Home and Away Martha Stewart star promises drama amid mental health storyline

Home and Away star Belinda Giblin has promised that there is plenty of "drama" in store for her character Martha Stewart, as she attempts to balance her Borderline Personality Disorder with planning an art exhibition.

While teasing the future of Martha's own struggles with her mental health, Belinda opened up on the challenges she faces in portraying her Aussie soap character, and how she influences the decisions in the writers' room.

It comes as Martha decides to create a fundraiser for mental health awareness, intending to create a series of artworks around mental health and then auction them off.

While Alf and Roo think it's a great idea initially, next week will see Alf worry that his wife is taking on too much again, raising his concerns with Roo that another breakdown could lie in her future.

Though Roo and her mum are in good spirits while putting their plans in place for the fundraiser, Alf is both worried that Martha is pushing herself too hard after returning from rehab and frustrated that he can't spend enough time with his wife.

Everything comes to a head when a reclusive artist reaches out to Martha about the show, and she excitedly asks Alf to drive down with her to meet them in person, as well as checking in on Kieran at Merimbula.

But her husband stubbornly refuses to go… could there be more to the couples' tiff than meets the eye?

Speaking exclusively to Daily Star, actress Belinda Giblin admitted: "As much as Martha knows Alf would love to be looking after her – he could fish and she could paint – there's something more she wants.

"She wants the security and protection of Alf, but her art is a major part of her life and that excitement is kind of missing."

Belinda went on to tease: "There's a lot of drama happening right now, believe me.

"I'm back in the studio even though Covid's here and we're in lockdown – but needless to say, there's an awful lot of drama happening with Roo and with Alf – it all comes out of the art exhibition that Martha is holding."

Belinda also had some influence over the current storyline, admitting that she wanted Martha to have "learned" from her experience in a rehab facility after hallucinating her wayward son Kieran earlier this year.

"Part of the storyline was my idea," she admitted. "Part of my job playing Martha is to honour and respect the mental health issue that she has, and I'm pretty keen to get that right, even when Martha has up days and she's in charge – there are then moments of abandonment and self doubt which is very much a part of that syndrome.

"So part of what I suggested was after she'd been in rehab – and I did a play in the time she was in rehab! – I said to the writers I would very much like her to have learned to take charge of her own life and be the director of it, rather than Alf and Roo doing everything for her.

"They're constantly coming to her aid and speaking for her, which they've been doing a lot, terrified she's going to lose it."

Belinda added: "So I said she's got to come back and be strong, be self-determining and make some choices of her own. And part of that choice, I said, 'Let it be something about art'.

"Because I'd like to see her as a more positive, optimistic person."

And for the future of Martha's character? Belinda says she'd love her relationship with Roo to flourish.

"I think if she's not to become an unsympathetic character in this show, [her BPD] has to be under control and medicated," she explained.

"What I'm wanting at the moment is, I would love for Martha to be able to talk to her daughter Roo. That is a whole storyline that needs to happen, that I would love to see happen."

She continued: "Martha needs to explain her whole life to Roo. She's her daughter, Martha has neglected her – there's a relationship there that is so fragile. That's a big area I would love to see developing, that mother-daughter relationship.

"It has to become something which I hope is fun, because there are similarities between Georgie [Parker] who plays Roo and I. We have a great, compatible sense of humour and we crave to be able to use it and have that be part of us."

On the challenges of playing Martha, Belinda admitted: "I have a bit of a problem playing Martha, probably because I'm the absolute opposite of the character in real life!

"I am a complete optimist [in real life]. You've got to be very careful with BPD because it is recurrent and there are relapses, it's never completely cured, and it takes stress which puts Martha over the line.

"I have to make sure I'm not too animated. There's a lot of research I have to do. Because she's on medication, she loses those kind of ups and downs – but it's more fun to play her when she's lost it."

Home and Away airs weekdays at 1.15pm on Channel 5.

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