Last week I really enjoyed looking back at some of Ramsay Street veteran Paul Robinson’s most memorable storylines, so this week I decided to do the same again with another Neighbours stalwart. This time I’ve gone for the Queen of Erinsborough, Susan Kennedy – Erinsborough High’s current Principal, wife to Karl, and mum to Malcolm, Libby and Billy.
Again, I found The Perfect Blend website an invaluable help with this, because even though I’ve watched Neighbours for the entire time Suze has been in it, there were many things I’d forgotten, like the fact that when she first moved to Erinsborough she helped to run the coffee shop with Annalise. I don’t remember this at all and I cannot imagine Susan behind the counter making lattes. But it wasn’t long before Suze took up a position as a teacher at Erinsborough High, which is where she’s worked for most of her time on Ramsay Street.
One of Susan’s hobbies, besides belittling all of Karl’s stupid ideas and interfering in her neighbours’ business, is taking in stray children. Some people like to rescue dogs and cats – Susan likes to gather up tearaway kids and try to mould them into something more presentable. The first of these were apparently Justin and Therese (who knew there was a Therese before Terese?!), who were the kids of an old neighbour of Susan’s. I have no recollection of these two, but it’s worth a mention because they are the first in a long line of people who have resided in the seemingly infinite bedrooms inside number 28.
Susan went on a trip to Kenya with Brett Stark, and a series of experiences while she was there led her to confess that she had killed her own mother. Admittedly, her mother was sick, and Susan was trying to ease her suffering, but I feel like we should all remember this nugget of information next time Suze tries to take the moral high ground with someone, as she loves to do. Mrs K is technically an actual murderer.
The most beloved of all of Susan’s strays moved in around this time – Toadie. He became a surrogate son to the Kennedys, which is something that the writers only seem to remember every so often. Has anyone else noticed that Susan doesn’t really seem to give two hoots about Toadie’s daughter Nell? She hardly ever spends any time with that kid.
One of Karl and Susan’s many marital dramas occurred while Susan was working away from home for a time, and in her absence Karl got a bit too friendly with his receptionist Sarah Beaumont. Susan reacted by trying to slap Karl’s face off and throwing him out. Despite a few hiccups, including Susan running over Sarah’s dog, Sarah left and the Kennedys got things back on track.
After a few dramas at school, including a hate campaign against Susan, a bomb threat, and accusations that Susan had hit a student, Susan’s next big challenge was caring for her niece, Elly, who was unceremoniously dumped on the Kennedys after her mum took off to Sweden. Elly was a rebellious teen, sneaking out to all-night raves and smoking weed, which current viewers of Neighbours won’t be surprised by at all. Elly is now back as an adult – these days she’s still lodging with her aunt and uncle and she loves daydrinking and making bad decisions, so not much has changed really.
By far my favourite Mrs K storyline is when she suffered amnesia after she slipped on some spilt milk in the kitchen and hit her head. She had no memory of her husband and kids, and thought she was a 16-year-old, and that it was 1972. I seem to remember her dressing as a cheerleader or something during this period, which is something I’d normally expect Karl to be into, but thankfully even he found the whole situation decidedly awkward. This is in the days before we knew that the Kennedys’ blue box existed. Ah, what an innocent time that was, before we all knew that Karl and Susan have so many sex toys that they need an enormous storage container to keep them all in.
Susan almost divorced Karl during the whole amnesia thing, but the family was drawn back together after her son-in-law Drew was killed in a horse-riding accident and the Kennedys rallied around Libby while she came to terms with Drew’s death. They eventually renewed their wedding vows, with Susan miraculously regaining her full memory during the ceremony.
The most classic Susan storyline has to be Karl’s relationship with Izzy Hoyland, the repercussions of which are still being felt now. Karl developed a drinking problem, and became close to Izzy, confiding in her about his dissatisfaction with life. The Kennedys grew apart and separated, with Susan reinventing herself with a new hairdo and a new project in the form of teen tearaway, Stingray. She also then took in Stingray’s older brother Dylan, and Stuart Parker, who had been temporarily blinded after a fire. The door is always open at number 28. Karl shacked up with Izzy, so Susan had a steamy fling with a priest, but she managed not to fall out of a hot-air balloon first, which I’ve heard can sometimes happen.
Susan fell in love with Alex Kinski, who proposed to her, but after discovering he was terminally ill Susan called time on the relationship because she couldn’t face the responsibility of becoming a mother to his kids, Rachel and Zeke. Then came the infamous plane crash where half of Ramsay Street died. Susan went missing for several days after the crash, but when she was found and returned to Erinsborough, she decided to marry Alex after all, but he sadly passed away just hours after the ceremony. Susan was then embroiled in a bitter custody battle when Alex’s eldest daughter Katya decided Rachel and Zeke should live with her. Susan eventually agreed that Katya should get custody, which left her with an empty house, and you know how Susan hates that.
In one of Ramsay Street’s more bizarre reunion stories, Karl and Susan bonded over the death of their pet sheep, and the adoption of a new lamb, which resulted in them getting back together. Unfortunately, soon afterwards Karl, high as a kite on some sleeping medicine, accidentally slept with Izzy and got her pregnant, but Izzy left town without telling him.
Karl whisked Susan off to London on a romantic holiday, and, despite the fact that they ran into Izzy in London, Karl proposed to Susan on the London Eye. She accepted, and Karl hurriedly organised a romantic surprise wedding on a boat. Izzy rocked up at the ceremony but went into labour before she could tell Karl he was the father of the baby. Having delivered the baby at the wedding, Karl eventually found out that baby Holly was his child, and now she’s a teenager who turns up in Ramsay Street every so often to treat us all to her very irritating accent.
For a while, Susan stopped being a teacher and became a newspaper editor, remember that? That’s something that happens all the time, isn’t it? For reasons that I forget, she eventually went back to the school though, which seems to be her natural habitat.
Susan was diagnosed with MS a few years ago. Now, I don’t know a lot about MS, but if Neighbours is to be believed, it’s something that causes you no symptoms whatsoever for most of the time, only rearing its head when it’s dramatically necessary, like the time when there was a heatwave that was so severe that everything was orange for several days, and Susan nearly killed Doug when she tried to drive him to the shopping centre.
More recently, Suze has taken in a few more strays, including Sarah Beaumont’s son Angus and her wine enthusiast niece, Elly, who does not own a single top with shoulders in it.
Most of the time Susan tends to be the person that most of the neighbours come to for advice, particularly Terese, who seems oblivious to the fact that Susan doesn’t appear to really care all that much about her various dramas. Suze absolutely killed it during the recent return of Izzy, who she always refers to as ‘Isobel’ with such enjoyable venom. I was living for Susan’s shady facial expressions whenever Izzy was around, and I adored the bit at Toadie’s 90s party where she accidentally ran over Izzy while Suze was dressed as Camilla Parker Bowles and Izzy was dressed as Ginger Spice.
And how could we forget the recent Ceramic Pig™ storyline where Karl tried to smuggle a durian fruit through customs, and when he was rumbled because of the smell, tried to blame the stench on the fact that Susan had soiled herself? That Dr Karl is a real catch, well worth marrying three times…