Colleen Smart played by Lyn Collingwood, was one of Home and Away's original characters, first joining the cast in 1988 as Lance's mother. "I think the show had been running about 6 months, I was probably about half my width and I had naturally brown hair" Lyn joked.
"I returned in 1999...Colleen had come back from Queensland, there was never any reason given as to why she had been away or where she had been. I was supposed to come back in a car where the windscreen was all covered in dust and there were grasshoppers stuck to it but of course it was pouring rain, it was the middle of winter." It was raining again as they filmed her final departure scenes.
"The weather can be a problem on shoots...there was one day when we were in the old caravan park (where the bush fires came through and eventually burnt down the Summer Bay house) but we were there one day and it was 47 degrees, one of the young actors passed out and I think on that day they called an early mark."
Lyn enjoyed the simple story lines and working with character actors like Norman Colburn, Cornelia Frances, and of course Ray Meagher, Emily Symons, Ada Nicodemou and Lynne McGranger.
She is famous for her malapropisms "I think I am quite aware of the rhythms of language and I do look at the scripts quite objectively and think how can that be just jazzed up a bit and made funny...'we've been brain farting,' Colleen declared, then Irene says 'I think it's a brain storming' but then usually Colleen doesn't take any notice if she is corrected, she just sails on." Lyn smiled
"One of the problems of having played this part for so long, is that people will often call me Colleen...it gets to you after a while, quite seriously you don't know who you are and you think well this is just part of my life, it's not the dominant thing, it's just my work."
Lyn admitted that one of her favourite story lines was with Sebastian Elmaloglou who played Max. "We co-wrote a bestselling piece of literature which was all plagiarized from books that he got in the library. I liked working with him and I did get a bit of feedback from fans, they liked the collaboration between an old actor and a young actor and he was a lot of fun to work with.
I also enjoyed some of the location stuff, especially the plane crash because that was a bit of an adventure. We went up the Hawkesbury river and stayed overnight at Brooklyn. Very often the cast don't have a great deal of time to get together because we all work such fractured hours...but the fact that we were there overnight and we all had dinner together and breakfast, we learnt things about people that you just don't know, even if you have been working with them for a long time."
Lyn confessed that she would miss some of the crew, particularly the cameramen who have been there as long as her. "I won't miss getting up early and I won't miss some of Colleen's costumes" she laughed.
Lyn's advice to any new young actors - "Well I'd say get an education, work hard, don't expect you are going to get everything given to you on a plate and I would also say, work on your diction!"
There is no chance of 75 year old Lyn slowing down, "I'm researching the New Theatre, which is something I have been involved with for 30 years, it has a fascinating history." She also continues to be supportive of young film makers and was a judge for several years for the Newtown Film Festival, but most of all she will have time to spend with her family and grand-children.
Goodbye Lyn and Colleen, we will miss you both.Interview by Tania Seager