Kate Ritchie Quits The Soap Opera 'Home and Away'

Michael Idato

After two decades playing Australia's sweetheart, Sally Fletcher, on the soap opera Home and Away, actress Kate Ritchie has announced she will quit the top-rating soap.

Ritchie has played the character of Sally Fletcher since 1988, when she was aged 10. She and co-star Ray Meagher hold the Guinness Record for the longest continuous role in an Australian drama series.

Ritchie won the 2006 TV Week Silver Logie for Most Popular Actress and the 2007 TV Week Gold Logie for Most Popular Personality on Australian Television.

In addition to working on Home and Away, Ritchie has appeared in the telemovie Stepfather of the Bride, and also featured in the reality TV series It Takes Two.

Ritchie told the Sunrise program she wold continue working on Home and Away until the end of the year. She is expected to film her final scenes in December.

A spokesman for Seven confirmed Ritchie will be seen on air until April 2008.

The show marks its 20th anniversary next January.

"I have been blessed with a job that I have loved for the past 20 years and I wouldn't take back one moment of my time on Home and Away but I feel that it is time for change," Ritchie said in a statement issued by the Seven Network.

"My decision to leave the show has not been made lightly and despite being sad to say goodbye I am excitedly looking forward to what will be the next chapter of my life."

Seven's director of programming Tim Worner said Seven wished Ritchie "much success".

"She's a great girl and she deserves it," Mr Worner said. "Seven is very proud of all that Kate has achieved in her time with us. It's been an amazing ride and it's been a great joy to see her grow as a performer and a person over that time.

"It almost feels like she's moving out of home so from that angle there is some sorrow but we are also genuinely excited for her as well."
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