An interview with…Alan Fletcher

Australian actor Alan Fletcher is best known as Neighbours’ resident doctor, Karl Kennedy. However while he makes a career from acting, he also has an unquenchable passion for singing and performing.

Alan was originally born in Perth, Australia. At the age of 25 he got his first widely seen television role in the police drama Cop Shop. After leaving the show a year later he secured a string of other television and movie appearances all of which went towards augmenting his acting portfolio.

It is not widely known that Alan made his first brief appearance in the Australian soap Neighbours in 1987, playing a dishonest boxer. Alan returned to the show in 1994, this time stepping into his current and most famous role: the much loved Doctor Karl Kennedy.

As well as acting, Alan has a massive passion for music. He is the lead singer in the band Waiting Room. They perform several of their own songs alongside covers of other bands songs. Waiting Room has toured both Australia and the UK. On Alan’s most recent tours of the UK he formed the band The X-Rays, a group of UK based musicians whom he could employ when touring the country.

Alan has made many musical appearances in the UK, including the television shows Soapstar Superstar and The Xtra Factor and BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge.

Alan was happy to answer some of my questions:

How did you get into acting?

I started acting as early as 12 in school productions. When I moved to Secondary School I was blessed to have two fabulous English teachers who mounted numerous theatrical productions that helped me to develop a passion for performance. I carried that into my university education and went professional in 1977.

How did you end up in Neighbours?

I worked for three years on a Grundy drama called EMBASSY just prior to joining Neighbours so I was well known to Jan Russ, the casting director. However, I still decided to audition for the role of Dr Karl Kennedy.

How have you as an actor and Karl as a character changed over the years?

Karl has evolved from the domineering master of the household into a softer man. This is a product of his children growing up and no longer needing his guidance quite as much. He still tries to control situations but people rarely pay any attention! As Karl has aged his vanity has increased and he is more prone to self-doubt. I don’t know if I have changed as an actor because those sorts of changes happen in minute steps and it’s hard to recall what I felt about performance years ago.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into acting?

Be absolutely sure you want to act because of a desire to entertain, develop in the craft and explore all the facets of performance. If you are sure then network, study and perform wherever and whenever you can. If you want to be an actor to be a star, try something else!

How did you get into music, is it always been something you’ve wanted to do?

I have performed in many musicals as an actor and also as a soloist in concerts. Singing is simply another tool in the actor’s trade and I have never stopped studying it and trying to improve. Rock music happened by accident when I met Tommy Rando and Chris Hawker at a gig and we decided to form a band! Seven years later we are still performing as Waiting Room and also just starting to form a bigger band for more corporate functions.

Who are your musical inspirations?

From early days band like The Doors, Elvis Costello, The Sex Pistols, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles (of course!) Today I am drawn to the music of bands like the Killers and most particularly British Indie bands like the Kaiser Chiefs, Fratellis, The Wombats,Kooks etc.

Who are better when you’re playing live, Australian audiences or English audiences?

British audiences are more responsive mainly because the music I play is orientated more towards British tastes. Also Neighbours has a strong fan base in the 20 to 30 year old age bracket that is not so strong in OZ.

Do you have any advice for people wanting to get into the music business?

Well I’m a novice in music really. The most important thing really has to be the same as for acting, perform wherever and whenever you can to build confidence and stamina.

Given the choice between acting and music, which would you choose?

I would never and could never choose as acting and music go hand in hand. They are just different arms of being what I am: an entertainer.

What does the future have in store for you?

As I mentioned I am putting together another band that will have an expanded repertoire and instrumentation. I am trying to concentrate more on charity work and being there for my kids rather than specific career goals.

Thanks very much.

You’re welcome.

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