Thursday, July 25, 2024
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EXCLUSIVE: Jackie Woodburne and Alan Fletcher reveal their “devastation” over Neighbours’ axing and what fans can expect from the finale

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Without Susan and Karl Kennedy, Neighbours as we know it now would be difficult to fathom.

The pair has been through a lot since moving to Ramsay Street in 1994. Infidelity, divorce, and remarriage have all been issues they’ve had to cope with. They’ve raised three children of their own and given a safe haven to numerous orphaned children travelling through Erinsborough.

They’ve been there for one other through sickness and professional adversity. And, in true Neighbours fashion, they’ve been through every natural disaster imaginable.

But, over the course of 28 years, we’ve grown to know Karl and Susan as if they were members of our own family, as we’ve watched them overcome adversity after adversity.

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The news that Neighbours is coming to an end is painful for the actors who bring the characters to life. Jackie Woodburne, who plays Susan, found it difficult to accept when she learned that Channel 5 would not be extending its contract to support the drama.

Jackie, 66, tells TV WEEK, “I was astonished and devastated.” “I was heartbroken for all of the young, up-and-coming performers and staff members who will no longer have access to such a fantastic training ground. I’m going to miss this place a lot.”

It’s been a difficult pill to chew for the cast and crew to learn that filming will end in June.

Alan Fletcher, 64, agrees, “It’s terribly terrible for the hundreds of people who will lose their jobs.” “But I’m also heartbroken for the millions of fans who continue to watch the show throughout the world and are heartbroken at the loss of their favourite show.”

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While the two are still processing the news, they guarantee that the episode will end on a high note.

“I have no idea what kind of storey will wrap off 38 years of television history,” Jackie says, “but I hope it’s upbeat and joyous, displays our amazing cast and crew, and leaves the audience satisfied.”

Alan and Jackie are determined to commemorate a lifetime of “joy, laughter, drama, deep passion, and humanity” that the show has offered audiences now that its fate has been decided. But, in the process, they can’t help but think back to the beginning of their symbiotic relationship.

“I met Fletch for the first time in 1982 when I was cast as his sister in Cop Shop,” Jackie recalls. “He had a lot of enthusiasm and was quite humorous, in my opinion. Also, you’re rather attractive!”

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Alan recalls the same thing: “I was captivated by her beauty and lively personality.” “She shone in every place she walked into.”

The actors were on the same page from the start, and their roles – two parents doing their best to raise three children – were well received by the audience.

Alan recalls, “I think the writers managed to fill our characters with the kind of foibles and desirable characteristics that audiences resonated with.” “Many admirers have told me that Karl and Susan remind them of their own parents or themselves.”

Since then, they’ve evolved into formidable partners capable of bringing even the most difficult plotlines to life. When Susan was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Jackie had her most difficult acting task.

“We had to present a dramatic storey while staying true to ourselves,” Jackie explains.

“With so many people living with MS, any misstep would have resulted in an immediate response. I believe we got it correctly, but portraying Susan’s path was difficult for us all.”

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While Susan dealt with the effects of MS, Alan’s most difficult time as Karl was a little more light-hearted.

“Karl used to work as a pharmaceutical rep and discovered a shady plot to sell out-of-date drugs to the Third World,” Alan jokes. “It was a strange spy storey that didn’t feel right to me. Of course, I gave it everything I had!”

The hot love triangle involving Susan, Karl, and Izzy Hoyland is the pair’s favourite tale, despite the fact that they’ve had a variety of them (Natalie Bassingthwaighte).

Alan comments, “I appreciated that narrative because it didn’t follow hackneyed standards.”

“Izzy didn’t want Karl, but he wanted her — until she found out she was pregnant by a dead guy. So Izzy feigned to love Karl and was in love with him by the time he uncovered her deception and dumped her “Alan clarifies.

“The irony was fantastic, and it didn’t stop there!”

Jackie concurs. “It was amazing to play the huge affairs and marriage break-ups,” she recalls. “One of my favourite storylines was when Susan and Karl remarried on a boat on the Thames, and Izzy showed up and gave birth right away!”

Susan forgave Karl despite his frequent infidelity and fathering a child with Izzy, and the two eventually reconciled. Fans have pondered why Susan never gave Karl a taste of his own medicine throughout the years.

“I don’t think anyone would blame Susan if she had a vengeance affair, but that’s not Susan’s style!” Jackie exclaims, laughing.

“Susan knows Karl better than anyone and has built a happy life with him, recognising that the past can’t be reversed but that a good future is still conceivable since both sides accept their shortcomings.”

A huge team of writers and production workers worked tirelessly behind the scenes on Neighbours, filming hours of footage we never imagined would finish. The set became renowned as the greatest training ground for budding actors in the Australian entertainment business.

Jackie credits mentoring as one of the key reasons she stayed on the show for so long.

She says, “I love working with young actors.” “I enjoy watching them develop into skilled performers and providing guidance when I believe it will benefit them.” I get a lot in return because they reciprocate with their excitement and energy.

“I will always treasure seeing young actors having a breakthrough moment in their work and experiencing the excitement in their discovery.”

Alan is of a different mind. He admits, “I’ve never felt like a mentor.” “In reality, young actors have taught me a lot.” That is the allure of a group. We all benefit from our collaborative efforts.”

Alan and Jackie are prepared for a new beginning without Susan and Karl, and their professional relationship, after nearly 30 years on Neighbours.

The departure for spectators at home, on the other hand, may be far more difficult. After all, we’re bidding farewell to Australian television’s mother and father.

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