Jane McDonald on her new show, Jane and Friends at Christmas: 'It’s a bit like the old Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black music specials'

Saturday 23rd December When is Jane and Friends on at Christmas?

Jane McDonald chats about her new C5 show, Jane and Friends, which airs at 10.00pm on Saturday 23rd December

Having worked on cruise ships and on the club circuit for years, singer Jane McDonald is used to being away from home at Christmas. But this year, for once, she will be spending it at home with family, and to get us all in the festive spirit, she’s presenting a special seasonal edition of her brand new C5 variety show, Jane and Friends.

Featuring songs, celebrity guests and a few surprises, plus plenty of the trademark audience interaction Jane, 54, enjoys when she’s on tour, it’s the perfect way to unwind during the hectic run-up to Christmas.

We caught up with Jane McDonald, who got her big TV break on The Cruise and was a long-term co-presenter of Loose Women, to find out what’s in store in her C5 show Jane and Friends...

Jane, what can we expect from your new show?

Jane McDonald: "It will feel like going back in time, as it’s a bit like the old Dusty Springfield and Cilla Black music specials from the 1960s and 70s. It’s a big music extravaganza fronted by myself, with a live band, dancers, special guests and sketches. It’s rather like bringing one of my concerts to the telly, which is just amazing!"

What guests should we be looking out for?

JM: "In our Christmas special we have Coronation Street’s Shayne Ward, the cast of the festive stage musical Elf – and Santa of course!"

Are you a big fan of Christmas?

JM: "I love everything about it! For me it’s all about family values, love, and memories of the wonderful times I had as a child growing up – and that’s what I want to bring to the Christmas show. There’ll be a few tears, without a doubt!"

(Read more interviews and features about Christmas TV 2017)

Is family very important to you at this time of year?

JM: "It’s just great to get everyone together under one roof. In every family there’s someone who thinks: “Oh God, I don’t want to sit through that!” But it’s just one day a year, you know. And if you can’t put your differences to one side, for one day a year, that’s quite bad isn’t it?"

Jane & Friends Christmas Special - Jane McDonald

Jane & Friends Christmas Special - Jane McDonald

Do you have any favourite festive songs?

JM: "I love all the standards, like Winter Wonderland and Santa Claus Is Coming to Town. And this show is going to be everything you want for Christmas!"

What’s your favourite Christmas memory?

JM: "I come from a very working-class background and, when I was little, I desperately wanted a bike. My dad was really handy, and he found an old bike frame and spent months fixing it up, spraying it gold, and getting all the other bits and pieces for it like wheels and tyres. On Christmas Day I unwrapped this bike my dad had practically made from scratch. I loved it!"

You must worked a lot at Christmas over the years…

JM: "Yes, I worked every Christmas. I’m a turn, so when everybody else is having a good time, I’m there entertaining them. I did the clubs and the cruise ships for years, and it was up to me to make sure everybody had the best possible Christmas party – so no pressure there!"

What’s happening for you this Christmas?

JM: "The family are coming round to mine, and we all chip in. My partner Eddie is a great cook, my mother will make one of her award-winning trifles, my sister-in-law will do the starter, and my other sister will bring the cheese. I’ll be there being the perfect host!"

What’s your Christmas Day routine?

JM: "Eddie is up first, because he’s getting the turkey organised, God love him, and he makes me a cup of tea. After we’ve had our family day together – and this is really bad – I make everyone go home for 6 o’clock! Everybody likes to get back home and settle down with a Bailey’s and a mince pie. That’s the secret to a good family Christmas – don’t overstay your welcome!"

Are you having a Loose Women Christmas reunion?

JM: "We usually do, but I can’t make it this year because I’m absolutely fully booked! I’ve got one afternoon off to decorate the house and order all the food – and that’s it!"

Jane McDonald has two specials on this Christmas both on C5 on Saturday 23rd December - Cruising with Jane McDonald Christmas Special at 9.00pm and Jane and Friends at Christmas at 10.00pm.

Ian MacEwan
Senior Writer

Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.