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Character Profiles > Ben Kirk Noah Sutherland, Sean Berends, Blake O'Leary, Felix Mallard

Ben Ian Kennedy Kirk (previously Fitzgerald) 2001-2004, 2007-2010, 2014, 2015-
Lives: 28 Ramsay Street
Lived: 22, 28, 30, 32 Ramsay Street, Libby and Drew's flat, Libby and Darren's house
Born: 2001 (later altered to c. 1999)
Parents: Drew Kirk and Libby Kennedy
Family Tree: Kirk and Kennedy
Occupation: Student, Carpenter's Mechanics Owner

Even before he was born, little Ben was causing problems for his parents, Libby and Drew. Libby was never supposed to get pregnant, as carrying a baby full-term would have put her life in great danger. Nevertheless, Libby saw her pregnancy as a miracle and decided to keep her baby, despite advice to the contrary from everyone around her. When the time came for Libby to give birth, she was in Oakey for the annual rodeo. Looking for somewhere to rest and beginning to feel unwell, Libby found herself locked inside a barn and going into labour. When she was eventually found, it was too late for her to have the caesarean that would have made the labour much less risky, so she was airlifted to Erinsborough hospital, where she was forced into giving birth naturally.

To everyone's surprise and delight, and despite a few serious problems, both mother and son survived the ordeal. The baby was kept in the hospital for a few weeks to be monitored due to the nature of his birth, while Libby was let home. Nonetheless, she and Drew visited daily, making sure to keep an eye on their little miracle. Finding a name for the baby proved difficult, as everyone wanted to give their opinion on this, but it was eventually decided to name him Ben Kennedy Kirk (no hyphen). After a few weeks, Ben was finally allowed home, but Libby and Drew found it difficult to cope, what with having very little money, a lodger in the form of Stuart and also very little room in their one-bedroom flat. Having managed to get rid of Stuart and Drew's second job as a club bouncer eased some of the problems, but Libby still found it difficult to cope with a baby.

Libby and Drew decided to have Ben christened. Harold recommended his friend, Rev. Rosie Hoyland to conduct the service and it took place in the same church as Libby and Drew got married in. Libby chose Lou Carpenter to be Ben's godfather and also decided to add the name Ian to Ben's middle names, as a tribute to her newspaper editor, who had just died. Meanwhile, Libby and Drew were finding it difficult to get 'close' since the birth of Ben and sought advice from Joe and Lyn Scully. However, things began to ease up when Lou moved in with Harold and offered to rent out Number 22 to Libby, Drew and Ben.

After living there for a few weeks, Drew noticed that the house was infested with termites, so he called in the exterminators. While the extermination was taking place, Drew was horrified to realise that Ben had become locked inside the house, but luckily neighbour Summer Hoyland managed to crawl in a back window and rescue the baby in the nick of time. Stuart found that Ben was a useful tool when attempting to collect debts from garage customers. Taking Ben to the door with him left most customers feeling guilty and they paid on the spot.

Ben's short life was later changed forever when his father Drew was killed after falling off a horse. Ben knew very little about what was going on, something that was made clear when some balloons were released in Drew's memory. While Karl pointed them out to Ben, the child remained completely oblivious to what was going on. Libby decided to write some memoirs of Drew, so that Ben would be able to read about his father when he grew up, rather than simply rely on hazy memories. Drew's mate Stuart also vowed to stand by Libby and Ben, telling them that they would not want for anything. As time went on, Stuart began to spend more and more time around Ben, culminating in Ben calling him 'Dada'. Stuart kept this to himself, although when he did it again, this time infront of the Kennedys at the pub, Libby decided to spend less time around Stuart, realising that Ben needed a more stable environment.

Ben's life did become a lot more stable as time went on. Living with his mother and grandparents meant that he was never short of attention. However, when Libby started dating new doctor Cameron Hodder, Ben proved to be a problem, as Cameron didn't figure kids in his future. The relationship quickly ended. Another of Libby's suitors, Taj Coppin, used Ben to get closer to her as he offered to help teach him to swim. This brief relationship left Libby out in the cold, as Susan couldn't cope with her daughter sleeping with a student. As a result, Libby and Ben went to stay with Grandpa Tom. Upon their return, Libby decided she needed to be more independent and so Ben had another change of environment, this time to an apartment nearby.

When Libby was offered a teaching job in Adelaide, she and Ben made yet another move, down to South Australia. Several months later, they came back to live at number 28 Ramsay Street. It looked like Ben had a new father figure when his mother’s ex-boyfriend, Darren Stark, returned to Erinsborough. Ben formed a close friendship with Darren, but problems from the past reared their head again when Darren was framed for a robbery he hadn’t committed. Darren left town, but a few months later, he got back in touch, asking Libby and Ben to move to Shepparton to live with him. And so, for the fifth time in his short life, Ben packed up his toys and left town with his mum for a fresh start. A few weeks later, Susan thought that Libby and Darren could do with a little time by themselves, so Ben came back to Ramsay Street for a short stay with his grandma. And, since he was staying with her so close to his birthday, she decided to throw him a party.

In 2007, Ben returned with his mum to visit his 'Pop' and 'Nana', complete with a baritone tuba, the musical instrument he'd just started learning. In his three years living in Shepparton, Ben had grown close to Darren, seeing him as a father figure, but knew that something was wrong, having heard his mum arguing with Darren before they left. Ben quickly settled into Ramsay Street, however, befriending neighbour Mickey Gannon, who was a couple of years older. Ben soon started following Mickey everywhere he went, and was delighted when Libby decided to stick around, and enrolled him at Mickey's school. At home, things were more difficult - Susan had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, while Darren had returned and emotions were strained. Though nobody told Ben the details, Libby had found out that Darren had been cheating on her and was refusing to take him back. Ben, however, was determined to spend time with Darren, and the pair went fishing together, with Libby eventually agreeing to give her ex-boyfriend another chance. Plans were made for the three of them to move back to Shepparton together, but it all came to a sudden halt when Libby found out that Darren had once again cheated - this time a kiss with Janae Timmins, the girlfriend of Mickey's dad, Ned. As Darren left town, Ben sadly said goodbye, and promised to take care of his mum, but he did manage to pick up snippets of information from overheard conversations, leading to an argument with Mickey over whether Janae was to blame for Darren leaving. When Janae sat the boys down and explained that she had kissed Darren and it was all her fault, Ben became confused and upset, and Janae realised that perhaps it wasn't always wise to expose children to adult problems.

Over the weeks that followed, Libby grew close to her new teaching colleague Dan Fitzgerald, and Ben also started to look upon him as a new male role model, and mother and son moved across the street to share a house with Libby's best friend Steph and her two-year-old son, Charlie. When Dan was involved in a mineshaft cave-in whilst working with the SES, he was badly injured, but ultimately led the rescue team to help brothers Steve and Ned Parker. Ben was impressed, but Libby was keeping her distance from Dan, as his estranged wife Samantha had come to town. Ben pestered his mum, wanting Dan to come and visit his class and give a talk on his adventure, and even making a 'hero' badge for him, but Libby was adamant that Ben keep away. He eventually managed to sneak out of the house, and went to see Dan, but Libby dragged him home. Ben then found a new way to emulate his hero, taking Charlie and a pair of walkie talkies to play outside, he went and hid down a drain, only to get trapped when resident Marco Silvani parked over the drain cover. As everyone left on a search for the two missing boys, Dan stayed behind, and eventually heard Ben shouting. Sam then returned, and smashed the window of Marco's car, let off the handbrake and pulled Ben to safety, with Charlie later being found hiding in a cupboard. The whole incident made Libby realise how unfair she was being on her son, and she allowed him to see Dan whenever he wanted. The next morning, they went over to see Dan to give him his hero badge, but Ben surprised everyone when he gave it to Sam instead, thanking her for saving his life by pulling him from the drain.

Ultimately, Libby and Dan's feelings for each other were stronger than his marriage to Sam, who suffered a bi-polar relapse and left town to return to New Zealand. Though it was looking like they'd settle down together, more problems arose when Libby instead started seeing Lucas, a newcomer to town who turned out to be Dan's estranged brother. In the end, Libby once again found herself back in Dan's arms. Though Ben was pleased about having a new father figure in his life, relations between Dan and Ben were often strained, particularly after a holiday to Bali, from which Libby had returned early. When Ben came back with Dan, he was upset with his stepfather-to-be, and when Ben then collapsed, suffering from a virus, Libby was appalled and decided that she had to put her son first, as he started dreaming about Drew and talking about his father in his sleep at the hospital. Dan decided to prove his dedication by proposing and soon wedding plans were being made. Though the first attempt to get married was derailed when a heavily pregnant Sam returned to town, it was later proved that Dan was not the father of her baby and she left in shame. The wedding then went ahead, with Ben as a page boy, and on the same day, Libby learnt that she was pregnant. Ben was thrilled to find out that he would soon have a sister, named Grace by the expectant parents, but tragedy struck soon after when Libby miscarried. Ben was informed of what had happened and managed to deal with it in an open and honest way, surprising Libby and Dan, who were both guilty of bottling up their emotions.

Ben soon found himself a new gang of mates in the form of Callum Jones, Toadie's adoptive son who live with him, Libby and Dan, aswell as Mickey and Charlie. The foursome got up to all kinds of mischief, and found themselves a role model when musician Ty Harper agreed to teach them some tunes for the upcoming Easter service at school. When Ty left town soon after to move to London, the boys serenaded him as he left Ramsay Street.

Meanwhile, Ben wanted to feel like a part of the new family, and since Libby had changed her name to Kennedy-Fitzgerald, Ben started calling himself Ben Fitzgerald, which worried Dan when he saw what Ben had written on a permission slip for school. Though Libby was supportive of the idea, Steph was horrified, claiming that they were trying to blot out Drew's memory. Best friends Libby and Steph had a serious falling out over the issue, and Ben offered not to change his name if it would stop all of the upset, but Steph ultimately realised that it was none of her business, that she had overreated and Ben went ahead with the change of name. More changes were to come for the family as, desperate for a baby with Dan, but left unable to carry a child following a life-saving hysterectomy, Libby looked into surrogacy and Susan offered to carry the baby instead. Although she fell pregnant, Susan ended up miscarrying, and the whole incident put a great deal of strain on Libby and Dan's marriage. Ben was devastated when they split up and Dan moved away to Sydney, and there was further trauma to come some months later, when it was revealed that Steph had slept with Dan not long before he left and had fallen pregnant, but was pretending that Toadie was the father, to avoid Libby finding out.

Ben found a new interest when Kate Ramsay started giving lessons to the younger kids, and decided that he wanted to become a dancer, but his true academic potential came out when his teacher banned him from giving a speech in the school assembly, believing that his work was too good and that he'd been cheating. When Libby met with the teacher, Elaine Rushmore, she was surprised to see how advanced Ben's writing and storytelling had become, and started to wonder if her son was gifted, as he had also complained that Miss Rushmore's classes weren't interesting enough. After Susan and Karl saw a book of stories that Ben had been writing, they also came around to the idea, and Libby decided to make Ben do an online entrance test for an arts school in the country, just to prove the point. Libby was thrilled when Ben scored in the top 95%, but was upset when Ben was offered a place and said that it was too far away, and she wouldn't be able to afford it. When Ben saw that his mum was upset, he said that he didn't want to go, but after a chat, he admitted that he did and had only turned it down so that his mum wouldn't be sad. The next week, Ben started at the school, with Libby coming along to make sure that her son was settled in.

Libby later moved closer to Ben, and the pair settled in Ballarat, where Libby found teaching work. In 2014, following the closure of her school, Libby returned to Erinsborough, with Ben, for a few weeks, as Susan - who had since become principal of Erinsborough High again - was looking for someone to fill in as vice principal. Whilst Libby was happy to be back in town for a little while - despite her parents' attempts to get her to move back permanently - Ben was a little more uncomfortable as, since becoming a teenager, he'd been spending more time thinking about his father and was struggling being back in the place where his parents had met and married, and where he'd been born.

As he started attending Erinsborough High, Ben quickly made an enemy of Jayden Warley, when he tried to stand up for Bailey, who'd been a victim of Jayden's tormenting for weeks. When Ben stepped in again later, Jayden had done some research on him, and taunted him about writing poetry. When that had little effect, he started making jibes at Ben about his father being killed after falling from a horse, and a fight soon broke out. As Libby was standing in as principal, as Susan was unwell, she was forced to hand out punishments and suspended Jayden, but was more lenient with Ben after learning what the fight was about. However, Jayden was aware of Bailey's secret drinking problem that had been going on for weeks, and used this information to blackmail Bailey into changing his story - something that Ben was happy for him to do. Bailey then went to Libby and told her that he'd made the whole thing up, and that Jayden had said nothing about Drew, and so Libby was forced to suspend her own son from school.

After Karl tried to encourage Ben with his guitar playing, and he started performing Wild Mountain Thyme - the song that he'd seen being performed on his parents' wedding video - Ben became upset. He admitted to his grandfather that he'd been thinking about his father a lot recently, and was finding it very difficult to be back in Erinsborough, where there were so many memories of Drew. When Libby found out about her parents' plotting to get her to move back home, she was annoyed, but admitted that it had been nice being back on Ramsay Street. She spoke to Ben about the possibility of a permanent move back to Erinsborough, and seeing how much it meant to her, he went along with it. However, Karl knew that Ben wasn't happy with the decision, and encouraged Libby to talk to him - she was surprised to learn how much her son had been suffering. Ben then told his grandparents that he was going to change his surname back to Kirk, and Libby suggested that they could take a trip up to Oakey, to see Drew's family and the town where he grew up, before returning home to Ballarat.

A year later, Ben returned to visit Karl and Susan, with Libby seemingly unaware that her son had disappeared in the middle of a schoolday. Ben told his grandparents that he wanted to come and live with them, as he'd moved on from his problems with his dad and his mum was going to China on a work trip. After confirming this with Libby, Susan and Karl agreed that Ben could stay with them, though they were confused about his sudden arrival and odd mood, though they put it down to him recently splitting up with his girlfriend, Emma. He quickly managed to befriend Tyler, who after problems of his own, had been lodging with the Kennedys. After they spent the afternoon together and took out a trail bike that Tyler had been fixing, Ben confided his problem - he'd sent some naked selfies to Emma, who'd then dumped him by posting them all over social media, leaving him completely humiliated and unable to face anyone back in Ballarat.

As he started back at Erinsborough High, Ben was soon confronted by his problem when one of his first assignments was to Google himself and see what sort of footprints he'd left on the internet. Ben quickly deleted his social media pages, and Susan was left confused by his mood swings and reports from his teachers that he'd been very distracted. Desperate to escape, Ben lied to Tyler that he had a free afternoon and joined him for a trip up to the mountains on his motorbike, also claiming that he'd told his grandparents where he was going. Karl and Susan were left frantic with worry, blaming Tyler for the whole thing when he and Ben finally returned, and were left more confused than ever by their grandson's strange behaviour, with Tyler explaining that Ben would open up to them when he was ready. Unfortunately for Karl and Susan, Ben's mood didn't lift for days, and they failed to get him to open up about what was on his mind. When Karl finally managed to get him to leave the house and go for a bike ride, things seemed to pick up when Ben saw his grandfather get drenched by Ashtyn, the useless new assistant at Kyle's builder's yard, who accidentally turned the hose on him. Back at home, Ben finally seemed to be moving on from his problems, but when he then received a text from his friend Harry in Ballarat, telling him he would always be a loser, his mood shifted once again, and Karl and Susan were left confused when he rushed off to hide in his room again.

Tyler managed to pull Ben out of his depression after hearing him play the guitar, and persuading him to audition for the upcoming interschool concert. After giving an amazing audition, Ben's confidence started to return and he even got some attention from some girls - unfortunately, this had the side effect of them looking him up online, and his worst nightmare started to come true when they found the naked pictures. With people sniggering at him during rehearsals, Ben quit the concert, and Karl finally forced Tyler to tell him exactly what had been bothering Ben, before things became more serious. With the truth now out, Brad told Ben that he would have to own his mistake if he was ever going to be able to move on. Ben then recorded a video, in which he held up pieces of paper saying that he'd had his heart broken and had made a mistake, but that he wasn't looking for sympathy, just hoping that he could stop someone else from doing the same thing. As the other kids watched, and Ben playing his guitar, it seemed that he might have managed to get his message across. Ben's guitar playing then had another, slightly less positive, side-effect, when Karl wanted to jam with him, and suggested that they started up a band called K Squared, to play at a benefit for Toadie, who'd been left paralysed after an accident. Ben struggled to say no to his granddad in the face of his enthusiasm, and even Susan failed to help, as she saw how unenthusiastic Ben was about the idea. Finally, Ben realised, after Karl got them a gig at a local nursing home, and had flyers and t-shirts made, that he had to be honest, and he told a disappointed Karl that he just didn't want to be in a band with him.

As Karl did his best to make Ben feel guilty about the situation, Tyler tried to take his mind off it by asking him to help out with fixing up his motorbike. They were joined by Tyler's dad Russell, and the father and son spent the morning playing jokes on Ben, who later got his own back by pulling Russell's trousers down as they all worked outside Fitzgerald Motors. Russell, however, didn't see the funny side and became increasingly angry and threatening towards Ben, witnessed by a passing Karl who quickly came and rescued his grandson. With Karl aware that Russell had physically abused Tyler when he was younger, he was furious and refused to let Ben, who felt that the outburst was all his fault, go over and apologise. The incident brought Karl and Ben closer again, and Ben then stepped in and performed with his grandfather one final time as K Squared, during Toadie's benefit. Things also started to look up for Ben at school when he made a new friend in Ashtyn, Kyle's old building apprentice who'd returned to Erinsborough High after previously being expelled. The following week, he made another new friend when Piper Willis arrived in town, after spending two years in Canada on a student exchange programme. Their unusual first encounter came when Ben found Piper seemingly passed out on the ground outside the garage, but she quickly 'woke up' and admitted that it was actually all a ruse for her vlog. She explained that she'd been trying to find out if the residents of Erinsborough were really as nice as they first appeared, and had been setting up situations to test them. Ben then suggested that they borrow Tyler's dirt bike and set up a fake accident by the side of the road to see if anyone would stop and help. However, they were soon caught out by Brad, Piper's dad, and he warned them about the dangers of hitchhiking, before making them return the bike to the garage. Unfortunately, Ben failed to lock up correctly, and the garage was robbed, leaving Tyler furious, as it had just been bought by a new owner and the incident would probably cost him his job.

With Libby due back from China, Karl and Susan prepared to take Ben home to Ballarat, privately admitting their relief that they wouldn't be responsible for him any longer, as they were getting too old to deal with a teenager. Ben overheard this conversation, mistakenly thinking that they were happy to be getting rid of him and after confronting Karl about what he'd heard, he explained that he wasn't looking forward to going home, and would rather stay with his grandparents. However, after he'd patched things up with Tyler, and Susan had made it clear that he was always welcome to stay with them again, Ben was driven back home by his grandfather.

A month later, Libby was due to go to China for a few more weeks, so Ben made another temporary return to Erinsborough to stay with his grandparents. His return coincided with a planned sleepover at the high school, part of a protest to stop the local council from shutting it down. Though Piper was pleased to see Ben again, she was worried when she started checking his social media and realised that he'd started seeing Emma again. Having tracked down Ben in one of the classrooms, Piper had an angry confrontation with him, warning him that he was making a mistake with Emma, and would end up regretting it. Later, however, their petty squabbles were forgotten when a fire broke out in the school, trapping many students, teachers and volunteers, with Ben and Piper managing to escape together with just minor smoke inhalation. As they returned to school a few days later, only able to use the part of the building that hadn't been affected by the fire, Ben and Piper were horrified by the mess and by the fact that many of the other students hadn't even bothered to turn up, posting on social media that they were at the beach instead. Seeing how upset Susan was, as her attempts to keep the school open seemed to be facing more and more obstacles, they cheered her up by gathering as many of the students as possible and arranging for them all to show up on Susan's doorstep, in a show of support.

It seemed that Piper and Ben's grand gesture also had some guilt behind it, however, as Ben particularly found it more and more difficult to watch his grandma in tears, unsure if there was any hope left for Erinsborough High. When Sheila, who'd been in the school and was finding it hard to cope with her guilt - as she'd run off rather than stopping to help Toadie - accidentally hit Ben with her car, leaving him with a fractured rib, she later came to the Kennedy house to apologise. She explained how her guilt had been manifesting itself as panic attacks, and she'd only started to feel better when she confessed everything to Toadie. With Sheila's words ringing in his ears, Ben then shocked Susan by telling her that he was the one who'd started the fire. With his disappointed grandparents by his side, Ben was taken to the police station for a formal interview, but failed to mention that he hadn't been alone in his actions, as Piper had been there with him, egging him on. Unable to cope with her guilt, Piper confessed to Lauren that she'd been with Ben and they'd been messing around, trying to set off the smoke alarms. She decided that, rather than admit everything to her parents, she'd run away from home, as they already had enough to deal with. Upon hearing her plan, Ben decided to go with her, and they disappeared into the night, heading towards his home in Ballarat.

As they made their way out of Melbourne, Ben failed to tell Piper about the car accident and his injuries, but it became increasingly clear that something was wrong as she started becoming short of breath. After arriving at a country hotel, they made plans to spend some time fruit-picking to earn enough money to make their way to Sydney, but quickly realised that it wouldn't be that simple, as they had to lay down a $200 deposit to cover food and transportation before they could start work. With Ben's health worsening, a worried Piper went out on her own to work that afternoon, but feeling increasingly unsure about what she was doing, she phoned home to check on her mum, allowing her parents to trace her whereabouts via the Find My Phone app. Meanwhile, Ben had collapsed in pain, and Piper sent him off in a taxi to the hospital when she found him. It wasn't long before the Kennedys and Willises arrived and, at the hospital, it was found that Ben's fractured rib had been putting pressure on his lungs. After being released the next morning, Ben and his grandparents returned to the hotel, and Ben and Piper said goodbye, before heading off to the airport to meet with Libby, as she returned from China.

Trivia Notes
• Until his Christening, Ben was credited as "Baby K.", the nickname he was given by family and the hospital staff
• Ben's middle name, Ian, was a tribute to the late Neighbours writer Ian Coughlan. Accordingly, the episode featuring Ben's christening was dedicated to Coughlan's memory. In 2009, following his mum's marriage to Daniel Fitzgerald, Ben requested to change his surname, to feel more like a part of the family
• Sean Berends took over the role for all of his 2004 appearances, while Blake O'Leary then played Ben from his 2007 return onwards. When Ben returned again in 2014, the role was played by Felix Mallard, who reprised the role on a recurring basis in 2015
• Blake O'Leary is the younger brother of Fletcher O'Leary, who played Mickey Gannon, and previously appeared earlier in 2007 as the first actor to portray Tyler Smith
• Ben plays the baritone, which is a small version of a tuba, as well as the guitar

3920-4337, 4475-4605, 4620, 5341-6004, 6903-6914, 7174, 7175, 7177, 7178, 7185, 7187, 7189, 7190, 7197, 7198, 7203, 7204, 7209, 7210, 7215, 7216, 7236, 7237, 7243, 7245, 7250, 7251, 7252, 7254, 7255, 7256

Magic Moments
Episode 3920: Ben's Birth
Episode 3958: Ben's Christening

Biography by Steve