We know it’s hard to believe, but it’s been 20 years since Jane McDonald shot onto our screens on hit BBC show The Cruise.
And unsurprisingly, after all that time in showbusiness, she is just as popular now as she was back then. Jane’s also busier than ever: her show Cruising With wrapped on Channel 5 just a few weeks ago, while she’s currently on our screens in Jane McDonald And Friends, and there’s even going to be a 20th anniversary tour in June.
But, despite her busy schedule, as soon as we start our chat with Jane, it becomes apparent how happy she is and it’s safe to say the 54-year-old is having the time of her life. Here, Jane opens up about a potential return to Loose Women, diet secrets and her wedding to fiancé Eddie Rothe.
‘Jane McDonald And Friends is a proper shiny-floor, live-band-and-dancers extravaganza. I’ve got big guests coming on – it’s all about having a giggle and it’s a real Friday night show. I’ve got Tony Hadley appearing and The Overtones, and it’s so nice because all these names, they are genuinely my mates.’
‘It’s a great honour for the show to be compared to that of Cilla Black. She was a great pioneer – she’s the most successful woman on the small screen to date. So if I get compared to Cilla, that’s the biggest compliment I could ever have!’
‘I have done just about everything. I’m getting lots of scripts for all sorts of things – for TV dramas, big musicals… But the thing is with me, I haven’t got time to do an acting job, and I’m not just that – I’m a recording artist, I’m a touring artist, I’m a television presenter, I’m a singer. I do so many things, so I couldn’t give everything up to go into a soap.
And I’m rubbish at scripts as well – it takes me a while now I’m a bit older, I’m not as quick as I used to be. I am just riding the crest of the wave at the moment. My life is 100 miles per hour right now, and I’m loving every single thing.’
‘I’m still in touch with the Loose Women ladies; we all chat on Twitter and WhatsApp. But, it’s a difficult life when you’re on the road and we’re all extremely busy right now, which is great.’
‘My mum watches everything I do and I call her every single day, no matter where in the world I am. I’ve got to keep working just to pay the phone bill, I’ll be honest. But, she’s doing great – she’s getting older and the one thing you can’t cure is old age. I’m very blessed, as everybody knows, to have the mother that I’ve got.’
‘Me and Eddie are very, very happy. It’s a natural thing for people to say, “When are you getting married?” but my schedule has not got time to put a wedding in there as well – what are you trying to do, kill me off?! It’s just too much stress at the moment, but I will marry him, and we will be a married couple. It’s just that at this very moment, it’s impossible to fit in.’
‘I’m active all the time, I don’t have a job where I sit down 9-5 – I’m up and about and I’m doing things, I’m sorting and producing. I’m not a gym bunny, I’m not one who pounds the pavement – forget it. But, I do try and walk or use the stairs – just those little changes you can make to your life.’
‘I can’t say I’m totally sugar free – I’m about 80/20 but that works for me. I would not go for the sweet option now, and if I do I have a taste – I don’t have the whole thing. I do like a little bit of ice cream now and again, though.’
‘If cosmetic surgery is going to give me another 10 years of looking good and being on telly, then book us in. If there is anything that is going to make me look fabulous, then I’ll be the first in the queue – honestly, I will. But at the moment, that glow is my diet, good hair dye and make-up artists.’
‘What advice would I give my younger self? I would say, “Pay your house off.” Do that, make that your priority and enjoy it. We’re in showbusiness and a lot of people take it too seriously, as I did. I used to say, “I’ve got to do this and I’ve got to do that”, but I think that we’ve got to enjoy what we do a bit more. And that comes across in your performance – and I must admit I’m enjoying everything so much more than I did 20 years ago.’
✱ Jane McDonald And Friends is on Fridays at 9pm on Channel 5