauce, the aptly-named 'Ray's Flamin' Hot Sauce'.
The 73-year-old developed the sauce after teaming up website builder GoDaddy.
He said he was inspired to show Aussies how easy it was to build a website after he heard around 60 per cent of the country's small businesses did not have an online presence.
"We're supposed to be the innovation nation but our economy depends hugely on the success of small businesses - and they'll be more successful if people know where to find them," he said.
"Corner shops, tradies, plumbers, electricians - they just aren't out there online. For lots of people, modern technology frightens them a bit ... and I'm not completely without exposure to the internet, but not all that long ago I thought 'the net' was something you took fishing.
"But before I knew it I had my little business online and if I can do it, I reckon anyone can."
"I've always loved spicy food, and with hot sauce, the hotter the better. My sauce isn't going to put anyone in hospital, but it's got a good kick to it," Meagher said of the new product.
In the 30 years Meagher has played Alf Stewart, his character has lost much-loved wife Ailsa, survived a nervous breakdown and a brain tumour and discovered a slew of long-lost children and grandchildren.
But despite portraying the pillar of the Summer Bay community for three decades, Meagher said he didn't see himself as iconic.
"I just get out of bed and go to work and the lines just come out of my mouth, but having said that, it is really lovely people have taken to the character," he said.
"I've always fought to keep the character consistent because audiences who have been watching for a long time expect Alf to react in a certain way."
The 2010 Gold Logie winner said one of the storylines he enjoyed working on the most was when Alf visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra with Summer Bay High students.
Alf, a Vietnam War veteran, started to suffer flashbacks, eventually collapsing and being diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
An emotional Meagher said it was a powerful storyline to work on.
"Some time after that I met a guy at a pub who wasn't the Home and Away type, but he said he wanted to thank me for the storyline on PTSD because he had been to Afghanistan and thought it was fabulous," he said.
"He was just really appreciative that we shone a light on a very real problem.
"I'm very proud of the show. It's not the best show in the world but if you compare it with any other show that has two and a half hours of screen time per week, every week for 30 years - we can hold our head up high."
Meagher is the sole remaining original Home and Away cast member and he holds a Guinness World Record as the longest-serving actor in an Australian serial.
According to GoDaddy research, 40 per cent of Aussies have a passion or hobby, and 72 per cent of these are taking their passions online as a side business, working an average of 11 extra hours per week and earning an extra $24,000 on average on top of their regular income.
However, 59 per cent of people fear failure and 42 per cent worry they don't have the technical skills or time to build a website.