Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Still a Current Affair

Newspaper article The Northern Star (Lismore, Australia)

Still a Current Affair

Article excerpt

Byline: OWEN JACQUES APN Newsdesk

IT IS a below-freezing London night in December 2012.

'Mr Television' Ray Martin is standing outside the premiere of Hollywood blockbuster Les MisA[c]rables, starring Australian actor and friend Hugh Jackman.

Although not on the guest list, Ray spies Hugh and wants to say hello. Told to get in line, Ray walks on.

He figures he will try to nod Hugh a "G'day" as he passes. He expects maybe a wink back, but is given a far more Aussie greeting.

"(Hugh) saw me go past the man he was talking to, who was probably trying to offer him money for a new film and Hugh said, 'Oh f***! What are you doing here?!'

"Only an Australian would say that."

Beach life

When we meet Ray, he is relaxed. The surprise arrival of a repairman at his occasional holiday home near Coolum means we interview him by the pool.

He doesn't tell the story of running into Hugh at a London black-tie gala to impress anyone. He spins the yarn the way someone might retell a story about running into an old mate.

It goes to the heart of how Ray Martin - an Australian celebrity in his own right - thinks about his fellow Aussies.

"(Hugh) didn't really care about this A-List person. He just saw someone he knew or saw someone who was another Aussie," he says.

"It's part of our character."

Ray is something of an expert on Australian character. He became the country's most-trusted journalist first after fronting Nine's 60 Minutes in the late 1970s, the Midday Show in the 1980s then on to A Current Affair from the mid-90s. He has won five Gold Logies.

On Australian life, Ray knows he sees it through rose-coloured glasses: "but I think we are pretty special".

So many questions

Divining answers from people is a skill Ray has honed since starting as an ABC cadet in 1965.

Australians are great in interviews, he says, regardless of whether they are asking or answering the questions.

He spoke of an interview for Batman which starred Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey and Val Kilmer.

"Val Kilmer was very stitched-up and very uptight," he says. …

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