Home and Away Ray Meaghers surprising career before Alf Stewart soap fame

Home and Away star Ray Meagher worked as a taxi driver during the early years of his acting career.

The actor, 79, made his debut as Alf Stewart in the first ever episode of the Channel 5 soap, broadcast in 1988.

But while he is known as one of the soap's most iconic characters, Ray revealed he had to keep a side job prior to landing the role, enabling him to continue auditioning for parts.

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Ray secured his cab license and used to drive on weekends to earn some quick cash.

"Early on as an actor I got a cab licence, but I really only drove cabs for probably half a dozen weekends," he told Stuff. "That gave me enough cash in my little hand to get through the week so I could still audition."

Despite the huge success he's garnered from Home and Away, Ray admitted he was unsure whether he could make a full career out of acting and kept the cab license for years as a backup. "I held on to that cab licence for about 10 years because I sort of thought, ‘I’m just not going to get more acting work," he explained.

"It’s all going to dry up, so I’ll hang on’, and I hung on and hung on but I kept working and doing bits and pieces." The TV star added: "Not a lot early on, but enough to scrape through from one job to the next."

In a previous interview with The Sun, Ray confessed he would only commit to six months in Summer Bay, refusing to sign a two-year contract because he was "more cynical" when he first joined the cast.

Ray, who hit 35 years on the Aussie soap, explained: “It seems ridiculous now but I wouldn’t agree to the two-year contract they wanted me to sign. We’d done the pilot and to be honest, I was older and more cynical, and was convinced it would crash and burn like most do.

"So when they said we’re going to series and we want all the main characters to stay for two years, I was like you’ve got to be joking! It seemed like a lifetime, so I told them there was no way I was signing for two years. Then they tried to get me to sign for a year, but again I refused."

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Ray continued: "In the end I agreed to six months. I thought it would be nice being able to go back to my own bed after work every night rather than shooting something in Melbourne or Western Australia, or being all over the shop which I had quite enjoyed over the years. Having been home for six months I was a bit seduced by that and signed for another six months."

The soap star went on to say: “Then they said what about another year? And then it became three-year deals and five -ear deals, and here were are 35 years later and I’m a lot older.”

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