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Home and Away lines up massive story for Irene’s exit

There’ll be fears for Home and Away‘s Irene later this year, in what looks to be a huge storyline for the stalwart as she takes a break from Summer Bay.

During one of our trips to Palm Beach back in March, the Back to the Bay team witnessed the filming of an intriguing scene outside the surf club with Mackenzie (Emily Weir), Levi (Tristan Gorey), John (Shane Withington) and Irene (Lynne McGranger).

We already knew that Irene would be taking a break from the show this year, as Lynne McGranger prepared for an upcoming theatre production, and this scene could give us a clue as to how it will be explained on-screen.

We anticipate that this block of episodes will air around mid-late August, dependent on Seven’s future scheduling.

Emily and Tristan go through the scene with this block’s director, Chris-Martin Jones. © Back to the Bay

The scene starts ordinarily enough with a loved-up Mac and Levi walking towards the club whilst Levi carries a gift bag.

John catches up and has a few words with them, but as they walk off he turns around and something catches his eye further up the road.

John spies Irene pull up next to some wheelie bins in her car. After surreptitiously dumping something in one of the bins, she hastily drives off (with Lynne completing this scene in only one or two takes, we didn’t manage to get a good angle to grab a photo).

The last time Irene did something like this, she and Bella (Courtney Miller) were dumping the unconscious body of Tommy O’Reilly (Adam Sollis) outside the hospital, after Irene thwacked him over the head with a champagne bottle, so naturally John can’t help but be a little curious.

As John heads over to the bins to investigate, he’s extremely concerned by what he finds inside… empty bottles of booze!

Is Irene back on the grog?!

It’s a career highlight,” Shane joked when we later commended him on his finely acted bin-diving.

After jetting off for a short break in the UK only a week after this scene was filmed, Lynne went straight into rehearsals on her return and is now starring as Liz in new comedy musical ‘The Grandparents Club’, which opened this week and will be touring theatres in NSW, ACT and Victoria until 4th August.

(I’ll be going for) just a little while, not leaving anything permanently,” Lynne revealed on Seven’s The Morning Show earlier this year.

I came from revue-type situations, from community theatre, all of that,” she explained of the production. “I’m getting back to my roots, singing and dancing, interacting with the audience. I can hold a tune and I can belt-out a number, but I’m no Aretha Franklin!

With it looking as though Irene could be gone for a few months, could falling off the wagon be the cause of Irene’s departure?

If so, will Irene flee the bay in shame, or could John’s discovery be the catalyst his good friend Irene needs to seek help?

In a further interview with Stellar magazine last week, Lynne discussed her future on the show after 31 years, and whether she was tempted to leave Summer Bay permanently.

It’s something I’ve mulled over, and it has been in the back of my mind for the last year or two. Certainly, no date has been set [to leave] but what I love about working on The Grandparents Club and being involved in this wonderful celebration is that it’s taking me back to my roots.

Who knows what the future holds,” she added teasingly. “If this is successful, god willing, I might just be hanging up my diner apron.


Although early fans of the show will remember Irene back in 1991-1992 as an alcoholic, abusive mother to kids Nathan (David Dixon), Finlay (Tina Thomsen), and Damian (Matt Doran), she was played by Jacqy Phillips during those times.

Episode 1000 saw Finlay and Damian believing Irene was dead after she drunkenly fell down the stairs

Lynne McGranger took over the role when a newly sober Irene returned to Summer Bay permanently in January 1993, and it would be 16 years before she ever had to play the character as inebriated.

That’s not to say there hadn’t been some close calls during that time.

In 1995, Irene found herself outcast after taking the side of Dodge (Kelly Dale) on his unwelcome return to town.

Irene was left with egg on her face when it turned out that not only had Dodge faked his death to frame Steven Matheson (Adam Willits), who Irene had vilified following Dodge’s disappearance, but he was also responsible for killing her own estranged husband Murdoch (Tom Richards).

With recently moved-in housemate Marilyn (Emily Symons) unaware of the ‘no alcohol’ rule in Irene’s house, she had bought a bottle of wine to put in a casserole, and promised Selina (Tempany Deckert) that she’d get rid of the leftover.

However, when Irene subsequently found the open bottle on the kitchen shelf, she fought against temptation.

In 1998, Irene was at a particularly low ebb after being fired from Summer Bay High as Don Fisher’s (Norman Coburn) secretary. Having previously left the Bayside Diner, when she felt she didn’t fit in with the new youthful revamp, Irene was left unemployed for the first time in years and struggling for money.

Tearfully sitting down with a bottle of wine as she flicked through her family album, Irene poured out a glass and immediately knocked it over onto photos of grandson Paul, which thankfully brought her to her senses.

It wasn’t until 2009 that we saw Lynne’s Irene fall off the wagon for the first time, following a particularly traumatic event. Having gone away on a sailing trip with boyfriend Lou De Bono (David Roberts), the yacht was found drifting several weeks later 100km off the coast.

As Angelo (Luke Jacobz) and fellow police approached, a paranoid and intoxicated Irene shot at them, wounding an officer.

It transpired that Lou had disappeared from the boat one evening whilst Irene slept. Terrified that whoever got Lou would come back for her, and unable to work the radio, Irene had taken to drink after several days stranded at sea.

With no explanation for what had occurred, Irene was held on remand on suspicion of murder as well as for wounding an officer, with Lou’s embittered ex-wife Donna (Suzie McKenzie) paying a prison officer to slip booze into Irene’s cell in an attempt to further discredit her.

Irene was released when forensic evidence on the boat determined that there was a third person present, but her drinking continued

Things came to a head when Annie (Charlotte Best) found Irene’s hidden bottle of gin and poured it down the sink, only for Irene to slap her across the face.

This was the wake-up call Irene needed to seek help, and she attended AA meetings. It was revealed the following year that Lou had been killed in an altercation with people traffickers Derrick Quaid (John Atkinson) and Hugo Austin (Bernard Curry).

Irene remained sober for a further six years, until 2015 when a troubled Olivia Fraser-Richards (Raechelle Banno) returned to Summer Bay to live with her. After it was discovered she was cutting herself, Olivia admitted to Irene that a family friend had been abusing her back in London.

The revelation brought up painful memories for Irene, and she went on to admit to Olivia and Leah (Ada Nicodemou) that she too had been abused by her Uncle Pete when she was only 14 years old.

There was a bigger secret that Irene continued to struggle with though, to the point where she bought a bottle of vodka and drowned her sorrows.

When Leah later caught Irene weeping on the kitchen floor, having smashed the bottle and cut her hand, she applied pressure to the wound using a nearby baby blanket. Irene was horrified when she realised, and lashed out at Leah.

She subsequently revealed that she had given birth as the result of her Uncle Pete’s abuse, and the child had been taken into care. Irene hadn’t even been able to hold her baby, and she never knew what became of them.

Although her secret had been shared, Irene continued to drink and made no attempt to hide it, with the effects of her relapse far more widely felt in the community this time around.

She drunkenly called Olivia a leech, whilst even a talking to from Alf who poured her grog down the sink didn’t make any difference.

After she made a show of herself at Zac (Charlie Clausen) and Leah’s wedding, Chris (Johnny Ruffo) took Irene home where she then slapped him for attempting to take away her hip flask.

Again, it was this moment of violence that brought Irene to her senses, and as she spoke with Leah (still in her wedding dress), Irene resolved that she needed to put her demons to rest by finding out what had happened to her baby. That would end up being a whole other ordeal the following year, with her son revealed to be Mick Jennings (Kristian Schmid).

With it now looking as though Irene could be heading for her third relapse in fifteen years, what, or who, could drive her to such despair…?


Although we’ve nothing to share plot-wise, here’s a few more behind-the-scenes shots from the same day of filming. These scenes were shot on 11th March 2024, the week before the engagement party we’ve previously reported on.

© Back to the Bay

Felicity (Jacqui Purvis) emerged from the surf club on a mission to track down the character played by Joshua Orpin, eventually finding him in the alleyway between the boat shed and toilet block.

© Back to the Bay

Dana (Ally Harris) and Harper (Jessica Redmayne) filmed a running scene along the grass near the surf club, with block director Chris Martin-Jones opting to utilise the drone for the first shot to follow the sisters.

© Back to the Bay

© Back to the Bay

The pair then had a conversation with Xander (Luke Van Os).

© Back to the Bay

Later, Luke and Ally filmed a scene with Xander and Dana talking further outside the surf club whilst Dana was on patrol.

© Back to the Bay


Fans on the Home and Away tour, run by our friends at Celebtime, often get the chance to see filming in person, getting a look at upcoming scenes months before they make it to air.

© Back to the Bay

Whilst filming cannot always be 100% guaranteed on the ‘Filming Very Likely‘ tours that run on Tuesdays, fans can be sure to see a cast member by booking the ‘Meet an Actor‘ tour which usually runs on Sundays.

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