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Doncaster Features: Interview with Neighbours' Alan Fletcher
Interviewed by Donny Online Interviewer Phil Medlicott
Australian soap star Alan Fletcher visited Doncaster for the first time in December during his UK tour, and may soon return – to look for somewhere to live!
The man better known as Neighbours doctor Karl Kennedy has held a fondness for South Yorkshire since he performed pantomime in Sheffield seven years ago. And as he contemplates a move to the UK some time in the future, he has become increasingly familiar with Doncaster thanks to his British PA, a local die-hard fan of Doncaster Rovers FC. It was only a matter of time before he would play in the town.
"I’ve just been looking at the shops here, it looks really nice” Alan said, just prior to the gig at Walkabout on December 13th. “My PA’s from here. She fills me in on how the Rovers are getting on and all that!"
The performance was part of Alan’s fifth UK tour as lead vocalist for Australian band Waiting Room, and having always made a point of stopping in the South Yorkshire, he hinted he could settle here permanently.
"I’d consider moving somewhere in this region" he said. "Leeds is really nice, Sheffield is great, Donny could be a good place to be! The Peak District right next door is so scenic - you’ve got the best of both." The band deliberately drove in over Woodhead Pass to eat at the Dog and Partridge pub, where they had stopped on day one of their first UK tour in 2005.
His PA Lucy Burke was delighted to finally see Alan’s band arrive in Doncaster. "I always wanted the boys to play in my hometown" said Lucy, 27, who was born in Barnby Dun. She moderates Alan’s websites and has worked with Waiting Room on their last two UK tours. It has not got in the way of her commitment to the local football team though. "When a gig clashes with a game, I’ve had to miss a few dates!" she said.
Waiting Room opened their set with a version of the Kaiser Chief’s "Ruby", with the chorus changed to "Donny", before covering a range of rock acts from Queen to the Fratellis. They played three of their own songs, as well as some novelty tracks, referencing Alan’s on-screen marriage to Susan Kennedy with "I’ve Got A Crush on Susie K" and Smokey’s "Living Next Door to Alice", reworked as "Sleeping Alongside Susan". Alan then met a queue of eager fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures.
Masters student Kathryn Dray was in the crowd for her second Waiting Room gig. "I've watched Neighbours since I was a kid and it's hard to find a person from my generation who doesn't think Dr Kennedy is a legend" said 26-year-old Kathryn, who is originally from Thorne. "The band are very talented and they all clearly love being on stage together."
Waiting Room formed in Melbourne in 2004 and were soon invited to play in the UK, where Alan’s popularity has grown steadily over the thirteen years he has appeared in Neighbours.
"I don’t try to shy away from the fact that I’m from Neighbours, or pretend that I’m a serious rock musician" he said. "I say I’m an entertainer, and I recognise that a lot of people come to us through Neighbours, so I pay homage to that."
Although it has earned him many female admirers, married father of two Alan is keen to differentiate himself from his on-screen persona. "We’ve got the same hair, but that’s about it!" he said. "We don’t have any real similarity – he’s very conservative, and I’m not, he’s had affairs and I haven’t!"
Alan said he would "love to come back to Donny again", with Lucy suggesting that a performance at Doncaster College may be a possibility for the future.
But with plenty of stories to come for Dr Kennedy back in Australia, a permanent migration – to Doncaster or anywhere else - may be some way off yet.
The new Waiting Room single is out now on iTunes, called So Wrong. Find out more at www.alanfletcher.net and www.myspace.com/alanfletcher.
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