Lynne McGranger loves to play baddies

Home and Away's Irene Roberts may be lovely, but Lynne McGranger likes to embrace her dark side." link="/home-and-away/show/1580/summary.html" target="_blank" loc="right">

The woman who plays Home and Away's Irene has a dark side -- and she loves it.

On Home and Away she plays concerned foster parent Irene Roberts. But when she steps foot on stage in the United Kingdom, Lynne McGranger lets rip with her nasty side -- and she loves it.

McGranger is an unashamed fan of British pantomimes, and like many soapie stars before her, still beats a path to Britain to tread the boards.

This year she will return to the UK in her summer break for another regional panto.

"Last year I played the Wicked Witch in Snow White, which is marvellous because she's so black. This year I'm playing the baddie in Jack and the Beanstalk as the Giant's representative on Earth. I've played fairies, genies and all sorts of things," she says.

"I said to my agent over there, 'I'm never playing goodie again. From here on in I'm baddie.' Baddie is so much more fun and I'm better at it. I'm not good at poncing around being nice!"

Having performed in York, Manchester and Portsmouth, McGranger has been playing pantomime roles for longer than she cares to remember.

"My first one was in Dick Whittington at the Dome in Brighton. My daughter was four and I remember she came on stage as one of the 'Tinys' and now she's going on 19. So this is my 15th year doing Panto.

"The longest I ever did was 53 shows in 31 days. That was pretty full on. You'd get halfway through the third show and you'd think 'Haven't I just done this?' You lose your sense of where you are in the day!"

Having appeared on the Seven soap for 18 years, McGranger is well known to TV audiences in the UK. Try as she may to keep a low profile in London, she is instantly recognisable from one distinct characteristic.

"For me it's always my voice. As soon as I open my gob...," she laughs.

"I guess I'm lucky because I've been on Home and Away for so long that even people who don't watch it any more or have gone away and come back still know me."

Finding reasons for the show's UK popularity is tricky. But McGranger says British soaps have a bleaker outlook than Aussie drama.

"We used to think it was the weather, but I think it's more than that. It's the lifestyle, the lack of doom and gloom.

"They can be quite bleak, but I don't think Home and Away is, even at its darkest."

At its darkest Summer Bay has been home to stalkers and crazed bombers. But it has returned to the show's heart and its original premise of foster families.

McGranger is pleased by the restoration of simple values.

"We have definitely had a shift back to romance and light-hearted things. There was a period a number of years ago where Irene becomes a clairvoyant. Actors were doing things, back 10 or 12 years, that were a little out of character," she says.

"But our drama and our situations now are more character-based and I think that works for us. Irene is looking after the kids again, taking care of them and being concerned for their welfare. Which is the whole foster thing, absolutely. Alf does it, Marilyn does it, Leah does it.

"Our 'roles have roles' within the machine, and I think when we stray away from that things can go a little bit pear-shaped."

Home and Away airs 7pm weeknights on Seven.

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