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Features > The Best of the Kennedys

As they celebrate 15 years as part of Ramsay Street, we look back on our individual highlights of the Kennedys family...

Callum: I was probably in the minority when the Kennedys first arrived, as I really liked them, especially the relationship between Susan & Libby. They immediately seemed to stand out from the crowd with their family meetings making even the most trivial matter such as whether Susan should be allowed to give piano lessons in the house into a serious situation involving the whole family. The tone of the next decade and a half was soon set when Karl decided that the family would benefit from going back to nature, cutting the plug off the family's television despite their protests, but fairly soon cunning Susan discovered that Karl had secretly been using an old portable television in his surgery and very quickly restored order to the household, with Karl's portable television doing the rounds of the kids bedrooms on a rota system. Soon after Karl was embracing technology as he became hooked on playing Magic Carpet on the family's new computer.

All these years on, Susan is still getting the better of Karl, going on strike whenever she wants Karl to back down on something, such as a new dishwasher, although he gives as good as he gets, he's usually the first to give in. Meanwhile, Libby's bond with her mother is stronger than ever, with Susan acting as surrogate mother for her & Dan. Finally, Karl is still embracing technology, recently becoming hooked on Callum Jones' computer game, Zombie Force 3.

Whilst the Kennedys may not have changed much over the years, they've definitely evolved, seeming to relish their disagreements usually caused due to their shared stubbornness. One thing is certain however, today they are closer than ever, a force to be reckoned with and whenever you see Karl, Susan & Libby together you have to ask yourself how much acting really is going on as no matter what the situation, you can see that Alan, Jackie & Kym are still enjoying themselves 15 years on and because of that, so are we.

Craig: It's fair to say that even though the Kennedys have proved to be one of the most popular families to step onto Ramsay Street, they have also had their fair share of feuds with friends, fellow family members… and neighbours. As sad and traumatising as these teary events are to viewers, they also prove to be the most popular, especially with myself. This isn’t because I enjoy seeing the Kennedys suffer, its because it's these scenes that showcase the actors talents perfectly, especially Jackie Woodburne and Alan Fletcher. Two of these events that stick in my mind were down to Karl’s midlife crises that seemed to last longer than the average. The first is his affair with receptionist Sarah Beaumont. It was a shock to see such goings on within the close-knit ‘perfect’ family but there’s one scene in particular which I will never forget, ‘The Slap!’ After finding out from her own son Billy that Karl was having an affair Susan and Karl have a huge row and she tells Karl she cant believe how blind she’s been, and how humiliated she feels. This is followed by one of the most memorable scenes in Neighbours history, as Susan dramatically slaps Karl. Sadly this wasn’t the end of Karl’s cheating ways. Five years later, marking the family's tenth anniversary on the street, he started seeing Izzy Hoyland. Some of the finest scenes from the Kennedys were when Karl broke the news to Susan that Izzy was carrying his baby. To me this scene is far more moving than the one five years earlier as you can tell that Susan is putting on a brave face, and trying to hold back the tears. After seemingly taking the news on the chin, Karl thanks her for being so understanding and she asks him to leave. As he leaves, she collapses onto the kitchen counter crying, but manages to compose herself, before following after Karl where she voices her true feelings. Ok so I’m not an emotionless human being, but it takes a lot to bring a tear to my eye… this set of scenes however, managed to bring many!

Daniel: What I love about the Kennedys, especially Karl and Susan, is the comedy they bring to the show. On numerous occasions we’ve seen Karl make a comment, and then rephrase it to stop Susan going into a rage. A particularly occasion I enjoyed seeing was when Karl took on the household chores and Susan had to fight the urge to intervene. The relationship between the two is so strong whether in good times or in bad, the drama they have provided has always been entertaining.

Of course it isn’t just Karl and Susan who we’ve loved over the years. Libby’s close bond with her mother has always come across as being very strong. All in all the closeness of the family which has come through so much angst is why we’ve loved seeing them on the screen for so many years. The fact they’ve been around for fifteen years simply underlines how almost everyone loves the Kennedy family. I for one hope they never depart.

Edd: As if having raised 3 kids wasn’t enough, when local tearaway Toadie moved into the Kennedy household back in 1996, few would have anticipated over the next decade just how many kids Karl and Susan would end up helping. Toadie soon became one of the Kennedy’s own and teen Joel Samuels was next to lodge with Karl and Susan after his friend Mal told him his parents wouldn’t mind at all! Unfortunately, Mal had neglected to tell his parents of Joel’s arrival at all, but due to Joel’s friendly nature and Karl and Susan’s warm welcome, he soon settled in to life at No28.

Joel’s brief stay at No28 opened the floodgates as the Kennedys took in all sorts of waifs and strays. Stroppy teenager Elly, footie captain Taj, Lori, Stingray, Sindi and even Stuart when he lost his sight that one time. However, it wasn’t until Susan fell for the charms of Alex Kinski that she had to completely embrace the idea of becoming a foster parent. Alex’s tragic death meant Susan was left to look after his teenage children, Rachel and Zeke. Although elder sister Katya made a rather misguided attempt to gain custody of her siblings, in the end everyone realised what a loving and stable home they could all have at No28. And despite Katya and Susan’s frosty relationship and her obsession with stealing cars, Susan continued to help and support her.

With Susan and Karl getting back together, a proper family home was emerging once again at No28, years after Mal, Billy and Libby had flown the nest. However, despite the newly-adopted family, Karl and Susan continued to take in those needing their help. Ringo Brown being the most recent example after his elder brother Frazer left to live in Italy. Foreign exchange student Sunny Lee is also living it up at No28 meaning that the house is once again, almost full to burst. Although Karl hasn’t always approved of the newcomers in his house, both he and Susan have always been warm and welcoming to their guests. Their fair nature and good sense of humour means that for many of the teens past and present, they owe a lot to the Kennedys.

Louise: In 2007, to celebrate Neighbours moving to Five, Karl and Susan visited London and their wedding there is my favourite Kennedy moment ever. Karl booked them into The Ritz thinking it was The Ritz Hotel, but it wasn't, it was The Ritz Hostel! They also bump into Izzy when in the UK, first of all inadvertently when they mistake her for a pregnant tramp sleeping on the park bench. Karl had a nightmare when he lost Susan's engagement ring. Emma Bunton found the ring and returned it to Karl. Susan interrupts this little meeting and immediately recognises Emma Bunton, Karl of course has no idea who she is! Eventually Karl does pluck up the courage to ask Susan to marry him. He does this on a trip on the London Eye. With Susan sitting down he goes down on bended knee and proposes. Susan immediately accepts his proposal of marriage.

On the day of the wedding, Karl sets his alarm clock to go off extra early, but has made sure that he's nowhere near the hostel when it does. Susan awakes to the alarm clock and to find a note from Karl asking her to wear a dress, a dress that she previously mentioned that she loved. Karl meantime is at the River Thames beside the boat chatting to the reverend when he realises that he needs two witnesses in order to marry! He quickly grabs two strangers off the street and seconds later Susan arrives wearing her dress. Meantime, unknown to the couple, Izzy is approaching the boat. Karl and Susan go through the wedding ceremony with the boat going down the River Thames. Izzy arrives on the upper deck just as they exchange vows and are pronounced man and wife. Karl turns around and notices Izzy asking what she is doing there. Izzy tells Karl that her waters have broken! Izzy goes into labour and Karl is forced to turn doctor on his holidays to deliver the baby and baby Holly is born at the wedding. An ambulance is called and Karl and Susan get ready to say their goodbyes to Izzy, Pete and Holly. Realising that Izzy has left a bag behind, Susan runs to the ambulance to give it back to her. When doing this Susan overhears Izzy mentioning the true parentage of Holly - Karl is her father. Perfect.

Matt: The Kennedys have been the backbone of Ramsay Street for over half of Neighbours' airtime. Arriving to the street in 1994, I hadn't even started primary school, let alone known who the Kennedys were! It wasn't until about 2005 when I started watching Neighbours, that I realised just what I was missing out on. Constant petty squabbling and tantrums (mainly from the kids), family drama with the highs and lows, and the occasional but very cheesy 'naughty' moments from Karl and Susan - Harold probably never went near his swimming pool after that!

Living in the street for so long, the Kennedys have had many memorable moments. For me, the best has to be Karl's 'almost' buried obsession with all things green and eco-friendly, as he left medicine to pursue a passion of a more natural kind. Hanging up his stethoscope to grow vegetables, rear chickens and be a father figure to a rather noisy rooster called Springsteen, Susan was convinced that it was the garden gloves that Karl should hang up! Plus, Karl's newfound joy of facial hair was more a case of facial rash for Susan - time to bring back the real Dr. Karl!

Sian: One of the saddest Kennedy moments must surely be Libby’s exit in 2004, which seemed to finally mark the disintegration of the Kennedy family we knew and loved. With Mal and Billy already elsewhere and Karl and Susan’s divorce still fresh, Libby and Ben drove off for a new life with Darren in Shepparton, leaving Susan – in a poignant scene – standing alone in the middle of Ramsay Street. But 3 years later, Libby was back, and Karl and Susan reunited, with new children at no. 28. Libby returned to support her mother through a trying time, as she battled a court case after accidentally knocking down Bridget Parker and being diagnosed with MS. The mother-daughter bond was a strong as ever, and now Libby’s return finally marked the beginning of a new era of the Kennedy family.

Spencer: My favourite Kennedy moment comes from an episode in 2004. Izzy has just informed Karl that she is carrying his baby (which of course we all now know was just one of her many glorious lies). Karl decides that it is best that Susan hears it from the horse’s mouth rather than the infamous Ramsay Street grapevine. Of course Susan is shocked to the core and struggles to contain her overwhelming hurt. Karl only adds more insult to injury by saying that he’s sure they’re all mature enough to get though it and he won’t be any less of a father to their kids. As she struggles with the information she asks him to leave. He respects her wishes but as he leaves thanks her for her understanding. As the door closes Susan breaks down crying and eventually smashes a photo of them happy together over a chair and hurries out after him. As she comes out Karl is with both Izzy and Libby who have been arguing and Lynn, Valda, Lou and Darren are all in the street going about their daily business. However none of them were to guess what was to come next. Susan screams at Karl:

“Karl, I am not understanding, you are pathetic, you walk out of our marriage after thirty years because you want to be free and within minutes you’re telling me you’re gonna be a daddy again and then you have the nerve to thank me for taking it so well.”

“You just shut up; you shut up and listen to me! I am not understanding. A couple of years ago I wanted to have another baby, do you remember? And you said no. You said this was our time, time to do what we wanted to do, time to spoil ourselves you said, well you have spoilt my life, you have destroyed my happiness and I am not understanding! From now on Karl, expect nothing from me but hatred. I hate you. I hate you for what you’ve done to me and my family and I will never, ever forgive you.”

This scene has gone down as one of my all time favorite moments on Ramsay Street and shows us what an incredible actress Jackie Woodburne really is. You could really feel the heartwrenching emotion. As I sat that there watching what I was led to believe would be the final nail in the Kennedy’s marriage I could not help but to give a little cheer as Susan rightfully turned her back on her idiotic husband. Little did I know then that only three short years later Karl & Susan would be happily married again!

Steve: Though far from my favourite character at the beginning of his run, in recent years, it’s become hard to imagine Ramsay Street without Dr Karl Kennedy. Though I wouldn’t want the people of Erinsborough to be without his medical skills for too long, my highlights have always been the times when he’s ‘taken a break’ from medicine. The first such occasion was in 1996, when he wrongly believed that he’d been responsible for Cheryl Stark’s death by giving her a painkilling injection. Turning his back on life as a doctor, he spent several weeks working alongside son Mal as a handyman. It gave viewers a different insight into Karl, for two years the reliable, but somewhat patronising, G.P., now struggling to find his place in the world. In 2006, Karl again quit medicine, having messed up when diagnosing Sky Mangel’s pregnancy, leading her to believe that Stingray, rather than Dylan, was the father of her child. During this time, Karl went back to nature, making the Kennedy house ecologically sound. It was some months before he came to his senses, first working for a pharmaceuticals company, then taking a job as a registrar at the hospital. His latest work dramas were of a more personal nature, as he was forced to resign after going against the hospital’s decision to block Susan being a surrogate for Libby. Now he’s working as a medical advisor at the newspaper, but surely it can’t be long before he’s healing the sick once again. Then quitting again. Then healing the sick again. And so on.