What’s next for this Neighbours star?

No rest for the wicked
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Barely a month has gone by since beloved Aussie soap Neighbours ended its record-breaking run. 

And while cast member Alan Fletcher, who played Dr Karl Kennedy for almost 28 years, ought to be kicking back with his feet up, he’s instead buzzing over a new career that should keep him busy for the next decade – at least!

WATCH BELOW: Alan Fletcher addresses hair loss

There’s his new country single, ‘Sorry is the Word’, featuring friend and former co-star Alyce Platt. He’s also just released his debut solo album, Dispatches, after 15 years singing with rock band Waiting Room.

“Life’s all about moving onto new phases,” smiles  the Melbourne-based father  of two, who recently became an empty nester. 

“Every year on Neighbours I [was] on a 12-month contract, so at any point producers could have said, ‘Thank you, that’s enough!’ 

Alan was on Neighbours for almost 28 years
Alan was on Neighbours for almost 28 years (Credit: Getty)

“As a performer, you’re quite used to the idea of being a rooster one day, a feather duster the next.”

Currently Alan is touring the UK with his wife of 32 years, journalist and broadcaster Jennifer Hansen. He’s performing a no-holds-barred, interview-style stage show, appropriately titled The Doctor Will See You Now.

“It’s the first time I lay myself bare for a theatre audience,” says Alan, who actually stripped off on screen in Neighbours once when Toadie (Ryan Moloney) threw a nudist dinner. “I want to give fans a frank and truthful insight into my life on Neighbours in an entertaining and fun way.”

Reflecting on his time in Erinsborough, Alan says it was “amazing” that Neighbours  came along when he and Jennifer were raising their two children, son Thomas, now 24, and daughter Veronica, now 27.

He says his time on Neighbours was “amazing”
He says his time on Neighbours was “amazing” (Credit: Getty)

“It enabled me to be in one place, in my children’s lives all the time, and helped us develop an amazing bond. It’s been a complete blessing.”

So too has his friendship with on-screen spouse Jackie Woodburne, aka Susan Kennedy.

The pair first met on Cop Shop 40 years ago, with Jackie playing Alan’s sister! 

“We share the same sense of humour. Some weeks I’ve seen Jackie more than I have my real wife,” jokes Alan. “We’ve made a pact to catch up at least every two weeks for coffee.”

The duo would likely get mobbed, if Alan’s past experience is anything to go by. He’s even been recognised – “albeit by a Pom” – in southern India, back when he featured as garage-hand Greg Cooper, long before being cast as Dr Karl

Alan jokes he sometimes saw his on screen wife more than his real wife
Alan jokes he sometimes saw his on screen wife more than his real wife (Credit: Getty)

“That’s when I first realised just how popular Neighbours was outside of Australia. That was a weird one. Nowadays they actually have university courses analysing the sociology and language of  the show. Some people from overseas tell me they learned English from Neighbours!”

Surprisingly perhaps, given Alan’s fame and lifelong love for the performing arts, neither of his children are following in his footsteps. Although Thomas is a talented pianist and guitarist, he has a legal career in view. Veronica is a gifted pastry chef “with no interest whatsoever in acting”, according to her doting dad.

“I think I put her off,” he grins. “I doubt she’s ever sat down and watched a full episode of Neighbours. It didn’t interest her. She was born the first year I was on the show as Dr Karl, so for her entire life I’ve been going off to work at the television studio. As a result, she considers that quite mundane, like working for the council or something.”

WATCH BELOW: Alan Fletcher and Jennifer Hansen’s marriage

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