Neighbours kept Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan grounded says Aussie soap legend
British tea time will never be the same after iconic Aussie soap Neighbours ends this week.
But the friendships formed on set have kept breakout stars such as Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan – who reprise their famous roles for the farewell episodes – grounded according to Ramsay Street royalty Alan Fletcher.
The 65-year-old, who has played Dr Karl Kennedy for 28 years, says: “Almost everybody who was asked to, came back.
READ MORE: Neighbours viewers concerned ending will be a 'let down' as last ever episode looms
“It’s such a family atmosphere that everybody who has been on it is filled with gratitude for what the show gave them.
“Kylie’s never forgotten that, Jason’s never stopped talking about it and Guy Pearce – a big film star – was very happy to come back.
“He’s the same guy I remember – a wonderful bloke – and he did a substantial storyline for us.
“Guy was saying to me he was in touch with Kylie and Jason, and they were discussing it as friends about coming back.
“People honour the show no matter how big a star they become.
“The relationship between the cast has always been so strong. The family continues on.”
Australia’s longest-running drama series first aired in 1985 and Dr Karl has featured in a string of big storylines including a fling with Izzy Hoyland (Natalie Bassingthwaighte).
Viewers were stunned in February when British backer Channel 5 announced it was switching its funding into making more home-grown shows.
After struggling to find new backing, the decision was made to end the soap, which also launched the careers of Margot Robbie and Natalie Imbruglia.
While he’s lost his main day job there’s no bitterness from Alan, who has crafted a successful second job as a musician.
Speaking to the Daily Star while in London promoting his Dispatches EP, Alan says: “People get surprised so many musicians come out of Neighbours but for me, acting and music are symbiotic.
“They’re both about communicating and telling stories. Maybe I’ll have an oblique reference to Neighbours ending on my next album, which I will be releasing later this year.
“I might write a song about changing times.
“I’ve got so much stuff I want to get on with.
“I’m very grateful for that journey I had – sad it’s come to an end but I look forward to new opportunities.”
Alan says the soap is all anyone wants to talk to him about when he visits the UK.
He says: “The percentage of people devoted to Neighbours is much higher here than it is in Australia.
“Everyone wants to talk about their love of Neighbours and how gutted they are it’s finishing.
“So many people treat Neighbours as part of their life, that the pattern of their day is based around.
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“They have tea every night at the same time to watch and are sad they’re going to lose that.”
Alan has been married to journalist Jennifer Hansen since 1990 and the pair have two children. But despite being instantly recognisable to TV fans, the star’s family are oblivious to his fame.
He says: “I don’t think my mum was ever really aware of what I did as an actor, nor was my dad – they weren’t popular culture people. My children have never watched the show.” But the spirit of his late mum and great aunt have guided Alan throughout his life choices.
He adds: “They were spiritualists and both said they would be looking down on me from above and helping to guide my life.
“My great aunt said my grandmother, who I never met, was actually doing that.
“I wrote a song about it and have a picture of my mum and great aunt hanging in my office and look at them both every day.
“It’s like they’re continuing to reinforce me from beyond the grave.
“They are my ghosts in a way and very positive.”
Neighbours: The Finale airs on Friday, July 29 at 9pm on Channel 5
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