Jackie Woodburne, time travelling, zombies and Erinsborough

2014-10-27_2218She’s had 20 years of playing Susan Kennedy on Neighbours, yet Jackie Woodburne is busier than ever.

While still performing her daily soap duties, she’s recently completed a webisode series with zombies invading Ramsay Street and a separate online audio project, Night Terrace, in which she plays a female time traveller.

By her own admission, she laughingly admits, “I am so current, you’ve got no idea!”

The five part webisodes by Rick Foster, funded through Screen Australia, see former cast members return from the ‘undead’ including Dan Paris, Ben Nicholas, Kevin Harrington and Aaron Jakubanko. They are now available on YouTube.

Woodburne is one of several current cast members who filmed scenes in between their busy schedule.

“I don’t know, they just came and said ‘We’re doing this webisode thing, it’s about zombies.’ And I thought, ‘Really? In Erinsborough? How is that going to work?’ she told TV Tonight.

“But I think the reason Neighbours is still around 30 years later is because it does constantly reinvent itself to stay current. I look around the green room and I see the young ones constantly looking on their laptops, in little short grabs. They watch something for 4 or 5 minutes and that seems to be the way a lot of people get their online entertainment. So hey, we’ve got to stay with the times!

“I see it as a completely separate entity. I don’t see it as any part of the real Ramsay Street tapestry. It really is something quite separate. It’s satirical and a different reality but what was great was getting to catch up with all those people who had left the show and came back for a couple of days.”

Also appearing are Ryan Moloney, Josef Brown, Alan Fletcher, Eve Morey, Jenna Rosenow, Stefan Dennis and Calen Mackenzie, with a special guest appearance by Taylor Glockner. But Woodburne admits zombie cult appeal has largely escaped her.

“Our story involves Drew, Libby’s dead husband, who comes back and has a bit of a go at me. So the fear is I’ve been injected with zombie germs,” she explained.

“Dr. Karl being the brilliant physician, as you know, can put his hand to just about anything: neurosurgery, gynaecology, general practice, and now a little bit of zombie research!

“I don’t know how zombies work. I’m not a big zombie fan, per se. I don’t mind vampires but I find the whole zombie thing quite scary, so I don’t tend to watch them.

“I’ve seen a couple of episodes (of The Walking Dead)–how can you not? But the whole dead people thing is a bit disturbing.”

Woodburne also has a starring role in Night Terrace, an 8 episode audio series available online through its creators, Splendid Chaps.

“I’m basically a female Doctor Who. She’s retired but she works for a government department involved in all things extra-terrestrial and other-worldly. It’s a very secret department,” she said.

“She discovers that her house can time travel and she goes on all sorts of adventures with her sidekick, a young man who has come to the door to try and sell her a new electricity provider.”

Also appearing in Night Terrace are Ben McKenzie, Petra Elliott plus guests Chris Taylor, Francis Greenslade, Alan Brough, Cal Wilson, Virginia Gay and Jane Badler.

Meanwhile Woodburne is looking forward to Neighbours‘ 30th Anniversary celebrations in 2015.

“We’re leading up to it now so there’s lots of people coming back, but it’s very top secret. In fact I don’t even know who,” she continued.

“They’re madly trying to get a lot of old cast back to do little cameos and there are big storylines involving the current cast. They’re putting a lot of time and money into making it a real celebration.”

Any chance of her on-screen son Jesse Spencer?

“Wouldn’t that be great? He would be top of my list. I know they have investigated but I don’t think that’s on the cards. My wish would be all 3 Kennedy kids back at the same time. That would be gold.”

Despite a formidable 2 decades behind her on the renowned soap, Woodburne didn’t care to flag if or when she might exit.

“I’m enjoying it as much as, if not more than, I did 20 years ago. It’s the best job you could ever hope for. I love working with Fletch. We make each other laugh every day. Every week we get 5 new scripts, different actors and directors coming in and out. It’s an absolute joy,” she said.

“I don’t know. As long as they’ll have me.

Night Terrace
Neighbours airs 6:30pm weeknights on ELEVEN.


  1. I agree that Neighbours is better than Home and Away at the moment. Jackie is just brilliant! Any word on whether Margot Robbie will make a cameo for the 30th? She’s in Melbourne next month (as a special guest of Swisse at the Melbourne Cup), so it would be brilliant if they could make it happen. She’s so down to Earth than I’m sure she’d agree to come back if she were asked and if it didn’t clash with her filming schedule (she spoke very fondly of her time on the show just this week).

  2. Neighbours is better than home and away at the moment in many respects. It doesn’t go over the top to be enjoyable. Stefan Dennis (Paul Robinson) is such a good actor to watch he is still a highlight if the show.

  3. Loved part 1 good to see old characters even if there zombies lol. Oh and Jackie is always perfection hope she never leaves Neighbours. One thing I have notice lately Neighbours has had a lot more humour which has been good to watch.

  4. It’s really nice hearing how happy Jackie is working on Neighbours, she is the heart and soul of the show. I remember her in her first soap role as Helen Gordon’s niece on The Young Doctors, she was the engénue then, now she’s the matriarch.

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