Lynne McGranger: “I’m thrilled that three mature women on the show have been nominated!”
In 1974 she won an acting award in Wagga Wagga and now Australia's longest-serving female actor in a sustained role, has her first ever Logie nomination.
It’s only taken her nearly 31 years, but Lynne McGranger, Australia’s longest-serving female actor in a sustained role, has landed her first ever Logie nomination.
And she couldn’t be happier, even if it pits her head to head with cast mates Ada Nicodemou and Emily Symons (also celebrating her first nomination) as Most Popular Actress.
Remarkably, with Home & Away‘s other nominees Ray Meagher and James Stewart, this year’s Summer Bay batch honours survivors instead of the usual hot young thing traditionally landing the front of a TV Week magazine.
“I’m so proud of my girlfriends and of course, Ray and Jimmy,” she tells TV Tonight.
“There isn’t a nominee from Home & Away under the age of 46. That’s got to be a first!
“I’m thrilled that three mature women on the show have been nominated. The mean age is probably around 60, which is hilarious!”
“It’s kind of longevity versus class”
Also in her category are Kitty Flanagan and Julia Zemiro both for ABC’s Fisk and Celeste Barber from Netflix comedy, Wellmania, all of whom McGranger holds in high esteem.
“It’s kind of longevity versus class,” she jokes. “I’d like to think that one of the diner ladies can pull a Steven Bradbury.”
McGranger joined Home & Away in 1993 replacing Jacquy Phillips as Irene Roberts, an Aussie battler (and initially a drunkard) role she is convinced she landed after feeling decidely crook in her screen test. She credits producer Andrew Howie as an early champion of her role in the soap and Script Producer Coral Drouyn for saving her later when drama execs were ready to axe the character.
McGranger’s entry into showbiz had humble beginnings and tracked a colourful path to primetime.
“When I was a kid I used to put concerts on in the backyard and make the neighbours come and see me and have a beer with mum and dad. I would be reciting the entire album of My Fair Lady, including the Rex Harrison role!” she laughs.
“I went to teachers college because I didn’t know what else I was going to do. I fell in with a drama troupe, did a lot of revue stuff, some plays and I won the 1974 Wagga Wagga Drama Festival’s Best Actress for Brian Friels’ Lovers: Winners and Losers, complete with Irish accent.
“I thought, ‘This is something I can do!'”
“What the actual! I’m getting paid to do this?”
Amateur theatre in Cronulla would follow and the lunchtime Q Theatre at an old AMC building, which later moved to Penrith.
“The very first production they put on in 1977 was Lock up Your Daughters with Linden Wilkinson, the lovely Kevin Jackson, Richard Brooks, Ron Hackett, Vola Van Dere, who was an original beautiful theatre doyenne… so loving and caring,” she recalls.
“I was cast as ‘Clarissa’, Linden Wilkinson’s handmaid, and I got paid! What the actual! I’m getting paid to do this? So I joined Equity, got an agent… I thought ‘I better go to drama school, I haven’t got a bloody clue what I’m doing!’ I did classes part time for two year I while I was still doing casual teaching.”
She was part of Murray River Performing Group, Brisbane’s La Boite Theatre and performing comedy with Lynda Gibson & Denise Scott in Mebourne.
Assorted small roles followed in TV including The Flying Doctors, Seven Deadly Sins, Skirts and Sky Trackers.
“My very first speaking television role was A Country Practice with the lovely Penny Cook, God rest her soul, and Grant Dodwell. His mother was in the hospital and I was the nurse. I had to pull the curtain aside and say, ‘I’m gonna have to ask you to leave Dr. Bowen,’ and then close the curtain again,” she explains.
“That was my first ever professional talking TV role, a ’50 worder!'”
So what keeps her in the role on Home & Away for over three decades?
“Well, firstly, the vain hope that one day I might get nominated for a Logie,” she jokes.
“I’m living Irene’s life and I love it.”
“I think it’s because Irene lives a life. I’m sure all actors in ongoing soaps will say the same thing. It’s not like I’m doing the same thing for 30 years. I’m not even working with the same people all the time. I’m living Irene’s life and I love it. You know, she’s an idiot, she’s funny, she’s compassionate, she’s flawed, all of those things that we all are,” she continues.
“Some days, I’m just going ‘G’day darl’ can I get you a cuppa?’ and then other days, like for the last six weeks, I’ve had really emotional stuff.
“I do a lot of work with Shane Withington, who’s great fun and is about as subtle as I am. But I love all my friends.
“D***heads don’t last very long”
“It’s a great gig. I’m so happy. Ada is one of my very best friends. They’re just nice people on the show.
“And like a lot of things, d***heads don’t last very long, so I’m very pleased that apparently, I’m not a d***head. That makes me feel very happy.
“Because if I was a d***head I don’t think I’d still be there 31 years later.”
Voting at tvweeklogies.com.au continues until July 30.