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Australian Christmas, visiting Scotland and Neighbours reprieve: Life according to… Alan Fletcher

Alan Fletcher.
Alan Fletcher.

Neighbours star Alan Fletcher on Aussie Christmas, visiting Scotland and the soap’s reprieve.

Describe your new single, It’s Gonna Be A Good Christmas?

I’ve done a few Christmas songs and I thought what was needed was a fair dinkum Aussie song; a recollection of my Christmases over the years, with a little bit of fun and creative licence thrown in.

Does the song’s lyrics, about barbecues and backyard cricket, represent an Aussie Christmas?

Everyone has a different type of Christmas depending on your family’s age, but I thought back to when my kids were younger and we spent Christmas playing backyard cricket or even out in the street. We would jump in the pool, and it’s common to cook outdoors on Christmas Day.

Do the Christmas scenes you see on American or British TV seem alien to Aussies?

So many Christmas songs are about snow and winter wonderlands and all the cold Christmas cliches, and every festive movie made in America or the UK features cold Christmas. Aussies sit down and watch Love Actually and It’s A Wonderful Life, so it’s not alien to us, but we look on it and sing the carols with a sense of fondness and connection to the other side of the world. That’s why I wanted to write this song, because we have very few Aussie Christmas songs and I think it’s good to have this in the lexicon.

Do you set yourself a challenge of writing a new Christmas song each year?

I do. I have four now. I reckon in about eight Christmases I’ll have an album’s worth!

Your previous single was a tribute to your on-screen wife, Susan Kennedy?

(I’ve Got A) Crush On Susie K was a song I performed every night on the Neighbours Celebration tour in the UK and the fans pressed me into recording it. My favourite line is ‘like a disease without a remedy, I’ve got a crush on Susan Kennedy’.

What did you think of the reaction to the celebration tour?

It was the most heartwarming thing I’ve ever done, and it was the same for the other five cast members. We couldn’t have imagined the rock star adulation we received. We had between 35,000 and 40,000 people at the shows, and around 4,000 at the meet and greets. It gave us an opportunity to embrace the UK fans and thank them for saving the show and supporting us for so long – and they’re still supporting us because Neighbours is the number one show on Freevee in the UK.

How did it feel returning to set?

Quite different, because there were so many new professionals involved. It raised the bar and made us realise we’re on a new show. You don’t get a reprieve like Neighbours did. We owe it to the fans to make sure it never ends again – it needs to do a Corrie. It’s our job to keep it fresh and interesting.

Everybody needs more Neighbours… On set as iconic Australian soap returns to our screens

Next year marks your 30th anniversary on the show, alongside Jackie Woodburne as Susan. Will there be a big storyline to mark the occasion?

I don’t like to pre-empt these things, but Jackie and I will have a big celebration. She bought me a very fine bottle of red wine for our 25th anniversary – a 1994 Penfolds Grange Hermitage, regarded as one of Australia’s finest red wines. It’s been in my cellar for five years and I think the first thing we’ll do is crack it open and enjoy it together. I’ll actually be in the UK at the time of the anniversary doing a tour.

Will you be back in Scotland?

I’ll be at Oran Mor again in Glasgow in August and I’m doing Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. I went to Inverness on my Dr Karl tour and I did panto in Aberdeen many years ago. It’s one of my favourite cities. Scotland’s the place you have to visit when you come to the UK. There’s plenty of reasons to go north, that’s for sure.

Alan Fletcher’s It’s Gonna Be a Good Christmas is available to purchase now from all good streaming sites