As she enters her third decade in the entertainment industry, it’s fair to say Jane McDonald has never been busier.
It’s been 20 years since Jane first sailed onto our screens as the singer in cult favourite, ‘The Cruise’, before becoming a recording artist in her own right, a ‘Loose Women’ favourite and a Bafta-winning staple of Channel 5’s entertainment roster.
Now gearing up for a second run of her all-singing, all-dancing variety show, ‘Jane And Friends’ (which she describes with a high-pitched laugh as “emotional, glamorous and fabulous” when asked to sum it up in three words), Jane says she feels “proud” to be flying the flag for women in their fifties on television, and beyond.
“Who’d have thought in a million years that me, Jane McDonald, would be coming back with two massive primetime TV shows, a Bafta, a sell-out national tour and a new album coming out?” she tells HuffPost UK. “Who would have thought that a woman of my age, in this day and age, would have had all this success?
“And age is only a number, it’s how you feel and it’s how you act… that’s what keeps you going.”
She adds: “And women in their fifties now, are different to what they were. We are... it’s lovely, it’s just a great opportunity. And I’m savouring every single moment of it.”
Of her TV career, Jane says her latest Channel 5 venture is the show she’s most proud of. Each episode sees her surprising guests in the studio audience, chatting with special celebrity guests and, inevitably, performing live on a number of occasions.
“There’s just something about ‘Jane And Friends’,” she says. “It’s got heart, and that’s what I like to bring to television. It’s a feel-good show, that all the family can watch, it doesn’t matter who you are, that show will make you smile in some way.
“Kids can watch it, grandmas can watch it, any genre can watch this show and see something for them in it, you know? And that’s what it’s all about really, isn’t it?”
“I love the whole glamour of ‘Jane And Friends’,” she points out, referring to herself as “camp personified” which it’s tough to argue with. “I love a right old good sing-song, I love a dance… and then I’ve got massive stars on, and also lovely, lovely people who deserve a treat in life.”
The new series of ‘Jane And Friends’ marks Jane’s return to our screens, having bagged a Bafta for her other Channel 5 show, ‘Cruising With Jane McDonald’, last month.
But while her new-found success means she’s getting “offers everyday” (which she says is “wonderful”), she’s already got a lot on her plate, with two ongoing shows with Channel 5, a national tour and an upcoming album.
“‘Jane And Friends’ is a great show, and I’d like to concentrate on that,” she insists. “And with ‘Cruising’ - I’ve only done a little bit of the world, I’ve got so much left to see and so many fabulous ships to see.
“And with touring and albums, I haven’t really got time to do anything else right now, and why would I? I’ve got some amazing things in my life right now, and I’m going to concentrate on the things that are fabulous right now.
“I could just carry on doing this, for as long as I can, then I’ll be as happy as anybody could be.”
‘Jane And Friends’ returns to Channel 5 on Friday 6 July at 9pm on Channel 5.