AS WELL being a great singer, she is now a successful songwriter, star of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats and a regular pundit on TV’s Loose Women – but Jane McDonald will never forget her roots.
Having been discovered as a performer on TV reality show The Cruise, Jane is a champion of all those working on ships, and even called in live to ITV’s The Xtra Factor to defend a contestant after Gary Barlow made a cruise ship slur.
“I get very protective of people who work on cruise ships because it’s a great job but it’s very hard work,” she says. “You have to do several shows a day and you have to be very good.
“I get extremely protective, especially when people are derogatory. I say you should go and take a look at the shows because the people doing these shows are exceptional. I’m a cruise ship singer who did really well and I’m now flying the flag for everybody out there. It’s a tough profession and it’s unfair to make derogatory comments.”
Ironically, with cruise holidays booming, performing for holidaymakers is where many stars of current reality TV shows end up.
“I think anything that brings new talent to the fore is good, so I love the fact that we’ve got talent shows,” adds Jane.
“But there’s nothing for the stars of the day to go into. There are no big Saturday night TV shows for them to appear on… because Saturday night is taken up with talent shows. Ironically, a lot of the talent that’s won those shows ends up being star acts on cruise ships! That makes me laugh.”
Jane is currently on tour with That’s Entertainment, but is also fitting in some solo shows under the banner Making Memories.
“It’s been a crazy year,” she sighs. “You set the year up and lots of stuff comes in and you think ‘I can’t turn that down’. The solo dates like the one in Woking have always been there, which is why I can only do a few.
“My passion is to produce my own show, which I do every few years. Making Memories is the latest. I’m getting quite nervous about it because I’m already feeling I can’t top this. This is the pinnacle.
“You never know when it’s going to be your last tour. Because my career is so varied – I do TV, theatre, producing, recording – to fit everything in is quite a big challenge.
“Seventeen years ago when The Cruise came out, I thought I’ll have 15 minutes of fame so I’ll make the most of it and then go back on the ship. But so far everyone just seems to keep wanting more!”
Jane McDonald brings her Making Memories show to the New Vic Theatre, Woking, on Sunday 12 June and G Live in Guildford on Friday 16 September.