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Jane McDonald: “I don’t usually wear trackies, darling!”

© Channel 5

Back in 1998, Jane McDonald was a jobbing cruise ship singer who appeared on a BBC reality show called The Cruise.

Nearly 20 years later, she’s a successful recording artist, TV personality and camp icon who presents her own show about cruising. With episode three airing tonight, Jane tells us about her enduring success.

The cruises you join on the show are all so different. How do you pick them?
Oh, I don’t pick them. It’s the exec producer and the team who pick them. Then they say, “We’re going here” and I go, “Oh my God, I’ve never been there!”

I do think that people who cruise, they tend to stick to the same ones – because they like that ship, that itinerary, that certain martini they can get every time at the bar. I’ve been that person. I’ve been with the same cruise line for the last 20 years. But this show has opened up so much to me now.

I’m really pleased that we’re showing off different cruises and different itineraries that I’d never have thought of in a million years.

Related: Jane McDonald: ‘I’ve been asked to return to cruising on many occasions’

© Channel 5

The cliché about people who’ve come from a reality show is their careers don’t last. But you’re still here 20 years later. Why do you think that is?
If I knew that, I’d bottle it and sell it. I actually kept my job open singing on the ships. Because I thought, “Well, this ain’t gonna last long.” I actually kept my slot open on the ship for about two or three years. I think it’s maybe because I really enjoy it and I’m grateful for the chances I’ve had.

I love being a singer more than anything in the world. When you’re singing a song that you’ve written, and you see the audience singing it back, no one can take that feeling away from you. I’ve got an album coming out this year which is all written by me and that is something I never thought in a million years I’d be able to do. I’m quite moved even just talking about it now. It’s definitely my biggest achievement in 20 years in this business.

Can you still be low-key these days? Can you pop to the shops in your trackies?
Of course! What’s all that about? I’m real – you can tell I’m real. Though I don’t usually wear trackies, darling. I’ve never worn trackies. So thank you for putting that image in my head…. I can’t believe you’ve just asked if I wear trackies?!

Cruising with Jane McDonald is on Five, Fridays at 9pm.

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