Almost a month has passed since the adored Australian soap opera Neighbours finished its illustrious run.
And even though cast member Alan Fletcher, who played Dr. Karl Kennedy for nearly 28 years, should be relaxing with his feet up, he’s excited about a new endeavour that will keep him busy for at least the next ten years!
His most recent country song, “Sorry is the Word,” with friend and former co-star Alyce Platt, is out now. After 15 years of singing with the rock band Waiting Room, he recently released Dispatches, his debut solo album.
The Melbourne-based, recently empty-nester father of two says, “Life’s all about moving onto new phases.”
“I [was] on a 12-month contract on Neighbours every year, so producers could have said, ‘Thank you, that’s enough,’ at any time.
You get used to the thought of being a rooster one day and a feather duster the next as a performer.
Together with his 32-year wife, journalist and broadcaster Jennifer Hansen, Alan is currently on a UK tour. He’s performing a theatrical act called The Doctor Will See You Now, which is an open-ended interview format.
Alan, who actually stripped off on television in Neighbours once when Toadie (Ryan Moloney) gave a nudist supper, says, “It’s the first time I lay myself bare for a theatre audience.” “I want to give viewers a fun, amusing look into my life off Neighbours,” the actor said.
Alan says it was “wonderful” that Neighbours came along while he and Jennifer were raising their two children, son Thomas, now 24, and daughter Veronica, now 27, and that he looks back on his time in Erinsborough with fondness.
We were able to forge an incredible bond since it allowed me to stay put and be present in my children’s life constantly. It has been a true blessing.
The same may be said of his friendship with Susan Kennedy’s on-screen husband Jackie Woodburne.
When Jackie played Alan’s sister on Cop Shop 40 years ago, the two first met there!
“Our sense of humour is similar. I’ve spent more time with Jackie some weeks than I have with my own wife,” Alan quips. We agreed to meet up for coffee at least once every two weeks.
If Alan’s past experiences are any indication, the pair would probably encounter a mob. Even before being cast as Dr. Karl, he was recognised in southern India, “albeit by a Pom,” when he appeared as garage worker Greg Cooper.
“At that point, I first understood how well-liked Neighbours was outside of Australia. That one was peculiar. There are even academic courses that analyse the sociology and language of the programme. Some foreigners claim to have acquired English via “Neighbors,”
Given Alan’s reputation and enduring passion for the performing arts, it may come as a surprise that neither of his kids are following in his footstep. Thomas has a law career in mind despite being a gifted pianist and guitarist. According to her adoring father, Veronica is a talented pastry chef “with no interest whatsoever in performing.”
He grins, “I suppose I turned her off. She probably hasn’t ever taken the time to watch an entire episode of Neighbours. She had no interest in it. Since I debuted on the show as Dr. Karl the year she was born, I’ve been working at the television studio every day of her life. She views that as being pretty boring, similar to working for the council or something.