Hi Alan, you’ve been in Neighbours for 15 years now. What’s been your fave story line?
G’day Andrew. I think the big story line was Sarah. It was a big turning point for my character, it took my character to a place that was very interesting, with infidelity and so forth. That storyline will always stick out, but there’s been some absolute beauties. The relationship stuff with Susan has always been the key thing.
Is it strange playing one character for so long?
It is like having a separate life. You go into theNeighbours environment, you have such strong relationships with the people you work with that you talk about every aspect of your life with them, they’re confidantes, they’re not just workmates. We do socialise a lot together, it’s not uncommon for a whole pack of us to be in one place.
You’re a regular at backpacker nights? Do you enjoy them?
They’re actually enormous fun. A lot of people say, “God you must hate doing this?”. The true reality is, when you’re doing a show like Neighbours there’s no audience watching you do it. You make this television programme and then it goes off into the ether, there’s no one there laughing, crying, clapping or whatever and when you go and do a Neighbours night you get such an appreciative audience who love the show so much and love the characters that helps you realise you’ve actually got this fantastic job, the best job in the world.
Do your family get amused by all the backpackers swooning over you?
Yeah, they’re totally accustomed to the fact that that’s a part of the job. My young boy is 11-years-old and he finds it rather cool that dad’s playing music. Everyone’s got a very healthy perspective on it.
Are you amazed by what an institution Dr Karl has become?
You pinch yourself, you really do. You sit back and say “boy I got lucky here”. as a performer you’re very fortunate to have recognition as widespread as I’ve managed to get. I pinch myself everyday. Last night I was coming home from the Neighbours night, obviously I was a little bit tired, I’d done the gig and everything, but you go home with a big smile on your face because you think there’s very few performers who get handed an opportunity like I get here. I’m really aware of it and very grateful for it.
You must get recognised a lot?
The great thing is that when people recognise me in the street it’s never an invasive thing. They just go “oh look, it’s Karl, g’day mate.”
Did you meet Lily Allen when she was on the show recently?
Yeah I did a scene with her, a very funny scene, where she sort of semi flirts with Dr Karl and of course he’s too much of a dag to realise she’s setting him up a bit. She was fantastic. A whole bunch of us went off to see her show and had an absolute ripper night. She’s delightful, absolutely delightful.
Why do you think Neighbours is as massive as it is?
I always think that Neighbours is successful because it mixes drama and comedy very well. Also, there’s very few unsympathetic characters. A lot of serial dramas are set up so there are a bunch of villains and a bunch of good guys and they’re kind of pitted against each other. Whereas in Neighbours, we’ve got Paul Robinson of course, who can be a bit malevolent, but in general it works as a very realistic community. I think it’s that sort of light touch that people find appealing.
Where do you love travelling in Oz?
I love getting around Australia. I think the centre is just marvellous. Uluru and Kings Canyon and all that area. I’ve just recently come back from a quick trip to Darwin where my best buddy lives. Love it up there. The whole Darwin, Kakadu area, down into Katherine. That’s real Australia. The West Australian coastline, down Albany way and Margaret River, is just fabulous. We do spend a lot of time as a family up in the Cairns area. We love to get up to Port Douglas. There’s a lot of beautiful places to see.
You grew up in Perth didn’t you?
I spent 20 years of my life there. I love Perth. I grew up surfing on the beaches and living in the sun. It’s a hedonist’s paradise Perth. It’s beautiful, but there wasn’t enough opportunities for actors there.
So, did you like Melbourne straight away?
I just loved it. It’s a really sociable city. It’s just a terrific place to live, it’s so cultural, it’s close to beautiful holiday spots and the Great Ocean Road and all that. It’s always been the perfect place to live, plus I fell in love and married here so it’s all good.