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Alan Fletcher and Jackie Woodburne recall one of Neighbours' most shocking scenes

'It was a bit of a terrifying storyline.'

The biggest, most shocking slap down in Australian soap opera history left dedicated Neighbours fans stunned 20 years ago.
On discovering Ramsay Street family man Karl Kennedy's (Alan Fletcher) affair with the younger Sarah Beaumont (Nicola Charles), wife Susan (Jackie Woodburne) slapped him across the face.
Alan and Jackie had been with the show for four years when the writers came to them with the idea of a storyline that centred on Dr Karl cheating on Susan. Both actors say they were in shock.
Here, in their own words, Alan and Jackie talk about the storyline and the famous slap. It changed the way Neighbours fans viewed both Susan and Dr Karl forever.
Hurt and betrayed, Susan lets Karl have it in the iconic episode.

Alan Fletcher, 61

"It [Karl cheating on Susan] was a bit of a terrifying storyline. It was something we didn't imagine, because we were very much the loving family. We were taken to lunch at The Keg, a pub next to the studio, where it was announced Karl and Sarah would have an affair.
We were in shock. It felt like a huge departure from where the characters were at. Karl and Susan were devoted to their family.
It was a challenging storyline. The women in the audience, in particular the middle-aged women, were outraged. They loved to let me know that in a kind of joking way. However, they weren't as outraged as Mrs Mangel [Vivean Gray] was!
I think the audience found it exciting, because the whole thing was so dangerous.
In the slap scene, Jackie was genuinely portraying hysteria and worked herself up to an incredible level doing it. I was shell-shocked at the depth of her fury. We didn't do that in rehearsal!
The slap was beautifully filmed. It looked like my head had been knocked off! The director wasn't sure we got it right. But, mercifully, they said we'd got it in one take, so Jackie didn't have to go back up there again."
Alan was happy they captured the slap in one take.

Jackie Woodburne, 62

"Once we got our heads around it, we thought the cheating storyline was great. You take a couple you know, that you have an investment in, and you just throw all the pieces up in the air.That was going to be some great drama. It kicked off Dr Karl's reputation as a bit of a player, so I think, deep down, Fletch [Alan] was probably chuffed about that!
I'll take the slap scene to my grave as one of the happiest memories of the show. It was a big day on set. All the heartbreak she felt, to learn that he had cheated on her – that was just 'end of the world' stuff.
It was a terrific day. We were all so focused. I have a lovely photo of the scene, once it was in the can, with the crew lining up behind me to also have a go [at slapping Karl]!"
Karl and Susan's happy family was torn to pieces.
"Afterwards, people were definitely taking sides. They would call out to me in the street, 'Get rid of the bastard.'
And that's what you want in drama – something that's going to provoke discussion.
Sarah and Izzy [Karl later had an affair with Izzy, played by Natalie Bassingthwaighte] were watershed storylines for Susan and Karl. They affected everyone on Ramsay Street.
I feel blessed every day to come to work with Fletch. He's just a dream to work with."
Neighbours airs weeknights, 6:30pm on Eleven.

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