WISE WORDS: 'Neighbours' Karl Kennedy aka Alan Fletcher On One Spot Of Unfinished Business

The actor has played Doctor Karl Kennedy for 21 years.

'Neighbours' fans have recently been left on the edge of their seats, with an explosion devastating Lassiters’ Hotel Complex, a double tragedy leaving the residents of Ramsay Street grief-stricken, and soap stalwart Toadie narrowly escaping death (again).

Once again, Australia’s busiest doctor Karl Kennedy has been left to pick up the pieces, not easy as he is bound to be distracted by the reappearance of his former love Sarah Beaumont. Not something to keep the long marriage of Karl and Susan on an even keel…

It’s just another week at the coalface for actor Alan Fletcher, who has played Doctor Karl for 21 years in total. As we recover from one of ‘Neighbours’ most dramatic ever weeks in its 31-year history, Alan talks to HuffPostUK about the lessons he’s learned along the way and what he’d still like to achieve…

Karl Kennedy's bond with Sarah Beaumont has always caused problems for him and wife Susan
Karl Kennedy's bond with Sarah Beaumont has always caused problems for him and wife Susan

What do you do to switch off from the world?
Play the guitar, simple.

How do you deal with negativity?
From my mother, a spiritualist, she believed in the transmigration of souls, she had a Nietzschean view of the world, which was that anything that comes at you comes for a reason, and you can learn from it. If someone says anything to me that I feel is spectacularly unpleasant, I can feel all the same emotions that anyone would feel, hurt and disappointment, then I can sit back and say, “Well, that has told me to a bit more humble, not to be overinflated about what I do, because there are many people who don’t like it.”

When and where are you happiest?
I have this passion for golf. I am often at my happiest on the golf course, at that second when you hit the ball, as hard as you can, and you watch it sail in a straight line and land right next to where you wanted it to. That’s my nearest thing to Zen.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best piece of advice I was given was one I ignored, that was, don't smoke. I ignored it to my peril. I don’t smoke now, but I do sit back sometimes and wonder, How would my life have been if I hadn’t smoked?

What has been the hardest lesson you’ve learned?
Realising I know a lot less than I would like to know. I’m a lot less informed than that. We often express opinions as if they’re fact, and the hardest thing is when someone catches you out on that, and you realise, ‘I’m faking it here.’

What would you tell your 13-year-old self?
Don’t smoke.

Alan Fletcher has played Karl Kennedy, patriarch of one of Ramsay Street's most popular families, for 21 years
Alan Fletcher has played Karl Kennedy, patriarch of one of Ramsay Street's most popular families, for 21 years

What 3 things are at the top of your to-do list?
Travel more, write more travel blogs and take more photographs.
Spend more time playing the guitar, and more proficiently.
Study – I’m thinking about going back to university, and studying philosophy and politics. I dropped out of university to take up acting, and then I returned again later, but left again. So it’s unfinished business for me. I’m an amateur philosopher, so it would be great to get a proper grounding. My son is about to go to university and I need to gen up so I can talk to him.
It’s not so much racking up achievements as wanting to remain stimulated and stimulating to others.

What do you think happens when we die?
We’re gone. Unfortunately, transmigration of souls is not something I believe in. Obviously, I don’t know definitely what happens, and it always distresses me when people tell me they do, because they can’t offer me any evidence. What I do know is, whatever may happen later on, it doesn’t matter to me now. It would disappoint me to return as a frog, but that’s about it.

When do you feel a sense that we live in the presence of something bigger than ourselves?
When I’m surrounded by nature. I was in Iceland earlier in the year, 3 o clock in the morning, standing on the edge of a glacier, freezing, waiting for Northern Lights. And they came.
Places of majesty and size, and also urban landscapes. I marvel equally at engineering, the achievement of which man is capable. I look at aeroplanes and think, every bolt, how did that happen? I think, I’m nothing here, I’m a guy who walks around in a soap opera pretending to be a doctor.

What do you try to bring to your relationships?
To be present, to listen to them. If someone phones me for a beer and a chat, I’m there.

What keeps you grounded?
The kids. They are my major concern in the world. I have two, 18 and 20. When I get home, my life in the house is real, it’s huge and always evolving. It doesn’t matter who you are. I have two dogs too, that’ll do it.

What was the last good deed or act of kindness you received?
There are so many. It’s so easy to forget them, but they’re really important. I lost a smart watch a while ago, and our television station, I did a little bit of publicity for them, and they bought us all an Apple watch. Just on that same day, which was lovely. But it also makes you remember, easy come, easy go.

'Neighbours' airs on Channel 5, weekdays – 1.45pm and 5.30pm.
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