Catherine Musgrove talks to legend Jane McDonald ahead of her date in Blackpool tomorrow night
“Oh God, it’s good to be back in Blackpool”, said signer-turned-reality TV star Jane McDonald, who will perform at the report’s Opera House tomorrow.
“It feels like coming home. It was the catalyst for everything I’ve done – the clubs, the ships – when you got to Blackpool, you’d really made it as a performer.”
She added: “It’s the place where I was performing when I found out I’d gone to number one with my album, and where I did a summer season.”
Since she first appeared on BBC docusoap The Cruise 15 years ago, Jane has never been far from our TV screens, but this, her 50th year, has signalled a change.
She said: “On this tour there’s a whole new Jane McDonald.
“I’m working with producer Nigel Wright, and honestly, I’ve never sung this well.
“He’s brought out the actress in me and I go to places in my mind that I’ve never been to before.
“I’m singing all these songs that I couldn’t do when I was in my 20s, because I didn’t have the life experience.
“I’m grateful that I’m got to this period in my life, and I’m able to feel the messages in the songs now, because I’ve been through loss, love, hope and everything else.”
She added: “There’s a lot of emotional songs in there, including a duet with my friend Sue on The Rose, which is about friendship, and I also sing a song about my mum.
“You can see the faces of people in the audience living it with you, and you’re allowed to cry.”
The faces in the crowd are usually very familiar to Jane, as they are die-hard fans, who follow her from venue to venue, across the county.
She said: “The first three rows at every show are always the same.
“ I’m very humbled by the loyal following I get, and the nerves before going on stage is all about respect for the audience.
“You want them to have the best night ever, and to have made them feel something.”
With her bubbling enthusiasm, it’s hard to doubt that singing is still Jane’s number one passion, despite her success on TV shows such as Loose Women.
She said: “Singing is still what I get up for everyday.
“TV helps get your face out there to millions of people, so I tend to link the two together.”
The annual speculation of whether she’ll appear on Celebrity Big Brother or I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here is now rolling round again, and is met with a firm ‘thanks, but no thanks’ from Jane, who claims to be “too glamourous for the jungle”.
She added: “I wouldn’t go on one of those shows, though I’m asked every year.
“I’m really prudish, I’m like Mary Whiteside, and I’m also really boring.
“I’m glad I did the whole reality TV thing when I did, when it was fresh.
“I feel sorry for the youngsters now, because it’s all been done and reality TV has changed and can be quite exploitative now.
“I think the producers need to find something new, but it’s cheap telly.”
Asked if she ever watches re-runs of The Cruise, she said: “Oh no, I couldn’t bear it!
“I’m a firm believer in moving on and I’m already looking at things to do next year.
“Having said that, I do think back to the clip of me having my hair highlights, and cringe.”
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