Alan - better known as Neighbours doc Karl Kennedy - kicks off the tour with his band Waiting Room on Tuesday, May 24 at the Walkabout bar in Sheffield.
Fresh from filming the soap's 20th anniversary episode - which he described as "a complete blast" - Alan also spoke about Karl's future on Ramsay Street, being considered a sex symbol and the cast's reaction to Kylie Minogue's cancer.
DS: Hi Alan! Thanks for taking time out to talk with us today. Let's get started..
How are you looking forward to touring the UK?
AF: I see it as the biggest time of my life. It's going to be the best fun I can imagine. My Monday night gigs make my week; this tour is a dream come true for me.
DS: Fantasic news, and have you been here before?
AF: Been over four times to do panto. Last time I sang a Robbie Williams song "Radio". Now I get to play Robbie and my own songs with my own band. Have been all over England doing appearances as well.
DS: Tell us a bit about your music.
AF: My band Waiting Room formed a year ago playing covers for primarily UK fans in Melbourne. We always intended to record originals and, with this tour coming up, we consolidated our compositions into our latest CD. It is a mix of styles designed to reflect our diverse tastes.
DS: How many members of the band are there?
AF: There are three of us, Chris Hawker, Tommy Rando and myself. We make a big noise!
DS: How long have you all been together as a band?
AF: Just over a year.
DS: Who are your musical influences?
AF: In our gigs we cover all the best of British! I love Oasis, Proclaimers, Van Morrison and Lenny Kravitz, you name it. Our mix is very wide. Basically we play all the songs that people like to party to! My writing is influenced by people like John Mayer and David Gray.
DS: One of our forum members, Denny1, says: Can't wait to see you on the 24th! Who is your favourite singer/band at the moment?
AF: Hi Denny, we are going to have the best time on the 24th! My favourite singer at the moment is an Australian called Nina Ferro. She's a jazz singer from Melbourne on her way to the UK as we speak. My fave band would be local group "The Whitlams" and I love the Killers.
DS: Our next question comes from 'Beee', who asks: Do you prefer acting or music?
AF: I see singing as an extension of acting. Songs are stories waiting to be told! The real excitement for me is writing songs! I hope you will like the thoughts I express in my lyrics.
DS: Drakaina's question is: Does your band name have anything to do with your Neighbours' role?
AF: Good lord no! Poor old Karl Kennedy's music tastes are miles from mine and he is regarded as a bit of a joke musically. I hope I'm not. My band name relates to the old actor's adage - I only remember the WAITING. Waiting Room does have a bit of a doctorish feel though doesn't it! (grin)
DS: Drakaina also asks: Are you not worried about the 'soap-star-turned-singer' stigma?
AF: Good question. Most soap stars turned musicians are quite young actors who can sing and are picked up by a record company to create Number 1's. That's not my vibe at all. Waiting Room is a collaboration between the three of us and is simply me doing what I've done all my life. My soap status might get more people to listen to the music, but the proof will be in the pudding. I just ask people to judge me and the band by the music. My site has samples of all the tracks and I hope everyone will get over there to listen!
DS: Excellent. Now, robbiej1067 asks: If your band goes from strength to strength, would you be likely to quit Neighbours?
AF: I would love to do them both. Neighbours is very important to me.
DS: miss_vic says: I met you at a Neighbours' night in Melbourne. What's it like for you talking to fans of the show and getting their feedback?
AF: Everyone thinks that the actors who come to Neighbours' nights must hate it! We love it. The welcome is so warm. We wouldn't have a show without the fans. I especially love performing to them. The gigs go off!
DS: DCFC1987: Firstly you're a fantastic actor and good luck with the band. My question: How did you get into acting and eventually join the cast of Neighbours?
AF: Dear DCFC1987 (great name!) I started acting as an apprentice to a theatre company in Perth, Western Australia. In 1990 I was cast on a Grundy show called Embassy and spent three years there. When it finished they asked me to do Neighbours and I happily agreed
DS: Bohochick asks: What is it like being regarded as a bit of a 'sex symbol' in Neighbours, and what does your family think of it?
AF: Luckily I am married to a very beautiful woman who is considered a sex symbol too! She reads the news in Australia. I am flattered if people view me that way! Who wouldn't be!
DS: Forum member Evil Eye says: Good luck with the tour, I hope to see you in Leeds! What did you think when you first heard about Karl and Susan splitting up?
AF: I was in a state of shock! But then they explained the long journey this would take me on and I got excited about the story possibilities. The interesting bit is Karl's regret about leaving Susan and his attempts to win her back. Stay tuned!
DS: That's interesting because teenage-monkey's question is: Would you like to see Susan and Karl getting back together?
AF: There is a huge part of Karl that knows Susan was his one true love. He left her because he thought there was a more interesting life to be had. Now he knows that's not true. Whatever happens I am happy as long as I get to work with Jackie a lot. We have the best time.
DS: Forum member Mrs Harman would like to know if you think there is much more mileage in Karl's and Susan's characters since their children have moved away?
AF: It's certainly a different experience for them both because it tends to open up the love lives more. What about Susan and Tom! Don't cut out the possibility of more children coming into their lives. Oh dear...that might have been a spoiler!
DS: Very interesting, Alan! Next, Barry Cocker asks: What has it been like working with Stefan?
AF: Stef is an old mate of mine and I love doing scenes with him. Having manipulating Paul Robinson back on the street is fabulous!
DS: Anda_panda345: Does it feel like you have been in Neighbours for 10 years?
AF: No! it feels like I have been there 12 years - which I have. Seriously, the time has flown. Sometimes Jackie and I just look at each other and laugh! Twelve years ago we joined Neighbours on a one-year contract and here we still are. How lucky am I?
DS: Tempus fugit, as they say!
Now, sad news about Kylie. How has the reaction been on set?
AF: After the shock of Delta's [Goodrem] illness the reaction was very realistic. We were momentarily shocked, but immediately confident that she will be OK. There are many backstage people who worked with Kylie and we have all sent messages of support. Thousands of women receive this terrible news every day. If you love Kylie give a pound to cancer research!
DS: Our thoughts are with her, of course, and like everyone else, we are hoping for a complete recovery.
Meanwhile, who are you looking forward to seeing return for the 20th anniversary celebrations?
AF: We have just shot the main 20th Anniversary show and it was a complete blast. Joe Mangel, Annalise Hartyman, Phil Martin...you name it, they were there. And many more appearances by past cast members. It has been the best time for the show and the cast.
DS: On a similar note, LiverpoolFCGirl asks: Is there anyone who didn't return for the 20th that you would like to have seen make a comeback?
AF: All the dead ones! Sorry, poor taste! I was thinking of Bouncer. Would have loved to have seen Malcolm Kennedy there, but it wasn't possible.
DS:What can you tell us about the anniversay episode(s)?
AF: I can go on all night! Anniversary episodes are top secret, but if I tell you do you promise to keep it to yourselves? The anniversary eps are a reminiscence that doesn't interfere with plot. They celebrate the past, but don't dominate the present. Nicely crafted scripts. I am sure you will all like them.
DS: No more detail then?
AF: Alright, you twisted my arm. Annalise returns to shoot a doco about the street she lived in and sees more than she bargained for! It coincides with a shattering revelation for Karl! You know I can't say any more, but maybe you can guess?
DS: Thanks for that insight! What have been your most memorable on-screen and off-screen moments?
AF: Most memorable on-screen moment was Susan's slap upon discovering Karl's infidelity with Sarah. Most memorable off-screen is the birth of my children!
DS: Lisa23 wants to know: Have your on-screen doctoring skills ever been called upon in real life?
AF: Often, but I always decline assistance. You can get into terrible trouble impersonating a doctor. I think most people realise that I am a pretend doc and wouldn't ask me to step into an emergency. At least I hope so.
DS: Little G asks: Who's the funniest person on set?
AF: Mark Little. He is back playing Joe Mangel again and keeps us in stiches.
DS: t2ggergal says: Me and my brother both think you are ace in Neighbours, glad to hear you don't die!!!
Meanwhile, can you give us a clue as to how you have been written out of Neighbours to go on tour?
AF: I go to England to see Mal and Catherine! Life imitating art.
DS: Finally, how much longer do you see yourself staying with the show?
AF: As long as they'll have me and as long as I am enjoying it. Thanks for all the great questions. Please go to alanfletcher.net to check out the CD and consider coming to a gig. I guarantee you the best time! Luv ya.
DS: Many thanks for sparing the time to talk to us, Alan, and best of luck with your tour!
Alan Fletcher Gig Dates
Tues 24th - Walkabout Sheffield – On stage: 9pm - Open to the public.
Weds 25th - Walkabout Nottingham - On stage: 11pm - Open to public.
Wed 25th - Loughborough S.U - Personal appearance only – On stage: 1am -Open to students only.
Thurs 26th - University of Central Lancashire - On stage: 8pm - Open to students only.
Thurs 26th - Walkabout Leeds - On stage: 11pm - Open to public.
Fri 27th - Southampton University – Personal appearance only - On Stage: 10.30pm - Open to students only.
Fri 27th - University of Surrey S.U - On stage: 12.30am - Open to students only.
Sat 28th - De Montfort S.U - Leicester - On stage: 12pm - Open to students only.
Sun 29th - Butlin's Bognor Regis - On stage: 9.30pm - Open to Butlin's residents.
Mon 30th - Walkabout Durham - On stage: 11pm - Open to public.
Tues 31st - Walkabout Derby - On stage: 11pm - Open to public.
Weds 1st - Plymouth University - On stage: 12am - Open to students only.
Thurs 2nd - Buckinghamshire Uni - On stage: 12am.
Fri 3rd - Strathclyde Uni - Glasgow – Personal Appearance - On stage: 6pm - Open to students only.
Fri 3rd - Royal Holloway University - On stage: 11pm - Open to students only.
Sat 4th - Portsmouth University S.U - On stage: 11.45pm - Open to students only.